Monday, September 28, 2015

One Hundred

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on Sunday, September 27, 2015. 
Right now your eyes are experiencing the monumental occasion of reading my 100th column in the Miami News-Record. Do you feel the excitement? I do! It’s a little bit staggering to me since that means I’ve come up with 100 ridiculous stories to tell you folks. This whole thing started when I was asked to write about homeschooling for National Education Week or somesuch something or ‘nother. After that, I was asked to make it a weekly thing and well, here I am 2 ½ years later. Yes, I know that if you do the math there should be more, but have only eked out 100 because hey, I get busy sometimes what with teaching my children proper comma usage and how to become productive members of society, drinking stupid amounts of coffee and Sonic sweet tea, and other really crucially important things like that.
My writing started with a blog back in June of 2004 back when the internet as we know it today was merely a toddler. Blogging was very new and not many people did it. At first no one read the blog. Not even my mom. I didn’t know what to write about and in looking back at the first few posts, they’re rather embarrassing. Then when I realized that no one was actually reading them except my sister, I relaxed and stopped trying to perform and started just telling my stories about the kids, about growing up in Oklahoma, about the insane stuff that happens around here. Then, a funny thing happened: people started reading. And before I knew it I had an audience. I had followers. I had fans. My mom was convinced I had stalkers. (I didn’t.)I was nominated for the Okie Blog Awards and won Best Humor Blog two years in a row and beat Pioneer Woman for Best Rural Blog the last year of the awards. The kids say it’s my claim to fame. I haven’t told them yet that she won Best Overall Blog. Shh. They still think I’m famous.

Mom’s gotten a little more comfortable with me putting my life out there for all to read. I dare say she’s my biggest fan; she’s very proud of me, my momma. She still cringes from time to time, especially when I write about poop or farts, but she’s probably figured out by now that my stories just NEED a certain amount of poop and farts to be what they are. (Mom, I know I said both words twice. Please get out from under your desk now. No one holds you responsible.)
I’ve been recognized in Walmart more than a few times. My Junior High English teacher reads me every week. (Hi, Mrs. Reid. I love you. You’re the reason I love commas so much.) Few things make me happier than for someone to come up and tell me I made them laugh on a Sunday morning. I hear I’m even read before the obituaries in some households. I feel like if I can beat out the obits, my life hasn’t been for naught.
My family has, for the most part, adjusted to having parts of their lives printed in black and white for the entire world – okay, all of Ottawa County – okay, a good portion of the Miami area – to see. They really have no choice in the matter simply because those crazy people help make me who I am and add so much to this silly life of mine. Stories of sisters and brussel sprouts, of woobies and hamsters, of ups and downs, of love and of loss – these are the stories I love to tell and I am thrilled that you all love to read them. At least, you all keep telling me you love to read them. If you’re fibbing to me, I am going to be SO embarrassed and then I’ll really have to apologize to Mom for all the poop and farts.

Thank you, Constant Reader, for, well….for reading. I am honored to be a part of your Sundays.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Beards and Man Buns

Originally posted in the Miami News-Record on September 20, 2015

Last week I had the privilege of volunteering at the county’s Man Up conference. This was my second time to help out with Man Up and I gotta say….a lot has changed in two years. Now, keep in mind Paul and I have been out of youth ministry for over a year and a half now, and our kids are not in public school, so I guess that puts me at risk for being out of the loop when it comes to what’s going on with young dudes these days.

My husband graduated in 1982, back when moustaches were all the rage. You know, the moustaches I’m talking about – the ones usually worn by the creepy guys in movies who own cameras with telescopic lenses and drive vans with no windows. I graduated high school in 1991. Not one single guy in my glass walked the stage on graduation night with hair on his face. The guys of the early 90’s were more interested in the hair atop their noggins, not on their faces. Anyone remember the re-emergence of the bowl cut? How about shaving their jersey numbers into the sides of their heads? Oh and we can’t talk about guy hair in the 90’s without mentioning the frosted-tips on a super spikey, so-much-hair-gel-it-was-downright-dangerous ‘do.

Last week, if I hadn’t known I was at Man Up, I’d have sworn I was either at a lumberjack reunion or a Duck Dynasty convention. The beards on those boys! I was absolutely in awe of these 16 and 17 year old guys with more facial hair than Professor Dumbledore or Abraham Lincoln. And in doing “research” (read: I searched the Google) for this column, most men don’t really have the ability to grow serious facial hair until they are in their mid-20’s. So what is in the public water supply around here? Straight up testosterone mixed with a little Propecia??  

I also saw more than one man bun. If you haven’t seen one of these things yet, Google it. Or better yet, don’t. That is one trend I do not understand nor will I ever be able to embrace. I keep seeing these things here and there and I just don’t get it. I recently had about six inches cut off my own hair, so I know the value of a good messy bun day. When your hair is so long you can’t do anything with it other than bun it, it’s time for a trim. But if you want long hair, guys, let it hang gloriously down your back or gather it into a neat ponytail. Please don’t wrap it up strangely on top of your head like a little nubbin of keratin and protein and expect the vast majority of women to compliment you. Especially here in Oklahoma. I guarantee you, you probably can’t fit a John Deere or Realtree cap over that strange little bun so seriously, what’s the point?

At the risk of sounding like I have found a soap box on which to stand and shout, I will just end this with some friendly advice. As the wife of a redneck man and the mother of a nearly 17 year old guy, I have been in two barber shops multiple times over the last 23 years and never once have either of my boys come out with a man bun. Nick Koronis gave Sam his first haircut on his first birthday and over the last 17 years if Nick hasn’t been available, Larry Linthicum has stepped up and taken care of business. My husband has grown quite attached to Mr. Ed over the past few years as well and in my opinion, if Mr. Ed can’t take care of your hair cutting needs, you are entirely too high maintenance.

Keep it simple, fellas. Leave the buns to the baker.  

Monday, September 14, 2015

Emptier Nest

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on September 13, 2015.

Last weekend we moved our oldest, Abby, into her own house. I didn’t shed a single tear the entire day. In fact, I have yet to cry over the whole thing. Now, her daddy on the other hand has had a significantly harder time with this than I have.

While I’m usually the cry-er, that wasn’t the case this time. So even though I didn’t “get” his sadness, I just patted him awkwardly and said, “Geez, it’s not like she moved to China. We’ll see her again next week. Good grief.” Apparently he viewed this as a bit cold. I tried. I really thought that was comforting. But he pats me awkwardly when I am hysterically crying over an episode of “Downton Abbey” even though he thinks I’m silly beyond measure. This time it was simply my turn to awkwardly pat him even though I didn’t understand why he was so upset. I suppose I should expect him to be a little less sympathetic the next time I’m crying while the Crawleys celebrate Christmas at the abbey. (And if you’ve ever watched “Downton Abbey” you know the Christmas episodes are absolute tear-jerkers.)

I have been nothing but elated for Abby since she first started talking about moving out on her own. When I was 19, I moved to Stillwater with a friend from high school and lived there all of six weeks. I was so homesick I ran back home with a bruised ego, feeling a bit of a failure. (It all worked out  – I met my Pauly a month after moving back.) So really, I have never lived on my own. I went from living in my momma’s house, a short stint with a roommate, back to Mom’s, to living in my husband’s house. And 23 years later, I’m still living in the midst of this glorious circus with these crazy monkeys I married and gave birth to. Abby’s getting to live monkey-free for awhile and that’s very cool.

I’ve had so many people console me and tell me “it’s going to be okay” and I’ll “get through it” and I’m like, “Yeaaaaaah … *blink blink*… I know. I’m excited for her….should I not be?” and then I usually get stared at like I’ve suddenly grown tentacles or something.

She’s learning that it’s okay to be alone. She’s paying her own bills, cooking her own food (mostly chicken strips and mac and cheese), going to her job every day, and has decorated her house the way she wants to decorate it. (The plethora of Eiffel Towers in virtually every room is testament to that.) She and her dog are settling in to this grand thing called Life on her terms, in her own way, and I am THRILLED for her. When she tripped a breaker the other day, she had to figure it out on her own. (Of course, she called her Daddy to help her, but she fixed it on her own while he talked her through it.) She is also fighting an ant invasion and has figured out that if she lets the dishes sit in the sink that is a very bad thing. She is potty training a year and a half old dog, proving the adage “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” wrong. She is decoupaging every light switch and outlet cover in the house pink and silver and polka dots. I am so proud of her, living this chapter of her life quite bravely and awesomely.  

Oh, don’t get me wrong – I miss her something fierce. But for now, she can’t afford cable and we can, so we know that every Sunday night she’ll show up at our house for dinner that is definitely not chicken strips and macaroni and cheese and to watch “The Walking Dead.”  I’ll get my Abby fix and zombie fix all in the same night. Life is good. Even if our nest is a little emptier. 

The Woobie

Originally published in the Miami News-Record on August 30, 2015

They were just cloth diapers, however we didn’t use them for that. I bought them second-hand from my boss at the time. His boys were out of infanthood and I was a newlywed with dreams of a family. So they were tucked away in the spare room until the blessed event occurred.

Abby was our most prolific puker. We ran the gambit of formulas in attempts to quell the fount of ...stuff that emitted from our baby. Those cloths were put through their paces her first year. While the burp cloths were ever present and actually a part of my wardrobe that first year, (seriously, every picture of me taken during Abby’s first year shows me sporting a cloth diaper on my left shoulder – it’s comical, really) she had no particular attachment to them.

Then her brother came along and once again we dragged out the burp cloths. It was a force of habit to start wearing a burp cloth on my left shoulder even though he wasn’t the projectile spewer his sister had been. But a funny thing happened when he wasn’t very old – we noticed that when we picked him up, he found that ever-present cloth and grabbed it up in his tiny little hand. He would clutch it and love on it and soon, he was our own little Linus. We started tying a knot in the end of one so we’d know not to wipe up slobbers, boogers, or spits with it. And it wasn’t long before it had a name: it was The Woobie. He went to bed with it, woke up with it, drove it around in his Tonka dump truck, and ate with it in his lap. After he was weaned off the bottle and no longer needed a burp cloth, Woobie still hung around. He had about three dozen to choose from and we just rotated them out when they started smelling weird or I felt they might start standing up on its own. I mean, they were all identical, so they were easily interchangeable.

Then SURPRISE! We found out we were going to have a Kady! And while we tried to convince brother that the new baby was going to need the burp cloths for actual burping, he didn’t buy it. We finally reached an agreement – he would keep three for himself and the rest had to go to his new sister. And because he was in the throes of stinky boy-ness, I promptly dyed them all bright pink so he would want nothing to do with the ones he donated. It worked. He said pink was gross.

Then a new generation of Woobie was born, all pink and girly. It wasn’t long before we were tying a knot in the end of one to keep it goo-free. And that sweet girl carried those pink raggedy hunks of cloth everywhere, even more than her brother did. By the time Kady was born, those burp cloths were in the neighborhood of 23 years old. They held up well, I think.

Tucked safely in their keepsake boxes are many things – locks of hair, birth announcements, etc. In Abby’s is a paci with no end (creative habit-breaking on my part). In Sam’s is a very dingy Woobie with a knot in the end. And in Kady’s, a tiny 4x4 piece of the palest pink, ratty, threadbare fabric that is all that is left of the very last Woobie. Sam’s was washed before I put it away and in my tenderest of Mommy moments, I will breathe deep into it and reminisce of the scent of his little boy noggin. Kady’s, however, was in such bad shape it could not be washed before it was put away. It would have disintegrated for sure.  I don’t sniff around on that one. I think it’s better to remember the smell of her little head without partaking of the Woobie. It’s probably just safer for my nasal passages. 

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...