Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thank You Clarence!

Unless you live under a rock, then you know that today is Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holiday because it is a universal holiday. It doesn't matter your faith, your background, or anything else. It is simply the day to pause and be thankful for what you do have. I am thankful for my family, my friends, my fixer-upper home, and all the opportunities that come my way.

photo by LeeAnn Rhoden
Yes, I am cooking today. Sort of. I cheated by getting a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken from the store (I don't like turkey), but the rest of the meal I'll be cooking - mashed potatoes, gravy, squash medley, and stuffing. I made pumpkin spice cake from a recipe I got from my friend, Allison, for dessert and there is a cherry pie in the kitchen too. My husband surprised me with an early Christmas gift. He gave me a new coffee maker! I love it!!

The one thing I am truly thankful for is Clarence. Clarence is my guardian angel. He isn't a graceful angel. He's not the type that will prevent me from walking out in front of a bus by distracting me with a lovely pair of shoes in a shop window or serendipitously running into an old friend and stopping to say hello. No. Clarence will prevent me from walking out in front of a bus by having me trip over my own feet and spraining my ankle. Anytime something happens that is just too weird for words, I know it is Clarence doing what he does because shortly there will be a blessing in some form. Sometimes, it's hard to appreciate Clarence's methods. Sometimes I'd rather be distracted by the pretty shoes. But, alas, Clarence is just clumsy and, well, I get that.

Yesterday, Clarence visited me. I don't know if I was saved from something else that would have been catastrophic at that time, or perhaps in the near future, but he was definitely with me. It's Clarence's way. My day started out as usual - got my husband off to work, fed the dogs, got the boy up and fed and dressed. My morning was busy: going to the gym, returning a library book, going to the post office to pick up a package, going to the grocery store to get milk, ice cream, and the Thanksgiving chicken. Finally, at the request of the Little Man, a trip to Dunkin Donuts to get a donut and a chocolate milkshake.

It rained the day before. It rained all night. The roads were wet. I should have said "no" to the trip to get donuts. On the way home, Clarence came into my life. What happened? I hydroplaned in a left-hand turn, over corrected and continued sliding up onto a curb and into a tree. Yes, my beloved Mustang, my Eleanor, hit a tree. Hard. Yes, I know they don't handle well on wet roads. I know you shouldn't over correct. I know! Whatever. It happened.

Photo by LeeAnn Rhoden
How bad was it? Well, the air bags didn't deploy and the engine didn't even stop running and I had to shut it off with the key. Little Man did drop his milkshake all over the back seat and himself. He was crying about that and then suddenly very excited about the "broken car." The worst of it was I had to call my husband to come home from work. And I was extremely embarrassed to have traffic blocked by the tow truck. Oh, it's probably totaled because the front end collapsed, the radiator is trashed and the hood crumpled. I am sure there is more engine damage. Maybe it can be repaired. Maybe not. Either way, it's okay because we are okay. I don't know what Clarence's plan is. Frankly, he could've just left me a post-it note on the fridge. But the fact that no one was hurt, even the tree had just a few scrapes, lets me know that at some point, I'll see why he did this.

In the meantime, I'll give thanks for today, my family, my friends, the opportunities that come everyday with the sunrise, and for Clarence. What are you thankful for?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


Photo from
Little Man has started with questions. Why do we sleep at night, Mama? Where is the puppy dog going? How do we get to the store? When does Santa come? Who's that? When does Grandma come? I'm reminded of the scene from Uncle Buck between John Candy and Macaulay Culkin when the little boy is asking rapid-fire questions. It can be both entertaining and exasperating at the same time. This is how he learns and gains information about his world. And my responsibility as his parent is to give him accurate and truthful information at his level.

Little Man: Mama, how did a baby get in Allison's tummy?
Me: God put it there.
Little Man: Can we have ice cream?

All his questioning has me questioning if I still question things. Oh sure, there's the reaction to whatever is on the news, "What was he thinking?" or "Why would they do something so stupid?" Most of the questions that get raised on the news or through social media I already have an answer to, or at the very least a formed opinion. I know what the guy was thinking and why they did something stupid. Those are reactions, not real questions. A real question is when you are genuinely seeking an answer, a fact, a truth.

I know why the sky is blue and the grass is green. I know the earth is round and the moon is not made of cheese. Those are easy questions to answer. And I'm not talking about questions like "What are your plans for this weekend?" That's schedule coordination. But a question, a real question, is more like, "What is my purpose for being on this earth? What is my place?" I think to some degree those questions we always ask. And perhaps, the answers change depending on our stage in life.

For now, my questions will be, "How do I make this scene better?" and, "What does this character want?" or "Why would this character do that?" It's still revision time and I need to get my novel put back into shape and FINALLY get it done.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Faye's Lace

We lived in Rhode Island while I was growing up. My mother's family were all in Alabama and my father's family were all in Missouri. Obviously, we weren't raised with large gatherings of extended family. That's okay, were a close nuclear family unit. This is not to say that we didn't visit family or have family come to us, we did, just not often. Still, it was often enough to know which family members you looked forward to visiting.

One of the family members I looked forward to seeing was my Aunt Faye, my father's sister. I guess I liked her because she was a lot like my dad - same sense of humor, liked to read, and always had an interesting story to tell. She was also the one who, like me, was interested in needlework. Time passes and there's college, marriage, divorce, work, marriage, moving, a baby and sadly, I let life get too busy and lost touch with Faye and other extended family members. Not too long ago, maybe a year or so ago, I was able to reconnect with her for family tree information. We would talk for hours and I loved to hear the stories and catch up with her and I realized, even with time and distance between us, we were more alike than I knew. My Aunt Faye passed away last June.

 Aunt Faye crocheted lace. She was prolific. I haven't attempted to crochet lace or knit lace or even tat lace yet, but it is on my list of "things I want to learn." When she passed, Dad brought back the mountain of lace doilies and snowflakes that she had made throughout her lifetime. Mom chose some to frame, my sister selected a couple, I framed some and kept some. There were so many left over and I knew that I wouldn't be able to use all of them but I didn't want them to go unused, unappreciated, unseen. What should I do with them?

On Wednesday evenings, I knit and crochet with a group of church ladies at our church. I took Aunt Faye's remaining lace to them last night. If anyone would appreciate the craft as much as I do, it would be these ladies. I was right. They loved them and could not believe how intricate and beautiful they were. They asked me about her and her life and her passing.

One woman took a pink square. She is in her eighties and a two-time breast cancer survivor. She lost her husband and all three of her daughters to cancer and raise two granddaughters, the youngest is now in her early twenties. She took this square to place on her table where she keeps her daughters' pictures.

One woman took a pink rectangle to place her crystal on. Her dining room is done in hues of rose and mauve and she had been looking for something just like it.

One woman took two for her bedside tables.

One woman asked if she could take the remainder to put up for auction. She and her husband are adopting a child from the Ukraine this coming spring. The child is a sixteen-year old girl, who needs a home before she's too old for the orphanage and they turn her out to God knows what kind of life. The woman and her husband need to come up with the money for travel and the miscellaneous fees that will come up. Aunt Faye never had children of her own, but she told me once that she wanted to adopt a girl but that was back in the day when they didn't let single women adopt. I thought this would be something Aunt Faye would be happy about.

At the end of our gathering time, we close in prayer. I was overwhelmed by the thanks they offered up to Aunt Faye's gifts and the blessing they asked for her lace. I know she's smiling in heaven. My hope is that her lace will be appreciated and passed on along with her memory.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Baking Day!!

I like to cook and I'm good at it but lately I haven't been too inspired. Little Man will only eat goldfish and chicken nuggets these days so making two meals at each meal time can be daunting. I do because my husband doesn't want to eat chicken nuggets and goldfish for every meal. The kitchen in our fixer-upper house is less than ideal for cooking; there's no flow. That doesn't mean that I don't whip out an awesome meal from time to time, because I do. And once we get around to remodeling and redesigning the kitchen, cooking and creating can resume.

In the meantime, Little Man is growing and because he's a boy, he eats all the time. No, he won't eat what he should like vegetables and such. Instead, he grazes in the pantry and the refrigerator all day. If he can't reach something, or open something, he calls me to come do it for him. It can be exhausting just feeding him all day. Often I walk into the kitchen to discover the refrigerator standing open. My husband, who was also a growing boy at one time, suggested that I keep a plate or dish of things the boy can just grab and eat. His mom did for him. He even told me a funny story of how he ate an entire pie after school as a snack. And yes, he ate dinner too. Sadly, the pie was not meant to be eaten as a snack.

So, today is baking day. I plan on baking muffins, cookies, and brownies. I hope the Little Man will like them. My plan is to get him to help me make these things. He likes to help in the kitchen and sometimes he takes an interest in something new if he's "cooked" it with Mommy. I know I'm looking forward to a warm blueberry muffin with butter on it. Mmmmm!

But, before I can start the baking of goodies, it's my turn to write on our blog and I need to bake up a good continuation of our story line. What things do you do for snacks for the family? What do you do when you need inspiration? What thoughts do you have about The Southern Tablet? Would love to hear from you!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Change Is A Good Thing

In just a matter of a few days, a few struggles, and a few tears, I am happy to announce Little Man is FINALLY potty trained. Yes, I expect a few accidents here and there, but he is now taking the initiative to do what he is supposed to do. Now to work on dressing himself. Soon, very soon, he will be mostly independent and will need me less and less. Yes, I am happy about this because I want him to be able and independent. I want him to grow up and be self-reliant and confident. I want a little me time back. Yes, this makes me sad because my baby is too fast becoming a little boy who will be a big boy and before too long be a young man. I miss my little snuggly guy. Already he pushes away when he's had too much. And dropping him off at school where he used to hug and cling to me, he now just waves me off and says, "Bye Mama."

Photo from
And just as quickly as they grow, they develop their own likes and dislikes. When he was a baby, one of his first words was 'tree.' He LOVED trees. We'd go to the park and he spent more time running from tree to tree, touching them, giggling, and saying "tree!" than he did playing on the slides. It was charming. So, what could a mother do? I put a tree in his room. Well, I ordered the tree and my husband put it up. I LOVED that tree. Recently, Little Man told me he didn't like the tree any more and he began pulling it off his wall. So today, with great sadness, I removed the rest of the tree. It was one of my favorite things about his room. And when I get around to fixer-uppering the bonus room into my craft/work room, I may order another one and put it in there. If you like it you can order it here. He took down all his Mickey Mouse stickers too. Now he's into pirates and fireworks. That will change someday too and he'll be into who knows what.

Meanwhile, my husband and I are celebrating our 7th anniversary on Sunday. Wow! Time flies when you are having fun! Where we started out celebrating our anniversaries with weekend trips, or visiting wineries for wine tasting, or a ride in the convertible or on the motorcycle. Now, we are going to a movie and then to dinner. We did that last year too. And I think we just went to dinner the year before that. Dinner and a movie used to be a common occurrence - now it's a treat. We don't get out much with our busy schedules and the Little Man and it's hard to sit in a dark movie theater without falling asleep since we've been sleep deprived for a number of years now. Don't laugh, but we are going to a matinee and then an early dinner so we can get home and get to bed at a reasonable hour. What can I say? We are both over 35. *ahem*

I'm constantly amazed how things change and never in the way I expect them too, and always for the best. Now that our literary journal has been launched and we're beginning to plan for March's issue, and I've finished the editing job I took on, and I'm finishing up the remaining projects I had, it's time to get back to my revisions on my novel (finally). While I've been toiling at other things, I've been marinating on ideas and scenes that need to be improved/discarded/rewritten. It's turning into quite a different story than I began. And that's for the better.

Monday, November 11, 2013

It's About Currency

This blog is about potty training and not money so if you're not interested, read no further. But since this is really the main focus of my life at this time, it's what's on my mind. Sometimes it's funny, others it's frustrating beyond words.

So, Little Man is still in potty training mode. He's getting better but he's resisting. He will go on the potty when we are visiting relatives, out to dinner, on a road trip, at school, and well, anywhere except at home. At home, he turns into the resistance army and goes into counter-offensive mode - hiding, running away, yelling, crying, and sometimes slapping. It takes a LOT of time and energy to coerce him into getting on the potty to just pee. And he always seems A) surprised and B) so proud of himself (like it was his idea) he announces it to the entire neighborhood. Meanwhile, I'm exhausted and chasing him around the house to get him dressed. As for the other end of business, that's a big no. He will go off and hide in another room to um, fill his pants. I know, gross.

We've tried everything positive: praise, stickers, rewards, treats, you name it. We've tried everything negative: time-out, taking away TV, taking away toys, etc. We've gone to taking away toys in increasing numbers: today it's one toy, tomorrow it's two toys, then three, etc. Right now the Little Man has a bed in his room and just a few toys left. He's even gotten into it by removing the stickers on his walls saying he doesn't want them any more. I applaud that he isn't a hoarder but still...

I did manage to locate his currency. Clearly his toys or TV don't mean anything to him. At least not enough to get him to willingly drop his drawers and go on the potty. So, what would? How could I let him know that it is just as important to be potty trained at home as it is everywhere else? Hmmm. His currency? Me.

Every night he will only fall asleep if I'm laying down next to him. Then, sometime in the middle of the night, he will come into our room. At first we let him climb into our bed. But now he's getting too big so we set up a cot in our room where he can go to sleep. Last weekend after he was quite adamant and rebellious about the potty and even told us he would NOT use the potty, we were done. So, the thing we took away from him? Me. Mommy put him in his bed, told him a story and left. The cot was removed and it was made very clear that until he uses the potty there will be no Mommy at night time.

Yes, this makes me cry. It breaks my heart to hear him cry. I fight my instinct to cuddle him in the middle of the night. But, at some point he has to understand his choices and consequences. This went on for two nights. Last night, he woke in the middle of the night, came to me and told me he had to go on the potty. I took him, he didn't do anything but he looked at me with big sad brown eyes and said "Mommy can sleep with me now." So, of course I did. God bless him he tried and he was figuring it out. Today he has been more cooperative and every time he'll say to me, "Mama, I went on the potty, you can sleep in my bed." So, yes, in a few minutes we will be going to bed. He earned his Mommy back.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Southern Tablet and Other Stuff

So this is November. November is a busy month. It is National Novel Writing Month, National Thankful Month, there's Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Christmas Tree lightings, Alabama plays Auburn (Roll Tide), and the beginnings of all things Holidays. Love this time of year!

Courtesy of
Best part of holiday season? Food. I LOVE food. I'm not a cake/pie/cookie person but I do like gravy and mashed potatoes, and hors d'oeuvres, and stuffing, and casseroles, and souffl├ęs, and wine. Ummmm..... This could be why I need to hit that place, what's it called? Oh yeah, the gym. *pout*

Another outstanding thing happening this November is the launching of a new literary journal called The Southern Tablet. The first edition makes its debut on Saturday, November 9th. Initially, it will be online only, but within a year there should be a print version as well. You can see the journal at So, what's my interest in this? No big deal, I'm just Managing Editor. That and I have one story and one essay being featured in it. Well, everyone on our staff has two pieces featured. We will be accepting submissions beginning in January for our March issue. If you are interested in submitting, please see the website for the guidelines.

Also, this month we launched our accompanying blog called The Southern Tablet. You can find it at What is awesome about our blog is we are writing a round-robin novel in honor of our launch and NaNoWriMo. Each one of us chose a day to write a chapter of a story. My day is Tuesday. If you have a chance, check it out. Not just my entry, of course, the whole thing. It's really good and who knew that we were actually that creative! Then keep up with it until the conclusion.

What do you have going on this November, aside from catching up on our blog and breathlessly awaiting The Southern Tablet? Yes, I plan on getting back to my revisions on my novel. Things quiet down a bit after Saturday. Would love to hear from you!

Monday, November 4, 2013

What Time Is It?

Courtesy of
So, my husband and I joined a gym. Yippy. For those of you who know me, you not only heard the sarcasm in that "yippy" but you felt it too. Hubby likes to be active, so this is going to be good for him. Plus he says he wants to lose weight and get back into shape. I get that. There's a daycare for the Little Man so that's good for him.

Courtesy of
I don't like working out. There, I said it out loud. I don't like to sweat. I don't like to breathe hard. I don't like to "work it." I do not understand why anyone would want to "feel the burn" and it is not a good thing to feel sore the next day. Deliberately hurting yourself is called masochism. It is abnormal behavior and psychiatrists can prescribe medication for that condition. However, I do want to lose weight. I'd like to be the size I was when I got married, which yes, ladies, was the size I was in high school. I'd like to drop my blood pressure so I can be around for the Big Man and Little Man for another 30 years. God knows they need me. So, I'll try this working out thing.

This gym may not be so bad. First, it doesn't smell like a gym. Nothing worse than walking into a place and smelling sweat and bad breath. Yuck. This gym is air conditioned. I don't like to be hot, so I was pleased to see the A/C set at 63 degrees. They offer yoga at normal temperatures and best of all, they have treadmills and elliptical machines in a movie theater! So, I think I'll be able to find things to do and going there won't be too depressing.

Courtesy of
While we were being sold on the gym, the salesman health consultant said that if we made just 3 hours a week a priority, we'd see results. I guess he thought my priority was results. Actually, the 3 hours per week is what got me. I still don't know where I'm going to find 3 hours a week. If you know me, then you know that time is a HUGE issue with me so I started thinking about all the things we are supposed to spend time on during the week. After a little research, here's the list according to the pundits:

  • Sleeping = 56 hrs.
  • Personal hygiene (showering, teeth brushing, etc.) = 7 hrs.
  • Food (cooking, eating, clean up for 3 meals per day) = 21 hrs.
  • Work = 40 hrs.
  • House Work (includes laundry) = 21 hrs.
  • Yard Work = 4 hrs.
  • Budgeting (includes paying bills) = 1 hr.
  • Planning (setting up the next week) = 2 hrs.
  • Errands = 6 hrs.
  • Entertainment (TV, movies, etc.) = 14 hrs.
  • Socialization (parties, conversation, etc.) = 4 hrs.
  • Interactive time with the dogs = 15 hrs.
  • Interactive time with the child = 21 hrs.
  • Working out = 3 hrs.
Grand Total is 215 hours of things to do each week. The down side is that there are only 168 hours in a week so I'm short 47 hours each week. I guess I'll just have to give up sleeping to fit everything else in. What? You say I'm a stay home mom so I don't work? Wrong. I do work. I write, edit, do revisions, teach crocheting and knitting and we are days away from launching a literary magazine. I work from home. And I try to do all the other things I'm supposed to do too. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. What do you do during the course of the week? How do you spend your time?