If you wanna feel better about your family, just read about ours...

Starring: a dad, a mom, a son & daughter-in-law, a daughter & son-in-law, a teen, a tween, 1 grandson, 3 granddaughters, 4 dogs, and a whole lot of love.

Family Story Pic

Family Story Pic


Sunday, October 29, 2017

She Would Be Proud...

My mom ("Mamaw" to her grandchildren) passed away on October 14th. Ironically, she died on what would've been my Mamaw's ("Mamaw Putter" to her great-grandchildren) birthday. I'm not gonna lie, it's been a rough couple of weeks.

But if you're expecting a serious reflective post right now, feel free to turn back, because that's not what this is. I've cried a thousand tears and mourned privately, maybe harder than I've ever mourned before. And now it's time to heal. For me, laughter brings healing and no one understood that better than my mom. She absolutely loved to laugh and had a delightfully inappropriate sense of humor. So in her honor, I'm gonna start the healing for myself right now, find the humor in sadness, and in the process, make her proud.

Speaking of making her proud, so many times over the course of these 2 weeks, I found myself remarking to my family, "Mom would be so proud right now."

Roughly 36 hours before she passed away, my 2 sisters and I were together with our husbands at a Schuler's bakery buying all of their remaining chocolate cream-filled donuts and eating them straight from the box on our walk back to my nephew's soccer game.
She would've been proud.

On the morning she died, I woke to a voice-to-text message from my dad. Had I listened to the voicemail first, I would have heard him say that my mom is in heaven now. But I read the text translation first, which said that my mom is in the oven now. So in a disturbing sort of way, it kind of acted like an ice breaker, cuz heaven is way better than the oven when you stop and think about it. She would've laughed. It made me laugh, too.
And she would be proud.

The Monday after she passed away, I ate a chocolate cake for breakfast. Not some chocolate cake. A chocolate cake. She would be proud.

I spent 3 hours in my pajamas crying over my computer keyboard as I tried to sum up my mom's life in obituary form. And then I ate a whole pizza by myself, because it seemed like the right thing to do. And she was always a fan of "the right thing to do." She would be proud.

I refused to cut her obituary short, but my sisters and I also refused to pay the $10.80 cents per line that the newspaper charges, because our mom never condoned highway robbery. So her obituary is now partially listed on roughly 7 different memorial sites that claimed to be free, and then they'd ask for our credit card number because the "free" only lasted for 14 days, so we'd abort mission and move onto the next site, until we finally ended up posting it as a facebook status. She would be proud.

I didn't cancel any of my Zumba classes that week, because:
1. Music speaks to my soul
2. So does sexy dancing cardio
3. In light of my newfound 'if-you-don't-cut-something-into-slices-it's-considered-a-single-serving' philosophy, life needs to go on...and unfortunately for everybody, so do pants.
She would be proud.

My younger sister and her family came over for dinner and we planted "Mamaw trees" at the end of our driveway. None of us have ever planted trees before. We're on day 11 and both trees are still standing upright.
She would be proud.

If at any point a tree tips over, I'll imagine her boisterous laugh in my head, and know that she would still be proud.

I served biscuits with dinner that night and periodically a clump of dry bitter baking powder would burst into my mouth when I took a bite. She would be proud.

I didn't accidentally use baking soda in my biscuits, a mix-up she was notorious for. Let's be honest here...she would be slightly disappointed I didn't inherit that super-fun-at-dinner-parties trait.

My dad and older sister held my mom's memorial service in Texas yesterday. I didn't attend. Instead, my younger sister and I hosted a balloon launch and family get-together last Sunday in her honor. We each feel the void in our lives, everyone mourns differently, and I'm deeply grateful that all of my family members understand and respect each other's need to say goodbye in our own way. She would too. And she would be proud.

Someone I barely know, who was also planning on attending the service in Texas, approached me at our balloon launch and excitedly said, "I can't wait to get up and talk about your mom during the service next Saturday." I wasn't sure a live mic was going to be a thing, so I messaged my niece to warn her...*flash to her 6'5, 300lb husband in a suit with an earpiece in his ear and the visible bulge of a gun on his thigh guarding the microphone from hijackers...* My mom would be SO proud.

Speaking of my niece's husband, during the service at the Baptist Church full of old people, he explained about the toilet my mom kept in her front yard and used as a flower pot. She would definitely be proud. But he saved the pooping her pants at a Chinese buffet and all of the stories involving profanity for the private brunch afterward with family. Dammit, man. We're supposed to be making her proud.

It's been 2 weeks. I'm still mourning. And I'm laughing. And I'm crying. And of course dancing, because, you know...cardio. Basically, my emotions have turned into a day in the life of Ecclesiastes 3. It's a fun ride for one and all.

But at the end of each day, when it's all said and done, I hold on to the things I know to be true:
I miss her. I know where she is. Our family is here for each other.

And there's no question in my mind...she would be proud.
I love you, Mom.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Now and Then

 Last year, I took Caymen on a little day trip down my memory lane, that included drive-by's of the house I grew up in, my elementary school, high school, first church, and first job. For some reason, that made an enormous impression on her.

So I decided it'd be fun to take it to the next level. I reached out to a dear friend, Miss Terry, and she hooked me up with the phone number to the elementary school principal, who was kind enough to allow me to take Caymen on an unsupervised tour last week.

We loaded up that morning and headed out on our most epic memory adventure yet.

We began our day at the high school (home of the Braves, yo) to say hello to Miss Terry. Just so we're clear, I'm not one of those people who mourns her high school days. Besides cheerleading, I didn't have a big identity in high school. I wasn't popular, but I wasn't unpopular...or maybe that's just something unpopular people say. My goal was simply to get out of high school, fall in love, get married, have babies, and live happily ever after. Mission accomplished. The fact that I still put on my old cheerleading uniform and force my daughters to pose for annual mother/daughter cheer pics is irrelevant.

We met up with Miss Terry, who proceeded to spoil Caymen with cookies and books in the exact room where I flunked pre-algebra. Whatever. Glad somebody could have some happy memories in that room.

Then it was off to my elementary school. The good old Possum Eagles. (Who came up with that?) Despite my hatred of school that I still can't explain, I feel a bond with that building. the teachers I had (mostly good), and the many friendships that were formed there. When you spend Kindergarten through 8th grade with basically the same people, you will form lifelong bonds with them. I mean, this is when the memories you can actually remember start, right? That's kind of a big deal.

It only made sense to start at the beginning. The Kindergarten room, which oddly enough smells exactly the same, but at the age of 45, I immediately pinpointed the underlying source: urine. Something Caymen and I have in common was that we both cried every day in Kindergarten. Every.Day. The difference is, my poor sweet Mrs. Haycox had to deal with it, whereas Caymen's wonderful Mrs. Easton got a reprieve when the principal stepped in and allowed us to slowly wean Caymen in at her own pace, sometimes one hour a day...and her room didn't smell like pee, so there's that. So Caymen and I thought it'd be appropriate to go into the Kindergarten room and put on our sob faces for old times sake.

She asked if we could go into the teacher's lounge beside the Kindergarten room. Dude. No. We'd be soooo busted.

We proceeded through the old elementary annex, where the smell shifted from urine to asbestos and lead paint. That's where Mrs. Haycox was promoted my first grade year...if you call getting stuck with me in her class a second year in a row a promotion.

My 2nd grade year, I had Mrs. Wright. She'd sneak me sunflower seeds as a snack. Can you even imagine that happening today? She could've killed me the one year I finally stopped crying. But I also can't imagine kids today reading a poem in their phonics book called 'I'm being eaten by a boa constrictor' either, yet there we were. Any 45 year olds with an irrational fear of being swallowed whole by a snake? Anyone? *raises hand*

On our way to my 3rd grade classroom with Mrs. Joseph, we stopped by the cafeteria and checked out the wall where they'd hang a big screen and show us the movie 'Where The Red Fern Grows' on the last day of school every year. They either secretly thrived on my tears or wanted to ruin everybody's summer, but no amount of giant rectangle pizzas, greasy round fiestadas, or huge sugary peanut butter balls will ever outweigh the memories of the tragic dog death movie in that room, albeit close.

From there, we graduated to the upstairs corner 4th grade room of Mrs. Dunmire, where every Monday, we were required to make a flower to hang on the bulletin board as a form of discipline that week. If you screwed up, you had to tear a pedal off, and then you personally destroyed your own work of art with each offense. Sure, I could've chosen to behave in such a way as to keep my flower whole each week, but I choose not to live in the world of regret.

Across the hall, 5th grade became middle school and we began changing classes between Mrs. Short, Mrs. Wells, and Mrs. Rollins...the super scary social studies teacher who'd lean over me and her round gold locket necklace would dangle in front of my face in what I can only assume was an attempt to either hypnotize me, make me cry, pee myself, or at the very least, wish I was back across the hall tearing pedals off. If so, she won. All of the above.

6th grade consisted of Mrs. Short, Mr. Short, and Mrs. Spriggs, who was almost tolerable unless she wore her outfit covered in giant vines of purple grapes. That outfit seemed to bring out the worst in her...or maybe it was me...but tempers ran high in Room 33.

In the 7th grade, we graduated to blue lockers. Speaking of big deals. That's also the year I first began cheering...for Possum Middle School...abbreviated in cheers to "PMS"...and at the tender ages of 12-14 was forced to chant "P-M-S...forever, the best!" in front of crowds of people. Yeah, that didn't scar me at all.

It was also in the 7th grade that I was introduced to 3 life-altering concepts.

The first was journaling. I will never forget Miss Carleson-turned Mrs. Sewell, standing at the chalkboard writing a sentence that we used the first 5 minutes of class journaling about. It was the first time in my life that I was encouraged to tap into random thoughts and as it turns out, I have an over-abundance of random thoughts. And as it also turns out, you can make a little living writing random thoughts. Who knew?

The 2nd came from across the hall where Mrs. Brown introduced me to the horrid concept of Science Fairs and the 3rd happened upstairs when Mr. Stultz proceeded to ruin everything I knew to be normal in my world when he mixed letters and numbers called algebra in what proved to be a disastrous combination for me. Thirty-three years later, my feelings haven't changed. And I counted on my fingers to know it was 33 years ago, so ha.

Those same concepts were carried over into the 8th grade, with the same results. Writing, yes. Science, no. Math, oh hell no. Then throw in the time I got in trouble for sharing my opinion in history class that I wasn't going on the DC field trip because I thought it'd be boring. Can we discuss how I've still never gone to DC because I still think it'd be boring? What? No one thinks that but me? Ok, cool. (Baby Boomers, zip it. You're no longer entitled to scold me for my opinions.)

 While we were upstairs, our tour wouldn't have been complete without a stop by my 2 most frequented places through all of my years there. The library. And the nurse's station. Put me where the books are and I'll happily lose myself in a world of fiction. Force me into a row and lay a test on my desk, and I'd most likely land on a cot with a stomach ache until she called my mom to pick me up.

Yet another bond Caymen and I share. She said, "That's no fair. Our nurse never lets me go home. She takes my temperature and then calls you to tell you I'm not sick." I explained, "That's because you show up in her office at the exact time you know my Zumba class is ending in hopes that I'll pick you up on my way home. She's onto you." *rolls eyes*...amateur.

No elementary tour would be complete without mentioning the extras. Gym where we'd bowl, race on scooters, jump on a trampoline, and try to kill each other with a dodge ball. There were no written reports in our day. It was gym, for crying out loud. On the same note, in music class, we'd sing songs. That's it. We'd sing and it was fun. And then there was Art class...where Mrs. Conover would yell and literally throw away your stuff if it wasn't done "right." We need not wonder why I'm not crafty.

I had so much fun telling Caymen my stories, watching her laugh, and seeing my childhood through her eyes.

When we arrived back to our neck of the woods, we went to our little ice cream shop, and then we had a picnic in the grass in front of her school. This is a place where lots of her memories are being made. Many of her opinions are being formed, concepts introduced, and talents can either be honed or discouraged. This is her now. Not so very different from my then.

Who knows, maybe someday, she'll return here to walk her kids through these halls to share her memories...or better yet, maybe she'll be enrolling them here to create their own.

Monday, July 3, 2017

The River Wild

Jusssst sit right back and you'll hear a tale,
a tale of a fateful trip,
that started from this tropic port,

(aka; a deep muddy incline under a busy overpass)

aboard this tiny ship.

(Or in our case, a giant homemade inflatable raft consisting of a bunch of inner-tubes tied together.)
The mate was a mighty sailin' man,
the skipper brave and sure,
 twelve passengers set sail that day,
(7 adults, one 10 year old, 2 toddlers, and 2 unborn babies)
for a four hour tour,
("How long will it take to float from County Line to Snyder Park?"
"An hour or 2 tops.")
The waters started getting rough,

our homemade boat was tossed,

despite the cell phone GPS,
the Courters, we were lost,
the Courters, we were lost.
So this was the tale of us castaways,
we were there for a long long time.
We had to make the best of things,
it was an uphill climb.
We lost Gatorades and tennis shoes,
but managed not to freeze,
the toddlers came away unscathed,
but for an irrational fear of trees.

So the next time we try tubing,
information we should seek.
County Line is on the Mad River,
Snyder Park is on Buck Creek.
Snyder Park is on BUCK CREEK!!!!

In the cast of Gilligan's Island, our family is short one Professor. 
And one of these days, my eyes are gonna roll straight out of my head.
*A huge THANK YOU to Nick's dad, Jim, for the ride from the highway back to our cars...and an apology for kinda being in-lawed to us forever.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Take Me Out To The Fall-Game

Be forewarned that just because it's been 3 months since my last post, doesn't mean I don't have a lot of ridiculousness to catch you up on, so be prepared for more frequent posts in the near future. I'll just go ahead and apologize right now.

Someone (probably Zac, because most of our family events originate with him), found a special deal being offered by the Columbus Clippers baseball organization. For $25, you and your party of 10 or more could enjoy all you can eat sliders, hot dogs, popcorn, chips, and cookies, on a private balcony, while watching a Clippers game. How could we not? So we gathered our family of 10, invited Kearstin's boyfriend and his brother to join us, starved ourselves for a day, and headed off to spend an evening of eating. Um, I mean, watching a baseball game.

We found our way to our 3rd floor balcony where food was laid out buffet-style.

Let me just take a minute to clear something up. We don't go to these events looking for trouble, and to be fair, a lot of what happened there that night was unavoidable.
1. We can't control wind. Please.
2. We didn't design the table and chairs to be up against the edge of the railing overlooking right field. Come on.
3. Plates, napkins, and cardboard boxes of popcorn? What were they thinking.
4. Positioning a security guard directly below our balcony was nothing short of entrapment.

Right away, one of our tickets went flying over the edge onto the field and landed beside a player from the visiting team who looked up at me and then slid it into his back pocket. Fine. Keep our ticket and nobody get mad. (Refer back to #1 of things outside of our control.)

So we filled our plates, sat down in our seats, and focused on eating while they played their little baseball game...or whatever. That's when Ron's full box of popcorn fell over the edge of the balcony onto right field. Now, anyone who knows my husband, knows he doesn't go around throwing perfectly good food over the sides of balconies willy nilly. Popcorn weighs like nothing, and refer back to #'s 1-3 of things that weren't our choice. Actually, go ahead and include #4, because that's when Security made us a little visit to let us know that things from our balcony have been falling onto the field.
Dude. We know. We were there.

Before he arrived back to his post below us, Kearstin's plate and Barbara's napkin landed on the field. (Numbers 1-4, people. I can't keep reminding you this wasn't our fault.)

But for the rest of the game, we managed to keep our food and accessories off the field. That is, until 8th Inning when my granddaughter threw her Na Na over the side of the balcony and onto the field. To clarify: A Na Na is a pacifier and it was thrown. Not blown. Thrown.

So bye bye Na Na, right? Wrong. Not only does she love her Na Na, but that Na Na came from Nick's mom's house and she'd specifically told them to return that Na Na...the one currently laying in right field directly below Security...back to Granna's.

As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures. So being the good Chuckles that he is, Ron looked up the right fielder's name and began repeatedly yelling at him. "MARK! GET GRANNA'S NA NA!" Of all the things Mark's ever heard yelled at him from the stands, I'm willing to bet this one was the hardest to ignore. But ignore he did, because Mark isn't going to throw away his shot at the big leagues someday to satisfy his curiosity of what a Granna or a Na Na might be.

If right-field-Mark wouldn't get Granna's Na Na, surely the bat boy would. It's like his job. So Aubrey and Nick found their way to the seats behind the bat boy and began nicely asking for this one teeny tiny little favor...pretty please and thank you, walk out onto right field and save Granna's Na Na!
And he did!

Right-field-Mark could really take a lesson on priorities from the true team player.

It's rare that any of my posts end with an 'And they lived happily ever after' moment, yet here we are.
As for the Clippers baseball organization and their security team...well, they might wanna know that Ron's department decided to host their annual picnic there for their employees. And their family. This Saturday.
We're coming for you, Mark.
And we're bringing our Na Nas.