happy new year 2015

My year-end wrap up (12/31/2014)

happy new year 2015

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is well, over.

This year has flown by – but every year has gone by at warp speed since I have officially become an adult.

Officially being an adult means, I have to pay for, hide and wrap presents for a child.

The rest of the year seems to be divided amongst the two seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.”

I don’t know what 2015 will hold – with the exception Marty McFly will arrive at some point in October in a DeLorean (someone may want to tell him to tell the Doc to ditch the car when he returns to 1985) – but I know 2014 was nothing like I expected.

This year showed me how things can change so suddenly. I lost Granny in March, after just seeing her a few weeks earlier. I had no idea that day in February would be the last time I would see her. Had I known, I would have talked to her more, had one last argument between our stubborn, too familiar selves.

A few months later, the world lost Robin Williams. I was greatly saddened by his death, growing up with “Mork & Mindy,” complete with Mork’s rainbow striped suspenders. I wore them with my “Dukes of Hazzard” shirt when I was younger. I apparently wanted to support my favorite television shows in one fell swoop of branding failure.

Then, Joan Rivers passed away. I wasn’t a huge fan of Joan Rivers – if anyone remembers the huge long distance wars of the ‘80’s, they remember Rivers’ commercials, with her saying, “Can we talk?” as she belittled AT&T and hawked Sprint. Well, guess who Mama worked for? And as a card-toting member of the union, she was loyal to the core for whoever gave her a paycheck and helped her dress her baby in tacky t.v. themed clothing.

Posthumously, to Mama’s chagrin, I found myself liking the comedienne after hearing more about her life.

“She still promoted the competition,” Mama said, not as quick to forgive in death.

Some celebrities had their private photos hacked and leaked without their permission. People were quick to say how they shouldn’t have taken them in the first place; but mostly, people were wanting to know where to see them for free.

While the privacy and rights of some celebrities was horribly violated, the Internet came under attack when Kim Kardashian attempted to break it.

As we know, naked and nekkid are two different things – and she was, well, nekkid.

“Why? Oh, my Lord, why?” was all I heard as my child ran into my office.

“I saw a nekkid woman on the computer,” he cried. “Why?! Does she not have clothes? Please, tell me someone set a timer on the camera and was not standing there, taking a picture of that!”

My 10-year-old has seen a lot of unintentional nekkidness this year – first, when a news clip showed Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, and then when he was on a news site that had a link about Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet.

“Mama, I hate to say this,” he said moments later. “About that picture, of the naked woman…”
I waited for him to finish.

“I’m craving Krispy Kreme donuts now….”

I could see his point. There was a whole lot of glaze going on. We later found out that her posing nude helped Kardashian’s self-confidence. If the last few years have been her with low self-confidence, can you imagine what she’s going to do now?

2014 told me I was all about that bass, “‘bout that bass, no treble,” which is fine, but I don’t think I am shakin’, shakin’, like I’m supposed to.

Aside from pop culture happenings, I saw a lot of changes in myself.

I tried to release my vise-like grip and let my child take swimming lessons over the summer, convinced I didn’t want him to be like me and not learn to swim until nearly 20.

I was informed by Cole he wasn’t entirely too sure about the cleanliness of the water with so many strange bottoms in it. Did they bathe before swimming?

I decided to homeschool my child, which has been a challenge but worth it. He has told me he wasn’t sure he was getting the ‘full learning package’ so I went out and bought him four workbooks to enjoy.

It is also the end of 2014 and I still have yet to use algebra. But more than algebra, I found I hate Common Core math.

2014 gave us ice bucket challenges as a way to raise money and awareness. v

And selfies became an everyday – almost every hour – occurrence for some. Hashtagging also didn’t make things trend just because of the symbol formally known as the pound sign.

“Did you have a good year?” Granny would ask as the year would wind down. I told her once, no, I hadn’t and was ready to tell her all the things bad that had happened.

Instead, the old gal looked at me and snorted.

“Well, what did you do about it? If you didn’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it. Don’t focus on what was wrong – look at what went right.

“That’s what’s wrong with a lot of your generation. Y’all a bunch of spoiled young’uns. I blame MTV. Y’all think everything is supposed to be flashy and exciting like one of them music videos. It’s not. Life ain’t pretty. It’s real. And it’s supposed to be lived to the fullest.”

With that perspective in mind, 2014 was lived to the fullest – full of love, learning and embracing change.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings.

What Mary knew (12/24/2014)

A teacher told me once she had never met a more inquisitive, curious child as mine. “He is just full of questions.” I am not sure if her implications meant that to be a good thing or not.

He does ask dozens of questions at all times. I think he constantly thinks up things to ask and when he doesn’t have one, he makes up a question.

I was the same way as a child, still am to a degree. Except instead of being told as I was, “To look it up,” and handed a dictionary or encyclopedia (Mama preferred the old Funk & Wagnall’s edition she and Granny got me with S&H green stamps), Cole will usually Google something.

Not everything finds a clear explanation on the Internet though.

“Mama, why did Jesus die?” was one question he asked.

I told him it was to pay for all of our sins.


“Even the people who kill and do bad things? He paid for that, too?”

I told him he did. Grace is unearned.

This was a lot to process, which meant, many, many more questions.

“Is that fair?” he wanted to know.

I am not sure if it is. I told him that was something I couldn’t answer. It was something I had wondered about myself before.

“Why did those people beat him? Did that hurt?” was another question.

I told him I am sure it did. It was not something I liked thinking about at all.

“Did he know that was going to happen?”

Yes, he knew.

“Then why didn’t he run?”

I told him he knew that wasn’t part of the plan.

“I don’t understand how being crucified can kill someone…couldn’t he have lived?”

I explained, to the best of my rudimentary theological knowledge that being crucified caused him to suffocate. It was a painful, long-suffering, tedious way to die.

“Why did they laugh at him and make fun of him? Didn’t they know who he was?”

That’s why they made fun of him and ridiculed him.

“Did Mary see him die?”

She did.

“That had to upset her. Don’t you think that broke her heart?”

Oh, yes, it did. I think to say it was devastating is putting it mildly. I have no words to describe what that had to be like.

“Did she know he was going to die before then?”

I wasn’t sure. We can assume she did. There were things that happened – a prophet telling her that her son will divide Israel and would cause her great pain as well.

Maybe she had an inkling, a fear or worry from the circumstances in which he was born.

She knew he was destined for greatness, but did she know the great cost?

“Do you think she would have let him do the things he did if she knew it would mean he would die?”

That I don’t know. As a mother, I am selfish when it comes to my child. I can’t imagine how Mary felt, it brings my heart pain to think about it.

She knew she would name her baby Jesus, Emmanuel, which means “God with us.”

I am sure she wanted to change places with her firstborn child that day, take his place on the cross, but that was not the way it was supposed to happen.

“So on Christmas, we celebrate his birth, but we know that baby was going to die?”

I know this was far too much for a child to understand; it’s hard for me to process, especially knowing Mary held her baby and swaddled him and watched him grow up, just to be crucified.

I used to lose it when I saw the crucifixion scene in movies, but now as a mother, my heart is softened towards this story of this baby, born of a virgin in a manger.

Did Mary know?

Deep down, I think she did and maybe despite that, she wouldn’t change a thing.

You see, it’s not about what’s under the tree, it’s about a gift far greater.

Surviving childhood (12/17/2014)

Cole is fascinated by war stories.

Both the real, historical type of documentaries and the type that entail his father as a boy.

Boy war stories, where usually a tree, pole or the sidewalk were the victors.

By the time his daddy was his age, Lamar had already suffered numerous concussions.

Lamar once had a gushing head wound.

Instead of being taken to the doctor, he was put in the bath tub so he wouldn’t bleed out on the carpet.

I get that – carpet is never truly clean. And it was white, so a protein stain like blood would be a colossal pain.

Then there was the time he was knocked unconscious and put in the tub again. I guess back then, the tub was the answer for every head injury.

I have said if I can keep Cole from having half the accidents his father did, I will be a glowing success.

Cole had a brief moment where he wanted a skateboard.

“Daddy had one,” was his argument.

“Go ask Daddy about his experience with it,” was my comeback.

He had a story about a broken collar bone to share.

Cole decided maybe he didn’t need a skate board after all.

My child can’t fathom that these are just some of the reasons that I am hyper-vigilant about his safety.

At one point, I had actually considered making him wear a helmet at all times. He was a toddler that crash landed into furniture. Or laundry baskets filled with clothes that needed to be folded thusly reinforcing my theory laundry didn’t need to be put away immediately.

My childhood was relatively unscathed, but I did have a near death experience once.

I had a few brushes with harm and scary situations. Usually it involved eating too much. Let me just say this, catfish, watermelon and ice cream all in the same August day makes one for sick chubby kid.

But my near death experience came from finding out I am deathly allergic to bees.

I told Mama the bee sting felt funny. Mama didn’t look up from her Virginia Slim and crossword puzzle long enough to notice I was already all swollen up.

“Go lie down,” was all she said.

She may have offered a Twinkie to make it feel better; back then, Twinkies were my cure -all, like wine and cheesecake are now.

I’m not sure how long it was before I was barely breathing but I do remember Granny having a wreck with the pharmacist on the way to the emergency room.

I thought for sure I was going to die. Who was going to give me anti-bee venom if she killed the pharmacist from Eckerd’s?

Amazing, I survived only to have Mama constantly ask me if I have Benadryl with me.

It may not have been as sensational as a gushing head wound, but I did cut my leg wide open once.

Being clumsy as I am, I had tripped and cut my shin. I didn’t realize I had been cut until Granny asked why I was wearing one red sock and one white. The last thing I remember about that was my blood curdling scream and the scar I still have.

I think I was more upset about my shoes getting messed up; even then, I had a thing about shoes.

“Anything else happen to you? That maybe put you in imminent danger,” my child wanted to know.

Honestly, my mother would have put me in a bubble like that kid in that horrible John Travolta movie if she could. As a parent, I am grateful and can understand, but as a child, she was a major joy-kill.

“Well, I did call the police on your Nennie once,” I said.

His eyes widened. “You did? Why?”

It was a deed every child had done – jumping on the bed. Except this little monkey fell off and bonked her head. Three times in a row. And each time, Mama rushed me to the emergency room to make sure I didn’t have some kind of internal bleeding on the brain.

If she took me to the emergency room that often now it would look suspicious, but I am fairly certain the nurses referred to her as “The Hysterical Over-reacting Redhead.”

“You called the po-po because she took you to the emergency room?” Cole asked.


After the third trip to the hospital, Mama told me, Virginia Slim held high in the air to not “jump on that bed ever again,” as she pointed to her bed. I promised I wouldn’t.

And I didn’t.

I was jumping on Granny’s guest bed, lace curtains in hand, cowgirl hat and boots on, as I called, “High Ho Silver, away!” while I held on to my stick horse.

Mama yanked me down, popped me solidly on my tater and sent me on my way.

I snuck into Granny’s bedroom and pulled down the old big, heavy black phone. One ringy-dingy later, I had an operator on the line.

“I need the po-leese,” I whispered. “What is your emergency?” the operater asked.

“I am being beaten within an inch of my life,” I said. This prompted the operator to want more info: What had happened, was I hurt, did I feel like my life was in danger?

As Mama pushed on the door, demanding to know what I was doing, I told the operator, “Oh, yes! It is!”

Mama was able to convince the operator everything was fine – she explained how the doctors practically knew me by the x-rays of my head – but assured her I was going to get an earnest whooping afterwards.

“Did Nennie spank you hard?” Cole asked.

Boy, she was mad. But she didn’t. She couldn’t.

I had made her laugh, and that’s probably why I lived to tell about it.


Dog Envy (12/10/2014)

I admit, I make a big fuss over these pups. These sassy, spoiled girls are pretty special to me and I do tend to love on them constantly.

I don’t have a favorite – I love them all the same.

Really, I do.

But Cole will tell you Angel Doodle, the curvy pit-mix, is my baby girl.

I was on the phone one night with Mama, telling her the Doodle’s latest escapades. She is quite the mischievous little whosa, getting into quite the pickles and jams but getting off scot free due to her adorableness.

How can you not adore a little weeble-wobble who wakes you in the morning, putting one paw on your shoulder while she pushes her head into your other for an embrace? It’s preciousness!

She still thinks she is the teeny tiny puppy I brought home from Walmart last spring and tries to get up on my lap. As a puppy, I could position my laptop to one side, her in a corner and she would sleep for hours. Now, that arrangement is not working so well.

And said laptop is looking worse for wear. Three buttons are missing, thanks to the Doodle.

Not entirely her fault. She was playing with Pumpkin and the Border collie got a wee bit too rough for her.

Of course, if you raise your voice at the Doodle, she will hide behind the couch and cry.

But she jumped up on my lap and took off two buttons one night, another the next.

I was telling Mama how the Doodle’s newest theme song is “All About That Bass.”

Yes, she has a theme song….and yes, I sing it to her.

As Mama and I laughed about the goings on of my girls, particularly the pit-mix, Cole glared at me over his laptop.

“She can do no wrong!” he exclaimed.


“The Doodle,” he said, sounding disgusted. “If I tore three buttons off your laptop, you would be mad, but Doodle does it and it’s ‘oh, heeheee, bless it, she was scared!'”

“That’s not true,” I said.

“Yes, it is. You are always loving on the Doodle, kissing the Doodle -”

“That little spot between her eyes just begs to be kissed,” was my defense.

It does. Really. If you saw her, you’d want to kiss it too.

And she loves it – she pushes her little head in to get more kisses.

“You call Nennie to tell her the Doodle News. It’s ridiculous.”

Where did this come from? The Doodle was actually curled up next to the child on the couch, sleeping good and looking oh, so adorable. She had even been able to win over Lamar, who had proclaimed one night if the German shepherd couldn’t get on the bed, she wasn’t either. We found her later, asleep with her head on his stomach.

“What?” he said defensively. “She’s just a baby.”

“He’s jealous of the Doodle,” Mama said on the phone. “You’re not paying enough attention to him!”

That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. The president gets less attention than this child.

“Mama, he gets plenty of attention. Trust me.”

“No, I don’t!” Cole cried. He woke the Doodle from her pre-bedtime nap. Sensing his agitation, she licked his face, pawing at him to say everything was OK.

“Cole! You get plenty of attention! If you got more, I’d have to hire someone to come here!” I exclaimed. “I hate to say this, but I think you are being a tad bit silly.”

He dropped those lashes and said ruefully, “Said the woman who was jealous of a cat.”

“What?” Mama asked on the other end. It’s hard having a discussion – one in person, one on the phone. And now Doodle was needing to be cuddled; her nap was cut short. It was 8 p.m. – bed time would be soon. Who was going to soothe her?

“Who was jealous of a cat?” I asked.


“Who?” Mama said. “You haven’t had a cat in years. Is he jealous of Kate?”

Kate is my uncle’s million dollar cat. She is fierce, wild and rules the western corridor of Walton County from her perch in my grandmother’s closet.

“I believe he’s referring to me,” I said.

“Why were you jealous of a cat? Oh….wait a second. He means my Bennie, doesn’t he?” she said.

Yes, he meant her Bennie. Her Bennie, who was, I will admit, a beautiful, sweet heart of a cat. All black and white fluffy fur, she would mold to you when you hugged her. Unlike other cats, Bennie wasn’t aloof but quite the hostess, entering a room, tail high to greet company when they arrived.

When I had returned from my honeymoon with the ex, we went to see Mama at her post-retirement, trying not be bored to death, job at Walmart. Mama called a co-worker over, saying: “I want you to meet my baby.”

The woman looked at me confused.

“Jean, I thought Bennie was a cat?”

I promptly shrugged Mama’s arm off my shoulders.

“Your baby is a cat? You talk about your cat more than you do me? You love that cat – more than you do me!”

Mama looked at me straight faced and said: “Well, Bennie’s not going to ever up and marry and leave me, now is she?”

I didn’t mean to do it. But I had been making a big fuss over the Doodle – her firsts, her puppy cuteness.

“She’s almost two and weighs more than I do. She’s not a puppy anymore!” Cole will say.

Maybe not. But I was making him feel like she was more important than him and that was not right and not true.

And if anyone knew how wrong that was, it was me.

Living up to a cat was tough enough, I shouldn’t expect my own child to live up to a Doodle.


You can’t go home again (12/3/2014)

Dear old Thomas Wolfe may have been right when he wrote, “You can’t go home again” back in the 1940s.

Or maybe he just lived in an area much like the one I grew up near, that had gone from a charming, eclectic college town to a bustling metropolitan city with new roads and different exits.

OK, maybe saying Athens is a bustling metro area is pushing it, but when your biggest traffic jam involves a cow and some bossy strutting chickens, anything with more than two lanes seems metropolitan. It’s just a lot different than what I have been acclimated to the last several years.

“Do you know where this is?” Lamar will ask me anytime we are homeward bound to see Mama.

“Of course I do,” is my reply.

He will pause and study me for a moment.

“Do you know how to get there?”

“I just said I did.”

“No, you said you know where it is. Where it is and how to get there are two different things.”

Said the man who thinks Mapquest is out to get him lost on purpose.

This conversation arose Thanksgiving morning as we were preparing to go to Mama’s. I wasn’t quite sure how to get to the place to pick up the dinner and was trying to figure it out.

But, I wasn’t going to tell Lamar that. Surely I could figure it out.

Just in case, I called and got directions. But what the woman told me confused the dressing out of me.

“I take Timothy Road?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “To Epps Bridge.”

“Is this down there near St. Mary’s and where the old Trump’s used to be?” One of my proms was at Trump’s. Or was it a debutante ball? I couldn’t remember – it was getting as foggy as me remembering where roads were.

“I don’t know about that,” the lady said.

“I turn between the Taco Bell and the liquor store, right? Like I am heading to the old dollar movie theater?”

The lady sighed. “I am going to tell you one more time,” she had already told me twice. “You turn right on Timothy Road, at the light at Publix.”

We left early and were making good time. I felt about 99.99 percent sure I could get us to our destination without any complications or without letting on that I was not real sure where we were going.

And we did. We got there just fine. It was when I decided to take navigation into my own hands.

“I think if we turn out of the parking lot and keep going, we will hit a road near Mama’s and will get there quicker.”

Lamar eyed me. He was getting hungry and wasn’t entirely sure he believed me. “You know how to get there from here?”

I nodded.

More of the stankeye look. “How come a few minutes ago, you were all ‘Oh, I have never seen this before,’ and “this wasn’t here?”

“Well, I am pretty sure this will take us into Oconee County and I can find Mama’s road. It will save us about 20 minutes.”

Lamar knew how famous I was for my shortcuts. Once, when I was taking Cole to see Mama, I took a ‘shortcut.’ Two hours later and a trip through Gwinnett County and a few drive-thru’s, my little fried chickentarian and I finally arrived.

“You know what’s the quickest way somewhere?” Lamar asked.

“A straight line?”

“Nope, the one you know.”

But, it was Thanksgiving and he didn’t want to fuss, so he turned right out of that parking lot and away we went.

And lost we got.

“Where are we?” he asked.

I wasn’t sure. Why did we just cross into Barrow County? That was on the other side…

“You don’t know do you?”

“I think if we go a little bit further…”

Lamar shook his head. “No, we are turning around. We could have been there by now.” And eating turkey. I was hungry, too. Why did he put the food in the trunk? How am I supposed to eat a bite if it’s in the trunk?

We turned around and came up on another road pointing towards Bogart. “You know Bogart, don’t you?”

I said I did, but apparently, I don’t.

It hadn’t changed much but I didn’t remember anything. We came to the red light – probably still the only red light in Bogart. I didn’t know which way to turn. Lamar went right and pulled into a gas station to ask directions.

Yes, that’s right – a man stopped to ask directions. You make those gender sacrifices when you are married to me.

Thankfully, the man he asked was able to tell us which way to go and a few moments later, we were at that Pepsi plant, turning onto 78.

Mama was worried. I had told her we would be there in 15 minutes; that was 30 minutes before. “We are so lost, so lost,” I texted back.

When we finally arrived, Mama wanted to know how in the world we got so turned around. Or, more specifically, how does one get lost in Bogart?

“I don’t even know how I ended up in Bogart,” I said. “We were on one side of Athens, over there going towards downtown and I ended up in Bogart – how did that even happen?”

“Did you go over a bridge?” Mama asked. “Or cross 78 and not realize it?”

“No, Mama, I didn’t do any of that. There was stuff I have never seen, there’s stores, roads even – they have moved roads. I don’t remember Timothy or Epps Bridge being there. They have just moved the roads.” I was so confused my brain hurt. And I sorely wished I had gotten that chocolate pecan pie after all.

“Well, you know what I think happened?” Mama began, patting my shoulder. “You just don’t come home enough to know what’s changed and what hasn’t. If you came home more, you wouldn’t be so lost.”

And maybe she meant that in more ways than one.