Tuesday, April 27

Help me out? Pretty please?

Hey friends!
I (very quickly and not at all professionally) made a survey I'd like y'all to take.
All answers are anonymous; I won't even know how you answer.
I am trying to gather a little prelim information... thinking about writing a (somewhat collaborative) non-fic book about teens (and the not-so-teenish-anymore) and premarital sex, or lack thereof. I'll post a more detailed book idea here very soon.
The survey is quick and easy, and I'd appreciate if you could fill it out!
Thanks so much!

Click here to take survey

Click here to take survey

Click here to take survey


Saturday, April 24

For all the tweeps I've loved before...

It’s embarrassing to admit now, but my entire Twitter experience started with John Mayer. In February of 2009 I signed up, and the first people I followed were @johncmayer and author @jenniferweiner. I didn’t know what to do or say, I didn’t know what an RT was or why I’d want to DM someone, but I learned quickly. Most of my first tweets were about how tired I was, having a 2 month old baby, a 2 year old, and a 4 year old. (Not much has changed since then, except the kids’ ages.)

I came to the #LRTweetup community in a very roundabout way. I found one of my favorite authors, @katherinecenter, and followed her. She made a “mention” of @kyranp’s blog, so I checked it out. I loved the way Kyran expressed herself, and the first picture I saw was of her three boys sporting Arkansas Razorback shirts. A writer blogger! In Arkansas! I followed her immediately. I boasted all of 3 followers by then, my mother-in-law and two cousins.

In August, @kyranp invited tweeps to a lunch at Ashley’s, to benefit Hospice Care. I jumped at the chance to leave Conway and share a meal with other women (who didn’t have kids nipping at their ankles). I shaved my legs, fixed my hair, put on a dress, and even borrowed jewelry for my fancy Little Rock lunch. I met the marvelous @kyranp in person, along with a gracious @amybhole, a poised @jenncobbpyron, a very funny @kerrijack (who made me feel better about myself, if just for one hour, by forgetting to line both of her eyes that morning), and a handful of other interesting ladies. By the time I got home, both @amybhole and @kerrijack were following me, and I discovered what a fun place Twitter could be, if you knew the right folks.

I still don’t know how I came to follow so many great Little Rock tweeps. I can only assume it’s because Amy and Kerri know everyone worth knowing, and I may or may not have latched onto them. Soon I was swimming in a twittersea of PR and marketing folks, geeks of all kinds, working mothers, and, in general, really awesome people.

An IRL friend of mine, @rpreslar, went to something called a “Tweetup” last summer at Copper Grill. She couldn’t stop talking about how fun it was, and what a good networking tool it could be, and how I should totally go with her next time. I declined, thinking I had no reason to network and that those people wouldn’t really have any need for me.

The year progressed and I fell harder for Twitter, and the tweeps I found there. As a stay-at-home mom, most of my daily interaction had been with short people who had terrible conversational skills, and who regularly pooped on themselves. Twitter opened up a whole new world for me; a way to communicate with real grown-ups, who talked about real things (even if those real things were sometimes euphemistic. Ice cream, anyone?), and who were within a virtual arm’s length all day long.

My husband never understood Twitter’s magic, and truthfully he still doesn’t. I tried to explain how cool it was that all of these professional and not-so-professional people had, one way or another, made contact with each other and had established relationships. People I would never have met otherwise were (or at least pretended to be) interested in what I had to say. I learned from these people. They entertained me. Tweeps from every manner of upbringing, religion, political view, career, and station of life had come together to vent about their jobs, their children, their spouses, the weather, their collective hate for Mondays, and the collective love of social media/networking.

This past February, one year after my first foray into the twittersphere, I gathered up enough nerve, and my husband, and went to a #LRTweetup at Capital Bar and Grill. I loved it. I was completely out of my comfort zone, but also felt completely at home. @Tsudo was so welcoming, and engaged my feeling-out-of-place husband. @akvalley knew me immediately saying, “You stay at home, with three kids right?” I listened in as @BeccaBuerkle, @KatieMcManners, and @monaspoeticwax gave a play-by-play of a blind date happening across the room. I decided that @sarabethjones and @bryanjones were my new favorite twittercouple. My husband and I had a kid-free date, on a weeknight no less, and got to meet marvelous people.

The very next month I hopped on board the #LRTweadup train and joined my very first book club. It became one more way to connect with a great group of people I might never have known otherwise. (And I got to talk books with lovely gals and eat some killer cheesecake-filled, chocolate-covered strawberries. I could not have asked for more.)

I feel like my circle of friends has grown by about 300, minus a few spambots and national companies. I feel like I am heard, even if I’m only talking about Adventures in Mommyhood. I feel less alone during the long days at home with the short people. I feel part of a real community; one that has grown not out of sameness or complacency, but out of a genuine want to know others and expand social horizons.

In the last year, I have made both virtual and in-real-life friends, I have prayed for others and asked for prayer, I have shared in the grief over loss of life, and I have shared in the joy of new beginnings. But mostly I have learned and laughed. And I am so grateful to be a small part of a larger community.


Thursday, April 22


Every newborn mom anticipates the night her baby sleeps for more than two hours at a time.
Every baby mom wishes desperately for those pesky teeth to break through already.
Every nearly-a-toddler mom gets tired of people asking if her baby is walking yet.
Every kid mom anticipates the first day of kindergarten- filled with either dread or delight.

But I have always been more accutely aware of the smaller steps, the mini-milestones...

The first time The Boy sat all the way through Quick as a Cricket without moving, except to turn the pages.
The first time The Girl was able to find her own paci in the crib at night without me jumping out of bed to find it for her.
The first time The Baby took something to the trashcan and was so proud of herself.

Then this past Tuesday, we hit a milestone that I was totally unprepared for. So, of course, I tweeted about it:

The Boy asked for a snack after school while I was folding laundry in my room. I gave the standard response, "Sure, just gimme a minute." He replied, "It's ok, Momma, I can get it myself."
I didn't think twice about it, assuming he'd get an apple or a banana from the easily accessible basket. But no, he climbed up on the counter to retrieve two bowls, poured two different kinds of cereal, and then got milk from the fridge, poured it, and served his sister and himself.

And I nearly fell out.

There are hundreds, thousands maybe, of motherhood moments that I've already forgotten, or have become such fuzzy memories that I assign the action/word/cuteness to the wrong kid. But there are a bright few that are so precious to me, or struck me so dumb, that I'll never be able to forget them.

It was just such a grown-up, such an I'm a Big Kid Now thing for my Pooter to do, I couldn't even believe it. In one simple act, he threw off my whole perception of him. There are so many things that he doesn't need my help with anymore, but I wasn't prepared for this one.

Somewhere in the last 2177 days, my firstborn baby has become a little person. A self-sufficent, easily frustrated, independent, impatient, brilliant, kind little person. A thinking, reasoning, bargaining human being.

I'm sure there will be dozens of similar situations in the next dozen or so years of his life... little things he surprises me with, small capabilities that knock me to my knees.

The point I'm trying to hammer home, to myself if no one else, is that I'm just not prepared. I'm not ready for him to be able to fetch breakfast for him and his sisters. I'm not ready for him to manage the PS3 that I can't even operate. I'm not ready for him to bicycle around the neighborhood alone. I'm not ready for him to not need me anymore.
(Well, would you look at that. Shut my mouth and call me codependent.)

And you know what my husband said later that night when I, misty-eyed, described the situation?
"So? Now we can sleep in on Saturdays
and let him do the cookin'."


Wednesday, April 14

Lessons in Etymology, Part Deux (That totally means two. In France. Or somewhere.)

Yesterday I wrote a post titled Lessons in Etymology (etymology is is the study of the history of words and how their form and meaning have changed over time -per wikipedia). And that's totally what I had in mind starting out. Actually, yesterday's post was just a precursor for this one. And yet, even today I didn't get into the actual history of the word I have in mind.

Maybe this'll be my first bloggy mini-series. After all, when you get to the bottom of this post? I'm not even done. Check back tomorrow for more.

Anyway. I ended yesterday's post with this:
...but lately I've been even more aware of the things I say; especially what I say in front of my children...

What I’ve become aware of are not so much the dirty words I say, but the hurtful ones.

I’ve never been comfortable labeling a person as “retarded,” but plenty of situations that don’t go the way I plan, or actions by myself or others have been deemed “retarded.” I have had no great epiphany or life-altering moment, but over the last few months I’ve decided to eliminate that particular word altogether. 

Pre-kids, I worked as an aide at two different schools for kids who had developmental delays and disabilities. Aside from parenting, those were the hardest and most rewarding jobs I’ve ever had. I got to work with speech, occupational, behavioral, and physical therapists and the children one-on-one-on-one. I learned so many heartbreaking terms and conditions. And still, I tossed out “retarded” as easily as “what’s up?”
Interestingly enough, a first-rate mommyblogger wrote a first-rate post (CLICK HERE!) about casual use of the R word.  I will pause, wait patiently, and study my cuticles while you go read it. But, she’s pretty mad, and she uses some strong language. Anyway. Go read. I’ll be here.

Ok, thanks for coming back. You did read it, right? You didn’t just bookmark it for future free time reading? You did? Ok… GO READ IT. (She is far more eloquent and passionate about it than I.)

But, no more laissez-faire language 'round here. My protective Mommy Bubble has burst, and my firstborn son has entered the Real World. Thankfully, we have avoided most of the egregious language kindergarteners are sometimes exposed to, but we have had our fair share of talks about Things We Do Not Say.

So, not only have I (mostly, you know, mostly) eliminated the once-thrilling cuss words from my vocabulary, I have now made a decision to remove all traces of people-labeling. No more retarded. No more lame. No more dork. Not even any more stupid-poopy-head-bird-brain. (Besides, "stupid" was a no-no in this house from the get go.)

(weird. another really cool t-shirt from zazzle.)
(also? i didn't even know that 'scene' is a label. what does that even mean?)
(sheesh. kids these days.)

No more name calling, and no more substituting medical conditions for lack of common sense.

Except for that guy who cut me off on Dave Ward Drive today. What a jerkface.


Tuesday, April 13

a pre-post: Lessons in Etymology

I've been thinking about words a lot lately. My days are filled with words. I repeat words of instruction to my children, I text words of encouragement to my husband, I hear The Baby babble words I don't quite understand, I wait patiently while The Girl searches her head for right words to convey her dreams and demands, and I listen while The Boy reads big and small words from big and small books.

Over the years I've often changed the way I use words. I distinctly remember the first time I took the Lord's name in vain. As a chuchgirl, I knew better than to say was I was about to say, but as an out-of-place 5th grader longing to be friends with the carefree cool girls, I said it anyway. "Oh my God, he is so retarded!" Immediately afterward I hated what I had said. Even then I was a rule-breaker, but I knew, and tried to obey, the cardinal rules: the 10 commandments and that golden one.

My father had a mouth like a pirate, and never bridled his words in front of me or my younger brother. I learned while I was very young to dislike and fear certain words, and the people who used them. The overabundance of times I heard the F word, the N word, and GD did not make me immune to them, but instead made me accutely aware of them, and my skin would prickle when I heard them used.

As a teenager, I tested the limits of  what I was comfortable with- in speech and in action. Aside from those most hurtful and hateful words (I've uttered GD exactly 3 times in my life, and I shocked myself each time), I spoke like no Southern lady ought to speak.

Then one warm and lazy August afternoon, nearly one month before my 20th birthday, two blue lines showed up on a little piece of plastic, and my life was changed in thousands of big and small ways.

I (almost) immediately stopped cursing, and as my belly grew, the nasty words and the space they occupied in my vocabulary shrank. I didn't even let people cuss around my hearing-capable fetus.

It felt good to rid myself of such negative language. Of course, there have been many (many. many.) times in the six years since my son was born that I've cursed- inadvertantly and, occasionally, on purpose. My language changes depending on my company and location- but I assume that's true for just about everyone. After all, you don't talk shop in church, and you don't discuss religion at a football game.

But lately I've been even more aware of the things I say; especially what I say in front of my children......

(Lessons in Etymology will continue after a short word from our sponsors)

(actually, we don't have any sponsors. i just found this cool shirt at zazzle.com)


Monday, April 12

Our little slice of green (and yellow. and red.)

When I was growing up, one of the highlights of visiting my Papoo and Granny Tess in Chattanooga, Tennessee was heading down to their wide-and-long garden to pick veggies. On the way back up the hill we'd stop and sit and eat some still-warm tomatoes and let the juice dribble down our chins. My Papoo was a fantastic gardener, he could coax any plant into being, just with his love alone. Granny Tess would sing a song about Huckleberry huntin' to her flowers- azaleas, jasmine, a gargantuan gardenia bush- and they would bloom right before our eyes. (Or, at least they seemed to. There was no end to what an 8 year old believed her grandparents could do.)

My own Daddy (Papoo was his father) was an avid gardener. He was an old school gardener, refused to use pesticides other than diatomaceous earth. He nurtured seeds into seedlings, and then planted them one by one into the ground he'd cultivated. He planted everything; beans, potatoes, corn, asparagus, tomatoes, okra, lettuce, strawberries, watermelon, pumpkins. He had apple and pear trees, he had blackberry brambles and blueberry patches. Long before I was born, he even kept several beehives. Seed catalogs and The Farmer's Almanac were on my daddy's nightstand perpetually, bookmarked and dog-eared the way other people's Bibles are.

Gardening is in my blood. There are traits that, no matter what science may say, I know run in my DNA as part of my paternal heritage: stubbornness, growing things, photography, alcoholism. (Thankfully, I've outrun the last one.) There are gifts I've been given through my maternal bloodline too: love of music, pack-rat syndrome, creativity, and a strong aversion to bad grammar.

But starting something from a tiny seed, nourishing it, lavishing it with love and attention, and then seeing the results of your hard work (and the Lord's brilliant mechanics) is something that strikes me as profound, no matter its common occurence.
(See: pregnancies, my three)

So here we are in Spring. One week post-Easter, the season of new life. Because of a combination of several things (my new book club's reading of Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle; my decision to homeschool Bryton next year- and give him hands-on teaching assignments; my friends who are such advocates of CSAs and better living; some part of me wanting to reconnect with some part of my often-volatile-but-peaceful-in-the-garden father) I decided we needed a garden.

Jeremy nixed the idea of my tilling the ground at the back of our yard to put in a patch of corn. He wasn't too keen on me tearing up our backyard in a futile attempt at a victory garden. But, he did say he would help me plant a 3' x 3' (generous, no?) plot of land; if I promised not to let it be another back-burner hobby.

So I decided we should plant small, potted things first, to see how well we kept them alive. (While gardening may be in my DNA, it may very well be a mutated gene- since I can't even seem to keep kudzu living long enough to spread.)

So, for $20 I got everything we needed for a few small "container gardens." (My friend Kerri had the same idea I had. And it seems neither of us have much faith in the eventual outcomes.)

Every single thing I bought came from the $1 bins at my friendly neighborhood Target store. Garden tools, tin cans, seed packets, teensy little terra cotta pot, even the soil pods... all of it just a dollar each.

Today Pooter woke up with a fever, and by this afternoon we were all making each other crazy. I decided it was time to plant our mini-gardens.

(There is only one mid-planting picture because, you know, DIRT! and WATER! and KIDS! aren't really conducive to one-parent-only photo ops.)

All in all we planted parsley, basil, chives and oregano, Moneymaker tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, green bell peppers, and a wee pot o' sunflowers.

If these make it past a week, it'll be one of God's Great Miracles.

I have no immediate big plans (yet) of a growing-to-eat garden, but I'd like to have one in the future.

I wonder how much a quarter-acre cash crop of rice or soybeans would bring me?


Friday, April 9

a teaser

There's a blog post that's been rolling around in my head for more than two weeks. I've started writing it three times. I can't force the words to come out that aren't ready to come out.

For now... this is it.

These are my days.

Brilliant flashes of prose sneak in between loads of laundry. Ideas for books come while I'm waiting in the pick-up line at school. The woman I want to be someday peeks out from behind the tired eyes of the one I am now.

Diapers and dishes and doling out kisses are my priorites.

For now.