Monday, February 25, 2013

Ballerinas, Bravery and British Accents

When my youngest daughter,  Ellie, was in preschool she took ballet downtown in the same building that the ballerinas that put on The Nutcracker and Dracula and Swan Lake rehearsed.

We could watch them through the glass door while we waited for our class to start.

It was beautiful to see them

with their pointed toes 

and straight backs 

and strong legs.

Ellie's class was everything you'd want for a little girl. A huge room with high ceilings and big windows with lots of natural light.

Miss Kathy was the teacher who had the most calming voice and disposition of anyone I'd ever met.

She made me want to dance ballet.

And I'm more of the kick boxing type.

There was a live piano player

named Miss Somethingorother 

that the girls had to say "hello" to 
and "thank you" to 
in unison 
each class. 

They got to play with the props that the ballet company had at its disposal.

No buying expensive recital costumes.
No garish make-up.
Just ballet.
Thank you very much.

There were little recitals every few months that showed off what they had learned but nothing stressful or high-pressured.

No chance for a stage mom to emerge.

Thank you very much.

One such recital was in the middle of day (when the class ordinarily met) and my husband, Monte, couldn't get away from the office.

My older daughter, McDaniel, was home from school with the tail end of a cold.

I took her with me to the recital.

The little girls showed off their new moves as a group.

Ellie is 2 in from the left.

Ellie is back row last one on the right. Smiling her face off.

It was precious.

Then Miss Kathy had them line up to the side of the room and asked them

one at a time

to dance across the room like a princess ballerina

light as a feather


ever so softly

tippy toe

tippy toe

tippy toe.

Can you hear her calming voice?

Could put me right into a smiling face sleep.

Each little girl jumped and twirled 

and other ballet terms that I can't think of right now.

They were whisper quiet and graceful.

It was precious.

Then it was Ellie's turn.

From the look on her face, she knows EXACTLY what she is about to do.
Check out her underwear hanging down below her leotard.
Wait! Are they ZEBRA PRINT?! 

I got the video camera ready to record.

I may or may not have squeezed McDaniel's hand in excitement.

Ellie, with chin jutted out, head held high

and the most determined look of

"I am a princess ballerina hear me ROAR"

spread her arms out wide

stuck her right leg straight as a board out in front of her

somehow or another squatted a bit down on her left leg

and did a Three Stooges kinda shuffle across the room.

Can you picture it?

I imagine if Walt Disney's Goofy character did ballet
it would've looked very similar.

As if nothing could phase her, Miss Kathy calmly said,

"Princess ballerinas come in all shapes and sizes 
and do all sorts of moves and motions."

God bless her.

McDaniel and I gasped in, 
well, shock 
and honestly, 
extreme curiosity.

"What in the world is she doing?" McDaniel asked.

I had no earthly idea.

It seemed forever for her to hobbity hoy

all the way


the room.

The look on her face was one of
brave determination 
"I dare you to say this isn't what princess ballerinas do".

In my curious disbelief

I forgot to record the event.

I am so glad McDaniel was there as my witness

or Monte may not have believed the story.

This was Ellie at 4 years old.

Now, at 10, she asked to be signed up for a drama class that was being held after school.

She is in the 5th grade and has never asked to take a drama class before.

The class will put on Roald Dahl's, "BFG," the big friendly giant.

Most of the kids are 3rd graders taking the class.

Ellie is fairly tall.

See where this is going?

They asked her to be the BFG--the giant.

After reviewing the parts, Ellie said,

"No thank you--I want to be Queen Elizabeth."

Who knew but Ellie that you could just turn down a role.

Ellie has been chasing crowns all her life.

"Is my crown crooked?"

The director--

eccentric with wild red hair, 
a kind face 
and loud dramatic voice--

told me, as she recounted Ellie's pursuit of the crown,

"I love working with divas!"

Ellie is a diva now.

Ellie as Miss Piggy.


The director did say that Ellie needed to work on her British accent.

My friend recommended YouTube for tutorials.

Ellie and I watched some very informative videos on how to pronounce vowels and hold our lips and open our throats.

Fascinating, dahling.

I told her to take her script and go upstairs to her room,

with no distractions 

and practice her lines 

applying what she had learned from the videos.

I didn't expect her to be so loud

or sound so much like Mrs. Doubtfire

or, oddly enough, Paula Deen.

McDaniel and I looked at each other with eyebrows raised.

"What in the world is she doing?" she asked.

This time I knew.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Red and Purple

Last night my husband and I had a surprising few hours to ourselves.

Our daughters took a last minute babysitting job next door.

So we went to a second hand furniture store.

(Duh, like my favorite thing to do EVER and we are looking for a new piece of furniture 
to act as a media console so my husband can get a bigger TV 
and we can get rid of our ENORMOUS armoire that currently houses our TV. 
Any great DIY ideas?)

See the ENORMOUS armoire? The one to the left of Col.
Mustard. The one with the knife. My dad made it and it has been great.
But it is a room filler. And it is limiting Monte's
BIG TV hopes and dreams.

After thrifting we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Chocolate Cafe.

Chocolate Cafe made these great cupcakes for
my friend's surprise 80s themed birthday party.
Aren't they like, totally awesome?
We are on the menu, we go so much.

And we really like the owners.

We noticed the parking lot was extra full when we pulled in.

Then we noticed ALL the red hats of the large group of ladies sitting by the window.

We sat in the back of the restaurant so we could talk

and because that was the only available seating.

When Monte went back up to the register to order dessert

(Duh, it is called Chocolate Cafe--dessert is necessary at this place. 
Our fave is an enormous chocolate chip cookie, warmed up, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. FAB. U. LOUS!)

the Red Hat Society had gathered together for a picture.

Did I mention that Monte was wearing a purple shirt?

I heard a burst of laughter and looked up to find Monte in the middle of the Red Hat Society

the birthday girl

SITTING in his lap.

I was told later that you always wear 
red hats and purple clothes
it is your birthday, then you wear 
a purple hat and red clothes.

Did you get that?

The woman wearing the purple hat was THOROUGHLY enjoying Monte.

He is such a flirt.

Always has been.

Especially with the over 60 crowd.

All that time growing up in Florida, I guess.

One by one, the ladies made their way over to me to gush about Monte and to explain the Red Hat Society to me.

More than one asked if I was 50 yet.


Just wait a minute so I can recover.

Way to kick start a girl's wrinkle cream regime.

I have already Googled a "best of" list.

For wrinkle cream and teeth whiteners.

Let's take this all the way.

After I choked on my cookie and ice cream pride, I let them know that


thank you very much.

They said that I could wear a pink hat and a lilac shirt to their gatherings

until I was 50

Pride bruising aside,

They were such fun!

I asked if there were business meetings,
philanthropies to discuss.

"@#$% no!" said one of the red hats.

Quite possibly Steven Tyler's mother.

I asked what they did if they didn't have business meetings,
philanthropies to discuss.

"Aw, @#$%, we have fun!" said Steven Tyler's mother.

What a hoot!

They asked about the girls (after I pointed out our picture on the menu).

"How old are they?"
"What are they into?"

They asked about Monte.

"Is he a good father?"
"How is he going to handle dating?"

They asked about me.

"Are you 50 yet?"
"No? Come to our next gathering 
and wear a pink hat and a lilac shirt!"

How sweet!

They were a blast.

Laughing and carrying on and touching Monte A. Lot.

We took more pictures.

The birthday girl with the purple hat on. I love the woman holding up the heart in the
back of the group. This wasn't everyone. Many stayed at the table.

They were having a homemade Valentine's card contest.

They asked Monte to be the judge. 

He picked the first card he saw as the winner.

It was beautiful.

We walked away laughing and feeling good.

We said that we hoped to be as fun when we grow up.

Then we saw a picture of the evening 
posted on Chocolate Cafe's Facebook page.

And the comments keep on coming…Monte is such a good sport!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Old People and Basketball

McDaniel's basketball coach organized a parent vs. daughter basketball game right after their season ending awards banquet.

I am never one to back down from a competition.

I forced Monte to play.

Basketball is not his thing. 

In fact, the joke in our family 

(being from Indiana where basketball is EVERYTHING

is that if my grandfather, PaPa, had seen Monte's layup before we got married

he never would've given his blessing.
(PaPa LOVED Monte! But he loved basketball too.)

Monte got a su-weet break-away layup in the game and I couldn't help myself but whisper to him

"PaPa would've been so proud!"

I know that I don't push myself in my workouts like I am in training for a marathon or a bodybuilding competition or anything

but I thought I was semi 
in shape
sort of.



I was sucking wind quickly

and pretty sure everyone could hear my heart thumping in my chest.

At the water fountain in-between quarters,

I realized all the other parents

were in the same boat.


gasping for air,

trying to compliment each other

but our lungs failing our voices.

But it was so much fun.

And harder than it looked

from the stands

all season.

I didn't know if we were playing man-to-man or zone

half the time.

So I did a lot of running around

and falling down!

One of my biggest complaints

from the stands

all season
was that McDaniel was ALWAYS on the floor.

I was always telling her to make herself more solid

"Plant your feet!"

For the love of Pete, 

I couldn't stay vertical!

I swear the first time one of the dad's gave me a power chest pass

I almost shot right across the gym like a rag doll.

I dove for balls going out of bounds.
I fell trying to rebound
trying to get a jump ball
trying to steal the ball
trying to run down the court.

Me in gold t-shirt either getting up or falling down.
Monte in black looking on.
 I think maybe apples don't fall 
(pun intended) 
far from the tree.

I got fouled
(severely by my own daughter flying through the air ninja style and landing on my hip).

I had to shoot two foul shots.

Heaven help me, I didn't want to do it.

And there was no crowd watching

no cheerleaders cheering

and I still was like,

"Uh, no thank you. I'll pass. My hip doesn't hurt that bad."

But I made both of them.

Thank you, Lord. I was just praying to hit the rim.

Love how the ball is blurred like I shot it up
there like a rocket!

We laughed later that our eyes were open to just how good these girls are

at this game called basketball.

It was so easy for us to criticize and coach from the stands.

But once we played right along with them?

Hey, fall all you want, girls!

It means you are trying.

It's okay you missed that free throw!

A lot of pressure was on you

along with a lot of eyes.

We should've played at the beginning of the season, 
not the end.

Some of us even talked about starting a women's over-40 league.

We were all 
yeah, this could be great
what a great work out
what a great way to blow off steam.

But that was at the BEGINNING of the game.

By the end, it was clear that old people and basketball don't mix.


I overheard someone say,

"This could get VERY expensive."

I knew what she was saying.

My calves hurt so bad that night that I thought I'd have to sleep on the couch

to avoid climbing the stairs to go to bed.

The next morning, 

I had a limp.

The morning after that

my back was jacked up.

I am no doctor, 
but I do believe
that sitting in the stands is 
the healthier option for me.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Princesses Play Basketball

My oldest daughter, McDaniel, just finished her career as a middle school basketball player.

Not finished her career as a basketball player.

Just her career as a middle school one.

We attended her winter sports awards banquet this week.

Her coach, you know,

got to speak to the girls on the team and all of us parents.

She spoke about their dedication,

their positive attitudes,

their bond to each other and her.

Then, through tears, this

female coach spoke of being a middle school girl

more importantly
a middle school girl who chooses to be a jock.

You know, it hit me for the first time.

I never really thought about that being hard for any of the girls.

They wore it so well.

Some of them at almost a foot taller than their male peers.

But when I saw their faces as the coach spoke, I realized

 it was hard.

And that coach knew it in a way that only a former middle school girl jock could know it.

She gave them words of encouragement from her heart

as well as other basketball greats.

Like this one from NBA coach Phil Jackson:

"Love is the force that ignites the spirit and binds teams together."

And oh, how this team loved one another.

Then she called the girls by name

one at a time

to come up to the front of the room.

She asked them to curtsy

and she placed a tiara on each of their sweet heads.

You see, at the beginning of the season, Coach asked the girls what theme they would like to name all their plays (states, presidents, candy, etc.).

The girls chose princesses.

I did love seeing the faces of the opposing team when they would holler out






Even in their

competitive bodies

they all just wanted to be princesses.

Coach recognized that and crowned them appropriately.

The girls beamed

in that 4-year-old-look-at-me-twirling-my-pretty-new-dress way

and I was so thankful for that coach 
and so proud of her for passing on what maybe she didn't get when she was in middle school
that I thought my overflowing heart 


Every single one of them are gorgeous.
Coach and McDaniel being silly.
After the awards, it was time for the parent vs. daughter basketball game.

(More on that later. Stay tuned.)

But I wanted to show you this picture of that game.

 Look at the girl in the pink t-shirt. 
She is 
her tiara. 
Princesses play basketball.

Don't you just love that??!!

Monday, February 11, 2013



I got this really cool comment on my last post, Care Taking, that I was receiving an award.

Lisa from Notes From the Shallow End bestowed this very unexpected honor on me. Check out her blog:  this girl is funny!

The award came with 3 instructions:

1. Copy and paste the image of this award 
(that's me, two in from the right, pointing at something)

 2. Answer some questions.

3. Pass the award on to someone I deem worthy.

Wow again!

Here are the questions I am supposed to answer:

Favorite time of year? I love autumn, wait, no one actually says that outside of a poem, FALL. I like Fall. The leaves changing color, the deep blue color of the sky on football Saturdays and having to put on a sweater after a long hot summer.

Favorite festive movie? I love It's a Wonderful Life and Elf and A Christmas Story. Family Man too, although it is not really a Christmas movie. Makes me more grateful.

What is your passion? Writing. Has been since the 3rd or 4th grade. I loved story starters in school. You know where you are given the sentence:  "It was a dark and stormy night when__________" and we got to finish the story. LOVED that. I also am passionate about being creative. Crafts, costumes, etc.

Favorite color?  Yellow. Our living room is a soft shade of yellow and our basement is a bright shade called "Friendly Yellow". Yellow makes me happy. Yet, I don't wear it much in clothing. Hhmmm…I wonder why that is? Hey, Lisa, is this supposed to be therapeutic?

Favorite time of day?  MORNING! I do my best everything in the morning. Studying, writing, profound thinking (ha!), cleaning, organizing, exercising. By 3:00 pm, I'm fading. By 8:00 pm, I'm worth precious little.

Favorite flower? Lilacs. A big whiff of lilacs is like being wrapped in my grandmother's hug. She has the biggest lilac bush I have ever seen and she always had lilacs in her house when they were blooming.

Favorite non-alcoholic drink? Coffee! ANOTHER reason why I love mornings. I have to admit that when I slip into bed at night, I get a teence bit excited that when I wake up there will be coffee.

Favorite physical activity? Riding a bicycle. Indoor or out. I have a retro Raleigh complete with fenders, white wall tires, a tractor seat, a basket and a bell that I named Lolly. Lolly and I do all our errands together in the warmer months. My favorite is going to the library and riding REALLY FAST around the traffic circle in front of it. It is completely wheeee! worthy. When it is cold, I ride the exercise bike in my basement. It has all the fancy automatic workouts where it will change tensions, etc. I grew tiresome of them. So I just ride 5 miles as fast as I possibly can. Some days that ends up being a good time, some days it doesn't.

Favorite vacation? Paris. Monte and I went before kids. Loved everything about:  the history, the food, the architecture, the SMELL. Very romantic. Fripp Island, SC is my favorite vacation spot with the girls.

What advice would you give your 20-year-old self? Stay in your lane. Don't worry what others are doing or what others think of you. Just focus on getting to the finish line in your lane. And lay off the sugar cookies in the cafeteria.

Now, I get to give The Bloggy Dance Award away! I'd like to award it to Katy from She is so hilarious--she has a puppet that looks like her!

So. Want. One. (of me, not her. I am not a stalker!)

But she is also brave in the way she shares her pain as well. Check out her blog! You won't regret it!

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Care Taking

I am not so much of a care taker.

I mean, in your time of need,

I will make you a meal

run your errands

take you somewhere

but not sure I can do anything more medical than that.

If you could hear it, I just whispered the word medical. 
Lest it mean anything slightly more than a toe-step over 
my sense of personal space and boundaries.

I appreciate the fact that I have only had brief encounters 
with care taking.

I thank God that He has not seen fit 
to equip me in that area--yet.

I am confident He will do so if that changes.

Heaven only knows just how much I need it.
And Carisa.

Me and Carisa at the surprise 80s birthday party
I threw her. She thinks she is hilarious
covering up my face just as the picture is
snapped. She is.
I mentioned some time ago that my friend, Carisa, had a bit of plastic surgery.

2 bits, actually.
Sorry. That was inappropriate. 

It was a reduction surgery.

I was slated for care taking.

After my hyena-like giggle fest during the pre-operation doctor's appointment, my friend elected her daughter as the more "hands on" care taker.

It was a smart choice.

I panic when I get stuck in the underlinings
of a garment in a dressing room. 

But since I drive, I took Carisa to her post-op doctor's appointment. 

She was still a bit woozy from the pain pills.

And she was dragging around 
two drain balls
that were still attached
to her person.

That was the whole intent of the appointment.

To remove the drain balls.

Sweet heavens, I did NOT realize what that was going to entail.

Neither did Carisa.

Or she would have had her daughter come

driver's license or no driver's license.

The very trusted and respected doctor came in to greet us with a beautiful, young, strawberry blond

(heavy on the strawberry, so that's how I'll refer to her) 

that was in her residency of her medical training.

The doctor asked if it was okay if Strawberry could take out the drain balls.

Carisa was all thumbs-ups and fist bumps from the pain pills
(figuratively speaking)
and said okay to Strawberry.

I was seated across from her and directly in sight of the full-length mirror that was hanging on the back of the room door.

After some questions and "looking good" comments by the doctor, he left us with Strawberry and a nurse.

We preceded to verbally hug all over Strawberry like only two experienced mommas can do.

"Look at your hair--it's gorgeous!"
"Those eyelashes--to die for!"
"Your momma must be so proud of you, 
going off and being a doctor!"

Then Strawberry got to the business at hand.

I'm not sure I had actually thought about how long the tubes of a drain ball would be, 

but when Strawberry kept pulling out 
and pulling out 

the ever-lengthening drainage tube

I kept thinking she was going to pull out a rabbit

or a series of attached colored scarves 

like a magician.

But I wasn't fascinated.

I was horrified.

I saw my face in the mirror on the back of the room door.

Horr. I. Fied.

Carisa looked liked she was getting her nails done.

No. Big. Whoop.

I tried to breathe through the brewing nausea.

Then Strawberry started in on the other drain ball.

The stitching was a bit snug on that side.

After a few tugs, Carisa's eyes grew wide with pain and she did the "I hurt" giggle while looking to me for comfort.

I had nothing.

Except a wide-mouthed gasp of disgust as Strawberry whipped out some surgical scissors and started snipping away at my friend's

not-ready-to-come-out stitches 

to widen the opening so the drainage tube could be extracted.

I watched every bit of color drain from Carisa's face.

Then mine.

I started to sweat and then looked around for a plan if the brewing nausea decided it meant business.

There was a sink nearby.


After all that was over, Carisa was exhausted and too sore to get herself back into the post-op, hospital-issued bra that was given to her.

I decided to attempt to make myself useful for something, and helped her.

The zipper closure in front got stuck.

So I did what moms have been doing since the invention of zippers

I jiggled it.

Jiggling and post-surgery don't go together.


I knew this instantly when I heard the defeated kicked dog moan coming from deep within Carisa.

I begged her to punch me in the throat.

She assured me if she had an ounce of strength, she would.

That made me feel better


I saw what I thought was one of Strawberry's beautiful stray hairs hanging out of Carisa's bra.

I realized after I gave it a good tug

that it was attached

and in fact a STITCH and NOT one of Strawberry's beautiful stray hairs.

There was that "I hurt" giggle again.

I just fell over myself with all manner of apologies and promises.

So I took her shopping for button-up shirts which would be easier for her recovery.

Shopping with someone on pain pills is a bit of a roller coaster.

There was the moment when she cried at the realization that she was now a much smaller size.

Then the moment she felt the need to "share" with the woman walking by all about her surgery. 

The woman kept walking.

Carisa kept talking.

I busied myself looking at skirts. Very intently.

Then there was the moment when we were in line to purchase 
and Carisa confessed her deep need 
to tell the very bosomy check out lady 
about the freedom of reduction surgery.

I urged her not to.

Maybe even begged a little.

Then she just sat down

right on the floor

like a puppy in the middle of play time

too exhausted to move one more step.

So in conclusion, 

if you are having surgery,

call me for a meal

or errand running

but trust me on this,

nothing more medical than that.

Monday, February 04, 2013

When We Just Don't Get It

The one thing that I fight everyday

now that I am an "iPhoner"
(Regardless if this isn't a thing people say, I am making it a thing)

is the auto correct feature when I am texting.

Yes, I do realize that I can turn it off.

But I have to admit, that it is more handy than not

especially when my fingers turn into thumbs 
and I hit every key but the right one.

But when the auto correct tries to wrongly predict what you are going to say after one typed letter or two, 

I want to scream, 

"Let me talk!"

I was trying to text my friend Carisa a password so we could play Ruzzle
(nope, haven't quit that yet)

when auto correct tried to thwart the whole thing.

Maybe that was God's provision.

It kept making a one word password into a completely unrelated two word "Jar Monte".

I kept thinking I was over-riding it 

with sheer will and extra finger pressure on the the letter keys

but I'd look up at the sent texting bubble and once again see

"Jar Monte".


I know, there are so many worse things in life.

But it's frustrating when auto correct 
just doesn't get it.

Last night, during the Super Bowl, Carisa and I were texting our thoughts on the need for one

to ride a pistachio "gangnam style" 

when I decided to give her a little

"True Dat" in reply
because I'm hip like that.

But auto correct turned it into a very unhip and slightly confusing

"Try Day".

Carisa was left wondering if I meant to say

"Try That"

which would've meant I wanted her to actually TRY riding a pistachio "gangnam style".

Which I did not.

That would be nuts.
Pun intended.

It's frustrating when auto correct just doesn't get it.

Another time I was texting my friend Sumita and a reference to our bible study we are currently doing on the book of Daniel came up

and I couldn't help but text her something about King Nebuchadnezzar.

I just had to look up how to spell Nebuchadnezzar.

But auto correct?

No sweat.

Seriously? You don't have a problem understanding and spelling a 14-letter ancient biblical king

but "True Dat" blows your mind?!


Last week a friend texted me about a game night she wanted to throw together.

She sent me an idea of who to invite which included the name Mark Woods.

I don't know a Mark Woods.

So I said out loud, "Who is Mark Woods?"

My daughter Ellie leaned over my shoulder to read the message and then listened to me go on about who in the world Mark Woods was.

Ellie:  "Seriously? Listen to what you are saying."

I did.

And I still had no clue who Mark Woods was.

Ellie:  "The Markwoods, Mom! She meant the Markwoods, not a Mark Woods!"


I know who the Markwoods are.

It may have been auto correct's mistake, 
but it is SO frustrating when I just don't get it.

I told my husband, Monte, this account of me "just not getting it" when he confessed one of his own.

He had had a very frustrating morning at work. 

The kind of morning where he felt 

no one was listening, 
no one was following instructions 
and everything was falling apart

He spent his lunch break reading the bible and praying for God's help.

He was a new man that afternoon. 

He sat down with his employees, talked with them with a pure heart, open ears and a new peace.

Everything clicked.

Someone in the office noticed and asked Monte what changed in him from morning to afternoon.

For the life of him, Monte couldn't think of what it was 
that made the difference.

He was humbled when it came to him later.

God must be frustrated when we just don't get it.

When we don't listen,
don't follow instructions
and He has to watch everything fall apart
in our lives unnecessarily.

But He loves us anyway.

Even when I am begging to know who Mark Woods is and I

get it.

He loves me anyway.

Who knew that I would find God in my frustration with auto correct?

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

If I could, I wouldn't be so surprised when crazy things happen. And they do. All the time. Much to my surprise. We went o...