Road Trip!

roadtrip

My cousin – I lived with him and his wife my freshman year of college – died. So, on Monday afternoon, after a few hours of work, LG and I found ourselves in a rental car headed to Pine Bluff for his services.

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It’s a quick drive from here to Pine Bluff. About 4 hours. The speed limit is 65 mph in most places. But there are a few speed traps along the way where the speed limit just drops from 65 to 25 or 30. Lake Providence, LA is one of those places. And I guess they want you to know it!

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“Hey Mom? Can we stop here?”

“Here LG?”

“Yes. Matu and Batu (what the grand kids call my parents) said you should learn something every day. And we don’t have anywhere to be until tomorrow. So I think we should stop.”

And that’s how we ended up taking a quick tour of the Louisiana Cotton Museum. The museum, in Lake Providence, is closed on Mondays, but we walked around, looked at the buildings, read the placards, and took a few pictures.

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A sharecropper’s cabin

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A plantation chapel

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My precious, precious girl that I am glad will never experience the life that those before her did.

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My mom flew in from Cali and we met up in Pine Bluff. We went by the family land. The house where my mother grew up has been torn down, but it was nice to be there with her as she talked about time, perspective, and how things and places change yet remain the same in our memories.

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Of course we stopped by campus and LG humored me by taking a picture in front of the lion. All the while talking smack and stating her allegiance to JSU. I’m surprised we weren’t kicked off the yard.

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I promise half my face doesn’t live in the sun, the other in the shade. And I have all of my teeth. No matter what it looks like in this picture.

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And finally, this is my brother’s birthday present. We do gag gifts every year and I could think of nothing better for him this year than ugly rejects (this photo does not accurately reflect their horribleness!)  from the bookstore clearance bin -  a neon UAPB tshirt and a blue cap with gold lettering. UAPB’s colors are black and gold. This cap looks like the illegitimate child between UAPB and Southern….just fugly!

 

Home Alone

As you know, LG and I were recently on vacation with my parents, niece and nephew. Well. Once we got back to MS, my parents planned to go to AR visit my brother and SIL, then to Houston to drop off the niece and nephew and then head west back to Cali.

The night before they left, my mother, my brilliant, brilliant mother was all “why don’t you let us take LG with us on the rest of this trip and Smoochy can pick her up in Houston sometime next week when he has to run a load to Houston?” Stop. The. Presses.

You mean I am going to have this here house, to myself, for a week? Hammer time! I juked around my kitchen like my life depended on it. And then I juked some more! Then I lifted my hands to the heavens and praised God from whom all blessings truly do flow.

You have never – and I mean never – seen someone kick it into high gear the way I did. I probably had that little girl’s bag packed in less than 6 minutes. Adios homeslice, adios!

I haven’t had time alone like that since before I was pregnant with LG. Yeah, around 2003.

I had all of these grand plans. I was going to the gym every day. I would go to some of my favorite restaurants, call some friends and hang out, catch a movie, date night with Smoochy…the list of possibilities was endless!

Do you know what I ended up doing? A whole lot of nothing. LG left on Wednesday morning. I did go to the gym every day that week. But the rest of the time? I saw not one movie, ate out not one time. I laid around the house, finished OITNB (OMG – how great was this season!!!) and on the one day I was feeling productive I threw away about 75% of my nine year old child’s belongings. I loved every minute of it!

Smoochy and I had a date night planned for Saturday. We cancelled. We stayed home, turned off the lights, opened the windows, turned on the radio (okay, Pandora) and chillaxed. Hard.

I know that some people cannot bear the thought of being away from their child(ren). Apparently I am not one of them. I had the best, most relaxing week I’ve had in a long, long time. I’m already trying to see how LG and her grandparents can spend some quality time together next summer. I love that little brown girl, but just piddling around being Nerd Girl was some kind of awesome. I think I ate PB&J sandwiches and/or salad every day she was gone. I didn’t even use the microwave.

I used to just think I was jealous of my friends who are able to send their children away for a week or three at a time. Now I know I’m jealous of them!

This is a Pandora’s box my parents may regret opening.

My SIL in Houston (niece and nephew’s mom) kept LG Sunday night and into Monday until Smoochy picked her up. We were talking about how nice it was to have kid-free time. I’m thinking she and I need to make a deal of some sort. She teaches and has summers off – I will keep her kids one week during the summer if she’ll agree to do the same for me and keep LG. Everybody wins, yes?

The little girl came home yesterday morning. As happy as I was to see her, I was sad that my week alone had come to an end. And apparently she felt the same way. “You know mom, I just don’t think I was gone long enough to miss you.” Touche LG, touche!

 

 

Nice Try Kid

LG:  Mama? I think it’s time to upgrade my babysitter.

Me: Huh? What are you talking about? Ms. D. is marvelous.

LG: Well, yes, she is. But I’m the biggest kid there. She keeps babies. All they do is cry and follow me around. I need bigger kids to hang with.

Me: LG. You only go to Ms. D’s when camp is closed. I think you can handle 7 or 8 random days a year over there, babies and all.

LG: Well, I still think you should look into care-dot-com. They make it easy to find better care for your whole family.

Me: LG. I am not getting on the internet to find a virtual stranger to care for you. No ma’am. You are tripping.

LG: Well, I’m pretty sure Ms. D. was a virtual stranger the first time you met her…

Sigh.

If

If you were going to buy this shoe, what would you wear it with? And I know y’all…if you wouldn’t buy this shoe, feel free to state that as well!

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Family Vacay 2014

So. We are back. Thank God for traveling grace!

This is probably going to be a long, rambling post. Consider yourself warned :)

This year’s vacation was a road trip! My parents drove from Cali to Houston, picked up my niece and nephew (ages 12 and 9) then drove to MS where LG and I joined in the fun. We then drove from Mississippi through Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, and Virginia to arrive at our destination – McGaheysville, VA.

On our first day’s drive we stopped in Birmingham, strolled around Kelly Ingram Park taking in a bit of civil rights history then went over to the Civil Rights Institute where we happened upon a performance that a theater camp was putting on detailing the civil rights era. Let me tell you something – those kids were phenomenal. They ranged in age from 10 to high school seniors and they were a talented bunch. I couldn’t believe that they’d only put in two weeks of work for their show. They’ve been received so well that the Civil Rights Institute has requested they perform throughout the summer and not just for the week-long run they’d originally scheduled. I wish I could remember the name of the group, but if you are going to be in/near Birmingham this summer, I strongly suggest you catch one of their performances at the Institute – and it was free :)

We spent the first night in Knoxville, TN then drove another six hours to our vacation destination.

McGaheysville, VA is home to the Massanutten vacation resort and is where we spent a week in chill (mostly) mode.I thought Massanutten was absolutely gorgeous. I’d never been in the mountains of Virginia before and everything was so green, so lush, just idyllic. There were deer bouncing around and fat little groundhogs chilling everywhere. The thing I didn’t like was that everything cost. And I mean everything. I wish I’d been better prepared for that. I knew it, but I didn’t know it, know it. The kids went to the waterpark, we all ziplined, they went “mining” for gems. There were a bunch of other activities to participate in, but we didn’t because like I said – they cost and with three kids those costs add up quickly! If I were to go back, I’d definitely budget differently. I’d love to tube down the river and maybe go horseback riding.

We spent a day in D.C. and it was crazy. I should’ve planned better. We toured the Capitol building. Then walked to the White House and the MLK memorial. Those three things – plus a brief detour for lunch at the world’s most hood McDonald’s (security with a gun AND a bullet proof vest?!?!) – took us ALL day. I don’t know how that happened, but I’ll take the charge for it. We got in at least 12 miles. By the time we made it to the Smithsonian? They were closed. And I was really hoping that we’d be able to pop in to at least two of them. Oh well…moving on.

The rest of our time was spent on the grounds, at a group dinner (there were 32 people in our group with all the cousins, in-laws, family friends, etc.), and at the African American Day in Harrisonburg, VA which we hit up on our way back home.

My next vacation? I want to relax. This was a do your own cooking/laundry type deal and I don’t want to cook, do dishes, or laundry on my next vacation. I want to lay around, do the activities I want to do, and leave the chores at the house! The cousin who organizes these trips (same group we went to Spain with) is vehemently opposed to cruises. And while I get her arguments against them (and even agree with some of them) I think for a group as varied as we are, a cruise would be a good, relaxing choice. We shall see….

On the way back to Mississippi we stopped at Ruby Falls and Lookout Mountain. Absolutely breathtaking. Ruby Falls is an underground cave that just so happens to have a waterfall in it. Lookout Mountain – specifically Rock City – was once a private garden that’s been open to the public for years. I know a garden doesn’t seem particularly spectacular, but it was. It’s huge, has all sorts of paths, caves, sculpture, and greenery and from the top? You can see seven states – NC, SC, AL, GA, TN, VA, KY. I didn’t even know such a place existed and I’m so glad we stopped to see both of these points of interest.

Now. Let’s talk about the dynamics of vacationing with one’s parents, child, niece and nephew. Whew! My parents are not used to kids and the kids are not used to my parents. I felt a little trapped in the middle because I’m used to both of them :)

My parents? They fuss. A lot. And I really didn’t want to hear all of that on vacation. There’s a lot to be said for correction. But not all the time.  My mom was all “well, they’re way different than y’all were as kids.” Well, of course they are. They’re being raised by different parents in different times. We were different kids than our parents were but I don’t remember my grandmothers fussing at us like that.

In my parents defense, they haven’t had kids at home for a long time. They are used to getting up and going on their own schedule and not dealing with the mess and noise that kids create. And I get that. Look forward to it. But for the next decade or so? It is what it is.

Last night at dinner my mom told me there were some things I need to work on as it relates to raising LG. LG is too soft, has too many options, I’m not consistent enough, and I explain too much to her. And here I was thinking Smoochy was the lenient parent -_-

LG is kinda soft. She’s a sensitive kid. She doesn’t have siblings so she’s not used to that dynamic and when she’s teased she cries. Smoochy and I have talked to her about this. “You can’t take what people say to heart, stop crying, tease back, you have to decide for yourself that you’re not going to let things bother you, etc., etc.” I really don’t know what else to do. I don’t want her to think there’s anything wrong with being a little sensitive – I have those tendencies myself – but I do know that she can’t cry every.single.time. she’s upset. She cried nearly every day in K and 1st grade. We’ve made GREAT progress. We still have work to do. I think she’ll grow out of it.

And yeah, I need to be more consistent with her. Been working on that.

But. (You knew there was a but coming, yes?) I deliberately try to be…softer with LG than my parents were with us. I remember feeling tense a lot as a kid. My dad in particular is very critical and I never thought anything I did was good enough. I want LG to feel and know that she is good enough. Always. So maybe I err in being too accepting of what she does. I don’t know. Yes, we have standards and expectations of her but I refuse to flip out over every single thing she does or to stress myself or her out on a regular basis.

I told my mom I was trying to find a balance between being so critical and uptight and being overly lenient. She told me I’m not there yet. Sigh.

Talked to Smoochy about it. He basically said that our parents raised us well, but that we are not perfect and that we will all raise our kids well and they won’t be perfect either. Pretty much Smoochy, pretty much.

Anyhoo, all in all we had a good time. I’m glad we had this experience. And next time? We need separate lodging!

Do you vacation with your parents and children/nieces/nephews? Do you parent the same way your parents did? What do you/will you do with your children that’s similar/different than what your parents did with you?

(Photo dump tomorrow)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Summertime in Hollis Queens…

About this post’s title….Yeah, I’m pretty confident that is NOT how the lyrics from the Run DMC classic “Christmas in Hollis” go. Blame Smoochy. He took it upon himself to rap – incorrectly – on the phone the other day and now I have these wrong lyrics stuck in my head -_-

So, for all intents and purposes it’s summer, summer, summertime. And the living is easy. See what I did there…

LG goes to a summer camp every day. There’s a new lady running it this year and she decided to tell us on Tuesday morning, as we were dropping kids off, that she’s changing the hours from 7a-6p to 7a-5p. Stop.The.Presses. What kind of nonsense would make you think that a camp, for children of working parents, should close at 5 p.m.? Don’t most people get off work at 5? I get off work at 4, but traffic is so crazy that most days I don’t sign LG out until 4:50, maybe 4:55. And if there’s an accident? All bets are off. I’m pretty sure her 7-5 policy isn’t going to last long.

The summer usually involves a lot of time in the pool, especially for LG. I am going to have her hair braided for ease. I am having the lady add fake hair to her braids so it’ll last. I swore I’d never put fake hair in my kid’s head. I lied.

I want my bedroom painted before summer’s over. And by “I want my bedroom painted…” I mean, I will be painting our room before the summer is over. Right now, I’m leaning heavily toward a dark gray color. But I could be swayed if something catches my eye while I’m perusing the paint chips.

We’re going to Virginia for a bit in June. I’m looking forward to it. I know we’ll do a day trip to DC (LG loves DC) but other than that, I hope to lay around and read a lot. There are three books I want to start/finish before I go back to school. I also need to read through an old statistics book to refresh my memory – oh, joy!

S.onic brought back it’s “summer of shakes,” so I’m once again trying to drink my way through the menu. But I’m also trying to lose weight, so I’m not really sure how this will all pan out. So far, I’ve had the salted caramel shake and the oreo caramel shake. I have not enjoyed or finished either one of them. Blech.

I give LG work for the summer. I print out a bunch of worksheets, put them in a notebook and every few days she has to complete one. I’m going to have her do a short book report for me this summer as well. She likes school, so I’m hoping this doesn’t feel like punishment for her. I need her skills to stay sharp so she can hit the ground running in August.

I never wear crop pants. Ever. I’ve always thought they cut me off and make me look funny. Bought a pair from Loft the other day, and I love them. If they’re still on sale, I’m going to get another pair. Never say never :)

What’re your plans for the summer? Travel, vacation, work, kids? What do your children do all summer? Do you have them do any sort of educational work over their 2 month break?

 

 

Fifteen Years, Two Pictures, Ten Randoms

15 years ago my Dad walked me down the aisle (okay, he walked me outside and down the patio)

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We said I do.

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And we have been since then!

  • Smoochy is a blessing in my life and I am so proud and happy to share my life with him.
  • I hope that God allows us many more happy anniversaries.
  • I’m so glad I broke up with a loser-faced-loser (copyright Psonya) in June of ’93. Otherwise I would not have been at all receptive when “that big guy who plays football” slid me a note in Pharmacology class in August. Okay, so I wasn’t really all that receptive. But it all worked out :)
  • I still can’t believe I married a football player (I did NOT date athletes) and moved to Mississippi.
  • I am thankful to my parents for providing an awesome example of marriage.
  • We are going to dinner this weekend (with LG) and out dancing next weekend (without LG) to celebrate. We don’t exchange gifts.
  • It’s not always easy, but for us, it’s always been worth it.
  • I think our first year of marriage was the hardest. Smoochy would probably say we haven’t had a hard year yet -_-
  • He makes me smile. He makes me laugh – especially when he sings, he knows the lyrics to approximately zero songs. He’s such a sweet man. Don’t tell him I called him sweet. But he is.
  • He is supportive, calm, and just an all around good guy.

Okay, I’m done.

Happy Thursday!

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, You Must

My coworker asked me into her office – she wanted my thoughts on a situation.

Her son is graduating high school in two weeks. Their church has a baccalaureate service/brunch for all high school graduates and they reached out to confirm that her son would be attending. Well, he doesn’t want to go, she explained that to the lady that called, and the lady asked for permission to call the son to see if she could persuade him to attend. She gave the woman permission to call, but told the woman she didn’t think it would do much good.

Coworker asked me what I thought. I told her I thought her son should attend. Great way to acknowledge the church’s role in his development and his graduation – along with others – sets a good example for younger kids in the church.

She’s of the mindset that he shouldn’t do anything he doesn’t want to do. I kind of get that, but I think there are some things you do out of…obligation. I don’t know if there’s a better word than obligation, but since that’s what popped into my mind, I’m going to roll with it.

I don’t like showers of the wedding or baby type. But I go. I don’t like weddings. But I had one. And I attend them. Graduations are akin to torture in my eyes – I went to mine because, well, my Mama made me. And if I was given my druthers instead of always schlepping over to my SIL’s home for holiday family gatherings, I’d stay home and chill. But I go. And I go with (generally) a good attitude. Why? Because I feel like I should. Because my friends and family are celebrating. Because it’s the right thing – in my eyes – to do.  I’m big on autonomy and I’m all about teaching children to think for themselves. But there are some things I’m not convinced they should be able to opt out of.

What are your thoughts? Not just on this particular situation, but on kids, what they “should” or “should not” do? What are your children able to opt out of? What are absolutes? Were you allowed as a child to make decisions on what you would/wouldn’t attend? Is And back to this situation – would you make him go or not? I mean, he is getting ready to go off to college and will be able to do what he wants, when he wants and he’s got to learn how to navigate through this life…

Anyhoo, holler at me in the comments. I’d love to read y’alls perspectives.

Have a marvelous weekend!

It’s Monday. I’m Random

  • I got into grad school! Yay! Lord willing and the creek don’t rise (some say this refers to the Creek tribe of Native Americans and not just a random body of water. Who knew?!?) I’ll start classes toward my Doctorate in Public Health in August at Jackson State. I used to think I shouldn’t earn my doctorate from a HBCU, but you know what? Bump it! Pray for me y’all!
  • I’m a little worried about how my going back to school will affect LG’s extracurricular activities, but I’m moving forward in faith that it’ll all work out.
  • After no-buy March, I thought I’d ease back into building up my wardrobe. But the Loft has 50% off today, free shipping. So I ordered a few more things to try on. I’m sure they won’t all work. But if they do? I’m keeping it all.
  • Oh, you thought I was through? No. I also ordered a seersucker blazer and a pair of linen pants from another site. Now, if I can find one more maxi skirt I think I’m good. Probably.
  • LG brought home a C in math. Down from an A. Sigh. I didn’t freak out over it, but I did tell her that I expect her to do her best and I didn’t think a C was her best. We’re going to work toward pulling that joker up to a B by the end of the semester. They’ve got one month of school left. And her C is a 79. So surely this can happen. Right? Right. And if I get to reacquaint myself with the basics of Geometry all the better…
  • I’ve been in boot camp for the last 4 Saturdays. I am sore, stiff, and the same size I was when I started. Ugh. I’ve got to get a handle on my ridiculous snacking habits. Who leaves boot camp only to come home and eat a handful of oatmeal cookies? That would be me in case you weren’t paying attention.
  • I’ve vacillated between chopping my hair off and dyeing it and just letting it ride. But it’s too long. And irritating. So I’m going to make an appointment for a haircut and see if that changes the way I feel about my locs.
  • Operation Get the House in Order is back in full affect. Particularly now that I know I’m going back to school. All of the extra must go. All of it. I’ve no time or energy for it.
  • Of course, there are always exceptions to my minimalism. LG wants a bird. I told her I’d think about it. Smoochy took her to the pet store to look at them. Y’all know there will be a poor, trapped bird in our house soon, right? I’m gonna call it Maya. LG will probably name it Bob though – she’s named everything Bob lately. Strange child.
  • Did I ever report back to y’all that the mari.juan.a lady did not win the Jackson mayoral race? Well, she didn’t. I’m sure you’re as shocked to hear that as I was. Ha!
  • Okay, that’s it I think. What’s shaking in your world? Making moves? Life on an even keel? Read anything good lately? How’s the family?