Closed Mouths Don’t Get Fed. Ask For What You Need. You Have Not Because You Ask Not.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I don’t like to ask for help. From anyone. I will run around like a chicken with my head cut off trying to figure out how to do something on my own before I’ll ask for help. I don’t know why I’m this way, but I am.

I will offer to help someone in a heartbeat. Well, generally. And if someone offers to help me, I will surely accept. But it is rare that I open my mouth and say “will you please help me?”

Y’all know I’m starting school on Monday right? Right. I’ll be in class two nights a week from 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. Let’s not even talk about how I like to go to bed at 8:00. Anyhoo. I’d decided I was going to pick LG up from school at 2:00 on those days, take her home, get her homework done, get her fed, run her to the sitter, sit in class for 3 hours, pick her up from the sitter, run home, get her showered and in the bed, study my notes, and fall asleep.

Then I had this genius-level epiphany: tell Smoochy you need help.

Now. I love my husband, and he’s an all around good fella. But I have to tell him what I need. He’s not all that intuitive, and really, he shouldn’t have to read my mind.

So I tell Smoochy “look. I know you love driving that truck. You enjoy not having a “boss.” You like your schedule, and I get that. But I’m getting ready to go back to school and I cannot do this I do not want to do this by myself. I’m going to need your help.”

And do you know what he said? “Okay.”

He has started filling out applications for trucking companies that advertise as having their drivers home each night. He told his current supervisor that he needs a change in his schedule and that if they couldn’t work something out there, he was going to have to move on. That he wants to stay with them, but he needs to be more involved at home.

Y’all.

Y’all.

I am feeling so relieved right about now. It may take a minute for Smoochy’s schedule to be the way that’ll work out best for us, but I am so thankful that he listened to what I was saying, agreed, and is making some moves. I am so glad I didn’t try to be Superwoman this go ’round.

I am definitely going to be less hesitant about asking for help when I need it from here out.

Now. Who wants to do my Biostatistics work for me? Anyone? Anyone?

Road Trip!

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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.

welp!

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!

LCM

“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!

 

 

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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

 

Sigh. And Then Sigh Again.

So. I said I wasn’t going to blog about my youngest brother anymore. I lied. Because here I am again. Maybe this is the last time I’ll use this space to discuss him – who knows?

~ ~ ~ ~ picture it, Christmas Day 2013 ~ ~ ~ ~

Christmas Day I get a text from my Mom. It’s a picture actually. Of my brother, his wife, and their two children. I think “oh, isn’t that nice, they sent my Mom a pic so she could see the kids.” But wait. I recognize the background. The picture is of them outside of my Grandma’s house. In Los Angeles. California.

So I text my Mom back the only thing I could “uh, is that X and his people? In California? At Grandma’s?????”

Yep, sure was.

My Mom said she walked in my Grandma’s house, said a general “hey, Merry Christmas y’all, let me put these cheesecakes down” and then she thought she saw my brother, but figured she was tripping.  So she went in the kitchen, put the cheesecakes down, came back and stood in front of my brother and said ” X is that you?” “Yes. How are you mother?” Here we go with this ultra formal foolishness…

Anyhoo, turns out that my brother called my Grandma’s house one day about a week earlier and my uncle answered the phone and told my brother that Grandma was in the hospital. Which he would’ve known if he, oh, I don’t know, talked to his family….So from what we gather, they decided to take a week’s vacation and spend it in California checking in on my Grandma and playing tourists when not visiting at the hospital. Back to Christmas – my mom and dad tried to engage him in conversation, he wasn’t having it, nor was his wife. They were polite, but distant. My Mom did say the kids are really sweet and friendly. So there’s that. At some point my Mom asked if they were planning on coming to the house. “No.” Sigh.

After about an hour, they wished everyone a Merry Christmas and rolled out. My Mom says she didn’t see him anymore while they were in CA. My Grandma or aunt would say “X and his family came by today,” but the extent of his visit with my parents was that 60 minutes or so on Christmas Day. (I told my Mom a few years back I wouldn’t be surprised to learn he’d done something along these lines – in and out without contacting them – guess I was right)

~ ~ ~ ~ Fast forward to Friday, January 3 ~ ~ ~ ~

My Mom calls and lets me know my Grandmother died. She asks me to call my brothers and let them know. So I call Brother 1 and tell him. Brother 2 doesn’t answer, so I call Brother 3 (X) who, of course, doesn’t answer. Brother 2 calls back and I give him the news. Then I tell him that I tried to call X and let him know, but dude didn’t answer and I didn’t want to leave a VM or send a text to tell him Grandma’s died. So Brother 2 says he’s just gonna call X at work and let him know. Which is what he does. About 10 minutes later my phone rings “This is X. I’m returning your call.” Sigh. “Dude. I was just calling to let you know about Grandma. But I know you know, so really, that’s all.” So he asked about my family and I asked about his. Then I told him I’d call him back with the details about the services, or if he preferred I’d send a text. And that’s when he tells me he’s not going to the funeral – he saw Grandma alive and has no interest in attending her funeral. I say okay, take it easy, and the conversation ends.

~ ~ ~ ~ Fast forward to today ~ ~ ~ ~

I just don’t care anymore. If we talk, we talk. If we don’t, we don’t.

At the same time, I do still pray for reconciliation between him and the rest of us.

I pray that God not harden my heart toward my brother.

I wish he and his family the best. I pray for them just like I pray over my other brothers, SILs, nieces and nephews.

I can’t believe he’s not coming to the funeral. I know some people don’t “do” funerals and I get that (but not really), and I know my Grandma doesn’t care if he’s there or not, but I think it’s disrespectful not to attend when you have the means to do so.

I think I’ve gone through most of Kubler-Ross’ 5 stages of grief when it comes to my brother and his self-imposed exile from the family – denial, anger, bargaining, and acceptance. I most surely have not been depressed over  his antics.

I’m 41. X is 30. I do know that life has a way of handing your ass to you in ways you’d never expect and that he’d better pray to God above that his family never hurts him the way he’s hurt his.

And that’s all I’ve got.

92

As you may remember, I went home in mid-December to check on and visit with my Grandma. She’d had a heart attack and while I had plans to go home this summer for a week or two, I thought that I’d better go on home and see about her – and I’m so glad I did! We had a great time visiting, she was doing well – for a 92 year old who’d just had a heart attack or two – and in good spirits.

Well, about a week after I came home, she was rushed back to the hospital as she’d had another heart attack. They’d treated her, released her and she was home. I told both of my parents that I wasn’t too pleased with the care she was receiving in the hospital – they released her even though she was having horrible chest pains.  On Friday my mother called me and told me my Grandma was unresponsive, the paramedics were at the house working on her, and they (my parents) were getting ready to head into L.A. to check on her. When my phone rang about 15 minutes later, I knew. It was my mom letting me know that my Grandma didn’t make it. Even though I’d been expecting the news, it took the wind out of me and I sat at my kitchen table and cried into the mug of tea I’d just brewed to calm my nerves.

So now LG and I are getting ready to fly home to celebrate my Grandma’s life. And celebrate we will! Though it hurts to no longer have her here with us, I can’t be too sad for too long. My Grandma lived a long, happy, blessed life and blessed so many people during her 92 years on earth. My mom remarked the other day that she just realized she had her “mother-in-love” longer that she had her own mother (46 years vs. 40).

My Grandma lived in South Central L.A. She lived there before it was “the hood,” during the gang wars of the 80s and 90s and while my parents begged and pleaded with her many many times – particularly after my Grandpa died – to move out to suburbia with them, she always refused and said “when God gets ready to call me home, he’ll find me at 53rd and Broadway.” And that, is exactly where she was when she was called home.  She died like she lived – on her own terms and that makes my heart happy.

RIL Grandma!