Someday she’ll go to college

IMG_1046I would sit and rock her to sleep late at night when I had a million other things that I needed to do. My house needed to be picked up, the dishes needed to be loaded in the dishwasher and bills needed to be paid.   I would often sit and think about all of the moms that would brag about their 6-month-olds just laying down in their beds and going to sleep each night.  I dreamed about what that must be like to actually have time to myself, get some things done or have a deep conversation with her daddy.  But instead,  I would sit in my rocking chair, holding my baby for an hour each night and praying that she would remain asleep when I put her in her crib.  Sleepily, I would say, “I guess I should enjoy this because “someday” she will go to college.”

IMG_1045Sitting on the floor by her bed, rubbing her back and singing Amazing Grace for the thousandth time, I would often wonder what it would be like to say goodnight, turn off her light and walk downstairs to grade papers, watch my favorite show or sit next to her daddy on the couch.  Three-year-olds are “no joke” and she took a lot of my time.  She demanded that we play in the backyard each night, watch Lilo and Stitch and make up funny songs  (many times late at night).  I was too busy with her to get many things done so I would say, “I guess I should enjoy this because “someday” she will go to college.”

At 6, she became a ninja in the middle of the night, sneaking down into our bed.  We would wake up almost every morning to an extra tiny body between us.  She slept peacefully while her daddy and I dodged her feet, arms, and head.  She talked in her sleep and would often wake us up laughing.  She was asleep but we were definitely NOT.  I would awake to small hands patting my face, lips kissing me good morning and a tiny voice saying,  “I love you, Mommy.”  Exhausted from the night, I would beg her to stay in her bed the next night so Mommy could get some sleep.  But then I would say, “I guess I should enjoy this because “someday” she will go to college.”    

IMG_0349Balls bouncing around my head, money flying out of my billfold, boys, drama, late nights waiting up for her to come home,  the teenage years did not disappoint.  She was easy but she kept us busy.   She and her sister made quite a pair.  Laughter, painting, passing volleyballs, playing in the pool, staying up late, eating a lot of ice cream while enjoying life.  They did everything together and everything very loud.  Life was always on volume 10.  When I told them to quiet down, stop playing in the bed and go to sleep for the 15th time, I would shake my head and say, “I guess I should enjoy this because “someday” she will go to college.”

Well…”Someday”…

it arrived today… a lot sooner than I thought it would. 

And I am so thankful now for all the late night snuggles, the verses of Amazing Grace, crowded beds, and sister laughter,

because

without all of them,

I might not be sitting here tonight crying big.fat.ugly tears.    

Go be AMAZING sweet girl…your mommy will figure this “new normal” out and try to enjoy it

and

be just fine!!IMG_7491

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Why I long to be Jane Goodall

I love you, Jane Goodall.  I really do.

I am filled with envy every time I think about you going off to Africa in the 60’s to watch baboons and chimpanzees and eat from the forest.  More than once I have said, “Why did God not choose me? I could have taken the silence, the nothingness, the moments of wondering what day it was.  Can you imagine?

Growing up, I would see pictures of Jane in National Geographic and actually dream about myself in khaki shorts, a faded button-up shirt, my hair pulled back in a ponytail and a journal. As a mom, I actually long to be her some days. 
Jane and Chimp.jpg

No Spanx, no need to wear wedges or shave my legs, no annoying vuvuzela blowing during the World Cup, no weeds to pull, no dentist appointments to make…just me and the silence and the chimps.

Sometimes I go for months without thinking about you, sweet Jane Goodall and your Chimps.  But about this time every year, I decide you took the easy way out.  You aren’t having to keep children entertained when it is 103 degrees outside or wondering how you will stretch a pound of hamburger meat into a meal for 6 or why you are the only one that knows how to replace empty toilet paper rolls.

But, let’s face it, I have a job.  A job that leaves me unsure of myself, frustrated and sometimes second-guessing God.  I question myself every day and think about what I should have done differently.  Being a mother is hard.  Should I have had the girls earlier?  Maybe we should have had two more? Have I loved them enough? Maybe we should have saved more, given more or asked more questions.

The best advice I got when the girls were younger was from an elderly man at the mall.  It was Christmas time.  The mall was packed and I needed that one item only the mall held.  The oldest was 4 and the youngest was 8 months old and both were hungry, tired and just over it.   I had already bribed, threatened and put myself in time out.  Having had enough, I went against my better judgment and bought a bag of processed, sugar covered,  gluten.  We were sitting in the middle aisle on a bench outside of Restoration Hardware.  As I was longing for the days when I would have nice things again, a man in his 80’s came and sat down next to us.  He smiled and I’m sure he could see the worn look on my face.   He asked what their ages were.  With a sigh, I told him 4 years and 8 months.  He then said something I have never forgotten.  He smiled, shook his head and said, “Oh that’s my favorite age.”  I looked at him like he had three eyes and honestly couldn’t even speak.  Then he said, “Always let the age your kids are at be your favorite.  Then you will never need to look back or ahead but can live in the moment.”

About this time, my oldest wiped her hands on the side of his pants and asked if he was as old as Moses.

Jane and the chimps flashed in my head again.

I have tried to live by his advice ever since.

 

Yes, I long to be Jane some days…but today, I’ll enjoy my favorite 19 and 16-year-olds.   I’m off to enjoy handing out money for gas, lunch and a cute new skirt at The Gap.

Allyson

Dog Days of Summer

Y’all…it’s hot here in Texas.  Hell hot!

So hot that you can’t go swimming unless you wear shoes all the way to the point of entry or you lose a layer of epidermis from the bottom of your feet.  crocs in pool.jpg

So hot that the squirrels are even trying to find a cool spot to lay down.college station squirrel

So hot that no one in Texas will wear gray because of the embarrassing sweat marks on your back, stomach, and pits, oh my.

We are in the “dog days” of summer. dog days.jpg 

What exactly does that mean?  I asked a few random people walking down the street in good ole McKinney, Texas.  Answer number 1: I always thought it meant that even dogs were too hot to move. Answer number 2: Dog days are when everyone sits around like a dog with their tongue hanging out.   Answer number 3: It has something to do with a star in the sky I think. Answer number 4: It’s a time when only “mad dogs” come out during the heat or people asking crazy questions on the street. (I think this last answer had to do with me, just thinking.)

The phrase “Dog Days” according to The Old Farmer’s Almanac is the 40 days beginning July 3 and ending August 11, coinciding with the rising of the Dog Star, Sirius.  (Today, July 3rd, 2018, marks the day that I now know why the Sirius radio mascot is a dog! Good job Farmer’s Almanac!)Dog Star.jpg

The rising of Sirius does not affect the weather like some of the ancient Egyptians thought.  But it did bring about a natural phenomenon that they looked forward to each year, the flooding of the River Nile.  The star was a “watchdog”, hee hee, for that event.

The Greeks and Romans thought these days brought about a fever or even worse, madmen.  

Now, I don’t mind being hot or sweaty.  But as a mother, ugh, I see why the Greeks and Romans got a little cranky. Why are kids attracted to sweaty mommies?  Is it a scent we send out? Do the children think we look cooler and they should lay all over us? Do children instantly want to sit in our laps more? Be held? Need to lean on us more? ICK!  

And, my man, I really do feel sorry for him.  The thought of laying close to him, or hugging, or being squeezed up tight while we are waiting in line for ice cream…NOPE.  No wonder the Greeks and Romans became MAD. They needed loving Y’all.

Hoping you enjoy your first day of the “Dog Days” in the shade with an ice cold sweet tea! 

Allyson

 

College New Student Conference 1988 vs. 2018

Thirty years ago, my parents took me to college orientation. They dropped me off at the University of North Texas gym, handed me a $20 bill for lunch and dinner and told me they would be back to pick me up at 9:00 pm when it was over.  My eyes were the size of saucers. I was scared to death.

It was a one-day affair that resembled a day at Six Flags without the Pink Things.   pink thing
It was full of roller coaster emotions, sweating like a pig and standing in lines, lots and lots of lines.  We took a picture for our college ID, learned the school song, and were hurried into the dressing room to hear from our degree choice. Then we walked in a slow line over to the Union for lunch, hand-wrote my schedule on a piece of colored paper, and handed it to a lady that had worked at the college for 102 years.   They divided us up to play in a co-ed kickball game and ended the day with a cold hot dog for dinner. Momma arrived back at the gym at 8:58 pm, high fived me and we returned home.

This is NOT, let me repeat, NOT how they do New Student Orientation now. college parents

Wow, my man and I took our oldest down to Texas A&M this week.  It was a three-day affair. Traditions, ways to send money, calendars, ways to put money on an account, academic support, staying safe, sports passes, yell practice, maroon shirts to buy, and registration for classes.  

I started realizing as we sat and listened for three days that my children have lead very sheltered lives.  

They have never seen a whole chicken, created a casserole from scratch, or watched bread rise.  

I haven’t shared the ecstasy of pulling towels out of the drier and burying your face into them, the satisfaction of cleaning the lint filter or how to vacuum to get perfect lines in the carpet.  

But here are a few insights we have given her:

  1. Underwear should be kept private, changed and not shared.
  2. Students that talk to their parents weekly, get remembered in their will.
  3. Deposits should always, at all times, exceed the withdrawals.
  4. Pursue every roach as if it was female, pregnant and ready to make its permanent home in your pantry.
  5. You will not always get what you want and sometimes your basic needs can be met on $2.38.
  6. Maroon shirts need to be kept away from your whites.
  7. Introduce yourself to teachers and professors.  It goes a long way.
  8. Faith, love, and family are really all you need.
  9. Don’t be scared to ask for help.
  10. And if your bed is uncomfortable, you can always sleep between me and your daddy!still sleeping with your parents

As we were walking away, I could hear the Sound of Music playing in my head,   “Climb every mountain, ford every stream, follow every rainbow till you find your dream.”  

Julie Andrews should have also sung about loans, financial aid, and scholarships. Mikayla New Student Conference

Tired but amazed!

Allyson

The Favorite Child

A mom was sitting with her grown children one night after a birthday party.  They were all sharing stories from childhood.  The youngest shared about a time they had taken a road trip and she was left at the gas station and no one noticed for 15 minutes.  The oldest made sure everyone knew he had it the hardest and all of the other siblings should be thankful that he paved the way for them.  There were stories of missed curfews, car accidents, and fishing trips with words that have yet to ever be spoken again.

Then the question was asked, same time, every time they all were together.

“Mom, which one of us was your favorite growing up?” Everyone laughed and knew exactly what their mom would say.  She had answered the same way all of their lives.  “I don’t have a favorite.  I love all of you equally.”  favorite child.jpg

But tonight she paused a little longer and looked at each of her children as they continued to laugh and argue that they were her favorite.

She cleared her throat and the whole room became silent.  And then she looked at each of her children and said, “Yes, you’re right.  One of you was my favorite.

My favorite was the one that was too sick to celebrate his 12th birthday, had chicken pox at Christmas and wore cast on his arm every year in April.

My favorite had a fever in the middle of the night, a nightmare every night straight for 6 weeks and she was the one in my arms in the emergency room.  My favorite child was the one I punished for lying, took the phone away because he was insensitivity to other people’s feelings and informed was a royal pain during Thanksgiving dinner.

My favorite child said dumb things for which there are no excuses.  He was selfish, immature, bad-tempered and self-centered.  She was lonely, unsure of what she wanted to do with the rest of her life, and needed to have “the talk” more than once.

The one I loved the most was the one that I watched struggle to read, struggle to find his way, and struggle to find the hangers in her closet.

So, yes, I did have a favorite and all of you were that child at one time or another. My favorite needed my love the most but deserved it the least.”

oh-so-youre-the-favorite-child-please-tell-me-more-about-this-fantasy-world-you-live-in.jpg

Everyone sat silent.

And then their mom told everyone to stop looking around, grab their kids and go home so she could go to bed.

Go be amazing favorite children everywhere!  AND…call your mom and tell her you love her!

Allyson

Beauty Tip: Broken Eye Shadow

When it comes to makeup, I am a minimalist.  Part of the reason I am a minimalist is that I really don’t care or have the time to learn how to apply makeup in a way that will make me look 10 pounds smaller, 10 years younger or like I have been sunkissed.

In the 80’s when I was learning to apply makeup, Momma took me over to see Rhelda at Merle Norman.  I remember three things from our little 30-minute makeover.  First, once you start using eyeliner, you can never go back. (It’s the makeup world’s version of crack, I think or at least she made it sound like that.) Second, lipgloss should be used every day even if you don’t wear lipstick.  Last and most importantly, wash your face every night before bed.

So when I need beauty tips I go straight to the experts, my daughters.  They have watched the videos, tried it all out and then wiped it all off so they can work on their skin care regiment.  Heck, the little one stood in front of the face wash for 32 minutes in Target last night while I checked out all the clearance aisles and still couldn’t decide which one to get.  What is wrong with the $6.99 bottle of Cetaphil?

But I learned a neat trick tonight from her.

You know when you drop your $5.49 palette of Loreal eyeshadow on the floor and it breaks into about a thousand little pieces? Yes, me too. Let’s just say 1000 piece puzzles have nothing on Loreal #56 cashmere and #58 caramel that have been dropped from 48 inches.

All is not lost though, my friends.  Here is her tip:

  1.  Grab all of the little pieces and put them back in their rightful place.broken eyeshadow 1
  2.  Take a spoon and break them up into a fine powder.eyeshadow 2
  3.  Pour a half of teaspoon of rubbing alcohol over the powder.eye shadow and alcohol
  4.  Pat down the powder/alcohol with the back of the spoon. eye shadow and alcohol 2
  5.  Let sit and dry.broken eyeshadow drying
  6.  Use as normal

Woo hoo!!  She saved me $6 dollars tonight.  It works too!

Cousin Eddie and Catherine’s Garage Sale

Sometimes my man and I go on adventures and everything goes as planned.  Other times, things turn out a little different. Well, today was one of those times.

I promised him dinner and great conversation if he would go with me to a garage sale that was an hour away.  “Remember last year when you didn’t want to go with me to that garage sale and we ended up getting all of that good stuff?” I said.  “Besides, the ad read, “Everything in the house has to go”. So you know we will find something that we can’t live without.”garagesale.jpg

Beautiful ride.

Great conversation.

Kiss on the hand.

Amazing scenery.

Trees, large houses, horses

and then, Siri tells us to take a turn at the next road.  What? Siri do you have the correct address? Siri, do you need to recalculate? I plug the address in again. Siri, again, tells us to turn down the next road.  

Let me tell you why we were a little confused. The next right had us heading down a dirt road that had been partially washed away in the recent storm. A broke down car sat by the turn and looked as though someone had listened to Siri and decided it would be best to cut their losses and abandon their ride than venture any further into the awaiting abis.  

Oh No, not us. We aren’t quitters.

We turn down the road. Siri quickly let us know that our destination was on the left. Then she fell silent. In front of us, sat an RV, a tractor with no tires, a box trailer with items spilling out and two tables with crochet quilts.

Now, most of the time, Jeremy would have driven by, given it a look and said something like, “I don’t see anything we need. Do you?”  But nope, not tonight because I had assured him this would be the jackpot house and he trusted me. (Okay, so I should let you know that it’s June and I am batting 1000 at garage sales so I was due to strike out.)

We jump out of the truck and Jeremy starts walking towards the front door.  That is when I noticed “Cousin Eddie” in the driver’s seat of the RV. Not a wave or smile. Just sitting there staring at us.  Maybe, we were at the wrong house? Maybe, Siri had made a mistake. Maybe we should run, not walk, back to the truck. Oh, no, I was determined to make this worth our gas money.   I made my way over to the RV. “Hi, we’re here to see your garage sale.” Without looking at me “Cousin Eddie” replied, “I sent one of the boys around to get their Ma. Go around to the back of the house.”  vacation-rv.png

Yes, the garage sale is around back.  How stupid of me. Okay, we will find the good stuff right around the…bam, there was Ma or  “Catherine” as we will call her, coming around the corner. And the first words out of her mouth were, “I’m sorry I didn’t put my teeth in today.”

Y’all, what do you say when someone says that.  “It’s okay.”, “Yes, me too.” or “I didn’t even notice.” I chose the first.

That would be the last two words I said for the next 36 minutes.  “Catherine” had a LOT to say. We learned that she had recently lost 300 pounds, her teeth and most of her hair.  We learned that her and her husband, the man in the RV, had 10 days to get out of their house because someone had given them an offer they couldn’t refuse.  We learned that a rich couple had bought their house, land and partial barn. She also let us know they had taken the downpayment, bought a 20-year-old RV and were going on adventures with their three kids for the next year.  That sounds great is what I wanted to say, but again, she didn’t give anyone else a chance to say anything. “Cousin Catherine” then told us that the only thing her husband remembered from growing up was building a retaining wall with his brother and fighting about it.  That wall had caused so much fighting that the two grown men don’t talk today because of it. And then I said, “Wow, that must have been some wall.” My man looked at me with that, “Please don’t say anything else and let’s get out of here” look.

“Catherine” continued and invited us out to the partial barn that the family had been building together for the last 4 years.  I’ll just say this family probably needs to not take on building projects. There she shows us four chairs she had sanded but that are broken, a dresser under a tarp in the yard that has water damage and no drawers, and some tools that had quite a bit of rust because of the partial barn.  Like I said, this family probably needs to steer clear of building projects.

We took her break in the conversation to start walking back to the truck, only to have my new best friend, grab me by the arm and invite me into their 900 square foot treehouse that was minus a tree.  

Okay, I consider myself accepting and can carry on a conversation with a stick, but I was starting to get a little uncomfortable now. And my man, he was just going along with me because I think he was scared for my safety.  

This house was by no means ready to be emptied in 10 days.  There were boxes lining each wall from floor to ceiling. There were grapes on chairs, food in bowls on the floor and shoes, clothes, and unidentified bags of whatever laying around on the floor…every inch of the floor. Things were so bad in this house, that the family dog, was carrying around a red solo cup and to be honest, I was scared to look inside of it. “Cousin Catherine” let us know that she had watched a lot of Fixer Upper and had worked on this house to make it look like something Chip and Joanna would be proud of and did I notice the shiplap on the wall?  

This is when the story became too much for us both. “Cousin Catherine” wanted to show me a few things on her phone.  Pops of color she uses to decorate during the holidays, a table she built in the partial barn, and the future money-making idea she was ready to act upon.    But the Lord truly tested us when she said, “I’m a really classy lady. See, here’s a picture of me with teeth, hair and support bra.”

My man jumped into action, said we needed to leave and would give her a call tomorrow after we talked about all we had seen.  (If she only knew that we had to pull over on the side of the road because of all we had seen!)

She, kindly, let us know about a family bar down the road that had great chicken fried steak and we wished them luck in their future.  

Can’t make this stuff up!

I’ll be leaving the garage sales to my man for a while and stick with painting.

Love Y’all

Allyson  

PS: And it was a great family bar that didn’t have child labor laws because a 7-year-old showed us to our seat.  But that’s a story for another day!