Archives for October 2010

I Need A Title For This Post

Well, it would seem that I took myself a bit of a bloggy vacation. And do you know what? It wasn’t planned, but it was delightful.

Last week I got to spend a lot of time in my hometown with my family (thank y’all so much for all your sweet comments on the post about Joe), and even though we were together as the result of some sad circumstances, we talked and laughed and reminisced and laughed some more. Joe’s funeral was absolutely beautiful, and there’s a post brewing way down deep in my heart about all the sacrificial acts of kindness I’ve witnessed over the last few days. Being able to see so many of the families that I knew when I was growing up left me teary-eyed and oh-so-grateful. My little hometown has its faults, but when push comes to shove I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it was a pretty wonderful place to grow up – and the people there are precisely the reason why. The way that they reached out to and loved on my aunt and my cousins ministered to all of us.

After the funeral we had a BIG OLE LUNCH over at my parents’ house, and I wanted to take pictures of the food but felt a little self-conscious about it because, you know, AWKWARD. So you’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that there was a chicken pie that would’ve rocked your world. At first it seemed like it was pretty standard chicken pie fare, but then I tasted the crust and angels sang and then I realized that THERE WERE DUMPLINS INSIDE THE CHICKEN PIE.

Those dumplins totally revolutionized my chicken pie-eating experience. I will never be the same.

Oh, no. I will never be the same.

The next 48 hours brought all manner of family togetherness, and then, in an unexpected and very spontaneous turn of events, Sister, Alex and I hopped in the car Saturday afternoon and drove to our favorite place on earth.

Oh, glory.

It was such a blast. We rang responsibly and cheered until we were hoarse and had ourselves a fine time. We sat with my friend Daphne and her family, and the one-liners coming from Daph and her brother kept me laughing the entire game. Plus, Alex decided that he was going to be Ernest P. Justice and keep an eye on one particular person in our section who was struggling a little bit with the new cowbell rules, and I promise you that if I’d had a citation pad, my child would’ve written that man a ticket. It cracked me up. I would’ve encouraged him more in his pursuit of Cowbell Control if I didn’t hold the personal opinion that the Southeastern Conference (of which I am a decided fan, by the way) doesn’t really need to concern itself with our MOST PRIZED TRADITION, because if the cowbells did in fact afford us some sort of unfair home field advantage, then WE PROBABLY WOULD’VE MADE IT TO MORE THAN TWO BOWL GAMES IN THE LAST TEN YEARS.

I mean, seriously. Are we such a perennial threat for football conference championships that the SEC has to find a way to level the playing field? Because while I don’t know much, I do know that I’ve been a State fan all of my life, and last time I checked on that “perennial threat” front, um, NO.

The cowbells are a beloved tradition. Plain and simple. They’re fun. They may be a bit of an annoyance to the other team, but they’re not a game-changer by any stretch of the imagination. And that’s all I have to say about that.

Until I decide that I have more to say, of course.

(I LOVE YOU, SOUTHEASTERN CONFERENCE.)

(YOU’RE JUST OFF-BASE ON THIS PARTICULAR ISSUE.)

(BUT ON ALL THE OTHER ISSUES, YOU’RE ACES.)

(((((HUGS)))))

So. That’s what we’ve been doing. Also: late this afternoon Mama, Daddy and Martha arrived for tomorrow’s Grandparents’ Day at the little man’s school, and I took Martha to Steinmarts about five minutes after they pulled down the driveway. But that’s a story that will have to wait because I’m tired.

(She bought two jackets!!!!!)

(And one of them was only $3.95!!!!!)

(CAN YOU BELIEVE?)

(CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE?)

Happy New Week, y’all.

p.s. Don’t forget about the great discussions about kids and texting that are going on over at BlogHer.

p.p.s. Don’t forget that the Bulldogs are currently ranked #20 in the BCS Standings.

p.p.p.s. Don’t forget that our current ranking has NOTHING TO DO WITH ANY SORT OF UNFAIR COWBELL-RELATED ADVANTAGE.

p.p.p.p.s. I’ve missed you terribly.

Joe

Yesterday morning my Uncle Joe passed away. It wasn’t unexpected – he had been battling dementia and other health problems for several years and was admitted to hospice over the weekend – but it has been every bit as bittersweet as you would imagine. On one hand there is such relief from knowing that he isn’t suffering anymore. He’s not confused. He’s not agitated. He’s not frustrated.

He’s free.

Even still – in the most earthly, temporal way – Joe’s death leaves a void in our family. He was, as long as any of us can remember, the fun uncle. He always laughed the loudest, cracked the most jokes, stirred up the most mischief. He loved being outside – especially on the water – and I can’t even begin count the number of Sunday afternoons when he was at the helm of his boat, pulling one of the family young’uns on an inner tube or water skis or whatever happened to be hooked to the ski rope. He liked to FLOOR IT so that the front end of the boat was at what felt like a 90 degree angle, and right now, if I think really hard, I can hear the way he would laugh when we would HOLLER with excitement. He was such a blast.

Joe was a storyteller, and he was usually the life of the party. When he walked in a room, you were likely to hear a chorus of people saying “JOE!” to greet him. As a result of that, Alex actually believed for the first four or five years of his life that his great-uncle’s name was “JOE!” He never, ever said it without the exclamation point at the end. Neither did the rest of us, come to think of it. Joe was larger than life, kind as could be and one of the least critical people I’ve ever known. He was just as tickled as he could be to see other people happy. And even after the dementia started to take over, he never met a stranger. He might not have the foggiest idea who you were, but by diggity he would treat you like you were one of his closest friends. We all loved that about him.

Night before last my cousin Paige and I were reminiscing about some of our favorite JOE! moments, and after a few minutes Paige passed the phone to my aunt. We talked for a little bit, and just as Choxie was getting ready to hang up so that she could talk to some friends who had stopped by to visit, she said something that I will never forget: “He’s been a mighty sweet husband.” I know that Paige and Benji would say that he was a mighty sweet daddy. That legacy will last.

A couple of years ago at the beach, Joe spent a lot of time in one of the chairs on the balcony. He was fascinated by the water and kept talking about what a “big lake” the Gulf was. As it turned out it was his last family trip, but nobody knew that for sure at the time. One night after supper my aunt and I were sitting around, running through the geneaology of my hometown, connecting long-forgotten dots between families. And about that time Joe opened the door to the balcony, looked up, and said, “Come here. That, that…” and he pointed to the sky in frustration as he searched for the word that he needed, for the word that would not come.

So my aunt and I walked outside, and we looked toward the sky, and Joe said, “Looka there. It’s shining right down on that water.”

Sure enough, there was the moon. In fact, it was the most stunning, full moon I’d ever seen, hitting the Gulf like a spotlight. So we stood there, and we stared, and we sighed. It was beautiful.

In the last few weeks I’ve thought over and over again about that night at the beach. And yesterday, when I read Paige’s early-morning text that her daddy was finally at peace, one of the first things that came to my mind was that Joe not only knows the moon now – he has seen the One who made it.

He has seen the One who made it.

Amen.

Kellogg’s Love Your Cereal – Post 12

This is sponsored content by BlogHer and Kellogg’s.

There are lots of times each year when we make breakfast a really special occasion: first day of school, birthdays and anytime we have guests staying with us – just to name a few. But there is one day each year that is like no other as far as breakfast is concerned. In fact, breakfast on this particular day has become such a tradition for us that I start looking for new recipes – or start thinking about how to modify old recipes – months in advance.

Anybody want to guess when our big breakfast day is?

Yep. You probably figured it out. Christmas.

Oh my word I love Christmas breakfast so much that I may have to stand up and hop a little bit. Just gets me all excited. Makes me want to put on the Harry Connick, Jr. Christmas album and make homemade biscuits.

The big Christmas breakfast hasn’t always been a tradition in our family, but a few years ago, when I started to be the one who was primarily the one responsible for the big family meal, I figured out that it just made good sense. We wake up on Christmas morning, open presents, then eat a big breakfast around 9 – and that’s it until Christmas dinner around 5 in the afternoon. I always serve breakfast foods that I can (mostly) make ahead of time, and there is just nothing like the smell of homemade coffee cake and sizzling bacon on Christmas Day. It just screams “HOME” – and I hope it’s a tradition that we’ll continue for years to come.

So what about you? Do you and your family have any special breakfast days? Tell me about it in the comments, and you’ll be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card. This is our last week of Kellogg’s giveaways; thanks so much for your participation!

For a second entry, you can:
· Tweet about this post with a link to it (and put your tweet URL in a separate comment below)
· Blog about this post with a link to it (and put your blog post URL in a separate comment below)
· Sweepstakes ends 5 PM EST on November 1, 2010.

And be sure to visit the BlogHer.com Kellogg exclusive offers page – you have 24 other chances to win $100 every single week that this program is running! Here are the official rules.

Mom’s Breakfast Club was started to help educate moms and families about kids’ cereal and share the scoop on their nutritional benefits and ingredients. To learn more about the program, visit www.loveyourcereal.com.

This giveaway is now closed.

A Game-Changer

Most of y’all know that I love to cook. LOVE. IT. In fact, just thinking about the fact that the holidays are right around the corner makes me a wee bit giddy. Before I know what’s hit me it’ll be time to pull out all my food magazines and a big stack of Post-Its and GO TO TOWN marking all the new recipes that I want to try. It’s my grown-up version of going through the Sears Christmas catalog and dog-earing all the toys that strike my fancy.

So given all of that, it’s sort of a wonder to me that, up until a few weeks ago, I never owned a really good knife. I mean, I had knives, of course, and I used them, and I tried my best to sharpen them, but they were all pretty low on the quality scale. They were serviceable, though, so I tried to make the best of my sub-par kitchen knife situation – even when slicing potatoes reminded me of what it might be like if I tried to cut upholstery fabric with a butter knife. Not that I would ever do such a thing, of course.

Back in the summer I started looking at “good” knives – but it seemed a little extravagant to buy myself something so nice just because I wanted to have an easier time dicing our celery. So I put my knife dreams on hold – difficult though it was – and I figured that eventually there might be a holiday or a birthday when all my knife dreams would come true.

By the way, if you’re looking for a reliable test as to whether you’ve actually crossed over into Officially Grown-Up territory, I think having dreams of a really good knife probably answers that question for you. In fact, just go ahead and let those knife dreams be your assurance that your days of immaturity are far behind you. BECAUSE YOU HAVE A WISH-LIST OF KITCHEN UTENSILS, YOU SEE.

Anyway, do you know what my people gave me for a birthday present this year? Do you know? Can you guess? Will you ever believe?

They gave me a really wonderful kitchen knife. The knife of my dreams, in fact. And for the record, that last sentence is absolutely the most lame thing I have ever written, and I FOR ONE COULD NOT BE MORE DELIGHTED.

I love my knife. I adore it. I look for excuses to use it. And the first time I ever sliced an onion with it, I realized that I hadn’t actually been cutting things for lo, all these many years that I’ve been spending untold hours in the kitchen. I’d just been sawing. Sawing meat. Sawing carrots. Sawing sweet potatoes. But not cutting. Oh, no. I had completely missed out on the wonders of cutting and cubing and dicing and slicing.

All those things are glorious, by the way.

GLORIOUS.

(For the record, I wasn’t using the knife when I took that picture. I stuck the knife in the onion, then took the picture. I just didn’t want you to be concerned for my safety. Because I’m sure you would’ve lost COUNTLESS HOURS OF SLEEP if you thought I was using my knife improperly.)

(Also for the record: I make myself tired.)

It’s such a simple thing: a good knife. And as someone who spends a whole lot of time in the kitchen, I can honestly say that it’s made a world of difference. It’s my new best friend forever (we’re TOTALLY BFFs, y’all). In fact, I’m going to go check on it now. Just to make sure it’s resting comfortably in its drawer.

So. What’s your BFF in the kitchen? What’s the one kitchen utensil you don’t want to live without?

You Might Want To Do Some Warm-Up Exercises Before You Begin All The Clicking

All righty. Here’s my obligatory Monday afternoon round-up-o-giveaway-related-links.

All the giveaways are for $100 Visa gift cards unless otherwise noted.

1) Kellogg’s #11 – ends tonight
2) Ragu
3) Similasan
4) Pop-Tarts – brand new – just posted it this morning
5) The Laughing Cow – $150 Visa gift card

Finally, the LG TextEd campaign is going on over at BlogHer, and there are some great posts from moms about how they handle issues related to texting. This week’s topic is sexting, and even though that’s not an issue in our house right now, I’d rather know what kids (and parents) are dealing with than to put on my blinders and pretend like there’s not a problem.

The topics from other weeks are also good food for thought; LoraLee’s post about how she’s handling the issue of texting and driving with her 14 year-old cracked me up. Even better, DoSomething.org will donate 50 cents for every comment left on the LG TextEd posts, so you can join the discussion and make a difference, too.

Hope y’all are having a great Monday!

Pop Tarts Giveaway, Post 2

This is a compensated review by BlogHer and Pop-Tarts.

I was never a huge fan of Halloween when I was growing up, mainly because I’m sort of a chicken. I don’t like scary movies. I don’t like haunted houses. I don’t like anything that involves anybody jumping out in front of me and screaming “Boo!” or “RAWR!” or “HEY THERE ARE FREE FRIED CHEESE STICKS HERE!”

Though truth be told, free fried cheese sticks makes almost any situation more bearable.

But because I’m not really the poster child for jumping on board with a bunch of Halloween festivities, it’s really sort of a wonder that I’ve managed to get our child into some sort of costume every single October since he was born. Except for when he was one. I think I skipped a costume when he was one. Let’s just go ahead and assume that it’s because I was tired.

Our church used to have Trunk or Treat, and that was our motivation for costume-related fun for a couple of years. By the time the little guy started pre-school, we found ourselves in the midst of the Fall Festival tradition – which, truth be told, suits me way better than Halloween because nobody’s going to try to scare you at a Fall Festival. Unless you’re frightened by inflatable slides and cake walks, in which case the whole Fall Festival thing might not be for you.

Over the last few years it’s been fun to see our boy’s costume choices mirror the stuff that interests him; he’s dressed up as Mr. Incredible, Spider Man, Obi Wan Kenobi and even Darth Vader. It’s been all-light-sabers-all-the-time around our house for two straight years. But this year – well, it’s a departure from the norm for us. Alex isn’t dressing up as a character from a favorite movie. He’s dressing up as this guy.

Yep. Mario. From Super Mario Bros. Complete with some mad jumping moves and all manner of sound effects. He’s beside himself with excitement. I’ve actually hidden the costume in the back of my car until it’s time for the Fall Festival – otherwise it’ll be worn slap-out by the time the Fall Festival rolls around.

So what about the kids in your family? What are their favorite costumes? Answer in the comments, and you’ll be entered to win a $100 Visa gift card courtesy of BlogHer.

Be sure to check out the BlogHer.com exclusive offers page and click through to the other bloggers’ reviews; you have nine more chances to win!

And finally, here are the official rules.

Happy Costumes, everybody!

This giveaway is now closed.