First Day Of School! First Day Of School!

When I was growing up, my friend Laura’s daddy would always start off a new school year by singing “SCHOOOOOOOL DAYS, SCHOOOOOOL DAYS, DEAR OLD GOLDEN RULE DAYS,” and it made me laugh whenever she would tell me about it because who? who sings that? who wakes up their child by singing a song from the early 1900s?

We do, apparently.

And so this new school year began.

I’ll spare you the sight of our before school pictures; just suffice it to say that my eyes would have benefitted from a solid half hour underneath some ice-cold cucumbers. I’ve noticed over the course of this past year that it’s always a good idea to give my face a little recuperation time in the mornings so that things – like my eyelids, for instance – can settle down a bit, but the hurried pace of the first day of school did not afford me that privilege. My 20 year-old self would have laughed at my need for early morning face rehab, of course, as she jumped out of bed, threw on some sweats and hauled her crease-free face to Lee Hall two minutes before Advanced Composition started.

But here’s a little secret that you can’t tell anybody: sometimes, when I think about that wrinkle-free, crease-free version of myself? I want to kick her. Just a little bit. A gentle kick. Mainly so she’ll appreciate the fact that she doesn’t have to slather on moisturizer the second she gets out of the shower. And so that she’ll treasure her precious few remaining years of looking wide-eyed with absolutely no help at all from ice packs and/or cosmetics.


The little man had a great first day of school, which honestly wasn’t a huge surprise since he typically has a great time doing anything at all. Pushing a grocery cart down a frozen food aisle? BEST THING EVER. Sitting on the couch in the salon where I get my hair cut? IT’S SO RELAXING, MAMA! Watching a public transit bus at a red light? I LOVE THOSE BUSES! I WANT TO RIDE ONE OF THEM SOMEDAY! Going to Walgreens? PERFECT! I WANT TO LOOK AT ALL OF THEIR FUN TOYS!

Bless him. He’s definitely a carrier of the COMPLETELY LIMITLESS ENTHUSIASM gene.

So after school we headed over to a yogurt shop to celebrate the first day of school with my sweet friend NK and her girls. It’s one of my favorite traditions, mainly because I like to sit back and think about how much the young’uns have grown and how before you know it we’ll be at their graduations and they won’t really need us so much anymore and OH MY WORD DOES ANYONE HAVE A TISSUE?

The kids had a blast fixing their yogurt and then piling on nutritious toppings like gummy bears and sprinkles and Oreos and hot fudge. But more than anything, they had a blast laughing about everything and nothing.

They’re getting so big – which is all the more reason to hold them extra tight while we still can.

Hope back-to-school has been a happy time for you, too!

The Sweetest Summer

I have an ear infection. I’m sure it has something to do with not allowing my unusually small ear canals to drain properly after spending nine to twelve hours in the pool every single day last week. Sometimes relaxation has a price, my friends. And the price for me, apparently, is the cost of a co-pay to the ENT.

Anyway, I’ve been running a little teeny bit of fever, so tonight, after I loaded the dishwasher, I retired to my sickbed so that I could prop myself up against some comfy pillows and nurse my splitting eardrum while checking Twitter and watching “Flipping Out.” Just as our forefathers did in ye olden days.

I could hear Alex talking to his daddy while I was resting, and about thirty minutes later, he took a shower, washed his hair, put on his pajamas – and then he made a point to check on me. He asked about my ear, expressed concern when I told him that it still hurt, then gave me a big hug and told me that since I wasn’t feeling great he was going to leave me alone and let me be quiet.

I may or may not have gotten a little catch in my throat as I watched him walk out of the room. He really is the most tenderhearted little guy I have ever known. Granted, he’s a walking sound effect who can’t wait for football season and who’s mildly obsessed with any word related to the restroom, but still. He’s kind. Protective. Strong in ways I never expected.

A few minutes later the seven year-old walked back in the room, and he handed me a book that I’ve been trying to read for the last month or so. I can’t seem to get into it, so it’s been sitting in my pool bag for what feels like a sweet forever. Then he spoke up:

“I know you’re not feeling good, and this is the only thing I know how to make, Mama.”

And as I looked into the big blue eyes of a boy who’s getting bigger by the day, I realized that while my ear may be a little on the achy side right now, I am quite certain that my heart has never felt better.

The end.

He Has Some Thoughts

– “Mama, one day when I’m at my new house with my wife and my children, I will think about you and Daddy everyday. And on Christmas and other holidays you can come to visit our house, or we’ll come to your house. And I still want you to cook.”

– “Mama? Where’s Daddy? Is he outside? Oh, never mind – I’m really not concerned.”

– “Hold on just a second, Mama. I’m a little busy right now.”

– “Mama? You should really give me half of your sandwich because I think that the Lord wants us to share.”

– “Mama? You’re a good cooker.”

– “Mama? Have you heard that there’s a movie called Julie & Julia? I think that one of the ladies likes to cook, and then I think the other one just likes to comb her hair.”

– “Mama? Does it make you a little sad that I just fixed my snack and my drink all by myself? Because that means I’m getting older, Mama. I’m growing up!”

Every age has been so sweet. But I think that seven may be the sweetest of all.


Dear Alex,

You turned seven years old yesterday, and I think you were just a little bit excited about it. I say that because last week we were in the check-out line in Hobby Lobby, and as I was paying for my stuff, you sighed, then ever-so-casually looked at the cashier and said, “Gosh. I can’t wait until it’s my 7th birthday this Sunday.” You know, totally laid-back. Mr. Cool. Shootin’ the breeze. You stopped just short of putting your elbow on the checkout lane and resting your head on your chin.

Cute thing.

Right now you love to read a whole bunch, and it cracks me up that you read with GREAT! EXPRESSION! I can’t imagine where you inherited such a quality. It certainly didn’t come from me, THE PERSON WHO LOVES TO USE CAPITAL LETTERS WHEN SHE WRITES. You also love soccer practice, Mississippi State (your Pappa is so grateful for that and is forever giving you Bulldog-themed gifts), Skittles, mazes, Super Mario Bros., rollercoasters, church on Sunday nights and Wednesday nights, any type of meat, cheese grits, baby lima beans, the library, Chipotle, shortcuts, singing loudly in the car, and riding to school with Daddy and Ally. Your best buddies are Luke and Brooke, and you still miss Corbin a lot. Hopefully we’ll get to visit him in Texas soon.

You’re so good-natured and fun to be around, but when you don’t like something, you mean business. You openly oppose broccoli (unless it’s in the broccoli cheese soup at Jason’s), shopping, asparagus, carrots, crafts, roaches, crafts, “girl stuff,” and crafts. Did I mention that you don’t really care for crafts?

You are wild about our extended family, and you pray for them almost every night. You think all of your grandparents hung the moon, and when you and Daddy were at my parents’ house a couple of weekends ago, you walked into their living room, looked at your father, and said, “Daddy? Could you please leave and give us some privacy?” You just adore them. It’s one of the great joys of my life.

Over the last few months I’ve caught myself looking at you and wondering how it all happened so fast – how the chubby-cheeked toddler who bounced up and down to Elmo songs is now such a long-limbed, confident little man. You do your homework without any prompting from me, you feed and walk the dogs, you run your water and take a shower and dry your hair and put on your pajamas. And then you wake up in the mornings and turn on music in the kitchen and sing your heart out while you eat breakfast. You are always – ALWAYS – tickled to death about going to school. And you like to be early.

That’s my boy.

A month or so ago I ordered your first suit for a wedding you’re going to be in this summer. When UPS delivered it I asked you to try it on right away, and seeing you in that grey seersucker suit just about did me in. You just looked so big, and as I checked the length of your coat sleeves, I found myself fighting back tears. It wasn’t because I’m sad that you’re not little anymore; it was because I’m so proud of who you’re becoming. Your daddy and I don’t just love you – we like you so much. You’re honest, tenderhearted, outspoken, friendly, hard-working and funny. You’re more than we ever imagined.

Happy 7th birthday, sweet little man. Life is so much better with you in it.


Oh, That Life Could Always Be This Easy

The little man and I were almost home yesterday afternoon when he piped up from the backseat.

“Mama? I have a little bit of bad news to tell you.”

“Okay, buddy – what is it?”

“Well, Mama, I think you’re probably going to be a little disappointed, but today? At school? Somebody said a bad word, Mama. A CUSS WORD. They did, Mama! I didn’t see who it was, but I heard it.”

Two things immediately ran through my mind: 1) OHMYWORD is the bad language stuff starting already? and 2) When in the sam hill did Alex learn the phrase “cuss word”?

I didn’t want to push the conversation – mainly because I know he’ll talk a whole lot more about something if I don’t pepper him with questions – and sure enough, after a few seconds, he said, “And Mama? I don’t want to say the word to you because I know I’ll get in trouble, but do you know what letter it started with? Do you know, Mama? IT STARTED WITH AN S.”

“Oh really?”


We drove along for a few more seconds, and I tried to make sense of the whole thing. I certainly don’t put anything past a bunch of young’uns, but I also know that bad language is far from the norm at A.’s sweet little school. And the more I thought about it, the more I decided that there had to be more to the story.

“Hey buddy? Do you remember what the bad word was?”

“Yes ma’am. But I’m not gonna say it, Mama. I don’t want to get in trouble.”

“Well, can you tell me a word that rhymes with it?

“I think I can do that, Mama.”

About that time we pulled into our driveaway, and as I put the car in park I turned around to look at the six year-old in the backseat. I could tell he was thinking so hard, and once he settled on an answer, his eyes met mine.

“Mama? The bad word? It rhymes with…ROOPID.”



I’m pretty sure that my grin covered up my ears and wrapped around the back of my head.


“Well, that is totally understandable, buddy. That’s a good decision.”

“Thanks, Mama.”

And then he ran inside.

Then & Now

There’s something awfully fun about anticipating Christmas with a six year-old in the house. For the last few days our little guy has been WIDE OPEN, and he has jumped non-stop. Jumped down the aisles at the grocery store. Jumped down the hallway. Jumped down the driveway. Jumped from couch to couch at his friend AC’s house.

You might say that he’s beside himself with excitement.

Earlier tonight I was watching Alex put a couple of presents under our Christmas tree, and I had a flashback to his first Christmas. I remember how hard he worked to get wrapping paper to cooperate.

I remember how sweet he was.

And how happy he was. OH, THE HAPPY.

He’s a few feet taller now, and unlike that first Christmas, he only sits still for five to eight seconds a day. He unwraps gifts at lightning speed. He also wouldn’t stand for his mama dressing him in a one-piece black corduroy ensemble with candy canes appliqued on the front.

But you know what?

Even though he’s a little more rough and tumble these days, he’s still so sweet.

And he’s still so happy. OH, THE HAPPY.

And there’s still nothing more fun than being his mama – Christmastime or anytime.

Merry Christmas, Boo!