10 Ways Winter Trumps Summer

17Jun2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

I pretty much abhor summer weather.

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I don’t mind the break from school, and swimming is fun. But other than that, I find summer one miserably hot and sweaty debt to pay for our beautiful Georgia spring and fall. And this June has already been particularly brutal, heat-wise. I don’t even want to know what July and August are going to be like if we’re already breaking 100-degree heat indices in June.

I know a lot of people adore the heat and can’t understand why I prefer winter cold to summer heat.

Well, let me give you ten good reasons why!

1. Winter: Take a warm shower and you feel fresh for 24 hours.

Summer: Take a cool shower and you’re sweating again before you can even towel off.

2. Winter: Cold air is invigorating! Being outside leaves you hopping and energetic!

Summer: Hot air presses down like a heavy, damp blanket. Crawling out from under it leaves you with all the energy and stamina of a limp noodle.

3. Winter: Low humidity means your hair remains attractive all day long.

Summer: High humidity zaps your hairstyle within minutes, melting straight hair limp and poofing curly heads beyond all recognition.

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4. Winter: Long sleeves, turtlenecks, and jackets are cozy to layer on and help hide figure flaws.

Summer: Tank tops, bathing suits and shorts reveal stuff you wouldn’t even let your mama see, but it’s so hot, you stop caring.

5. Winter: Spend 30 minutes applying makeup. Still look beautiful 12 hours later.

Summer: Spend 30 minutes applying makeup while sitting in front of air conditioning. Arrive at work looking like this:

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6. Winter: If you’re cold, you can layer on warmer clothes, turn up the heat, stand by the fire.

Summer: If you’re hot, there’s only so “nekkid” you can get. You live in constant fear of the power going out, taking your a/c and fans with it.

7. Winter: Blissfully free from boob sweat, heat rash and chafing.

Summer: There isn’t enough cornstarch in the world….

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8. Winter: Getting into the car after shopping provides a welcome shelter from the wind.

Summer: Opening the car door is like entering a blazing furnace. Satan’s breath scorches your nostrils as you wait for the a/c to kick in.

9. Winter: Bake the bread! Roast the meat! Make the cookies!

Summer: Menu limited to cereal or salad because you can’t bear the thought of using the stove.

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10. Winter: Ooh, cuddles! Hold me! Hug me! Love me!

Summer: I swear I will chop off your hand if you touch me again.

Would you add anything to my list?

 

Missing My Middles

8Jun2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

It’s stunning how quiet a house becomes when its number of children is reduced by half.

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These two cuties, my “middle littles”, are in another state this week on an inner-city mission trip with our church’s youth group.

I hear that they’re having fun, but man, I miss those smiles. It’s just so…quiet around here.

When kids get older — and these kiddos are 13 — it’s good for parents and children to have breaks, I think, even if it does leave parents with some anxious moments. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. It makes me realize how well our family works together and how much I appreciate the daily hugs, laughter and energy these two bring to our home. It’s hard to tell with teenagers, but hopefully there’s a bit of that on their end, too…maybe? Realizing that despite all our annoyances, it’s good that we have each other to come back to.

I had a couple of friends tell me that they think it’s great that we let them go. One said, “It’s hard for a parent to let their children go and do things…but you will be blessed for giving them wings! From that moment forward, they’ll always be able to fly. I wish I had been allowed to fly when I was young. I know it’s hard, but you’re doing the right thing!

I needed to hear that encouragement. I mean, I wanted them to go, from a service perspective, mostly. I think it’s impossible to embrace a lifestyle of giving at too young an age. It’s my prayer that my kids will have hearts that ache for their fellow man along with the desire and courage to do hard things that make life easier for others. And I think that opportunities like this help ground that core value into them at an early age.

But it’s still hard as a mama, to not know exactly what they’re doing, and when, and if they’re eating well and sleeping fine and healthy at any given moment. I don’t know how parents did separations like this before cell phones. (Although, it’s not like they’re jumping to return my texts, which have been few, because I am TRYING to not be Horribly Hovering Helicopter Mom.) I do unashamedly admit I’ve been relentlessly stalking chaperone’s Facebook pages for updated pictures, however.

My 17-year-old just left to go to the mall. He drove himself. Oh dear Lord in heaven, I don’t know how he’s old enough to drive a car and just BE out in this big ol’ world all by himself. At least the other two are with several adults I know well. But Zach? I blinked and he’s a man, doing crazy-man-stuff like driving cars to places all alone!

At this moment, it’s just me, the hubs and the kindergartener at home. And it’s WEIRD, y’all. Just so, so weird.

I know I shouldn’t think so far in advance, but I’m getting a taste of what that empty nest is going to feel like, and I don’t like it.

I don’t like it at all.

I know it’s good and necessary to cut those apron strings, but honestly? This whole “letting them fly” business is really kinda for the birds.

Hunk’a Burnin’ Love

2Jun2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

We’ve been going through a MAJOR decluttering purge recently.

I can’t even believe some of the things we’ve unearthed that I’d totally forgotten about.

Old photos, like this gem that greeted me one 1990 morning after my crazy coworkers blew up to poster-size and captioned it:

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And old clothing, like my junior prom dress, which now fits my daughter and looks pretty fantastic on her:

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AND then, this devilish bear…..

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I bought it as a funny Valentine’s Day gift for my hubby ages ago, before we ever had children. Back when we had a romantic life and did stuff like that. If you press his hand, a rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Hunk of Burning Love” begins playing and he bounces up and down. Our oldest child is 17, so this thing has to be close to 20 years old. But, it still works!

And I’ve heard “Hunk’a hunk’a burnin’ love” about 8,467 times this week. And I’m not even an Elvis fan.

I’m kind’a hatin’ hatin’ myself for buying this thing. But in my defense, it was pre-kids! And who knew it would come back to haunt me?

What’s been funny are ALL the questions from the younger three kids. (The eldest just chuckled, shook his head and walked away.)

“Why did you get a bear that looks like the devil?”

“Why does the heart say ‘burnin’ love’?”

“Why is the heart all yellow and old?”

“What does ‘Hunk of burning love” even MEAN?”

“Why did you buy this for DAD?”

Eli, my middle son and prankster extraordinaire, has made it a game to sneak up behind me and press the bear’s hand because he knows that song is about to drive me bat-poop bonkers.

(I’m ’bout to turn into a Hunk’a Burnin’ Wrath if he keeps it up!)

But I can’t toss it, because this little guy has decided that he LOVES him.

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Gee, it would be a shame if little Satan’s batteries went missing or something, wouldn’t it?

Once Upon A Time Atlanta

20May2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

Our family loves The Children’s Museum of Atlanta. It’s always worth a trip into the city to spend a few hours at this fun locale, but this summer they’re offering a fairy-tale exhibit that will no doubt appeal to literary buffs of all ages–like me!

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“Once Upon a Time” is a hands-on, educational exhibit that brings the magic of fairy tales to life. Featuring colorful, gorgeously illustrated giant books that children literally walk, crawl or slide through, all of the exhibit’s scenes are culled from seven of the world’s most famous fairy tales: Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella, The Elves and the Shoemaker, Jack and the Beanstalk, Thumbelina, Anasi and the Talking Melon and Lon Po Po.

Without giving too much away, here are some highlights from my son Jonah’s trip through this larger-than-life library.

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Cinderella’s carriage was a huge hit with all the kids. The seats bounce up and down with a delightful banging sound, and a video plays in the window to make it appear that you’re riding through the countryside. And there’s a chest nearby full of royal crowns and costumes to add authenticity to the experience.

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The simple tunnel through “Thumbelina” was one of Jonah’s favorites. He scurried in and out like a little mouse over and over again. With kids, it’s often the simple things, isn’t it?

“Once Upon a Time” is full of little hiding places, such as this little cove tucked under the “Jack and the Beanstalk” slide.

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After hiding, he counted the giant’s golden coins, and then made a few more trips up and down the beanstalk…

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Next, we stepped over into Beauty and the Beast, where Jonah entertained us on Belle’s harpsichord and the two of us sat down to a feast served on real pewter dishes. Other kids seemed amused that an adult had sat down, and they all started “waiting” on me, pouring pretend drinks and calling me “M’lady”. I think I had more fun than the kids!

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Other storybook fun included creating our own fairy tale on a computer, finding hidden fairies and raising the wolf from Lon Po Po up and down in his basket.

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“Once Upon a Time” runs through July 26th, and though the museum is usually closed on Wednesdays, it’s open seven days a week through summer break. My only advice for visiting on a weekday is to come after noon. Though they close at 4:00, (5:00 on Saturday and Sunday) even arriving as late as 1:00 will give you plenty of time to enjoy all the attractions without all the heavy crowds that sometimes appear at their 10:00 opening time. We arrived a little before 11:00 to find several day care and school groups already there. My son has some sensory issues, and after an hour or so, had a major meltdown from people overload. (I don’t have sensory issues, and it was almost too much for me, too.) I should note that the museum provides several “quiet zones” for kids to decompress, and if sound sensitivity is a problem, the vending machine room is virtually soundproof.

By 1:30, the crowd had substantially diminished. That’s when the fun kicked in again and we enjoyed all our favorite permanent exhibits, such as the sandbox, treehouse and the crane.

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We ended the day with everyone dog-piling into the garden and tossing stuffed vegetables at one another.

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I think Jonah is daydreaming about when he’ll get to come back again.

#OnceUponATime #OUATMediaWeek2015

 

Thoughts on Writing

12Apr2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
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There is no great writing, only great rewriting. ~ Justice Louis Brandeis

I realized earlier today that the last magazine article I submitted had been rewritten at least twenty times.

Twenty times!

It started out as a 500-word newspaper column, printed almost nine years ago, when I was a total newbie to writing and absolutely terrified of what people were going to think about what I had to say.

When I re-read it last week, I could feel all of that old, perfectionistic tension oozing out between the words. Though I still love and value the idea that sparked the piece, reading it again so many years later was almost painful. It really wasn’t good, at all (despite the fact that hours and hours and at least a dozen revisions must’ve gone into that draft, and an editor found it print-worthy).

The piece I submitted to the magazine barely resembles that first article. I almost completely rewrote it, keeping just one whole original sentence and half of another one. It’s now more insightful, but less rambling. It flows easily with a more personal voice, instead of the choppy “just the facts, ma’am” flavor of the original.

At a writer’s conference years ago, I was advised to edit the stories I’ve already written and submit them anew. So, I’m taking that advice and doing that now. It only took me the better part of a decade to take the leap, but I’m finally at a place in life where I’ve gathered enough confidence to give it a go. I figure, “Why not? What’s the worst anyone can do? Mark it up in red pen and send it back?”

Hey, let them do that. Then I’ll learn something to make it better, and I’ll rewrite it.

Again.

And probably again.