Monday, March 19, 2018

That Gray Area (and my parents' surprise 40th birthday party)

I was young once.  And in my younger years, I thought I knew it all.  I had jokes, too.

When my parents turned forty years old, I threw them a surprise birthday party.  Their birthdays are a month apart so it was easy.  And the card I gave them?  All I can do now is shake my head.  And be thankful I'm still alive.
It was 1992.  I was fourteen years young at the time, and I thought turning forty was a BIG DEAL.  I don't know why.  It seemed so . . . old.  I saved my allowance for several months so I could host this party for my parents, and I enjoyed every single second of planning it.  I had a lot of help from Aunt Harriette and Cindy, too.  Of course, Cindy took care of the flowers, balloons and the cake.  Aunt Harriette took me shopping for the invitations, stamps, decorations, paper goods and snacks.  Mixed nuts, anyone?!

Aunt Harriette also had to come to my rescue at the last minute.  The party was in the fellowship hall at our church.  I don't remember exactly the excuse I made up to get my parents there, but I think it had something to do with the church softball team, and it didn't work.  So the day of the party I was pretty nervous.  I eventually ran across the street to Aunt Harriette's house and told her I didn't know what to do and that I was afraid my parents were going to miss their own party.  She told me not to worry because she would take care of it.  I'm not sure what exactly she did, but I'm pretty sure it was something along the lines of calling Mama and telling her to get herself ready to go to church and don't ask questions.

I don't even remember who took these pictures (and, obviously, the quality is poor because in ye olden days there were no smart phones or digital cameras so these were from film, and I just took pictures of them with my phone) for me because I walked in behind my parents. But this was their reaction when they walked in the door.  I'm not convinced that my Mama was truly surprised, but I'm pretty sure my Daddy was.
I think my Daddy had a good time!  When I showed these pictures to the kids, Mason said, "That's Pop?!  He had hair."
Again, in ye olden days, we weren't concerned about getting that perfect social media worthy shot.  So I don't even have a picture of my family together, and this is the only picture I have of my Mama and me at the party.  Mason asked what I was pointing at, and I'm pretty sure I was making sure she saw someone.

Also, can we just take a moment for the shirt?  I took Hannah Kate shopping last weekend for new summer clothes.  A lot of the shirts were sequined.  Of course, they caught her eye.  I quickly explained to her that I MADE my own sequined shirts back in the day.  Again, ye olden days.  Case in point.  I used tweezers to carefully place every single sequin on this shirt.  I don't remember how long it took, but it took a long time.  Needless to say, I didn't buy any of the sequined shirts for Hannah Kate because I'm kind of over high maintenance laundry right now.  Who wants a shirt with half the sequins missing?  So I can only imagine what my Mama thought about laundering this one!  I really should apologize.  When I showed off this sequined shirt to Hannah Kate, she was not necessarily impressed.  At all.
There are so many things I love about this picture.  That's my Granddaddy, Mama's daddy, shaking my Daddy's hand.  I so wish I could've had more time with him, especially as an adult.  He and my Daddy are two of the best men I've ever known.  And that's my Uncle Charles on the far left.  He's standing up in this picture.  I had to catch my breath when I first saw it.  A farming accident in 1997 left him a quadriplegic and in a wheelchair the rest of his life so that's mostly how I remember him now.
And that's my Pa, Daddy's daddy, in this next picture.  Daddy's work buddy, Alfred, and his wife are sitting down.  That's another funny story.  I invited our family, church friends and Alfred.  I didn't particularly know him, but I'd met him a time or two at the company picnic, and Daddy talked about him all the time.  So I wanted to invite him.  But I didn't have his address.  So I whipped out the phone book, looked him up and there he was, address and all.  You know, I don't know that my children have ever even seen a phone book or know what one is.  They certainly wouldn't know how to use it!  When I sent the invitations, I did request an RSVP, but I made clear it was a surprise and specified only times that I knew Mama wouldn't be home from work yet for people to call.  This was also before caller ID.  Yep, the good ole ye olden days!  Anyway, I still remember answering the phone one afternoon right after school.  It was Mrs. Arnita letting me know that she and Alfred appreciated the invitation and would be at the party.  I was so excited to know that at least two people would be there!  Because what if no one came?!
When Mason saw this picture, he said, "Now I know who that is!"  And I told him that MeMama never changed a bit!  She looked the same from the day I was born until the day she was nearly 100 years old!
I wish I could remember who exactly did this, but I can't.  Someone gave Mama and Daddy wicker rocking chairs painted black.  I can't even!  And I DO NOT recommend this as a gift idea for anybody at any point!
Mama still has all of the pictures and cards and such saved in a photo album we put together after the party.
And now, to my older and wiser self, forty years old seems . . . still monumental . . . and, well, just old.  Why is that?  

It seems bigger than sixteen.  And I was all about getting my license.  Sort of.  I didn't have a car so there's that.  

And even bigger than eighteen.  Isn't that officially the age one becomes an adult (on paper, at least)?  I can still remember the very first presidential election I voted in and who I voted for.  

My twenty-first birthday really didn't mean a whole lot to me, other than the fact I was over twenty, but my bestie did get a bunch of us together to go roller skating!  

So why is it that forty is the one I've always had circled on the calendar as THE BIG ONE?  I don't even know!  I mean, I think I've been dreading it since I was 35!   

Am I crazy?  

Yes, I am sure of it!  

Seth and I were talking about it the other day, and he's all, "Forty is not old!  I feel younger today than I ever have!  I have more energy today than I used to at twenty."  Mmmm hmmm, as he's limping across the parking lot ten minutes later because his back hurts.  (In his defense, he'd been using a probing rod at work to locate a pipe.)  I also can't agree with him here.  I do not feel younger than ever nor do I have more energy (I think I have three really good reasons . . . )!  Then he says that the only thing that makes you think you're old is looking back.  So I asked him if I still look the same today as I did when we were married.  And, of course, he said YES.  And I rolled my eyes.

My FIL was encouraging.  He said, "If you think 40 is old, just wait till 50.  Better yet, 55!  Forty is nothing."  Sounds like I have a lot to look forward to!

Only five days separate my birthday from my best-friend-growing-up's birthday.  She celebrates first.  And I like what she said . . . I'd rather be young forties than old thirties!

Or, better yet, maybe forty is like twenty the second time around!

I'm not sure yet.  I'll let you know in a day or so.

I supposed it's just a gray area right now (although when I got my hair cut last week, I asked my girl to let me know if she found any gray hairs, and she promised me she didn't)!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hannah Kate: Ballet Student of the Month

Hannah Kate was chosen by her ballet teacher as the Student of the Month in ballet at her dance studio!
She was so excited!  She came running out of practice a couple of weeks ago with a big grin on her face.  She could hardly get the words out before she shoved her certificate in my face to show me what she was talking about.  

I am so proud of her!  Mrs. Katherine recommended that she take an additional ballet class this year.  It's really just an extra practice class that involves a lot of technique and discipline.  It's not a recital class so there's no fancy costume to get excited about.  I talked to her about it last summer and let her make the decision.  I was pleasantly surprised when she said she wanted to do it.  I know she's been working so hard in this class, and Mrs. Katherine had been telling me that she could tell such a difference this year in Hannah Kate's dancing.

It was last year this time that Ellie was chosen as a Student of the Month.  That cracks me up because we already knew she was going to be a dance drop-out and was dancing only because we told her she HAD to finish the year in dance if she wanted to take gymnastics.  Hannah Kate was kinda bummed.  She had been dancing for over six years and had never been chosen as a Student of the Month, and yet, her little sister who could care less was chosen.  She never voiced as such, but I knew.  I could tell.  I told her at the time that the most important thing was that she was having fun and that she should always continue to do her best.  That's it.  Just do your best.  And the rest will come.  Besides, the Student of the Month program has only been in existence for a couple of years now so it is still relatively new and wasn't even around when she began dancing.  

Hannah Kate told me again that she thought she was "never" going to be awarded Student of the Month.  I told her that it really is an honor for her to be chosen.  First of all, she was chosen out of not just her class but ALL of the ballet classes at the studio.  And next of all, Mrs. Katherine has very high standards and expects nothing but the best from her students.  She expects excellence, and that's something I love and appreciate about her.  This little award has meant the world to Hannah Kate.  She's really excited about taking the big stage again this year for the dance recital.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Valentine's Day

You know, Valentine's Day can be real interesting if you live in Louisiana.  It often times coincides with Mardi Gras.  That's what happened this year.  Valentine's Day was also Ash Wednesday.  I was looking through my Valentine's Day posts from previous years.  It coincided with Mardi Gras the final year the big kids were in public school.  They had a Mardi Gras parade and party.  Instead of sending Valentine's, we were asked to send Mardi Gras beads.  So it's Valentine's Day in Louisiana only if it isn't Mardi Gras.  Oh, I just have to laugh.  

We've already established that Valentine's Day really isn't my favorite "holiday."  But I do try each year to make it a special little family day for us.  We typically use our wedding china and eat in the dining room twice a year - on our anniversary and Valentine's Day.  And, of course, Ellie is all, "Why are we eating in here?  Why are we using these plates?"  That's what my children are going to remember the most about Valentine's Day growing up . . . the day Momma pulled out the real china, put their chocolate milk in stemmed crystal and let them sit on the chairs in the dining room without the seat being covered by a towel!  I usually buy flowers for the centerpiece, but I decided not to do that this year and instead used Grandmother's candelabra.  Then Seth came home from work and surprised me with flowers!  (Not to mention I was sporting four-day hair and was filthy because I'd been rummaging around in the attic as part of my annual spring clean . . . also known as the day my kids are nervous about what exactly I'm donating . . . what a sight to come home to!)  

And this is what Valentine's Day at home looks like for a party of five!    
Earlier in the day I did a little science experiment with the kids.  We gathered up different liquids and made predictions as to how the little Valentine's conversation hearts would react in each liquid.
I even made them complete a chart with their predictions.  I couldn't help but laugh though.  When I asked them how they thought the candy would react in water, Ellie was so excited to say, "Explode!"  She'd recently heard Hannah Kate explain why she thought the candy would fizz and explode in Coke, and she couldn't wait her turn.  Let's just say Ellie and I haven't yet got to chemistry in our kindergarten curriculum yet! 
They really did enjoy doing this.  (Yes.  Ellie is wearing her "gymnastics" outfit.)  
Hannah Kate and Ellie were pretty serious about making their observations.

After we finished the science experiment, the kids made strawberry chocolate chip cookies.

I rarely ever bake because I just don't have the time in my life right now to fool with exact measurements, and my people aren't big sweet eaters anyway so I end up eating all of it, which is never a good idea.  Besides, it's not often that anything I bake turns out like it's supposed to.  But I'd say these little pink cookies are pretty cute.
I really wanted to try cooking lobster this year, but I remembered my advice to myself a few years ago.  Pasta.  Or pizza.  So we had linguine carbonara, a salad and crusty French bread.  I even baked twice in the same day (what is wrong with me?!).  We had these little molten lava cakes for dessert, complete with a little heart-shaped sprinkle of powdered sugar.
I've already checked the calendar.  It looks like we'll get a Valentine's Day.  Easter is really late next year so Mardi Gras isn't until March.  

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Ellie-isms: she scared a lady. Literally.


A few weeks ago we went out to eat.  And, of course, Ellie had to go potty.  I personally despise public restrooms.  But Ellie has always loved them.  I always make her potty before we leave the house.  And as soon as we get where we're going, she has to go potty.  It has been this way ever since she was potty trained.  And, no, she doesn't potty that often when we stay home.  I'm telling you, the kid loves public restrooms.  Ugh.

But she absolutely hates when I go in the stall with her.  And, usually, I do.  Because YUCK.  She's always trying to run ahead of me to the restroom because she thinks she can beat me there and then lock me out of the stall.  Depending on where we are, there are times when I'll just stand right outside the stall and wait on her.  But, most of the time, I go in the stall with her.

On this particular day, she ran ahead of me as usual.  And, honestly, I just didn't feel like running after her.  Nor did I feel like yelling, "Ellie, stop right now and wait on Mommy," as we were making our way through the dining room and to the restroom.  I knew these restrooms would be fairly clean so I just let her go on ahead of me.  She quickly locked herself in the first stall.  I decided to go ahead into the second stall.  She finished before I did, flushed the potty and came out of the stall.

Usually, I'm all "Ellie, I'm almost done.  Stop and wait right there."  But I didn't.  I don't know why.  I was just tired of adulting, I suppose.

And then I heard another potty flush.  I didn't realize until right then that someone else was in the final stall.  And I knew what was going to happen.  I did.  I tried to hurry.  I should've said something, but I don't even know why I couldn't seem to open my mouth.  And then it happened.  In the meantime, I was frozen.  Not only could I not say anything, but I couldn't even do anything either.

I heard the click of the lock on the door as the lady came out.  She was walking towards the sink.  And right as she was about to turn the corner to the sink, I heard, "BOO!"  And then the lady shrieked and said, "Oh!  You scared me!"


Ellie was "hiding" around the corner to the sink, and she didn't realize there was someone else in the bathroom.  She thought it was me she was scaring.  Only, it was not.  It was a complete stranger who had no idea Ellie was right there.

Let that sink in.

Ellie just jumped out and scared a lady in a public restroom.


At that moment, I just wanted the floor to open up and swallow me.  And I'm pretty sure Ellie felt the same way.  She immediately came over to my door and tried to open it.  As calmly and quietly as I could (because what I really wanted to do was yell and snatch her up by her toes) I said, "Ellie.  Stay right there.  I'm almost done."

So I walked out of the stall and around the corner to the sink, all the while holding Ellie's hand.  Very humbly I apologized to the lady.  She said, "Oh, I have a five year old granddaughter.  I understand.  But she did scare me."

Yes, ma'am.  I get it.  

She scared a lady . . . and an elderly lady, at that!

So we washed our hands, and I led her back to our table.  We had to pass right by the lady's table.  Ellie didn't want to go.  She tried her best to hide behind me, but you better believe I pulled her sweet self right alongside me and made sure she had no choice but to pass right in front of that lady.

And when we went to leave the restaurant, I did the same thing again.

That's the LAST time Ellie goes in a stall by herself!