Monday, November 26, 2012

30 Days of Thankfulness Rolled Into One

I pride myself in not jumping on bandwagons, but I can no longer resist the "Thankful" trend that has filled my newsfeed on Facebook. I've honestly enjoyed reading everyone's posts, and usually, I scoff at that sort of thing. I guess motherhood has softened me after all. Anyway, I lack the discipline to keep something up for thirty days straight (unless it's eating), and since I've fallen way behind, I'll just post all 30 expressions of gratitude right here.

1. I am thankful for my husband, Jeffrey Brown. It dawned on me this week that we have been together (by together, I mean we go back to our dating years) for a decade now. Wow. Someone has put up with all of my crap for ten years, and with very little alcohol consumption. Of course, I generally win him over with wit, dessert, and by wearing short skirts on occasion. A day has never gone by when Jeffrey hasn't told me I was beautiful/smart/perfect, even though most of the time, I'm convinced he's just making it all up. Regardless, I do love that man. 

2. My most precious gift from God is my little boy, Vincent Jude Brown. I never knew love like I have for him until I heard his little heartbeat for the first time. It astounds me how much that love grows every day. I know in my heart that nothing could make me stop loving him (and I write this after I changed a really rancid cloth diaper and fussed at him for pitching a fit over...well, I never did figure it out). Jude is my world, and he will never know the extent of my love for him until he has a child of his own. 

3. I am thankful for my house. Four years ago, Jeffrey and I purchased our dream home, a 1920s craftsman style house. It is beautiful, it is comfortable, and most importantly, it is home. It is also big enough that we will never have to move again unless some super awesome job opportunity from far away opens up. 

4. I am thankful for financial security. In the last few weeks, I've made some bone-head moves to the tune of losing my car keys that have cost my family several hundred dollars, and just before Christmastime, too. Fortunately, we have the money to cover the costs, and we did not have to dip into savings to cover it. Even though replacing the keys has been nothing but a headache, I realize now the importance of having a savings account and living cheaply. 

5. I love Holmes Community College where I work. My students' progress throughout a semester brings me great joy, and I especially love when they feel comfortable enough to share their lives with me (even though there are more than enough times when I wish they would just stop). Seeing them each day reminds me that I have a purpose, and I am so thankful that at the young age of 24 when I first started working there, I actually found my calling.

6. I am thankful for the faculty and staff at Holmes Community College. These people are my family away from my family. A week day does not go by when I'm not laughing with at least one of them. I love my English Department so much. We have so much fun together, and I think they are all so very wise. Unlike a lot of colleges where professors generally squat in one location, I have good friends outside of the department. Folks from the math, history, social science, and art departments have made my day on numerous occasions, too. In fact, I love these people so much, I married one of the employees! (In all fairness, though, we married before we moved to Goodman.)
7. Please note that this list is in no particular order, except for what just happens to come to mind. If it was, my Weezy-cat would pretty much top the list. I love my cat so much. She's the first pet I've ever had not in a cage (except for Bingo, a beagle/schnauzer/retard mix my parents got my sister and me when we were little but promptly sent to the farm when we couldn't train him. Also, I'm reasonably sure they sent him to a literal farm instead of what the euphemism implies). Anyway, Weezy is truly a special pet. She has helped me study for Masters Comps by keeping my study materials warm from where she would plop down on them for hours, curled up with me while I was sick or upset, and has watched many a chick flick on television with me (Dirty Dancing being her all time favorite). Ok, ok, so she lays around a lot, but I love her just the same.

8. I am thankful for my mother, Miriam Wahl. We have a beautifully strange mother/daughter connection. She's not the sort that calls me every day, takes me shopping or lounges around with me watching chick flicks (that's what the cat is for--see #7), and she certainly does not live vicariously through me or my sister. I have to admit that sometimes I get a little jealous when I see other girls with their mothers doing those things. However, she has instilled in me confidence, independence, problem solving abilities, and a really quick wit that allows me to hang with just about anyone--qualities I don't typically see in other girls my age. Also, we do have fun together, and I know she's always there when I need her, but I am glad she has let me fly freely with very little interference my entire adult life. 

9. I don't know what I'd do without Daddy. That man has shown me nothing but compassion my entire life. When my parents first divorced, I felt I had to get mad at someone, and I took my anger out on him. Still, he always told me he loved me, and I really didn't deserve it. Now, we've become very good friends. I had the honor of aiding in nursing him back to health after his hip replacement. That remains one of the most precious times in my life.
10. I thank God for my big sister, Amanda. She was and remains a positive example in my life. I can pretty much tell her anything even though she's going to come at me with advice, whether I want it or not. I don't tell her this enough, mainly because I want to keep my Amanda humble, but she really paved the way for me and made tough transitions like going to jr. high, then high school, then college go smoothly. Perhaps the best thing she ever did for me, though, was prep me for childbirth. I wasn't at all nervous about going into labor until my epidural didn't work. Of course, no one could prepare for that.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Somebody Shoot Me

Today, I received an email from a student that read something like this: "i can't do this assignment will you please shoot me now." I have to admit I had a good laugh over it, but then I began to look at all I had to accomplish this week and thought, "Honey, I feel your pain." While I should be plowing away at these Comp. 1 papers, writing two tests for tomorrow, and grading through an enormous amount of quizzes and group projects--all so I can turn in midterm grades by Friday at noon--I choose to take a few moments out of the chaos to write down a few of my own words. It never fails. The 8th week of classes, I find myself behind in grading and ready to pull my hair out. In fact, I should take a few moments to thank God for giving me super thick hair because by now, in my seventh year of this madness, I should have none. Anyway, it will all be over in a few short days. In a few short days, I will find myself back in Oxford, where I first met my husband and took some of my first steps in pursuing my dream job which, temporarily, has become a grading hell hole, and I will watch Ole Miss stomp the hell out of Auburn (hey, a girl can dream). In a few short days, I won't have to multitask bouncing a toddler on my lap while combing through the Mrs.-Brown-please-give-me-some-extra-credit-because-I-failed-to-do-the-assigned-work emails. It's coming--in just a few short days. starts back up again around Weeks 14-16. Shoot me now.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vincent Jude--15 month old Extraordinaire

Yesterday, we took Jude for his 15 month check-up (even though he turns 16 months in about a week). This was our first trip back to the pediatrician since his 12 month check-up. You read that right. Jude has not been sick in months. My pocketbook thanks him. Let's just keep this streak a-goin.' Anyway, he got three shots, none of which he particularly loved. As usual, he didn't hesitate to make us aware of his strong feelings toward the shots. Another part of the visit that had him come apart almost as much included the head measurements. That kid will wear a hat to bed if I would let him, but put a measuring tape around his noggin, and prepare to hear screams loud enough to alert DHS. So here are a few stats: Height--32 in. 70th percentile Weight--24.3 lbs. 50th percentile Head Circumference--can't remember, but a healthy sized egg head for sure Teeth--more than the entire population of Alabama (Seriously, kid's got a lot of teeth. Doc thinks he'll have them all in before the year is up.) His weight is up more than it has ever been. He usually fluctuated somewhere between the 25th and 35th percentile, but now we're dead on average. I guess I feed him pretty well. I don't quite understand the rapid weight gain since I closely monitor his eating. The child has never met a french fry or chicken nugget and won't for a very long time. Of course, Doc seems quite pleased with the weight gain, so therefore I'm happy with it too. I actually experiment a lot with his diet. Weird food that Jude seems to enjoy includes beets, anything with leeks in it, butternut squash and apple soup, hummus, lamb, and roasted eggplant. Of course, he loves a banana, so much so, that he learned to say "banana" before "mama." We're even thinking of dressing him as a banana for Halloween. We still don't walk yet, but Doc says no big deal. Truthfully, I hadn't been too terribly concerned about it. I know he has the ability, but he's a very cautious child. I've never seen a baby play with toys as carefully as Jude does. He picks them up, examines them from every possible angle, puts them down, and then plays. He does the same thing with his feet. He'll slowly put one in front of the other, stay that way for a second, and then ultimately decide "Nope. Not today" and bring that foot back. So yeah, I imagine walking will take a while. He crawls like a champ, though, and he can walk pretty good if he holds on to the edge of something. I did score some wicked awesome mom points for not giving Jude a night bottle any more. In fact, he kicked that habit before he turned one. He's also a very good water drinker--probably because I won't give him anything else, except for milk no more than twice a day. I actually need to start doing this for myself as well. Of course, as proud as I am of his development, he's not perfect. (Oh, who am I kidding? Of course he is!)He still likes to get into the cat food, which always results in none of us being happy. I fuss, he cries, and Weezy sulks. So far, I like the toddler stage, but I do miss my infant. God blessed me with a child who has been more or less easy from the moment of his conception. I pray every day for his continued happiness and health.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


Ever have one of those days where you just realize you've chosen the right path? Today proved that kind of day for me, and what a great feeling, too. My seventh year at Holmes has not gotten off to such a hot start, not because I hate my job or anything, but because I've had to endure so many changes at once, from a friend retiring to a four day school week to teaching both eight AND sixteen week courses to learning a new software writing program that, quite frankly, stinks. About two weeks ago, at about the time I spent two hours of my precious office time working through some software kinks and chewing out the company's tech support, I made a decision. I would no longer let any of this get me down. Sure, by the time I get home these days I would like to worry less about getting supper on the table and just pass out instead, but I had to find a way to roll with the punches or lose my sanity completely. Therefore, I took the ol' take-it-one-day-at-a-time approach. It has been no easy feat for sure. I still stress out on a daily basis, but today, I realized that it didn't matter what problems I had with work because I realized that I really am in the right place! This semester, I teach an eight week Beginning English class. This course is for students who couldn't score high enough on the ACT to go into Comp. 1, so they take two semesters of Pre-Core English to finally get to the point where they can take the college level class. In short, the average ACT English subscore probably averages out to about a single digit. While I can't promise these students will be the next Pulitzer Prize recipients, I can pretty much guarantee some proficiency when they leave my class. Working with this clientele isn't easy, and it isn't for anybody. Some days, I walk into a very hostile environment, and other days they don't complain; they don't take notes, but they don't piss me off either. Every day, though, they just want me to care about them whether they realize it or not. This semester, I've had the "pleasure" of teaching two young men who, quite frankly, have made me want to rip my own face off since week one. They do just enough that I can't kick them out, but talk about a couple of jerks. Anyway, this morning, to get the students ready for their next test, I would randomly pose questions throughout today's lesson and throw pencils at the students who answered the questions correctly. This seemed to awaken my two fellas, as they pretty much dominated that game. Of course, I ran out of pencils but wanted to keep the momentum going so I just started throwing random pieces of chalk and Post-It note papers at them, which thrilled them just as well. Anyway, I don't understand why such a thing changed their tunes, but it sure did prompt one of them to stay after class, look me dead in the eye, and apologize for his behavior over the last couple of weeks. It seriously brought tears to my eyes, so I had to quickly kick him out before he could see. Right after that class, I met my British Lit. class. This group consists of several with ACT scores in the high twenties and low thirties. (And since I meet this group immediately after Beginning English, it takes me a few minutes to regroup.) For the most part, they are a very bright group of individuals--a little lazy at times, but it doesn't take them long to figure out that Mrs. Brown doesn't play that game. Anyway, I found out yesterday that we get to go on a field trip in a couple of weeks! We will sojourn to Memphis for the Tennessee Shakespeare Company's production of The Complete Works of Shakespeare, Abridged. Now, I was excited when the opportunity presented itself this week, but I wasn't sure if my students would get into the idea. However, every single one wants to go, even though we're leaving at seven in the morning. (Of course, they want to get out of school for a day, but they really did seem excited about the play.) Then after discussing the field trip, they pretty much kicked ass on their Middle English translation project, and I think they are looking forward to starting Chaucer next week. So it occurred to me that even though my stress levels have gone through the roof a time or two this semester, I'm proud to have a career as rewarding as what I have. God has looked after me all these years and put me where he needs me, even though I fought tooth and nail while in college to not teach. I guess what I realized today is that even though I go through some hard times at work, at least I feel at home. My band director from Ole Miss used to tell us every day in practice, "You motivate me." I can still see his tall lanky self standing over all three hundred of us in that treehouse of a band tower with his hands clasped together taking just a few seconds out of our otherwise busy agenda to tell us that (along with "Bringaponchobringaponchobringaponcho"). Took long enough, but I finally get it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Whirlwind Fall

I have a love/hate relationship with the fall season. I love it because the air feels slightly (only slightly) cooler, I can put out my Weezy-cat Halloween decorations (that admittedly, I leave up until Christmas because--well, come on--the decorations look like Weezy!), the State Fair comes to Jackson, and of course, Ole Miss and Green Bay Packer football. Of course, I have many other reasons I like the fall, but these just happen to top the list. Fortunately, the good reasons outnumber the bad ones. One thing only keeps me from declaring fall my favorite season: time (read: lack thereof). As Jessi Spano from the critically acclaimed show "Saved By the Bell" so famously proclaimed, "NO TIME! THERE'S NEVER ANY TIME," I feel her pain as I too sometimes feel like popping a few No-Doz from time to time. Last week alone, we attended three--THREE--football games, went to swimming lessons, attended the visitation of a friend's father, and got home by 11:00 p.m. three of those nights. I also encountered some more issues with the writing lab software my online class uses. (In case anyone wonders, I have a hate/strongly hate relationship with that lab software). None of that even includes my day-to-day routine of waking up at 5 a.m. to run, teaching from 8-3:30, helping with the band's colorguard after school until five, or teaching Sunday School on Sunday mornings. Yeah, fall's kind of busy. At this point, someone may wonder, "What about Jude?" Well, from 8-3:30 he plays with his buddies at Ms. Lily's house while Jeffrey and I work. The rest of our activities, however, he comes with us. As it turns out, he loves a football game, mainly because he won't miss an opportunity to become the center of attention, but I've caught him looking down at the field and following the action. He shines in swimming lessons. I've never seen a child love the water so much. Jude even sits in my lap while I work on my online class. Of course, he gets a little perturbed at the glaringly obvious grammatical errors in the papers I grade, so then he gets down and crawls off to play with his bead maze. I guess if I saw Jude looking distressed over the busy-ness of our schedule, I would probably shuffle some things around and give up other things. However, he seems to enjoy going with the flow. I do make sure he has a decent bed time (although I slack on the weekends some), is bathed every night, and eats meals packed with nutrients cooked by moi even if I have to pack them in to-go plates. I do love fall, but I look forward to Thanksgiving when the activities slow down a little. I guess every family has a busy season, and right now, we're at the peak of ours.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Fine Little Baby

A few weeks ago, I took Jude to one of my favorite Jackson hotspots that I don't get to visit as often as I would like: Lemuria. Lemuria ranks as one of my favorite independent book stores ever (second only to Square Books in Oxford--because Oxford is home and "one never graduates from Ole Miss" don't you know?). I have every intention of building up Jude's personal library with the classics. Our recent visit to Lemuria proved no exception as Jude came away with a T.S. Eliot book of cat poetry. (That's a whole other thread of topic but cats and books really do go well together, don't you think?) While in the checkout line, a new Eudora Welty biography caught my eye. (Aside: I'm at work on my lunch hour right now, and I don't have the title of the book on hand at the moment.) Anyway, I grabbed a copy, purchased it, and began reading as soon as I got home. I love Eudora Welty. Most times,it takes me a few readings before I begin to understand, but I love how she constructs a story. I particularly love the "June Recital" section of The Golden Apples--very coming of age, which is a favorite theme of mine to explore in literature. Needless to say, when I saw this new biography, I couldn't resist. A long time ago, I had read Eudora's One Writer's Beginnings,but one part of it didn't stand out to me until I read this biography that cited it. Eudora had learned that her mother and father had lost a child, a fifteen month old, before she was born. Eudora being a little girl when she found out, her mother simply told her, "He was a fine little baby." Those words--"fine little baby." Those words practically jumped off the page right into me. They were the perfect combination of words to accurately describe Jude. A fine little baby. Those words encompass absolutely everything about him: his smile, his voice, his way of concentrating very deeply on some random object, and so much more. When reading this part of the biography, I also couldn't help but feel for Eudora's mother as she had to find some way to explain to her young daughter that another baby just as loved as Eudora and her younger brothers had once existed. One day I plan to explain to Jude that before him, Jeffrey and I excitedly anticipated the arrival of another baby only to be met with disappointment a few days later. However, my miscarriage is a part of our family's history, a history with which Jude should one day become familiar. I know I won't be able to tell him without coming to pieces, but for Jude to know that about us, means he will know that we had always wanted him. We waited very patiently, and even not so patiently at times, for his existence to simply happen. And look what we got--a fine little baby.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Well, the city of Canton is all aglow with excitement this weekend as Hollywood has once again come into town to begin casting for the upcoming filming of "As I Lay Dying" (based on William Faulkner's brilliant work). I knew about this, but imagine my surprise when I came home from work and saw that the casting call was being held TWO DOORS over from my house! Here's a fun fact about Canton. Hollywood loves this place. And who can blame them? It's the epitome of small-town southern America with its glorious courthouse surrounded on all sides by locally owned businesses that shut down by 2:00 on Wednesdays in order to take care of odds and ends around town and at home. If you have seen the movies "My Dog Skip," "A Time To Kill,""Mississippi Burning," or "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou," then you have seen Canton. Beautiful place, huh? And here's an even "funner" fact. If you have seen "My Dog Skip," then you have seen my house. My house served as the home of Dink Jenkins, played by Luke Wilson. Yes, Luke Wilson has been in my house. So have Frankie Muniz, Kevin Bacon, and Diane Lane. Unfortunately, someone else owned the house when all of that excitement took place. Still, how many people can say that their house appeared in a movie? So all of this should explain why Hollywood came to Canton this weekend. I have to admit, despite what my neighbors say, I have hoped really hard that Hollywood would come back and shoot another movie here in my lifetime.My neighbors assure me that when all is said and done, I will be ready for all of those celebrities to go home, but I still want to experience it at least once. Those who know me know my love of William Faulkner novels, so when Clarion Ledger printed up the details of this upcoming event--the filming of "As I Lay Dying," I just knew God had answered my prayers. So of course I showed up to the casting call. The line was long, the day was hot, and people had come from everywhere in hopes of landing a role. I knew without a doubt that I would not be cast as anything. The only female roles in the whole novel belong to Addie,Cora,Kate,Dewey Dell, and the second Mrs. Bundren. I'm too young for Addie and Cora (maybe "Young" doesn't quite cover it-- more like I don't look rode hard and put away wet), and I'm too old for Kate and Dewey Dell (though I really like Dewey Dell in the novel), but I do feel I have a decent shot at the second Mrs. Bundren. (Although, if this film portrays the novel anywhere near accurately, the second Mrs. Bundren wouldn't have a speaking part anyway.) I waited for several hours before getting called up and in the meantime buddied up with a few Ole Miss and Millsaps undergrad fellows who seemed quite taken with the fact that I teach college English courses. Jeffrey assures me that they were hitting on me, but I think these young men just have a thirst for academia and can spot a brilliant mind when they see one. Besides, I have a knack for communicating with this age group and making them feel at ease. Serving undergraduates (though mostly underachieving undergraduates) is my calling, after all! The try-out process was a little uneventful. Once I went inside, I waited some more. Then the casting director told me I looked too young for Addie and Cora and too old for Kate (I guess they've already picked a Dewey Dell). Then I asked about the second Mrs. Bundren. He looked me over and said "I like your look," took my information sheet, and sent me to the photographer for head shots. I don't expect to get called. Thousands of people are auditioning. The best part of the try-out was when I walked out of the door to head home. The first thing I saw were my two favorite people: Jeffrey and Jude. They were just walking up to check on me and happened to catch me at the perfect time. I've always known that I wasn't going to be a movie star, but when the opportunity presents itself in your backyard, you take it anyway. Besides, I can't be a movie star AND mother to a future Olympic gold medalist, AND wife to an up and coming rock star. That just wouldn't be fair to the rest of the world. Perhaps the only famous connection I'll ever have is the roof over my head, and that's pretty darn neat.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Some People...

I've always believed I had a pretty good head on my shoulders thanks in large part to my upbringing. Adulthood has certainly done well for me (although every now and then I feel those pangs of missing my childhood, more specifically, missing those people with whom I shared my childhood). I say this because when I started college, it didn't take me long to figure out what to study (the subject that always held my interest--English). I may not have realized my career path right away, but I kept an open mind, took a few different jobs that allowed me to use my degree, decided on teaching, and went back to school to maximize my knowledge as well as my pay check. Heck, I even got lucky in love! At the tender age of 22, I married a fine gentleman Jeffrey. We've had eight years of a blissful marriage, and I have to tell you, folks, it gets better with every passing year! Guess what? Jeffrey's head sits well on his shoulders too. While I may possess quite a level headed outlook on life, I have one way in which I fall short. I expect everyone else to be the same way. I hold those close to my age and older to the same standard I set for myself. Boy, did I receive some disappointment today! Let's just say, "Shit got real at the swimming pool this afternoon." Jude had his weekly swimming lesson today, and yes, I still see a little Michael Phelps in the making, but I've posted about that before so I won't say anymore about it. Today, Jeffrey went into the water with Jude while I sat and watched from the observation room. Now, getting in the water and swimming around with Jude is a ton of fun, but splashing around in a bathing suit in front of an observation room full of people who love to watch the little babies swim proves a tad awkward for the parent who drew the short straw to get in the water. Oh, but there's much worse. The getting out of the pool, toweling off, and traipsing back through the observation room toward the dressing rooms is positively the cherry atop the already self-esteem boosting half hour. So what do you suppose the parent in such a situation wants first to do? Well, I would think get in the dressing room, out of the damn bathing suit, and into dry clothes as soon as possible, all the while praying no one recognizes him or her. Actually, I can speak for all the moms and dads in our class. One can tell the need to get back into normal clothes by the beeline they make for those dressing rooms at the end of every class. Usually, getting ready to leave goes off without a hitch. Today, however... Jeffrey got out of the pool, handed Jude off to me so I could get him dried off and changed while Jeffrey did his sprint toward the dressing room. Next thing I know, Jeffrey's dressed and whisks me out of the building so fast like he does when he expels really foul gas. Thankfully, the swim school did not have to shut down due to toxic fumes, but what happened instead makes me lose a little faith in humanity. Jeffrey arrived to the dressing rooms and saw two open rooms. Naturally, he proceeded to go in one only to be stopped by some child's mother (an older child who whose lesson was still in session). This mother looks at Jeffrey (who is dripping wet and looking like the drowned rat we all emulate when we've been in the swimming pool) and says, "Oh, that room's been claimed for my daughter and so has that other one." Are you freaking kidding me????? Those kids weren't even done yet, but Jeffrey can't change? Well, anyone who knows Jeffrey knows what happened next. He looked at the woman and casually said, "Oh, ok" and walked in the dressing room and got dressed. Meanwhile, she stood outside the door and banged on it until he got done. Hence why Jeffrey grabbed me and Jude and we flew out the door. I just can't believe someone, an adult, could be so inconsiderate. Here stood another adult, dripping wet, in swim trunks in front of an entire audience, and this woman doesn't have sense to see that maybe, just maybe he might want to quickly get changed? Seriously, what man wishes to be half naked around a bunch of young children? Her actions basically said, "Well, my child is better than you and yours." This swim school is for kids. Seriously, I've never seen so many kids in one setting. It gets a bit chaotic between classes, for sure. I used to think anyone would know that to keep things running smoothly in that place, then wait their turn and get in and out quickly. After Jeffrey got out of the dressing room, that kid still hadn't finished her lesson! Jeffrey hated to be like that, but he also doesn't take kindly to people's crap. I came up with a solution in case this woman shows out again. Next time, Jeffrey will just strip down right in front of her! That'll learn her!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Turn the Page

Jude has a new favorite activity--turning pages. Jeffrey says Jude's the living embodiment of the Bob Segar song "Turn the Page" that Metallica later covered. (Leave it to my husband to make rock and roll nerdy. Oh well, at least Jeffrey didn't work in a Rush reference. He is getting better. :)) Sometimes, Jude even turns the page right on cue! Apparently, we read "Goodnight Moon," "Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See," "Cat," and "Hop on Pop" a lot because he follows along looking from one page to the other and turns the page without me having to instruct him to do so. However, with other books, he'll turn the pages well before I've finished reading, or I'll have to say "Turn the page" at the appropriate time. Regardless, it's perhaps THE cutest thing I've ever seen. Yes, I say that about everything he does, but this is seriously adorable. This new marvel in Jude's life makes this English professor quite proud!I have to say, Jude has come a long way from just a few months ago when he preferred to chew the books. He had me worried there for a time. I have hoped Jude would like reading as much as I do. I really hope he uses his time better than I do and sets aside time to read every day. (I guess I do read every day, but not always for pleasure--the downside of teaching college English.) Of course, at thirteen months, he has no clue about the importance of reading; all he knows is, "When I turn a page, I see something entirely different. Cool!" Sometimes, he'll even go back and forth between pages as if to make sure that other picture is still there. Anyway, since we brought Jude home thirteen months ago, we have not had a day where we didn't read something to him. Heck, we started on some "light" Faulkner when he turned a week old! Admittedly, when in his more passive days, I would read aloud student essays to him and revel in my supermomdom. Believe me, I'm no multi-tasker, so the fact that I could grade papers and bond with my child at the same time made me feel like I really could do it all. However, as Jude grew more mobile and attentive, students' writing proved less and less interesting to him, and I certainly can't blame him there! I always appreciate when people get Jude books, though. He seems to love them, and every single book gets put to good use at our house. I try to introduce a different book per week just to expose him to new stories, pictures, and whatnot. Plus, each book presents to him a new challenge of when to turn the page! I don't know what I will do in the upcoming school year when I have grading overload to bring home with me--just slap some C's down for all of 'em, maybe? I'll worry about that when the time comes. What I do know is that I will spend every day, school in session or not, reading to Jude and giving him that opportunity to explore the world as only books can do. I will not, however, give society another reason to think that a Mississippi boy cannot read!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Oh Boy

I remember the night before learning the sex of the baby. I had a few anxiety attacks. Seriously. My whole life, I had pictured having a girl. One of my friends even texted me "I hope it's a girl." I even wanted a girl simply because I've always hated when people said "I hope my first is a boy so that way when I have a girl, she'll have a big brother to protect her." What a bunch of malarky! How anyone still views women as the weaker sex, I don't understand. Of course, I had this feeling from the get go that God was giving me a boy. Even though I had always wanted a girl, I just knew--boy. God also gave me peace about it, too. I didn't really mind. I mean, what was I going to do, love the baby less? The night before knowing for sure, however, the God-given peace temporarily left me, and I let my imagination run away from me. I worried so much. What if I wouldn't be happy about it? What if I cried right there in the middle of the sonogram? What if the baby ended up a girl thus discrediting my gut feeling? The only thing I hate worse than having to say "I'm sorry" is being wrong about some gut instinct I had. Quite obviously, I learned that I had a baby boy incubating inside my womb. And I did cry during the sonogram--happy tears. Of course, I had to totally regroup and learn some things about little boys as I've had very limited experience around them. Here's a few highlights of what Jude has taught me so far. 1. Changing a diaper requires my undivided attention. Either focus, or get hosed. Thanks to the unpredictability of Jude's bathroom habits, I have developed some pretty sweet cat-like reflexes. And also threw my neck out once. 2. On the surface, boy clothes shopping seems a lot less fun than girl clothes shopping. However, TJ Maxx and Baby Gap do a pretty good job of stocking some awesome baby boy apparel. Jude receives compliments all the time on his style. Even the weird comic book guy in Ridgeland wants to send his photo to a modeling agency (a big fat "No" on that one for anyone wondering). Also, boy hats are way cooler than girl hats. 3.Jude prefers cat food to Cheerios. I have given up on the Cheerios thing. Numerous times I have set the cereal before him, and he completely comes apart. However, this morning, I caught him in the cat food bowl just chowing down! This did not please Weezy or me (or Jude when I snatched him away from the bowl). 4. Anyone who has met Jude even if for a few minutes knows this--he can turn on the charm. He will smile, laugh, clap hands, squeal, and anything else to win over someone's heart, especially a female's. In his rolling over stage, an eyewitness (ok, ok, his baby-sitter) reported that he had rolled right over to his little friend, incidentally a baby girl, and put his arm around her. I don't even think his father was ever that smooth. 6. Jude idolizes Jeffrey. Of course, so do I. 7. Sometimes Jeffrey and I take the Ipad, pull up Jude's pictures, and set to Slide Show as a means to distract him. For an added bonus, i.e. squeals of glee, we add some pictures of ourselves to the slide show. It is seriously the cutest thing, and hearing those joyous shrieks help me put aside those feelings of inadequacy that my twelve month old can work my Ipad faster than I. 8. Jude has many interests, but I find he concentrates hardest on his "beads and crosswires" toy followed by watching his favorite sports team--Manchester United. Of course, I have more to add to this list, but I'm only hitting the highlights. I think anyone can tell I totally love being Jude's mother. Maybe one day I'll have that little girl I had originally wanted; we'll really know if God has a sense of humor then, because oh, what that would do to Jeffrey, especially if she turns out like me! However, I'll take what I got. While I still have much to learn about little boys, I'm enjoying the experience. Most importantly, I love Jude with my whole heart.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Last night, I wrote a post about my own father, so tonight I present a post about another father--my son's. What can I say about Jeffrey? Hmmm....Ok, all done! Just kidding! How a girl can have two, potentially three (although Jude hasn't reached manhood just yet) great men in her life is beyond me! However, I have that. Mine and Jeffrey's parenthood adventures got off to a late start compared to most couples. We were married seven years before Jude was born. Really, it took us that long to figure out,"Hey, our cat is still alive! Maybe we COULD raise a child!" I think I'm only half kidding on that. Actually, I married Jeffrey at the tender age of twenty-two, just two weeks after finishing my Bachelor's Degree at the University of Mississippi (because, as the old saying goes, "One never graduates from Ole Miss"). We knew back then that we wanted children, but we also wanted a few other things first--a Masters degree for me, an established career path for both of us, and visiting foreign lands to eat at their McDonald's restaurants for Jeffrey. We reached all of those goals and even bought our dream home in the meantime--all of that within four years of marriage. All we needed was the baby. Obviously, the baby didn't arrive right away, and maybe that's what makes Jude even more special. Here's a fun fact: even with my pregnancy past its due date, Jude still didn't want to arrive. My doctor had to force the little booger out with some inducing meds whose names I don't recall. (I haven't taken many drugs (prescription or recreational) in my life, so I don't keep up with what they're called. If I wanted to do that, I'd have been a pharmacist.) Anyway, one could say we both got a little frustrated over the whole "Why am I not pregnant yet" mystery. Well, the mystery never cleared up, but somehow within a year's time, I got pregnant twice. The first time, as I've mentioned in other posts, didn't work out, and the second one resulted in Jude. With all of the hoping and the frustration that came with the hoping, Jeffrey never once made me feel bad and always focused on the positive: "Next time," "It's ok," "It's going to happen," "We can adopt." Somehow, he always knew we would have children while I had my doubts. Jeffrey has a talent for two things (well, more than two things, but since he'll read this, I need to keep him humble--that's NOT one of the talents, by the way--HAHA!): making the most asinine comments while keeping a straight face and making these insanely goofy faces. He's especially good at using these talents around large groups of people where only I can see and hear him and therefore laugh uncontrollably at him while everyone else looks at me as if I've completely lost my mind. Yeah. I love when he does that. However, it's his fun loving spirit that makes him a good dad. My nieces and nephews LOVE Jeffrey. His students LOVE him. And while Jude doesn't understand his witty discourse just yet, he understands Jeffrey's sunny disposition to the point that he WORSHIPS his father. And besides having the reputation as the funny guy, Jeffrey puts his whole heart and soul into being Jude's father. Jeffrey comes to Jude's swimming lessons, he dutifully scrubs poop off of cloth diapers, he baby-proofs the house, he takes Jude on manly outings, and most importantly, a day doesn't go by without Jeffrey saying "I love you, son." Shoot, Jeffrey even bought a hat to match one that Jude had. (Although, Jeffrey's came from Saks Fifth Avenue since Gymboree didn't carry his size.) I have to admit, after several years of wondering where our baby was and then finally receiving him, I sometimes wondered if Jeffrey felt we were one and done. He frets over money way more than I do, and as we all know, kids aren't cheap. Then the other day, Jeffrey made a comment about how he couldn't understand how a guy couldn't feel joy after finding out about a baby, and that's when I knew that I could out birth Michelle Duggar and Jeffrey would be on board. Of course, it's in God's hands (wait--I think Michelle Duggar actually said this. Crap!). Bottom line--Jude has the best father in world. I mean, sure Jeffrey's a drummer and can't seem to grasp that Puma tennis shoes do not pair well with a tailored suit, but Jeffrey is someone to be admired simply because he loves his son and he loves me. Happy Father's Day, Jeffrey! I love you, and Jude loves you!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Two very important men in my life celebrate Father's Day tomorrow: my own father, Ron, and my husband, Jeffrey. Therefore, I find it most appropriate to write a post about them. Let's start with Ron since I've known him longer. (Jeffrey's post will come tomorrow.) Without the U.S. Army to uproot Daddy from his homeland of Milwaukee, WI, I would not exist. Without his impeccable skills with shop tools that brought him to the Vicksburg Theater Guild to work on a set for a play where he would meet my mom, I would not exist. Even though he no longer serves in the Army and chances of him sitting through a musical with me are slim to fat chance in hell, and even though he and my mother have since split (though they remain very good friends and he will always carry a torch for her), these twists of fate brought him to fatherhood. I cannot put into words how much I love my dad. We've had some great times, from singing Huey Lewis and the News songs ("Stuck on You"--our personal favorite) each morning on the way to my pre-school to shouting "Hey Batta Batta SWING" loud as we could at each and every Milwaukee Brewers game we ever attended together to holding literary discussions over the phone for sometimes hours. Of course, no parent-child relationship comes without bumps in the road. Daddy did, after all, have to stand the test of my teenage years (my sister's too, although she went quite easy on him. She always has had a knack for kindness that somehow got lost on me). Needless to say, he passed with flying colors. Daddy was the one who taught me it was o.k. to cry. In some of our darkest times, sometimes that was all we could do. In September of 2009, I joyfully learned I was pregnant with mine and Jeffrey's first child. Three days later, I woke up bleeding, Jeffrey rushed me to the hospital, and there we learned that I had miscarried. Devastated doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of what either Jeffrey or I felt. Hell, I still feel it from time to time. However, as we were leaving the hospital heading home, there was my dad coming into the lobby and in front of God, the geriatrics in wheelchairs, and everybody else, he held me tight, we both cried, and I felt that maybe Jeffrey and I weren't the last two people on earth after all. On any given day, I would've rather the earth swallowed me whole than to be seen squalling in the arms of my father in the lobby of the busiest hospital in Mississippi, but at that moment, I did not care. It's a moment I hope never to repeat but at the same time I can look back and see it for its beauty. Perhaps Daddy sometimes took the weepiness to an extreme, though. One of Jeffrey's favorite "Ron" moments occurred while we were dating. I had taken Jeffrey to Vicksburg for the first time. We were not engaged yet, but at that point, I knew he was "The One" so I wanted him to spend time with my family just so he could make sure that he could handle all of this crazy. The year before, Daddy had bought me a Toyota Camry, and that thing was loaded. (Sidenote: The Camry was the second to last car Daddy bought for me. After wrecking a wreck with it--yeah, you read that right-- my next car was merely a basic model Honda (read: one step up from a Fred Flintstone mobile.)) Anyway, I decided while in Vicksburg, I would wash the car inside and out. I Armor-alled, Turtle waxed, and everything else to make that car look fine, and did it ever! When all was done, Daddy came out, looked it over, took out his handkerchief, dabbed his eyes and said,"Give Daddy a hug." At that moment, Jeffrey ran off somewhere,laughed his ass off, yet still proposed to me a month later. The best gift my father ever gave me was to love me with his whole heart. I have always known, even when I had behaved very badly, he loves me no matter what. It's a gift I hope to pass down to my children, and one they will pass on to theirs. After all, that kind of love enabled me to confidently marry the love of my life at a fairly young age, decide on a career path, make sound financial decisions, and ultimately be happy with myself.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Michael Phelps

I signed Jude up for swimming lessons this summer at Maley Swim School. I had heard wonderful things about the instructors and the facility and had read up on the benefits of Water Babies classes, and thought, "Why not?" Plus, I needed something fun to do with Jude this summer. (Ok, ok, chasing around an almost-toddler and watching him play and squeal as he discovers new things is fun in itself, but the idea of bringing all that fun to the water would only elevate the cuteness factor that much more, right?) As it turns out, the swimming pool is not the bath tub, which is Jude's all-time favorite place at home, and well, Jude's no dummy, so he doesn't hesitate to let everyone know this. At the first lesson, he took to the water quite well with only a few minor freak outs. Most of those freak outs occurred when his instructor, Ms. Elizabeth, tried teaching him how to climb out of the pool. (Yes, little babies learn how to hold onto the side of the pool and pull themselves out--insane!)Jude thought that meant time to get out of the pool for good, so he squinted those eyes, balled up his fists, and let out a stealthy holler that almost immediately turned into smiling laughter as soon as he plopped back into the water. (So answer me this--at what age would one consider that sort of behavior manic depressive?) Jude's second lesson took a turn for the worse, though. I don't believe anyone got anything out of that lesson. In fact, I said silent prayers of thanks to God that the other little girl in the class did not show up because all Jude did was holler. Now that time, I did not go in the water with him. Jeffrey did. We figured out that Jude did not recognize Jeffrey without his glasses, so by the time Jeffrey went to put them on, Jude calmed down only a hair. In the meantime, I sat in the observation room (yes, an observation room--like on "Dance Moms"!) hearing these loud sobs with all these other parents crowding the window saying things like "Glad it's not me in there" and "Ooh, he's not happy" while I'm displaying remarkable restraint from bowing up and responding, "Well, no shit!" Anyway, to say the lesson didn't go too well would be the understatement of the week. Then again, I'm sure Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps has had a bad day before. Normally, lessons happen on Mondays at 4:30; however, Maley's rescheduled this week's lesson to Friday (today) since they closed for Memorial Day. Neither Jeffrey nor I wanted to go into the water with Jude due to last week's fiasco, and the fact that a week and a half had passed since he last got in the pool. Unfortunately, it was my turn, though. As if disrobing to my bathing suit clad almost 12 month post-partum bod--which is pretty much back to pre-pregnancy shape, but still not pretty--in front of the observation windows isn't humbling enough, I also had the very likely chance of dealing with a Category 5 fit from my pint sized, albeit very strong, offspring therefore drawing these various and sundry parents to the windows overlooking the baby pool like moths to the flame. Sure enough, just as I had anticipated, Jude sounded off as soon as we touched the water. Ms. Elizabeth, pro that she is, continued with the singing of silly songs and splashing of water. (Oh, and there was another little kid there too who looked at Jude as if to say "Get it together. Geez!". Great.) Meanwhile, Jude commenced with his screams so loud that I swear I saw some paint on the wall bubble up and start to peel. I remained calm and tried my best to act like I was having the best time of my life in there hoping he would catch my spirit, but no such luck. Finally, I drew my little baby close and held him to my chest, kissed him on the cheek, and whispered in my most soothing "Mom voice", "Now, Jude. Michael Phelps may have had one bad day, and maybe even two, but he didn't have two bad days in a row. You can do this." Then he looked at me with those big tear-stained brown eyes, drew a big breath as if gearing up for one good ear drum splitting scream and broke into hysterical laughter. And that baby laughed the rest of the lesson. He laughed getting out of the pool, he laughed jumping back into my arms, he laughed going down the baby slide (twice), he laughed at the bubbles, he laughed while doing the monkey walk, and he laughed at getting out of the pool for good. He finally found his confidence in the water! I couldn't have been prouder than if he had won Olympic gold--which inevitably is in our future!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Just Barely Made the Cut

Jeffrey and I are applying for life insurance policies as of late. Boy, when did we get to be such adults? Anyway, I've had the staggering fear that I would get turned down because ten and a half years ago, a neurologist diagnosed me with transverse mylitis, a rare neurological disease that causes my immune system to attack itself. In my case, it resulted in me temporarily losing my ability to walk (although three months, plus a year of gimping around is an eternity to a college sophomore, especially one who had just discovered a love of Shakespeare, rum runners, and a late night outing to Chevron on Four Corners). I spent a significant amount of time in the hospital and even more time in physical therapy. I can sum up the entire experience in the simplest of sentences: It sucked. Of course, insurance companies don't take too kindly to folks ailing from that sort of thing. Possibly the only reason I even have health insurance now results from my employment in the public sector. They give it to me because they have to. "Here, Mrs. Brown, because you chose to work for the state of Mississippi rather than fulfill your dream of composing the Great American Novel, we'll award you with this really crappy health insurance policy to which you'll never meet your deductible. Oh, and as the years pass, we'll take a little bit out of your paycheck each month because, really, let's face it. You already make SO much money as it is." So, health insurance, for all its crappiness, I'm covered. However, enter Jude, and Jeffrey and I find ourselves going a step further and planning for the God-I-hope-not event that one or both of us dies before Jude grows up. Let me tell you. You pretty much have to divulge your entire life to these people! I got asked, in this order: Do you have a history of heart disease/diabetes, Have you ever had a DUI, Are you currently on your menstrual cycle, Do you have HIV/AIDS? (And for those inquiring--"no" to all of the questions.) Then the bomb dropped. "Have you been diagnosed with any neurological disorder..." Well, there it is. "...In the last ten years?" Come again? And it turns out, no, I haven't! I was diagnosed ten AND A HALF years ago! I just made the cut! Anyway, we haven't been approved as of yet, but here's hoping we will. And if not, I just have to force myself not to die before Jude and any children after him finish college!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


My sister's favorite movie is "Idiocracy" with Maya Rudolph and Luke Wilson. I say it's her favorite because she always brings it up whenever the conversation leans toward movie talk. This summer, Jeffrey and I finally sat down and watched it, if nothing else but to be able to carry on a conversation with her. While I wouldn't say it's my favorite (though Jeffrey loved it), that film really brought to light some things I'm seeing in my classroom as well as some fears I have about Jude's upcoming school years.

The basic plot of the movie goes like this. The US military freezes one male and one female of perfectly average intelligence. The whole operation is shut down with the two forgotten about until years later. When the two unfreeze, they find themselves in a future where no one thinks for themselves, everything is done by simply pushing a button or scanning in their tatooed IDs, people live in their own filth, and crops are dried up. All of a sudden, this average male and female become the smartest people on earth.

A crappy plot summary done on my part, I realize, but my gist is that I see this every day where I work. No one wants to think for themselves. Everything must be done for them. Oh, and should someone absolutely have to produce something on his own, by God, it better be easy!

My job consists of making sure that these folks become productive citizens, not a bunch of idiots who think watering the Earth with Gatorade and its electrolyte goodness will produce plentiful crops. As a result, I take no crap from my students (or at least I try not to take crap). Therefore, one wouldn't consider me the most popular instructor to grace the halls of Holmes. I would be lying if I said this didn't bother me. It does bother me. It bothers me as much as it bothered me in junior high to wear thick glasses and my sister's hand-me down clothes that were cool when she was in junior high but had run their course by the time my two year early adolescent sentence rolled around. The only difference between now and then--no one teases me relentlessly anymore (that and I am slightly prettier).

Now I could always change. I could accept fragmented answers from students instead of expecting them to answer a question fully. I could just throw out the essay assignments altogether and provide Scantron tests instead. I could overlook any grammatical/spelling/punctuation errors. I could allow texting language. I could not say a word when students show up unprepared.

I could quit caring.

It would be easy.

However, my convictions to produce quality work and never give up trump any desires I ever had to be popular. I did not have an easy life. I don't mean my life sucked; it didn't. However, I have endured some suffering from time to time, and I chose to claw my way back to normalcy rather than dwell in the cesspool of self pity. With a little problem solving, aggression, and creativity, I'm exactly where I want to be now--gainfully employed and happily married with child. I have everything I need and some/most of what I want.

I want the same for anyone who sits in my classroom under my instruction. I want the same for Jude as well. In fact, I want it more for him. He is, after all, an extension of me (bless his heart). Therefore, no crap will I take. Call me mean, difficult, intimidating, and whatever other adjectives I see on student evaluations, but in a few years, I suspect, as it happens now, a few will send me letters thanking me for the alleged hell I'd put them through. It absolutely pains me to think some of my students will never change. Some will never try to think for themselves or appreciate having an opportunity to try. However, I'm not going to give up. This thing I do--it's my calling for two reasons. (1.) This thing I have--the will to challenge and press forward even when it's hard--that's my gift to the whomever comes in contact with me. (2.) My willingness to go into a tough (though one I love) job each day and come out smiling most days is the example I set for my child--my gift to him.

If idiots roam the world, I can assure you it's not because I didn't try my damndest to change the ones who came in my path!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Just a spoonful of maternal guilt

Days like this, I have my doubts about my abilities as a mother. Tonight marks the night for the annual Fine Arts concert here at school. Along with the many students who have sat in my classroom participating in tonight's event, my husband will direct a few of the ensembles as well. Really, in all honesty, I go to these things to support him. I want to do that. I even enjoy doing that.

However, I will undoubtedly be met with the question, "Where's Jude" as I make my way down the aisle to find a seat and sit with face practically glued to program in the hopes that no one will see me and pass judgment.

Of course, that's the curse of the woman with a pseudo-commanding presence. I say "pseudo" because I'm not necessarily afraid to speak my mind, and I do have quite the vibrant personality, especially here at Holmes, but I also have a pretty strong desire to remain unnoticed. Ask any student, though; I'm pretty live. If nothing else, they all remember the day I proclaimed "All of those bitches are lined up to have his baby" during a discussion of an assigned reading about a champion showdog and his breeding capabilities. So my meager efforts to lay low often fail.

So...where is Jude? Jude is with his baby-sitter, Ms. Lily, tonight. She graciously agreed to keep him for me while I attend this concert. In a way, I feel quite badly for leaving him. I miss him. However, this concert allows me two opportunities: a chance to support Jeffrey and all of the hard work he has put into this year along with the possibility of getting caught up on my grading. Lord knows, I need to catch up!

There are some women (maybe even some men) who, if they knew what I was doing tonight, would judge me. Why not just grab the baby and go home for the night? I have actually heard people so arrogantly proclaim,"I just couldn't send my child to a baby-sitter. I don't want anyone else raising him/her." (Give me a break. Using that same logic, I could always say "Well, I choose to work because I don't want my child to grow up and feel its fine to mooch off of someone else while he/she sits at home," so really, we could go tit for tat.)

However, I see the point, but I also believe in being my husband's biggest supporter. Maybe it's part of why he and I have been married nearly eight years yet we still got it. Besides, that's what Jude is going to remember, that his father and I are each other's biggest fans, not that I left him behind for a few hours extra for one night.I do believe mine and Jeffrey's relationship will (and maybe already does) impact our child and provide him stability.

So tonight, when I go pick my baby up, I will bring him home, give him extra kisses, work in an extra story, and hold him for a few more extra minutes before I put him in his crib. Jeffrey will probably do the same.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Somebody's Thinking: A Perspective on My House

Can a house be too big?

One of the biggest complaints I hear people say of their homes always points to space/storage issues. It has recently dawned on me that I do not have that problem.

Don't get me wrong; we do not live in a mansion. We do, however, have a pretty sizeable craftsmen style home with fairly large rooms, lots of cabinets and closets (though the closets are not big themselves), a basement and an attic. It also has two of just about everything--two dens, two eating areas, two full bathrooms, 2x2 bedrooms (really4), 2 points of entry, just lots of 2's.

Whoever built this house back in 1924 was thinking.

Anyway, I've known the house is big since the first time I had to clean it top to bottom. (Also, I have discovered that as I clean, my house actually does this magical trick where it gets bigger and bigger! Feels that way, anyway.)

So too big? You be the judge.

A few weeks ago, I took Jude into the guest bedroom to do some straightening up. That kid's eyes lit up like I had just offered him a bottle, a stroller ride, a light up musical device, and Sophie the Ridiculously Overpriced but Worth Every Penny Teething Giraffe while delivering news that every bit of rice cereal had gone extinct all at once!

Then it dawned on me. Jude had never been in that room before. That's why he was so excited.

So I got to thinking. Jude had never been in the guest bedroom, the purple bathroom, the formal dining room (well, he's be carried through it to get to Jeffrey's Man Cave, but never hung out in it), and has very rarely sat in the formal living room.

So then THAT got me thinking. Disney World? Shoot. Put my money away! We're just going to take this kid to a room in the house each year. That should tie us over for at least four years and and allow us to throw our money towards his Catholic school education that will inevitably leave us eating Ramen noodles and nothing else for the next 22 years (because we also have to factor in college). Am I economical, or what? My sister, with her binders of coupons and sixth sense for locating Double Couplon days, has nothing on this plan of financial ingenuity!

However, it hit me. Just like any vacation spot where a kid can get lost, so too could I lose track of Jude in this house. Shoot, I can't even keep up with Weezy cat most of the time!

Damn those two dens, two eating areas, two full bathrooms, 2x2 bedrooms (really4), 2 points of entry, and lots of other 2's!

What was that builder thinking?!?!?