Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Little Known Pregnancy Symptom

Every woman experiences several symptoms that let her know that it's time to take a pregnancy test. Things like missed periods, morning sickness, fatigue, etc. are usually dead giveaways that a baby will arrive sometime in the next nine months. I've always kind of marched to my own beat, so none of these symptoms prompted me to take a test. In fact, I just attributed the late period, the nausea, and the tiredness to stress since I did have a lot on my plate in November.

Then, one symptom occurred that I simply could not ignore: Italy. Back when I was pregnant with Jude, Jeffrey and I had paid for a trip to Italy that would leave on June 9. We could not wait to go. That is, until I got pregnant and due to have a baby June 4, five days before we would leave for the trip. Obviously,we did not go because Jude arrived to the world on June 7, and those jerk-tards with the traveling company wouldn't let us get on the plane! (Before anyone freaks out, I cancelled the trip and received a full refund. Always get the trip insurance. Now, had Jude come on his due date, allowing me five days to recover instead of two...) 

Fast forward to this year when an opportunity came a knockin' in the form of another trip to Italy--the perfect trip to commemorate mine and Jeffrey's upcoming ten year anniversary. We had the money in the bank, and all we had to do was sign up. Of course, I became suspicious. It was true that in the weeks prior to considering this romantic getaway that certain foods hadn't looked as appetizing to me and I had started to grow accustomed to falling asleep by 8 p.m. every night. "Wait a minute," I thought, "We've been down this road before." 

Before I could fully commit to getting on an airplane to head half-way across the world, I decided I might take a home pregnancy test just to be sure. Two heart pounding minutes later, there it was--a plus sign and a "Pregnant." (I took a couple of different  Clear Blue Easy tests, and I give Clear Blue Easy brand two very enthusiastic thumbs up (or should I say "two plus signs"? Either way, I am "Pregnant" with enthusiasm for Clear Blue Easy.)

I would like to say that my reaction to this pregnancy equaled my reaction to my first one in excitement, but sadly, the first thought that ran across my mind while staring at the results was, "Shoot. I'll never go to Europe!"

The lesson learned is this: planning a trip to Italy=baby. In fact, Jeffrey's a bit apprehensive about ever trying to go to Italy. I might could try to go another time, but we'll just see how this whole pregnancy/baby raising thing turns out!

I have now welcomed my second baby boy, Malcolm, to the world. He proves a far superior souvenir than anything I could have found in Italy, and yes, that includes a Louis Vuitton bag. Even Baptist Hospital humored me and served spaghetti one of the nights I spent on the post-partum floor. 

A few months after Malcolm's birth, my in-laws invited Jeffrey and me to go with them to Germany the following May. Jeffrey turned to me and asked, "You menopausal yet?"

We did not commit to Germany. For the time being, we will plan on staying in America. However, I'm not so sure I'm ready to give up planning yet another trip to Europe. I kind of want a little girl.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Dear Size 6,

I had wanted to get into you for so long, and come this past September, I finally did! In fact, even Size Smalls would zip up (although, Mediums felt better). In the world of clothing and self-esteem, I have had quite a successful year, and this success could not have come at a better time. In November, I received my biggest career honor to date, and that honor required me to give a presentation on stage to an audience. Many emotions swirled through my body that day--nervousness, excitement, nausea, fatigue, relief--but the one thing I didn't feel was fat. Despite the whirlwind of emotions, I delivered a presentation with a confidence I never knew I had, but I have a feeling that confidence came with the help of a little red dress. Wearing you--that smaller size--just felt good. However, yesterday while shopping, I tried you on, probably for the last time. You see, Size 6, we're going to have to part ways if only for a little while.I've had to return to a diet with carbs. Yes, I still try to incorporate as much protein as I can, but lately, a lot of protein-enriched food I loved during my dieting days now comes across as utterly repulsive. Not only that, but sometimes I just need some crackers or a carbonated beverage in order to spare those around me from catching a glimpse of what I had for breakfast earlier that day. While this new way of eating freaks me out after I had worked so hard for so long to alter my eating habits, I know I must adapt to the change in order to get through each day. For now, Size 6, you still fit. The dress, the tops, and that adorable skirt I tried on yesterday still looked as good on me as they would have in September, so even though the carbs and a few pounds have come back, my body is holding strong for now. I didn't buy you yesterday, though, because I really didn't see the point. I know you're thinking, "So why abandon me? Why go back to eating carbs? Please don't go! Wear me forever!" Well, Size 6, let me tell you. I knew when I began my diet, the side effects would include temptation and some moodiness. I had prepared myself mentally for these side effects to happen and just rolled with it when I experienced them. However, there's a hidden side effect--one I had not anticipated. Pregnancy. Apparently, I just looked too good to my husband, and now here I am craving carbs and trying not to throw up all over the place. Size 6, you have to know that as much as I have enjoyed wearing you, I'm enjoying being pregnant again even more (although I could do without this scorching heartburn). Yes, I will be packing on the pounds in the next few months, but come mid-July, when that nurse places that sweet precious baby in my arms for the first time, I know that weight gain will be more than worth it. And who knows? Maybe it will all come off pretty fast. I have every intention of returning to you, Size 6. I don't know when, but I'll get back to you. Yes, I will miss you each week my body expands, but please know that this pregnancy won't last forever (otherwise, humankind would cease to exist). For now, just find your way to another girl's body, but please don't ever forget or give up on me! Sincerely, Your Biggest Fan

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

And the Award Goes To...

I've known for about a month and a half now, but last week, the president of my college made the official announcement. I am Holmes Community College's Humanities Instructor of the Year. Such an honor entails me having to put on a humanities presentation, topic of my choice (obviously a literary one), and later attending a banquet with other colleges' and universities' winners where we will each receive a cash prize. Stunned did not even cover how I felt when I first found this information out, but now I just feel excited and honored...and nervous, extremely nervous.

I chose the topic of fashion in literature and film and will show how fashion plays an important role in William Faulkner's Sanctuary, Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman, and the film The Devil Wears Prada. Why these selections? Simple. I love these novels and that movie. In fact, re-reading the books and re-watching the film have really opened my eyes to other new aspects about each, even though I've previewed each of these about a hundred times apiece. I love the feeling I get when I discover a thread from one source to another and can use it to draw a connection to something relevant in our time--almost as good as finding that perfect word to depict that certain moment in a story, essay, or poem. If anything, this project has shown me that I have not lost my love for research.

However, I also face pressure. For this presentation to go well, I have to have an audience. Therefore, I've also learned some new aspects in Public Relations that I had never before given any thought. For one thing, I worked with the school's graphic designer on a poster to promote the event. The result? I love it, but I never would have come up with anything to look as good. Certain area newspapers will also publicize the event. Last week, I got my picture taken, which turned into a full-blown photo shoot, and I hate taking pictures.I learned that my smile does not look natural, but really, how can one look natural with a camera pointed towards her face clicking and flashing bright light every couple of seconds? Honestly, the whole experience left me feeling a little hunted. In the upcoming weeks, I will work with a videographer on splicing my video to specific scenes in the film, and my dean has offered to help me put together a highly visual power point to use. I will also have to learn how to use a wireless mic, some sort of clicker to change slides, and probably some other technological crap that I have no idea what does. Because of all these behind-the-scenes actions going on, I worry that no one will come.

Then again, nothing makes me sicker than standing up and speaking in front of a large audience. Yes, I realize that I stand in front of a captive audience of students  texting zombies and talk their ears off for several hours a week, but somehow, standing on a stage wired to a microphone seems a bit intimidating to me. For one, I don't have the best speaking voice, even in the classroom. I have a shrill voice, not unlike that of a per-pubescent boy. When I really think about my audience, my voice shakes. Frankly, I just don't sound pretty when I speak.

Anyway, scared as I am to give this talk, I guess I kind of look forward to it. I mean, I would rather have the opportunity than not.For about forty-five minutes to an hour, I get to talk about things I love while people listen. How bad could that be? Here's hoping people will enjoy the presentation and forgive my shaky squeaky voice.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Oh, My Heart

It does not take much to pull at my heartstrings, especially if it involves Jude. Yesterday, he looked at Jeffrey and said, "Hug Mommy," and Jeffrey said, "Yes, you can hug Mommy. I'm sure you don't even have to ask." Then Jude walked over to me and gave me a big hug. Right there, I turned into one giant pool of sap.Though I often lament the passing of Jude's infancy, little things such as that remind me of how much I love a two year old.

The other day, my mother and I went out to grab supper for everyone while Jeffrey, Jude, and my dad stayed home. We had planned to stay out about half an hour but also wanted to escape to this new home decor shop in Renaissance before venturing back with the food. I very much looked forward to this impromptu detour because rarely have I darkened the door of a home decor store since the birth of my son. However, before I could circumnavigate the store, a call on the cell phone interrupted the material bliss of sorting through rugs, placing picture frames in some semblance of an order, all while daydreaming  about my house as the featured home in next month's Southern Living.On the other end of the line, a frantic Jeffrey snapped me back into reality as he wondered when we would finally arrive home (at least I think that's what he asked; I found it hard to hear him what with the two year old screaming in the background). After dashing out of the store (with nothing in hand), we quickly returned home to both Jude's tear-stained face and Jeffrey's relieved one. Jeffrey then told me that Jude kept asking for me, and when I wouldn't come, he completely lost it. While I should feel guilty, and I did a little bit, I also couldn't help but think "Aww..."

Jude reminds me every day that I do, in fact, have a heart even though cynicism drips from me much like sweat. The thing no one ever told me about motherhood but what I see as the greatest blessing of all is knowing there's a person out there who loves me no matter what and with no strings attached. I wonder if he loves me this way because on some subconscious level, he knows I love him wholeheartedly. I hope he will always know that, even on the days we don't agree.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Single digits

Lately, the only single digits that have impacted my life usually appear in my bank account toward the end of every month--never fun, but oh the glamourous life of a teacher!

I've been on this diet since June 25, and my last two weigh-ins haven't been great since I didn't lose any weight either time. Of course, I got a little down on myself because as hard as I've worked, I felt at least a couple of ounces should have come off! Also, I have yet to feel skinny. Sure, I've gotten a lot of compliments on my physique lately, but I passed it all off as small talk. I mean, yeah, I've lost some weight, but I haven't reached my goal. I have about sixteen more pounds to go. Plus, I'm still wearing most of my old clothes even though they're looser than when I first started the diet. I just assumed that I would start feeling skinny when I absolutely could not possibly wear those clothes anymore due to fear of unintentionally performing some sort of strip tease while walking across campus to my 10:50 class.

Last week, however, I encountered a single digit that moved me in a way not unlike a religious experience. This small number came to me in the form of a beautiful red dress labeled Size 6. While I cannot yet say why I needed a red dress (that reason should be revealed soon enough), the point is, I got over feeling sorry for my two week lack of weight loss and went and tried on some dresses because it needed to be done.Truthfully, I had pulled the dress from the rack never believing it would fit but instead used it as a reference to how much more weight I needed to get off before I quit looking like a stuffed sausage. As it turns out, I don't look like any sort of tubular lumpy meat at all any more!

I must have stayed in the dressing room a while because the saleslady tapped on my door to ask if I needed some help in there. I'm not exactly big on strangers invading my personal space to help disrobe me, so after a quick "No, thank you," I stepped out of the red dress and into a black one labeled Medium. While the black dress fit perfectly, it just didn't feel near as satisfying, probably because "Medium" captures an array of sizes whereas "Size 6" just sounds precisely skinny.

Unfortunately, I walked out of Dillard's exactly the way I arrived--without shopping bags. After all, it was the end of the month, and like its user, my checking account had also lost a good amount of weight. Really, the only thing gained that day was motivation to keep going with my diet. Let's just hope I don't fatten up around the first of the month like my checking account has done.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Word Vomit--Because I Have a Lot of Stuff on My Mind

I don't want to go back to school next week--not because I don't like my job. I really do. However, my job doesn't permit me to spend all day with Jude. Boo! We've had a great week this week while Jeffrey was at Band Camp. We spent the week with my parents who actually live a stone's throw away from us, but we decided to treat this week like a vacation of sorts. Hey, my parents' new digs come equipped with HBO, a bath tub worthy of an R&B music video setting, and Mama's cooking (even though my diet prohibits me from eating most food that tastes good).This place could so pass for a resort. Anyway, Jude and I have had a fantastic time, and I've enjoyed all the time I've gotten to spend with him this week. We've had a great time playing outside, putting together puzzles, pushing trucks, reading books, and reviewing our colors and shapes. Tomorrow, Jeffrey will finish up year ten of HCC band camp, and we'll reunite once again. Even though Jude and I have had a fun week, we have missed Jeffrey something awful.

Because I have lived under my parents' roof this week, I've watched a lot of Fox News. A little backstory--my mother is so conservative that she makes Rush Limbaugh look like a bleeding heart liberal, so Fox News is pretty much white noise in the Wahl household. I actually find the network interesting. Sometimes, I think they report too much on what "could happen," but I do usually find myself agreeing with the commentators. For example, I love how they're calling out Hollywood on the upcoming movie "The Butler." Oprah Winfrey's comment about Trayvon Martin being a "parallel to Emmit Till" just about sent me over the edge. Read a freaking history book, Oprah, or better yet, understand your Mississippi history better, or even better than that, realize you weren't there with Trayvon when he died and therefore don't know what really happened! It's also occurred to me that I may not have spelled this kid's name right. My apologies.

However, I will not apologize for my beliefs/values. Lately, I've seen a lot of people post on social media these memes that basically say, "You're perfect the way you are" or "Don't change." While these memes intend to uplift and inspire, they are absolutely and positively damaging. to humankind. None of us are perfect, and we could all stand to change something about ourselves. I never want anyone to tell me those things because, I know what I'm about, and it's not always pretty. I know my strengths and my weaknesses. I know that I'm smart in what I know, but I don't know a lot. I know I fall short of perfection 100% of the time, but I still want to strive for it because it delights me to try.

Today, I saw video footage of three black guys beating the hell out of a white kid on a school bus. Boy, did that send me on a ride down memory lane to the beginning of the eighth grade where the same thing happened to me, only throw in a pinch of sexual assault with that. This is a time in my life I have never allowed myself to think about, and certainly it doesn't define who I am now, but watching that video footage triggered so many emotions--anger because this crap still happens and people still ignore it, sadness because that kid didn't deserve it, but relief because I'm ok, and I know that given time and a few more awkward teenage years, so will that kid because, as I've stated before, this situation doesn't have to define him. I still believe the only reason I suffered little physical harm comes down to one of two things: 1. It was a short bus ride, and 2. My best friend who was sitting next to me tried her hardest to fight these creeps off of me. I feel terrible for that boy because I know how it feels to be singled out for no apparent reason and to have everyone else act like they never saw a thing, and it's not fun. I also thought about, "What if that was Jude? What if he had been that kid," and it gave me chills when my very next thought was "I would have killed those boys." That thought was only further validated when my mother just outwardly said, "You know, the day you were attacked, I went looking for that boy, and I meant I was going to kill him." I count myself blessed that I have a mother who loves me that much, and I guess I'm grateful that fool on the bus had the sense to run, or otherwise, Jude and I might have vacationed in Parchman this week instead of Gluckstadt. God obviously looks after fools and children.

Well, I want to post something light-hearted in this section, but Geez! That last paragraph is pretty loaded! Oh, here's something. A few weeks ago, a deer jumped out in front of my Jetta, and now Frau Jetta is back in the shop. This is the second time she has taken up residence at Barnett Body Shop, and I can't for the life of me understand why it couldn't be the van instead! The Jetta has been my most favorite car I've ever owned, yet she's the one I've torn up the most. My Honda never had one scratch, and that God forsaken Ranger I drove back in college could not and would not die, bad as I wanted it to. But that Jetta? I just keep putting her in harm's way for some reason. Ridiculous. Anyway, I hope to have her back soon, especially since my mom has loaned me her ride, a Nissan Versa which looks not unlike a clown car. (Every time I drive it, I feel like at least ten more people should pile up in there with me.) Don't get me wrong. I'm grateful to have the set of wheels. And for those wondering how my mother is getting around, Fret not. She's got her brand new Cadillac to get her from point A to point B. Evidently, she has really taken to Madison County living! I'm happy for her, but seriously, could she not offer up the Caddy, even for one day? How tacky!

Thursday, August 1, 2013


This summer, I somehow managed to accomplish little and much all at the same time. I wish I had even one week longer of summer vacation, but unfortunately, after next week, it's back to Holmes for Year Eight of my career. All and all, I think I can look back and feel proud of what I have done this summer, even if most of it is still in progress.

1. Weight--For years--YEARS--I've struggled with my weight. As it turns out, I realized that my weight gain from seven years ago was completely, totally, and utterly my fault. I ate the junk food, didn't drink the water, partook in carb-only meals, etc. No one made me do it. Sure, I worked out all the time and even took up running (which has become my all time favorite pastime), but no weight loss ever came. I prided myself in gaining only the recommended 25-35 pounds during pregnancy which quickly fell off in less than a year post partum. But truth still remained. Even without the pregnancy weight, I was still heavy, flabby, and downright dumpy.

This summer, I got plenty sick of myself that I made a change. I cut the carbs, the fats, the Cokes, the sugar, etc., and four weeks into the program, I have lost 13 pounds. Funny thing is...I don't even miss that junk! Now, I choose healthy vegetables, sensible proteins (even though this vegetarian finds this part quite challenging, though not impossible), and drink more water in a day than I probably ever have in my life. I feel great. Am I where I want to be on the scale? No. I still have a little over halfway to go before I reach my goal weight. However, I'm finally seeing the light. I no longer feel stuck in the overweight category. In fact, according to my BMI, I about .8 away from being in the "Normal" range of weight. I have complete faith that I will get there, and to think four weeks ago, I had just about lost hope.

2. Writing--I want to be a writer. Like, really bad. I don't want to be a blog writer, although I find this fun. I want to be a serious story-teller. I don't know how to break into the business, and I don't know whom all I need to know to get there. However, I do know this. I need to create a story. A story that I can proudly put my name on and send out to the masses. I need to accept rejection. I need to realize that sometimes it takes first being vulnerable before great things will come. Therefore, I'm taking the logical first step. I started a new story, and I made a friend, one who has published, who offered to critique my work. A small step, I know, but for me who is usually afraid of rejection, a big one. I discovered this summer that I have stories, ones I think others will enjoy. What with my job and child, the process is sure to be slow, but just as I can see myself finally reaching my goal weight, so too can I do this, or at least die trying.

3. Reading--At the beginning of the summer, I had the goal to read ten-twenty books. Yeah, that did not happen. As it turns out, teaching three summer classes really takes it out of a girl! I succeeded in reading 1/2 of a novel I started after Spring Break and about 1/6 of one I just started, totaling not even one whole book. Oops. As I reflect, though, I don't look at this as a failure. Actually, this summer was quite productive what with teaching, weekend getaways, playing with toddlers, talking with Jeffrey, and hanging out with my newly remarried, newly relocated parents. Something had to take a backseat, and I guess reading lost. Besides, the 67% of book that I did read, I really enjoyed and am still enjoying. I've also made a new goal to read just a little every day, either during lunch break, Jude's nap time, first thing in the morning (ok, maybe that's pushing it), but I can do this.

4. Saving--Yesterday, I put a big chunk of money in my savings account, and it felt great. Of course, I didn't save nearly as much as I had originally planned, but my savings account is now significantly fatter than it was.  Also, I refinanced my house yesterday. Not only will my house  be paid off sooner (two whole months sooner, to be exact), but my interest rate is now significantly lower, and somehow, so is my house payment. Sweet.

Even though nothing got completely done this summer, I don't feel bad for what I have started. Because of these accomplishments, I look forward to the upcoming school year. I can enter Holmes this year a little lighter, a little more creative, a little more relaxed and educated, and a little richer. As my father often says, "Well, that's better than getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick!"

Friday, July 26, 2013

I, Jess Brown, Unapologetically Love...

It occurs to me on a semi-regular basis that I am not the coolest cat on the planet. I mean, hell, I just referenced a cat as a mark of awesomeness (which I do think cats are pretty awesome). Anyway, I lean toward the opinion that since I recognize that I'm somewhat of a less than ideal human being, doesn't that in and of itself earn me numerous cool points? In the last hour or so, I tallied up a few aspects of my life that people would make fun of me about; however, I can't help but love these quirky traits regardless. There are too many uncool aspects of my life to name, but here a few important ones that make me proud.

1.  Hootie and the Blowfish: I can remember where I was the first time I heard "Hold My Hand" (Disc Jockey at Pemberton Square Mall in Vicksburg, circa 1994). My Daddy bought me the CD then and there. I didn't even have to do extra chores. Later that year, my grandparents entered my sister and me in a contest, and I won two tickets to see them in concert--the first rock concert I ever attended without a parent next to me. Honestly, I'm not sure what was better--the concert itself or the t-shirt I bought and wore on my first day of 8th grade.

2. Not having (or wanting) a smart phone: In fact, I rarely check text messages, answer phone calls, or anything of the sort. I'll even take this a step further and admit that I rarely carry the crappy cell phone I do have, and if I'm carrying it, seven times out of ten, the battery is dead. If I need to look something up, I can either wait until I get home or find one of the millions of people attached to his smart phone and charm him into looking up the information for me. Charming somebody works 99.999 all of the time.

3. Knowing technology does not make one smarter: Dumber and lazier, maybe, but not smarter. Don't believe me? Sit in on one of my classes where students have cell phones, ipads, Kindles, laptops, and many other devices all at their disposal. My students know that the way to my heart is through the pages of an actual opened book.

4. Being frugal: Unlike most people I know, I pay cash for everything. In fact, the only debt my husband and I have is our mortgage, which will be paid off in ten years. We do not finance cars, clothes, home repairs, trips, or anything of the sort. If we can't cough up the cash, we can't afford it and therefore do not purchase it. Sure, I often wear last season's skinny jeans, and my car is one step above something the Flintstones would drive. As long as I have some money in the bank, I'll sport a Hypercolor t-shirt from Goodwill and ride a bicycle 30 miles to work if I have to.

5. My child's eating habits--I am OBSESSED with what my child eats. I comb through recipe books and the organic produce section trying to come up with creative and healthy dishes for Jude to try. Some of them he actually likes. It's actually become a favorite hobby of mine.

6. New Orleans--Sure it can smell bad and some have deemed it one of the most dangerous cities in the nation, but I love that place more than any other on Earth. Its culture, food, atmosphere, architecture, and shopping  make New Orleans a place I want to aspire to one day live.

7. Accepting something for what it is--Not too long ago, I innocently made a remark about Chik-Fil-A kids' meals. I like them because they offer grilled chicken and fruit, which makes me feel less guilty about giving Jude fast food in those times where I'm in a pinch. One person actually retorted with "Ugh--Gay Chicken," then went on to admit how guilty it feels to think about how good the food is. Aside from my obvious thought of "Bitch, please," I couldn't help but feel sorry for this person. What's there to feel guilty about? If you're hungry, eat. If you want chicken, a hand spun milkshake, waffle fries, and good service, go there.  That's about as difficult as it should get when it comes to choosing a fast food establishment. Chik-Fil-A is what it is--a local fast food joint. Why people feel they have to exercise their moral compasses over eating some damn chicken is beyond me.

So maybe I'll never win any popularity contests, but I can say this about myself. I have very little shame. I can also add much more to this list of what I love: creative messes, bathroom habits, dirty jokes, crazy folks, tattoos, singing in the grocery store etc. However, my last student just turned in his test, which means I can now pick up my baby and head home!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Dieting, Baby Feet, and Trayvon (guess I'll jump on the band wagon and weigh in)

To start off, I announced on Facebook that I started a diet a little over two weeks ago. I'm not sure why I felt the need to put it out there--maybe for accountability? Anyway, I had gotten to the point where I hated the following: shopping for clothes, going out to eat (because I felt I wouldn't be able to control myself), and looking at myself in the mirror. Anyone who knows me knows this: I'm a sensible shop-a-holic (meaning I pay in cash), eating in local restaurants makes me happy and lends interest to my social life, and I don't exactly call myself vain, but I like trying new make-up techniques, so I must look in a mirror often. When I got to the point where I felt too fat for any of my favorite pastimes, I felt as though I just plain hated myself. It's not that I had all of a sudden gained a ton of weight. Actually, over time, (since grad school if I had to pinpoint when this started), I gained the weight and have hovered over this large number on the scale for a number of years now. I finally just got sick of it, which meant time for a change.

On Facebook, my doctor's office had advertised a free interest meeting for a diet program called Ideal Protein. Of course, being a vegetarian, I thought, "There's no way I could stick to that--too much meat, I bet!" However, something (we'll call him God) urged me to go. A few days after seeing the ad, I dragged my mama with me down to Baptist hospital, and before I knew it, I had signed up for the program. (My mother, however, decided to sit it out and watch me do it first.) As it turns out, the diet is surprisingly vegetarian friendly. Sure, I have a bigger challenge than the other ladies who eat meat, but I'm finding it's not impossible to get in all the protein I need in a day. Also, I no longer crave the bad stuff--you know--the carbs and the fat. For example, I ventured out with my family this morning to the Jackson Zoo for the annual Ice Cream Safari, which is basically a big ol' frozen all-u-can-eat buffet, and I didn't have one bite. Did the ice cream look good? Oh, most definitely! Did I think about what it would taste like? You betcha! So what stopped me from eating? I simply was not hungry for any. Also, I knew I would get something more satisfying later. Anyway, two and a half weeks later, I'm down 10 pounds. I have 30 more pounds to go, so my journey to a better looking me is far from over. Regardless, I'm incredibly motivated to get there.

Moving along to the next topic...

If you've seen my son in the last six months, you know about this--his tip-toe walking. Jude will not put his heels on the ground to save his life. Seriously. He'd sooner die (at least that's the tone his wailing squalls have when we try to touch his heels to the ground). Of course, I've known this was a problem, especially since Jude was a late walker, but I have patiently waited to see if it would correct itself. I'm not the type of mother who flies off the handle over things. Actually, motherhood has had a calming effect on me. I think it's why I don't have a nervous baby. However,  it seems half of my surrounding population tells me, "Oh, I had a child who did the same thing. He'll grow out of it" while the other half feels he should be rushed to the orthopedic doctor and ready to go under for surgery. To say the people in my life who have weighed in on this matter brought nothing but annoyance to me is the biggest understatement since nude colored lipstick. I'm ready to just pop off and say, "Are you paying these doctor bills? Are you buying his shoes? Oh, you're not?  Have I asked you for your opinion? Then back off!" In all fairness, I've asked a few trusted souls for their opinions, so I'm not talking about them.

Anyway, Jeffrey and I have made a decision about what we will do concerning Jude's gait. Here it is: It's none of your business. Yes, we are taking care of the issue the way we see best. No, we are not "NOT" doing anything about it so no need to worry. We have been just as concerned this whole time about Jude's walking as everyone else has, but we also feel we shouldn't make a big deal about it in front of Jude so as not to give him a complex about himself. At his age, we want him to understand that he is perfectly Jude.

And finally...

I don't have much to say (but do I have some thoughts about it!) about the Trayvon Martin case, and you know why? Because I wasn't there when it all happened, much like everyone else I know. (Although, I'm willing to bet that Trayvon was not exactly showing that same precious smile from the picture of him the media put out when Zimmerman first encountered him. Oh, wait. I wasn't there. My bad.) I do know this, though, after being summoned to many many jury duties. The people selected for the jury do not take the process lightly. Also, the jury is shown every piece of evidence, and they listen intently before making a decision. And believe me, they make an informed decision. That's all I'm going to say about that.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Weigh In

No, this post isn't about weight, although you should know that I will be participating in a weight loss program at my doctor's office starting next Monday (when I get back from the beach--because foolish as I am to actually try to deprive myself of anything that tastes good, I at least have enough sense to start after I enjoy a shrimp po-boy or two.)

Actually, I'm writing as a follow up to the big shock I received New Year's Day--the one about my parents getting back together, later remarrying in early May, and finally relocating exactly 12.3 miles from my driveway a month ago.

I make it no secret that I wasn't exactly thrilled when I heard the big news. Shocked,worried, and weirded out actually better fit what I felt. While I don't recall either parent acting completely nasty to the other, (because I don't believe they would ever resort to that), I couldn't understand why they thought it was a good idea to get back together when so many years before, they had the bright idea to split up. (Ya'll can obviously tell that I'm not one of those glass-half-full people. I am, for better or worse, a realist.) I had gotten used to the eighteen-ish year reign of my parents' divorce, even though it's the only tragedy I'd ever experienced that even today, so many years later, I can't talk about all the way through without tearing up. However, the re-marriage and the move were happening whether I came on board or not.

Another thing I got nervous about was the move. My parents moved to Gluckstadt, which is the closest I've lived to either of them since I graduated from high school. I had gotten used to living somewhat on my own. (Here's a fun fact about me--I've never actually lived alone. Before college, I lived with one of my parents, during college, I always had roommates, and then I got married two weeks after finishing undergrad.) Throughout my adult life, I figured out how to take care of myself whenever I got sick, how to cook my own meals (after all, my mom was still just a phone call away), and how to raise my child without date nights and such. I took pride in those sort of things, so when my parents decided to move on in, I got a little scared of the change. My family's life was about to change. Now, I would just have to figure out some new routine even though I had what I thought was a quite perfect plan.

Now we're a month into this big change, and here's my assessment: It couldn't have gone better if we had tried. Now, I know why some kids move closer to their folks when they grow up. I enjoy getting to go to their house most days out of the week, mostly because Jude LOVES going to visit his Mimi and Grandpa Ron. A few weeks back, I got to actually go see my husband's rock band play, something I haven't gotten to do since I became a mother due to the fact that I don't have enough redneck in me to take a baby to a bar. My mother and I have had several impromptu outings since she's been here that usually involve a tasty lunch somewhere, and my dad and I have watched a lot of Milwaukee Brewers on T.V. They both have accompanied us to Jude's swim lessons, so now I have witnesses to my testimony that Jude will in fact be the next Michael Phelps. All in all, having the parents so close has ended up as a blessing for us.

I guess I just did what I do best--worried over nothing. However, I will weigh-in every so often about our arrangements, but for now, I see us only getting better.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Hold Your Fire

I've had this on my mind a while, but never thought to post about it until now. It's quite the southern tradition for fathers with daughters to threaten any boy's life who shows even a remote interest in their little princesses.

Now that I'm a mother to a son, I have some thoughts about this.

To those who may threaten Jude's life simply because he wishes to court your daughter, listen up!

His father and I will continue to work tirelessly to raise Jude right. Even just one month shy of two years old, Jude already knows to say "Please" and "Thank you". In fact, this weekend, he even said, "Yes Ma'am!"

He will learn how to treat women respectfully because his father sets that example in the way he treats me on a daily basis. Jude will witness a lot of things growing up in our house, but yelling, belittling, and hitting will not be among those things. While his father will primarily serve as Jude's chief role model, I too have a few things I intend to instill in him. Just as Jeffrey can show him how to treat a woman well, I will teach him about choosing the right kind of girl--the kind of girl who won't cuckold her man or stray from him because something "better" came along. That's the example I set for my son every day.

As far as worrying about whether Jude will put his hands all over your daughters and cause them shame, rest assured that if or when I find out about this imbecile behavior, I will snatch him bald-headed before you can even pull a trigger. However, bear in mind that he won't be the only one to blame in this scenario. It does take two to tango. Take comfort in knowing that when the time comes for Jeffrey and me to allow Jude to date, it's because we wholeheartedly trust that he can take a girl out and treat her with the utmost respect (but let's not confuse his respect for females with being a pushover).

Hopefully, if Jeffrey and I have done our jobs correctly, Jude will know when he gets to where he's old enough to date, he has picked a girl who has had a good raising like himself that engages in good conversation and loves life. And yes, I do hope he finds her pretty--both inside and out.

Jude does not come from the wealthiest family on the planet, but I can assure you he comes from one that loves him unconditionally and will stop at nothing to ensure his happiness and well-being.

Since I first found out Jude was going to be a boy, I have prayed that he will one day be a good husband and find a wife who loves him with everything she has. After all, Jude will eventually leave my nest to build his own. My realizing this is why I have a hard time around his birthday. Please realize that it may take a few relationships before he learns to recognize this sort of love.

Maybe instead of threatening bodily harm, you should stop and say a prayer or two that your daughters find some boy whose parents took a lot of time to think, pray, and discuss with their son about his future courtships. Just as Jeffrey and I lead by example, so do you. So in thirteen years or so, if you see Jude Brown driving down your driveway to pick up your daughter, just calm down and hold your fire.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Children's Literature As Told By a Cynic

Every night, I read Jude his bedtime story. Sometimes, I'll even read him two. This is one of my favorite parts of his routine as he loves a good story, and so do I. However, he does have his preferences, so like any good parent, I've taken to memorizing all of the favorites. Now, it's true that motherhood has changed me for the better, but there are those sarcastic parts of my psyche that still cling to me like barnacles to a ship. Even though, I love reading Jude his favorite books, sometimes I just can't help but to put that realist spin onto the story.

Take Pete the Cat, for example: A modern children's classic about a cat who, no matter what obstacle comes his way, chooses to always look on the bright side. One can find the lines "Does Pete cry? Goodness, no!" embedded in several parts of each book in the series.

Here's a brief excerpt from my version about the first book in the series where Pete continually steps in a pile of messes while wearing his brand new shoes:

...Oh no! 
Pete stepped in a large pile of....dog poop.
Did Pete cry? 
Hell yeah, he did! 
Those two pairs of Air Jordans didn't just fall out of the sky!...

And who can forget the classic nursery rhyme "Three Little Kittens"? Like Pete, a cat who hasn't figured out that he can walk all over God's creation sans footwear, the three kittens in this tale just keep on messing up the mittens they wear, much to their mama's dismay. 

Jeffrey and I have read this nursery rhyme to Jude since I was pregnant with him, so of course with that much practice in reading it, I've come up with my own version. Check out a snippet dealing with the aftermath of when the kittens ate pie while wearing their mittens:

..."Oh mother dear, see hear, see hear!
See, we have soiled our mittens!"
"Soiled your mittens?
You dumbass kittens!
What the hell's wrong with ya'll?"

Now, before anyone calls DHS on me for telling these stories to my child, bear in mind that I really do read the real versions of these to him and not the ones I make up. Jeffrey, however, gets an earful from me.

As bad as I want to be a published writer, I think it's safe to say that I can rule out a career in children's literature.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Stomp, Stomp!

I don't mean to step on any toes BUT....

Today marks exactly two weeks before the 2013 spring semester concludes, and what a wild ride it has been! This time of year proves less than ideal for me even with the promise of warmer weather, longer days, and brighter colors of the latest spring/summer styles. While most people might can take a breather or two to enjoy these aspects during this most glorious time of year, I have to hole up in my teaching cave, catch up on grading, and continue to convince my students that yes, in fact, we still have one more paper to compose and more objectives on the syllabus to cover. Crazy, I know!

So...since my stress level peak at this time of year (the other times occurring two weeks before Christmas holidays begin and two days before a summer session ends), I have decided to vent some of my frustrations through a blog post--most of the frustrations having nothing to do with school. I'll let you know at the end if I feel better.

Vent Session #1: T-shirts with those funky monogrammed pockets--This current trend makes my skin crawl.  I know some southern belle type (the type that has the accent and accessories but lacks the brains) thought it up because it would be just "too precious for words," which actually results in a finished product that looks like something a five year old would wear. Of course, I have strong convictions regarding wearing t-shirts in public anyway. Unless one sees me doing yard work (Ha), running, working out, or getting out of bed (though I don't generally  make that custom a public spectacle), he/she won't catch me in a t-shirt. Besides, a true southern lady would put forth a little more effort in her style beyond simply initialing the pockets of her t-shirts.

Vent Session #2: Second Chances--Chances are if someone asks you for a second chance, that means they've already received several for the same offense some time before your issue occurred. Just don't give it to him/her unless you want to witness the same offense again. We seem to be getting away from having others suffer the consequences when really, "suffering the consequences" is the reason I never received less than an A on a 9th grade art assignment after failing one I completed at the last minute while riding to school with my mother (who, incidentally, was the art teacher).

Vent Session #3: Liberal Politics--The older I get, the more I despise liberal politics. Somebody please show me a liberal who isn't name-calling/shouting/imploring scare tactics/down on his or her own luck and refuses to take responsibility/wasteful, and I may consider softening my stance a bit. In all fairness, though, I do like their art. Ted Nugent, while I admire his stance on guns, just never really did it for me on stage.

Vent Session #4: Paying for Other People's Children When I'm Doing Good to Pay for My Own--If someone wants to bang the stuffings out of any and everyone he/she chooses, by all means do so (only if the other party consents, of course), but I don't think I should have to pay for the child that might result from said choice. I teach day, night, online, and summer courses while my husband slaves over a computer during his "free" nights just so that we can provide our child with everything he needs and even a little of what he might want--food, clothing, shelter, and the best possible education our area offers. Maybe I sound like I'm on a high horse, and maybe I am, but the way I see it: I made the choice to get through school, then marry, then establish a career path, then have a baby just as someone else chose differently. Obviously, my paycheck came in yesterday, and I'm just a tad disgruntled that a third of what I earn goes to a bunch of meat-heads who dole some it out to people who made a less than ideal choice. Shoot. I'm a teacher married to a teacher, and I also suck at planning and math. However, if I can figure out how to make my money work for me without having to borrow or depend on anyone else, anybody can.

Vent Session #5: Poetry--Year after year, I realize more and more that for every good poem, about 5000 bad poems exist, and I'm not just talking about poems by students. (A few of those are actually good.) What's worse than bad poems? Surprisingly, not the poets themselves (although, they're pretty bad). No, it's the people who read them and sing all kinds of praises about them, but when asked what the poem means, they don't know except that the poet uses big words, so therefore, it must be good. Oh, Brother.

Anyway, that concludes my vent sessions for tonight. Keep in mind these opinions (look closely, and you'll notice I didn't try to pass them off as facts) belong solely to me. I do not speak for anyone else. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Warning: It's Not a Funny One

This morning on Facebook, I looked at my newsfeed and saw where a "friend" (meaning Facebook friend--haven't seen the person in years) posted an article about Mississippi's abortion clinic remaining open with her own caption that read "Great news for Mississippi."

I promptly unfriended her.

This is not great news for Mississippi. In fact, this is terrible news. I make no secret to anyone who asks about my stance on abortion. I am wholeheartedly pro-life. I hate how pro-choice supporters throw around that phrase "Women's Rights" as if  we pro-lifers are so backwards in our thinking. Maybe they do support women's rights more than I do, but I'm for the rights of everyone, including unborn babies, and yes, women. I just don't feel anyone should have rights at the expense of another person. So no, I'm not backwards in my thinking.

Now, back to the Facebook post: another person responded to this "great news" by proclaiming how everyone should be supportive of this judicial decision, pro-choice or not. After all, this gives women an opportunity to have a "safe" abortion, and that's what's important--keeping these women safe. Hmmm....so if I decide Jeffrey's comic book collection and sci-fi nerd impersonation (which sounds worse than nails on a chalkboard, I assure you) becomes more than I can handle, will the government provide me a safe place to kill him? I mean, hey, I am a woman, and I want my rights! (By the way, I don't wish to kill my husband. He takes out the trash and does laundry. I would be a fool to off him.) See what I mean? Exercising my "rights" would deny Jeffrey his, just like it would deny that baby his/her rights.

I have toyed around with the idea of becoming a volunteer who talks to pregnant women considering abortion. Every year, I feel a stronger urge to do it. At one point I inquired at my church and was told that it was extremely heart wrenching work, but I should do it if I felt led. Honestly, I didn't feel led at the time, maybe because I didn't have my own children then, and I wouldn't have been emotionally equipped to handle it.. Fast forward several years later, and I think I need to make a few phone calls. This issue nears closer to my heart with every abortion post I see.

I realize this debate will not end in my lifetime. However, while I'm here, I should take a stand. People may wonder why I didn't argue with this person on her Facebook wall, but why should I? She had every right to post her thoughts on her own wall; my response to her would have only fueled an ugly debate, nothing would have been resolved, and everyone would have walked away as angrier and nastier people. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Clothes Shopping

How many times can I claim the "Mother of the Year Award"? They may as well just engrave my name on it, hand it off to me, and everyone else should just stop trying to claim it. So Ladies, find another challenge to conquer!

My latest episode of maternal greatness has to do with Jude's spring/summer wardrobe or more appropriately, lackthereof. Yes, I think we can safely say that we have left winter behind us, which only means humidity, heat,  and even more humidity. If you don't believe me, take a drive over to Canton, MS and look at my hair. Anyway, my son has no spring/summer clothes except for his Easter outfit, but who in their right mind would send a toddling almost two year old boy to the baby-sitter's in yellow seersucker?!?

Luckily, Jude's 12 month shorts still fit. Sort of. All of his shorts fit in the waist perfectly, but if I'm being honest, my son is sporting Daisy Dukes. Luckily, he doesn't know to feel embarrassment over this. He will when I show him the pictures, though. I desperately need to make a trip or two to Baby Gap before someone thinks I'm trying to make some sort of statement by dressing my son in hot pants. Please. Conservatism oozes from me like grease drips from a Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza.

As soon as I get some free time, like at the end of the week, I shall take my boy shopping. He will be the best dressed kid this side of the Mississippi. Until then, he'll just have to keep emulating the style of Freddy Mercury.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Stranger Things Have Happened

The title above = my latest mantra. I find myself repeating this a lot as of late. An elephant has been sitting in a figurative corner of  my world for a while now, and I think I should finally talk about it. My parents have decided to get married. To each other. Again.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Boy Genius

I took today off to hang out with Jude. Those who know me know that I don't take off work for anything. However, tomorrow Jeffrey and I will be traveling to the Delta with the Creative Writing students and won't return home until around 10 that night. My mother is going to come through Goodman tomorrow afternoon and keep him until we get back. However, Jude will more than likely fall asleep before we return home, so I was a little bummed that I wouldn't see my baby until the following day. So when Ms. Lily, Jude's baby-sitter, said she wouldn't be able to keep Jude today, I decided I wouldn't look too hard for a replacement.

Despite today's cruddy weather, we had the best time. We ate scrambled eggs and raspberries (Jude's new favorite food) for breakfast, took a walk to the post office to mail off the bills, came home and played trains and bus, then took a ride to Fondren to pick up a painting Jeffrey and I had bought a few weeks back, ate lunch at Quizno's (one of my favorites), shopped at Kroger, took nice long naps, read some stories, played trains and bus again, and ended the day with swimming lessons, tacos, and frozen yogurt. I rocked the whole "Stay at Home Mom" thing like no one's business.

One of Jude's favorite activities is reading stories. That boy loves a book. He might even prefer them to his trains and bus. Now he won't just settle for any book. He has to pick it out. It's been this way since he could crawl. In the last month or two, he's been able to say some of the book titles, or at least his versions of the book titles (For example, "Hop  Pop Pop" for "Hop on Pop" or "Seep Seep" for "Sleep,  Baby, Sleep"). One of his favorite books is the Dr. Seuss classic "Hop on Pop." He could listen to me read that all day. On the page that says "Him, Jim, Jim is after him," it never fails that Jude will explode into giggles. It's been that way since infancy. I really don't know why that particular page gets him so tickled.

Today, however, our ritual "Hop on Pop" reading presented me with a pleasant surprise. After I finished reading it to him, I told him to find me another book to read. He just kept holding "Hop on Pop" instead. Just when I thought to myself, "If I have to read this blasted book one more time..." Jude opened it, and said "Walk Walk." I looked at the page he had opened to, and sure enough, it said "Walk Walk." "Weird," I thought. Then he turned back to the first page and said "Pup," which is actually the first word of the book. Then he flipped some more pages and read "Heeee," which was the first word on that page. Of course, I got into it; I started turning to different pages to see what words he would say, and he would say at least one word on just about every page (except for the end of course--his pronunciations of  "Constantinople and Timbuktu" still need a little more work).

I still can't believe what I saw and heard. My child at 21 months was reading. Of course, he hears that story multiple times a day, so he probably just memorized, but then again, he was turning the pages out of order and still knew what was on them. I didn't know he could do that. So you tell me: Boy Genius, or what?

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Extra Work

Last year, I read an article on MSN that gave suggestions on how to earn a little extra money. Being the avid shopper that I am, said article piqued my interest. Most of the suggestions, however, fell beyond what I was willing to do. One item of the article even suggested coming on as adjunct faculty at a local community college. Ummm...I already do that full-time, so no, that would not work for me.

I had pretty much written off the article as crap and decided that, if I wanted to earn some extra money beyond the paycheck awarded to me on the second to last working day of every month, then I would just keep my eyes and ears open for possibilities. I had also resolved to just feel grateful that I had full time employment, and that the only debt I have is my mortgage, which we'll pay off several years before Jude starts driving. Believe me, I know people who have it much worse than I do, so if opportunities to bring home a little extra bacon don't routinely fall at my feet, we won't starve or go into foreclosure. Even so, I always feel guilty about spending money on frivolous things. I love frivolous things. After all, I am the girl who flat out refuses to enter a Wal-Mart. Therefore, earning a little extra money would possibly make the guilt I feel toward frivolity subside if only a little bit.

Jeffrey, however, is the king of financial opportunities. It's the musician in him. He regularly gigs and writes music on top of teaching full-time. In fact, he does so well with his side jobs that we usually end up owing the government come tax season. That's right. Two teachers apparently make too much money according to the government. Anyway, the only problem with Jeffrey picking up all of these odd jobs is that he constantly works.Whereas I've been able to use my time at home playing with a baby or reading a good book, Jeffrey sits at a computer or plays at some seedy bar. Of course, he never complains, and certainly he has never pressured me to pick up some of the slack.

However, I wanted to help alleviate some of the strain; I just didn't know how. Then back in January, an opportunity presented itself. I received a call from the Director of Evening Programs on the Ridgeland campus of Holmes asking me to teach an eight week English composition course two nights a week. I would get paid the same as if I was teaching one night a week for sixteen weeks. (This is in addition to my salary.) Also, I already teach some eight week classes on the Goodman campus, so I already know how they flow. I gave the opportunity some thought, talked it over with Jeffrey, and finally made a commitment to do it.

I am concluding Week 2 of the course and so far, so good. The class is much smaller than what I am used to, so grading will be a cinch. Also, I now have only six weeks to go! Even though it takes a good bit of time to prepare and a three hour a day course can be daunting, I know I will be glad at the end when I see that extra money. Perhaps we will take a vacation, or maybe I'll use some of the money to finally get those Tory Burch sandals I've had my eye on for years now! Regardless, I feel glad that I can bring in an extra paycheck so that my family can enjoy a little fun every now and then. Funny how a full-time community college professor can supplement her income by teaching a course she already teaches in her day job. Maybe that MSN article was on to something after all!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ole Miss

It should come as no surprise to anyone that I'm raising Jude as an Ole Miss fan. Besides loving the works of William Faulkner-- Oxford's native son-- beyond what is normal and earning my degree there, I met his Daddy at Ole Miss, accepted my marriage proposal in the Circle somewhere between Ventress and Bryant Hall, got married in Paris-Yates Chapel, and began the first few weeks of married life still living in Oxford with my then new husband. For many reasons, Ole Miss will always remain my favorite place on Earth. I may never live there ever again, but I do have hopes that Jude will some day, even if only for those four glorious years (or six if he's anything like his father--Jeffrey never did believe in rushing through his college experience, but then again, he did graduate cum laude).

This past Sunday, our family, with the exception of the Weezy-cat, donned our red and blue in support of the NCAA tournament. I dressed Jude in his Ole Miss fleece jacket, Colonel Reb shirt, Ole Miss pants, and Ole Miss tie up shoes. Yes, some brilliant mind thought up the concept of embroidering the Ole Miss logo on white baby shoes bringing completion to Jude's ensemble. Call me biased, but Jude sports the whole Ole Miss look like no one's business. Red and blue suit him. Unfortunately, his overall dapper appearance served as no kind of good luck charm for our Rebels as they lost to LaSalle in the last two seconds of the game. Oh well. There's always next year.

I really shouldn't care where Jude goes to college so long as he goes. I will love him no matter what he decides, and that goes beyond where he chooses to further his education. Of course a third generation Ole Miss Alum would do me proud, but ultimately, I just want him to be happy. Since he hasn't the capability to make those choices right this second, I will continue to dress him in rebel rags and encourage him to proclaim "Hotty Toddy" at any given moment.

No matter where he goes, I think he will have a place in his heart for Ole Miss because without that fine institution, who knows if Jeffrey and I would have ever met. I argue that Ole Miss is as big a part of Jude's history as it is mine and Jeffrey's. As I said before, I'll support Jude no matter what, although I'll admit it will sting if he chooses to trade red and blue for maroon and white, or worse, purple and gold.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Blessing on a Coffee Mug

Every time I open my "cup cabinet," a new mug or glass or plastic cup from some restaurant seems to find its way in there. Somehow, this cabinet shares the same parentage as the bag from "Mary Poppins" because I have no idea how all of these cups fit in there. As I peer into the cabinet, I'm reminded of a time nine years ago when Jeffrey and I stood in the households department of excitedly scanning (and unscanning) the perfect glassware, flatware, dinnerware, etc. Unsurprising to all, I found myself more concerned with making everything precisely match to mine and Jeffrey's personalities than Jeffrey, as he just wanted to point the scan gun and shoot. People from near and far proved beyond generous since we did score everything we asked for on our wedding registry, and not to mention, additional gift cards and cash and such. Of course that first year of wedded bliss and making our first home visually reflect the perfection we found in our marriage has over the span of almost nine years proved incredibly futile. Forget Waterford goblets and let's get real here. Want something to drink? Just grab whatever Newk's or Mugshots cup you can get your hands on. Almost nine years of marriage and one baby later, no one gives two cents about whether or not the cup you're drinking from matches the Fiestaware (now chipped, by the way). The other day, I came across one coffee mug in particular. I guess one of us had gotten it for Christmas because its overall look did not appear as something Jeffrey nor I would have bought for ourselves. (Plus, as previously insinuated, the only cups we buy for ourselves as of late come from whatever they serve us at Newk's or Mugshots.)The coffee mug states in cutesy bold letters, "Whoever came up with the phrase 'Sleep like a baby' obviously has never had a baby." At first, I just kind of snickered and went on about drinking my coffee. However, about the third time I drank coffee from that mug, I got to thinking beyond just the "Truer words were never spoken" remark. After all I do hold two degrees in English which automatically makes me an expert at overanalyzing anything, including a blade of grass. Seriously, though, how ingenious is it to print such words on a coffee mug? Before Jude, I had not enjoyed a cup of coffee in two years! I didn't drink coffee at all while I was pregnant with Jude because I totally eliminated caffeine from my diet (yes, I know pregnant women are allowed a little caffeine, but I went cold turkey, and bear in mind that I did have a perfect pregnancy. Note that I said "pregnancy." Labor and delivery proved a bit less than ideal.)The year before I became pregnant, I wanted to get pregnant so badly that I did everything I could to keep my body as healthy as possible, so I cut caffeine out completely. Also, I had perfectly white teeth. Now that the baby is here and has been for going on 22 months, I cannot live without my coffee! One and sometimes two or three cups a day will do me just fine. I have found two aspects about parenthood that no one could prepare me for--the erratic sleep patterns and the amount of love one can have for her child. I didn't need that coffee then, but boy do I need it now! The mug said something else to me as well. There are two kinds of adults in this world: parents and nonparents. For years, I wanted to transition from nonparent to parent. Years ago, if I had seen the words on that mug, I would have rolled my eyes, muttered some sort of downer comment, and celebrated a teeny pity party about how I might never become a mother. I still feel the sting of that past sometimes. However, now I look at the words on that mug and think, "I completely understand. I'm finally part of what so many have talked up for so long." It makes me happy to drink out of that mug and read those words on it the same way it does when I see Jude's toys take over every room of my house. I'm finally a mama, and perhaps that's why I don't feel bothered when someone asks, "When are you going to have another one?" Believe me, comments like that are much less biting than just "When are you going to have a baby?" I know one day, I won't need as much coffee and my pearly white teeth will resurface, but for now I'll keep on drinking my coffee in a mug with words that clearly reflect why I need the coffee in the first place. I couldn't feel more grateful for it, either.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Separate Ways

This weekend will not be the first I've spent without Jude. Just a few weeks ago, I went to Natchez for work and left Jude and Jeffrey to their own devices. I came back home to find junk food in the fridge, the television on, and the stench of testosterone wafting through the air. It was a man weekend in deed, and did those two have a blast! Almost a year ago, Jeffrey and I celebrated our wedding anniversary in New Orleans. We opted to take advantage of the free baby-sitting services offered by Jude's Nana and Pops. This event occurred back before Jude had mastered sleeping through the night, so Jeffrey and I slept for most of the trip, and I must say, it proved as one of our better anniversaries! The fact that I didn't return home pregnant once again only added to the success of the trip. (Don't get me wrong. We want more children, and now that Jeffrey and I do have full nights of sleep, we have opened up our minds to the possibility now.) This weekend, Jeffrey and I are packing up and headed to Saint Louis. I have never gone to Saint Louis before, and I'm pretty excited, even though Jeffrey has been and didn't like it the time he went. Anyway, we scored some tickets to see Muse, and believe me, a rock concert is no place for a baby. Therefore, Nana and Pops will bring Jude home with them to enjoy the weekend. Jude will also be heading to New Orleans with them for a few family festivities. I knew the time would come when Jude would go to New Orleans without us. However, I just assumed he would go at twenty-one years, not twenty-one months. I know he will have a great time, get spoiled beyond belief, and party it up with his binge banana eating and whole milk shots. Our trips have not even happened yet, and I miss him already. I know that Jeffrey and I will have a wonderful time in Saint Louis. We always have a blast when we travel. Also, a weekend with just us always seems to recharge my soul, but still. I sure will miss my Baby Jude!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Family Traditions

I don't claim to adhere to any specific family traditions. For me, no two Christmases have been the same. Sometimes we go to church on Christmas Eve, and sometimes we go Christmas Day. Some years, I spent Christmas with my dad, some my mom, some both, and in my adult life,

Monday, January 28, 2013


Tomorrow night marks another first for Jude and his parents--Jude's first baby-sitter who is not a relative. I put this moment off for as long as I could, and I certainly didn't come to this decision lightly. Jeffrey and I each received for our birthdays a ticket to see Blue Man Group at Thalia Mara Hall tomorrow night. We both have seen the Blue Man Group perform before, and we look forward to seeing them again. Usually, when Jeffrey and I have a date night, a set of grandparents swoops in to care for the child. However, with the concert on a week night, one set of grandparents has to go to work in the morning and the other set (the ones who gave me and Jeffrey the tickets) decided that the tickets were such a good gift that they would buy tickets for themselves and go with us. That left Jeffrey and me on a quest to find the perfect baby-sitter. I had a list in my head of potential candidates for the job. He/she would have to love babies (obviously), be prepared to encounter whatever digusting situation (i.e. dirty diaper, messy meal time, spit, snot etc.) a baby will inevitably present in the few hours we are gone, deal with an upset baby, and give a baby undivided attention until said baby falls asleep (which may not necessarily be at his usual bed time, hence the disruption in his routine). I decided against one of my Sunday School kids since I figured we would get back kind of late for a school night, plus I don't know if any of them would be up for changing diapers. Then I finally decided I would ask my work study at school. She has a toddler brother that she cares for often, and she lives pretty close to us. I decided I would ask her as soon as we returned from Christmas holidays. (We got our birthday presents early.) Of course, school did not get off to a predictable start. We had three snow days in one week, and I didn't get a chance to see my work study then. Later in that week, Jeffrey and I decided to take Jude to one of our basketball games since I teach so many of the players and Jude generally just likes to be out and about. While at the game, one of Jeffrey's students came up to see us and play with Jude. Jude absolutely loved her. He laughed and flirted the entire game. At one point she took him to the concession stand and he never even whimpered, never even missed me! Needless to say, we hired her, and she will arrive at our house tomorrow night at 6:00. While I think she will do a great job and have a good time hanging out with Jude, I am still a nervous wreck. What if Jude misses me or needs me? What if he starts crying when I leave and doesn't stop? What if I get home and he's sat in a dirty diaper for hours on end? Of course, this girl won't do things exactly the way I will. Heck, I'm hoping she'll do better! I've already decided that I would go ahead and get Jude bathed and in pajamas before she arrives, and I would put him in disposable diapers instead of his usual cloth ones. For dinner, I will fix homemade chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and broccoli (still trying to come up with dessert). I think that menu is something both babies and college students can enjoy. She'll have to feed him his dinner because of the time we have to leave, but like Weezy-cat, Jude pretty much loves whoever has the plate of food. Last night and tonight, Jeffrey and I have spent cleaning the house from top to bottom because part of my nervousness comes from not wanting her to go back and tell her friends, mutual students of mine and Jeffrey's, that the Browns have a nasty house. Anyway, I hope everything goes well and that we all can enjoy our evening. I realize in the grand scheme of things that hiring a baby-sitter is pretty insignificant--until you hire one for your child, that is!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Oh My Lord at the Drama, Folks!

I think all of my readers know that most of the waking part of my day includes educating mostly underachieving freshmen with a few suck-ups sprinkled in the mix. I find my job extremely rewarding because not only do I give instruction on composing various essays, but I also act as a surrogate parent to some of these folks--even the students older than me! In a writing classroom, one can only imagine the confessions, problems, and lifestyle changes students feel necessary to incorporate into one of my essay assignments. Some of it is downright disturbing, too. However, so long as the content meets my criteria and does not make me want to hurl from all the grammar/mechanic/usage errors, I take it in stride, knowing that at 3:30 p.m. Mon-Thursday and at noon on Fridays, I can go home, play with a baby, read a good book, and maybe watch a funny show or two after I put the baby to sleep all the while not thinking about the drama that unfolds in my students' lives until 8:00 the next morning. I like to think of my home as a safe haven from all the problems the outside world has. Inside the walls of that 1924 craftsmen style home, a family of four (counting the Weezy-cat--I did not have another baby)lives with very little conflict. Jeffrey and I don't really fuss and fight. Sure, we disagree on stuff, but we can easily reach a compromise just about all of the time. Jude generally presents us with his good nature. The only times he really cries occur when he's hungry or hurt. The rest of the time, he laughs, plays, and just has himself a good ol' time. Even as a tiny baby, he seemed quite content with life. To say I'm blessed is a big understatement. God has blessed me beyond measure, and while I feel undeserving, I'll certainly take it. One of the things I used to enjoy coming home to was--believe it or not, folks--my computer. Yes, I sit in front of a computer while at work, but my own personal computer allowed me to guiltlessly check Facebook and update this blog. After Jude would go down for the night, I would creep into the den (located just outside his nursery), log in to Facebook and read all the happenings of all of my "friends" (because some of those people I haven't seen since God was a boy, but I was still interested in keeping up with them all the same. If I had the words, I may have pecked out a blog entry to finish up computer time. Then after I felt Jeffrey had sufficient "Man Cave" time, I would sit and watch T.V. with him until I could no longer hold my eyes open. Lately, however, my attitude toward my home computer down time has changed. How Facebook used to provide me with endless entertainment has now turned into a drama network that I find myself having less and less interest in perusing.I have read posts from people my age and people older than me that belittle their spouses, use God as an avenue to brag about all they have when really, it appears they belong to the religion of Materialism, report their obviously terrible decisions yet lash out against anyone who questions them, and other commentary I find absolutely distasteful. Do not even get me started on politics. Everyone who knows me knows my political views. I don't need to vent them on Facebook. I guess the logical thing for me to do in order to purge this annoyance from my life would be taking myself off of Facebook. However, I still have some friends whose pages remain interesting. For example, I have a friend who shares her kindergartener's recounts of his days at school that always have me rolling with laughter, and another friend consistently documents her running regimens which I find inspiring since I too love to run. I also get those occasional surprise posts on my wall from people I don't interact with much, but when they do post on my wall or make a comment on my status, I feel really good about myself. So, no, I don't necessarily want to leave Facebook. The pleasure has not entirely abandoned me. The other solution might consist of unfriending. Several months ago, I did unfriend someone because I thought she was rude and obnoxious. I didn't really care until she brought that mess to my Facebook wall, and then I had to say myself, "Self, why are you friends with her? You haven't seen her since Moses crossed the Red Sea, so get rid of her!" I did just that and haven't missed her. Unfortunately, however, some of these posts that have bothered me recently belong to people that I really do care about. Some of these people I converse with outside of Facebook, which is probably why I feel so bothered. However, if I knew them solely by what they put on Facebook, I probably wouldn't like them at all. For now, I'm visiting Facebook a lot less than I used to, and I think I will give it up completely for Lent (even though that was so two Lenten seasons ago). Maybe someone views my posts as equally horrifying, too. I realize that could happen, and that's ok. All I am saying is my interests are no longer invested in reading such crap anymore.

Friday, January 11, 2013


I realize it has been a minute since my last post. Certainly, I don't consider myself one of those "super-blogger" people. I post as I have time and material worthy of reading. Hopefully, my faithful reader will find this post worthy. In the past few months, I've watched my baby become a little boy. Probably, this little boy thing has been happening for a while, but I can finally bring myself to utter somewhat audibly, "my little boy" instead of "my baby." But oh, do those words taste bitter! I do enjoy Jude at this 19 month age, although every month has been "my favorite month ever" of his life. However, this stage of his childhood really is fun. He talks more, plays more, figures things out more, and sleeps through the night more (exactly a year ago, I really believed I would never sleep again). This week alone, he's hit several milestones. Last night I worked with him on how and when to say "Thank you." After all, every southern mama must instill manners in her boy. He seemed to grasp it, said "Thank you" twice when I would hand him something, but I wasn't convinced he really understood since I was handing him toys over and over and over again and only two times heard the words. Then tonight at Fresh Market, while I had gone to the restroom, Jeffrey handed him part of a cookie, and Jude said, "Thank you" in the same sing song voice I had used teaching him the night before. Also tonight at dinner, Jude at random picked up his spoon, shoveled some food on it, lifted it up, and put it in his mouth with no mess at all. He used perfect coordination, and I was floored. Of course, he only did that twice. The rest of the time, he used his hands or waited for me to feed him with the spoon. A few days ago, Jude left the den in the back of our house and returned with our Ipad. The Ipad was stored up on the window seat at the front of the house. To get there, Jude had to go through the swinging door, open the door to Jeffrey's man cave (the room with the window seat), climb the couch, grab the Ipad, and basically go through those same obstacles to get back to the den. He also did this in a matter of seconds. He does repeat much more of what Jeffrey and I say, which basically boils down to Jeffrey nor I should ever really speak to the child until he's 18. He has a full set teeth, has had those for a while, and he shows a lot of affection to Jeffrey and me as well as some of his stuffed animals. Yep. He's hit every developmental milestone right on target, if not ahead of schedule. Except one. Jude still doesn't walk. Don't get wrong. The kid is mobile. He crawls faster than the government can spend. He can also stand while holding on to something and move around that way. But as far as Jude standing on his own and walking, it's not happening at the moment. I wouldn't allow myself to be concerned because I know that every child is different. I found it quite annoying (still do, even) when anyone makes comments about his lack of walking. I just want to say, "Yeah. I know he doesn't walk, and I know he stands on his tip toes and won't put his feet flat on the ground. Maybe he's practicing for Toddlers and Tiaras. Hell, I'll still love him anyway!" Not that I don't think anyone's concerns didn't come from a place of love. I know they did. However, I never want to be one of those mothers who completely flips out when her child is less than perfect. Although, I do believe that Jude is perfectly Jude. However, with every passing month, I do become more and more concerned. My child has hit EVERY milestone he should EXCEPT walking. His pediatrician thinks he is just scared, and the doctor could be right. Jude is a cautious child. However, I can tell now that he wants to walk, and he's trying, but he can't. Therefore, Jeffrey and I have decided to take Jude to another doctor for a second opinion. We hope we can get Jude walking soon because we know he would discover a whole new realm of the world standing on two feet. Yes,I know he will not go to kindergarten still moving on all fours, but we just want to help him the best way we know how.