Friday, November 13, 2009

Listen to Your Body!

OK girls. We can tell when our kids are sick just by looking at them. Now Dr. Oz has given us information on how to catch the hidden killer that lurks inside us. Ovarian Cancer. My grandmother died from this disease, and I don't want to lose anyone else to it. So pay attention!

Here are 6 symptoms that can point to this disease:
1. Bloating
2. Increased abdominal size
3. Abdominal pain
4. Pelvic pain
5. Difficulty Eating
6. Feeling Full Quickly

If you have any or all of these symptoms for more than a couple of weeks.... If these are new symptoms for you..... If they are occurring consistently OR off and on 50% of the time....
Call Your Doctor. Don't let them blow you off w/ irritable bowel, urinary tract infections, traditional cysts, etc. Ask for a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. Don't be silenced by a prescription. Go in informed, ask questions and push for them to listen.

When ovarian cancer is caught early it has a 90% cure rate. Caught late it drops dramatically to 20% !!!!!! And don't think this is a disease for older women. Dr. Oz had a lady on his show who was 31 and pushed her doctors for a year to find what was wrong with her. She was diagnosed early and a year later is cancer free!

Breast Cancer has self exams and mammograms. Colon cancer has the colonoscopy. Know how to spot the signs of this cancer that hides deep inside us. You are your best advocate. Speak up!
I love you all. Stay Healthy.

Monday, October 5, 2009

He does learn things....

My boy is so different from my first-born Julia. 1 - he's a boy; and B - he's a lefty. But going even deeper than that, Julia always came home from school and told us what she was learning. She would ask for "learning time" when she was little (this included all kinds of flash cards and educational games). But then there is the boy. We would try to teach him his letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc. when he was in preschool, but it seemed like he just couldn't figure it out. And when he came home and I asked the standard question "what did you learn today?" his response would be "stuff." So needless to say, early on we were worried. All it took to allay our fears was a conference with his teachers. We went in and said, "please tell me he knows something!" and they just laughed and said "he's ahead of everyone!"

Fast forward three years and we arrive in first grade. I still have to go into his notebook and see if he has done his homework right so that I know that he is learning stuff. And I can tell that his reading level is above average because of the library books he brings home. (and he can read most everything on the DirecTV guide!) But the best news we have received about him came at his most recent parent-teacher conference when his teacher told us she had been collecting and documenting his work for the past 6 weeks to refer him for testing into the Quest program for the gifted at his school.

So not only does he learn "stuff" at school, apparently he's pretty good at it!
I'll quit worrying about him and just be happy that he is his own little person.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


This came to me in an email. It made me laugh out loud!

(1)Fine: This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.
(2)Five Minutes: If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.
(3)Nothing: This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.
(4)Go Ahead: This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!
(5)Loud Sigh: This is not actually a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)
(6)That's Okay: This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That's okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.
(7)Thanks: A woman is thanking you, do not question, or faint. Just say you're welcome. (I want to add in a clause here - This is true, unless she says 'Thanks a lot' - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say 'you're welcome'. that will bring on a 'whatever').
(8)Whatever: Is a woman's way of saying 'Screw You!'
(9)Don't worry about it, I got it: Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking 'What's wrong?' For the woman's response refer to # 3.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Do I Have To?

Have you ever been sitting in church, or Sunday school, or a small group and have someone suggest that the group commit to reading this or praying for that? And all you can really think is "Do I have to?" really God, "Do I have to?"

Well, I found myself in that very position last Saturday. It was a great idea. The couples would read the Bible and pray together everyday. But I just didn't want to. It's summer time. Russel is busy. I have the kids by myself.

The next day my husband acts as my conscience and pulls out his Bible and asks me, "Are you ready?" and reluctantly I say "yes." But it's good. We read. We discussed. We prayed. And the next night we did the same thing, and I was a little less reluctant. Tonight I am actually kinda looking forward to it.
1 Peter, we are in chapter 2 now.

So, fine. I will submit. Now if I can just learn to do it willingly.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Friday, July 3, 2009

Things I didn't learn in kindergarten, or high school, or college for that matter.

We were recently shopping in Macon when I came across a book that got my attention. It's title: "How to Read Literature Like a Professor." I had to have this book. I had to see if I still "have it," you know? Because as much as I hate to admit it, I have been out of school for ten years and my analytical skills are a bit dusty.

But as I was reading this wonderful book that brought back so many memories, something else struck me..... even though I did graduate knowing these things, it was only through my own experience and curiosity.

But why, I wondered, did my professors, who were charged with preparing me to teach literature, not make sure that I knew these things? Why was this not a required class before graduation? And for that matter why was the grammar class optional?! Lucky for me I was good at grammar and had a wonderful teacher in middle school who taught me all I ever needed to know. This enabled me to help the rest of my ill-prepared classmates in my college grammar class and be the one to whom everyone turned for help.

It seems that all the things that are really important for a teacher to know in order to be a competent teacher we were expected to learn by osmosis. They were never directly taught only implied, and yet are some of the basic foundations, must haves, in order to be an effective teacher of literature.

But all this is really irrelevant in light of the fact that I am no longer a teacher and have no plans to return to that profession. Well, c'est la vie!
(ha! I did learn something in French class!)

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Boy vs. Water

At the beginning of the summer, my son was afraid of the water. He knew he couldn't swim. So, when we went to the pool during the first week of June, he wouldn't come out of his life vest unless his father or I had a tight grasp on him. And don't even think about the diving board.

But for the past four weeks we have spent every afternoon at the pool at the YMCA taking swim lessons. Everyday I sat there in a little patch of shade trying to avoid sunburn and sweating like an Englishman in the desert.

Every week, my little man's confidence grew along with his skills. Having some free-play time before and after his lessons really helped too. Trying to show up the other kids by doing handstands, flips and cannonballs can boost any kids confidence, you know.

But no matter how hard he tried or how fast he kicked, every time his instructor let go of him, his little bum would sink like the Titanic, and he would end up desperately treading water until he remembered he could touch the bottom.

But one day during the third week of lessons, something clicked. It was his turn to push off the wall and swim to his instructor. He sighed, whined about how far away she was, then the amazing happened. He pushed off, kicked with out bending his knees, and zoom! He was off! He reached his instructor in no time and was very surprised when he looked up and realized what he had done. After that there was no stopping my little buddy. And the icing on the cake, the cherry on top of the sundae...... he passed the swim test on his final day of lessons. My little guy swam the entire length of the pool, with no help, without stopping or touching the bottom of the pool. And he proudly wore his orange wristband as he played in the shallow end of the pool with all the confidence of a kid twice his size.

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Secret Life of a Camp Wife

Hi. My name is Jennifer, and I am a Camp Wife.

Hi Jennifer!

Some days I really wish there was a support group for spouses in my position. My husband has a great job that provides us with an amazing place to live and raise our kids, great insurance and benefits, nice perks and wonderful friends, but in the summer I might as well be single.

My husband works from 7:45am to midnight or later from Sunday afternoon to Friday evening. True, we can go to the camp and hang out whenever we want, but we can never have him to ourselves. There is always something happening or someone who needs him for something. He isn't even guaranteed peace to finish a meal some days.

I am very proud that he has worked his way from grass crew to assistant director. I can never brag enough that he has helped double/triple/quadruple the number of people that come to the camp, or that he has helped transform the camp's summer program from an antiquated 1950's style program into a premier leadership camp of the 21st century.

However, because of the time commitment that is required of Russel, the kids and I can very easily feel left out and abandoned. And over the years I have unconsciously created some coping mechanisms....(green are good ones, red....not so much)

emotional distance -- even before the summer starts, I can feel myself pulling away, cocooning myself in preparation for the summer hibernation. I will withdraw into books, TV shows, whatever, to not have to face the fact that the camp will steal my best friend.
overbooking -- during the summer, especially now that the kids are older, I find something for us to do. This summer it was four consecutive weeks of swim lessons, soccer camp, church camp for Julia and camping with the grandparents. For me it is work, work, work. Carpool. Showers Every Night. with no time to go grocery shopping (not that we need a whole lot, but still.... deodorant is important. I can't have my husband smelling gamey at work. We aren't European!)
dry-erase markers -- our new best friends are the dry-erase markers! We discovered a few years ago that (DUH!) you can write on your mirrors with dry-erase markers and it comes right off with no problem. Granted, after a few layers you have to wash with some Windex, but that's not a big deal. Now I can keep my prayer list right in front of my face to help me remember, start a shopping list as items run low, and write love notes to my absent husband and mysteriously get notes back in the morning! (OK, so that was a little melodramatic. Sometimes I am still awake when he gets in and we get to snuggle before I start snoring. And most mornings I have to get up before he leaves to get ready for work.)
the notebook -- one year, before dry-erase markers, we kept a notebook by the bed. If there was something on my mind that I was afraid I would forget to tell him, or knew that I wouldn't get a chance to be alone with him for a while, I would write it in the notebook and leave it on his pillow. Then when he got a chance he would write back. This one wasn't near as effective as the markers, but a good idea. And now that both kids can read, somethings are better left where little eyes can't, we might be pulling the notebook back out in the future.

So, thanks for listening. I'll be back next week.
(polite applause and everyone heads to the snack table)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Chickenpox, Part Deux

Everyone remembers how when they were little their parents would try to get them infected with the chickenpox:
"Susie has the chickenpox. Better get the kids to her house, maybe her little sister is still contagious and will give it to them. You know it's better to have the chickenpox when you are little. You'll die if you get it as an adult!"

While there is some truth to that, I don't think adults can die from chickenpox. It's just more likely to be more severe and a lot more embarrassing and inconvenient!
If our parents knew then that getting chickenpox as a child meant that you would most likely get shingles as an adult, they would have kept us in isolation throughout elementary school.

All of this dialogue is preface to this: Remember how I have been saying my summer is kinda stressful? Well, guess what is one of the main triggers for shingles besides a weakened immune system? STRESS!!!
And so the other day when my left leg, only on the back side between my butt and my knee, felt like it was asleep from 5pm on Sunday afternoon until I went to sleep that night, I was a little worried. That's not normal, right? My first thought was a pinched nerve. If it's not gone in the morning I can just go to the chiropractor and get it straightened out. Then I thought, well, I am on birth control pills. What if it's a blood clot? I don't know what those are supposed to feel like, and all I know is that my leg doesn't feel right so it could be that. Then the imagination really got going and thoughts of MS, fibromyalgia, spinal surgery & walking canes started dancing in my head, and I finally calmed myself by deciding that if I woke up Monday morning and still felt the tingling, I would call the doctor.
And I did.
So, I did.
And when I got there and explained to her what was going on, she just looked at me for a minute like, "And......?"
My response was "Yep."
But I knew this wasn't right, and I wanted to know what was going on.
So, she did the exam. No rash. Good pulse in the groin, knee & foot. Leg muscles working fine (I could stand on my toes & my heels.) One more question, have you had chickenpox?
Why yes doctor, I have. A pretty nasty case too. Have the scars to prove it.
Aha! Well, she says, then this could be shingles. It's very early on, but a lot of people can feel the tingling-type of pain before a rash ever appears.
(Oh, crap. I remember when my grandparents had shingles, and they were doped up pretty good and still hurt like crazy! Plus the oozing rash, gross. And not to mention it's contagious and my kids haven't had the chickenpox vaccine yet!)
But, she tells me that the treatment is very simple, especially when you catch it early, and the side effects of the drug are next to nothing.
Awesome! give me the drugs!
Know what it is? Valtrex. Yep. the Herpes drug.
Oh, you didn't know that chickenpox is a form of herpes? Well, surprise!!! and shingles is just the re-emergence of the dormant chickenpox virus.
So, here I am with chickenpox, part deux. And taking the well advertised Valtrex three times a day. (yes, I have to carry it in my purse to work with me so I can take one at lunch) And off and on my left leg, only on the back of my thigh, will get tingly. But it hasn't become painful, and there is still no sign of a rash. So, I will stop feeling like a slut taking a drug for an STD, and just appreciate the fact that this will work and keep me from the torture of shingles.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Heyup me duck!

Hosting people from other countries gives you the opportunity to learn new things and experience the awkward.

The second week of the summer, our family, along with the Teasley's, hosted two soccer coaches from England who came across the pond with Challenger British Soccer Camps. Liam (short for William) is from Nottingham and has a pretty thick accent. Lisa was always asking him to repeat something he said so she could try to figure it out. Jonathan (Jono) is from Doncaster and was a lot easier to understand.
The guys taught the kids some great stuff, and we had a blast showing them all things Southern/Covington/the Camp.
Sweet tea did not go over very well. They like their tea hot (boiled) with milk. Lisa tried it and said it was actually pretty good. I haven't been brave enough, or cleaned my kitchen enough, to try it yet.
The heat was a big shock! The hottest it gets over there is about 60oF. So the first couple of days outside in the sun was pretty draining on them. And is there any polite way to say, "You know, you might want to buy a stronger deodorant while you're here in the deep South." I couldn't think of one. So we just smiled an stood up-wind!
The Camp really impressed the guys. They said they don't have anything like it in England, that they know of. The unlimited food in the Dining Hall, gianormous slip-n-slide, and high ropes course were the highlights for sure!
We learned that if you are in England and you hear someone say that you are a little "camp," then you might want to double check your sexual orientation, because they think you are gay! This got a big laugh when the staff wore their new very cool pink tie-dyed shirts that say "Life is Camp" on the front. Of course we knew "camp" meant "summer camp," but you can see the confusion......
We were trying to get a grasp on how the size of the UK compared to the size of Georgia. The guys explained to us that you can drive from one side of the island to the other in about 3 hours, and from the top to the bottom in about 9 hours. So, then we explained that to drive from here to Arizona without stopping takes almost two days!
We treated Liam and Jono to El Charros their last night with us, and since the only Mexican food they have had was Fajitas, they decided to try my favorite the chimichangas. Loved them!
The guys were kind enough to give us some parting gifts. They gave Lisa a book on how to decipher the language in Derbyshire (Liam's home-county) titled "Heyup Me Duck!" This is the common "hello" to women in that county. It also helps you figure out what they are saying by teaching you their phonics. Like, th is most often pronounced as an f . . . . so, Jonathan here, is Jonafin there. Things--Fings, and so on. Lisa, being a Spanish teacher, got a big kick out of this. She loves languages and all their little intricacies. For me they had a book about British History with lots of full color illustrations and photographs. I had told them that I was a big British Literature fan and loved all things England. Now I have a quick reference guide, and the pics help me feel like I've been there (almost).
So, we said goodbye to our "foreign exchange soccer coaches" and wished them well in the next town. But of course we were secretly hoping that their stay with us would be the best!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Jaded & Bittersweet

So, I had a mini-meltdown in church today. Had to go to the bathroom because I didn't have any tissues in my purse and then refrain from bringing out a roll of toilet paper with me to wipe my snot and tears.
This flood of emotions hit me from my blind spot like a mac truck on the interstate, but I can tell you now how it found me..... (this is your 'get a tissue' warning)
I know families are not supposed to have favorites. We are supposed to love all our kin equally, right? That's a lie. We are human and we are flawed and selfish with our own likes and dislikes. Some people we get along with and some we don't. Well, I've always considered myself to be more like my mother's side of the family than my dad's. They were/are sweet, kind, generous, loving, non-judgemental..... all the things families are supposed to be. And I was one of them, a Bearss/Bennett. Directly. By blood. The other side was fun when I was little, with the fishing trips and yard sales. But as I got older, I started to see the manipulation, guilt trips and favoritism creep in to my world. One of the other grandkids was always better at something than you were. You never came to visit enough like they did. If you didn't eat something that Grandma had made, you were intentionally trying to hurt her feelings. You get the idea...... And when I was old enough to be able to decide for myself when I would visit, the visits became fewer and far between.
But now that my dad's parents are living in my parents' house, I have been forced to spend more time with them and have come to notice things about them and myself that I hadn't before. Or maybe that I hadn't wanted to see before.
Like how Grandma and I eat our breakfast exactly the same: crumble the bacon over the grits and the eggs and eat them all together. How Grandma and I both have to clean the crumbs off the table around us after we are done eating. Lots of little nuances and quirks that are the same but aren't glaringly obvious until you spend a lot of time with that person.
So, I have been forced to see that despite how hard I have denied being a Hampton/Almond in the past, I AM one of them too. Directly. By blood. And you can't run away from that.
(Yes, I know that this self-denial falls into the judgemental and favoritism categories that I was denouncing before, and I do catch the irony of it, so don't rub it in. This is where the mini-meltdown part of my day comes in.)
This weekend I got to see a whole new side of my Papa. The mean, hurtful, bully side. And while at first I was just seriously pissed off that he had emotionally tortured my mother, I later started wondering..... is he just getting crazy in his old age (90), or is this who he really is? Has he been putting on a show for all these years and has just now gotten where he doesn't care to hide any more?? Is this one of those personality traits that has been passed on to me and so far I have been successful in keeping it locked up inside me? This was the thought that scared me the most. That one day I would become like him, how he was this weekend.
I was sitting in church during worship with all these thoughts swirling around in my head when the dam broke. Tears streamed down my face and I had to go outside because I could feel the sobs coming. And as I stood outside staring at the pastures across the street from our church, trying to pull myself together so I could go back inside, I heard the Lord say to me: You are not their child. You are Mine. You will become who I am if you will trust Me and follow Me. You don't have to give in to your DNA, because I have adopted you and made you My own. Of course this made the tears flow even more, but also gave me a peace that I hadn't felt for some time.
So, now I have to choose to love the parts of my grandfather that are like my heavenly father and forgive the parts that are not. (crap.)
But doing this will make me more like the God who saved me from myself. And that's the person I want to be. The person He sees. Not the person I think I am or am afraid I will become.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Rose Colored Glasses

aaaahhhh youth. The bliss that comes from ignorance. No stress. No worries. (Other than who's your favorite New Kid on the Block, and what color scrunchy am I going to wear in my hair?) Growing up means more independence and more responsibility, which are welcomed; but it also comes with the loss of your innocence as knowledge is gained. You have to put your rose-colored glasses on the shelf and see the world in living color.
As children, most of us preferred to see our parents and grandparents as indestructible and all-knowing. They were living encyclopedias and history books, and no matter what, they could and would do anything for us. Time, however, marches on and takes with it the youthful energy of our parents and gives us the ability to see that they are mere mortals who will eventually succumb to the same fate as the rest of humanity. They will grow old. They will get sick. And, eventually, you will be the one changing their diapers and cooking their three meals a day.

Last week I spent my mornings helping my dad. His new full-time job is caretaker, nurse, pharmacists, cook, janitor, accountant, chauffeur, and general "do boy" for his parents. They are 90 and 89 years old and have had to move into my childhood home with my parents after additions and remodeling to make it handicap accessible. My mother was looking forward to retiring soon, but now...... And I have had to watch my parents age faster than they should while shouldering the burden of caring for the frail and dying, the blind and lame, the stubborn and memory impaired.
My sister and I have also been the open ear on which our parents can vent their frustrations, fears, anxieties, and hurts over the past several months. And with this new responsibility we have been introduced to the other side. The side that knows how manipulative, selfish and vindictive some family members are.... The side that is thankful we never had to borrow money from them..... The side that has to try to balance the wishes of both parents although they contradict one another...... The side that is being driven mad by the once-loved quirks of a family member.... The side of life that gives you gray hair and migraines, ulcers and murderous thoughts.
Despite the stress and often raw nerves that come with this type of role reversal, we are treasuring the time we get to spend with my grandparents..... hearing stories that had not been told.... seeing them enjoy my children.... knowing my children are learning valuable lessons about how families take care of each other..... getting a "head's up" on how my dad could possibly turn out.....
I didn't understand until now how people could feel relief after the death of a family member. But after having to take care of my grandparents for only a few hours a day, and being witness to and a victim of the black-hole that is now consuming the lives of my parents, I know our family will feel a huge weight lift after my grandparents pass. We will miss them. We love them. But we will cry "Freedom!" when they go to be with the Father. And that time can be a joyous time because we know we will see them again. There is hardly a day that goes by when I don't think of 'what Grandmother would say' or 'Granddaddy would love to see my kids do that' or 'Aunt Deloris would be so proud of my daughter'..... but I know they see us and are eagerly waiting for us. And I will soon add Grandma and Papa to that group of people who "I wish were here to witness this...." but in the interim we will keep on making coffee, washing soiled linens, wiping bums, and dolling out meds while laughing at funny stories and how many times I can have the same conversation with Grandma:
"Is Russel at work?"
"Yes, Grandma. It's summertime, and the camp is full."
"Ooooh, I bet you love eating down there. The food is so good. And you don't have to cook or clean......"
"Yes, mam. I am spoiled."
(I lean over, look at my mother and mouth "That's one.")

Friday, April 3, 2009

a little more on that subject....

So, I was thinking again about dialect and accents.....

I met a friend of my sister-in-law, and as we were standing around talking, she asked me where I was from. I told her that I have been in Covington since I was three, but had always lived in Georgia. She has lived all over the US and in Cuba, so she has heard all kinds of accents. She said she just couldn't figure out where I was from because I didn't sound like I had lived here all my life. That there was "something else in there."

Now, if you have ever met my mother-in-law, you know she is Southern. She is one of the few people who can make her name have more syllables that Webster would. And my sister even types "y'all" in her emails. (don't deny it, you know you do) But that just doesn't come naturally to me. I have to deliberately type that or ta-alk slow-ly.

For fun I took one of those quizzes on Facebook to find out what accent you have, and it said I have a Northern American accent. My response should be, "but I am Southern born and bred y'all. And, bless their hearts, I just don't understand how they came up with that." But honestly you guys, I just don't talk like that.

So, who knows!? Are there Northern roots coming out, or is it just my stubborn streak that makes me want to be different? Couldn't tell ya.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I think I'll catch the movie.

So, I finished Jane Eyre. I liked that it was clean, with a good focus on hearing the Lord and doing what is right, but..... I have to be honest and say that I would probably like the movie a whole lot better. And that is saying something for me.
I even liked the book of the sci-fi action movie Transformers better than the movie itself because the film's director cut out some really funny scenes that were in the book, but I will give props to the movie for having awesome effects and sound. Plus, I just really like Michael Bay movies, I don't care how "cliche & predictable" the critics say his directing may be. When you watch, you are on the edge of your seat.
But back to the topic at hand -- I have always preferred to watch the movie before reading the book so that I will like the movie and not spend the whole time thinking "How could they cut out that part!!!" But in Bronte's sprawling, rambling, really really really loooooong novel, I would be happy to see some chapters, not just scenes, left on the cutting room floor.
Now I'm reading Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. I've already seen the movie with Keira Knightley (love it!) and am enjoying the book just as much so far.
And for those of you who may not know me very well..... Yes, my taste in books & movies is quite varied. I love the classics like: Shakespeare and Chaucer, Edgar Allen Poe, small amounts of Wadsworth, Longfellow & Thoreau and the old British "girlie stories" of love and marriage (like Jane Austen).... but also the slightly more modern Michael Crichton and other authors of science fiction, action/adventure/suspense, let's-solve-a-crime stories. But that's all another topic for another day.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Why do we use the words & phrases we do? When did I start saying something that now I don't even know where it came from?

This is something I've been thinking about ever since my friend Jennifer started laughing when I said "Dude!" to somebody. She said she always thought of me when she heard some one say that. So, I tried to think of when I first started using that word, and for the life of me I don't have a clue! I've never been to California; don't surf or skateboard; not really one to hang out with the laid-back, pass the special brownies because I'm craving some munchies crowd..... so where did I pick up "Dude!"? Who knows?!

I realize that I call my son "Buddy" because my Papa always called me his "fishing buddy" when I was little. And I sometimes call my daughter "Baby" because my dad's nickname for me was (no, is) "Angel Baby," and he calls my mom "Baby" all the time. But then, there are the other nicknames we have for our kids that, well, I just don't know. "The Boy": my only guess is that we were so used to having a little girl, that when he came along and did something only boys do, the only way to explain it was to say, "It was The Boy." And we've had numerous names for our daughter: "Baby," "Squirt," "Girlie," "Little J" (her name starts with a J too)..... but where they came from? Couldn't tell ya!

And to be completely honest.... I may have been born and raised in the South, but I say "you guys" more often than "y'all." And as a joke I started calling carbonated beverages "sodas" instead of what every true Southerner calls them: "Coke." And now, it has stuck.

So, dude, I'll leave you with this: Grab a soda and a fishing pole and we'll go down to the crick and catch up on what you guys have been doin'.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Facebook Fun

So this is one of those "chain letter" deals going around Facebook, but since they didn't say anything about horrible things befalling anyone who didn't pass it on, I decided it would be fun to play. It's called "25 things...." and the directions are below:

Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. Remember to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

1. I admit it, I'm a nerd. But not the socially awkward kind, just the nose always stuck in a book, likes to learn new things, loves sci-fi movies & comic book heroes (hello, look at the profile pic), was in special classes for super-smart sponge-for-brains types... oh, wait, this is a little socially awkward, isn't it?

2. I was a cheerleader for five years in middle school and high school. Loved it! wouldn't trade it for anything.... that's where I met my super awesome friend Deborah. And I will admit, that if I had the same body I did when I was 16, I would get back in a uniform tomorrow and cheer with the teeny-boppers!

3. I went to college. Got a degree. Still paying back the government for the loan for said degree. Not using the degree. Don't really want to use the degree. But loved the classes (correction, most of the classes) I had to take to get the degree. Yep, probably should have listened to my mother. There, I admitted it. Are you happy?

4. I married the first and only guy I dated. We met when I was 15 and he was 16.We were each other's first everything (b/c you can't really count spin the bottle & truth or dare, right?). We've been married for 11 years and are looking forward to at least another 69 more.

5. I had a staph infection when I was only a few months old. Could have died. Still have the scar on my foot from the drainage tube they had to put in. (that’s the part where you go “eeewwww”)

6. When I was little, I sooooo wanted to be an astronaut. I had it all planned out: Air Force fighter pilot, just like in “Top Gun” and then on to NASA to pilot the space shuttle, loved the movie “Space Camp”. That was before I knew you had to have 20/20 vision to do anything more than scrape bird poo off the windshields or fix the engines. And since I thought my dad spoke Greek every time he talked about the car……

7. I had baby number one naturally and with no meds I might add. I wanted to have baby number two naturally, but the doctor had another plan…. He said the baby had to come out early, wasn’t growing fast enough. So they induced labor about 2 ½ weeks early. And let me say that pitocin is an EVIL drug and I should have asked for pain meds a lot earlier! By the time they kicked in the baby boy was out!

8. When I grow up, I want to be a ballroom dancer. If I could go back and talk to my younger self, I would tell her to stick with ballet and take lots of different dance classes.

9. I have suffered from migraines since I was 26. It’s genetic and hormone related. (Thanks mom!) But my doctor has told me a few things to do that help, and I make sure to stay away from diet sodas.

10. Most nights my husband and I crawl into bed and…… don’t go there, this isn’t about that. Shame on you. We “argue” about whose fault it is the sheets are so messed up. He says I steal them in the middle of the night, that’s why they always end up on my side. I say it’s his fault because he won’t keep his corner tucked in. He has to stick his foot out for some “air” while he’s sleeping you see. So therefore the sheets will naturally migrate towards the anchored side. We have no way of settling this, so we giggle, fix the sheets and ….. well, now it is about that. J

11. I’m a really organized person. One of my favorite weekend chores growing up was reorganizing the hall closets. Really, you can ask my mom. But, I seem to be having quite a bit of difficulty getting my kids to buy into the concept. And I’ve decided that I don’t have the energy to do it myself, and I just don’t want to spend all my time fussing at them about cleaning up when we could be laughing and playing. So, we live in an organized mess of a home that is very happy.

12. I love to quote movies. “Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash.” (When Harry Met Sally) and yes, my children are doing it too. We have our own special language.

13. I have to make myself not take over when the kids have a project for school. I love doing crafts, and I have to tell myself that it’s their project and Mommy can only supervise, not be a contract laborer.

14. I secretly want to be on “What Not to Wear” just to meet Stacey and Clinton and go shopping in NY. I know how to dress like I should, I just don’t always do it. I just can’t seem to break the t-shirt and jeans habit!

15. I am allergic to a lot of stuff: penicillin, neomycin (that’s the stuff in Neosporin…no, really, read the ingredients), aspartame (the stuff in diet sodas, thus explaining the big rear-end), dust, pollen, pet dander (especially cats), feathers, stupid or just gross comedy, the sun. Well, technically that last one’s not true, but I do burn like an ant under a magnifying glass.

16. I just couldn’t bring my-self to say the word “butt” to my kids, so at our house we have “bums”….. blame it on all the British Lit classes I took in college.

17. I sometimes wish I was still a “stay-at-home mom.” But seeing the debt go down and the savings go up, I can’t really give up the money or the perks I get from working.

18. I love shopping. Especially for cute shoes and jewelry – quirky, different, antique-looking. My inner child always says “Ooooh. Shiny!”

19. I really miss camping with my grandparents in South Carolina and fishing with my Papa.

20. I want to get braces, lasix and my teeth whitened because yes, I am vain like that. And do you have any idea how much money I spend on contacts and glasses!? It’s only going to get worse you know. Bi-focals, then Tri-focals, and once you get there you can’t wear contacts anymore and the whole vanity thing comes back around to kick you in the bum!

21. One of the people I miss the most is my great aunt Deloris, the “old goat”. She taught me how to cross-stitch, encouraged my love for reading, made you eat whatever you put on your plate, and was one of the strongest, most independent and loving women I have ever known.

22. I would love to be in a rock band. But seeing how I’ve tried to learn the piano and the violin to no avail, (I’ve decided my left hand is only here to make me look normal) and I can only stay on key with someone to pitch off of….. well, I think I’m better suited as a roadie or back-up dancer.

23. I really like clipping out coupons and the idea of getting a great bargain on groceries, but I can never seem to remember to take the coupons to the store. Why can’t they just find a way to link the coupons to your store’s advantage card? I mean really, weren’t we supposed to be flying in space ships or hover crafts by now anyway?!

24. I regret all the friends I have let slip away over the years.

25. If you’ve kept reading until this point, you probably have surmised that I often use humor to deflect off the truth and pain of many things. I really know how to look confident, even imposing to some, but inside is an awkward wall flower waiting to be asked to dance.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Forget Barney & Sesame Street, Give Us the Justice League & X-Men!

When it comes to watching tv shows with our kids, I will admit that my husband and I are pretty selfish. Rarely will we watch just any old kids show. It has to be entertaining for us as well.

When the kids were little, I think we watched the purple dinosaur once just because so many kids seemed to love him. Rus and I vowed, "Never again!" We even sat through an episode of the Teletubbies, but the fact that I felt like my brains were being turned to pliable mush by the Communists banned the creepy tv-bellied guys as well. And while we grew up on Sesame Street, the modern day version has waaaaaay too much Elmo. So we stuck with Playhouse Disney while the children were learning their ABC's, you can't go wrong with Mickey & Pooh. Once they were old enough to watch and enjoy the good stuff, however, we very systematically got our unsuspecting "mini-me's" hooked on classic Justice League and X-Men, with some healthy doses of Batman and Spider Man on the side.

Now we all gather together a couple of times a week and enjoy some quality time with our favorite supers. And now that Star Wars has joined the cartoon world, the kids always know what they want to watch first thing Saturday morning (thanks to DVR). I think Star Wars: The Clone Wars the Series may be the first tv show we buy on DVD. Just because we have 16 episodes saved on the DVR and the kids always want to watch it!

So, be forewarned..... if you keep up with this blog, you will hear many sci-fi references and super hero comments, because at the Towns' house, we love sci-fi and we aren't too proud to admit it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

How many years does it take to read a book?

When I was in middle school (1988-1991) my cousin in New York gave me a beautifully illustrated copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. She knew I loved to read, and since she liked the story, she thought I would too. It was a classic, right?

I was excited to get started on my new book, and jumped in right away. I didn't get much past the second chapter, however, before my enthusiasm came to a screeching halt. I didn't like it and could not get into the story. So, Jane Eyre got shelved, unfinished, in my closet.

Now, twenty years later, I have dug the beautiful book out of my attic and tackled it again. I know why I couldn't get into it before. Bronte is hard to read. Well, then it would have been hard. Now that I have Beowulf in the Middle English text under my belt and numerous Shakespeare plays down, it's a piece of cake. But for a middle schooler who was more interested in Nancy Drew novels (action & adventure), a story about an unloved orphan couldn't have been that appealing.

But Bronte is still hard in that the book is a slow starter. You keep reading it because you don't want to quit again for the first 175 pages, then it starts to get intriguing. Notice I used the word intriguing and not "exciting" or "page-turning." This is no Michael Crichton, edge-of-your-seat, can't-turn-off-the-light-and-go-to-bed, I'll-eat-when-I'm-done-with-this-chapter novel. . . . But I'm not quiting! I may only be on page 324 of 552, after two months of reading, but I'm not quiting! I will get to the end. And when I do, I'll let you know what I think.

Monday, March 2, 2009

My Little Padawan

How many 8 year old girls do you know that want to dress up like a Jedi for Halloween?

Well, my Julia did. It's amazing how quickly they go from everything princess and not. She still loves pink, don't get me wrong. But, these days she is addicted to Star Wars, and she can tell you more about the Jedi council and lightsabers than many teenage boys in the chess club! I don't complain at all because she doesn't like Hannah Montana or any other show that's popular with elementary school girls. However, I must confess that she is a creature of our own making. My husband and I are sci-fi, super-hero junkies, and whether you argue nature or nurture, she didn't have much chance of not liking the genre.

Her favorite character is Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader). If you ask her, she'll say she doesn't know why. Part of me thinks it's the character's journey she is drawn too. He is the classic tragic hero, like Odysseus and Hamlet. You love him; then you hate him; then you feel sorry for him; and in the end you still love him despite all of his flaws simply because he has seen his true self in the mirror and tried his best to overcome. Another part of me says, "No, he is really cute and funny. That's what she likes." But the mom in me says "She's too young!" So I stick with the tragic hero idea and just keep encouraging her interests. I don't care if she is a little different than the other girls her age. I would rather she stay "odd" and not get caught up in the silliness, drama, and rapid maturing that is fed by the modern day kids shows that are not really for kids.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Sweet Dreams Nick

Thursday morning we woke up and found one of Connor's tadpole/frogs had died.

We ordered two tadpoles off the internet and were enjoying watching the little guys grow bigger and swim around playing hide-and-seek with us. We figured out Nick was the older of the two when he sprouted legs before Sam, and he seemed to be doing great. His front legs had sprouted the day before, and his tail was disappearing fast. But whether the water inadvertently got contaminated, he got too cold, or too hot, or simply couldn't figure out how to get himself out of the water (there was a lilly pad to get on and crawl out)...... we'll never know.
So now we are going to have a funeral in our yard for Nick the frog, and we will do everything we can to keep Sam going strong, so hopefully my buddy will have his froggy friend for several years to come.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Why I Love & Need My Husband....

In response to my previous post, my husband (who is definately the stable one in the relationship) sent me this email. I share it here because
1. I want to brag to the world that I have the best man out there
2. they are wise words for anyone who is struggling with the question "Who am I and where am I going?"

So now, a word from R:

Just in case you needed to be reminded:

You are Jennifer Hampton Towns.

You are a child of God. Your life has great importance to Him, so much that He gave everything to adopt you as His own. He has seen your next steps, and if you remain in Him, He will take you there. You are a dangerous person when you read the Word of God on a regular basis.

You are the wife of Russel Towns. You are a steady hand in a marriage that stands apart. You support and encourage him at every turn, and he will do the same for you. Two things are rock solid – God is your salvation, and Russel is your husband.

You are the mother of Julia and Connor – two very smart and well behaved children. They will grow up knowing that their mother loved them and cared for them unconditionally. The nurturing and the tough love are creating a balance in them. They are created from you, as seen in their beauty, and their lives will be forever intertwined with yours.

You are the daughter of Joe and Diane Hampton. They taught you wonderful things about life and parenting. Judging by how you turned out, they did a pretty good job!

You are the anchor of a home – keeping the house in order by handling the daily operations such as groceries, homework, schedules, shopping, and bills. Your home is your first ministry, and God blesses those who are faithful in ministry.

You are a great asset to the YMCA. It is a job, and it is a means by which God has chosen to provide the finances you need without being stressed at every bill. What a blessing it is that you have a job during this time, and one that allows the schedule that you need.

Where you have been is merely preparation for now. Your college degree, your business, and the difficult church situations we have been through – these are not wasted moments. They are stepping stones on a path of your life; they are not rungs of a broken ladder. You have a wonderful future, and you are probably right, it is likely filled with things you didn't know you wanted. We don't search for one thing in our future that will define us, but we live through many experiences that grow us and direct us. Life is a collage of experiences that we need to sew together with a common thread – that we were doing our best to follow Christ during them.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I have a Blog. Now what?

Ok, so I have my very own blog. Now what?

I guess this endeavor is my way of trying to find out who I am and where I want to go. After years in the Mommy Trenches doing the Diaper Dash and Carpool Shuffle, I now have two grade schoolers and a part-time job. Too much time on my hands to be classified as "workaholic" and not enough time to be considered "stay-at-home." So, I am somewhere in the modern day woman's purgatory trying to carve out my own identity, while juggling so many hats I could get a job in the circus.

When trying to figure out where you want to go and who you want to become, it is always good to look back and see where you have been, like it or not, and try to learn something from your past experiences or at least come to terms with them. So here is a little about me and my adult years to date.

I love stories, whether in the form of book or movie or weekly TV show. My degree is proof of that. I have a bachelors from UGA in English Education. I can churn out a paper on almost any given topic with ease. I devour books like my husband does chocolate. And my new best friend, the DVR, works harder than an ant in a rain storm. It is the latter half of that degree where my aspirations were misguided. Running head-first into the education system with blinders on because I really wanted to coach cheerleading, I figured High School English was the best subject area for me to enter. College Chemistry 101 weeded me after the first test, and the only reason I passed high school Calculus was the constant tutoring by one of my best friends, Amy. My sister got the art gene. I always fell asleep in history class. There is no way I could stomach the B.O. to teach P.E., and masses of small children made me run away screaming.

It only took one year of teaching, however, to realize that I should have thought a little longer and harder when my mother asked me, "Are you sure you want to be in the classroom?" She has worked in high school offices as a secretary since I was in elementary school. But I was thinking, "Of course I know what I want to do. I'm all grown up and out on my own. What could you possibly know about being in a classroom that I don't?" .........aaaahhhhhh, the ignorant bliss of youth.

The very convenient excuse of getting pregnant and wanting to stay at home to raise the baby (traditional roles were making a big comeback at the time) gave me an easy out without having to admit that I hated the choice I made and felt that I really couldn't hack it anyway. Although, in my own defense, I think some of the blame for my lack of confidence in the classroom lies with the school, which I will be nice and not name, and my 'oh, was I supposed to be talking to you?' mentor.

My next chapter can be titled "The Baby Years." I stayed home with my beautiful little girl and got to make a little money in the process by keeping a friend's baby only five weeks younger than my baby. They are now almost inseparable after eight years. I got a break when they went to preschool, but then little brother was born, and the best friend's little sister six months later. This led to numerous play dates, field trips, and did I mention that I started a business?

I think it was too much HGTV that led to the idea of starting a Professional Organizing business. But it was a lot of prayer and encouragement from my husband that solidified the decision to go for it. So, Order Restored was born, and I was a small business owner. I put up a website & networked like crazy. Got a few clients, made a little money, had a blast, and then as a precursor to the economy tanking, all my prospective clients disappeared. I got a few nibbles, but nobody could afford to splurge on a beautifully organized closet, much less a room. After some prayer and a few tears, I realized that it really is ok to put this chapter on the shelf for now.

So, here I am. In a part-time job at the local YMCA that pays well enough and has some good perks. After working my way up from answering the phone, taking registrations, and selling memberships, I am now in the background as the Office Manager, doing bank deposits, revenue reports, coding bills to send downtown, and assisting the director with anything and everything. Not much to do with literature is there? But I do get to run a cheerleading program, albeit with cute little giggly girls, not high school athletes. At least I don't have to grade 200 research papers in a week!

Where to from here? Not a clue. But if you are willing to go for a little walk with me, we can have a good time and maybe learn something along the way. Who knows? I might just end up where I never knew I wanted to be.