Thursday, December 29, 2011

Painted Concrete Floors are beautiful!

What do you do when you are sick of crappy builder-grade beige carpet?  What about when said carpet is gross, stained, and uh … really gross?  And you have a few days to do a project?  Well, we rip it up around here!  Shut yo mouth!  We do!  Rip it straight out of the floor.  And boy is it gross!  The sheer amount of dirt and dust under the carpet was GRODY!  DIS-GUST-ING!  BLEH! So then what do you do?  Well Clark Kent and I find a solution that is inexpensive (i.e. not laying bamboo hardwood imported from India or something) and easy (i.e. not $20/sqft fancy tile from Italy that takes gluing, lining up, measuring, more lining up, cursing because it’s not lined up, and more gluing and tons of time).  So we browsed ideas and found a great one!

The cast of characters:
Krud Kutter floor cleaner – this cleans up the dirt, grime and spilt paint (see below).
Concrete Putty – to fill in the holes left by the tack strips.  Now, the blog we followed they skipped these two things because they didn’t intend on keeping the painted concrete as a final floor.  I’d not recommend that.  Especially if your builder laid the tack strips before the concrete dried and thus caused great chips to come up in the floor.
Valspar Porch/Patio Floor Paint made for painting concrete – base grey. If you want a lighter color, get lighter color floor paint.  The shade of paint you choose determines the darkness of the stain. (We got this at Lowe’s)
Behr Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain – Chicory was the color we chose.  It’s a reddish brown that goes well with our walls and décor. (This came from Home Depot.  If you don’t want to make two trips then pick some floor paint from Home Depot.)
Quikrete Wet Look High Gloss Sealer – this coats the floor and protects it from kids, dogs, toys, and everything else.  It also makes it nice and shiny, which is fancy.  I like fancy.
Woven Linen Rollers – this is for the stain.  It gives it texture.  Although Clark Kent says that next time he’d likely get a pump sprayer for the stain, to get a more even coating.  I like the texture the rollers gave it, so you decide there.

Step One … Moving out all the furniture and realizing how yuckaliscious your carpet is as denoted by the “clean” spots where the furniture that hasn’t moved in 6 years has been.  Eww.

See the "clean areas" where the furniture was? yeah.

Removing furniture easy.  Getting dogs out of pictures?  Not so easy.
Where did the furniture go?  To the foyer of course! 
Step Two … Rip up that carpet.  Cut it into 2-3ft strips and pull it up.  Cough a lot at the sheer dust that comes up as you are doing this and admire the yucky pet dander cloud hovering over your head.

It was really gross.  Why was carpet invented?

  Step Three … Look at the dirt and grossness and say “Oh my goodness, THIS is why our children always have stuffy noses and terrible allergies.  Why in the world was carpet invented anyway?  Dumbest idea ever.”

Yeah, that's the fine dust/dirt/yuck that was under the carpet padding.

Step Four ... Clean the floor.  We used the Krud Kutter first, then we mopped it.  I say "we" ... Clark Kent did that.  But you can see the difference between the before and after.  Our builders were kind enough to spill a 5 gallon bucket of primer all over the floor and then proceed to wipe it up with their fingers (what?!?) and walk all in it and around the floor and well, really, the guys were probably pretty ticked off they spilled an entire gallon of drywall primer anyway, right?  That stuff really removed the spilled paint.

Step Five … Remove tack strips. This is really hard and I admit I didn’t do a bit of it.  Clark Kent did all of it.  Hard work.  Tiring hard work.
It's hard to get those strips up!  Wear gloves! 

Step Five … Walk around and talk really loud.  Everything echoes.  And look at your concrete.  Here’s where the tip of the day comes in.  **If you can’t stand imperfections in the concrete or cracks and dips and all that where the builders didn’t wait enough time for the concrete to dry before they started other parts of the house, you probably want to not do this project, put a skim coat of fresh concrete down or at the least don’t use a high gloss sealer.**

Echo! Echo! Echo!
Step Six … Fill in the holes from the tack strips and any large chips in the concrete with the Concrete Putty.  And tape the walls.  We taped newspaper up with painters tape.  This is important because the stain is very watery and tends to splash.  Clark Kent just painted our walls a year ago, and I like them nice and un-stained-splattered.  So this step was important.
The hallway had more glue than the whole living room. 

Step Seven … Paint the floor.  The paint is thick, so one coat should do it. The idea is to get one uniform color before staining. Clark Kent went around the edges first then rolled out the main part of the floor.  This has to dry overnight before applying the stain. 
It's so ... grey. 

Step Eight … Stain the floor.  Be sure to have stuff covered and not wear nice shoes.  The stain splatters.  We did 1 ½ coats of stain.  Mostly one coat, but going back where there were obvious roller marks and giving it depth.  This also has to set overnight before applying the sealer coat.  So admire it.  It will look great and you will be so pleased!  But it is not for kids or dogs to be on.  They are destructive by nature, and thusly are banned from unsealed floors.
This is where you can adjust the color.  More coats will give you a darker color.

Step Nine … Seal the floors.  It takes two coats of the sealer to coat it well.  You have to wait at least two hours in between coats.  Then it has to set overnight to fully harden.  After a few hours you can walk on it, but don’t put the furniture back until the next morning.
Ooh, so shiny and protected!  

Step Ten … Put your furniture back.  Enjoy!  Look how fabulous this room looks now!  It’s a totally different space.  
Look how crisp and clean it looks! 
All our colors finally match and work together! 

Here's the final AFTER 

The most "BEFORE" I have.  This is one week after we moved in , October 2006

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Watch out, here comes the next year!

Christmas is a magical time.  It was amazing here.  The kids were all so excited that we had to wake a couple of them up on Christmas morning.  Wait, what?  Yeah, you heard that.  Clark Kent was up at 4am, because one of the best things about Clark Kent is that he is a huge kid at heart!   He couldn’t sleep.  I was up at 6:30 because well, the dogs decided they wanted up.  The biggest one stood up, shook her tail, hit the littlest one’s cage and scared the Bejesus out of me.  And so Baby decided Mommy should get morning sickness.  (Side note:  That junk just never goes away.  It’s always there.  Forever.  10 months of “eww, I don’t feel so hot” … at least when I’m pregnant with girls.  So my best bet here is a girl).  So we were up.  Having coffee, enjoying the Christmas lights.  Then Bean got up.  Slowly they arose.  Monkey Man, then Peanut.  We actually had to wake Bug up.  Yeah, you read that stupidity right.  At 7:30 on Christmas morning we deliberately WOKE A SLEEPING BABY.  Oh yeah, we paid for that the REST of the DAY with whininess!  But the kids were amazed, and happy.  They examined their loot from the Big Guy with awe, and then opened their presents.  Everything they had asked for and more!  They were amazed that Pop and Grandma knew just what they wanted! (Those crazy psychics.)  They played, and we ate breakfast. 
We don’t cook a huge ol’ Christmas dinner around here.  We do Christmas breakfast.  Because my parents did.  We had Baked French Toast Casserole, Pigs in a Blanket (sausage style), bacon and cheese grits (no white instant junk out of a bag here).  We ate until we couldn’t eat anymore.  Then they played and played more.  Then they started fighting over a toy.  What toy you ask?  On Christmas, the day when everyone got what they wanted?  On the one day they could play with everything, the XBox time limits were lifted for the day, all video game and TV restraints were suspended, and there were new toys for everyone.  They fought over Bug’s new drum toy from my best friend H. Yeah, you got that.  A baby drum toy.  Bean and Monkey Man fought over it.  Because it was loud.  Because it wasn’t theirs.  Because they could.  Welcome Christmas Spirit. 

At the end of the day everyone was happy.  Peanut had started her massive Lego™ build.  Harry Potter’s Hogwarts Castle … 1200+ pieces.  It’s really neat.  I love that she spent time doing it, and it was just what she wanted.  Bean had successfully gotten to level 3 of her new Tinkerbell DS game.  Monkey Man had helped Han Solo and Chewbacca fly the Millennium Falcon all around the living room (what better can you do with your Geekiness than put it upon your kids?)  And not a single person ingested a Squinkie™, despite the sheer number of the things that Santa brought.  Bug was just happy being Bug.  Of course, the 4 hour nap that we forced upon him in the afternoon helped tremendously. 

Next year will be even more fun!  Next year Peanut will be 10, Bean will be 7, Monkey Man will be 4, Bug will be almost 2, and we’ll have another munchkin that’s just about 6 months old.  I doubt I’ll be up earlier than the kids.  Most likely I’ll be comatose from lack of sleep.  Thank goodness Santa is in charge of delivering gifts at night!  God Bless you all and happiest of New Years to you!  Better enjoy it while you can, if you believe the Aztecs.  If not, (I just think those poor people ran out of space on that big ol’ stone of theirs and didn’t want to go get another one), then you’re good and take your time.  My New Year’s Resolution?  Don’t have one.  Never have.  Those are just silly things that people do because they feel guilty for all the excess (food, technology, time in front of the couch) that they consumed in the previous months.  I’m happy the way I am, and life is pretty stinkin’ good.  I don’t need a resolution to make me better.  God’s working on that.  On to 2012 y’all! 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Curveball ...

So, I'm a slacker. Life has been super busy. I took Monkey Man to see Taylor Swift. It was phenomenal. He lit up when she appeared on stage. He sang every song. He smiled for two hours straight. At the end she was in a floating balcony that went right over our heads. He was ecstatic. She put on an amazing show, and seeing him so happy made it all worth it. Of course, he still thinks she is coming to play at our house. Shh ... I haven't figured that out yet. Someone tell Santa to hook me up, m'kay? Surely he can arrange that. She's off tour and only 3 hours away. 
Then we went trick-or-treating with friends. It was awesome for the kids. I am lucky to have such great friends! Then I blinked and it was Thanksgiving. We were with the same great friends. It is truly a blessing to have friends that are like family. Actually, I can't imagine life without my best friend. Thanks random happenstance 5 years ago that landed our girls in the same kindergarten class. Peanut found a best bud, and I found a sister-friend.
Some other highlights include Bean losing her first tooth and an early snow in Memphis. I did my Black Friday shopping in my pjs while Bug wouldn't sleep. I know more happened. I was there for all of it. But goodness if I can think of much else. It really was like we went to bed after Halloween and woke up in December. 
My grandfather passed away last week. I'm not sad, though. He's in heaven, not sick. He had two wives preceed him in death. He was a loving soul who had a hard life. The man was like 96 years old. I only hope that I live that long, and have so many people love me.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving I found out I am pregnant. Crazy lady with four kids say WHAT?!?!? Oh yeah. Totally not planned, at least by us. God knew. He probably looked over at Jesus and said "haha.... watch this, it's gonna be a good one." I know my Mimi was standing around telling God that He "done lost His mind". So, let the jokes begin. Believe me, in just three short weeks I have heard most of them. Yes, I know what causes it. Yes, I am aware there are ways to prevent this. I am apparently quite fertile, myrtle. And, no, for the love of all things holy, I am not trying to keep up with "that Duggar woman". I'm just ensuring the overpopulation of earth. I'm making sure there are enough nice people around for when all the a-holes die. And the term "breeder" is equivolent to the term "mudblood". If you don't know what I am speaking of there, there's probably a tea party you're late to or something.  

 *this post has been brought to you by the letter T for tablet ... a reason for the length between posts and the reason for my brevity ... and the number 5 ... for the number of kids I will have in June.*

Friday, October 28, 2011

Like My Mimi Always Said ...

Everybody’s grandma had a saying.  In the south it’s the way most anecdotes start … “Like my Grandma used to say …” It is like you have this person who validates what you mean.  A person that can relate what you say, and if you offend whoever you’re talking to, well … your Grandma used to say it.  Not you.  My grandma had a great phrase.  Whenever someone did something really stupid, or that just “didn’t make no sense at all,” she’d always say “Oh that just tears me out of my frame!”  I don’t know what it means.  I can’t tell you why she said it. But she said it a lot. And it’s one of my favorite things my Mimi used to say.  ‘Cause boy do I still use it today.  It’s just the best thing I know to say for some things. 

One of the top things that tears me out of my frame is the phrase “Well, that’s the way we’ve always done it.”  Ooh boy does that get me!  Frame gone, crazy redneck lady here.  I mean it’s one thing if the way we’ve always done it works.  Or if it does something positive.  Or if it gets anyone else to join in our cause.  But when the way we’ve always done it is a dead horse that we’re beating then it’s not okay.  It’s stupid to look at a fish, get all mad at it for climbing a tree to get something, yet every year get a fish to do the job.  If we only did things the way we always did them there’d be no wheel.  Or phone.  Or vaccine for polio.  If we don’t find innovative ways to do things, we sit in the same ol’ rut and make the same ol’ decisions and nothing gets better. 

New ideas are exactly what I live for.  I love to find new ways to do the same ol’ same ol’.  Creativity meets new ways to do things.  It makes what we were doing better.  It tweaks things.  It’s my thing.  I love to find new ideas.  I love hearing “hey, what if this time we …” followed by something that is amazing and great!  Or it isn’t and we don’t do it again.  Whatever.  But we tried it.  We moved on beyond the biddies in the hen yard that refuse to learn to fly because hens can’t fly.  Beyond the idea that it just can’t possibly work because we’ve never tried it.  We move into the realm of Edison, Einstein, and Newton, Pasteur.  Among those who said “good enough isn’t good enough anymore.” 

Tell me it’s the way we’ve always done it and it’ll get me riled up.  It will challenge me to find another way simply to show you that there is possibly a better way.  Moving on, and moving up is the way to make things better.  It’s a way to better an organization.  I love my kids’ school.  I love being able to put my two cents in as a PTA Board member.  That’s my passion.  Making a difference.  But you better doggone guarantee that when it comes to the way we’ve always done it, I won’t accept that.  There are so many new, inventive ideas out there.  Everyone has them, and we just have to embrace them.  That’s what I do.  I like new ways to accomplish the same old goals.  It’s easy to put on the comfy way we’ve always done it slippers and sit back and let it be what it’s always been.  But I’m getting my spiky boots and trying something new.  Because new may be the way to get more people involved.  Because new says “we want to grow and change”.  New says “we don’t want the same 10 people we’ve always had doing the same 10 things we’ve always done because change is scary.”  Change is scary.  But scary is fun.  I love scary.  I get on the rollercoaster that goes backwards because it’s scary fun.  I want to leave my mark.  I want people to do things in a new way because I tried something different today.  And I refuse to accept that because it’s “not the way we’ve always done it” as justification for not trying something.  I want to be the Edison of my organization. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When my redneck side gets agitated ...

I’m not a slacker, I’m just lazy.  Really.  Last post I was contemplating my birthday.  Like almost a month ago.  Then life went into full gear mode with soccer, gymnastics and PTA.  Mostly PTA. Mostly this battle in PTA that doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.  That is stupid.   But it’s a battle.  And I’m stubborn.  But first my laziness. 

For my birthday Clark Kent got me a tablet thingy.  You know, those touch screen fancy doodads that everyone wants.  Not a iPad.  Even without Steve Jobs, I can’t commit to Apple stuff.  They are elitist.  They are ridiculously over priced.  They come with bugs that they know are there when they release them, but they release them anyway.  And the white ones are bigger. So you need a new case.  Elitist. So there.  But I got a tablet.  And honestly, I can’t blog from it because I have to have my Microsoft Word so I can spell check and idiot check my stuff.  I type too fast.  I type about a kajillion words a minute, and most of them aren’t right.  That’s what Word does.  That’s not what the tablet, with its lacking OS and minimal apps, can do.  So my lazy butt hasn’t wanted to get the laptop from over there.  Just over there.  Just 5 feet away from here.  Lazy Lazy Jess.  Peanut would have even gotten it for me.  But I wanted my new shiny play pretty.  Which doesn’t have a word processor program yet.  Nor does it have the picture download thing.  Which is why none of the kids’ lunches are getting posted.  Because I’m so stinkin’ lazy I can’t get up off my rear and download and edit some lunch pictures (I have several) and go on and on about the new bento box thingies and all the neat things they can do.  Lazy.

And busy.  I am so busy with the PTA thing.  Because someone told me it was impossible. Because someone said “well, we already did everything we could.” And I decided that wasn’t enough.  And because someone else said go for it.  And because parents are tired of this thing at school.  It’s traffic.  It’s left turning.  That’s all.  The school has been open for 21 years, and this year we can’t turn left out of school.  Why, you may ask?  What great safety reason is there for this?  Not one.  What great flow of traffic is being disrupted, you wonder? Not one.  Nothing.  Just one man who has decided to act like the adults in Matilda.  “I’m right, you’re wrong.  I’m big and you’re little.  I’m smart and you’re dumb and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Well, he’s mistaken.  This mama bear has a stubborn streak as long as a summer day.  One teacher asked me if I was from up north.  (Why are Yankees known for being fighters, anyway?  Rude, yes.  Inconsiderate, yes.  But fighters? Where’d that come from?) “No ma’am,” I told her.  “I’m from South Carolina.  We love to start fights!”  Okay, so I stole that from a Citadel Cadet with a bad pick up line, but still … it’s true.  Stubborn-got-to-have-it-our-way-come-hell-or-high-water is what South Carolinians are made of.  And I will.  I will fight this battle.  Then they’ll be the ones wondering “Why on EARTH didn’t we just let them turn left?  If we had done that, we wouldn’t have this bat-crap crazy lady up our butts about it!”  And I will be up their butts.  And I’ll go to the news too.  Don’t you think I won’t get all over the TV saying how stupid it is?  I love the Police.  I know an amazing Police Officer (they don’t like to be called Cops, BTW).  But this one Officer, well … he and I don’t agree and that doesn’t work for me. 

See?  I meant to talk about the awesomeness of technology.  I mean, 11 years ago if you had told me that there’d be this thing, a little teeny ½ inch wide computer thingy with a touch screen that you could move around all Minority Report style, I’d have laughed at you.  That technology seemed SO SO far away.  But here it is.  Sitting next to me.  My Precious.  But my big ol’ mama bear fur has gotten all ruffled.  And if there’s one thing I can’t stand it’s stupid for stupid’s sake.  People are entitled to be stupid every now and again.  Heck, I’m stupid a lot of the time about stuff.  But deciding to dig your heels in on a point just because it’s YOUR point and YOU have to be right with no explanation … that is a special kind of stupid that annoys me.  At least I have reasons for mine.  And I have paperwork, and a map and graph.  I mean really.  If you are going to have a point to make and want to make it well, have a graph.  Graphs say “I’m smart and I know what I’m talking about.” And they say “Gee whiz … look at me!  I can use Excel, so obviously I know more than I think I do about this topic!”  Then I type up something all sunshine and rainbows.  That’s a gift from my daddy.  I can talk to anyone.  No one is a stranger.  And I can tell you about something I really have no idea about, or don’t have the answer to, and you can walk away feeling better because I put some sunshine on it and sprinkled it with word rainbows.  “I am doing everything I can to fix that problem” sounds so much better than “there’s a snowballs chance in you-know-where that will work”.  It’s the “bless your heart” at the end of a sentence that excuses you from whatever incredibly rude thing you just said.  Fighting battles for what I believe in and sprinkling the world with world rainbows.  Now, go have a cookie and by the time you’re done you’ll feel better about today. J

Sunday, September 18, 2011

half a life ago ...

Gas was $0.89/gallon.  Life was easy.  My parents were amazing.  I was 16.  On my sixteenth birthday my parents rented the local neighborhood club house and bought about 20 pizzas from Customs Pizza (they were B1G1).  We set up a stereo, decorated, and just hung out.  Me and about 20 of my closest friends at the time.  There are moments of that night I will never forget.  Mimi (my grandma) was there.  Fussing at people for going outside, complaining about the noise, just being a grandma.  My friend S was there, and my friend L, who I think were trying to get back together after “breaking up” or something.  I can name almost everyone there.  And most I still at least talk to on Facebook ™.  That was the night I met someone who would be a dear friend for many years.  (Looking back I think it’s rather odd that someone I had never officially met showed up at my birthday party.  But there were actually 3 people that fit that description.  A little creepy, I suppose.  But I was a little odd.  I was building computers when other girls were shopping for new shoes.)  He introduced me to a new kind of music, a great author, and the idea that women were something special, to be treated with care and respected.  That stuck.  I held everyone else I ever considered dating to that.  It’s why I married Clark Kent.  But that’s another subject.

On my 16th birthday my mom got me this massive cake.  It weighed 20lbs.  Seriously.  I’m not even making that up.  The sucker was HEAVY.  And there were presents.  And dancing, and a black light.  It was great.  Probably one of the best moments of my teen years.  Thanks mom and dad.  After it was all over I remember distinctly lying in bed and thinking about where I’d be in 16 years.  Yeah, that deep of a thought.  When your parents drop that much on a party for you, you think about what got you there, and where it was taking you.  I was pretty sure I’d be married to someone at that party.  Not really sure who, but someone.  I mean, that was my tightest circle of friends (at the time).  Life was that moment.  It was band, AFJROTC, Power Rangers (yeah, I watched it religiously), eating outside at lunch, getting yelled at by my band director, and tolerating my little sister.  Sometimes I loved it, sometimes I hated it.  But it was my life and I couldn’t imagine much beyond it.  I mean, what else is there besides friends, pizza, music, and high school?  Shallow isn’t something a teenager understands.  It isn’t self centered for them.  It’s just how the world moves.  I understand that now, even though I didn’t ever see it then.  And oh my goodness what would our life had been like with smart phones and facebook?  Lawdy lawdy we’d have gotten in trouble.  I watch the high school kids on my facebook lament over boyfriends, get angry at friends, and use facebook like the bathroom wall or the back of a yearbook.  Our fights would have been shorter, meaner, and well … involved more people.  Other than that fight that my on-again-off-again beau K and I had during a marching band day camp that seemed to involve the entire band.  Oh yeah.  I bet lots of people remember that.  It involved saying mean things under our breath while marching around during practice, and across the street to the football field for a run through, and during the run through.  Oh yeah.  Good times.  That’s being 16.  That’s being awesome (in your own mind) and having to have the. Last. Word.   

Anyway, I thought.  Laying in my bedroom, under the Power Rangers fleece blanket (that incidentally Monkey Man is currently sleeping under – true story), looking at my glow in the dark stars.  Listening to my dad watch John Wayne movies on TV at a volume reserved for rock concerts.  Sure I thought of practical stuff.  I’d have finished college.  I was going to be a trauma doctor (how’d that work out?).  Perhaps I’d be dating some guy and be thinking about marriage.  30, that’s when people do that sort of stuff.  I also figured I’d be living in a house on the beach in South Carolina (still on my to-do list).  My life is SO not that.  But I can’t imagine it any other way.  It’s amazing.  I love Clark Kent, and I can’t imagine life without my Peanut, Bean, Monkey Man and Bug.  As I sit and reflect over the last 16 years (I’ve been with Clark Kent for 12 of them) I can look forward to the next 16.  Where will I be in 16 years?  I’ll be 48.  Peanut will be 26.  My mom and dad could be great-grandparents.  I could be a grandma. *cough*  It will be 2027. Holy future Batman!   

Monday, September 5, 2011

Creepy Loyalty

Loyalty.  It’s such an interesting word.  The dictionary defines it as “faithful adherence to a sovereign, government, leader, cause, etc.  I’m loyal when it comes to the “cause, etc.” part.  I drink Pepsi ™.  I am not a fan of Coke ™.  Hands down.  If you offer me both, I’ll choose Pepsi.  Every day.  And all their products.  Sierra Mist ™ over Sprite ™.  I just like it better.  I prefer Target to Wal-Mart (for a kazillion reasons that I really won’t get into but suffice to say that one is the creepy people that shop there, and another is the way that they go and build 100 cash registers and only ever intend on opening two of them).  I prefer McDs over Burger King ™ if I’m going to ingest MSG-laden grease.  And I won’t go to a BP™ unless it’s the only gas station for 100 miles.  Call it what you will (psycho, sad, obsessed, impressive, astonishing), I call it loyal.  It’s who I am.  I find something I like and I stick with it.  All that to explain the following lament.

When Clark Kent and I first moved to Memphis we knew nothing about the place.  Even our small ‘burb.  Nothing.  And everything here is different.  All the stores we were so familiar with in the southeast are not here.  Everything is just different.  The only grocery stores here are Kroger (which we already weren’t fans of) and something called “Schnucks”.  So, when we moved here, we went to Schnucks.  Check it out, right?  See what it is, and whether we’d just be forced to shop at the other grocery store that I already didn’t like.  After all, if there’s no Bi-Lo (my favorite grocery store, which has stores all the way to Nashville.  Nashville.  300 miles to the right of us there are great grocery stores, BTW).  My first time in the Schnucks by our house, I was greeted, spoken to like an old friend, and invited to church. (There are two questions everyone asks you when they meet you in Memphis and find out you just moved here: What brought you to Memphis? and What church do you go to?)  Plus it was clean and had nice produce and meat.  These are important things to me.  And so I became loyal to Schnucks and those people.  I shop there for everything.  Peanut’s gym has a fundraiser through Kroger, but I don’t shop there.  I could.  It would help offset gymnastics.  But I don’t.  I don’t like Kroger.  It’s not further than Schnucks … it’s across the street, actually.  But the produce isn’t good, the meat is gross, and the people aren’t friendly.  In fact, they are the opposite of friendly. 

Now that you’ve been introduced with my weird love of grocery stores, you can understand a couple things.  One, I am obviously a bit off center.  No one should feel that way about a grocery store, right?  But if you haven’t figured out that I’m a few crayons short of a full 24 count by now, then you just wait … I haven’t told you my feelings about Dora yet, have I?  Two, you can understand why it devastated me a couple days ago when the news announced that Kroger had bought all the Memphis-area Schnucks.  Yup.  My favorite grocery store is going away. But it’s more than that.  It’s that all the people are likely going too.  They all have to reapply for jobs.  All the cashiers that know my kids, speak to them about school and dance and gymnastics, ask them how their day was … the nice guy who stocks the dairy area every weekday and knows I like the Gogurt instead of the Dannon for the kids.  The sweet ladies that are in the cook-demo place that understand that having four kids is a blessing, not a curse.  The one cashier who is “our” cashier in the morning when we go in and was excited with me when I found out we were going to have Bug.  The managers who will go back to the aisle you missed something on and get it for you at check out.  The nice bag boy who shares all the great fun things to do this weekend with you.  And the cute little high school guys who want to be smooth and “grown up” and try to impress me while they are checking out my groceries.  I will miss them all.  Even if they keep their job, which isn’t likely, I won’t see them.  I don’t like the other grocery store.  Not even if it has my favorite people working in it.  I might be crazy, but I will miss Schnucks.  So much that I took the time to whine about it here.  Maybe if I whine enough Bi-Lo will come save us from the not nice people and yuckiness.  Yeah, I’m whining about it.  It’s my take on loyalty.  And I can pout if I want to.  And enjoy my store.  For the rest of this week.  A few more days of the “way things are supposed to be” for me.  Then I guess I’ll move onto something else.  

Monday, August 29, 2011

Warm, Fuzzy Feelings

Bug has been sick.  Not “oh no let’s call the doctor and get medicine” sick, just “the weather changes too much” sick.  Allergies, snot, drainage, and coughing.  He decided a few days ago that being sick = not sleeping as well.  So we’ve been up at night while he plays instead of sleeping.  He’s been clingy.  He’s been whiney.  Oh my goodness he’s been whiney.  The kid never fusses.  But he has the last 3 days.  And on Sunday I couldn’t put him in the nursery at church.  I know he’s not sick sick.  He’s just yucky allergy sick.  But still, he’s green snot sick.  So I kept him in church with me. 

Where I sat there was a couple in front of me that I had spoken to before.  Funny story on a side track – the first time I met this couple they offered to take me to lunch.  I was alone, and Bug was teeny bitty.  I told them that, while I appreciate the offer, I had four kids and I’m sure they would be overwhelmed.  The lady was shocked, asked me how old I was (31, I told her), and then was even more shocked when I showed her the family picture (including a husband) on my smart phone.  I think she thought I was a teen mother (wow, I must look amazing!?!?).  They are such Sweetie Pies.

Anyhoo … they were sitting in front of me.  We’ve spoken a few more times since then, and darned if I can remember their names.  But we talked this past Sunday and I had Bug.  Mrs. Sweetie Pie asked if she could hold Bug.  Sure.  It’s not like they’d be going anywhere, and we’d talked several times and it’s church.  She cuddled Bug and he snuggled back, since he’s a sweet boy who loves everyone.  After a few minutes Mr. Sweetie Pie took him. And held him through two songs.  As I watched them coo and smile over Bug I realized something.

Sometimes people want to hold a baby not to help you, but because it helps them.  Babies (usually) love unabashedly.  They don’t care that you aren’t perfect.  They don’t see the baggage you’re carrying.  All they know is you’re pretty cool, fun to grab, and smile a lot.  The couple that held Bug on Sunday just kept loving on him and smiling.  He brought them a moment of joy that I couldn’t provide them as an adult.  For a moment they could dote on someone who wouldn’t get mad, irritated, or judge them at all.  Babies and puppies make us feel better.  We can look at the future in them.  We see the potential of kindness and acceptance.  Babies don’t see color of skin.  They don’t see age.   They just see someone who should protect them.  And that, sadly, is a fault too, sometimes.  But this time it wasn’t.  And as we sang praise songs and I watched Bug try to take Mr. Sweetie Pie’s glasses off and watched the man remove his glasses and laugh as his wife patted Bug’s back I realized two things.  It was okay that I didn’t know them too well.  I shared my love and my joy with them.  And I got a break.  Did I mention that he’s been a clingy, whiney, nonsleeping baby the last few days? Yeah, I was selfish and saw it as a break. J  

Monday, August 22, 2011

My train of thought is scary ...

I am known for my train of thought.  Or lack there of.  You mention mustard?  I've got something to say about s'mores.  Because mustard >> hot dogs >> camping >> camp fire >> s'mores. Sometimes I sit down at night and there are so many ideas in my head that I can’t even think.  They chase me all day long.  Like a wolf running through the forest.  Or a vampire?  A great big sparkly vampire?  No.  No sir.  Because vampires burn up into ash in the sun, everyone knows that.  Anyone who believes otherwise is a delusional teenager or a woman who wishes she was. So there.  I said that.  In MY post on MY blog.  I think sparkly vampires are dumb and the best acting Robert Pattinson did was at the very end of the fourth movie of Harry Potter.  He’s gross. And doesn’t fit the character in the book at all.  Incidentally, you know they were considering Henry Cavill for that part?  Yeah, that would have been better.  Because he doesn’t suck.  And now we get to see him as Superman.  A nice, not effeminate girly-girl Superman either.  Robert Pattinson goes right up there with Hayden Christiansen in my book of “well, we know people will pay bookoos of bucks to see this no matter what we do, so let’s just use this guy” actors.  The other two hobbits fall in that category for me too.  You know who I’m talking about.  Not Frodo and not Charlie (and if you don’t know why he’s Charlie, that’s just depressing and sad and you should be ashamed).  So does Abby Cadabby, but I’m fairly certain my obsession with the “rightness in the world of children’s television” is a certifiable one, and can be reserved for another post (Dora … why are you out ALONE in a jungle with a talking monkey, and why OH WHY do you trust that map that keeps sending you into the alligator infested waters?!?  YOU’RE FIVE!!)

But anyways …

This past week my dear friends had their first child.  A son.  I’m calling him Wookie Jr.  And he’s cute.  And not all babies are cute (sorry moms of ugly babies).  Some babies come out and even after that first swelling “what the hell happened to my head?” phase is over, they still look weird.  Bug looked like an old man forever.  Because he was born too soon.  He had no fat and just old man wrinkles.  But not Wookie Jr.  He looked awesome.  And still does.  Fortunately, I see a lot of his mom in him.  She’s beautiful.  Anyhoo … I’ve had a blast the last week helping her adjust to her “what the hell just happened to my life?” phase.  Not the “What to expect now that you have a newborn” frills and fluff stuff.  The “Oh yeah, this sucks and no one will tell you how bad it sucks” stuff.  Like how giving birth makes getting hit by a train seem like a pleasant idea.   How the very idea of ever wanting to procreate again seems like it ranks with sitting in a tub full of scissors.  How your body will redefine “amount of sleep needed” over night and all those mornings after parties you went to in college don’t even compare to the exhaustion level you now have.   How your insides feel like they might just fall out at any minute.  How your boobs no longer belong to you, and no longer belong to your husband.  And after awhile all you really want to do is scream and say “MOOOO!” because well, you’ve become nothing more than a machine that can produce milk and clean poop.  (Rosie the Robot couldn’t do THAT, I bet).  First kids are hard.  There’s no manual, no “how tos” (although my pediatrician gave us this clever “baby manual” when Monkey Man was born … for fevers and eating and when to call the doctors and the like.  So clever of them) Clark Kent and I had no idea what to do with Peanut when we brought her home.  We put her in the middle of the floor and stared at her, in her cute pink blanket in her car seat.  For almost an hour.  So, I’m glad I can be there for Wookie Jr. and his mom. And his dad.  Although, even with all the bottle feeding help he’s giving, there’s not much I can tell him.  Other than grab your butt and hold on tight, because this ride is fast, hard, and is gone in a blink of an eye.  (Or so those with older kids keep telling me.  Like that nice old man at the snack bar at Target who just patted me on the shoulder and said “You sure are a brave girl” and walked off laughing).  It’s a ride that I’ll take over and over though.  Despite the downward spirals it seems to take now and again.  I know I’m going to miss it when it’s gone.   Some nights I ponder that in a nice loving way.  Other nights I just repeat it 50 times like a good mommy.   But in the end, when I close out my day, check on sleeping angels (because they are angels when they sleep, right?) and remember how fast times flies, I know that the kids are my sanity, not just my sanity checkers.  They are my saving grace.  I may end the day covered in spit up, sweeping the kitchen for the fourth time because of some dog-food-bowl-kicking temper tantrum (that was tonight), sighing and wondering if I’m even cut out for this (I know, after 9 years, you’d think I’d know that), and wondering how I am still breathing.  I’ll take my cup of coffee (you’d be surprised how relaxing that is) and peruse my facebooks, and breathe the first breath of quiet air.  And remind myself that I can do it, and that being a mom rocks.  No other job on earth is as rewarding, though trying, as the one called “Mommy”.  

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Blink Away

I’ve found that when your day seems to go at 100mph, the wall you hit when you finally stop for the night hurts 10 times worse.  Since school started I’ve been going zero to 500 every morning.  From the moment that Bug wakes up (which is at 6:15am every single morning, thank-you-very-much) until I sit down at night to “relax”.  It’s go, go, go, go.  Get up out of bed; fight the dogs to get the door open, the alarm off and the back door unlocked to let them out.  And since Mr. Incredible comes to lock my doors at night after I’ve already locked them, they are suddenly impossible to open and I’ve got a wiggly Bug and 3 yipping, I-really-need-to-pee dogs at my feet.  Once that feat is accomplished it’s time to wake the monsters darling sweet children of mine.  Monkey Man usually gets up on his own and is happy as long as his Mighty Morphin Power Rangers™ fix is satiated.  Bean always jumps up out of bed.  One day she’s going to hit the ceiling, I just know it.  It’s always as if some giant gong has gone off as soon as I turn the handle on her door.  (Giant gong, now that would be funny.  I should look into getting one of those).  She literally screams “AHHH!” and jumps up off the mattress.  But that, while incredibly funny, is nothing compared to going into the dragon’s lair.   Waking Peanut up is like poking a hungry lion.  Or a raging bull.  Or a mad rhino.  You get the idea.  Now, Clark Kent just marches up there, grabs Peanut, throws her over his shoulder and brings her downstairs.  Kicking and screaming all the way.  I try a different approach.  I ask her to get up.  Nicely.  I try singing my obnoxious morning song (my mom sang it to me).  I try rubbing her back, hugging her.  You know. All those great motherly sweet things that June Cleaver and Carol Brady did.  No way.  None of it works.  She is just a bear.  A really, really grouchy bear.  And it’s every single time too.  Always a treat.  And before I’ve had my coffee.  I love that.  Why don’t we all try that tomorrow?  Act like a grouchy bear.  It can be “Act Like a Grouchy Bear Day”.  Sounds fun. 

Anyway, after all that goes down, and the fight to get dressed goes on, I go about the morning.  Assure everyone has gone to the bathroom, dressed, had their teeth and hair brushed, and the boys are fed.  Monkey Man and Bug eat breakfast at home.  Peanut and Bean get a nice, hot, free breakfast at school.  Saves me time, they enjoy it, and it’s free.  Did I mention it’s free? Yeah, free.  I like that.  After dressing and grooming is making lunches.  And shoes.  Shoes are always a fight here because, honestly, they have too many choices.  And then of course as we are getting ready to walk out the door I realize I am not fit for the public.  We walk, up to the school.  So, needless to say, I am never dressed for that.  So I throw on something less … embarrassing … pajama-y … old?  Anyway, and we’re out the door. 

We walk to school, get home, do the chores, play, have lunch, nap time (more cleaning for me.  Although I’m of the mind that we should all have nap time.  The whole country.  Latin countries do it.  Some European countries do it.  We should do it.  Shut everything down for an hour or two in the afternoon and just relax.  Sleep.  Whatever that isn’t work.).  Then it’s back to school, pick the girls up, and back home for homework.  Which is torture for everyone.  No one wants to do homework.  No child ever wants to.  Well, some children do.  There are a few who love it.  But Peanut and Bean are not those children. Those children live in a fantasy story that isn’t my life.  So we fight through homework, get ready for whatever extracurricular we have that night, and then dinner, baths, and bed. Then I sit down.  And deflate.  I sink into the couch and can’t move.  Hence the giant space between my posts.  Last thing I ever think about most nights is “ooh, look how my day went, let me write it all down.”  But I should.  I feel better.  And I can pretend that everyone really, really cares about the mundaneness of my day.  Because I know you do.  You sit there and think “how on earth does that crazy lady do it?”  and “why the heck does anyone have 4 kids anyway?”  and “does she ever eat?” or “wow, she’s absolutely bonkers, I feel much better about my life.”  So, as I hit the brakes and sit down for the day, recap on everything I didn’t accomplish that I should and listen to the hum of the dishwasher, I think that 100mph isn’t such a horrible speed.  And one day, when I’m sitting alone waiting for my grandkids to call, it will seem like the 100mph days were only a blink ago.  And as the country song says, don’t blink.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

My glitter wand

I’m either on or off.  I accomplish tons or nothing.  Today I accomplished tons.  I am attempting to prepare for the first week of school.  The first week of school is like a dance recital.  All summer we’ve done nothing.  Then last week we started looking at the calendar.  Planning doctor’s appointments now requires a war plan.  Every day is a strategically planned wreck.  We have to get up for school, get dressed for school, drop the girls off at school, and then do a little PTA stuff.  What is PTA stuff?  Making sure the first couple days go smoothly for everyone we can.  It’s something I’ve practiced for 4 years now.  I’ve got the snazzy costume, the smile, and the “I know how this goes” attitude.  And the “don’t worry, it's okay” attitude.  But what I’m best at is not answering questions by answering them.  Oh yeah.  The good ol’ southern art of BS. Bull snot.  You know what I’m talking about.  The answering things without actually answering them because really, what is the point?  To reassure a frustrated parent that things will be fine, their child is taken care of, and the first week is always like this (no matter if their hair is on fire and their child is screaming like a banshee).  To help a teacher find that other list that they needed because this list isn’t the right one and who is that kid anyway?  To help an office staff member by bringing them a treat because God forbid they step away from the phone for five seconds.  Yes, yes they really want to answer every question you have, including the one where you called to ask if your child really (really?) needs 20 pencils.  Or whether we actually have school this week since it’s so hot.  Or that you want to speak to whoever is in charge because the car rider line was too long.  They love it. 

And that’s why we are there.  The PTA.  To help.  To ease stress.  And as a mom, I must ease my kid’s stress too.  That’s Act 2 of the dance recital.  It’s a different costume.  It’s the one with the extra glitter wand.  The wand that helps my Peanut walk into a classroom with enough confidence to find a desk and know that despite the lack of familiar faces, the year can be fun.  The wand that helps Bean know that she’s ready for first grade and it’s going to be magically fun even though it’s not her favorite teacher.  And it helps me too.  My glitter wand makes everything okay leaving my kids with a new teacher.  Leaving them amongst what will be friends, but is just a whole bunch of new faces.  Knowing that at the end of the day I’ll be right there waiting for them to come out the doors and hopefully smile and tell me that this is going to a be a great year. 

And it will be.  And we’ll survive the dance.  Tonight I relax after preparing stuff for the first week’s lunches, organizing school supplies and “Welcome Back” gifts for teachers.  All that’s left is a couple nights’ sleep and to don my “super hero mom” uniform that allows me to go through all of it without crying.  ‘Cause that’s what Mom’s do.  (And to be honest, I’ll have my best bud beside me too, which always helps.  Even super heroes needs friends.)  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Returning to home base

We survived vacation!  And approximately 9 million loads of laundry later, we’re about back to normal around here.  As normal as we can get with the crazy life of four kids that we have.  There were so many amazing things that we did on our trip. 

Our first adventure was sitting on the interstate just 45 miles from our half-way stop.  We stopped for gas, fed Bug, and got back on the interstate.  Just 65 miles or so to go before stopping for the night.  Just a little bit longer until dinner, the hotel, and relaxation.  Fast forward a few miles.  It was 6:12pm (yeah, I know exactly what time it was.  What?  You’d never pay attention to that.  You would be glad you had when you read the rest of this fabulousness).  Suddenly we stopped.  Dead stand still.  On the interstate.  Can’t be good.  And thankfully we’re sitting next to a trucker.  He is awesome and tells us what’s going on.  There’s been a fatality wreck just 2 miles ahead of us, and it’s “going to be a while”.  I was so sad.  Poor person/persons.  Tragedy on the road is always so sad, because I always think it could have easily been me.  But we didn’t dwell on that.  Clark Kent started looking for local news, traffic maps, etc. on my very, very smart phone.  And we sat.  Through two movies for the kids.  Through juice boxes and snacks and Goldfish ™ and coloring.  In the heat.  For 2 hours and 45 minutes.  Finally we started moving.  There was an exit they were moving people down as a detour.  Right before we got there, they started letting traffic on the interstate again.  I panicked.  I hoped everything was cleaned up, God rest the person’s soul.  And of course, we got past the exit, past the point of no return, and they stopped us again.  For another 45 minutes.  So 3 ½ hours of FUN on the interstate.  See?  You wanted to know what time it was too.  So you could appreciate us pulling into the hotel at 9:30, not 6:40.  Dragging 4 tired children to IHOP for a mediocre dinner at 10:00pm.  Dragging said tired children up to the hotel room, amidst crying, and putting them to bed.  Lying down for 10 minutes before someone needed something, or someone was touching someone.  Long night.  Adventure.  Excitement.  But all in all, we were so proud of Peanut, Bean, and Monkey Man.  They were troopers. 

The rest of our trip was typical.  Family reunion with people we don’t know.  200+ of them.  Learning more about a family that is so fascinating I can’t even imagine it was awesome.  We went to the Pittsburgh Zoo (which is a truly amazing zoo if you ever are in that neck of the woods).  Swimming, hair cuts, an Apple Farm, Chuck E Cheese and cousins of every age.  Great amazingness.  And then the two day trip home, which thankfully was dead-stop-on-the-interstate free.  What could be next?  School starts next week.  So this week was recovery from a trip, figuring out uniform fittings for next week, and helping at school.  I’m on the PTA.  We rock.  We just do.  We help everyone; we give kids popcorn, and wear snazzy t-shirts.  That sums up awesome if I ever could do it.   And next week is a whole new adventure.  Its fourth grade for Peanut, first grade for Bean.  I think I shall have to grow up soon.  My kids seem to be doing it at light speed. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Moving the Petting Zoo ...

We’re going on vacation.  Which for a mom means really means “we’re moving this three ring circus somewhere else for a few days”.  It also means driving around to visit everyone we possibly can in 5 days.  Finding something to entertain the kids who are in “meet new people overload”.  Appeasing all relatives by joining them at their favorite place to be.  Doing that one entertaining thing, like the zoo, that we said we were going to do.  Taking a half-a-gazillion pictures of everyone together.  And of course, apologizing for not getting up there sooner (it has been 3 years).

So I’ve been packing.  Clothes, toys, feeding supplies for Bug, drinking cups for Monkey Man, snacks for everyone.  There’s a list that is so awesomely long of stuff for us to pack that I quit writing it down.  We have to move sleeping bags, play pens, diapers … you name it.  All the while preparing our Zoo here for the house sitter.  Also exciting and fun.  Cleaning up Bean’s room (it’s the “guest room” for that purpose), making sure all the entertainment stuff works and is plugged in, the alarm instructions are set, the littlest dog is at my friend’s house … another long list. 

I often laugh at the word vacation.  I am sure that since we’ve had kids, we’ve not actually been on “vacation” as the word was meant.  You other moms with young children can relate right?  There’s nothing relaxing.  But it is refreshing.  There are people I love that I haven’t seen.  Cousins to play with that even Peanut barely remembers.  Handfuls of people who have never even met Monkey Man or Bug.  And poor Bean only “remembers” what we’ve told her about these people.  Really, all I’m doing is taking a traveling petting zoo.  Everyone will want to hold, hug, kiss, love on, pinch cheeks of, and dote over the kids.   Patting heads, kissing cheeks, hugging necks.  I bring the teeny cute ones for everyone to say “oh my, they look just like Grandma So and So” or “Great Uncle What’s-His-Name”.

But it will be a blast.  We are so blessed that our family loves us as much as we love them.  No awkward family reunion where they’d rather shoot you than hug you.  Sure it’s a 12 hour car ride with 4 kids, which on life’s list of fun things to do …  But it’s so worth it.  My great-grandparents were long gone to heaven when I was born.  My kids have been blessed to know 3 of their great –grandmothers.  They have two left.  That’s one of the reasons for this trip.  It’s not just seeing family, it’s about understanding heritage.  We’re going to a family reunion.  Family that came over to the United States just three generations ago.  In a country where you can be from anywhere and that’s okay, it’s so important to know where you came from.  Who your family was.  Who they are.  And you show them with your kids who it will be.  It’s important to appreciate what makes you “you”.  So, I’ll pack up my zoo, and take them to the farthest regions of car-ride-ability.  We’ll spend what will ultimately seem like not long enough with family.  Clark Kent will be the most awesome Ring Master ever, getting us around, and hauling the circus around.  The kids will have fun and we’ll come home.  Perhaps a little more appreciative of the phrase “where I come from”. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Social Media Paradox

Growing up is hard.  Especially when you think you’ve already done that.  Realizing that Jane has a best friend that isn’t you anymore.  Realizing that no one really can stand for you to be in their social circle, but really they just don’t want to say anything.  Not getting invited to parties that you don’t know about until pictures are posted.  That’s high school, right?  It’s grown up world too.  And it sucks.  Until you realize that you’re not in high school.  Right? 

No, not really.  I have a horrible time of putting on my “politeness” filter.  I’m a talker (shocked, right?) and tend to say what I think despite what others may feel about it.  It seems bold, brazen, and honest.  But it’s not.  It’s apparently offensive.  Just like those yahoos on TV that say stuff to irk me.  It only irks me because I don’t agree with it.  Because I see it as preposterous.  Because I see it as fear mongering.  I don’t think about it.  It’s how I was raised.  Say what you mean, mean what you say, let others decide for themselves.  I mean, if you constantly have to hide behind a façade of “not wanting to offend anyone” then you constantly watch yourself.  

My mouth gets me in trouble a lot.  Always has.  Ever since I was about three years old.  Say what you think to your parents and you get time out.  Or a spanking.  Say what you think to your friends, and you get less friends.  It is what it is.  In the world of social media this is truer than anywhere else.  In “type” things like sarcasm are lost.  I’ve found that often what you type and what you mean are so very different things.  Because it’s left up to the reader.  It’s their interpretation.  And boy do I get interpreted wrong a lot.  Or maybe I don’t.  I find that in the realm of social media we are all having to adjust to the way life is run.  Things are literal, or they aren’t.  It is a great act of discerning what was really said.  Reading between the lines becomes most important.  I don’t know that I quite get it.  Certainly have caused a few rifts in the past few days in my social media world.  So, for now, I’m choosing to keep my mouth closed everywhere but right here. Right here I can say what I want.  And I’ll say I think Jon Stewart is genius, and I don’t know why an 8 year old boy was walking home by himself in a big city anyway, and I don’t think they’ll ever find that missing college girl here in Tennessee.  You can read about it, or not.  There’s no need for interpretation.  I say what I mean, just how I mean it.  It’s who I am.  I was taught that you do that.  Tell them what you mean, and no one will ever see you as fake.  They may not like you, but at least they know where you stand.  I’d rather be me than liked.  It’s who I am.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Where I come from ...

My family is from South Carolina.  I was born there.  My parents were born there.  Their parents were born there.  And theirs, and theirs, and theirs.  For generations my family has lived in South Carolina.  I’d say they’d always been there except I’m fairly certain that, despite how perfect South Carolina is, the Garden of Eden wasn’t there.  There are a few things that all South Carolinians are born to love, raised on, and survive on.  Sweet tea, real peaches (don’t let those yahoos in Georgia tell you they’re the ones with the best peaches), good manners and grits.  Good ol’ white hominy grits.  Grits for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  They go with everything.  Sausage, shrimp, steak, ham, eggs … you name it, grits makes it great.  And Lord have mercy, add cheese to them and they are (is it possible?) even better. 

Now, Clark Kent’s family hasn’t been in the United States as long. His great grandparents on both sides came here from Europe.  They came to Ohio.  They don’t eat a lot of grits.  Oatmeal.  Warm cooked oats with cinnamon and sugar, with raisins, made with water, made with milk, made however you want.  They eat oatmeal.  Clark Kent isn’t a big fan of grits, and I’m no fan of oatmeal (read here can’t stand the stuff and its gross and mushy yuckiness).  So we raise our children that both are just the best stuff on the planet.  My kids, though, have good genes.  They have Southern running through them.  They don’t like oatmeal.  Or cream of wheat (which in my opinion is some sort of oatmeal/grits hybrid mess up thing that Virginia created).  I’m proud.  They love grits.  Cheese grits.  Good ol’ southern kids is what they are.  Raised in the south, eating like God’s people should eat. Seriously.  I’m fairly certain that manna was like Hebrew grits.  Just sayin’. 

So in this cultural melting pot, where Clark Kent and I come from two different styles of breakfast, we’ve discovered that oatmeal and grits can live in the same house.  He even eats grits, so long as they aren’t “quick” or “instant”.  I won’t eat oatmeal.  That’s yankee food and I don’t want it. Probably the truth is my family didn’t eat oatmeal because it was more expensive than grits.  Grits were cheap, and still are.  My family for generations were cotton farmers.  Not the big fancy plantation owners, no sir.  The poor share croppers who worked their whole lives for nothing.  Then they were in the cotton mills.  Worked long hours for little pay and a house on the Mill Hill.  The Great Depression didn’t affect them.  They wouldn’t have noticed except the rationing of food thanks to the “Great War”.  They had grits instead of rice.  Shrimp and Grits?  Poor mans meal, really.  Not in those fancy chain restaurants, of course.  But out in the boondocks, where you catch the shrimp yourself.  You can have very little meat and serve it with grits, and it’s filling.  It’s a poor man’s food to be sure.  But it’s so South Carolina.  The state still recovering, 150 years later, from a war that was its idea.  So I’ll take my grits, the best peaches anywhere in this country, and my sweet tea.  Because grits is who I am.  I’m not oatmeal fancy.  Thankfully, Clark Kent doesn’t mind that one bit.