Three years

I have three kids, you know.

The youngest is this strange being who is perpetually tiny and soft, sweet, and totally liftable and cuddly.

Except- she's not.

Today my baby is three.

Three as in too many scoops of ice cream, too many sugars in your tea. Numbers in your credit score.

I never thought I'd have three kids – and then I did. And now the one I never expected is getting to be an actual person. Thoughts and feelings and personality out the wazoo.

Lucy, you have done so much for me. For your daddy. For our lives. You took everything I expected and turned it on its head in ways we never thought of.

For all the ways I fall short – I don't know what to do with curly hair, I don't really put much stock in matching socks, I let you marinate your stinky feet in rubber galoshes and I probably introduced you to Family Guy way too early – I'm sorry. I try to be what you need, because you were and are everything our family needed to be complete.

I will spend the rest of forever helping you become whoever it is you are meant to be – because you have made us all everything we are.

Happy birthday, Lucy Grace.


We love you so. I can't wait to watch who you will become.


What’s not known

I’m unsure how this is going to come out.

There are so many emotions and questions and whatever else that I just really don’t know how to put a filter on it all.

I’ve written before about the small town I live in. How it’s connected and homey. How I feel safe and rooted.

And that’s all still true. I see people every day that I grew up with, went to church (or skipped out on church) with. For better or worse, it’s all familiar. All things I know.

My kids are in the same school district I grew up in. The same buildings their dad inhabited. Sometimes the teachers have even been the same. I feel safe (or I have) knowing they’re watched over and protected.

But weeks ago, there was something…unsettling that happened. It was in the week following the Newtown tragedy, which made it more disturbing. I heard through gossip (another gem of small town living) that there had been an “incident” at the school my kids attend. A gun was mentioned. No one knew exactly what happened or why, but there was

this electric tension of scandal.

So I did what any sane parent would do and I asked the kid most likely to talk – Ava. I casually mentioned that I’d heard some things about a gun at her school, and all nonchalantly she says, “But mom, it didn’t even look real to me or I would have told the teacher.”

Turns out there was indeed a gun.
On the bus with my kids, in fact.

What in the actual hell did I do with this information? What was there to


do? I figured surely a statement would be made, policies would be instituted…something would happen, right? There was no chance I was the only parent who heard or wondered. These people are charged with keeping my kids safe, they want me to believe they’re doing that, right? I of all people know how quickly things can get blown out of proportion and overreactions can happen…when it’s my family, though, shouldn’t I get to decide what’s important and what’s not?

But nothing happened. The administration of the school district was quiet and people went on about their business. I brushed it off, because despite my bark I am really quite a pansy when it comes to speaking up about things. Now, I’m ashamed to admit that.

Last week word comes around that a principal at one of the middle schools in the district (not our school, but the same superintendent) has been suspended “pending an investigation.” Soon after it’s confirmed that he was actually fired, following a complaint of some kind.

But that’s it. Nothing has been said. No reasons have been given. Rumors have flown and minds have wandered and horrible situations have been concocted and spun. A local news station did a story (you can see it linked here) featuring the school district’s attorney, whose house I used to go to for voice lessons. And whatever good they intended to do for their situation by having the attorney speak on their behalf…well, they didn’t do it. If anything it added more distrust and less confidence.

I do not aim to add to speculation. But this is the school system I trust with my kids. With their minds. Their day to day well being. All the things I miss while they’re away from me, I have given to these people. And based on recent experiences, I don’t really trust that they will tell me if my kids aren’t safe. I think I deserve to know if someone charged with protecting my children is capable of…hurting them.

So what can I do? Really, I’m asking. Because at this point we’re all headed to live somewhere in a bunker.


I remember Christmas

I am now embarking upon my 33rd Christmas season.

I’ve never been a Christmas nut, but I enjoy the season. I enjoy it more now than I ever have, although that probably shouldn’t be the case since now I have to worry about presents and money and Santa Claus.



Every year I am bombarded – often when I least expect it – by waves of memories I haven’t touched since the last year. It’s like I stockpile stuff and only think of it once a year – some of them aren’t even Christmas memories. Maybe it’s a getting-older thing, saving up good thoughts for times they’re needed.

But still, I remember.

I remember my Grandaddy Wilkes and how he always bought boxes of Andes candy. I would subsequently eat them, row by row. God only knows how many calories were involved.
I remember rides to Selmer and plastic mistletoe – always in the same spot.
Shining silver and comic paper gift wrap.
Black Friday shopping to buy all my presents from my Mimi – only to have to wait until Christmas to open them up.
Hiding under a green blanket while my mom and dad pulled all the presents out of hiding.
Sweet potato pie, even though I hated the very idea of a sweet potato.
My mother always making my sister and I pose for some weird ass photo outside by the mailbox or in a chair.
Mom’s Santas.
The smell of the attic – the smell of the ornaments.
Peanut butter rice krispie treats.
Ham. Always ham.
Chicken and dressing with a shitton of sage.
Neverending, persistent and endless renditions of “Mary Did You Know?”
Max’s first Christmas and putting a bow on his head.
Playing board games with Dan’s family into the wee hours of the morning.
Josh dressing up as Santa when the kids were small. Max was convinced Santa had found him.
My first Christmas with the Steens, my first time ever to have a stocking.
Josh’s grandmother and how she always bought my kids the perfect presents.

There are so many things.

Things to love about now.

Maybe this year I won’t forget.


Almost beyond conciousness

The world is the same as it always has been, I’m sure.

Maybe it’s just my perspective that changes. I see things not through rose-colored lenses…but green, and grey, and blacker than black.

It makes for much a different scene each time.

As for me, no news tends to be good news I suppose. Life is how it has grown to be, and I have no complaints.

In light of the fact that it is November, many of the people on my Facebook friends list (which is not as plentiful as it once, was, thanks to more than one sizable purge) have decided to bombard me daily with their various thankful thoughts. I understand this sentiment even though at the basest level I disagree with it (hell, people, be that thankful all year long), and in reading just the first few days I’ve realized something huge.

Every night I go to sleep with everyone I love and care about the very most under one roof. This, as a divorced and remarried mom, is almost unheard of. I don’t have to wait to see my kids – I see them all every day. I see the two people who gave me my babies (and I see that as a good thing) every day. We operate as a unit, as a family.

I love many people – but the people I love the most (besides, you know, my mom and dad and such) are always right here. They’re always mine. And that is huge.

So there’s my November thankfulness.

I should make it a rule to drink beer.

Because even ONE makes me want to ramble write.

Saturday we had INTENDED to go to Tishomingo State Park with Dan, the kids, Amanda (omg my India Afar Amanda is home did I not tell you? Lucy adores her. It’s meant to be. She has to stay here forever) and her baby boy. It was a spectacularly planned event, one which which had been talked about for at least a week.

And guys, we just don’t do that. We don’t plan shit. Ever. Because as soon as we do, we get lazy or just generally turned off by the obligation of being somewhere and we ruin it.

So we went. The three Steens in one car, everyone else in the other.

We all arrive (we were a little late), and we proceeded to eat a sandwich picnic at one of the tables. I was SO excited. Josh had rented specialty camera lenses for his big boy camera, and I had my new point-and-click. Like a boss. We were READY.

Then, Lucy (who had refused to take a nap) started screaming.

Seriously it was like Jigsaw’s puppet and the squeally pig from the insurance commercials mated and the product was my child. Not only was it an impossibility to walk across the swingy suspension bridge, the whole idea of taking pictures was laughable.

I should have known.

So we came home. Basically we drove like an hour to eat some turkey sandwiches at a picnic table.

Sunday we redeemed our photography yearns, and went out to make lots of pictures.

Happy Monday.

written on Saturday/Sunday night, I would NEVER drink this early. Unless it was a mimosa. Or champagne and it was important. Or no one was there. Don’t you judge me.


Winter is coming?

It’s such a strange time of year.


Still summer, but not really. And not fall. Sweaty thighs in jeans and goose pimples in too much air conditioning. Summer seems over and (if the Starks will pardon me) winter seems that it will never come.

Things are happening, though. The kids are growing and school is chugging along. When my classes start this week it will (fingers crossed) be my last fall as an undergrad – which makes me almost giddy.

It almost feels like I should be quiet, contemplate the changing seasons or some other poetic shit, but the truth of it all is that I just feel old. I feel old to look at my kids, at my place in this point of time. And I feel like I’m waiting for something. Like the breath before the blow.

Can I be that mom?


Today I might be serious. Perhaps.

I don’t really know how to ease into this, so pardon me for not being graceful with my writing here – I’m just going to kind of dump this all out.

I want my children to know what I stand for. I want them to know, above all, that I believe in choosing your own path and building others up – not tearing them down.

I also do everything that I can to show my support for (and non support of) companies who take stands. I try and support stands for equality, for freedom, for love. I do what I can to keep from supporting stands that I see as hate, bigotry, or exclusivity. Less sugar, more healthy hippie, such as no shampoo. Things like that.

We don’t eat at Chik-Fil-A, we don’t do Boy Scouts, we buy and eat local when we can to keep from giving our money to The Man.

My parents brought me up with their own version of this: there was no alcohol, no gambling, no famboyantry. I didn’t watch the Simpsons or go to the beer tent at the Slugburger Festival. There was no nakedness or anything similar. We lived in a bubble of church people, prayer, family vacations and classic car clubs.

And that’s fine. FINE. I grew up never doubting for one moment my parents’ position on most things. They did a damn fine job.

But I remember things I missed out on. I’d never seen a bottle of wine in person until I was seventeen. I didn’t understand blended families (which, looking at my situation now, is freaking hilarious), I had no idea why people believed differently than me – only that they were wrong.

My children – while they definitely won’t have the problem of having restricted cartoon viewing or lack of alcohol exposure (we have all already had discussions about when they are old enough to drink and how we’ll make cocktails for each other) – may, despite my best efforts, still come out of childhood feeling slighted.

It’s hard to explain to your eight-year-old why you won’t match her in wearing her Susan B. Komen regalia when she thinks it’s so cool. To your ten year old why you don’t want him to be a Scout. To either of them why chicken nuggets and waffle fries have to be passed over.
I don’t want to dictate my kids’ beliefs – I also want to give them the benefit (like I had) of having parents with principles. Things they believed in and stuck to even when it wasn’t easy. I want them to know what it is that we deem important – even if they choose differently for themselves later.

Where I admit my horticultural shortcomings

A few posts back I talked about things I inherited from my Dad.
One of the things I did not inherit in any way from my Dad is his ability to grow things. My father could grow baby bars of gold, if he were so inclined. Every year he has a bumper crop of squash or tomatoes or beans or whatever. It is something he is VERY good at doing.

Me, not so much. The only thing (plant wise) I’ve ever been able to keep alive was one of those little fishbowl ecosystem things where a beta fish lives in this tiny bowl and its poop makes a plant grow or something similar. I kept that thing alive for at least a year. Something happened though and the fish died, and I didn’t notice until it was this ghastly murky nightmare of fish skeleton and rotted roots.

I couldn’t ever even grow sprouts in a styrofoam cup in kindergarten.

In college, my roommate got me a TweetyBird chiapet and…well, that was a disaster.

I guess what I’m saying is that I am in no danger of growing any marijuana any time soon.

For some reason a couple of months ago I took stock of my life and apparently decided I needed to grow things. Dan’s grandfather passed away recently, and I rescued a pot or two of businesslike – looking bulbs from his backyard, thinking I would do his memory proud by finally being able to succeed in helping to grow life. It was very poetic – his life would go on in the form of those bulbs, and I would gently nudge them to luxuriant and lusty full life.

It hasn’t really turned out that way.

Only one of the bulbs seemed to sprout – and while it sprouted fully and quickly and seems as healthy as any plant could ever be, there is a slight issue.

I’m pretty sure it’s a weed.

Although, at this point, I don’t really give a shit. Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, correct? Well, life has given me a weed, and I fully intend to nurture and groom and MiracleGro that weed until one of us dies.

I’m growing something. Anything. Horticulture is not my style – I will simply pretend it’s a rosebush.