Saturday, September 11, 2010

Our Alamo

Growing up in Texas, I was taught the battle cry “Remember the Alamo” early.  Texans take their state’s history very personally.  In learning the story of the historical slaughter, I accepted my own tiny corner of the state’s painful memory.  The package also contained a piece of the indignant rage, shameful pride, and even a desire to make good on the promises of the past to ensure that those lives were not lost in vain. 

Today, my Facebook news feed is flooded with a more modern battle cry of sorts, “I remember.” 

I wish I didn’t.

Of course I remember.  How could any of us forget the day we heard the news?  How could anyone forget the waves of confusion and disbelief?  How will any of us ever forget the panic that sent us to the pumps, preparing to flee if necessary? 

I’d rather not carry the memory of the missing faces papering the tall city we all knew.  I’d love to forget the days of mourning, silent moments broken only by tolling bells.  Families broken forever.  Bodies.  Wreckage.  Tears.

Televisions on round the clock coverage.  Flood lamps illuminating Ground Zero like day.  Workers covered in soot and ash.  Empty fire houses.  Another building falls and the work begins all over again.

I remember sitting in a wooden pew on a Sunday in September, searching for peace and comfort in the words of a pastor.  I knew we all were searching together.  We wept together, sharing fear and sadness.

A year later, before the memory grew stale and quiet, I found myself standing beside a truck with my husband and his brothers in uniform.  Above us, red, white and blue waved in the ocean air, atop an extended ladder.  The dancers gave me a rose, a hug and a kiss on the cheek, despite my protests. 

The next year, I sat with those men in a dark room.  For days, they watched marathons of documentaries.  They had read the reports.  They knew the story like the back of their hands, and they relived it with faith and dedication.

With each year that passes, the memory retreats a little.  But all we have to do is call its name and it appears again, filling our mind and heart with months we would rather never to have lived.

Last year, I taught this story to children who did not remember.  In doing so, I passed them their own little piece of our pain.  Those children, the ones that do not remember, will inherit this shared memory just as we inherited the memory of the Alamo, Pearl Harbor, or The War Between the States.  They will carry this story in their hearts without ever completely knowing it. 

Sadly, though, their day will come.  One day, they will live through their own September 11th.  Their own Alamo.  Only on that day will they begin to understand. 

Then they will learn what it means to remember, no matter how much you wish you could forget.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

For Amelia

Today was to be her day.  We were counting down till today.

Today was the day for the baby girl that came not to be.

Sweet Amelia, I’m thinking of you. In my mind, you have bright strawberry blonde hair, like your Daddy’s, with big, soft, spontaneous curls.  You have a smile as big as your heart and skin like cream, fresh and soft.

You would’ve toddled after my girlies, and happily endured their doting.  They would’ve felt grown and responsible on some days, and pestered on others, but you would’ve been loved nonetheless.  I would’ve stolen you from your Mommy and Daddy and tried to win your favor.  We would’ve giggled and tickled, smiled and cooed, cuddled and loved till you fell in love with me merely half as much as I adored you.

I thought of you this morning as I lie in my bed, cozy, calm and safe.  I think of you now as I sip my morning drink in the quiet of a sleepy morning.  And I will continue to think of you today, and everyday.

When I feel little hands in mine, or feel a short squeeze around my knees.  When I smile at the comfort of my own green grass. When I pause to take a deep breath and let gratitude rise in my heart.  When I see the reflection of my own eyes in the rearview mirror and think, “I’m so lucky.”  When I hear a song I love and feel it lift my spirits.  When I push myself to do what I thought I could not.  When I hear seagulls.  When I tell my family I love them.  When I laugh with friends.  In these moments, I will think of you. 

It isn’t fair that you didn’t get to feel the warmth of a fortunate life, nor weather the storms of a hard one.  But, this is how it has come to be.  And you, dear baby Amelia, are loved still. 

Life is short.  Life is delicate.  Life is beautiful.  For you – as for life itself – we are all grateful.  Today, we will give thanks, smile, and remember you.

Sleep tight, sweet Amelia. 

We love you.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Four-Legged Angels

bo resting


BabyGirl woke up in the night last night, not an unusual occurrence in my home.  After tending to her and returning to bed, I found I couldn’t sleep…also not an unusual occurrence.  As I lay in bed, listening to Big Boy Bo snore, I laughed to myself.  He’s really good at snoring…even when he’s awake.




This morning, I awoke and listened to him in his usual routine of stretching, yawning, shaking, and jumping down from the bed and heading to the back door to check on his yard.  I snuggled with Crazy Baby Daisy as she ran through her daily routine of yawning (with a quiet little girlie yelp to punctuate), stretching, shaking till her ears create a syncopated rhythm, and then trotting off after her Big Boy Bo before she misses out on some excitement.

I thought to myself, “People who don’t have pets are really missing out.”

My experiences with my doggies have run the gamut.  I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to vets to fix problems and cure disease.  Heck, even recently, I’ve paid hundreds of dollars to vets when nothing was wrong!  I’ve attended obedience classes and nearly died of mortal embarrassment as my four-legged pupil made a fool of me and behaved as a saint for the teacher.  I’ve read book after book on dog training, dog care, and dog language.  I think I’ve grown to become quite a fair and just Alpha Dog, who can command the respect of many* dogs – even unfamiliar. I’ve been through groomers good and bad, vets good and bad, dog sitters good and bad, foods, treats, kennels, you name it.  I’ve cried as we’ve rushed them to the pet ER.  I’ve prayed that I won’t have to say good-bye just yet, not this time, I’m not ready yet.  I’ve had sleepless nights with my dogs just as a young mommy does with her babies.  My career as a Doggie Mommy has had it all. 

I think all pet owners would agree, though, that there’s an intangible element of being an Alpha Dog (or cat?  Do they have alpha cats?) that cannot be matched.  Without pets, particularly dogs, you’re missing out on a very special guardian angel. 

Recently, I was at my brother’s house.  Ours plus theirs made three dogs together.  As I took a phone call that brought me to tears, I no longer sat alone on the floor by the couch.  My lap was warmed by a big, fluffy white head and floppy ears.  Sweet Thomas, my nephew doggie, came to comfort me, just as a good friend would come put their hand on your back or give you a hug as you cried.  Thomas curled up beside me and didn’t leave my side.  He was sad for me, with me.  He was there to comfort me, protect me, make things better in anyway he could.  Thomas slept with me that night, after having barely acknowledged my presence in his home prior to that moment.  (Like a child, he had been too busy hanging with his cousins.)

Years ago, I remember sitting on the floor of our apartment sobbing, my face buried in the guest bed.  I’m not even sure what upset me so, perhaps a fight with FireDaddy…plus, I was very pregnant with BigGirl.  Bo, at the time just a little adolescent doggie, still wild with energy and very vocal, gingerly crept towards my face.  His front paws leading the way, tentative and cautious, demonstrating his submission and good intentions, Bo came to me to help.  He licked my tears and stayed with me.  Calmly.  Patiently.  He knew I needed him.  He was still and quiet.  He was loyal.  He stayed with me through his dinner time without so much as a hungry rumble.  I was never alone.

My mother tells of a time she was alone, recovering from surgery.  She aw0ke from a nap feeling the presence of her loyal poodle, Hershey.  She could feel him lying right up against her side, like he always did.  Only, Hershey had grown old, blind, and feeble years before.  His life had lost its quality and my parents had already made the hard decision to put him down.  They had cried and said good-bye on a surreal day, weeks and weeks prior to this one.  Mother had already grown used to his absence.  On this day, though, she could swear he had been there, guarding her.  Tending to her needs.  Showing his love and loyalty, just as doggies do.

Pastor Frank, the man who married FireDaddy and I, once told us, “A woman is like a mirror.  She will treat you the way you treat her.”  I think this is true of women (at least myself), but even more so, I think it is true of dogs.  I’m sure there are tons of people out there that would argue my points and say, “But I had a dog and it was nothing like that.”  Just as they say dogs can smell fear, they know your heart.  Nine times out of ten, if you love them, they will love you.  If you open your heart and welcome them into your life as a true member of your family, not just an outside inhabitant of your yard, they will never let you be alone.  It takes time, but it’s an investment that will pay you back tenfold. 

This morning, as I do many days, I gave thanks for my little four-legged guardian angels on Earth. 


(*Note: I did not say ALL, but many.  Darn that little Teddy Dog.  His brother wasn’t as stubborn, though.) 

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Lessons Learned

Some days are more productive than others. 

…Which is not to say that today I washed, dried, or folded the laundry giving me dirty looks throughout my house, weeded the flowerbeds that might soon climb up the walls, windows and doors of my home like a horror film, or cleaned the floors and bathrooms that I’m curse under my breath countless times a day.  No, I did none of those.  However, I learned a few things today.

For instance,

1.  Those awesome squeezable mayonnaise containers that boast “none left in the bottle” are not lying.  Be careful how much you squeeze, because you can’t take the mayo out of the chicken salad as easily as you can put it in.

2. I really must remember not to make chicken salad, prepare two girlies’ lunches, eat my own delicious chicken salad pita lunch, and clean the kitchen between showering and drying/styling my hair.  It’s a recipe for a bad hair day.

3. Flies are much easier to swat the day after they sneak in through the sliding glass door.  They’re hungry and weak…and more susceptible to my ninja-like swatting abilities.

3. The word is out about $5 movies on Sunday at our local theater.  Get there early.

4. Teach your children about the value of siblings.  Tell them, openly, that one day, they will be the closest person they have left.  Remind them that siblings are a gift to be treasured, not an inconvenience and a hassle to be tolerated.

5. Never take your children’s words too seriously.  One minute, they will swear they hate each other, vow that they will never forgive or play together again, and proclaim that they wish that evil sister had never been born…and the next minute you will find them cozied up together, “teaching” each other to read, giggling and cooing at pictures of baby animals.


6. Last, but not least, I’m reminded today, once again, that life is a fragile and fleeting miracle.  We have no guarantees.  Tomorrow could be stolen from us far faster than my ninja skills steal it from dehydrated flies in my kitchen. 

In all seriousness, I told my girlies today, “You’ll never know when you’ll never see someone again.  Tell them you love them and treat them like a gift you cherish every day.” 

And never, ever lose sight of that truth. 


Thinking of Baby Amelia and my long lost friend, Jen, today.  I love you both.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Join me, won’t you?

I’d really love it if you’d join me for a discussion over at my other little place today. I’ve got some questions buzzing around my mind, and I’d love to hear what your thoughts.

See you there!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sleeping Single in a Double Bed

Tomorrow, FireDaddy will return home after 11 days on the Appalachian Trail. 

My intent for these eleven days was to have one fun, relaxing day after another with my girlies – visiting family, swimming, beaching, hitting the gym.  Unfortunately, my hopes did not come true. 

Instead, we spent our time taking doggies to the vet, getting eyes dilated, hairs trimmed, roots colored, and running other non-thrilling sorts of errands.  I changed batteries in chirp-chirp-chirping smoke detectors, paid bills, anguished over budgets, made service calls, and scheduled appointments for still more doctors and dentists.  I accumulated piles of books and various household items for an impending garage sale  and piles of decorations for next year’s classroom, applied for a part-time job, washed/dried/folded/hung laundry, and washed/dried/put away dishes.  I reserved hotel rooms for our upcoming road trip, had Big Boy microchipped, registered dog tags, reregistered car tags, and cleaned out my refrigerator.  I rose around six with the doggies each day, while my girlies blissfully slept till nine or ten.  I baked blueberry scones, Mediterranean chicken, and fresh pound cake.  I filled the baby pool and emptied the trash.  I’ve washed booboos and blankies, heads, hands & toes… and everything in between. I fussed when they bickered, and nagged when they destroyed the den and their room and my room and the office.  I’ve answered countless times each day, “How many more days till Daddy gets home?” and “How many more days till our trip?”  I hugged and held them as they cried, fed them when they were hungry, and reached the cups when their throats were dry.

All of this is not to imply that I’ve been entirely miserable…don’t get me wrong.  During the past eleven days of uninterrupted girliness – I’ve introduced my girlies to the Bangles, Madonna, and Barbara Mandrell, as well as continued to expose them to pretty-much-inappropriate current tunes.  We’ve kept up with the latest Disney Radio tunes, and counted down to the big Disney premiere of Sixteen Wishes.  We’ve played games, held our breath under water and felt the wind in our hair as we sailed down the road with the sunroof open (ahem…in my brother-in-law’s truck).  We’ve stayed up late and cuddled in the night.  Together, we’ve danced the Cha Cha slide, the Chicken Dance, and our very best ballet and jazz. 

Coming from a mother who prides herself on being able to do it alone, I’m POOPED.  On nights like these, maybe a girl truly needs to stand in her kitchen with nothing but a glass of wine, a fresh slice of pound cake, and a Zune stocked with ridiculously old songs to keep her company.  It’s nights like these that I close my eyes and see myself standing in front of my white whicker dresser, and look into my own eyes in that familiar whicker framed mirror – so vivid and real that I am positive the cold mirror would meet my hand if I were to reach my fingers out far enough. 

It’s funny how some things have grown so much easier over the years – like skipping songs, once a careful lifting and lowering of a needle, now a simple click of a button.  Yet, other things – like the long, hot days of summer “freedom” – have grown so much harder. 

When I was little, I loved Barbara Mandrell.  She was beautiful.  She could sing, dance, and play more instruments than I could tally.  I played her records over and over and over again in my room until I’d memorized all the lyrics.  I was thrilled when Daddy took us to the Maude Cobb see Lee Greenwood --- because he had recorded a duet record with Barbara Mandrell.  I was worried and afraid for her when she was badly injured in the car accident.  I loved Barbara Mandrell. 

It’s funny how songs can take you away to another place.  Take you back in time.  The familiar click-click, click-click of the needle passing over blank lines between songs is fresh in my ears.  Where is that click-clicking now?  We push a button to skip forward and skip backward…there is no waiting.  No pauses.  Like MP3 files, the hours, days, weeks all flow seamlessly together on autoplay.

It’s halfway through 2010 already.  My babies are seven and four.  My anniversary is next week and my birthday is close behind.  I’m turning 33 and I’ve been married for ten years.  FireDaddy and I’ve been together for 14.  Where has my life gone???  Hell, where did these 11 days go???  Before I know it, I’ll be hunting down plastic duo-tang folders and sending my girlies off to 2nd grade and VPK. 

My throat is tight and lumpy; my eyes sting.

I miss the soft, scratchy static and click-clicking between songs. 

Monday, June 21, 2010


I was raised by a near perfect mother.  Our well decorated home was immaculately clean.  Her checkbook was balanced the day the statement arrived, every single month.  We ate home-cooked dinners FAR more often than not.  She was Room Mother Extraordinaire and her banana bread could win awards.

We had homemade, expertly decorated birthday cakes in designs that reflected our personalities and interests – a Barbie cake for me, a pizza cake for my brother, even a brown sugar sand trap complimented the fresh from scratch buttercream icing rough, fairway and green on the golf course cake she made for my lady golfer 4th grade teacher.  Our lunch bags were lovingly branded each morning with our names…in calligraphy.  My dresses were smocked with care by my own mother’s hands.  In fact, I even had a smocked nightgown with matching smocked barrettes. 

We were well mannered, well behaved children growing up.  We knew to say “ma’am” and “sir” to adults.  When called upon, we were trained to reply not with a “Huh?” or “What?”, but a “Ma’am?” or “Sir?”  We did not run in people’s living rooms or put our feet on their furniture; and if we did, we immediately stopped when corrected – sans sass talk.

We wrote thank you notes.  Our table was properly set with placemats and cloth napkins for each meal.  After dinner, as we cleared our own places, we thanked my mother for the delicious fare.  My older brother and I attended Cotillion when we were ten, where we practiced introductions and dancing.

My mother was not a “stay at home” mom.  She was a “work at home” mom. In addition to flawlessly running the household and raising children, she ran the family home building business from her desk - keeping books, helping Daddy manage contractors, and selecting flooring, wallpaper, lighting, and more.  She taxied us to dance, Blue Birds, Boy Scouts, soccer, T-ball and more.  She volunteered at the local hospital, served in the Junior League and occasionally worked in a friend’s gift shop. 

This was my mother. 

And today, as I sit in my pajamas, lazily letting my baby girlies sleep in on this summer morning, sipping a canned Diet Coke for breakfast, I marvel at the fact that she left dishes in her sink today when she left for work.


I remember sitting in my mother’s closet, in awe of her clothes.  She had so many clothes.  Clothes she’d hung onto for what, to my young mind, seemed like decades.  In reality, most of them were only a few years or perhaps A decade, I suppose.  She had a Real Wardrobe, not just a bunch of clothes.  I remember wanting to one day have a closet like that.  I remember wanting my closet to be organized and tidy like hers; everything in its own place with room to breathe.

I remember her long skirts, scarves, and jewelry.  She had earrings upon earrings and all sorts of zippered silky bags tucked away with gold and jewels inside.  Her shoes and her slips were so feminine and adult. 

I would sit on the little stool and help her decide which outfit to wear and how to accessorize it.  She asked my opinion and listened to my suggestions, almost as much then as she still does now.  She would show me shiny treasures - some hers and some mine – and tell me their stories, surrounded by the quiet in her closet. 


I am not my mother.  And, I will never be her.  My home will never be as clean as hers.  My cakes will never be as good, my sewing never as perfect, and my daughters’ school lunches will never wear their names in calligraphy.  My checkbook will forever envy the loving care hers receives, and my budget will never be so carefully balanced.  My closet is a shameful mess right now, and my baby doggie is much more at home in there than my girlies. 

The older I get, though, the more I am OK with this.  I am me.  This is me. 

I love and treasure my mother.  Her home is a comfort to me, as is my own.  My mother gave me love and safety everyday, just as I do for my girlies.  My mother was with me everyday; everyday she gave me herself.  I am with my girlies everyday; everyday I give them myself.  I kiss.  I hug.  I love.  I laugh and fuss and teach.  Just like Mama.


***** It’s been a while, I know.  I’m not entirely sure I’m back for good, but I thought I’d make an appearance.  I’ve also made a few appearances here in during my hiatus.  Hope to see you all again soon. *****
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