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God Bless Y’all, Every One!

December 20, 2014

Thank goodness for photo evidence, because otherwise most of you wouldn’t believe me. Unless you were there to see it in person, it seems awfully far-fetched. My husband was on stage last weekend. He stood in front of an audience and did stuff. Yep.
Over the past several weeks, people have said “I didn’t know Brice could sing!” and “I didn’t know Brice was into that kind of stuff!” Well, he didn’t either.
“Can he sing?” Debi Ballas, legendary Director and mind behind The Augusta Players (HBIC, if you will), asked when she saw him. He had a beard, and she thought he’d look good in the show. I told her we sing together all the time, but he wouldn’t ever in a million years say, “Hey, I want to sing today!” She wanted to see him anyway.
“Do you sing?” she asked my wide eyed husband.
“Um, in the car,” he told her.
“Will you sing for me?” Uh oh.
And he did. I left to take the kids home, while he “auditioned.” Nearly an hour later, he called. “So, I guess I’m in A Christmas Carol.” Before I could hear any details, my sappy self cried happy tears. I love watching my kids in shows. Now I’d get to be a theater wife, too? “Not only am I in it, but apparently I have to sing alone. Like, by myself. I also say the first spoken words when the curtain goes up.” He might’ve used slightly more flavorful language. He would be A Beadle. We didn’t know either. It’s a constable of sorts. He helps enforce the collection of money.
The shock wore off, and hours and hours and weeks and weeks of rehearsals brought us all to production week. We listened to a previous year’s recording dozens of times. We know every word. My husband walked out on stage in knickers and a large feather hat. He learned to apply eyeliner. On himself. He carved mutton chops out of his full winter beard. He understands that upstage seems like a backwards term and stage left isn’t really left. He also knows what if feels like to screw up and get yelled at. A lot.
Most of all, he figured out that it’s a team effort. All hands on deck. This team comes together to put on a fantastic show for you, their people. They hold each other’s babies, sew countless buttons, alter and re-alter little girl’s dresses, meet in the alley for a quick pep talk, fix bad wigs, praise perfect notes, collectively roll eyes when the director yells HOLD yet another time, make do with missed entrances and broken props, answer late night texts, fluff wigs, share Doritos and candy, and make inappropriate noises during the most perfect toe touch. This team comes together to put on a fantastic show for you, their people.
If you saw The Augusta Player’s production of A Christmas Carol this year, you know what I’m talking about. It was extra special. It’s a gorgeous show every year, but this one sparkled a little more. It doesn’t have anything to do with my three people being on that stage (though it helps!). It has everything to do with the incredible talent we have right here in Augusta.
There will be more chances to support your local theater group. Westside Story is coming up in February, and Shrek! The Musical is in May. A Christmas Carol will be return next year. The Beadle is considering it. If he’s game, I’m game. I’ll be in the wings cheering him on. Until then, we’re taking a well-deserved nap. Merry Christmas, and God bless y’all every one!

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*originally published the The Metro Spirit, Augusta, GA on 12/18/14

Photo credit: Wesley Latch

Save the Date: you won’t want to miss it!

November 5, 2014

champagne heartIf you don’t have kids, you might think I’m crazy for bringing this up. Hell, most of you probably think I’m crazy anyway. Back to what I was saying. If you don’t yet have kids but are planning a family, or if your children are young and overwhelming, hear me out.

Go on dates with your HusbandWifePartnerMate (HWPM). For the sake of your relationship and children, make it happen. Don’t get me wrong, taking your kids places is a great idea. When The Boy was but two weeks old, we took him to Mellow Mushroom. We planned the outing based on his feed schedule and held our breath. He only cried a bit, but it was that sweet newborn cry that no one seems to mind.

We took him so many places back then. None of our friends had kids yet, and he was a very easy baby. If the dinner was early enough, along he came. We knew our boundaries, though. Sometimes, kids aren’t welcome. We got babysitters (thank goodness for my In-Laws) and went out with friends. Our kids are seasoned restaurant patrons, knowing their manners and to sit still at the table. They sit through church every Sunday. Our life didn’t slow down because we had children. Although some obvious adjustments were made, we brought the kids in to our life, instead of watching it all come to a screeching halt.

That’s all good and well, but in my short 12.5 year marriage, I’ve learned that one on one HWPM time is crucial. Not to bring it up again, but you people without kids are probably saying, “obviously! Just go out!” It’s not that easy. So many parents, especially first-timers, fear leaving their kids too soon. If breastfeeding, it seems impossible. Getting a sitter, a trustworthy caregiver, is hard work, especially on a weekend.

At the risk of sounding like an ad campaign, just do it. Do it before it’s too late. Go on a date. You owe it to yourselves.

Our babies are precious and wonderful. They’re fun and constantly learning new things, none of which we want to miss. Life is busy. Look, I get it. These dadgum kids are a full time job, what with their play rehearsals, piano lessons, homework, and everything else. The adults are busy too. We are tired.

Our babies are so precious, we’d like to show them to everyone. Why would we need a babysitter, when we can just tote the little cherubs along? Because your HWPM deserves your time and your undivided attention. You deserve theirs.

If money is the issue, be creative. Not all dates have to include roses and an expensive dinner. On many nights, when we couldn’t find a babysitter, we put the kids to bed (often early), and grilled steaks at home. A date is whatever you make it. Is this week nuts? Mine is. Schedule a coffee date. Set an early alarm.

The other night, I was disappointed that our date night plans were slowly unraveling. I stayed in a generally bad mood, trying not to make an issue of it. Our kids are unusually busy for the next few weeks, and we’re pretty overscheduled, too. What was supposed to be dinner at our favorite restaurant, while both kids were at play practice (free babysitter!) turned into a night of building the set for the kids’ next play. I pouted. “We are too busy,” I said. “How can we not even get a free night for dinner?” We made it work. I bought an especially nice bottle of wine, which we drank while we worked on building the set. Okay, to be fair, he built the set. I talked his ear off and marveled at his ability to build things. I asked to help, but I was relieved of my duties when I not only stripped the screw but ruined the drill bit. Oops.

The point is, it was still a date. It was time we set aside, without our children, to reconnect. If we don’t do it now, when will we? When the kids are in college? By then, we’ll have so much catching up to do. We’ll barely know each other anymore.

If you’re nursing, put the baby down between feedings and talk to your HWPM. If you’re broke, wait until the kids go to bed, and talk to your HWPM. Go to dinner together. Drink wine together. If you don’t drink wine, pour whatever you like. Leave the kids at home from time to time. No, not alone. They aren’t dogs, and a bowl of water in the yard will not suffice. Share stories. Hold hands. Laugh.

One of the best gifts you can give your children is the love you have for your HWPM. It’s up to you. Start tonight. Make it a date, y’all. Cheers!

*originally published in the Metro Spirit, Augusta GA on October 29, 2014

be the miracle – check your boobs

October 15, 2014

mobile Looking for something to do this weekend? You don’t have to train for it, and it won’t even take all day. If you give up a few hours of your Saturday, you could save the life of a woman in our community. Makes you feel powerful, right? It’s easy.

The Miracle Mile walk, which is a laid-back, fun walk (remember me? I tried running once. It didn’t work), supports local efforts to educate and screen women in the CSRA for breast cancer. With early detection, survival rates are better than 95%. So what gives? Only 44% of women in our area get regular mammograms.

You need a yearly mammogram, ladies. Men, you should check yourselves, too. Although instances in females are much more prevalent, breast cancer isn’t gender exclusive. Don’t have insurance? There’s even a Mobile Mammography unit, which travels to various locations in Richmond, Columbia, and outlying counties, providing uninsured women with the necessary screenings. In 2014 alone,  11 women have been diagnosed in the Mobile Unit. That’s 11 women who might not have been screened otherwise. In 2013, a total of 5,563 mammograms were performed in every county of the CSRA.

If you walk (and raise a bunch of money!), you probably want to know exactly where the money goes. It stays here. In Augusta. 100% of all dollars collected will help maintain and staff the Mobile Mammo unit and benefit our region’s only accredited Breast Health Center, which is located on the University Hospital campus. They provide diagnostic testing, education, and treatment options for breast cancer patients.

Need a reason to walk?

The statistic says that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. That’s profound, y’all. In my small office of 7 women, we’ve already had one. I’m sure you all know at least one person who’s gone through treatment. There are thousands of reasons to walk.

This soapbox is for my friend Debbie. She died in February, after a long, hard battle with this nasty disease. We still miss her every day. I’ll stay on the soapbox for all the future Debbies, who will be sick through chemo, lose their hair, and recover from surgeries.

So this week, when you’re making plans, check out www.themiraclewalk.org. The walk is Saturday October 18th. It’s easy to register, and it doesn’t cost a thing. The amount you raise is entirely up to you (though the boobs are counting on ya). There are some sweet bright pink t-shirts, too.

I’ll be walking for Debbie. I’ll also be walking for everyone who will be diagnosed in the Mobile Mammo unit this year. More info and awareness = less fear. That’s it. Let’s all help put an end to the fear. Join me and the ten thousand other people who will be walking that day. Little ol’ you can make a big difference. You can save a life, people!

pink ribbonOriginally published in the Metro Spirit, Augusta GA 10/9/14

Like a good bra…

October 1, 2014

bluebraThe Girl had her first major run in with a mean girl last week. We knew she would be fine, but for a few days, she was deeply hurt by the actions of her classmate. She was forgiving but not sure they’d be friends. I think that’s fair.
People asked if I wanted her moved away from the mean girl. Here’s the deal, people. Mean people are everywhere. You don’t like everyone, and not everyone likes you. It’s called life, and even our precious little children must learn to cope. We can shelter them all we want, but mean people are everywhere, and they suck.
I’ve heard story after story of girls being left out by entire groups of peers, blatantly omitted from activities and playdates. I’ve heard about the horribleness of middle school, but these are young girls. Girls whose mothers still have to arrange such things and drive them from place to place.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. If your kid is mean, it’s probably your fault. I’m sure that’s hard for most parents out there to hear. In extreme medical circumstances, you get a pass. Otherwise, it’s your job to raise them to be kind, polite, respectful human beings. Seriously. No matter what.
Don’t get me wrong. Some things will slip through the cracks. No child is perfect (well, except mine, of course. And maybe my niece), and no matter how many times we remind them to say their pleases and thank yous, sometimes, they just forget. They’re just kids, after all.
I’m looking at the big picture here.
I think it’s time for us all (yes, YOU) to sit down with our children and remind them. It’s a basic message: be nice to each other.
The root of it all is jealousy. Goodness knows, I remember being so envious of Margaret St. Jean and her big perky boobs. She had them before anyone else. I was so far behind in that department, I was picked on for not wearing a bra. I didn’t need a bra, of course, but that one girl still ran her finger down my back, reminding me of the missing clasp. Despite all that, I was never mean to Ms. St. Jean.
So about this jealousy thing. I get it. It’s hard not to get sucked into everyday comparisons of houses, friends, social calendars, cars, or whatever. You name it. Someone’s got it better. It’s impossible to compete.
I’ve been warned about middle school. The girls become even more ruthless. Sixth graders must develop a thick skin to keep up. Hey, I’m all about a thick skin. It’s probably pretty handy for thwarting the occasional break up, job loss, death, argument with a friend, or whatever else real life hands us along the way.
What if, though, what IF? What if, in addition to developing a tough exterior, we teach our girls confidence and self worth? With more of that, there’s less of the other. If she feels valuable, she won’t need to hate that girl because she has nicer shoes. It simply won’t matter if she likes who she is. As a result, she’ll like what she has.
It’s a lofty goal. We can’t end jealousy forever. But still, there’s so much work to be done. We have a mess of broken, angry girls. Can we teach them to be more tolerant and respectful of one another?
It lasts too, ladies. Grown women acting like children, gossiping and berating, is commonplace these days.
Although it makes me sad to think of future encounters my girl (and yours) will have with the mean ones, I’m optimistic. When confronted with the issue this week, mine said, “I may not want to be her friend right away, but I forgive her.” That’s a start. We talked about reasons people are hurtful. I can only hope she’ll remember how she felt, and think twice before making anyone else feel the same. If not, I’ll be here to remind her.
Let’s work on sweetening up our girls. Teach them to be supportive and stand up on their own (like that bra!), and maybe their friends will follow suit. I’m in if you are. Dads are welcome too. Cheers to raising (and wearing) good bras.

Originally published in The Metro Spirit, Augusta GA on September 25, 2014 http://www.themetrospirit.com

And many more…

September 22, 2014

us1998People often ask married couples how they got together. Every married couple has a story. From high school football games to late night trysts in a bar, we all started somewhere didn’t we?
For some reason, our story has come up quite a bit recently. It must be the time of year. As I type, it’s his birthday. We didn’t meet on his birthday, but, well, okay. I thought you’d never ask. I’ll tell you.
Friends of mine kept telling me we should meet. “You’ll really like him,” they’d say. “I can’t believe y’all haven’t met yet!” I remember hearing that his granddaddy died. This unknown grandfather, belonging to the nearly mythical guy who lived in the apartment behind ours. Who was he?
One night, it happened. I heard someone say, “Hey Jenny! This is Brice!” I promise y’all, there was a halo of bright light surrounding him, as he slowly came outside from their kitchen. It was probably the brightness of the fluorescent lights coupled with the dark night. His speed was probably muddled with bourbon, but let me have my moment. I’ll remember it my way.
I had a boyfriend at the time, and we were very much in love, so friends we would remain. We studied together often. Both English majors who loved to read, there was always plenty to discuss. We talked about names for our future children, though we clearly wouldn’t be having them together. I spent the night at his house, and him at mine, but we were nothing more than two close friends.
We took this biology class together, and although I studied my tail off, he didn’t. He’d do the crossword in the student newspaper, close his eyes, and go to sleep. I paid attention, took notes, purchased the notes, and read the chapters. He swore upside down and sideways he’d get a B in the class. What? No way. Not possible.
I was so sure of this impossibility, I placed a bet. If he made a B in the class and could afford a plane ticket, I’d pay for an entire weekend in NYC. We shook hands. I left for the summer. Days later, I got the call: “Did you get your grades? I got a B!” Because we were waiting for a paper copy to be mailed, like with a stamp, I hadn’t seen mine yet. He bought a ticket.
Living with my dad in the city, we only had two bedrooms. I assured him that this relationship was benign, and we’d both sleep in my room. There was a sleeper sofa and a chair that folded into a twin bed. We’d each take one. And we did. We spent the whole weekend walking around the city, celebrating the fireworks on the 4th of July, talking about life and everything else. He met my friends, who marveled at his deep southern drawl.
I realized something that weekend, though I didn’t figure it out until weeks later. I didn’t want to marry my boyfriend. I wanted to marry my best friend. I came back to the south, turning down a fancy job in New York. If I was to marry this southern guy, I had to come back to the south.
I broke up with my boyfriend, but I didn’t exactly have the guts to make the first move with this best friend. Apparently he didn’t have the guts either. All it took was a 21st birthday (his) to give him the courage (beer) he needed.
That night, we were out with friends, and it was late. Someone said “who can take him home? His house is so out of the way.” As we’d done so many times before, we both went back to my place. I tucked him in on the couch and started to head to bed. Suddenly, he was making that first move. He told me to trust him. Um, no sir. You don’t trust a man on his 21st birthday. I told him to go to sleep.
As it turns out, he is a man of his word. We talked about it the next day, and the kiss was intentional and would be repeated many times and without bourbon. We feared ruining our friendship but risked it anyway. Most everyone, including his parents, said, “It’s about time,” when we told them about our status change.
Now in our 17th year, he’s still my best friend. I never saw that report card, proving his B in biology, but if he made anything lower, I don’t wanna know. I’ll just trust him. It’s worked for me before. Cheers to that birthday all those years ago, when everything became forever.1484200_10152120810081070_1931258819_n

Originally published in the Metro Spirit, Augusta GA on 9/18/14

http://www.metrospirit.com

Just Twerk It

September 2, 2014

Some weeks, believe it or not, I find myself at a loss for words. For those of you who dislike my words, you’re probably wishing it would happen more often. Often, I even wish it would happen more often. Am I the only one who tires of her own voice?
This week is one of those. I haven’t had the time to be aware enough of the “funny things.” The things people say “only happen” to me. As I’ve said dozens of times, they don’t just happen to me. I just happen to notice.
Since you’re here, and now that I think about it, a funny thing did happen to me this week. I don’t plan on regularly sharing my conversations with my son regarding his teenage years, but I asked his permission on this one. Trust me. I won’t be documenting his bodily changes and our sex talks for all to see. Not only is it not all that interesting, but it’s none of your dadgum business. I mean that in the nicest of ways.
The Boy asked me why our puppy, who is now about six months old, twerks when he is trying to show dominance. Huh? What are you talking about, dude?
I investigated. “Boy, what do you mean, he twerks?” I’m not only confused by the fact that The Boy, an ultra conservative dancer, even knows the dance move, but when in the actual hell has my little puppy twerked?
“Well, you say that it isn’t great when Teddy makes that back-forth-back-forth motion after he wraps his arms around your leg. I don’t see it as dominance, but it’s weird.” Indeed. He’s seen the America’s Funniest Videos about such things, but until now, it went right over his head.
He’s never been an asker of whys. It’s partly due to the fact that he already knows the answer, and he knows I don’t. Years ago, when he was around four, he asked the biology questions related to reproduction. Actually, he told me what he read in his children’s encyclopedia, and I confirmed. It was all science then.
My naivety had me believing it still was.
The questions are different now, though. To preserve his privacy, I’ll spare you the specifics. “Ok, buddy. That twerking you’re seeing isn’t really twerking. Teddy is almost a teenager, so he is, um, well, making motions similar to the ones he’d make if he was making puppies with a female dog.” We talked a little more, relating it to humans and other mammals.
“You mean it’s like doin’ it?” Blink. Blink.
“That’s not the clinical term, kiddo, but yes. I’m glad you asked. Do you have any questions?”
I’m not afraid to talk to my kids about life and all that, but I was admittedly relieved when it looked like things were wrapping up. I was sweating. It’s not awful, and I want them to be informed, but while he found it entertaining, I panicked a little. Are we really here? Apparently, we are.
On the bright side, The Boy now knows that it might be a good idea to push Teddy off, should he get friendly with (read: hump) a guest’s leg. It’s not a behavior we’d like to encourage. Unfortunately, for all y’all with kids, he has a self imposed mental image of you “doing it.” Twerk it, people.

A funny thing happened on the way to the toll booth…

August 26, 2014

toolboothThe Kids and I went on an unexpected road trip to Florida last weekend. I don’t mean to be vague. We went to my grandmother’s funeral. She lived a good 89 years, so it wasn’t an especially sad affair, but of course she will be missed.
Back to that road trip. We spent a good bit of time on the Florida Turnpike. Have you been there? It’s a toll road. It’d been a long time since I’d traveled that stretch of very well manicured pavement. There are toll booths every few minutes. Seriously. I kept hearing AGAIN? from the backseat every time we stopped to pay another dollar or more.
It’s annoying, but the road is nice. We weren’t in much of a hurry, so besides spending The Boy’s college fund on tolls, we didn’t mind stopping to pay.
The traffic flows surprisingly well through the booths, especially if you have the fast pass thingy. Not being residents of Florida, we did not. Thank goodness I happened to have cash.
As an aside, what the heck happens if you don’t have cash? Most of the time, I’ll have a few quarters at the most, and definitely not enough to get us through 5 toll booths. They didn’t accept cards. I asked.
We were approaching our third or fourth booth, and the traffic was unusually congested. There were what appeared to be 4 lanes of traffic, including a few tallish trucks, which prevented me from seeing the booths themselves. I got in the far left lane and waited my turn.
Crap. As we got closer, I realized I was a victim of following the leader. I was a sheep. My lane was simply trying to merge with the one next to it, because the booth ahead was empty. Crap.
I hate a traffic cheater, so I’d never intentionally be one. I’ve prevented such cheaters from merging after they cheat. I knew it was risky, but I started to merge anyway. The girl a couple of cars up and one lane over wasn’t having it. She did what a lot of people will do. She pulled up to the car in front of her, her bumper nearly touching his, and kept the van in front of me from getting over. The van was bigger, so he won.
She leaned out of her window, big smile on her face, and shook her pointer finger at me like an old schoolmarm. Huh. She was mocking me. To be fair, I get it. I’d think I was cheating, too. Her gestures became a little less, well, kid-friendly as I was contemplating my next move. Clearly, she wasn’t letting me in. I waved and smiled.
I desperately glanced at the car next to me. The gentleman driving with what I would assume to be his spouse or significant other (sister? Friend? I try to be inclusive) saw me, nodded, and waved me in. I was admittedly surprised. I waved back enthusiastically as I was merging, and I waved again after I was settled in my new lane. We love the Guy Who Let Us In (GWLUI).
It wasn’t a hassle for him to let me in. He might have to wait 30 seconds longer because I was in front of him. If crazy schoolmarm girl wanted to go first, so be it. We’re both gonna get from point A to B. I’m not fighting her on it. We can’t both fit, so she can go first.
It taught me something. Most cheaters are cheaters, but every once in awhile they might have a good reason for cutting in line. Who am I to try to figure that out? Assume positive intentions. In the case of the GWLUI, it’ll get your $1.25 toll paid by the grateful Mama you let into your lane.

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