the swing

I sit outside on the porch
as a warm breeze blows through
and twenty-two years disappear
the sun shines bright, illuminating a golden afternoon, and there you are,
carefully taking one step after another
holding the hand of the one you adored
and who cherished you right back
she leads you to your birthday gift
the swing
built by the man who makes you giggle
and gives you Nilla wafers to clasp
in your tiny hands, never mind the mess
he gently lifts you and places you
with her help into the swing
made especially for you

all the years since have come and gone
as have the ones we love
and I think of the gift they gave you
on the day you turned one

life is much like that swing–
may you always be surrounded by those who love you
like those who created and guided you to
the swing that day
giving you roots to tread on
and wings to fly

some days you will have someone at your back
pushing you higher and higher
up through the things that would pull you down
until you can reach for the stars and clouds and very nearly touch them
with your bare hands

other days, and there will be many, dear one
you will have to pump and point
lifting yourself above the noise and hustle
to reach your dreams and goals and all you want to be,
depending only on your own will and strength and determination

I remember the smile on your face twenty-two years ago
when you sat there in that old tire picked especially for you–
it would have lit up the darkest of nights…..
the sheer joy of the movement
and being surrounded by the ones you loved
brought laughter bubbling up from within
and cries of “again! again!”
as your tiny toes that couldn’t touch the ground kicked at the air excitedly

may you take time everyday to feel the wind in your hair
the exhilaration when you soar
and the beauty of the gentle quiet as you let it all “die down”
may you welcome those who have your back
and let them be a part of your journey, cheering each other on
and when you feel like no one is there,
pump and point, my dear, pump and point
and remember the dreams they dreamed for you,
the ones you’ve tucked away deep in your heart
and aim for the highest point–
and when you get there

grab hold of your faith
let go of the rope

and leap

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For A.A.D. on the night of her 23rd birthday…..keep soaring high, baby girl 

The “M” Birthday

When Aub turned 3, I planned, with the help of my Joyful friend, a party with the theme of “Pink Pigs, Puppets, and Pizza.”  (I do love alliteration!) It was a lot of fun, as all of the parties were back then, and I even had her third birthday picture made in her favorite pink nightgown with all of her pink pigs sitting beside her.  I love that picture.

Tomorrow my girl turns 21.

I don’t know how that happened.  Cliche’ but true.  The days were long and the years were short.

And now–here we are.  21.

Tonight I mentioned to my older friend who is the epitome of wisdom, love, grace, and spryness that I guessed I was done.  Twenty-one equals grown, right?

I was walking behind her, and saw her shoulders shake with her mirth before I heard her laughter.  “Oh me…..okay.  Sure.  We’ll let you think that for now.”

I know better.  I really do.

My girl wanted a very laid back birthday this year.  I was good with that.  It seems like the world right now is a cyclone of chaos and to do’s and needs and what not, so a chance to sit.  And be.  And not much else.  SURE. YES.  The gift that keeps on giving.

We gathered in the backyard with the fire going (I’m getting pretty good at starting them now), and I set out the hot dogs and fixin’s along with the sticks for roasting.  I had a few decorations I’d put together for the day with a small sign with the theme for her 21st birthday “party.”

I returned to alliteration eighteen years later.  (I was in a play in Junior High with Beta Club, and my one line that I still remember was “I just love alliteration.”  I looked up what that was, and you know what?  Turns out I do.  To this day.)  Only the letter has changed.  This year’s theme?

M.

Mason Jars, Mermaids, Makeup, and Monograms.

My baby girl who isn’t a baby anymore loves most things Southern.  Traditions, cornbread, grits, pearls, and Mason Jars for anything from drinking out of them to storing things.  I tried a Pinterest project (ha–close to a fail, I’d say, but since I learned from it, we’re moving it to the WIN column) and “frosted” some jars with mermaids inside.  If you want to know more, let me know.  I’ll do my best to tell you the right way to do it, which the folks on Pinterest most definitely did NOT do.  As for the mermaids,  a dear friend of mine and I talk about them as a symbol of not only adapting but transforming into something beautiful wherever you are.  Aub is about to enter a whole new way of life, with this “official” adulthood thing.  I don’t want her to feel like she’s underwater…..I want her to grow a tail and swim–take off and make the new way of life her own.  As for the makeup, she loves it.  Since she’s 21 and not 11 anymore, I’m okay with that.  She is beautiful inside and out, makeup or no, and as long as she remembers that, I don’t have a problem with her enjoying the world of makeup.  (I do have a problem with the folks who didn’t recognize that her cake, designed and made by her loving Mama, was a compact and NOT a toilet.  We won’t even go there, folks.  I’m about to get sappy, and I can’t if I revisit my emotions attached to that experience.)  Monograms needs no explanation–I’ve written about that before.  She loves ALL THE THINGS monogrammed.  Even her cookies.  Today we were talking about her monogram, and she said, “I do love it.  It’s so asymmetrical.”  You’re welcome, boo.  Of course I thought about that when naming you.  Ahem.

Tonight as I remember where I was exactly this moment 21 years ago (calling my parents, his parents, my dear friend, heading to the hospital), I am thinking about that letter M and all of the other things it could have stood for–Mercer (where she might maybe perhaps go to grad school), Mouse (her nickname before she was born), Mama (who loves her dearly), Mic drop (something she does regularly), Mississippi (because she is a really good speller and knew how to spell it almost as soon she knew her alphabet…..and so many others.  But as I sat down by the fire last night, and realized how far she’s come, and yet this is only the beginning, I thought about the things I wish for her in the years to come that start with the M.

*Make time for the things you love.  Don’t toss the things you enjoy doing aside permanently for the sake of your career or even another person. If you love it, make time for it.

*”Make hay while the sun shines.”  Work hard when the opportunity presents itself.  Never go halfway.  Give it your all.

*Make a difference.  In whatever you do, do it in kindness and with good intent.

*Make someone laugh or smile.  At least once a day.  And it’s okay if that person is you.

*Make other people feel important.  Because they are.

*Meander on the less traveled path.  Learn to love the other way around.

*Mix it up.  Try new things.  Attempt something you never thought possible.  Eat a new food.  Read a different genre.  Take archery lessons.

*Move.  Your arms.  Legs.  Head.  Dance.  Walk.  Run.  When you are moving, it’s harder to sit on your pity pot.  Trust me, I know this.

*Middle.  Sit there every once in a while.  Or more often.  It offers a different perspective, and different perspectives can be very good to try out for size.

*Master something you’re curious about.  Painting.  Knitting.  Piano.  Underwater Basket Weaving.  No one can ever take your skills away from you.

*Music. Listen.  As much as possible to as many kinds as possible.  Music can lift your spirits or rest with them where you are.  Never be without music.

*Make.  Create.  Share.

*Motivation.  Seek it.  Offer it.

*Move on.  Move beyond.  Don’t get stuck in that one bad moment.  Or bad experience.  Or held up by that one person who doesn’t get you and never will.  Let it go.  (Yeah, I said it–I sang it too.)  I feel that it will be okay.  It will be okay.  

*Muse.  Listen to her.  Let her guide your thoughts and your words.  Write.  Please.  The world needs your voice.

*Metamorphose.  As much as it takes.  Change.  Adapt.  Grow.  Never stop growing.  Adapting.  Becoming.

*Miracle.  You are mine.  Be good to my treasure.  Because I love you.

And I give thanks for you every single day.

May Light shine upon you, today and everyday–chasing the darkness away, so that you can reflect all the good that has gone before you and offer a glimpse of all the good you will bring in the days and years to come.

Happy 21st birthday, Aub!  

You are loved.

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The first pink pig is on the left.  Squealer.  He went everywhere with us way back when.  

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My attempt at a Pinterest project.  Win some, learn some.  Definitely learned some on this one.  

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Monogrammed Mason Jars made by our sweet neighborfriend. As delicious as they are beautiful.

 

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It’s a compact. And completely safe for our food allergies, so this is a definite WIN, and definitely looks like a COMPACT!

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Our girl’s post about one of her gifts.  The one about adapting.  And making this new life work for her.  After all, who doesn’t want a mermaid tail of their own?  Just keep swimming.  

 

 

Comfort in a Cup

We have a few traditions when it comes to birthdays in our family.

First of all, we celebrate for more than a day–we have birthday weeks and sometimes happenings for our birthday month.  It’s all about the celebrating the lives of those we hold near and dear.

You get to pick what kind of cake (or pie or big cookie or whatever) you want for your birthday.  I spent years asking my Mama for a red velvet cake.  Only it was a brown velvet because she wouldn’t use all that red dye.  I think there was a study or something…..anyway, never mind the color, it was delicious.  For years she made me that.  In more recent years, I chose a Texas sheet cake.  Ooey, gooey chocolate goodness.  My mouth is watering as I type.

The birthday supper is a big deal.  The honoree gets to choose anything he or she wants.  And if you’re lucky enough to have your birthday on a weekend, you get to choose two meals.

And so it was for my girl.  She came home from college the day after her birthday, so we celebrated all of Saturday.  I knew she wanted Mexican food, so I had that planned for supper.  But for her birthday lunch, she asked for something I haven’t made in years.  Something my Mama used to make, and my new 19-year-old grew to love it sitting around the table with Mama and Daddy and whoever else happened to be at their house.  Easily among the best comfort foods ever.  The smell of it cooking.  I mean, y’all.  For real.  I was in memory heaven.

Mama was a good steward of what was in her pantry and refrigerator.  She rarely threw anything out.  Over the years she learned great ways to recycle leftovers in a new dish.  Her way of using leftover mashed potatoes might just be her most creative and best tasting effort of all times.

Baloney cups.

Pan number one of baloney cups....oh the smell of them cooking.....

Pan number one of baloney cups….oh the smell of them cooking…..

I grew up on bologna sandwiches.  I can remember being in my bed, waiting for sleep to come, and singing the O-S-C-A-R  M-A-Y-E-R song.  We loved our B-O-L-O-G-N-A.  I loved taking the red rind off and then making sure I had gotten every bit of goodness off it before throwing it away.  Delicious.

When Mama had leftover mashed potatoes to use, she used to pull out her biscuit baking pan and lay bologna slices out on it.  She’d put a scoop of mashed potatoes on top, and add a slice of cheese.  She put it in a hot oven to broil, and voila’ the house smelled amazing, and our taste buds were in for such a treat!  She served it with some fruit and we had a meal.

One of our favorites, though we didn’t get it very often.

I was surprised when my baby girl asked for this for her birthday.  Surprised and delighted.

Pan #2--who decided that 11 slices makes a pack?  Interesting choice, don't you think?  I mean a dozen or a baker's dozen, but 11?  Is that an Oscar's dozen?  :)

Pan #2–who decided that 11 slices makes a pack? Interesting choice, don’t you think? I mean a dozen or a baker’s dozen, but 11? Is that an Oscar’s dozen? 🙂

It was a special treat for all.  The Fella loved it and had memories of when we made this years ago.  I don’t think the littles had ever had it, and they were intrigued and not a bit shy about digging in.  (Suffice to say we went through a whole pack of bologna for the just the four of them.)

The way the house smelled took me back to a safe and happy place, and for a little bit I was home again and my parents were close, and oh–I think I might have gotten the greatest nourishment from those baloney cups, and I never took a bite–my soul was fed and my heart was full.

The only problem is I made the mashed potatoes from scratch.  And only used about half of them.  So now, I have leftover mashed potatoes…..and if a Mama has leftover mashed potatoes, chances are, she’s going to need some baloney to go with it.

 

Love and the comforts of home to all.

#19love

Nineteen years ago at 3:32 a.m. a new life came into this world.  She is amazing and beautiful and funny and generous, and she makes this Mama thankful and honored that I am the one who gets to call her mine.  She’s smart as a whip and tough as nails and as fragile as a China cup, and she makes me mad as fire and proud as a peacock.  (You know, the male ones that are way too pretty who strut around like they are really, really proud.)  I am in awe of the person she’s becoming and delighted by all the good things and people who have come into my life….all because of her.  

Happy birthday, baby girl, keep smiling and having fun and being YOU.  You are the best you there will ever be, and I give thanks for you every single day.  From the first day I knew you were going to join this crazy world to this one right here and now.  I love you.  Always.  

 

for my baby girl

 

when I first learned

you were in there

under my heart

growing and changing

faster than I could ever

imagine

I was amazed there was room

for you

my heart was so full

 

I imagined I could feel your

movements

though of course that was silly

so soon

 

those first precious days

after I knew you were there

I would touch where I thought

you were

in wonder and awe

and I whispered

“hang in there, baby,

it’s going to be okay

I love you”

 

those words

the same words

I’ve had reason to say

far too many times

over the years since

while rubbing your back

and drying your tears

 

hang in there, baby,

it’s going to be okay

I love you

 

as I watch you now

growing and changing faster

than I could ever imagine

I still carry you in my heart

you ARE my heart

 

and I will always give thanks for

the gift of You

 

My boo, oh so many years ago.  Happy Everyday, baby girl!

My boo, oh so many years ago. Happy Everyday, baby girl!

 

Eighteen Years Ago…..Dear Me

Dear Me,

I know you may not recognize me but I’m you, only eighteen years later.  That’s right.  You not only survive this whole childbirth thing, but hey, It’s a girl, and you raise her to be a pretty great person–with LOTS and lots of help, of course.  She’s gonna do all right.  And so will you.

First of all, that DQ cheeseburger, fries, and salad you chowed down on after you realized you were in labor…..yeah, not your most brilliant moment.  I know you were hungry, but, well, bygones.  Just for future reference–Just.  Don’t.

The fact that he honked the horn waiting for you to come out to the car while you were calling folks to tell them you were on your way to the hospital–in labor–we gone have us a baby tonight–yeah, you’ll get a lot of laughs over that one through the years.  Actually I’m shaking my head and laughing as I type it.  What was he going to do, leave YOU behind?  And the fact that he watched motorcycle racing while you did the hard work of labor?  Hang in there girl.  Far better things are on the horizon for you and this little one.  Just laugh it off and tell your friends.  The ones who love you will make you feel better with their indignation and smart cracks.  It’s going to be okay.  Please remember that.

That nurse you just met?  The one who asked if you had picked out a name, and when you told her, she ripped open her snap-up scrub top and showed you the Auburn shirt underneath?  Yeah, she’s the bomb.  She’s the only reason you don’t have to have a C-section.  Yeah, I love Dr. B and everything, but it was Paige, the nurse, who made things happen.  And about him…..he’s still around.  I know you were nervous about him delivering since he only just joined the practice in July, but he’s all right.  Y’all get along and laugh and yeah, he’s taking care of things.  Tonight is only the start of a great relationship.

That moment when your Mama and Daddy come in and see their first grandchild…..No, you are right, you won’t ever forget it.  And when your Daddy squeezes your big toe because he has no words, treasure that.  Life is far too fragile.  Soak it all in while you can.  And by the way, eat all those tea cookies your Mama goes home and bakes for you and feel no guilt.  Eat ’em now while you are still young and should have no worries about such as that.  They’re made of love anyway, which makes them practically health food.

Your brother, by the way, won’t ever let you forget that he had a big test the next day and wound up spending much of the night at the hospital waiting on this baby to arrive.  But it’s okay, you’ll forgive him.  He is going to bring you Nu-Way grilled cheese with extra dill pickles, crinkle cuts, and a huge sweet tea over the best ice ever.  Every. Friday. After school.  Until he graduates.  So yeah, don’t hold a grudge.  Just remember he has a birthday in a week.  Take that cake out of the freezer.  You can serve that when he comes by.

That friend of yours, the one who knew you were pregnant almost before you did?  Who listened and dreamed with you about this little one?  The one who called the hospital at 5 a.m. because she couldn’t sleep, to see if the baby had come?  You will always remember the sound of her voice as she comes walking in soon in the morning, “We got us a girl.  I’m going to buy her Barbies.”  She will too.  A chest full of ’em.   She’s the one who will fight tooth and nail for you and that baby.  And the time will come when that will be real important.  But for now just know that no matter how far apart in miles you may be in the future, you will always stay close at heart.  Pick up a phone every now and then and tell her you love her, okay?

And the fella who came and held her as long as you would let him? He winds up marrying someone who falls right in with the rest of you and is a real sweetheart.  They will stand by your side when you think that they wouldn’t or shouldn’t or couldn’t.  They will always put this baby first and love you both through some stuff.  Give them a hug and that son of theirs too (oops, hope I didn’t give too much away) and for goodness’ sake call them and go eat Mexican with them as often as you can.  Time flies by way too quickly.

When the doctor comes in and finds you not completely covered because you are trying to figure out this whole nursing thing without the appropriate undergarments, don’t worry and stress over it for *ahem* days.  Modesty is OVER, girl.  You are a Mama now.  Good news, the doctor didn’t even notice.  Bad news, you will never go to the bathroom by yourself again.  That’s right, there are more coming behind this one, and you still have no privacy.  But you get used to it.  And they are worth it.

Your sisters, by the way, are going to be awesome aunts. They are some of your best friends and don’t forget it, no matter how crazy or hard things get.  They’ll be there this coming weekend to hold and love on this new baby girl, very possibly part of the reason she will never like being put down.  Because they won’t.   Not the whole time they are there.

This girl you are about to hold for the very first time is going to be one of your best friends.  She is one of the three greatest gifts you will ever receive in your life.  She will make you crazier than anyone ever has, but don’t worry, she’ll get through that stuff too.  In the hardest of times she will make you laugh, in the saddest of times she will remind you that you are strong, and in the happiest of times she will make each day a celebration.  Hold her and don’t cry too much when she won’t go to sleep at 3 a.m.  Soon she will be out on her own, and those nights will only be a memory.  Far too soon and yet right on time.

When she gets cranky, tell her to take a shower.  It just worked tonight, the eve of her eighteenth 3:32 a.m. birthday.  When she acts out of control, let Cap take her to the yelling tree.  She says he just sat her down out there, so whatever, don’t question it, it works.  Oh, and please oh please, you might want to think about investing in Scholastic and a company that makes dark chocolate.  She’s an avid reader and dark chocolate can turn her frown upside down faster than you can say Dove Bliss.

Most of all, give yourself some grace.  It’s not easy, this raising up of young’uns.  Daddy will tell you, I think in just a few days, “No one’s going to help you raise her.”  You will wonder what he means, but all too soon you will understand.  And give her grace.  She’s far more competent and wise than you can see sometimes.  She’s infuriating and compassionate, brilliant and creative.  She loves music almost more than she loves chocolate and she will fill your life with it.  She gets the spelling gene by the way, and that makes for some fun adventures.  Most of all you will be blessed by the people she brings into your life.  Her friends’ moms will be some of the people you treasure most.  She will open your eyes to great books, great music, great thoughts, and one of the things you love the most will come from her…..she’s a leader and she will ask you questions and rarely will she accept “just because” as a valid answer.  You will find yourself saying when she is still small, “Oh my, I hope this hard head and strong personality will serve her well.  One day.  Because it’s not today.”  Spoiler Alert:  It does and it has and it will.

Enjoy the days, don’t wish them away.  Love her and I promise you will love her more and more everyday.  As I do.

Take care and get some sleep while she’s sleeping.  I promise you, you’re going to need it.  You got this, girl.

Best wishes and much love,

Me

Me and my new little one just before her first day at church.  She's wearing a dress that her aunts wore at one month old.

Me and my new little one just before her first day at church. She’s wearing a dress that her aunts wore at one month old.

Aub at our first spend the night party at Maemae's.  Cap took apart our old crib, painted it with safe paint, and added in dowels to make it meet the new specs so it would be safe for his new grandbaby.  She was so loved before they even met her.

Aub at our first spend the night party at Maemae’s. Cap took apart our old crib, painted it with safe paint, and added in dowels to make it meet the new specs so it would be safe for his new grandbaby. She was so loved before they even met her.
At 3 weeks she was already my little "ten pound bag of sugah!"

At 3 weeks she was already my little “ten pound bag of sugah!”

Happy Birthday, my baby girl!  I love you "moistest."

Happy Birthday, my baby girl! I love you “moistest.”