The Name He Gave Me

Apparently my name is hard to say.  Over the years it’s been mispronounced or misunderstood quite a few times.  (Somehow on more than one occasion, the person on the other end of the phone has thought I was saying “Pat.”  How you get Pat from Tara, I got no idea, but there it is.)

Perhaps the most distinctive memory I have of my name being mispronounced was when I was in the sixth grade.  There were a handful of us who went to a different class during fourth period, but when our teacher was out, we went back to the other classroom because they didn’t get a substitute teacher.  On this particular day, the teacher who wasn’t crazy about our presence in her classroom decided to make it a point to explain why my name should be pronounced TAR (rhymes with car) UH.  (“The R-uh controls the A.  Always.”)

Ummmm, not how I was raised, but whatever.  I wasn’t one to rock the boat at all, but I remember my good friend, tired of the whole thing, saying, “Mrs. M, Tara could write XYZ up on that board and tell us that’s her name and it’s pronounced Ta-ruh, and we’d have to say it that way.  Because it’s her name.”

I don’t remember the outcome of the day, probably because I was mortified, but I do remember feeling relieved that the day was over and thankful to my friend for speaking up on my behalf.

Cooter seems to struggle with the pronunciation himself, as he is stuck on a short “e” sound instead of short “a.”  But whatever, he gets the Mama part right, so it’s never really been an issue.

Or so I thought.  He informed me Monday that “since your name is too hard to say correctly, I’m going to call you Timothy.”

And so he did.

“Timothy, is this the right answer on this math problem?”

“Timothy, it’s not funny.”  (Because I was laughing and soon he was too.)  “Everything okay in there, Timothy?”

“I’m ready for lunch, Timothy.”

I think the real clincher was on Tuesday when, after we went to vote, he was telling his sister “NO” to all of the candidates she could think of to list.  “What?  Do you want President Obama to stay President another four years?”

“No, I don’t.”  He turned to me. “Timothy, the one thing I’ve learned in my life about politics is you can’t trust any of them.”

Oh me.

I suppose it will sound strange if we go out in public, and he calls for “Timothy” and I answer.  The thing is we have a lot of pet names in this family, and I kind of love that this is one he picked out all by himself for me.  He smiles when he says it–oh that smile–and he never says it in anger.

So yeah, I’m okay with that.

Besides, I remember my Mama’s answer when someone asked about what her grandchildren called her–her grandmother name.  When they asked, she looked real thoughtful, smiled really big, and said, “You know, I really don’t care what they call me–as long as they call me.”

And so with that, I’ll be Timothy as long as Cooter wants me to be.

It’s growing on me.  Just like he did about nine years ago.  Right there in my heart.

Love to all.


from Romeo and Juliet



Cooter, Class Clown and Caregiver

We have this “thing” in our family.  Whenever there’s a family gathering, a hootenanny if you will, inevitably there is someone with the sniffles.  Or sneezes.  Or something.  As we gather together all of us like this only twice a year, no one wants to miss out.  But neither do any of us want to expose anyone else to something contagious.  It got to be a running joke several years back, when someone, probably one of mine, was in attendance with nose issues and the parent (probably me) said, “Oh, it’s okay, she’s not contagious, it’s just allergies.”

And now it gets said by someone at just about every gathering.  Not contagious.  It’s allergies.  Yep.

We do this around here too.  Oh you’ll be all right, it’s just allergies.

Are you feeling puny?  It’s okay, don’t worry, it’s probably just allergies.

Yeah.  Like that.

The first indication I had that maybe what I’ve had going on the last day or so isn’t allergies was this afternoon.  I noticed I felt a little cool.  Chilled might be stretching it, but then again, maybe not.

This is August.  In Georgia.  In my house.  Where I’m a cheapskate with the air until it gets really warm in the house.

So yeah, cool? Chilled?  Something MIGHT be wrong with that picture.

I finally decided to take my temperature.  Cooter noticed me using the thermometer on myself, something that very rarely happens around here.  Thinking back, I can’t remember the last time I’ve had to do that.

“Mama, are you sick?”

I checked the numbers after it beeped.  Hmmm.  Low grade.

This ain’t just allergies, y’all.

“Well, a little bit, buddy.  But it’s okay.”

His eyes got a little wider, and I could tell his wheels were turning.  My Fella and our Princess were at swim practice (yes, she’s loving it, thank you for asking), so it was just the two of us and Miss Sophie.  I turned off supper cooking on the stove.

“C’mon buddy, let’s take Sophie for her walk.”

He looked at me with concern.  “But Mama, you are sick, you can’t go out for a walk.”

I explained that Sophie needed to go out, and it was up to us to take her.

Cooter grabbed the leash and said, “I’ll walk her.”

Surprised, I said, wondering just how far he was willing to go with this, “Well, grab a bag, bud.  For… know.”

I turned to get my shoes and they were gone.  I wasn’t sure he’d remembered a bag, so I tucked one in my back pocket just in case.  I didn’t want him to think I didn’t have faith in him, but I also did NOT want to be without a bag.  Ahem.

I headed outside and didn’t see them.  Had I locked them in the house?

Then I heard him.  “Mama!”  He was waving his precious wave, the one that no words can truly do justice to in describing.  He and Sophie were up ahead on the sidewalk.

I walked a little faster.  “Well, c’mon Mama.  We’re ready.”

We made the walk around the neighborhood safe and sound and mission accomplished.  Twice.  Turns out it was fortuitous that I carried a second bag.  Cooter even tried to pick up what Miss Sophie left, but bless him.  His gag reflex is very, very strong.  The sight of him bending over with that bag, trying– it melts my heart.  He really was trying to take care of his Mama.

It gives me hope.  This is the same little guy who made me crazy today with his lack of focus on his lessons.  And the same one who, a couple of days ago, when I gave him some review addition and subtraction problems, answered “6-3” with “6.”

“Cooter, listen. If you have six cookies, and you eat three, you are not going to have six cookies left.”

He got his trademark look in his eyes.  “I will if I go and get some more.”  He cocked his head at me and grinned. “And I would.”

That’s how 6-3=6 in Cooter math, y’all.

And today that little goof tried to take care of me.  When he knew I could use it.

For the love.

I love that little booger.  And it’s not just because he smells nice.  Which he does.  And he beams sheepishly whenever I say something about someone smelling good.  Oh yeah, we’ve entered the next phase of boyhood.  I’ll know I’m in real trouble when he starts combing his hair.

My Joyfulfriend and I used to talk about our odds of being cared for by one of our children when we’re old.  This week I’ve had a glimpse of hope that maybe I’ve got another potential option–someone who will care for me and keep me laughing at the same time.

And that’ll do for a Thursday.

Me and my allergies cold are headed to bed.  Hope y’all have someone to keep you entertained and comforted too.

Love to all.

The One About Tucked Away Candy Wrappers and Star Wars in my Fridge…..and so much more

Today has been one of those days of Mamahood that I’ve found myself shaking my head more than once and had my heart swell too.

Today I found a Matchbox car on my kitchen counter.  That never happened before Cooter joined my world.

As I was moving furniture in preparation for today’s painting, I found more foil chocolate wrappers.  Ahem.  My boy is an addict.  Sugar.  Chocolate.  Based on all of the wrappers I have found behind books on shelves and behind furniture and in drawers during this “Fresh Paint, Fresh Start” campaign, I figured out how he’s gotten by so many nights not eating a bite of his supper.  He’s a picky eater, but I could not figure out how he wasn’t absolutely starving.

Now I know.

When I found the first wrappers, his hazel eyes got really big and he swished his blond hair out of his eyes and said, “Oh Mama it must have been a really, really big mouse.”  And he gave me that clever grin of his.  Sigh.  He and I both know it was no mouse.  My boy is a chocoholic.

I made sure all temptations were tucked away where he couldn’t reach them.  Only I forgot about one.  Tonight I was headed in to the garage bathroom.  I heard him in there, but as I walked down the hall I heard a crinkling sound.  What on earth?  I turned the corner to enter and he fell to the floor, clutching his fists to his tummy.  “Ohhhh, I have to goooooo.”


It took me two seconds.  Crinkling sound.  Clutched hands.  Aha.

“What do you have?  Give it here.”  I held out my hand.

Y’all.  That boy.  He did a dance and held it out towards me, just out of reach, “It’s halfway open, so it’s okay, right?”  He smiled hopefully, as his voice quavered slightly.

I said no.  Then it was like separating Gollum from his Precious.  Not kidding.  It took me and his sister both to separate him from the Bob’s peppermint candy.

Yeah.  Have a long way to go with this boy.

Then I found this today.


C3PO and Chewie set a Stormtrooper straight in my Frigidaire…..


No, contrary to what I thought, my little guy did not put his favorite folks in the Frigidaire.  That would be his sister.  But he’s the one who left them there after I asked about them.  At supper he told us he wants to see if they will freeze in there.  “Like Han in that Carbon-Knife.”  He tickles me, this one.

At the end of this evening, as supper was in the oven and a stir fry was on the stove, I found myself needing a quiet moment.  Aub was at work, my Fella was at his computer, our Princess was reading in her room, and Miss Sophie was settled in for a nap.  I looked out and Cooter was riding his bike.  I slipped out the front door and sat on the steps and watched.

Cooter riding his bicycle through the sprinklers this evening

Cooter riding his bicycle through the sprinklers this evening

Such joy it brings me.  He went from training wheels to flying, almost overnight it seems.  I love the sight of his little legs pumping the pedals on that yellow bicycle, his hair flying back behind him.  He loves riding that bike and his joy is infectious.  Tonight he was taking advantage of a neighbor running their sprinkler system.  He was soaked to the skin, and his smile couldn’t have been any wider.  When he showed me the worm crawling across the sidewalk, the gaping spot where his front tooth will grow made him seem so much older, and yet still so small.


There he goes right through the water.  Such fun!

There he goes right through the water. Such fun!

I love moments like these.

The other day I found myself alone with my little guy.  We had a couple of errands to run.  As we walked across the parking lot, him by my side, I held my hand out slightly.  When he took my hand almost immediately, a smile and a few tears came simultaneously.  I know that one day, perhaps soon, I will reach out and he will be too old to take his Mama’s hand.  It makes the moment when that little hand slips into mine all the more precious.

Tonight I am thankful for being a Mama to three wonderful and treasured souls.  They keep me on my toes and challenge every fiber of my being at times, but they also bring me more joy than anything or anyone else in my life.  I am thankful for the uniqueness of their spirits and the beauty of their smiles and the sweetness of their voices as they share their lives with me.  And I am thankful for their love and the privilege of tripping over their Legos and gluing back together their Lalaloopsy dolls and finding their shoes so they won’t be late to work.  I have my moments where I’m tired and I just want them all to go to bed; I won’t say I don’t.  But when I wake up in the mornings, the sound of their soft breathing and the sight of their tousled heads are what I listen and look for first.  And the joy that they bring me is beyond compare.

May you all find a surprise on your counter or in your fridge or on your sidewalk that brings you joy today.  Love to all.



Krystal’s–Just Icing on the Cake

English: One of Krystal restaurants (in Calhou...

English: One of Krystal restaurants (in Calhoun) by Cculber007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Growing up we had many adventures.  Especially during the summer.  My favorite memories of those times are loading up in either our Chevy II or my Aunt’s, and off we would go.  We loved going to the weekly movies at the Planetarium.  They would project old Disney movies like “Cannonball Express” or “Candleshoe” or “Apple Dumpling Gang” up on the horizon part of the dome above us.  The cool darkness was a welcome contrast to the blazing bright heat outside.  As we exited through the side door, talking about our favorite parts of the movie, we would blink against the sun shining down on us.

As the movies were shown mid-morning, by the time the movie was over, we were all hungry.  It was lunchtime.  I remember on several occasions either Mama or my Aunt driving across town to the Krystal over near the Mall.  One of them, maybe both, would have clipped  a coupon out.  Krystal burgers 25 cents each.  Later the special was 35 cents each. As we’d pull into the drive thru lane, they would do a headcount and figure out how many each of us could eat.  With at least seven children (and eight later on) eating between the two families and two adults, the order could get quite sizable.  Seems like I can remember us ordering well over thirty.

But we’re talking Krystal burgers, so yeah, they all got eaten.  And appreciated.  If you’ve never had one, you don’t know what you are missing.

Good food.  But really, really good times.

Today I had the rare treat of spending time just me and my little guy Cooter.  We spent a little while at a Christmas Market where he assured me he would absolutely take care of the wooden fire engine or tow truck, and that he really is old enough for a cap pistol. Ahem.  Christmas is coming soon, buddy.  In the end, he was happy with the simple lariat he found, convinced he is the next Indiana Jones.

As we were leaving, he mentioned being hungry.  Today was one of those strange days that clocks didn’t matter.  We hadn’t eaten lunch at the traditional hour, so I told him we’d run through and pick something up.  He was in good spirits, that cutie pie in the booster seat behind me.  His joy came through in his attitude as he played with his rope.

“Mama, we can eat from anywhere you choose.  Just anywhere you choose is just fine with me. Anywhere at all.”

Well.  That was strange.  Cooter is a fan of the beige food groups–pizza, chicken, cheese quesadillas, etc.  When I encourage him to eat his vegetables, he reminds me, “But Mama, I’m a fruitatarian.”  Oh my.

I am my Daddy’s daughter, so I couldn’t resist teasing him.  “Sure thing.  I was thinking of going to the Vegetable Place.”

A glance in the rearview mirror showed his face had fallen.  Bless him.  I felt bad.

“Mama,” he said in a small voice.  “I don’t like vegetables.”

I assured him I was just kidding.  Then he perked back up.  And asked for Zaxby’s.  Ugh.  I do love Zaxby’s at times, but we can have it anytime, as it is safe for my food allergy child.  While I wasn’t looking to have a nut sandwich for lunch, I was hoping for something that wasn’t from one of the few places we are able to go safely.  As I turned into Zaxby’s I saw it.  The red circle.  The K.  Krystal.  My heart, my stomach, my mind–whatever–hollered YES.  I was going to have to make another drive around to get in the drive-thru at Zaxby’s, so I told Cooter that I had a treat for him.  As I pulled back out on the road and went two drives down to Krystal, he began to cry.

“No Mama no.  I want Zaxby’s.”

“Trust me buddy, this is going to be really good.”

We don’t eat much red meat in our house anymore, so I didn’t want to chance the burger.  I ordered him a Krystal Chik, their mini chicken sandwich, and a Krystal pup.

He sat quietly in the backseat.  When the food was ready I passed it back to him.  And then…..

“Oh Mama! This is really, really good. How long have they been around?  When did you have your first one? I can’t believe this is so good.”  He went on and on between bites.  “It’s even better than Chick-Fil-A.”  What?!  Are you kidding me?

Oh y’all.  He carried on  like that for the rest of his meal.

“Mama, those tears from before were untrusting tears.  But I trust you now.”

Well all righty then.

I told him the story of sneaking a Krystal Chik into Mama at the hospital.  He laughed at that, and then we had a long talk about hospital food and what it’s like.  As his hunger subsided and he was all but glowing from this meal he loved so much, he started chanting.

“Krystal’s is great, Krystal’s is good, Let us thank Him for our Krystals…..” When I recognized the cadence as an altered version of our blessing, I stopped him.

“Whoa buddy, let’s don’t do that.”  I wasn’t sure, but it felt like it might border on sacrilege.

“But Mama,” he said, insistently, “we HAVE to pray for them; we want them to stay open.”

I smiled.  I am glad he enjoyed his day and our time together.  I know the meal he had today wasn’t the best for him.  So I will pump him full of fruits and much better things tomorrow.  The thing is, I hope one day he will look back on today and remember the Krystals and everything and be filled with the warmth that only a good memory can bring.  And one day he will realize, as I have come to, that while the Krystal burgers, chiks, pups, whatever are delicious and worth remembering, it’s who we were with and how they made us feel that were really at the root of the joy of the day.

And when you throw in Krystals with good times and the folks you love, well, that’s just icing on an already better than anything in the world cake.