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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Our Dog is a Rock Star

In a moment of insanity I bought a Yellow Labrador Retriever - only pet I’ve ever purchased. (I believe in choosing at the pound, or being chosen by a stray.)

It was King’s Birthday; I had to top a flat screen TV & surround sound from the “big 5-0”.
There were other things … King had a hard time when Scholar Child moved to Florida. Next year, Preacher child left for college (Surprisingly, I handled it better than step-dad, or special-dad as he prefers).  Next year, Party Child would leave for college; King’s arthritic dog was not long for this world. 3 kids gone and old dog in heaven? I was worried.

So, I ‘reincarnated’ dog of King’s youth, Boozer with the Big Paws – hoping they’d bond before old dog passed and Party Child left the state. Bond they did.
The vet lists: Jackson Brown
(Told you he was a rock star.)

AKA registers: Jackson Patron Crash Rascal Brown
It was collaborative:

Jackson Brown – (Flower Child, King, me) “Doctor My Eyes” - a favorite song; King’s forever stuck in the 70’s; ‘son’ - a word-play.
Patron – (Party Child) It’s King’s favorite.

Crash – (Scholar Child) We’d described little puppy tearing up our home.
Rascal – (AKA) family name.

Preacher child missed out, fraternity beach weekend won – I called him about our new addition (and to remind, send a Happy Birthday wish/text/call)...

“Mom, what is that noise?”

King's birthday gift whining in my car.
“A DOG? WHAT are you thinking?”

I love Preacher Child; always good for a reality check.
3 years later, I still hear yellow dog is the best present King’s ever received.

Neighbors who wished we and our big, loud vehicles would move, allowed their children to play with yellow dog.  We think it swayed the HOA to let us stay.
He’s smart – fetches Frisbees, tennis balls, sticks. Could bruise you with his wagging tail – afraid it will dent my car as he guides me in & out of the garage. (King trained him - 3rd time I brushed a garage door to avoid hitting a Mustang in the driveway)
Happy to report! Old dog has miraculously survived. She dug deep; found youth.

Once, we knew kids were home when the kitchen door slammed – now a tennis ball flies by the window; yellow dog retrieves. We know one’s back.
When King & I got married, insightful friends gave us a terrific set of ice cream bowls – I wrote a thank you, noting “ice cream was one thing we could all agree on”.
Now, there are at least two things, ice cream and the best dog on the planet.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Hot Air Balloon Mom Quiz

You might be a Hot Air Balloon Mom if you’ve:

  1. Stalked your child’s Facebook page.
  2. Driven to the (party, Waffle House, Movie Theatre, etc.) to confirm child was there
  3. Considered opening child's correspondence, by steam – held to light for preview.
  4. Quietly listened outside child's room (more than 10 seconds) wondering what they’re laughing about. (skype, phone, tv...)
  5. Peeked through blinds as they return, or leave.
  6. Collected 5+ friends’ cell numbers. (Tip: Save when child calls from friends’ phones)
  7. Celebrated with happy dance - first time they drove themselves to practice.
  8. Set up a joint debit card so you know where they’ve been.
  9. Watched child (more than 47 seconds) while they sleep – past the 17th birthday.
  10. Wished you could send child a “Screamer” letter (ala: Mrs. Weasley, of Harry Potter)
If you answered “Yes” to 5 or more of the above, You are a Hot Air Balloon Mom.
(I'm 9 for 10)

You might need a little coaching if you’ve:
  1. Posted your angst on their Facebook page.
  2. Publicly appearanced inside the venue of question
  3. Opened letter; glued back together.
  4. Knocked on door, asked with whom they’re having fun
  5. Banged on window, waiving as they come/go
  6. Called/texted more than 4 contacts if you haven’t heard from child recently.
  7. Demonstrated happy dance for child.
  8. Inquired why they spent $11.92 at Subway or Starbucks
  9. Attempted to coerce information while they’re asleep
  10. Googled “Screamer” and would have ordered – if it could be YOU screaming.
If you scored 7 or higher, Google: Helicopter Mom blog. I am just short of guilty at 6 for 10.

The Scale… If you’ve only offended once, adjust score.
There, now I’m 4 for 10.
Timing is everything.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

5-Letter Words for Men

I visited Dad in Alabama this weekend. King made me promise to get him some Jack Daniels for Father’s Day. You see, dad finally finished the small bottle King purchased for him (Circa 2004) amidst mom’s 10 year battle with cancer and dementia. (King is thoughtful and believes in life’s basics.)

I set off Saturday morning, in search of a liquor store. Alabama has a law mandating 500-mile radii between liquor stores. I finally found an ABC and a small container of Gentleman’s Jack. (Dad’s worth it; it will last until 2019, so I got the best) While waiting in check out – a harmless old geezer lingered, tried his best stand-up: “Do y’all watch that show, LINGO? I heard a funny joke, can I tell it to y’all?” We nodded, hoping to encourage a speedy exit.

“What’s a 5-letter word that makes women more attractive to men?” We collectively gave up. “BEERS!” He announced, and thankfully, after a few more pleas to watch LINGO, left us to ponder.

Old guy in front of me: “Okay then.”

Cashier: “Yea” (shaking head apologetically)

Me:  Public nod – to myself: “Please, God, just get me out of here, I promise to get an Amazon gift card next year, no more Jack Daniels for dad, unless King personally buys it.”

Woman, behind me (who could have taken out the geezer with a single blow): “Well, I know a 5 letter word that makes men more attractive to women: BLIND.”

I love Alabama.

We, the ABC audience, shared chuckles and I began thinking of 5 letter words in relation to men. It hit me - hours later driving back to Georgia: HEART. That’s what I appreciate about the men in my life.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad – you put up with us, provided debt-free educations, loved mom since 1961 and the last 9 1/2 she was with us were TOUGH by any standard, but you never failed and that's HEART.

Happy Father’s Day, Brother - what a wonderful, stable, capable man you’ve become. You’ve got a fantastic job, my favorite niece and who knew what an amazing father you’d be? Not only braving science experiments, but Easy-bake oven, then fake eye lashes and make-up for the dance recital? That’s HEART.

Happy Father’s Day, King – First you deal with your own two, and then find room in your heart for 2 more. You adventured in dirt bikes, fishing trips, mechanics, race tracks, junk yards, jailbreaks and near incarcerations with the boys, and then learned to live with the girls – all the while bestowing your little gifts of wisdom. That’s HEART.

And I love y’all!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

When Trouble Grows Up

I spoke to a guy yesterday (Whole Truth: Edwards-Jones guy, instructed him to drain the meager college account for Flower Child’s fall semester). I gave him the run-down on our 4 children and asked about his…

“They’re trouble”, he replied.
“Trouble?” I laughed, “How old are they?”

“They’re 10, 8 and 4.”  After an extreme outburst of laughter, I gingerly advised: Real trouble would not surface until they carried driver’s licenses.
This made me think about our family’s definition of trouble. Wow. There’s trouble I will never be able to write about. I still cry about it, occasionally.

Incidents of “Trouble” that King & I laugh about, while toasting our empty nest each evening:
The Epic Car Crash. Party Child returned from college and cut off by a truck on the highway. His car flipped; crashed into the cement barrier wall. Thank God he was okay (benefits of a car with a roll cage – scares me I can use a term like Roll Cage, but it saved his life). A witness (angel!) stopped and verified previous events for the police report, so our insurance company called it a hit & run. This financed a big unflip-able truck. Party Child was livid about his car – I tried to offer perspective: “But, honey – we could all be at the Spinal Clinic instead of here at Taco Mac right now!” Classic Party Child quote “My body could heal, but my car is GONE.”   Ahhh for youth.

The Big Flood. Preacher Child and his high school girlfriend decided to adventure near the Chattahoochee River.  I’m certain they haven't told me all details of the story (King typically gets the whole story, divulges details over the years). Here’s all I know: sirens went off, dam waters released, and cell phones, Bibles, backpacks were lost. We only laugh because the kids were fine and because whenever we hear the sirens, we shake our heads and thank God they are alive so we can laugh about that day.
The Golf Cart. Scholar child went off-road with a golf cart. Golf cart had to be professionally towed out of a swamp in Florida. We only laugh about this one because we learned about it long after it happened and we did not have to deal with the situation. (ie: pay for the collateral damage.)

I’ve been accused of wearing rose colored glasses – the kids mimic them behind my back as they wink at King, who knows all. There’s only so much a mom can handle and everyone does not need to know everything. Live by it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

I’m Married to … a Race Car?!

Key trait of a Hot Air Balloon Mom: have a life outside your offspring. (Contrast to helicopter mom, requiring years of therapy once the kids move out)

Not sure who was racing that day – Party Child or King. According to King’s Facebook profile picture, I am married to a race car. (In the lead; blue). A used car dealer once said: “It’s cold metal – can’t keep you warm at night.” King, Party & Preacher Child debate me on this.
Trust me – the race car is His. (Relationships need balance: His, Hers, Ours.)
Ronda Rich warns in My Life In the Pits, her days with NASCAR: Lord, help the woman who falls in love with a race car driver; she will always be second to that car.
I read it too late, years after King came a courtin’. The signs were there:
1)      King drove a truck (I thought it meant he'd fix things. Didn’t realize this meant serious home emergencies and cars, not installing wood floors, new light fixtures...)
2)      Bondo truck was in his garage; hauled from his parent’s yard in South Florida - clear up to Georgia. King showed it off: “It’s to teach the boys about cars, you know quality time!” (He had me at ‘quality time’; my oversight)
3)      Movie and video game titles at their house included words: Grand Auto, Thunder, Fast, Furious …
4)      Massive TV always tuned to The SPEED Channel.
5)      Endless stories about cars he’d owned, street racing days, working his way through college repairing cars.
This sheltered, sorority girl was stricken blind as a bat, and all for love.
My few girlfriends who know about the race car are mystified: Why would a grown man want one?  
King made his case: “Not getting any younger – I have 2 or 3 years to get this out of my system. Are you good with it?”
I am a great wife: “You should be happy – 1 request: do not keep it at our house. The neighbors already hate us with our loud Mustangs, truck and sedans (plus whatever the kids’ friends park on the street) … Warehouse it. OR Get a lift for the garage and let’s buy some nice carriage garage doors.”
The warehouse lasted 6 months; we’re ordering carriage garage doors as soon as the HOA approves. I should have trusted Ronda Rich over that used car dealer.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Busted – 2 of 4 Children Now Know

So much for staying under the radar!

A dear friend posted on Preacher child’s Facebook – (sic) "YOU forgot Mother’s Day!? Shame. I just love your Bible verse today and your mom’s blog is hilarious!"
To her credit, this friend has earned the right to impose a little guilt. She’s part of his village and could tell embarrassing stories for hours about things Preacher child has said since his first word (4 months) To his credit, he’s happy to add my friends and those who raised him (including parents) to the flock.
As you can imagine, Party child ‘Unfriended’ the entire family on FB, once word of his keg stand record became a dinner table topic.
We, the parents, do not take stalking rights for granted -maintaining official FB friendship with 3 of 4 children (psst – if you want to have a clue as to what your child does once he/she obtains a driver’s license and/or moves to college, FB is a very effective parenting tool – but you have to be smart.)

I braced for the sermon and surprisingly, Preacher child responded it was “hipster” I had a blog. (Hipster, sweet. I’m sure he hasn’t read it yet)
Flower child heard me laughing with friend-who-blew-my-cover. Reaction: “Aww cute, mommy.”  See? Time wins. They grow and mature, as her reaction was a far cry from her initial opinion of my foray into Social Media, (circa: 2007): "Actually, mom, you are (sic: too old for Facebook) I mean that in the way that it was designed for high school & college students."

**According to a seminar by an energetic young man with ad agency, Ogilvie & Mather, the fastest growing demographic of Facebook users? Females ages 55 – 65, so there.
FiancĂ© child, betrothed to Preacher child, commented that she loves Pioneer Women, whose poppy seed chicken recipe is the very same she posted a picture of on her FB recently. Social media, breaking down cultural barriers every day. (hmm … Hot Air Balloon Mother-in-law? Yeah, I cringed too – we won’t go there)

Speaking of who we love! I’m learning from my friends. The Big Mama Blog, Tiger Mom, and Spawn of Tiger Mom is paying her way through an Ivy League institution with her new blog.
I’d just love it if you’d leave a comment with who you follow.

*Disclaimer: Only family is fair game. This is a safe environment for friends. I hereby promise not to nickname and add you to Who’s Who. Remember that brief Multi-level-marketing experiment?   Lesson learned: never again join the NFL Club (that’s: No Friends Left). Y'all stuck with me and I love you, even if you didn’t buy the eye cream.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Who’s Who, Who Forgot Mother’s Day and The Score

I wasn’t kidding –2 kids forgot Mother’s Day, 2011. First! Who’s Who (sorted by age)…
King – Husband
Buzz (Great blog for another day, how the name transpired) – Father of my 2
Preacher Child – 22 yr-old, graduating soon, lives in town, engaged, aspires to attend seminary; preach.
Party Child – 21 yr-old bonus son, held keg-stand record at a fine SEC school,  loves cars with horse power and big trucks.
Flower Child – 18-yr old girl, whom my mother (Smart lady; Lord rest her soul) dubbed “my reward” the day she was born.
Scholar Child – 18-year old bonus son, lives in another state

Back to Mother’s Day &  The Score … 
Flower child arose early before we woke for church (I heard noises in the hall, thinking it was Party child returning home). She brought back an apple fritter from Dutch Monkey Donuts– delightful! She made it a wonderful day and half her friends texted me ‘Happy Mother’s Day’. For this, she (and friends) score a 9.1

Party child texted Saturday evening, asked if it was Mother’s Day (yes, he wondered if it was Saturday – not unlike King, who never remembers Easter is always on  Sunday) He scored points for pre-remembering. The first thing he did when returning from work? Said: Happy Mother’s Day! And gave me a big hug. (He also remembered to call his mom to chat,  before speaking to me) For this he scores an 8.7
If you’ve had boys, girls, more than 1 child…  you know I’m grading on a scale. “Different rules for different kids” Live by it.

Scholar Child did not acknowledge Mother’s Day; however, I did not birth him and haven’t had ample opportunity to raise him as the others. (This is a scratch)
Preacher Child –
(That’s right, nothing.)
6pm, Mother’s Day (after quietly steaming to myself most of the day) – I stalked his Facebook to ensure he was alive. Indeed. I stalked his finance to confirm she believed in Mother’s Day – affirmative.

Preacher child posted a mini-sermon about what he’d learned in life. I decided to go public with my angst: “I have found in 46 years: it is a good thing to remember ‘she who carried you in her womb’ on Mother’s Day.” I felt better. He responded at 11:39pm, listing me as his official mom on Facebook. (Point of contention, he’d listed Buzz, Flower child and a few from the flock, but not me) He sent a nice email at 12:01am on how he kept meaning to call, yet didn’t – that my voice haunts him about hospital corners whenever he makes the bed. For this he scores a 3.5, let’s make it a 3
I am still steaming a bit and you’d better bet – optimizing my stealth ways to impose a little guilt here & there to ensure he’s more thoughtful going forward. It’s important to remember your Mama and you know how long your Mama’s going to be around.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Premier Entry - Hot Air 1

Life coach, Joel Boggess, posed a question: What is the one thing that you can’t help but do every day? It took 4 days to realize my answer: "Issue advice, whether folks ask for it or not" –which is why I decided to begin blogging.

Thankfully, several friends and my beloved King have suggested I blog for years.

I birthed 2 children and “married into” 2 more. We've bailed them out of jail, gone to traffic court, towed their cars, “adopted” their friends, laughed, cried, prayed, celebrated successes, and learned a LOT. They've carefully avoided repeating each others' mistakes, finding their own brands of trouble and joy. Knock on wood; all four seem to be maturing nicely and on their way to enjoying responsible lives. (I am not holding my proverbial breath … yet!)

What's unique about me? Why blog? I’ve never understood the term: Helicopter Mom. Helicopters roar and hover. People cover their ears and hunker down beneath them.

Helicopter Mom?

Sounds like M-I-C-R-O-M-A-N-A-G-E-R mom.

That’s a 4-letter word, cubed.

No one wants to be micromanaged.

Because our kids have never responded to hovering and roars, I coined the term: Hot Air Balloon Mom. (My husband claims I’m stealth, but that sounds like another military air craft – hot air balloons are happier – which is what I like to be.) I prefer to float gently, working with the ebbs and flows of our lives, intervening only if they're headed for danger - or if they forget Mother's Day.