Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Write on Wednesday--The Fight.

Thanks again to INKPAPERPEN for this week's writing prompt. I am behind from last week so I only gave this one a single try. DING!

Write On WednesdaysWrite On Wednesdays Exercise 12 - The Fight. Kerri says: I am a writer of non-fiction (for now, anyway). In my book 'When My Husband Does The Dishes...', I wrote a memoir of marriage and motherhood in as honest way as I knew how. In interviews, I was constantly asked how I felt about revealing so much about myself, and how I knew where to draw the line. I always answered the same way. Every single thing I wrote in that book was 100% true, because without my truth, I had nothing to offer. However, the book didn't represent 100% of the truth, just as my blog doesn't represent 100% of the truth. There are personal details of my life, my husbands life and my kids' lives that I will never reveal, because we all need to to keep something for ourselves. And that's the key to writing good non-fiction - or one of the keys. You have to be honest, because without honesty, your work won't speak to people. You have to be fearless, because restraint in writing can be perceived. But that doesn't mean that you have to bare your entire soul. Choose what you want to share, choose what is relevant to your story. But make sure that what you choose to share is real, and true. The exercise today is to write a story from your life. And remember: it has to be 100% true, but it doesn't have to be 100% of the truth. There's a difference. The keywords are: The Fight. There you have it! Let's keep to last week's brief and take our time with the exercise. Happy Writing!

When Gayla and I were 12 and 9, respectively, we walked about a mile from our elementary school to our home each day. There were two paths to our home, one on the outside of the "forbidden forest" and one through it. The block of wooded area is no longer there, and I never broke my mother's rule and ventured in so I cannot tell you what was in those woods that our Mama didn't want us to be a part of. Gayla and I were good girls (back then). We never got in trouble at school and very rarely got into any at home either.

Among Mama's many laws, one was that we were never ever to hit or fight. The one exception was if someone was hurting us. Another law was if we got into trouble at school, we would get double the punishment at home. Needless to say, we had incentive for walking the straight and narrow, good girl line.

One day, we were walking home from school when a group of boys, who were in my class, came out of the forbidden forest and ran up behind Sister and me. They were, as myDaddy called it, "playing grab ass and being dumb ass hairy-legged boys." One boy in particular was a known bully, and his very presence behind me made me sick to my stomach at the possibility of the trouble he might cause. Well, he and his buddies were mouthing off, when from the corner of my eye, I saw the little DB rear back with his foot to kick Gayla.

I was having none of that crap! You may get away with hurting me, but you would never get away with hurting my Sister. I spun around so fast that I shocked even myself. In my spin, I cold-cocked BullyBoy in the temple with my purse. I might have been carrying something similar to a large rock (my memory is fuzzy in my old age) in said purse. I might also have caused BullyBoy to stumble backwards and start crying. Nevertheless, he left us alone, and we finished our brisk walk home unscathed.

Upon entering the house, we knew we'd better tell Mama what had happened. Completely (and irrationally) afraid of her double kicking our tails for the rest of the night, I started with, "Mommy, you remember telling us the only time we were allowed to hit anyone was if they were going to hurt us?" We barely told her the rest of our scrape with the dark side of bad-girlism when the house phone started to ring. BullyBoy had told his mama, and she wanted our mama to punish us for "beating up her child."

I think I aged five years waiting for my Mama to get off the phone with that Witch (warty nose and all, y'all! No lie!). I was sick to my stomach thinking she would end the call with informing Witchy of how she would punish me for sure since Gayla was a victim all the way around. Can you imagine my surprise and almost euphoric elation when my mother said, "Thank you for calling. However, I told my girls that if they ever felt like they were in danger, then they were to, first and foremost, protect themselves. Goodbye." You can also imagine that knowing she had our backs added to my bravery when the Principal tried to pull us into her office the next morning to give us licks for fighting (technically, we were still at school until we arrived home, and Witchy obviously wasn't happy with Mama's response). I told Principal Cow-Tow that she couldn't give us licks, and she needed to call our Mama. Sass-A-Frass! (Please note that as a good-girl,  I had never talked back to an adult (other than my Mama)! I think aliens had really taken over my brain by then because I was never the same after this incident). Lordy, lordy, I love my Mama. She also wrote a four-page letter, front and back that informed the school they were not allowed to EVER provide corporal punishment to ANY of her children.

I can almost bet that BullyBoy never told anyone about this for fear of being made fun of for getting beat up by a girl. I never told anyone at school because I was already plagued by the taunt, "Don't make her mad or she'll sit on you." REALLY!?! Obviously I should have told someone so they would all fear me for being able to knock them out! Not really!! To this day I hate confrontation. BTW, I hear BullyBoy grew up to be BullyMan. :-P 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Sister Gang...We're Rockstar Planners With (almost) Too Much Sass

The Gray Girls: Sarah, Annie and Becky
No, you didn't miss something. I didn't post yesterday, and I didn't try anything new this week. I'll try to get back on track for next week. I did however join a gang this week. I really cannot say it is something new because it seems like we've always been a gang and just didn't get organized until recently.

Sarah, Annie and I are in a Sister Gang. Unfortunately, the initiation required that we each lose our sister. Like ionic and covalent bonds (look how smart I am using all sciency terms and stuff...not too smart since I cannot remember which one we really are!), we had to lose something to be drawn into one another and stuck like glue (the industrial type glue that never comes off).

The Moore Girls: Jaimee and Gayla
This week has been almost too much to take. Everyone tells us, "God won't give you more than you can handle." We say, "ENOUGH ALREADY! THE PLATE IS FULL! THE BUCKET IS EMPTY! WE HAVE NO MORE TO GIVE! NO FREAKING MORE!!!!" (We shake our fists and release a warrior wail.) And yet we get up every morning, work like maniacs all day and barely sleep at night. We get the jobs done, and we keep one eye pealed for whatever craptastic load is about to come down on us next.

Gayla and Sarah
Sarah's Daddy and MyMama said the same thing to us though. Something good comes from these heartaches of ours...we are bonded together to weather any and all storms that are or ever will be. I lost Gayla and gained Sarah and Annie. They lost Becky and only get me...sorry about that.

We three are a matched set though. We can be in the throws of a hissy crying fit on the verge of losing our minds to misery when laughter erupts. It feels like the brink of insanity being so close to such profound sadness and manic hysteria at the same moment. Luckily, we share a common sense of humor and can say things inadvertently to lighten each other's loads.

Sarah, Annie and Gayla
For instance, we've decided there needs to be a market for Memorial Planners similar to Wedding Planners. I was telling Sarah that I wasn't sure how I felt about us getting good at this but that we could probably make good money at it and save people a lot of stress. Sarah's response through tears and sobs: "We could make a killing at it."  Erupt into laughter and throw out that as our slogan and mind-design t-shirts for marketing. Annie joins the fun and we joke to break up the sadness. I haven't even told them yet that Logical Flanagan (Sarah's fiancee who's going to make an amazing husband for her) very seriously told me that we could do it and do it well.

That's another thing about our gang. We each have amazing mates that support our crazy, stand back and let us be women on missions, forgive us when we mistakenly smack them with a harsh word, and miraculously are standing close enough to wrap us up in their love when the break downs take over. Greg, Craig and Chad, darling men of ours, we could not do any of this without you. Our sub-gang consists of our babies who also know just when to lay on the love. Darby, Mo, Tinky, and Rory, you are our greatest treasures. I think I like our gang. Nah! I absolutely freaking LOVE OUR GANG!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Because Some People Just Never Learn...

I am reposting something that I wrote a few months back because people seem to need to be reminded of how to behave during a time of crisis. IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHAT TO SAY, SAY, "I AM SORRY." Try to avoid cliches and platitudes, and for heaven's sake don't put your own feelings in ahead of the grieving family's feelings. Don't ask what they need or say, "Whatever you need, just ask and we're there." THEY WILL NOT ASK! They don't know for what to ask.

Go to the store and buy paper products and a ready-to-eat meal or some family-sized frozen meal that can be popped in the oven easily. Grab some soft drinks and jugs of tea. Offer to clean the toilets or make sure all of the beds have clean linens. Do the things you know you would want done if you were about to have a boat load of company unexpectedly. Sit there and listen to the family talk. Don't try to fix it because, unfortunately, you can't. Be present. Be helpful. Be the friend you would want by your side in a time of crisis.

"Laughter through tears is my FAVORITE emotion..."

Truvy from Steel Magnolias couldn't have said it better. In fact, I should probably sit down and watch my favorite movie of all time soon since SarahG and I have been quoting it religiously for the last two months. Yes! I cry ... a lot! Most of it I do behind closed doors or in my car so I don't make anyone feel uncomfortable or that they need to comfort me. MyChad sees most of it, but I hide even from him to save him the heartache of seeing me hurt and not being able to fix it.

There's laughter too ... a lot of laughter. Mostly, I laugh at the less-than-appropriate things other people say. I thought I would share the joy today.

On day two of Life without Gayla, I was in the area of our gym and already had it on my list of to-dos to cancel our gym memberships at LAFitness. I had just left sister’s office after visiting with her sweet co-workers and was already pretty shaky and emotional. I walked into the gym, asked for the manager and explained what had happened. I asked the perky little blonde manager, "What do I need to do to cancel our memberships?" Miss Perky didn't say anything in answer but began typing away on the computer and asking me questions about addresses and e-mails. After a couple of minutes of silently and uncomfortably waiting there, Perky turned to me, gave me a sheet of paper she had printed off and explained that I just needed to mail said paper. I thanked her and turned to leave. Perky smiled, waved to my retreat and called out, "Thank you! I hope your day gets better!"

On day four, myChad bravely took me to the crematorium to make arrangements. I had chosen this particular place because it was close to our home and because I really had no clue as to what I was doing, this being my first time to be responsible for such a thing. The funeral director was as she had been promised: sympathetic, helpful, kind, etc. However, she was also all about business. At one point she was showing me their "deep discounts" on a price sheet, and all I could think was, "Dear Gayla, please don't hate me because I took you to the Wal-mart of crematoriums!" However, the conclusion of our visit was the kicker. Discount Director said, "You're doing really well for your first time. It will be even easier the next time you need our services." DD pointed to my husband at that point and said it could be him next time and she hoped I would return to do business with her. I was stuck between the horrible thought of losing my husband and laughing at someone up-selling funeral services in the midst of the hardest thing I have ever had to do.

I could go on and on. However, let me just give everyone a little hint on what to say when you don't know what to say. Tell the grieving persons you're sorry. If you knew the deceased as well, then tell them how he/she influenced your life. Say how much you loved him/her. Then listen. Also, unless the information is offered, do not ask, "What happened?" or try to press for details. Do not ask this grieving individual to re-live the death of his/her loved one by telling you how it happened. Google is an amazing tool, and it will provide you the details you desire.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Family We Choose

 Last Weekend
If you are blessed, God provides you a family that you are born to. This family loves you, raises you, and teaches you how to be the person you become. If you are super blessed, God places people in your path who become your family without a shared blood connection. This family also loves you, grows with you, and shows you how to be the person you become.

Jaimee and Sarah that fateful birthday.
More than ten years ago, God placed a woman in my life who taught me this is the best kind of family...MySarah. We worked with one another at SuperPages and had friends in common. I think we truly became attached to one another when Sarah insisted, because my beau at the time had dumped me on my birthday, she would throw me a proper birthday celebration. I was blown away by her selfless joy and latched onto her as my soul sister. We soon became like peanut butter and jelly, not one without the other.

Sarah on her first trip to Texarkana
Daddy, Gayla and I took her to Milwood Lake in AR
and showed her her first live alligator.
I also soon discovered how MySarah's heart had grown so big when she introduced me to her first family. Her AuntBecky and UncleWendall became my AuntBecky and UncleWendall. Her sisters became my sisters. And in turn, I shared MyGayla and MyParents with Sar. Over the years we have grown our families ten fold.

In March, when we all lost Gayla, Sarah was the first person I called. Before I could dial her number though, I stood behind my parent's home and lost my dinner in anxiety of making this call. I knew I wasn't the only one who had lost our sweet sister, and didn't want to tell anyone because that would make it real. I still regret that I had to break Sarah's loving heart over the telephone and will never be able to take that back. In true Sarah generosity, she continues to tell me that there was no way around it.

Sarah and I became like a solid mountain together. She held me up when I couldn't stand, and I propped her up when she wanted to crumble. We melted into one another when neither of us gave a hoot. Although she is not my only hero, I can honestly say I would not have survived without her these last few months. Within hours we were working as a team to take care of the business of death. Within days her family was with me and mine taking care of needs we didn't even know we had. Without saying as much, Sarah and I had an agreement that if the phone rang or the text sounded, we took that call immediately no matter the time of day. Even today, MySarah never seems to tire of my weakness. She continues to tell me all the things I need to hear and support me when I cannot stand. I often wonder what I did right to deserve such an amazing woman in my life.

Rebekah Irene Gray
Beloved Sister
True to Sarah form, last night when she informed me about her younger sister Becky's passing, Sarah was concerned more about my hurt than her own. I will never understand the capacity of her heart but only sit in amazement and wonder forever. True to Jaimee form, I immediately started planning out what my family and I will do to help our dear Sarah and her family through this horrific time. I pray I am even half the woman Sarah is so that she knows how she has helped me to grow. I also beg God to make me the friend and sister that Sarah deserves.

Rest in Sweet Peace, Rebekah Irene Gray. You are loved and missed.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18(NIV)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Write On Wednesdays--Take a Walk

Write On WednesdaysThanks once again to INKPAPERPEN for this week's writing prompt. This group is super supportive and is always keeping me thinking. Everyone should go check it out and join the fun. Writers of all kinds are welcomed and encouraged (and you'll get readers from ALL OVER THE WORLD! I have been read by at least one person on every continent). Also, every week I get so excited about reading others' blogs that I start reading how they have attempted the prompt first. Big mistake on my part as I always feel a little intimidated after reading all of the wonderful writing of others. Someone should remind me to write first next week then go read!

Write On Wednesdays Exercise 11 - Take a Walk: "Come back home and write what you encountered. Try to write so that your sentences feel the way the walking felt." Let's toss the 5 minute sprint aside this week and instead take a lingering stroll through our exercise. Participants are encouraged to write a first draft (the point being to get it out on the page), then to go through and edit their piece before posting. We're aiming to get from one place to another, taking the reader with us - economically, gracefully, elegantly. Perhaps start with the usual stream of consciousness exercise if you are having trouble getting started. But then stop and take a look. Edit your sentences and try to get them "feeling" the way your walk felt.

ALARM...snooze...NO! GET. UP. TIME. TO. WALK. DRESS. SOCKS. SHOES. juice and water. do i wake him to join me? AHHHH! WASTING TIME. JUST DO IT! IT'S STILL DARK OUT AND IT'S HOT EVEN AT 6 A.M. WHY CAN'T I FIND A SONG TO GET ME GOING ON THIS STINKING IPHONE. oh look, a bunny.  GET OUT OF MY FLOWERS! My ankles and heels are especially stiff and soar this morning. Maybe I shouldn't walk on the concrete. It's rude to walk in someone's yard though. WHY DO THESE PEOPLE ALWAYS PUT THEIR GARBAGE OUT AFTER TRASH DAY? THEY WON'T PICK UP ALL THAT FURNITURE! oh look bunnies everywhere. better their yard than mine i guess. NO NOT THAT SONG IT MAKES ME SAD. uhn...another house for sale or lease chad says all these houses for lease is not good we're never going to be able to sell our house when we get ready. I swear I always smell natural gas when I pass this house maybe that's why it has been for sale for so long. OOOOOOHHH GOOD SONG. is anyone looking? Swing. Arms. Pick-up Knees. look out dog poo. PICK UP AFTER YOUR DANG DOGS PEOPLE. husband wife runners i wish i could run. biker. NO NOT THAT SONG EITHER. i miss working out in the gym with gayla. i miss gayla. she would be proud of me for walking. she would be disappointed in me too. ACK! PANIC! CAN'T. BREATHE. FEEL. NAUSEOUS. in through the nose out through the nose. heel. toe. in through the nose out through the nose. heel. toe. getting to the turn around. GOOD SONG! turn around. husband wife team again. show offs. another biker. oh look the little lady who claps! i'll have to remember to look that up to see what it does (probably just scares the bunnies and mountain lions away...the news said they were bob cats). MAN IT'S HOT! drink some of your water. that guy is creepy. WALK. FASTER. he probably thinks i am creepy. The sun is coming up. Wonder how hot it will be today. I miss winter. Maybe I should just go back to the rec center then I could swim or work out on the elliptical and then I would not have to be out in the heat. OH! Gayla loved this song. I love Gayla. I miss her. STOP IT! Everyone is tired of you already. She would be tired of you too. It's time to grow up. It's time to quit this. It's passed time. Stop yelling at yourself. You are doing okay. You're walking today. That's awesome. You can do this everyday and start feeling better. You just need endorphins. I wonder if you can buy endorphin replacement therapy. Just what I need...another pill to try to remember to take. Find a good cool down song. squats. for. the. last. few. feet. maybe. some. sun. salutations. inside. STRETCH. BREATHE IN. BREATH OUT. SWITCH. Time for the rest of today.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Try Something New Tuesday
New Boston Pioneer Days (8/23/2011)

UPDATE! The first ever Aunt J-Me's Jam was a bragging success! I took it home this weekend and gave it to my friends and family. We ate an entire jar in one sitting (granted there were 10 or more of us making haste). Yay! Sarah says make a PB&J and let the jam set on the bread first.

After trying pomegranates, making jam, and adventuring into Russian cuisine, MySarah (and Hubby Dearest MyChad) said the wallet was getting a little thin, and we weren't very far into my new adventures. Therefore, we struck out to do something new that was also economical...FREE IN FACT! Since we had all caravanned to east Texas to spend the weekend with MyMama and MyDaddy, we decided to try out the New Boston Pioneer Days (fun factoid: MyMama dressed as an Indian princess for the first ever of these fun and sun-filled days almost 40 years ago so it was only new to the rest of us! We didn't dress up though...that would have been funny too!).

Daddy, Jeremy, Mama, Mike, Sarah, Darby

Mama, Jeremy, Me, Mike, Sarah, Darby (Daddy's first attempt at taking photos with a camera phone!)
Sarah's hand is a good 20 feet
below the fan!
Everything is bigger in Texas!
The three-day and night festival is touted as the "Hottest Festival in Texas" (NO $%i+ Sherlock! It's freaking August in Texas...107 degrees of sweaty fun, people watching, Jumbo Corndog eating, and jumping from shady spot to shady spot!). We started out with a stop at Sonic to make sure everyone had a cold drink. Everyone included the following supporters of adventure: MyMama, MyDaddy, MyDarby, MySarah, MyMike, MyJeremy and...hmmmm....there was one more....oh yeah! ME! I don't know if it's always a good idea to mix this little group with heat and a festival in small-town, east Texas (sun-punch-drunk), but it was a riot! We looked at all the little vendor booths, I bought DarbyDoo a hat that said "Native Pride" (she's half Chippawa/Ojibwe), we roamed around the antique cars and trucks, and I danced the jitterbug with MyMama.

At one point, we were walking back to the ginormous pavilion in search of shade, the 20-foot wide ceiling fans, and home-grown band music, when the following exchange took place:

Mikey: "Darby, you should write your name on the tag of that hat like Minnie Pearl."

Darby Doo: "Who?"

Mikey: "OH MY GOD! You don't know who Minnie Pearl is! You, know! Hee Haw!"

Darby Doo: "What?"

Mikey: "Where oh where are you tonight?"

Mikey, MyDaddy, and MyJeremy: "Why did you leave me here all alone?"

Mikey, MyDaddy, MyJeremy, MyMama and Me: "I searched the world over and thought I found true love! You met another and PBBBBLLLTTTT you were gone!"

MySarah (as Darby Doo looks on mouth agape and mortified): "How the heck do y'all all know that?"

ME: "How do you NOT?" (We educated her and Darby later...THANK YOU YOUTUBE!)

I think I wish I had tried some of the
fried green tomatoes since I cannot find them
anywhere around here and am not able to
make them myself without burning them.
I guess it's okay to mortify your teenager as long as her grandparents and your best friends are taking part as well.

The heat won that round! We gave up pretty quickly and headed to the cars, stopping to purchase a funnel cake and some Jumbo Corndogs. Darby said the funnel cake was good, but I wouldn't feed those corndogs to my puppies! Sarah took one bite, decided it was gross and asked if I wanted it. Not paying attention to her gag face, I said, sure. I too took one bite and went to throw it away. Mama said she would try it if I was done. Her one bite finally landed the rest in the garbage. I still ask, "Why was the meat dyed red?" Blech!

I will say this for small-town festivals, I love the fact that I can run into my extended family, who I haven't seen in months, and it be just a comfortable visit while out doing nothing. That part makes me lament moving to "the city." Also, small towns let all the fun people out on those days, don't ya? That was some of the best people watching we have done in a quite a while. The following teen takes the prize though. It's a little difficult to tell in the picture, but she had to have been almost 6-foot tall and four of those feet were just her legs! Darby said she could have made the site if we had been at the store instead of a festival. I am saddened that someone had to have told her that those Daisy Dukes were a good idea, especially with a long-sleeved western shirt and boots! She better just be glad I am not her Mama because those cheeks would have missed Pioneer Days all together if I were in charge!

The list continues to grow:
  • kayaking
  • 5k training to eventually RUN a 5k
  • mud bath
  • banya (not just food; they have a spa too)
  • Zumba
  • Ballroom dancing class
  • Watch a Bollywood movie at a Bollywood theater
  • Quilting
  • Take Darby to see a Midnight show of Rocky Horror
  • Participate in a flash mob
  • Boot Camp
  • Art Class
  • Dance on a Bar
  • Puerto Rican food
  • Meditate at a Buddhist temple
  • Volunteering at a homeless shelter
  • being a tourist in my own town
  • snow skiing
  • order and eat hash browns "all the way" at Waffle House

What do you suggest?

Monday, August 22, 2011

You are KIND, You are SMART, You are IMPORTANT!

You are KIND, You are SMART,

Our Darling Daughter starts her adventure in high school today, and I feel like I just climbed into the lead car of the largest, tallest, scariest electric roller coaster at the amusement park of life. I used to joke with Hubby Dearest that if we could get her to the age of 18 without too much damage, then we did a pretty good job. Some how all the laughs have gone out of that joke beginning today, and she is only 14. I think it is because, from this point forward, I know that we are only spectators in her adventures. We cannot "make" her do anything and can only provide the best possible environment to make all of her wise and unwise decisions.

Although I told her that this would be the year she started setting her alarm and getting herself up in the morning, I still woke her up this morning. I still did my, "Wake up, wake up, it's time to wake up in the mooooorrrrnnnnning! First day of high's going to be aweeessssoooooommmmmeeee!" song. I also braided her hair because she asked me to and followed her around making sure she had everything from supplies to lunch. I think she might have been a little wigged out that I kept holding her face and saying, "You are kind, you are smart, you are important...say it with me!" (We saw The Help this weekend!) When she would say it with me, I would add, "And we love you, love you, love you!" To her credit, she smiled and giggled at me (I put a note in her lunch that said the same thing and sent her a text with it for when she gets out of first period. I'm a loony tune! I know this! Don't judge!) I am not the only one struggling with separation anxiety (8 years too late or 4 years too early depending on who you ask). Hubby Dearest is working from home like he has for the last 8 years "Just in case she needs something and calls."

I am a stalker mama!
We asked her yesterday if she wanted us to drop her off the first day or if she wanted to ride the school bus. I have to admit that I was internally devastated that she wanted to ride the bus. I did hide out at the corner of the street plenty far away to watch her get on that bus. Then my route to work may have coincided with her route to school (it was totally coincidental!). I am looking forward to hearing all about her first day of high school and will try not to be too disappointed when all she says is, "It was okay."

Thursday, August 18, 2011

100th Post! It's All About Sister...

Because we are taking a long weekend, I am posting this early. I actually started putting this post together late last week because I realized that my 100th blog post would also fall on the Friday before our Gayla's birthday weekend. Sister is the reason I really truly started contributing to this blog. It's been cathartic to write what is on my heart (even though I leave a lot of the ugliness out and try to focus on positive--nobody wants to witness an ugly heart--grody!).

Sister would have been 39 on Sunday had she not been stolen away from us this past March. We would have picked at her about having to give up birthdays after this year, or start counting backwards, or, my personal favorite, start having the Nth anniversary of her 39th birthday. Instead, our friends and our family are huddling together to remember the 38 wonderful years we had instead of plan for the future torment of years to come. (Ha! Funny Memory: Gayla helped throw me a NASCAR-themed birthday a couple of years ago and the only black and white checkered flag-type decorations were for an over the hill party theme. Every one kept asking if it was the big 4-0. "Oops!" Gayla said to me when I started to get weepy about it. Oops! Indeed!)

In Monday's post, I asked for your stories about Gayla. Thank you to those who sent me your loving tributes. I will be sure to pass them on to my parents this weekend, and it's never too late for you to share with us! Here are all of my posts for my beautiful and loving Gayla, sister extraordinaire:

Thursdays Are Happiness Reports:
August--Being Organized in the Kitchen (08/18/2011)

Bpppllllltttttt! This week was an EPIC FAIL, as Darling Daughter would call it. I was so proud of myself for going to Lowe's and selecting an inexpensive version of what I really wanted for under cabinet storage in the kitchen. I decided since the pull-out shelf drawers that I really want are more expensive than we can budget right now, that I would get the dinkier version with its white coated wire baskets. WRONG!

One Option Of What I Really Want ($110 at Lowes)

Another Option of What I Really Want ($130 at Lowes)

What I tried to make myself want ($38 at Lowes)
Go ahead and laugh...I am laughing at its dinkiness too! You know that saying, "You get what you pay for?" I obviously paid for a crying break down on the kitchen floor. However, MyChad is a prince charming. He very calmly conferred that the double layer basket system would not fit into our current set up because of the existing half shelf but also because it was too small to really help with our clutter factor. Also, the baking pan organizer was too tall to fit in the cabinet as well. Always my number one biggest fan, Hubby Dearest then followed up with stroking my ego and bragging on me for being "determined to make progress." I loves my man!

He's smart as well as good looking too! Chad has a very reasonable plan...postpone this week's happiness project for a few weeks and put the money into my savings account until I can afford the organization I really want. So after a return trip to Lowe's (easiest return ever!), I just cleaned the kitchen. That still makes me happy! Well, at least until we get to cooking chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes and homemade cream gravy. Darling Daughter had that mess cleaned up when I got home from work the next day. I love my girl!

Visit my blog each Thursday to see how My Happiness Project is going! Here's the plan by month so far:

  • August--being organized
  • September--eating healthy
  • October--having energy
  • November--being thankful
  • December--focusing on family and friends
  • January--focusing on marriage
  • February--focusing on parenting
  • March--being creative
  • April--being helpful
  • May--working smarter
  • June--being adventurous
  • July--loving Jaimee

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Write on Wednesdays--Piqued

Write On WednesdaysThank you again INKPAPERPEN! The Write On Wednesday Rules: Feel free to get creative with the writing exercises - there isn't a right or wrong. Please do try to visit the other members of Write On Wednesdays and leave a comment.
Write On Wednesdays Exercise 10 - A Gift of Serendipity... Take Felicity's Word of the Week. Write it at the top of your page. Set your timer for 5 minutes. Write the first words that come into your head after the Word of the Week. Stop writing when the buzzer rings. 

Felicity's Word of the Week is...

A state of vexation caused by a perceived slight or indignity; a feeling of wounded piqued, piqu·ing, piques

1. To cause to feel resentment or indignation.
2. To provoke; arouse: The portrait piqued her curiosity.
3. To pride (oneself): He piqued himself on his stylish attire.

Enjoy! Try to have fun. You don't need to focus on the meaning of the word too much. No matter what you write, the point is to Get Writing.

MONDAY:  I was piqued on Saturday when I got up at 7 a.m. to retrieve Darling Daughter from her best friend's sleep over to head over to Freshman Orientation, Fish Camp, at her new high school, and the little booger was a little snarky with me. Being her forever cheerleader, I was trying to be peppy and encouraging about having fun and making new friends. DD, in her best condescendingly fake peppy sing songed at me, "I'll try." Smart ass! I pointed to her chosen attire for her first impression with her new school, a Girl Scout t-shirt, and sang, "You know what Girl Scouts say, 'Make new friends but keep the old; one is silver and the other's gold.'" I am sure DD was piqued at me too because her surliness continued so I turned my peppy on a little louder. I think I am a butt too, but I just couldn't help myself. How do you out-smart-ass a smart ass? Ding!

TUESDAY: When I was a teacher, once a week, we would have a WOW (word of the week) and CCW (commonly confused word). As part of the bellringer, I would have the students create a poster of the WOW and CCW that included the word, the part of speech, the definition, a doodle of their interpretation of the word, and three sentences using the word. I miss teaching and am a lot nostalgic so I created my own poster for PIQUED. DING!

WEDNESDAY: MyDaddy is not interested in technology. Never has been. When I was in college, Mama and Daddy bought me my first computer for graduation. It had this very cool (at the time) screen saver that would create pastel drawings as you watched. The closest we could get Daddy to a computer was him watching the drawings be created, which I have to say was a lot of entertainment for the time. Nevertheless, you can imagine my excitement last night when I looked at my FaceBook news feed and saw Daddy Dearest is now friends with MyMama. Oh, joy! I scrambled to add him as my friend and anticipated the wonderful pictures I could tag him in and the Words With Friends games we could play. I refresh. Again. Refresh. REFRESH. REFRESH!!!! Daddy Dearest is now friends with MyMama and MyMike (dearest friend). AW HELL NO! You don't except my friend as a friend before you accept your daughter as a friend. Hubby Dearest walks through the living room at that exact moment saying, "Hey, Baby! Your Daddy is on FaceBook, and he's sent me a friend request." I called Daddy, piqued at the snub. I should have known...MyDaddy isn't even setting this up. Enter MyBubba who lives to pick at me because,'s so freaking effective! Mama talked me off the ledge and said she would help Daddy figure out how to correct this as soon as we got off the telephone, but then she and I talked for another hour so I am sure she forgot. I did however check the notifications a few more times throughout the night only to see more of my friends added to Daddy's list (he's really popular!). Feeling really hurt, I called Bubba this morning, and he started laughing. "Your daughter sent me a text last night. 'You're hurting her feelings.'" He then explained that he was setting up Daddy's phone for him, and Facebook used his existing contacts to find friends. Bubba sent out all those friend requests and couldn't figure out why mine wasn't included. His baby was ready to go home at that time so he stopped before he could get us all connected. Bubba said he would see them tonight and try to get it all set up. DING!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Try Something New Tuesday
Russian Cuisine--08/16/2011

Two weeks ago when I began Try Something New Tuesdays, I asked for suggestions from you. MySarah suggested trying Russian Cuisine, which caused HubbyDearest to say, "Well, looks like Sarah just volunteered to help you with next week's Tuesday." So I texted Sweet Friend and thanked her for volunteering to join me. There's only one Russian restaurant in our area, Russian Banya on Rosemeade in Carrollton, TX. Ask for Tony G; his people took amazing care of us. It didn't hurt that we were their only clients on a Friday at lunch. I hear Saturday requires a reservation though.

All in all, Sarah and I couldn't rave enough about the service and the food. I will say that taking a PepcidAC before I went would probably have helped me later on. Don't get me wrong; it was amazing! I am just not a young chick anymore, and cucumbers HATE me!
We began our adventure by trying Kvas, which the waitress told us was "like root beer but not sweet." We were blown away by the extremely large 2 liter bottle that came out. Sarah said it's taste reminded her of rye bread. I thought it tasted like carbonated prune juice. We both agreed it smelled like stale beer. We were a little nervous after our little beverage mishap. However, we are glad we didn't give up as the rest was just divine.

After our beverage and a little SPICY salsa stuff on bread, we moved on to appetizers. Because I abhor beets and Sarah loves them, she had the Russian Beet Salad "Veinegret," and I partook of the Russian famous "Olivja Salad." We were good Girl Scouts and tried three bites of each. Sarah was so in love with her beets that she took them home (check out her homage).
While Sarah and I were still eating our salads, we ordered Pirogues with Cabbage and Chebureki, deep-fried lamb dumplings. The Pirogues was deep fried bread stuffed with sweet cabbage...pretty good. The Chebrueki was deep fried meet in a pastry. As we said in unison, "WHO DOESN'T LIKE DEEP FRIED PASTRY AND MEAT!" Absolutely delish!!
Although we were totally stuffed, we knew it wouldn't be a true adventure if we didn't make room for a sweet. Can I just recite Sarah's impromptu song for the Honey Cake (think Phoebe's song on Friends called "Smelly Cat" for the tune)? This was the most delicate, creamy, chocolate pastry goodness to ever cross my taste buds. Holy shmolly! I would go back just to eat deep fried meat pastry and this large piece of heaven any day!

Honey Cake
Honey Cake
I don't know what to say
there should be a song about you....

And what does an adventure gone right do? It inspires you to make lists of all the new things to try someday. Here's what Sarah and I jotted down on the back of our Russian menu today:

  • kayaking
  • 5k training to eventually RUN a 5k
  • mud bath
  • banya (not just food; they have a spa too)
  • Zumba
  • Ballroom dancing class
  • Watch a Bollywood movie at a Bollywood theater
  • Watch a foreign movie at a theater
  • Quilting
  • Take Darby to see a Midnight show of Rocky Horror
  • Participate in a flash mob
  • Boot Camp
  • Art Class
  • Dance on a Bar
  • Puerto Rican food
  • Meditate at a Buddhist temple
What do you suggest?

Monday, August 15, 2011


Gayla Moore, 2010

MyGayla made birthdays extra special. She knew that the day you were born was the day her life was blessed because you were important to her. She came by this honestly because in our family birthdays are celebrated for weeks at a time. This week is going to be one of the hardest to live through because we should be celebrating her in the way she celebrated each of us. I have been posting to her facebook what I wanted to be sending her everyday this week in return for the special week she gave me back in November.

November 15: "Good morning. I love you. Happy Birthday Week!!!!!" and then we chatted about birthday cakes...she had two chocolate chip cookie cakes with sunflowers in icing.
November 16: "Happy second day of your birthday week!!!!!!!" and then we chatted about our book club reading.
November 17: "Happy third day of the week of your birthday!!!!" and then we wished for the next day to hurry and get there so we could see Harry Potter.
Mama and Gayla, 1972
November 18: "Happy fourth day of your birthday week!!! See you soon. I love you!" and then we spent the day coming up with a plan for meeting for the midnight showing. Sister waited with Sarah and the gang holding our places in line from 5 p.m. until midnight.
November 19: "Happy Birthday and day #5 of your birthday week. Have a wonderful day and I will see you tomorrow."
November 20:  I beat her to it and told her I loved her to infinity. She wrote, "I love you too. Happy 6th day of your birthday week." And then Gayla threw me a birthday party and made sure surprize guests from T-town were there too.
November 21: "Happy 7th day of your birthday week. I love you. I hope it's been the best yet."

Mama, Daddy, and Gayla, 1973
My life was always the best because of Gayla. She was a better sister than I deserved. She was my playmate growing up, my roommate as an adult, my workout partner, my maid of honor, and my best friend. Gayla made my husband feel like he had been her brother for his whole life, and she took up being Darby's aunt like she had been there since day one. In Gayla's eyes we were all the best that we could be and we could do no wrong.

Daddy, Mama, Gayla and Jaimee, 1975
Dana, James II, Gayla, Chad, Darby, Jaimee, Daddy, and Mama, 2007

Darby and Aunt Gayla,
Phantom of the Opera Night, 2010

Gayla and James III, 2009

Gayla, Mike and Jeremy, 2009

Sarah, Annie and Gayla, 2008
For this week of her birthday, I would love to hear about your favorite memories and thoughts of our Gayla.