Just.Beans.

Yesterday, I spent the day with my grandmother…who will be called Granny for the rest of this post, because that is who she is.  Her name is Granny.  Yes, she was a Granny at age 40…and that may seem a bit young to be called Granny to all you Nanas and Mimis and GiGis out there… but Granny is the O.G….and for those of you who haven’t watched any National Geographic shows on gangs, O.G. stands for Original Gangster…or in this case…Original Granny.

I spent the day with my Granny to learn a specific skill.  I wanted to learn how to can green beans.  No one’s.  I mean No One’s green beans are better than my Granny’s.  I suspect they will be in heaven, but I have no firm evidence of that.  However, I can think of no good reason why they wouldn’t be.  I have eaten these green beans my entire life.  They are at every Christmas, Thanksgiving, and most other family gatherings.  I can’t describe them to you.  They aren’t complicated…just green beans….and I love them.

I can remember as a small child going to my Pa and Granny’s and sitting under a tree, stringing green beans, breaking beans, shucking corn, silking corn.  Now, before you think I was the victim of child labor…I’m PRETTY sure that most of what I did was eat watermelon and run around the yard playing and getting in the way.  I do remember however, the exact way the kitchen smelled….like coffee mixed with a touch of fried food and maybe a little cantaloupe.  I can’t explain that really, and it is difficult to put into words….its just my memory.   The kitchen table, the wooden cabinets, the linoleum floor.  The Mountain Dew in the fridge.  The leftover cornbread wrapped up on the counter top.  The sound my Pa’s feet made on the steps as he walked up to the kitchen calling out, “Is anybody home?!”… with his black lunchbox, his overalls, his five o clock shadow.  He would swoop me up and give me a kiss with his scratchy face.  He smelled like coffee and sawdust…and maybe a touch of sweat.  My world was perfect.  Meanwhile…while we played, somewhere in that house, quite possibly the hardest working woman on the planet was busy running her home.

So I needed to learn how to can.   Granny’s canned green beans don’t grow on trees, and after canning thousands of cans of green beans, it occurred to me that one day, my Granny might not want to keep canning.  I remember canning being a hot endeavor.  I remember it being a long day filled with women in the kitchen doing various tasks.  I remember hot water, jiggly large silver pots, shiny glass jars lined up like soldiers in rows on towels on the table.  I was ready for the challenge.

So I put the word out to my Aunt Teresa.  I need to be part of canning this year.  She discussed this with Granny.  I got the call.  I was in.  A bushel of green beans would be arriving on Wednesday evening.  I am off work on Thursdays.  Perfect timing.

Now when I was a kid, bushel baskets were round wooden baskets, smaller at the bottom than the top.  They looked huge to me then.  I was intimidated then, and frankly, still am.  I arrived at 9am as planned on Thursday morning.  I saw a rather plain and not that big looking box of green beans on the screened in porch.  A box?? What is this??  It was not round, it was square.  My childhood memory had to adjust just a bit.  I wasn’t sure if this was really a bushel! Seems a little small.  This will probably not take long, I thought.  Maybe she decided to not get a bushel.  Well, I went on in…not knocking…just walking in to a house where I know I am as welcome as I am my own…a house that isn’t the home of my original childhood memories, but it is the home of my memories for the past several years…and it is the home of the Great Bean Lesson of 2018.

So Granny was already sitting in her recliner, a newspaper on her lap, a large silver pot beside her, stringing and breaking beans at a measured pace, rocking a bit by using her toe to push off the floor.  “Well hey there” she said.  “Hey” I replied as I grabbed a newspaper, a pile of beans, and took a seat in the chair beside her.  I started stringing….and breaking.

And before you think this Hallmark movie ends in about 2 hours with rows of pretty jars and a hug….let me just set you straight.

I arrived at 9.  I started at 9:05.  You want to know what I was doing at 10:05….stringing and breaking green beans.  You want to know what I was doing at 11:05…stringing and breaking green beans.  You want to know what I was doing at 12:05…praying to the Baby Jesus that I would get to the bottom of that “rather small” box of beans on the porch.  I begin to think that Mitchell had brought a magic box of beans.  What kind of beans were the Bell’s growing out there in that field?  Had God sent a miracle box of beans…were we supposed to can until we could feed the masses? I have to work tomorrow! There has to be an end in sight! After about my fourth trip outside with the bucket to get more beans, my Granny quietly asked, “have you seen the bottom of the box yet?”  Was my panic evident?  She knows I didn’t take the ENTIRE WEEKEND OFF WORK to do this doesn’t she.  I looked up and saw a smile on her face.  She sat quietly in her recliner….stringing and breaking…taking a sip of coffee….apparently not remotely aware that beans were multiplying on her porch for the love of all that is HOLY!!!!  I calmly replied, “yes…I just found it…because I went looking for it…I dug around in the box until I found it!”.  Granny laughed…and then began to tell me that this was her least favorite part of beans.  We discussed how time consuming it was.  We discussed how our finger and thumb were kind of hurting a bit.  We kept on stringing and breaking.   Oh, and did I mention, that this was the 2nd bushel of beans she has done this week! My Aunt and Uncle were here a few days ago doing a bushel.

We talked about things when she was younger.  We talked about things now.   We talked about her life.  We talked about my life.   Sometimes we didn’t talk at all.  The house was quiet.  We didn’t turn the TV on…because it was on the fritz …come to find out the remote needed new batteries.  We just sat and worked.  Not hurriedly….not wasting time either.   No music.  No nothing.  Just the sound of beans and conversation.  She talked about putting up 100 quarts of beans/year….in addition to peaches, tomatoes, vegetable soup.  She talked about the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from canning.  She talked about family.  Some of whom I had never heard of.  She talked about a world that frankly, no longer exists.  And for the most part…that is not a bad thing.  I am glad that we all have electric or gas heat, A/C, washers/dryers, TV’s, cell phones.   Not for one minute would I glamorize what was, from what I can figure, an incredibly hard life.  I don’t have to haul wood or water.  I don’t have to hang my clothes on a line. I don’t HAVE to can green beans…

So finally we had a pot of beans.  Now, while Granny calmly sat and broke beans, I was not so calm.  Oh, on the outside I think I was…but I kept catching myself trying to figure out a more efficient way to do this.  How could we speed this process up? Maybe we should stop and start doing some actual CANNING….all this stringing and breaking nonsense.  Would we get done in time?   There has to be a way to do 2 parts of the process at the same time! We just kept breaking beans.  I began to realize that I spend most of my life trying to get to the next thing I am planning on doing.  I am constantly doing multiple things at the same time.  I multitask for about 9 hours/day when I’m at work, and if I stop doing that, I am not sure what would happen.  But it isn’t just at work.  I rush into the weekend with a To Do list about 3 pages long.  I run from store to store.  I have 3 things going on at home.  I measure how much time I have to spend in one place, with one person, in order to get to the next thing or person.  I don’t really sit still…and if I am sitting still, you can rest assured that my mind is not.   I have things to do people!!!

But you know what I did  Thursday?  I did beans.  And no amount of my fretting sped up the process.  Granny was the boss of the day and I wisely kept my mouth shut…and realized that this was nice.  I was only focused on one task.  Beans.  I was spending time with my Granny.  Beans.  I wasn’t watching TV and reading a book, and checking FB. Beans. Just. Beans.

Now, we did stop at noon and had a sandwich.  We did put some beans on before we finished stringing and breaking ALL the beans.  I did learn how full to fill the jars, how much water, how much salt, how long to cook.  This isn’t really an exact science because when Granny is your teacher, you get the feeling that she just KNOWS.  She has been doing it for so long that she just knows.  She rarely sets a timer, she watches the clock.  She adjusts the burner temperature, she gives a little stir.  She warns me of the steam…more than once.  She trusts me to carry the heavy pots…but then I wonder if when she sees me she sees the 6 year old little girl running around her yard with a piece of watermelon.  I see the same Granny.  Maybe she sees the same me.  I have sense enough to know that neither one of us are the same as we were even 5 years ago, much less 40.

Finally we got that box of beans  (that was, in fact, an entire bushel weighing in at 32 pounds) emptied, praise Jesus! The jars were filled.  The dishes washed.  We went to dinner with some of  my Aunts and Uncles. Granny ate green beans at dinner.  I did not:)

My mom and dad could have taught me how to can green beans.  For that matter, I can go to the grocery store and buy all the  green beans I can carry.  I realized that that wasn’t what I really wanted.  I wanted to learn from Granny.  I wanted to listen to her stories.  I knew she would listen to mine.

I learned the value of a can of green beans and let me tell you it is priceless.  I learned to sit still.  I learned to turn off the TV and the phone and the music and just focus on the task at hand….and enjoy it….and know that it will be finished when it is finished and not before.

I don’t know if my Granny will ever stop canning.   I hope not, but realistically, she might one day.  In the meantime, beets, beans, tomatoes, soup, jellies beware.  Jane Edna Bell Huggins is coming for you.  The O.G. will own you and you can not escape.  All while calmly stringing and breaking, one bean at a time.

 

 

 

BuJo…huh?

BulletJournal

I am going to step on a few toes here, but we have to talk.  It’s about this thing that is all the rage on Pinterest, and apparently every social media outlet on the planet.  It is called Bullet Journaling.  If you are super cool, you just call it BuJo.  If you are super cool you are doing it.  If you are not doing it…well lets just say, you are probably accomplishing nothing in your life.  Nothing.  Nada. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

I am not doing it…and it is killing me.  I tried to do it last year.  I scribbled some things on some papers…that was about it.  It didn’t work.  I don’t know what it was supposed to do to me, but it didn’t happen.  Yet here we are again.  Another year has gone by.  I have documented not one single solitary goal with flowery script, doodles, or colors.  I.am.a.loser.

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But ya’ll.  Seriously.  Have you SEEN that stuff on Pinterest.  You have to have a Master’s Degree  in Graphic Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design to make your BuJo look like Pinterest.  Not Joking.  I am scrambling to get out of bed in time to brush my teeth before I need to be at work.  WHO IS DOING THIS BUJO STUFF.  I’ll tell you who!  My sister is.  And that stings.

My sister is married, the mother of 3 under the age of 14, a published author (times 3 books), she blogs, she home schools 2 of the 3 kids.  She Cross-fits, and prays a lot too (probably for me).  She has time for this…and I don’t? What is wrong with me.  I work.  That is about it.  I get up, go to work, come home.  I am married, have 3 dogs.  Again, not much going on here.  I worry a good bit…but I am not sure if we should write that stuff down.  But I can’t do it.  Now my sister and I are like BFFs.  I don’t think we are too competitive.  We have led different lives since we were…10 and 12…and it works for us.  I love her, she loves me.  We are both pretty sure our parents love us equally! (right Ken and Susie, right?)  But then we get back to this stinking Bullet Journal business and she can do it and I can’t? Seriously?  I am frankly more artistic than she is.  I even won a coloring contest once in elementary school.   However, the truth is apparent.  She wins this one.

It is so intimidating.  The art.  The colors.  The design.  I can not come to a resolution as to how people have time to actually design the Bullet Journal and then DO the things in the dang thing.  It seems as if by the time you draw all the flowers and graphs and charts…it will be time for bed.  So maybe I could track what time I go to sleep each night…that would be worthwhile.  And on the topic of content…

Content.  If you Pinterest “BuJo”…please don’t abbreviate this further, you will find lists upon lists of things to put in your very own Bullet Journal.  Perhaps your weight, your finances, your day planner, your wishes, your dreams, your hair washing.  EXCUSE ME.  I seriously saw this.  Someone recommended that tracking HAIR WASHING was a worthwhile thing to BuJo.  And this people is where the I don’t just fall off the BuJo train, I jump off screaming “Are you kidding me? HAIR WASHING?” If you need to track on paper that you have dirty hair and need to wash it, we need to have a chat.  I can get behind the finances, the prayer, the goals…even your meal planning (which might be the most worthwhile thing to actually journal)…but the HAIR WASHING?  Oh and I’m sure that you will need to draw a multicolored graphic too, no simple check mark to indicate the presence of HAIR WASHING will suffice.

Here is another topic: Boredom Buster Ideas.  Hmmm.  Who is bored with all of this coloring, drawing, plotting, graphing, journaling ? I don’t see how this could possibly be necessary.  Maybe a better topic would be: Doctors Who Do Carpal Tunnel Repair. There is one for you!  ‘Cause you are gonna need it.  Seriously people.

Also, your BuJo will need a legend.  Yeah.  If I DON”T KNOW WHAT IS IN MY OWN JOURNAL….I can’t.  Just can’t.

Did I mention the tools.  You will need special tools for this little project and they will include the actual journal, pens, pencils, markers, templates, perhaps a protractor, a CAD program (maybe not), sticky notes, washi tape (because you need to TAPE your ideas down…that way they won’t run away from you), stickers, and a ruler.  If the bullet journal thing doesn’t work out, you could open your own office supply store by February 1, 2018.

coloredpencils

Lets talk about the Mood Tracker page.  Now this I can get behind.  Seems reasonable.  None of us are as aware of our own mental health as we should be, so lets track that.  There is the “I want to stab someones eyeball out” option…or the “I am never getting out of bed again” mood.  You have to color code your mood too.  This is super important.  You don’t want to come up on the 30th of the month and only have check marks on this one.  Total BuJo fail.  Maybe we can track our mood after we see that our mood for an entire month was exhausted and wondering  why we have been placed on this earth.  Lets track THAT.

grumpy caat

So what am I to do?  I read that Bullet Journalers are actually more productive.  I read that BuJo can be GOOD for one’s mental health.  I MUST be more productive.  I definitively need to up my mental health game.  Oh, and did I mention that perhaps tracking how much money I spend on LuLaRoe could net me a Caribbean Vacation in the future.  I have to figure this out.

Maybe I don’t like the BuJo because I am inherently lazy.  Moving right along.

Well, here is the thing.  Goals are important.  I think that the older I get the easier it is to just live life and wake up every December 31st wondering what in the sam hill I have been doing all year.  I need some goals.  I need to write them down.  Maybe I’ll try this BuJo thing again this year.  Maybe I will keep up with my money.  My exercise.  My dreams, hopes, and aspirations.  Maybe, just maybe, I will add a flower or an arrow at the bottom of the page.  Maybe I will not worry that my BuJo is not Pinterest worthy.  Maybe I won’t even call it a BuJo.  I will call it a JeJo….and it will be fabulous….like me…and next December 2018, I will be able to look back…and prove it.

happynewyear

P.S.  If you want more information on my Bullet Journal-ing, amazing author sister, go to LynnHBlackburn.com.  Her published books are listed as are lots of other cool stuff. You can also contact her if you need help with your Bullet Journal!

 

 

 

The Biltmore House

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Before you start, this isn’t really about the Biltmore House.  I’ve been to the Biltmore House.  I think it is gorgeous….but I’m not exactly writing about it.

I’m also not sure how funny this will be.  I’ll try.  I really didn’t want to write this, but since it has been on my mind for the past 3 days, I decided to just do it.   I haven’t written in a long time, because I haven’t felt funny.  Now I feel like I should write this, but I don’t want to get all preachy.  (I try to avoid ANY preachy people like the plague)….this made it difficult for me growing up since I lived with a Baptist minister….who is probably reading this blog just like you are and shaking his head and hopefully laughing. I also lived with the preacher’s wife (my mom) and the preacher’s daughter (the good one…my sister)…you can guess which preacher’s daughter I was…or if you know me at all, you don’t really have to guess.

That’s the thing though.  Sometimes when I try to avoid things…it bites me in the behind.  Like always.  I could write an entire book on me being too lazy or stubborn to do something which resulted in pain.  Multiple excruciating sunburns come to mind.  Hello SPF…anyway.   I am one stubborn piece of work.  Just ask anyone.  Especially the aforementioned Baptist minister who is now retired from that line of work so don’t ask him to come preach at your church.  He is a general contractor, so you can ask him to fix your house.  Which leads me to my point!

I grew up with Jesus and sawdust.  My dad’s dad was in construction.  My dad’s grandfather was a rock mason.  I have 2 uncles are in construction.  One uncle was a heavy equipment operator, plumber, rescuer of plants and shrubs.  Yes my dad was a minister, but has had his General Contractor’s license for almost as long as I can remember.  I grew up getting dirty….and LOVING to look at blueprints.

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I wasn’t really allowed to get all up in the blueprints…probably because my dad needed them to do a job and he didn’t want me messing them up…but I.LOVED.THEM.  The big slick paper.  The blue ink.  They have a certain smell sometimes.  You shake them out of that tube and you can look at what is coming….an entire project at your fingertips!  You can picture an entire house, just by looking at the paper.  I bet the blueprints for the Biltmore House were freaking AMAZING!!! I also bet they took up more than one tube!

It occurred to me the other day, that my life has had a set of blueprints. (JUST THE OTHER DAY… not for the past 41 years that I have sat in church being TOLD that my life has had a set of blueprints, no, not me…no need to listen to that…nah)  There is an architect/contractor who has had this set.  There is only one set and He is not making a copy of it for my convenience.  I don’t get to see the blueprints.  That has been the catch.  I WANT to see them….and if I can’t see them, I’ll just do my own plan made up in my head.  The architect/contractor would rather I not mess them up, but he is a generous kind of architect/contractor who will let me change things even if they don’t make sense.  This has resulted in my life turning out sort of like a Dr. Seuss house.  I mean….like seriously.  My life has a bathroom coming off the roof.  Stairs leading to nowhere.  Doors that don’t open.  Bedrooms that are too small.  A kitchen without a sink.  All because I thought I was a better builder than he was.  The garage is 3 doors down.  The paint….dear LORD.  Lets just say that Lisa would have a FIT.  No Sea Salt, no Greige.  My house is OUT.OF.HAND.

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And He let me do it.

And I was wrong.

I do not like to admit that I am wrong.  I hate it.  I try not to do it too often, which has resulted in a perfectionist living in a house with a bathroom hanging off her roof.  Go figure.

I could’ve had the BILTMORE HOUSE!! 

So now I am in the middle of the greatest remodeling project I will ever be a part of…and I have participated in a few epic ones.  Walls have to come out.  That bathroom hanging off my roof is going to have to go.  Everything needs to be completely rewired, new ductwork.  The paint, oh the paint.  I suspect it is going to have a hefty price tag, and I am going to have to pay it.  When I say pay it, I mean pay it in my pride.  The heftiest price tag of all was paid on a Cross.

I could’ve had the BILTMORE HOUSE!!

I am hopeful at this point to just have a modest 3 bedroom ranch with a nice tiled shower and granite countertops.  But who knows.  I can’t see the blueprints and I never will.

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With the help of God….my architect/contractor…that will be just fine.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  Isaiah 55: 8-9

 

 

 

Cardio Dance Blast

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Thoughts on Cardio Dance Blast: Originally Posted to FB 2017
First of all…let me just say this. I’m not a dancer. I never took dance as a child, for one thing because it is a sin (JUST KIDDING)…and for another thing because my parents were spending their money on things like food, mortgage, electricity etc. So like all things in life, you can blame your failures on your parents in just about any scenario….Thanks Ken and Susie.
Secondly, let me say this. I want to be a dancer. I want to be able to Move like Jagger…I want to be able to Move like Ginger Rogers…I want to be able to move like any dancer you can think of. But, alas, I do not move like any of these people. I move like Carlton. Maybe not even that well. Moving along.
Cardio. Dance. Blast. This would imply that we will get our heart rates up while dancing…and either it will be a blast, or something will explode. Hmmm.
Walk into class on a Sunday after noon. I think, surely it won’t be too crowded…but there stood 25 people in varying shapes and sizes. 23 women, 2 men. I wonder why on earth those 2 men are here but then I think I am being sexist and move along to wondering why I am here. I am wearing a tank top and spandex leggings…like every other woman in the class, thanks be to God neither male had this outfit on. I think I’m dressed appropriately, but then, I spot the instructor. She is in a tank top and very baggy sweatpants. Lets stop right here. People who dance in baggy pants look amazing. I don’t know why, but I’ve seen So You Think You Can Dance enough to know this and I am worried.
She asks, “Who is new?”. It is like being in church when they ask for visitors. Do you raise your hand or not? Does being new exclude me from something painful (like the church offering) or does she just want to know who to look at throughout the class to get a good laugh. I raise my hand. So does another lady. Then, baggy pants says “give me 3 tries”. You may hate this class the first time, but please come back…Seriously??? I may HATE it? HATE is strong. What are we about to do? I see a door to my right. A girl sees me and says to me “its not a back door, its a closet”. OK then…no escape route…great.
BaggyPants hits play and here we go. The first words across the sound system were: “Wake up in the morning feeling like P Diddy”. AWESOME. I have NEVER in my LIFE woken up feeling like P Diddy. I don’t know what he feels like in the morning, but I bet its not what I feel like. I am not a multimillionaire. I am going to work in a hospital. This is not what P Diddy feels like. I can not relate. Also, I have never brushed my teeth with Jack Daniels. (Third line of song) I have drunk Jack Daniels on many occasion…but never brushed my teeth with it. I brush my teeth with Crest. Again, do rock stars/musicians operate on a level completely out of the understanding of the real world. Kesha, what are you thinking?? Rapidly I tell myself to stop worrying about Kesha’s life choices and pay attention. Things are going on with Baggy Pants that I do not understand. My feet to do not move this fast…and my arms can not do something in the opposite direction of my feet. Also, I have identified a critical mistake. I chose the back R corner of the room. Those of you who have taken a new class have all done this. Only ONE person to your L can see you and you hope she isn’t Jane Fonda…but in a class of 25 people, I can’t see the instructor. I need to see her feet. WHERE ARE HER FEET? And please for the love of God turn around with your back to me so that I can tell whether my Left foot or Right foot should be moving. I can’t dance anyway, I certainly can not juxtapose the moves quick enough to keep up.
And so it went. On and on and on and on. Hip Hop song after Hip Hop song. Move after move. I could not keep up. Never did I get it right. I tried, oh did I try. I do not want to know what I looked like. It is bad enough in my imagination and I’m sure reality is even worse. I then realized yet another critical mistake. I did not wear a watch. I was really tired of concentrating…I realized what the BLAST part of class meant. It meant my head was going to explode in purple smoke like that commercial on TV. I don’t know what that commercial is selling, but all I could see was the top of my head blowing off in purple smoke. I wanted to stop. Not because I could’t breathe, but because I couldn’t think. All of the sudden, my brain STOPPED telling my feet what to do. STOPPED. But guess who didn’t stop…Baggy Pants, that’s who. I had no idea how much time was left, but my brain was done. I was suddenly happy with my decision to stay in the back of the class. I am here to tell you that I don’t think my feet did anything they were supposed to for what turned out to be the last 15 minutes of class.
And then…a slow song. And what I identified as stretch moves disguised into sort of dance moves. I can DO THIS!! YAY!! I stretch-danced my way through that last song in the class like Juliette Hough. And then, it was over.
Praise God. No one said anything to me. One girl literally GLARED at her friends who had apparently dragged her there under the false pretenses that “you can do this”.
I ambled out of the class and walked downstairs and out to my car like I had not just spent the last 60 minutes of my life looking utterly ridiculous.
Ginger Rogers, I’m coming for you.

Death by Fitness

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Aqua BootCamp Thoughts: (originally posted to FB Feb 2017)

9:10:enter the pool, people introduce themselves. they are friendly. they are all older than me. i appear “fitter” then half of them. half men/half women. class size: 10

9:11: instructor says “swim to the end and back” to warm up. UhOh. this is my usual entire pool exercise regimen. there are 59 minutes to go. this may have been a mistake.
9:15: after instructed to swim to the deep end and tread water with a ball over my head, I begin to panic. is this the Navy Seal class?? I am not in the Coast Guard. dear God what have I done.


9:16: instructor looks at me with pity and hands me a pool noodle to stay afloat while “treading water”. I am the only student needing a noodle. I suck.


9:20: straggler enters the pool. he weighs approximately 350#. looks unhealthy. I think to myself. maybe, just maybe I will be able to be better than him. (I am sort of competitive)


9:25: it is evident that I will absolutely not be able to keep up with him. he does have buoancy on his side, but apparently has much better lung capacity than me too.


9:30: how much longer? dear God I am sorry for all the bad things I ever did.


9:35: when told to do jumping jacks from the shallow end to the deep end I think…does this instructor realize that I will not be able to touch the bottom at some point? the others don’t seem to be concerned. I watch. Ummm I can’t do that.


9:40: very nice man strikes up a conversation: informs me that when he started, he was “the weakest person t
oo”. tells me I will improve. gives me hope while telling me I suck. I am afraid to ask him how long this improvement will take.

9:45: instructed to do the breast/breath stroke. I don’t know which it is. I never was a swimmer. I don’t know how to do that. everyone else does.


9:50: started planning my
funeral. I want American Girl by Tom Petty played.

9:55: instructor gets out the red “kickboards” I have a full blown flashback/panic attack from swim lessons at the outdoor pool in Brevard NC. I sucked at those too. think to myself: at least I won’t sink.


1005: more comments from classmates about how hard this class is but how good I’m doing. a thumbs up from Jim…the obvious social butterfly of the class…who is at least 65 with a beer gut and doing WAY better than me


1010: instructor says we are done. looks at 350# man and tells him he did a good job. does not look look at me and say this. other classmates realize this and tell me I did a good job. I know they don’t mean it, but again, they are a friendly group.


1015: walk out of pool area to find my husband waiting. have to restrain myself from falling into his arms and sobbing.


1030:  arrive home. check schedule to see when next class is.

Aunt’ing Ain’t Easy

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Posted on Facebook May 24th, 2017.

Today was our day with the boys as Lynn Huggins Blackburn is at a conference and Brian Blackburn was working. I usually take 1-2 days off a year to keep the kids for various reasons. There are reasons why my sister asks me to do it (conferences, appointments, etc) and reasons why I do it (I love them, I want them to feel like we are an important part of their lives and I want them to know that they are an important part of ours, and last but not least, I am going to be old one day and I will need James to check me in to a nursing home…I want him to pick a good one) Moving on.
Today is that day, and for the first time, Uncle Josh is off work with me. The boys are incredibly excited about this, as am I, because I mistakenly think “I will have help”. No. This is not what happened. What happened was that I had a 39yo, 8yo, 6yo boy to keep up with today! We started the day off with me picking the boys up and heading back to the house. They REALLY needed to see Piper and Maggie. Unfortunately, Maggie didn’t not share their enthusiasm and immediately hid in her crate. I told me sister this, who texted me back that sometimes she wants to hide too….what have I agreed to? Maggie was lured out with treats and we watched the Jungle Book while we waited on Uncle Josh to get back from somewhere so that they could discuss baseball/football cards.
The Jungle Book. One of my all time favorite cartoons and now one of my favorite “new” movies. In the first scene, Mowgli is running through the jungle. J is quiet while D loudly proclaims “he is SOOO good at that”. I start to wonder if I will be blamed for my nephew running about the yard in minimal clothes, attempting to swing from trees. I figure there is a good possibility this will happen. I shrug to myself and think that if that happens, I will play dumb and pretend complete ignorance. I find that planning ahead for “surprises” is important! We watch on. If I hear one time I hear 20, “when are we gonna hear the Bear Necessities song?”. Hmmm IDK…after you see the big bear. If you can’t see the bear, I doubt that song is close. Not rocket science. (I start to wonder if I’ve had enough coffee)– I am also peppered with questions regarding who exactly is going to die in this movie. I say, nobody, about the time that Sheer Khan literally THROWS a wolf over a cliff. 2 little heads turn to me and say, “where did that wolf go”. Dear God, where is the Bailey’s to go in the coffee. I explained that the Tiger threw the Wolf over the cliff. Silence. Quietly, we watched on. Where is Uncle Josh? Who even knows. Finally, Josh is home. It is time to discuss baseball cards. Of course this happens while the Bear Necessities song comes on, so I sit on the sofa alone and sing along. Uncle Josh usually trumps Aunt Jennifer…until they are hungry, hurting, or tired:)
Now, before we head to Gravitopia, we need to run to University Ridge to try to obtain a permit for a septic tank. I will spare you the details because if you have ever been to County Square, you don’t want to relive it. Comment from the boys: “maybe next time you need to go talk to the government people, you could do it on a day when you don’t have us!”. Maybe the next time I need to talk to the government people, I’ll take a Valium first.
I am also painfully aware that Tornado warnings are bouncing off of every radio tower in the Upstate. Im trying not to go there with the boys. Until they figure it out. I am asked if I am worried. I lie and say “nope!”. I pray to the God above that if we have to survive a tornado together today, I will need a level of superhumanAuntskills that few possess. I tell the boys that we will go to the basement if necessary. I silently wonder if this is where we are really supposed to go. I think that I am going to be responsible for a catastrophe when the radio announcer says “you should go to a basement or interior room”….thank God for WESC telling me how manage my emergency preparedness. Moving on.
Gravitopia! I think 30-45 minutes tops. But because they are home schooled, we got a discount! And an extra 30 minutes. Sweet Jesus, Yay! SARCASM.
I get hurt within minutes. D was DYING to trapeze into the foam pit. So I think, whats the big deal. So I trapeze myself straight into that pit, on my stomach, somehow stretching some sort of spine muscle that should have not moved that way. I crawl awkwardly out of the pit and shake it off. we still have 89 minutes to go and we played for EVERY MINUTE OF IT! Basketball, Dodgeball, Ninja Course. Yes, while teaching them to be “includers” and arranging a game of dodge ball with the one little boy who desperately wanted to play but had no friends, I managed to hit D straight in the face with a ball. He shook it off, but looked at me like I should be glad that he will likely not be asked to pick my nursing home! I felt bad, I really did. I was AIMING at UNCLE JOSH. I PROMISE!! Anyway, I had to drag all 3 boys kicking and screaming out of there! Note to self. Uncle Josh does not keep up with the boys. I think he has one and I have the other, nope. He has NOBODY. I explain to him that bad people lurk in places like Gravitopia (doubtful, but possible) and that we must be on our A game. He looks at me like I am the biggest helicopter aunt on the planet. They will not get hurt on my watch (unless I do it do them with a dodgeball to the face!).
Next up: Chik-Fil-A. I ate a salad and contemplated the fact that I think I burned 36,700 calories and will likely not be able to get out of bed tomorrow. Also, they no longer eat kids meals. When did THAT happen?! They eat adult food. My sister better sell ALOT of books just to feed them!
Then we RACE home to meet E off the bus at 315. J is getting anxious about my timing, but I assure him we will not be late (wonder where he gets that). We make it with time to spare. The boys, E, and I lay around like lazy slugs watching Star Wars until Brian gets home. The boys deem it a “really fun day”. Except for that government thing. That was not fun at all. No one was (seriously) injured. No tornados happened. I can breathe and sleep well tonight.

I Pity The Fool!

aggressive-219804_1280I have had a rough couple of weeks.  I won’t go in to the details today, but lets just say that I am ON EDGE.  That being said, life doesn’t stop because I am on EDGE…apparently, God says, I think you can handle one more thing.  I personally think God is overestimating me, but doctrinally speaking, I can’t handle anything without Him, so He certainly wouldn’t overestimate Himself, so theoretically, it will all work out OK.

At any rate, I had some things to do yesterday, one of which was driving to Anderson to see some friends.  For those of you not reading this blog from SC, it is important to note that my life basically runs along the I-85 corridor.  The corridor of dreams.  A driving pleasure to be sure.  I live in Greenville.  My dearest friends live in Anderson.  South to Atlanta or North to Charlotte you can pretty much accomplish anything you need to do.  My husband works between Greenville and Spartanburg, right off I-85.  Of course, at some point you will need to hang a left to Western North Carolina to get to the rest of my family, but you can do that from I-85 as well.

I am leaving Anderson, driving to my husband’s work in Duncan when my latest adventure occurred.  I have never been to my husband’s job in Duncan, so I needed navigational assistance.  Now, to be fair, I am not a horrid wife.  My husband’s job location changes with the winds and he has only been in Duncan for about a month.  I have no need on a regular basis to drive past Greer on the corridor of dreams, so I knew that once I got off at Exit 63, I was clueless.

Now I have been a Google Map girl for as long as I can remember.  I don’t love the navigation that comes on the iPhone, so I always download Google Maps.  However, my aforementioned husband introduced me to the app Waze.  It is a navigation app that others log in to and you can alert other drivers to accidents, hidden police, detours, etcetera.  I do not know why I did this…but I decided to use Waze to get me to Duncan.  I plugged in the address, hit go, and rocked on.

Again, I am ON EDGE.  I am trying to listen to what I call “Jesus Music”.  I do not use this term derogatorily.  I used to be absolutely against “Jesus Music” other than within the walls of church,  but I realized that if I listen to this in the car, it comes back to me in my head at interesting moments….some useful, some not so much.  I don’t think I need to be reminded that God’s Not Dead while I’m using the bathroom, but hey, you never know.  But my “JM” isn’t working for me.  It is irritating me.  I am grumpy.  Then, it starts to rain.  Pour.  I’m on the corridor of dreams, otherwise known as a giant death trap if you had not already picked up on my sarcasm, and I can’t find music that is soothing.  Then it hits me.  I have downloaded the old Norah Jones CD Come Away With Me.  It is always good to listen to to just chill.  So I fired up Norah, and settled in to as much zen as you can find doing 80 mph in the rain on the corridor of dreams.  I have just about decided that I think Jesus has ordained this Norah Jones CD when out of the clear blue, through my car speakers, Mr. T’s voice YELLS: INCIDENT AHEAD, YOU BETTER BE ALERT! (Ya’ll know you just said this in your head in his voice!)

Ya’ll.

I.Almost.Died.

Since when in the name of all things holy did Mr. T start up into the navigational business.  It is a small wonder that I did not swerve into a barrier wall in that moment.  My heart stopped.  Then it re-started.  Mr. T totally shanghaied my zen.  I can get it back.  It’s cool.  Mr. T is not in my car and he is not yelling at me.

Norah sings on.  The rain falls.  I am good.  INCIDENT AHEAD, YOU BETTER BE ALERT!  He did it again.  How do I turn this off.  I was just as startled the 2nd time as I was the 1st.  I am not going to survive this.  Who over at Waze is getting paid good IT dollars to come up with this.  This is deadly.  People are going to die.  I am going to be one of them.  I can’t die today.  I haven’t eaten at The Cheesecake Factory lately and I do not want to die if that hasn’t been close to my last meal.

OK.  You can’t fix this right now.  You are driving 80 mph.  It is raining.  You are just going to have to be OK with this until you get off the interstate…I mean…the corridor of dreams.  I know that Mr. T yelled at me no less than 5 more times before I got to my exit about what I assume to be the same INCIDENT, which I NEVER SAW.

Finally, exit 63.  No more incident’s ahead.  This nightmare is almost over.  TURN RIGHT AHEAD.  Dear Lord. This is never going to end.  Mr. T will not shut up.  I wonder if my husband has done this to me.  I mean, Mr. T did not accidentally get in my phone did he? I do not think so.  Mr. T, not so lovingly, guided me into my husband’s place of employment.  I have arrived at my destination.  I walk toward my husband.

I PITY THE FOOL!