Thursday, September 29, 2005

This is/was the mighty oak tree my brother I climbed as children. We had steps nailed up the trunk to a make-shift treehouse, Posted by Picasa

The view from my parents' back porch - through the Katrina-ripped screen. I've been looking at this picture for over a week now and find it somewhat haunting. We hung that swing a few summers ago for my daughter. Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 26, 2005

Where are we now?

Hello and good bye to Rita. Thanks for nothing. Three lousy drops of rain. Is that the best you can do? Okay, so a little wind too, but nothing to write home about.

Still fixate quite a bit on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the damage left from Katrina. Keeps me in a kind of funk. I am to go home for Thanksgiving in November but don't really want to. As long as I don't go and see it with my own eyes, it can be distant and removed - not reality. I'd rather it not be real. So much for being a Grown Up and Living In The Real World...

Jean Marc, thanks for saying my sense of humor was back. Few things are more important to me than someone somewhere appreciating my sense of humor.

Mary Poppins is no longer a possibility at my household. Her temporary family plans have become permanent. I do have a replacement and it seems to be working out quite well. Crossing my fingers and toes...

My PreK daughter has a parade this Friday for the school's Homecoming. They will be riding on a float (flatbed trailer behind pick-up truck) and throwing candy and prizes to the local crowd - all three of us. I will take no less than a gazillion pictures! Which reminds me, the school pictures came home yesterday. The ones with the Sleeping Beauty outfit. There she is - in all her glory - Tiara, Scepter, Furry Dress with Sparkles. And she's not smiling. Could strangle the little princess.

Diddy went back home to Mississippi. I am quite certain he was GLAD to go. He had to postpone his return trip one day because of Hurricane Rita and the disappointment was palpable. I don't think he even made an effort to hide it. Don't blame him. After a week with my three - I'd be ready to get the heck out of Dodge too!

My son is in that "so-cute-you-want-to-eat-him-up" stage. He recently started doing animal sounds. Mooooo! Neigh! Ruff Ruff! and Meow! make up his current repertoire. He also does the VRRRROOOooooooommmmm with the toy cars. Why can't they stay this adorable? Why the transformation into whatever it is they transform into - Terrible Two's, Tyrannical Threes, Fearsome Fours, Fire-Breathing Fives...

My six year old DD called me Stupid this morning. Guess the secrets out now. I had hoped to spare her the harsh truth but apparently someone told her anyway...

So I guess that's where we are now. Waiting for autumn, rain and cooler weather.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Southern Girls and Their Daddies

Much has been said about the relationship between southern girls and their daddies. He is her first love. Her protector, provider, and absolute most adoring fan. Fathers of southern girls are especially well known for placing their daughters on pedestals. And trust me, we like it there. The view is much better. Often times, us southern girls find it a hard landing when our first heartbreak knocks us off that lofty perch. But that is a story for another day...

To be a southern girl and pronounce is correctly, it is DIDDY. I never heard this pronunciation uttered from my mouth until it was snobbishly pointed out by one of my Yankee friends. (and I use the term friend loosely here.) After repeating "DADDY" out loud several times in succession, I conceded their observation - when I speak to or of my Daddy, it sounds like "Diddy." This realization came years ago and I am past the shame now.

I bring this up because my Diddy has once again come to my rescue. I am in the throws of a child-care crisis. I have three small children. The oldest, at six, is in school and leaves early in the morning with her Diddy. That leaves two with me. The four year old attends Pre-Kindergarten in the afternoons and the 20 month old stays home full-time. As do I. I am not a stay at home Mom. Actually, I am, but not in the traditional sense of the term.

I have a full time job. I work from home over the internet in the software industry. I have customers and co-workers around the world. It's about the coolest job I could have ever imagined for myself. EXCEPT when I don't have adequate, capable child care. A little over a month ago, I posted an ad locally and interviewed several candidates. Found one that was all but Mary Poppins. A few weeks after she started, she informed me of a family crisis that required her immediate attention for an undetermined length of time. I offered to keep her position open for her - if I was able and if she was interested. She was. She thought I was being generous and compassionate. I admit - it was/is completely self-serving.

So off I go in search of a fill-in as I desperately would like to have my Mary Poppins back. A few friends volunteered and filled in a couple days. Then I get the best news ever, my neighbor's daughter-in-law is looking for a job. So we talk and she agreed to start last Thursday and help me out till MP comes back. This is awesome!

So the DIL calls before the crack of dawn on Thursday and comes right over. Much earlier than I expected but I just wrote it off to her wanting to get the lay of the land so to be better prepared. I give her the run-down on the breakfast routine, the dressing routine, the no-TV rule, show her where the games, books, educational toys & activities closet is and then we wait for children to wake up. (She was THAT early).

The little darlings wake up, the day appears to go smoothly - a few bumps, but nothing noteworthy. Then in the afternoon, after DD is home from Pre-K, she takes it upon herself to break this new baby sitter in right. She pulls out all the stops - a Temper Tantrum Miss Piggy would be proud of. Screaming, screeching, yelling, flailing, tears, huffs, puffs. I get all this filtered through a closed door. I wait. Don't intervene. Allow this sitter this time to assert her authority - to take control of the situation.

Alas, this control never materialized. I was finally forced out of my office whereby I promptly spewed a litany of threats to a red-faced, insolent four year old. First, I threaten to take away every Barbie she owns. She pouts less. Then I threaten to remove all shoes that have any sort of sparkles at all on them. She softens more. Finally, I show no mercy and pull out the big guns. Jewelry. If she doesn't straighten up and fly right, all jewelry will be packed up and sent to a little girl that doesn't have any. All jewelry. Earrings included. Remorse is visible. I can taste victory. I am about to win. She swears she will behave and listen and clean her room and be nice to her sister and eat all her veggies, et al.

So then the baby sitter asks if DD can watch a movie. While this is direct opposition to the No TV Rule, I immediately, without thought say "YES, of course. Let me show you how the DVD player works."

So the rest of the afternoon is quiet and uneventful. Said baby sitter leaves for the day. I think to myself "Not a great first day but we can get through this a few weeks until our Mary Poppins can return."

Discovered on Thursday night that DD #1 was out of school on Friday. So new baby sitter would have all three precious angels on Friday. Might be rough - but we'd manage.

WRONG! Friday morning, baby sitter shows up on time. I start to tell her how she will have all three kids and she stops me to say, "I need to tell you something." I hate it when people in my employ issue those exact words. It is never, EVER followed by anything good.

She proceeded to tell me that she could not do this job. That she had cried all the way home the day before and furthermore, her experience with my offspring had convinced her that she no longer wanted to have kids of her own. Now this I understand. My kids remind me every day that I don't want any more.

Don't get me wrong, wouldn't trade them for anything. They are priceless to me. But I wouldn't give a wooden nickel for another one.

With this pronouncement she turned tail and exited my house at no less than the speed of sound...

Thankfully I have a young friend nearby that was able to come over at the drop of the hat and help me out on Friday. I owe this kid BIG time!

And this is where my Diddy comes in. He drove over yesterday from South Mississippi to Texas to spend the week helping me with my precious angels. Diddy does dishes. He does laundry. He drops off. He picks up. He takes them to McDonald's on the way home from school when I specifically tell him not to. He even changes dirty diapers and doesn't complain about sleeping in the princess bedroom. God Love Him!

For the past three weeks I have been trying to rescue him from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. And now, he is here. Rescuing me.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

before picture

I had thought I would add a new photo today. I am starting a new First Place session at my church to create balance in my life. Hopefully the side effect of this newly gained balance will be a loss of self - 20 pounds, to be exact. That's my goal this time. Since this time last year, I am down roughly 35 pounds. This past summer I did battle with the same 5 pounds. Up 5. Down 5. Repeat.
I am determined to end that cycle.
So as I was saying, I thought I'd post my Before picture here today - to remind and inspire. However, upon downloading and reviewing, my vanity won out and I am unable to share. Who knew a lime green shirt would make you look like a pear? Particularly when you are shaped like one!! Mayhaps I will be more inclined to post the After shot in early December when we wrap up this study.

I continue to give a great deal of thought to this Hurricane Katrina mess. My family went through the eye of the storm in South Mississippi. My parents in one place and my brother and his family in another. BOTH groups of my family went through the eye of the storm. This seems so odd and unlikely to me. Several friends I have spoken with since have told me that they will NEVER stay again. That it was the most terrifying experience of their lives. And these are folks that were 50 miles inland - not even on the coast.

One friend is a nurse at a large hospital on the MS Gulf Coast. She worked the Saturday before Katrina till the Friday after. In an email shortly after Katrina passed over, she wrote of the smell and the stillness. That has stuck with me. What does the immediate aftermath of a hurricane smell like. Before the decay. Before the filth has baked in the sun. What must that smell like? Katrina hit on Monday. She tells me it was THURSDAY before the Red Cross and FEMA made it to her hospital. She is my hero.

Speaking of heros, I am so humbled by the outpouring of aide and assistance that continues to flow in for the survivors. In our small hometown, power crews from NJ, NY, VA, Quebec. Police from Jacksonville, FL. I see where the firefighters and policemen from NY's 9/11 are on the MS Gulf Coast to offer their services. I am just floored by these angels of mercy that came with single-minded determination - and that being simply to help. Thank You is not nearly enough but it's all I have to offer.

The media continues to present images of destruction after the storm. The pictures continue to run through my mind. Just once, can't someone remind us of the beauty that once was - that will be again. This is when I would like to post a BEFORE picture.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Pre-Katrina. Me and DH in Moab Utah the week before Katrina. We actually saw Katrina on the weather channel from our hotel room right after she clipped Florida. The WC showed several projected paths. NONE of them were headed to the LA/MS state line. We shared a sigh of relief... Posted by Picasa

a moment of levity

Several weeks ago, my 4 year old daughter had school pictures. Being the drama queen that she is, it was decided - by Her Majesty - that she would wear her Sleeping Beauty dress, crown and shoes to school for pictures. In a moment of weakness or camaraderie (don't know which) I agreed to this plan. Then had to explain to the baby sitter that it was okay - I knew it (I) was crazy - but it was okay.
In any event, she took her SB get-up to school in her backpack to wear for pictures. Wasn't sure how the staff would handle it - until today.

Just got a call from the photographer. They tell me they have two pictures of aforementioned darling daughter. I am momentarily puzzled by this. She says "Let me describe them and you can tell me which one you would like to purchase." I am thinking - okay, but how can I possibly know which one I want to purchase without looking at them. She proceeds to tell me that in one, DD has on a tiara and is holding a scepter. I say - "Yep, that's the one I want." She then says, "I guess the other one is for the yearbook."

I am saddened. I wanted the tiara shot in the yearbook.

Thank God for kids!

The evidence of your life

My family has power back. They have water. Gas and food are no longer scarce. Trees have been sawed and bull-dozed. Limbs and shingles picked up. Looking into getting a new roof. But this is so far from over. I think the emotional toll - those things you can't see on the 5 o'clock news - is doing the most damage now. Lives saved from the storm now falling down around people. Struggling to breath in spite of the heavy weight bearing down on you from everything that must be done to put life back in some sort of order.

Someone said that if you are still alive - even if your house and all your possessions are gone - you have not lost everything. And in fact, that is true. There is nothing more precious than your life and those of your family and friends. But that statement does not take into account the enormous task of rebuilding a life. It discounts the loss of what actually made up your life. The evidence of your life. That's what is lost - the evidence of your life.

"Insurance will take care of it" is another common statement that makes me want to scream. Insurance doesn't come anywhere close to replacing what has been lost. We have lost entire communities. Children have lost their sense of security. At one time, they could close their eyes at night, go to sleep and when they awoke in the morning, all would be well in the world. They now know that isn't always true. Grown-ups have lost homes - some of them will never be able to own another home in their lifetime. They have lost businesses - the American Dream swept away in the storm surge. Many residents will not live long enough to see the Mississippi Gulf Coast rebuilt.

The sense of loss is just too much to comprehend. It is overwhelming and suffocating.

Monday, September 12, 2005

My Mississippi

Started this blog in the aftermath of Katrina. Mayhaps it will provide much needed therapy. Maybe not. Worth a try.

While I have lived in Texas the past 11 + years, I am a native Mississippian. If you don't know what that means, I can explain. Let me tell you about My Mississippi.

Parts of her are gone now - never to be again. Katrina is now part of her history - just as Camille has been for the last 36 years. Her people are downtrodden, hot, hungry and thirsty. Some are even defeated. But this will not last. We will pick ourselves up, bury our dead, rebuild and start anew. We will accept the goodwill of the world and we will eternally be grateful. My Mississippi will be vibrant, strong and once again, hostess to genuine southern hospitality and charm.

My Mississippi is the smell of freshly spun cotton candy mixed with the musk of livestock at the County Fair in September. My Mississippi is Saturday night football at Southern Miss with Brett Farve at the helm. My Mississippi is pine trees and magnolias. She is salty hot boat rides to Ship Island. She is church on Sunday, parades through down-town, and walking down Main Street and knowing the names of people you meet, their Mom's maiden name and remembering to ask how their second cousin made out on their 4-H project? My Mississippi is rodeos and little theaters. She is genteel Southern Ladies with lilting accents that easily transform any conversation into a soft melody. My Mississippi is educated, compassionate, talented, hard-working, proud, and will forever be home to the most wonderful folks on earth.