Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Little Boy Lost

Everyone has a story.  Do you ever find yourself wondering about the chronicles of people around you?   As busy as we are with our own lives, we enjoy finding the time to go to the movies, turn on the television or sit back with a good book.  It’s easy enough to find entertainment in a story that won’t disrupt our own.   Taking an active role in the story of stranger – well, that might get complicated.   

Oct 12th was National Gumbo Day.  This year, my husband and I celebrated by enjoying a bowl of gumbo at our local Gumbo Festival.  The kids scarfed down cheese-covered fries and then waited patiently for their dad and I to finish our meals.  By patiently, I mean that they said, “Hurry up and finish eating already!” less than a thousand times.    You see, they didn’t care that it was National Gumbo Day.  They didn’t go to the Gumbo festival for gumbo.  They were there for the rides.

After eating, we split into groups.  My husband and son went off to the “big rides” while I watched our youngest enjoy the tamer attractions.   The Fun House was one of her favorites.  She waded through balls, climbed up, slid down, and then got back in line to do it over and over again. 

That’s what she was doing when I saw him.

Two dirty streaks ran down his cheeks, but he wasn’t crying.  The tears that left the tracks had dried. He mouthed silent words, talking to no one in particular, except perhaps himself.  His left hand was near his chest, making repeated motions in the air that didn’t appear to be ASL to my (admittedly untrained) eye.  He couldn’t have been more than five years old.  He was alone.  My mommy sense soared to red alert status as I scanned the crowd, searching for someone, anyone that might be looking for him.  Another mom met my eyes.  She had noticed him too.  “Is he okay?” she worried.   I fought back the instinct to reach down with a comforting touch to his shoulder, because something told me that physical contact from a stranger might be overwhelming for this child.  Instead, I lowered myself to his height and asked, “Are you lost?”  He didn’t look at me as he shook his head.  I pressed further.  “Who is with you?”  His raised his arm and pointed to the empty space between the The Fun House and the ride next to it.  Then, before I could question him again, he began to walk toward the spot.  When we reached the in-between point, he gestured again.  Behind The Fun House was an RV.  It was inside the fence bordering the fairgrounds, not in the parking lot.  I wondered if his family traveled with the carnival attractions.   Perhaps the rides were as familiar to him as the swing set in my yard is to my own children.  Still, he just seemed much too young to be walking around in a crowd of strangers by himself.

At that moment, a police officer passed near enough to us that I was able to get his attention and explain the situation.  While he began talking to the little boy, my daughter exited the ride and ran up to me.  She was ready to move on.  I watched for a moment as the police officer walk toward the RV with the little boy then took my daughter’s hand and went off to a different part of the fair.

I didn’t see that tiny, tear-stained face again the rest of the evening, but questions hung around my mind.   Why was he alone?  Why had he been crying?  Did someone hurt him?  Was he hungry?  Did his family know that he was walking around on his own?  Were they worried?  If he was part of a “carny” family, perhaps there was an agreement among the attraction operators to keep an eye on him.  I wondered if he had a permanent home, or if he lived “on the road?”  What is life like for a child, any child, who travels from one carnival spot to another?  Maybe it’s a wonderful life, full of adventure and amazing experiences.  Maybe it isn’t.  I don’t know because I’m not a part of his life - not a part of his story.

Should I be?  

Was it too easy for me to walk away?     

Monday, December 10, 2012

Art Party

A few weeks ago, my niece turned five with a colorful art party.   There are more than a few us of who believe that her mom should become a professional party planner.   Here are a few photos of her creativity!

Those cute "crayons" are candy coated pretzel sticks.

The guest filled these goody bags with an assortment of art supplies and treats.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012


I saw a former love today.

He was every bit as adorable as I remembered him.  His smile lit up my heart in less than a nano second.

Then I realized that it wasn't for me.

He was there to see another woman.  I'd been replaced.  We exchanged a few polite words before I left to search for the one he really wanted to visit.  She was in the another part of the building, helping to get things ready for the new school year.

"Mrs. Jeanne, you have a visitor," I informed her.  "It's my Jackson...I mean, YOUR Jackson."


He used to be mine.  He climbed into my heart each time that he climbed onto my lap.  For the first few weeks of school, he'd arrive with tears brimming in his eyes.  I don't let my babies cry alone unless they want to.  He didn't want to.  The rest of the class quickly grew accustomed to seeing me holding Jackson.  Every now and again, another child wanted their turn in my arms, but none of them clung to me nearly as long as he did.  As the weeks flew by, the arrival time tears were replaced by a playful smile.  I watched him grow more and more confidant, and as he did, I grew more assured in my own ability to help build foundations for my little ones.

By the year's end, I knew he would never again be my cuddle bug.  He didn't need my arms anymore.  He was ready to move on.

In a way, I moved on too.  I left my classroom that year, but I couldn't quite leave the vocation completely.   This year, I am returning to my role as Preschool Teacher.  In a few weeks, I'll meet a new group of three year olds.  Some of them will come into the room ready to learn, explore and meet new friends.  Some of them will hang back, worried about what to expect and missing their parents.  I'll do my best to engage the ones who are ready to jump right into absorbing everything that they can, and to offer comfort those who  need to feel safe before showing off their awesome three year old skills.  I'll do those things knowing that, two years from now, many of them will barely remember my name.  And that's okay.  My role in their lives is temporary.  That's all it's supposed to be. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


It begins.
It begins as softly as a sigh.

You push it aside.
Life is busy.

It waits.

It waits for you to find a moment alone.
The moment doesn't belong to you.
You belong to it.
In it is the longing.
The craving.
The desire.

It threatens to consume you.
You let it.
You are aware that there is no way to assuage the hunger.
That knowledge isn't enough to stop you from slipping into it's grasp.
This isn't a candy bar craving.
You can't quell this need with a run to your favorite junk food.
There is no way to indulge the want.
The yearning is for the smile that you won't find forming.
It's for the embrace that can no longer comfort you.

Not here.

Not now.

The sweet remembrance that lured you into this state leads you further away.
Desire turns into despair as you long to return to conversations that can't be changed.
Reality beckons.

Life pulls at you.

You feel the cycle winding down.
You carefully pack away the bittersweet memories.
You turn your focus to the life before you.
There is more to learn.
More to experience.
More to feel.

You aren't leaving your desire behind.
You are growing toward it.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Father's Day 2012

"You smell like vacation."


"Vacation.  You know...that place where people go to rest, relax and recharge? That's what you are to me."

Two of our children were within earshot when that exchange occurred.  Naturally, they groaned.  I just smiled.

When my husband gets home from work, we almost always greet each other with a quick kiss and hug.  I believe that it is very important for our children to see signs of affection between their parents.  For one thing, it grosses them out - and that's always fun!  More importantly, it models a healthy relationship for them.  As parents we can talk and talk and talk all we went, but children sometimes learn more from what they witness than they do from what they are told. 

My children are blessed to have a father who shows them, on a daily basis, that husbands are to treat their wives with love and respect.  My hope for my daughters is that they each find someone just like their dad.  My hope for my son is that he grows up to be the same kind of man his father is.

As for me, well, what more could I hope for?  I already get a vacation with every hug!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Baking Party

 My youngest child is now eight years old.  Where has the time gone?  Of my four children, Anna is the most "social."  She lives for parties and :::shudder::: shopping.  I have no idea of where she came from because there is no way that she got those genes from me.  The thing is...I kinda adore that kid, so when she started talking about how amazing her birthday party was going to be, I wanted to help make it just that.  Since I'm rather clueless about how to throw a decent party, I turned to Pintrest.  After browsing through a few party ideas, Anna made a decision.  She wanted her birthday party to be a baking party.

We both agreed that we very much wanted to give little aprons to the party guests.  The problem was that I don't own a sewing machine.  Thankfully my mom came to the rescue!  After mom whipped the basic ingredients together, Anna and I added the decorations - ricrack and felt cupcakes.  Well, to be honest, Anna only helped with one button "cherry" on one of the cupcakes.  But hey, that's helping!  Besides, sewing isn't exactly as fun as shopping ya know.

Shopping is (unfortunately) what I had to do for our next step in the party prep.  The original plan was to find little toy whisks to put on top of baking tins filled with goodies, but while searching for the whisks, I found these adorable baking tools at Growing Cooks.

Yay, shopping made easy!  Is there anything that the internet can't do?

When it came to getting the house ready for the festivities, cupcake liners ruled the decorations!  I like the look so much that I've decided to leave them up for a while.  No, no, no.  It has nothing (much) to do with laziness.  I just think that it's cute!  Besides Anna  agreed to go on pretending that it's her birthday until Christmas.   If I take it all down now, it may break her heart!

Anna wanted a birthday cake that was "three layers with pink, yellow and blue inside."  Once again, I turned to the internet for inspiration.  The image that caught my eye had cupcake for the top layer.  Perfect!  Of course, my attempt didn't turn out nearly as cute as the one online, but it wasn't too terrible.  Actually it was kinda fun to put together.  Once I figured out how to get it to stop crumbling, the candy clay behaved pretty much like modeling clay. 

For party activities, the girls started off by decorating their own pastry chef hats.  Before the party began,  I cut strips of poster board for the headbands and attached pieces of the paper window blinds/shades that we had leftover from back when we first moved in our home.  The pleats in the blinds worked perfectly for the tall toques.

Once the girls were finished with their hats, they moved on to the cupcakes.  That's when the real fun began.  

Although they had a blast with the icing and sprinkles, none of the girls could bring themselves to eat their own creations.  That was probably a good thing because we had plenty enough sugar rushing going on from all of the other goodies.

All in all, I am happy to report that my Anna's Baking Birthday party was a sweet success!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Don't Write That!

Remember me? Yeah, it's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry. That's my fault. You see I did something rather silly and the result was that a gag order was placed on me.  It's a not a very broad repression.  In fact, it's quite narrow.  There is only one particular subject that I am no longer allowed to record.   Unfortunately, the tale that I really want to share with you today is the very one that I've been forbidden to write. Restriction is ruling my life! There is a prohibition in place here!

Technically, I probably shouldn't even be writing an explanation about what I'm not allowed to write about, but I feel an obligation to let you all know the reason for my silence.  Besides...none of you are going to repeat any of this to anyone, right? This will be our secret! Shhhhhhh....

Are you wondering who could have placed such a censorship on me?  It was done by a child of mine.  Yes,  my child.  I went through a whole five hours of labor and this is how he repays me?!?  Wait, that's sounds silly.  Five hours of excruciation pain shouldn't be used that way.  It really should be saved for something good.  Like as a bargaining tool for the last bag of chips.

Some of you might remember that I began homeschooling my son this school year. He is enrolled in a public school, but it is a virtual school (as opposed to the brick and mortar type) and while he has real teachers (the highly qualified and certified kind) the actually day to day, lesson to lesson teaching is my job. That means that a very big portion of my weekdays are spent with him. That's a good thing. Seriously! It's has been a wonderful experience. It's also very time consuming. By the time his lessons are over for the day, I have only a short period to clean (HA!) and start supper before walking to the road to get my youngest off of the bus. After that, I change out of my teacher/housewife/mommy outfit, don a taxi uniform and travel back and forth from one extra curricular activity to another.  Every now and again I have to toss in a grocery shopping trip as well because, for some odd reason, my family actually expects me to provide meals. Go figure.

Since the biggest part of each week day is spent with my son, and since my son can be quite funny at times, you would think that I'd have lots of great blog material. Unfortunately, that's where the "forbidden" part comes in. You see, a while back I made a horrible mistake. We were starting a math lesson and as he opened his work book, he said "O long division, I hate thee." Naturally I just had to put that on Facebook. Come on, I'm only human. I HAD to post it!

He was not pleased. It was terribly wrong for me to share his words like that. I apologized, but that wasn't enough. I also had to promise that I would no longer write about the things that he says or does.

:::sigh::: It's been stifling. Why is it that when something is taboo, it suddenly becomes even more compelling than it was before? Instead of embracing events that I can write about, I
boude' (for all you non-cajuns, that means to pout or sulk) about what I can't.

Then suddenly it hit me - I haven't promised to never write fiction!

Okay, let's start this blog over. 

Hi everyone!  I'd like to tell you a story about something that may or may not have happened to a totally made up mom while she was browsing through posts in an educational group on a social network. (FTR, there are lots of social networks out there. Just because one happens to be more popular than many others doesn't mean that you should automatically assumed that I am referring that particular site.) Well, this mom came across an entry about Mr. Slim Goodbody and right there on the screen was this picture.

Turning to her child (who was either male of female... and of general childhood age) she exclaimed, "Wow, look at that! You can see his insides!"
The child looked at the photo and then looked at his
(or her) mother and, in the most bored tone you can possibly imagine, replied, "I'm just glad that I can't see his outsides."

DISCLAIMER: All characters in the above story are fictional. Any resemblance to any person is purely coincidental. The fact that I will let my son have an extra half hour of play time on his 3DS has absolutely nothing to do with me feeling the slightest bit guilty about anything whatsoever.

Umm..I should probably also mention that I could not bring myself to actually post any of this without my son's approval, which he adamantly refused to give...until he read the part about getting extra 3DS time.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Apple Slices

Welcome to my newest favorite obsession, um, I mean energy snack.  First let me write out a disclaimer:
 If you are allergic to peanuts, chocolate, apples or messy things, don't bother with this recipe.

If you are not actually ALLERGIC to messy things - but simply don't like them - get over it.  Come on...you'll be the safety of your own kitchen.  There is a sink in there, right?  This won't be anything that a little soap and water (okay, maybe a lot of water) can't get off.  Trust me, the results are worth the "ewwww."

First gather your ingredients.  Use whatever peanut butter brand you like.  The chocolate is up to you as well, but if you want to pretend (I mean, feel confident) that these are super healthy, stick with DARK chocolate.  I prefer Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate but the store was out.  :(
As for the apples, again, you are free to use what you like but I have to caution you.  Red Delicious isn't going to hold up well.  You want a crisp apple.  I first made this recipe with Braeburn - but a friend suggested that I try Fugi and OHMYGOSH that's even better.  Rome and Gala apples would probably be a good fit as well.

Now, melt the chocolate.  If you have a double boiler, great!  Pour the chips in the top, heat your water and stir.  If you do not have a double boiler, you can use a microwave.  According to the rules of chocolate melting, you are supposed to it run the microwave at 50% power for one minute per one ounce of chocolate.  If you are like me, you just froze and said to yourself "that's MATH!!!" but calm down.  It's really easy.  Pour the chips in a microwave safe bowl and turn the microwave on. Even if you can't figure out how to run your microwave at 50% it's okay.  :::note - I'm not saying that I can't figure that out.  If I ever actually read the manual, I'm quite sure that I could manage to make that contraption run at 50%.  I just choose to use full power because I'm a rebel.  Yeah.  That's it.:::  Just stop it every 30 second and stir.  You'll see when it's getting to that just right, smooth consistency.   It's not rocket science.  It's chocolate.  Chocolate is much better than rocket science anyway.  Who needs rockets when we have chocolate? 

Oh -if you are a novice at melting chocolate, you need to learn the golden rule: do not allow water anywhere near your chocolate.  If even a drop gets in, all that yummy, smooth chocolate can "seize."  Trust me, you don't want that.  It's not pretty.  If you love chocolate as much as I do and it seizes, you may cry.  Crying is watery - which is bad for melting chocolate.  See... it's a vicious cycle.

 Next, slice the apple to a thickness of approximately a 1/4 inch.  If you have an apple corer, then keeping the slices round might be fun because then they'll sort of look like cookies.  Cookies are good.   My kitchen is lacking a proper apple corer :::sigh::: so I compensate by cutting the round slices in half and then using a teaspoon to cut out the core.   Once your apple slices are ready, it's time to get a little messy.  Coat half of each slice in chocolate and place the slices on a piece of wax or parchment paper.  When they are all nicely coated (remember, just one side for now) put them in the freezer.  Then go do something else - something that can be done very quickly, because you don't want the slices to actually freeze.  You just want the chocolate to set.  That should only take a few minutes.  Fold some towels.  Wipe the counter down.  Whatever you do, don't even THINK about checking Facebook - or worse, Pintrest.  Those sites will suck you in and the next thing you know, your apples will be frozen solid.
Okay, so the chocolate has set.  Take the apples out and flip them over.  Now get ready for some real mess!  Spread each slice with peanut butter.  If you have a decent icing tip that can handle peanut butter, use that.  Otherwise just spread it on with a butter knife.  Or a spatula.  Or whatever.  It doesn't really matter how the peanut butter gets on the apples.  Just get it on there!  Once the apples are all slathered with peanut butter, they get another chocolate dunk.  Didn't I warn you about this getting messy?
No...don't lick your fingers!  Unless you know that you will be eating all of these apple slices yourself, it's just rude.  And unsanitary.  Stop it!!!

Put the chocolate coated apple slices back into the freezer if you want them to set quickly (and really, at this point, you will want them to set quickly so that you can hurry up and eat them) or in the refrigerator if you aren't in a rush (oh please - who has that kind of will power???)

Once the chocolate sets, you are ready for the last step - which is - take a bite.  Uh huh.  Good, right?  You don't have to thank me.  Just enjoy!  :)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

A Slasher Story

Don't be afraid.

The ferocious creature in the picture above is our Ke-Kat. My daughter named him Cookies and Cream, but I don't dare call him that. Seriously, would YOU call that beast Cookies???

To his face???

Let me tell you a bit about how merciless our feline can be. Frogs fear him. I have lost count of the number of headless and nearly headless rodents that Ke-kat has left at our doorstep. Lizards who are brave enough to show their faces here usually leave tail-less, assuming they are fast enough to leave at all. Earlier this afternoon, while I was weeding, a cricket jumped out to scold me for disturbing the grass. That was the last mistake that silly insect ever made.

Ke-kat's fury isn't limited to things that move. Sometimes, he takes pleasure in destroying perfectly innocent items. For example......this used to be our door seal.

I was less than amused when I discovered it slashed. My middle daughter (the future vet) claimed that she could stop him from attacking our door seal by spraying it with vinegar. That seems to work fairly well, but of course the vinegar wears away after a while so we usually keep a spray bottle of it in the cabinet near the door.

Not long ago, we heard Ke-kat ripping at the door seal again. My youngest jumped up and said that she would spray it. Later that afternoon, he was at it again...and once again my youngest said that she'd take care of it. The third time I heard him attacking the door, I reached for the bottle myself wondering whether my little girl was spraying in the right spot.


It was slimy.

At that moment, she walked into the kitchen. I held out the bottle and asked, "What happened to this?"

She shrugged her little shoulders and explained, "We ran out of vinegar so I used cooking oil instead."

:::sigh::: I guess we can count this one as a science lesson right? After all, we discovered that cooking oil isn't a very good cat repellant.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

I'm Blue

Raynaud’s Phenomenon can be a pain.

Sorry. Maybe I should explain a little bit about what Raynaud’s Phenomenon is before going any further. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Raynaud’s Phenomenon is: “A condition in which cold temperatures or strong emotions cause blood vessel spasms that block blood flow to the fingers, toes, ears and nose.”
No blood flow = pain.

To be honest, until very recently, this condition was more of a discomfort to me than an actual pain. Long before I was told that I had Raynaund's, I knew that I was somehow "different" than almost everyone else around me.
When co-workers complained about the heat, I was sometimes still a little chilly. When they were comfortable, I was pulling on a jacket.

For years I knew that it was weird for me to always NEED socks and tennis shoes on when other girls were showing off pretty pedicured toes in cute sandals. I didn't really understand why - I just knew that when I wore sandals, I was uncomfortable.
Ask most folks what the worst part about living without power after a hurricane is and you'll probably hear a lot about how hot it gets without air conditioning. That didn't really bother me much at all...but not having hot water??? THAT was a serious hardship!

Living with Raynaud's means that something as simple as walking through produce, meat or dairy departments at the grocery store can be a challenge. Mixing spices into ground meat (because I'm cajun and there must be spice in burgers!!!) will bring tears to my eyes. Food gloves help a little bit but not as much as the super warm soapy water in my sink that I use to re-warm my hands during the process. And let's not even mention trying to move things around to find a particular item in a freezer :::shudder:::

Now that I understand a bit more about how my body reacts to cold, it's no longer a mystery why I hurt so much in colder temperatures. When I feel tension creeping in, I can might look up and realize that my ability to tolerate the ceiling fan has reached it's limit. Instead of feeling guilty about "hiding out" in my little office, I am thankful for the warmth here (thanks to the heat that pours from the computer into this little room.)

There is still more for me to learn. I haven't yet had any tests run to determine if I have what is considered Primary or Secondary Raynaud's. If it's Secondary...then it's possible that I may be dealing with another underlying disorder like Lupus, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Atherosclerosis, Scleroderma, or Sjögren's syndrome. None of those sound like much fun.

Why am I sharing this with you? It's Raynaud's Awareness Week. We have a ribbon and everything!
The three colors represent the color changes that can occur during an "attack." Typically the skin blanches when the blood flow is initially disrupted due to vessel constriction. I don't usually see that step. Well, I don't see it occur on MY body. I have seen it happen to my husband. Yes, he has Raynaud's as well, but in his case there is a known cause (trauma from an accident while he was serving our country) and his symptoms are confined to one hand. What I've never seen in him is the red. That's the part that I see in my own hands the most often. From just above my knuckles down to my finger tips, my hands flush - and sometimes swell.

The blue (ummm... that part of the ribbon looks purplish to me, but let's pretend that it's blue, okay) is new for me. This winter marks the first time that I've noticed it, but now I can practically predict when it will occur. When I get to the point where I feel cold through and through, I'll fill the tub with hot water and ease into it. The heat does something to help my veins relax enough that blood can begin flowing again. That's when it happens. I turn blue. First it was just parts of my feet. Now I see it happening in my hands as well.

Blue is not my favorite color.

Kermit the Frog once sang a song about how tough it is to be green. Well, Kermit, be thankful that you aren't blue...