Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Vegas, baby, Vegas. And salsa.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011 By 2 comments

A.W.: Here's the menu from the place we're going to eat at in Vegas. Drool away...

Me: The endive with goat cheese is my JAM! Yeah, I bringing "the jam" back. Deal with it.

A.W.:  LOL!!! I don't think it ever went away...

Me: I'm not ordering any frickin' fruit soup, though. That and gazpacho make no sense to me. It's a smoothie in a bowl, people! And gazpacho is just salsa. In a bowl. But without chips.

A.W.: I LOVE gazpacho... especially GOOD gazpacho!

Me: Whatever. I'm comfortable being a troglodyte. A troglodyte who does not waste her money on a bowl of stuff I can get for free at Vallarta.

A.W.: Correction: Salsa is usually not chilled, nor does it contain cucumber. OK, maybe it is chilled, but still...


A.W.: Smart ass!! You and your cucumber salsa can suck it!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Firewall activated

Monday, June 27, 2011 By

Me: "... it's just that keeping it going is so very tiresome. I'm a one-shot deal."

A.W.: "LOL! One shot! I could say something gross but I won't."

Me: "Yes, please, hold it in."

A.W.: "Luckily I do have a filter... sometimes."

Me: "Sure. For coffee."

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jesus built her hotrod, too.

Friday, June 24, 2011 By

M.A.: "[Son] is doing Vacation Bible School this week, and the theme is The Big Apple, as in New York City. But all he's gotten out of it is 'Jesus loves to eat apples.'"
Me: "At least it's not 'Jesus loves to eat brains.'"
M.A.: "He's attending another church's VBS next month, and the theme is The Gold Rush. I don't know what he's going to get out of that."
Me: "Jesus loves to sport bling?"
M.A.: "That, or 'Jesus is a Gold Digger.' LMAO!"
Me: "Hey, I ain't sayin' he a gold digger/But he ain't messin' wit no broke sinners."
M.A.: "I pray they DO play that. Like, I will seriously reconsider my religious commitment if that song shows up at this church's VBS."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer break might break me

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 By

Me: "OMG, Emmie is having a meltdown, and it's only 2 p.m."
A.W.: "What about??"
Me: "Here's our conversation..."

Emmie: "Jus' go to your boss and tell him dat you goeend pit me up at 1 o'clock."
Me: "Yeah, I can't do that."
Emmie: "WHY NOT?!"
Me: "Because I can't go back in time."

Alice: "LOL! Is she staying at her grandmother's house?"
Me: "Yes."
Alice: "How's that going?"
Me: "Well, unlike at elementary school, she has access to a phone to call me 10 times a day. So it's going AWESOME."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Sometimes, the less said, the better

Monday, June 20, 2011 By

I was rushing around, making dinner and cleaning up, prepping for the next day and getting ready to go out of town. I had just set down Emmie's dinner and then walked over to wipe down the kitchen counter. Emmie turned off the (effing) Wii, walked over to the couch, looked around and put her hands on her hips.

"Man, you godda clean up dis place, Mom!"

There are moments, as a mother, when the universe lays out two separate and distinct choices: to blow, or not to blow?

I chose to blow. I turned and hissed: "Excuuuuuse me?"

Emmie jumped. She knew immediately that she had said the wrong thing. She looked at me, eyes wide, mouth curled up at the corners in a combination of amusement and fear.

"Please examine this room. Do you see anything of mine that is out of place?" I asked, my voice deadly calm.

Emmie looked around. "Wull..."

That would be a big fat "no." I crossed my arms and looked at her. She glanced around nervously.

"Wull, I was just finking dat I should get dis stuff and put it in my bedroom," she said. I continued to give her the thousand-yard stare. I was waiting for something specific.

"Aaaaaand prolly I should lose my Wii privileges for da rest of da night." Nope. Not that. If she wanted to punish herself, I would let her. But all I needed was one sincere sentence.

She looked around desperately, then sprinted into a fierce hug.

"I'm sorry, mama. I love you."

That will do.

Friday, June 17, 2011

LFMF: A dime-store float may not live up to its name

Friday, June 17, 2011 By

Me: So Allison and I took the girls down to Aquaduct Park to swim. And the spillway from Rae's Creek was RAGING. I'd never seen it like that. And I got the brilliant idea that we should float down it on Emmie's new Spongebob inflatable. As it turns out, that was a very bad idea. We won't be doing that again.

Alice: Yikes!

Me: It wasn't so bad, actually, but it scared both of us.

Alice: I bet!

Me: Then Allison went after Anna Grace, and slipped and fell on the rocks. She says she feels like an old lady today. So, that's about enough of Aqueduct Park for FOREVER.

Alice: LOL! Did you not see the disclaimer: Not to be used as a life-preserving device (or something like that...)?

Me: It was just going to be used as a float! In rapids. With me and a 6-year-old. Who thinks she has magic powers...

Alice: I know!

Me: Alright, not my brightest moment. But I've done waaaayy stupider. So that's a plus.

Alice: Not you!

Me: I know, who would believe that?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Aloysius Snuffleupagus at Your Service

Wednesday, June 15, 2011 By

A co-worker appeared in my doorway, with a grin on her face: "I sent a friend of mine a link to your snake story, and he didn't believe that I really know you."

"... like, I'm a mystical being?"

"Like, he thought your blog was too cool for me to know you. I was like, 'No, really, she's a co-worker! She's right down the hall!' I thought you'd get a kick out of that."

I do get a kick out of it. Mainly because people who actually know me? Like this co-worker, who is willowy and beautiful and classy? Not so impressed! LOL! So, thanks, blogosphere, for granting me the cool points I never had. Imaginary friends never leave you.

Update: My blog readership is up 28,200% this month according to Google Analytics. I didn't even think that was a real number.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Impulse Override

Monday, June 13, 2011 By

"Blech!" Emmie says, and hocks her gum onto the ground. "Dis gum taste like banana farts."

That is exactly what that gum tastes like, and the reason I'm not chewing it. But I can't encourage that behavior. So I have to sit with my eyes closed and just breathe to keep from laughing. It's super funny (banana farts! LOL!), but rude. She sees me do this, recognizes it for what it usually is (a precursor to privileges being taken away) and panics.

"But, Mama, you always tell me to tell da troof!" she pleads. "My brain tell me dat's true, an' den I say it!"

"Yes, but we don't spit our food on the ground - and you don't have to say every true thing out loud. What you said was not polite," I explain. "It's best to think impolite thoughts to ourselves, and not speak them."

She considers this for a moment: "But den I won't hab nuffing to say."

... Unfortunately, she has a point.

Friday, June 10, 2011

And so it begins...

Friday, June 10, 2011 By

The daughter of a friend has asked her Facebook friends to poke me continually. Of course, you know this means war.

Sons and daughters of Augusta, I am Stacey Kathleen McGowen-Hudson. I've heard that I am to old to be cool - that if I were cool, I'd invent something "2.0" or write novels about supernatural wusses. But I see a whole army of Gen Xers here in defense of the tyranny of tweens.

You have come to social media as free users, and free users you are. What would you do without social media dominance? Will you strike a blow for generational superiority? We are not the generation that brought you brooding vampires and Justin Bieber. We are the generation that brought you Cameron Crowe and Richard Linklater's cacophony of suburban romantics/malcontents, and Pearl Jam and Nirvana! (We're going to ignore that little Spice Girls hiccup)

"Poke?" you may ask. "Against the tween mob with all day to troll Facebook? No, we will defriend; and we will live to post status updates another day."

Aye, poke and you may get flamed. Run and you'll continue to update your status -- at least a while. And tweeting in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the posts from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our tweenemies that they may take over our pop culture with corporate music and asexual monsters, but they'll never take our tweetdom?!

So poke them. Poke them all!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Emmie's nightmare - and mine, too!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011 By

"I had a bad dream, Mama!" Emmie said.

"Oh, no, what was it about?"

"It was about a bad man who turned everybody into grown-ups - even me!"

Monday, June 06, 2011

And the next American Idol is...

Monday, June 06, 2011 By

I was visiting with my friend, Amber. During our conversation, I notice Emerson building a stuffed animal wall in front of Amber's daughter, Evie.

"Now, you can't cross dis line, or else you gonna be in trouble," Emmie said, as politely as one can say such a thing to a 3-year-old.

Evie's little face crumpled, and I realized that they weren't playing a game. Emmie didn't want Evie near her new toy, a karaoke machine Amber had just gifted her. (I foresee thousands of hours of Bieber in my future, and it is not pretty.)

"Emerson!" I said. "That's not how we treat other children."

Evie buried her face in Amber's lap, clearly upset.
"She thinks you're serious, honey; tell her you were joking," Amber said.

Emmie was totally serious, but she obliged, gently telling Evie she was just teasing, and they could play together. But then she turned to me, karaoke microphone in hand, with a plea for understanding: "But, Mom, I'm gonna be a famous singer when I growed up an' I hafta practice!"

I was stumped as to which misconception to address first. The one that says I'm going to approve that career choice, or the one that says you can stomp a 3-year-old's feelings to get there.

I guess I'll be paying for piano lessons soon.

"Violin," Emerson corrected me. "But I already knowed how to play it."

Oh, well, cheaper for me, then.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

How an injured child sent me into an existential crisis

Saturday, June 04, 2011 By

We're at the Columbia County Library when a little boy - about 7-years-old - injures himself at the splash pad. There are tears. Some shrieking. His knee and ankle are skinned, and he is distraught.

"Nooooo!" he shrieks at his dad, who is trying to rinse the cuts with cold water. "Get away from me!"

It's all I can do to keep from snapping my fingers at him and giving him a time-out. But his father is gentle, less authoritarian than I am.

"Hey," he crouches down next to his son. "Daddy used to do this all the time. It'll feel better soon."

"GO AWAY!" he shrieks. His father complies, retreating around the picnic table to let his son deal with it on his own.

After about a minute, he cries, "Uhhhhhh! Help meeeee!"

These are dramatics I would not tolerate from Emerson. Our motto is "No tears, no blood" for the simple reason that hysterics solve nothing - and she is prone to the dramatic. But I am touched by the loving response from both of his parents, even as the boy continues to direct his frustration and pain at them. He barks. They soothe.

I offer them the Ziploc bag of ice in our cooler. The boys shrieks at them. They back off again. Shortly, he calms. They try the ice.

"Get it off me!" he yells.

They comply. I tuck the bag back into the cooler and go back to my book, surreptitiously observing. After a few minutes, he asks to go play, and runs off.

Although not the tactic I have chosen, I am impressed with the calm and love with which they treat their children. And it reminds me of a time when my brother, about 7 years old, hurt himself while riding his bike in our neighborhood.

His leg skinned and bleeding from a scrape that covered most of his shin - certainly a painful injury - he lay on the couch. My mother and sister and I crowded around him with ice, towels, and Bactine.

"I hope I don't die!" he cried.

We laughed, and his involvement in the pain was broken. He grinned sheepishly through his tears. "I'm not going to die?" he asked. We assured him that dying from scrapes was not so common in the 1980s.

So we coddled him, but I don't coddle Emerson as much. What is the best way to handle these situations? Different techniques for different children? Or a blanket approach to each child? I don't know about anyone else, but I sometimes feel like each choice I make - whether to soothe her after an injury or help her to shake it off, for example - alters Emerson's future in some way. And that's a daunting sensation. But maybe that's what parents are supposed to feel.

How can we ever know if we're making the right choices? Is it in how the turn out as adults, or how they behave as children? Their ability to handle the day-to-day, or their relative grace under pressure? Their personalities and manners, or their professional accomplishments? And, of course, how much "nurture" can change the "nature" of our children?

Still, every time Emmie does something out of the ordinary (such as beat a four-year-old in a foot race, then turn and scream "In your face!" and yes, she did just do that) I worry. Will people appreciate the quirky sense of humor I have accidentally passed on to her? Or will they see a smart-alecky brat who needs to be put in her place? (Like my fourth grade teacher - thanks so much, Mrs. Van Tone.)

And will this panicking child, in pain from the two quarter-sized patches of missing skin on his knee and ankle, remember that he was allowed to order his parents around, or will he remember the depths of the kindness and selflessness in their response?

Do we only ever find out while spending thousands in therapy? Or is private self-examination enough? Is self-examination, perhaps, even the whole point?

I don't know. Does anyone, really?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

I Have Had it With These Monkey-Fighting Snakes on This Monday-to-Friday Plane (Subtitle: 911 is Not a Joke)

Thursday, June 02, 2011 By

Augusta, Ga. - It was a morning like any other. Hahaha! Who am I kidding? None of my mornings are like any others!

I woke up at 4:30 for absolutely no reason and decided I would start my day. "This is awesome! I'm gonna be early to everything!" I thought, and toddled down the hall to go potty.

And then I noticed that Emmie had left her iPod earbuds in the floor - because at 4:30 a.m. to a nearsighted person not wearing her glasses, hot pink headphones and a brown snake look exactly like, amIright?

Wait, a snake?!

Yep. In my hallway, pressed up against the wall in an 'S' shape, was a snakey snakelike snakeiful mcsnakerson.

It looked like this:

This is a venomous copperhead. Not usually deadly, but it can cause severe tissue damage.

This is not a photo of the actual snake. My Blackberry was beside the bed. In my bedroom. Where my child was sleeping. And the snake lay between the two of us. That was not ideal.

"I'll just sneak to the bedroom," I reasoned. I've read that snakes would rather freeze than fight. They prefer to play dead or blend in. So I smooshed myself as far into the wall as I could, and slid down the hallway.

"Ooohhh, bleep bleep bleep!" I whispered. Only I didn't say 'bleep.' I didn't say 'bleep' a lot.

Turns out, it wasn't such a good plan. The snake - which was well within striking distance in my narrow hallway - did not freeze, or play dead, or try to bite me, or apologize profusely in a British accent and offer to show himself the door. All of those would have been preferable to what the stupid snake - which had obviously failed serpent school in the House of Slytherin - chose to do: shoot directly into the bedroom where Emerson was sleeping.

Bleeeeeeeep! Oh, bleepbleepbleep!

It gets worse. We moved in only a couple of months ago, and the mattress and box spring are still sitting on the floor. I have the bed frame, but there are bolts I need and something-somethings and I haven't gotten around to doing that crap yet. Point being: Snakes follow heat sources, and the only source of heat in the bedroom was my sleeping child.

This was the scenario in my head. Who is impressed with my awesome photo editing skillz? It looks totally real!

Sleeping child. Low-lying bed. Deadly viper. These things do not inspire a chorus of "Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy."

At the doorway, the snake stopped, and turned. And it made a face like this:

I swear, y'all. This is what it did. Then it chuckled and licked its chops.


"Emerson!" I called loudly.

"whhuu?" she answered, sleepily.

"We have a problem." From the hallway, I felt her mood change. "Turn on the light. But don't get out of the bed."

The nightstand lamp clicked on. The snake paused in the doorway, confused. I saw my shot. And in 3-D, slow-motion, Eterna Vivid 250D 8546/8646 with special effects by Wetta and audio from the $6 Million Man, I leapt heroically.

(Pity I was not wearing the cool mom jeans.)

I landed on the bed and grabbed the telephone as the snake slid under the armoire.

"Wuss wrong, mama?" Emmie asked.

"There's a snake in the room," I said, and bravely dialed 911. Yes, people, I called emergency services. Because when there is deadly wildlife in my house, I totally panic.

Emmie scrunched behind me, moaning softly. "Is it poisonous?" she asked.

"Actually, the term is venomous when referring to snakes," I said. Yes, I am a giant nerd.

"It is vemmonous?" she asked.

"I don't know," I answered. "Could be. Probably not. But we're going to be careful, just in case."

"911, what is your emergency?" the operator answered.

"Girl, there is a copperhead in my bedroom," I blurted.

The operator, who is surely accustomed to more terrifying situations, made a noise like this:

(That is what Willis was talkin' about, y'all!)

I'm pretty sure that isn't protocol.

"Are you in immediate danger?" she asked. Suddenly, I realized there were probably better courses of action I could have chosen...

Nope, nevermind. Don't care. "Yes," I replied. "Although it's possible that it's not a copperhead. I didn't ask it. So your officer might show up and laugh at me."

"They won't laugh at you."

"Ma'am, have you met your officers? They will laugh at me, and I will deserve it."

"[snort] ...Okay, where is the snake now?"

"Under the armoire- no, wait, it's coming out from under the... no, it's going back - aw, crap. It's right by the door." I pointed it out to Emmie, and then had to stop her from going over to make friends.

"Can you get out of the room to let the officers in?"

"I wasn't planning on ever getting off the bed! I could climb out the window, but then we'd all be locked out. Can't they just shoot the lock? Or burn down the door with a flamethrower?"

As it turns out, shooting locks is not standard protocol. And the Richmond County Sheriff's Department does not issue flamethrowers to its officers - a gross oversight. Finally, I agreed to try. I snuck towards the door with Emmie behind me. I thought about dwarf-tossing her into the hallway. But the snake retreated again. I picked her up and swung her gently through the door and into the hallway, where she landed gracefully. Me, not so much...

"Are you out of the room?" the operator asked.

"Emmie is."

"Where are you?"

"I'm near the door."

"Can you get out?"


"Why not?"

"My legs won't move."

"Why not?"

"I think they're scared!"

I heard her chuckle. Emmie motioned from the door: "Come on, Mama! You can do it!"

I would not be upstaged by my 6-year-old. "Oh, bleepbleepbleep!" I said, and jumped again.

We ran down the hallway to the sound of the operator's laughter (I liked and appreciated her humor), unlocked the front door and jumped onto the couch. We stood there - on the couch - until an officer showed up.

"You got a snake?" he asked. "I like snakes."

"You like vemmonous ones?" Emmie asked. I thought it a practical question. He grinned and I pointed the way. He was relaxed and interested. I got the feeling he rather wanted to find the snake - and that made me very happy.

A second officer showed up. Oh, how I love the RCSD.

"You got a snake?" he asked.

"Yes. Enormous," I answered.

"Spittin' cobra?" he grinned.

"Hell, yes," I answered. He chuckled and moseyed down the hall.

I was a little concerned. These guys - I'm going to call them Poncho and Lefty because of their cowboy-like resolve - seemed utterly unfazed by the situation. They were dripping weaponry and Kevlar, but their ankles were totally unprotected. I have it on good authority that snakes LOVE ankles.

Good morning. I am going to bite you, paralyze you, and eat you alive. I will only be momentarily annoyed by your bulletproof vest.

Just then, a third officer stuck his head in the front door and peeked around. Seriously, if you ever need anything done at 4:30 in the morning, call the RCSD. I have a feeling they'd have shown up for a cockroach. And I like that about them.

"You got a snake in your house?" he asked.

"Yes, sir. The other officers are in the bedroom," I replied.

"Uh-uh, I ain't goin' back there," he said. And I didn't blame him, because in my mind it was now a 20-foot-long black mamba with a laser gun attached to its head.

Please tell me someone else gets this joke.

"Are you skeered?" Emmie asked him.

"Yes, I am," he replied, without embarrassment.

"Hey, come on back," Poncho called. The third officer - whom I'll call Curly - shook his head with resignation and walked very slowly to the bedroom.

The snake had slithered out from under the armoire, and I could hear the officers moving things around to find it. Drawers opened and closed. Doors slid. I had dumped out almost the entire contents of my underwear drawer looking for a pair of socks yesterday, so I'm sure they went through those, too. Great. At least they were clean, Mom.

Poncho came out: "You got a broom?"

I pointed him to the utility closet.

"Hey," Curly peeked out of the bedroom. "I think we found it."

That was fast! I skipped down the hall, Emmie behind me.

"Is this it?" Curly asked - AND THREW THE SNAKE AT ME!


I screamed and jumped and shrieked and ran. My neighbors are probably still in GRHealth, recovering from the heart attack I gave them. But Curly had not really thrown a snake at me, which would - in my opinion - have justified me picking up my sofa and bashing him to death with it. He had tossed one of my belts. Emmie knelt on the floor, laughing so hard that her stomach hurt and she couldn't stand.

I chased him down the hall. He ran from me, laughing at his cleverness. Oh, so hilarious, officer! I smacked him in the arm.

"It's a good thing you're wearing a gun or I would murder you!" I exclaimed. Then I apologized, because that is not a smart thing to say to an armed officer whom I just assaulted - and totally got away with it, too. He was too busy laughing to notice. Yeah, just keep it up, chucklehead.

Emmie was still shrieking with laughter. Somehow, this was not going as I expected. I wanted a platoon of soldiers from Fort Gordon to march up, kick in the door, show the snake their boomsticks, and fill it full of hot lead. 

Poncho and Lefty called Curly back into the room. He reluctantly complied.

I have a photo that I will not post to protect the identities of the three officers whose responses I appreciate so much: Poncho is on his knees with my broom, trying to get the snake out of the closet. Lefty is standing behind him, acting as backup. Curly is hiding behind Lefty, gripping his belt and peeking out with a flashlight. It was an awesome scene.

"We got it!" Lefty called. "For real, this time. Do you want to see it?"

Curly shot out the front door. That's how I knew Lefty was telling the truth. Emmie and I trotted down the hallway. The snake was coiled around Poncho's hand.

"What is it?" I asked.

"I dunno," Poncho said. "I might take it home and find out."

He asked if I wanted a photo (hello, of course), and then slid the snake into a drawstring bag. The officers were on their way in seconds, waving off our gratitude. Curly was still chuckling.

"Bye, polices! Fank you!" Emmie called.

She and I sat back down on the couch and grinned at each other.

"Well, that was an adventure, wasn't it?" I said. Emmie laughed and nodded.

And then someone knocked on the door. It is just a big frickin' party at my house.

"You got a snake?" It was a lady in a khaki uniform, holding a snake pole. Dispatch had also called Animal Control.

"Oh, they just took it," I said, brightly. She glared.

"Who just took it?"

"Um, sheriff's deputies?" I said. She continued to glare. "But I have a picture!"

Tremble at the rabid anaconda with razor claws and wings of flame!

I proudly held up my Crackberry. She looked at me like I am an idiot - which, frequently, I am.

"That is a wood snake," she said, then turned on her heel and stomped off into the darkness. And then it occurred to me that maybe Animal Control doesn't work 24 hours. They probably dragged this poor lady out of bed for nothing. I'd have glared at me, too.

Just then, the alarm went off. Only it wasn't a dream. It was 6:30 a.m., and I was no further along in my day than I was when I woke up two hours before. Of course.

"I can't believe you called 911," Scott said. "I had that python for all those years, and you call the police?!"

"If I'd called you at 4:30 in the morning and asked you to come get a snake, would you have come?"

"Hell, no. I'd have told you to sweep it out with the broom and I'd have gone back to bed," he scoffed.

"And that's why I didn't call you, smarty."

Will I call 911 again if a snake shows up in my house again? Bleep, yes! Maybe they didn't quarantine my home and call in the CDC, or the World Wildlife Fund, or whoever. But they were polite and efficient, funny and kind. And they got the snake.

I did a critter patrol the next couple of days, in case there was a gaggle or a flock or a nest. While I didn't find any more snakes, I did completely overreact and murder Emmie's jump rope with the broom.

Ooh, side note, herpetologists: A group of snakes should be called a murder, like crows.

So what did I learn, boys and girls?

First, it is illegal in Georgia to kill nonvenomous snakes... even if you reallyreallyreally want to.

Second, RCSD is woefully undergunned. Look into flamethrowers, Sheriff.

Finally, never, ever get ready for bed and think, "It's just me and Emmie. Who cares what I wear to sleep?" Because if I'm ever again jumping up and down and running from a snake/belt, I really want to be wearing underwear.

YES, MOM, I DID JUST SAY THAT. And someone, somewhere, is thanking me for it. Probably - especially - the Richmond County Sheriff's Department.