Ready To Jump

I started writing this last night but was unable to finish it.  The house was still 77 degrees and a little sticky, so I pulled the floor fan out of the car house, cleaned it off and put it in the bedroom.  Tater Tot got a vacation from his room and plastered himself to my side for most of the night.  So much for staying cool, right?

The air conditioner still isn’t working right, but it’ll get straightened out.  

In reality, none of it has been bad.  Uncomfortable?  A little bit, especially if the dryer and dishwasher are going, but I can’t say that it’s been unbearable.

I’m embarrassed that I whined yesterday.  I’m pretty sure that you know I was complaining in a light-hearted way, because let’s face it, it’s only April.  It’s not like we’re suffering under the smothering August heat.  If this happens again in August, the complaining will be sincere.

Nonetheless, today I am a bit ashamed

You know, I’m fairly new to the whole blogging scene.  I started off by reading Sophie’s blog about this time last year.  We went to school together at Mississippi State, and I didn’t even know she had a blog until a friend of mine and I were talking one day and it came up in conversation.  It  went something like this:

KRISTI:  Look, you really ought to read Sophie’s blog because it is a SCREAM!  She will crack you up, and nothing helps you like a good laugh.  (This was right after my father’s death and I was feeling kind of low.)

ME:  Sophie has a blog?

KRISTI:  Yes, Sophie has a blog.  Stop living under a rock, my friend.  She is to blogging what Oprah is to talk shows.  Get thee to your computer and start reading.  Make haste.

And so I made haste.  I read EVERY SINGLE POST, starting from the very beginning.  Some of them made me laugh until I cried.  Some of them made me laugh so hard that I did that wheezing cry.  And some of them made me laugh so hard that I made that “haah-haah-haanh” noise.  You know, the noise that comes out when you can’t catch your breath?  

Some of them made me think.  And cry.  And laugh.  Some of them made me do all three, all at the same time.   Most of those were the ones she wrote during her trip to Africa with Compassion International.  I had no idea Sophie had been to Africa.  I had no idea what Compassion International was.  Remember, I had been living under a rock and barely knew what a blog was.

Since then I’ve become a little more familiar with blogging.  I read oodles of blogs every day, although I’ve slacked off on my commenting because, believe it or not, my inner cleaning lady has kicked in.  Shocking, I know. 

Right now, I’m reading the posts being written by the bloggers who are currently in India with Compassion, and I find myself thinking about them, the children and families they’re meeting, and the words they’ve written over and over and over.

Melissa’s post in particular struck me like a bolt of lightning when I read it yesterday.  I must have read it three or four or nine times, and as I did, I kept thinking about the stained-glass window behind the choir loft in my hometown’s Methodist church.

There is a Bible verse in the window that can be read from the street.  Of course, when you’re sitting in the pew, the words are backwards.  I remember sitting there as a child, and (ahem) maybe even in my teenage years, trying to figure out what those words were.  I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to go and look at the window from the other side after church, other than the fact that I’m a bear of little brain, but I don’t recall ever doing so.

Anyway, the verse is from Proverbs 19:17, “He that hath pity upon the poor, lendeth unto the Lord.”  

It’s not one of the verses most often quoted, is it?  Had I not stared at it every Sunday for the better part of 18 years, and many, many Sundays thereafter, I can’t honestly say that I would know it.

He who hath pity upon the poor…

Having pity doesn’t mean feeling sorry for someone, like I thought when I was younger.  It means having compassion for them.  It means reaching out to them,  helping them, praying for them, doing for them what they cannot do for themselves.  Not what they won’t do; what they aren’t able to do.

…lendeth unto the Lord.

If you lend something, there is an understanding that it will be repaid in some way.  

My word.  I’ve been given so much already.

  • Right now, I’m lounging on my king-sized bed, waiting for someone else to fix our air conditioner.  
  • Tater Tot, our perfectly healthy son, is at Mother’s Day Out.  He is playing on playground equipment that is safe, on a surface that is cushiony.  He will nap on a carpeted floor, on his nap mat, in an air-conditioned room (lucky boy).
  • My husband has a good job with health and dental benefits.  
  • My mother is healthy and lives an hour away.  She never hangs up the phone or lets me leave her house without telling me that she loves me and how much I mean to her.  She loves Tater Tot and he loves her like nobody’s business.
  • I was blessed with a father who loved his family beyond measure.
  • I have a brother who is healthy and who has a job and whom I love very much.
  • Both of my parents graduated from college, and they made sure that my brother and I did, too.
  • We grew up in a home full of laughter.
  • When I walk to the sink and fill a glass with water, I know that it is safe to drink.
  • There is more than enough food to eat at every meal.

I could go on and on.

What in the world is there to be repaid?  What could I possibly expect from our most generous God in return for simply having compassion for the poor?  

Maybe it’s opportunity after opportunity to be humbled by Him;  to love Him;  to surrender to Him;  to trust Him;  to believe Him; to be encouraged by Him.

How could I not jump at the chance!

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I’m Hot, and Not in a Good Way

The thermostat has been set on 72 for three days.

The temperature inside the house has been 77 degrees for three days.

The Taters have been cranky for three days.

I called our air conditioning people and someone came around 11:00 yesterday morning to check things out.  The fellow looked around and said that everything appeared to be working normally.  He suggested changing the batteries in the thermostat, explaining that if the batteries were bad, the thermostat could be having trouble regulating itself.  We changed the batteries.  He left and told me to give the office a call if things didn’t cool off.

Two hours later, the house was not any cooler, so I called the AC folks back.  They suggested doing a couple of things.

When the hubs came home, he changed the filter and I hosed off the unit outside (both of which were filthy).  I reset the thermostat.

It is still 77 degrees inside the house.  And we are still cranky.

Did I mention that we just spent about $200 less than a month ago to replace the unit’s motor?  No?  Oh, well, we did.  That kind of adds to the crankiness.

We’re on the schedule for the AC fellow to come back today.  He’s a nice guy, and he’ll get everything straightened out.

Tater Tot and I will just sit here and eat Popsicles while we wait.  It’ll help keep us cool.  And it will definitely cut down on the crankiness.

If You’re Interested…

This probably won’t interest you, but every now and then I check my blog stats, which I did just before opening a blank page, and I looked at the “search engine terms” section.  Apparently, someone typed in “toddler drinking” and Tater Tales popped up.  That’s not exactly what I’m going for here.  Besides that, who types in “toddler drinking?”  I’m a little concerned.

Back to the randomness of this fine Saturday.

Several weeks ago, I whined about the fact that when we renovated our kitchen several years ago we opted for stainless steel appliances.  The decision seemed like a good idea at the time, but then it became clear that keeping them clean was easier said than done.

Until now.  Glory hallelujah, I have found the perfect stainless cleaner EVER!  It’s called  Hope’s Perfect Stainless.  Is that perfect or what?  This stuff is so easy to use.   You spray it on your appliances and wipe it off with a paper towel.  That’s it.  There is no buffing with a soft cotton towel or any of that silly business.  Would you believe that I’ve cleaned our appliances once since I bought the bottle a couple of weeks ago and they haven’t needed cleaning since?  ONCE!  Oh, sweet joy of all joys!  I’m anxious to check out their other products, which I didn’t know existed until I looked at their website.  If their other stuff keeps things looking clean for two weeks at a time, they’ve just found themselves a loyal customer.  For Pete’s sake, I haven’t been this excited since Nabisco came out with Golden Oreos.

Like most families these days, the Taters are trying to be smarter about how we spend money.  One thing we don’t do nearly as much as we did a year ago is eat out.  It’s not like we were regulars at the city’s five-star restaurants, but picking up take-out from our favorite Chinese place or the burger joint around the corner every couple of weeks was pretty common.  These days, we just don’t do it that often.  It’s not that big of a deal, but every now and then, I do miss it.

Well.

Last week while wandering the aisles of the grocery store, I stumbled upon what turned out to be a delicious compromise.  You can get the taste of four Macaroni Grill entrees without the restaurant price.  It’s dinner in a box!  (Okay, you do have to buy the chicken, but that’s a positive thing because who wants chicken in box?  Ewww.)  I was skeptical at first, but the whole thing, chicken tenders and all, cost about $7.50.  I figured I would try it and at the very worst we just wouldn’t like it.  Goodness knows I’ve spent way more on meals that ended up in the garbage and were replaced by a large pepperoni from Pizza Hut.  I bought the Chicken Alfredo with Linguini, and folks, it was good.  Tater Daddy and Tater Tot liked it, and there was enough left over for Tater Tot’s lunch later in the week.  If you’re interested, here’s a link for more information AND a printable coupon.  Last night I made the Chicken Marsala. DEE-LISH-US!  It made enough for Tater Daddy and me, and there would have been a little leftover for a small lunch, but someone (cough, cough) gobbled it up while she was cleaning up the kitchen.  I hate it when she does that…

Okay, gang.  The last thing I’m going to leave you with is a recipe for Sweet and Sour Green Beans.  Yesterday I wrote about, among other things, my love of bacon and tomato sandwiches. I also mentioned green beans.  So now I’m going to give you a recipe for green beans that involves using bacon. Lots of bacon.  This is quite possibly the best green bean recipe in the world, and it comes from the cookbook Absolutely a la Carte.  I’ve referenced it a few times, and it’s my all-time favorite cookbook.

Sweet and Sour Green Beans

4 (16 oz.) cans whole green beans, drained

2 medium onions, sliced and separated into rings

16 bacon slices

3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3/4 cup vinegar

Place green beans in a 3-quart baking dish; place onion slices over beans.

Fry bacon in skillet over medium heat until crisp; drain, reserving drippings.  Crumble bacon and sprinkle over onion.

Cook reserved bacon drippings, brown sugar, and vinegar in skillet over medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved.

Pour sugar mixture over casserole and chill several hours.

Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

 

Enjoy the weekend, y’all.

Swimsuit and Tomato Season Will Be Here Soon

My mother has been busy in her garden lately.  I can’t remember if I’ve written much about her garden, but every year she puts in a vegetable garden that I live for.  She spoils us, and about half of our hometown, rotten with tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, bell peppers, green beans (By the way,did you know you can fry these?), zipper peas, English peas, watermelons, and cantaloupe.  Can I get an A-M-E-N?

Last year she thought that Mr. Buddy, the man who farms her land, had sprayed Round-Up too close to her 18 tomato plants, so she planted about 18 more.  As it turned out, most of the original 18 survived.  We had tomatoes until the first of October.  Can I get another A-M-E-N?

I’m going to switch gears here, but stay with me.  It might make sense and tie together when I’m done, or it may not.  You never know.

With summer coming up, and considering the fact that we have a toddler who LOVES to be in the water, I decided that it was time to buy a new swimsuit.  So I drank four margaritas and went shopping.  I’m just kidding.  I drank the margaritas after I came home.  Okay, I’m still kidding.  I just wanted to drink the margaritas.  I opted for about six diet cokes and a bag of salt and vinegar potato chips.  What can I say?  I soothe myself with food.  If I soothed myself with exercise, I suppose I would actually enjoy shopping for swimsuits.  That’s a concept I can’t even wrap my feeble brain around, though.

At any rate, after what was most certainly a miserable shopping experience, I decided that I would try the Miracle Suit.  You know, the one that’s supposed to make you look 10 pounds thinner INSTANTLY!  I justified the expense by telling myself that ever since Tater Tot was born, I’ve probably spent a total of $11 on clothes for myself.  I’ve really enjoyed those new socks, too.  Let’s face it.  Once a baby enters the picture, no one cares what the Mama looks like because the Mama immediately becomes invisible.  If you show up somewhere without your child, the first thing someone says is, “Where is the baby?”  When you do have the baby in your arms, the first thing people say is, “Let me see that baby!”  You know what I’m talking about, right?  Invisible Mama Syndrome.

A few days after I placed the order, the swimsuit arrived and I tried it on.

Dear Miracle Suit,

I am wild about the color of the swimsuit I ordered.  No one makes a better black than you do.  But I have a favor to ask.

Is there any way you could make a swimsuit that makes us look 20 pounds thinner?  Because wearing two of your suits is (A) very expensive, (B) kind of uncomfortable, and (C) probably hot.  And I mean “hot” in the temperature way, not the “Look at me” way.  If it were the latter, I would not need two Miracle Suits in the first place.

Just a thought.

Yours truly,

Tater Mama  (A southern gal who will soon be eating hundreds of bacon and tomato sandwiches on white bread, slathered with large globs of Miracle Whip)

So far there has been no reply from the Miracle Suit people, and I did send the suit back because (if I suck in my stomach and don’t exhale for several hours) I really can’t tell that much difference between theirs and one from Old Navy.  

However, I sure as heck CAN tell the difference between the prices.

It’s about 17 packages of bacon and two jars of Miracle Whip. 

That’s something like 130 bacon and tomato sandwiches.

A-M-E-N!

He’s a Little Earthy

Sometimes you just want to be close to nature.  Or in this case, smack dab in the middle of it.

ham

Sometimes you get a little too close to nature and find that there are these prickly things called thorns, especially when your Mama says, “Hey, don’t sit there.  Those rosebushes have prickly things called thorns.”

ouch

(It’s blurry because Tater Tot is getting up after discovering that, wonder of all wonders, his mama was telling him the truth.)

Sometimes, you have to take time to stop and smell the roses (that your Mama has de-thorned).

stop-and-smell-the-roses

Breaking In New Shoes

After I picked up Tater Tot Friday afternoon, we headed out for a shoe-shopping adventure because the little fellow’s feet grew about two sizes overnight.  Half an hour later, we left the shoe store slightly poorer, but I was relieved to know that our son’s little toes have plenty of wiggle room.  Well, for a few weeks, at least.  

It was such a pretty afternoon that we decided to play outside when we got home, and the first thing on Tater Tot’s agenda was to find some dirt and play in it. 

playing-in-the-dirt

The reason his back is dirty is because he laid down in the dirt and made “dirt angels.”

dirt-angel

I know.  I can’t really make out an angel either, but according to him, there is a dirt angel there just as plain as day, so I’m taking his word for it.  Plus, he begged me to take a picture of it for him.

(That random electrical cord, by the way, runs from the house to the car house, which obviously isn’t wired.  It’s also useless when it comes to housing cars, but that’s for another post.)

If I ever meet the fellow who came up with the idea of making gray tennis shoes, I might just kiss him right on the face.  And here’s why.

new-shoes

It would appear that his sock is the only thing getting dirty, but let me assure you that his little shoe was filthy.  

I suppose it makes his new pair feel like his old pair, except now he can stretch his toes out.

Everyone Needs a Friend Like That

Last Friday afternoon I was running a few errands before picking up Tater Tot from Parent’s Day Out.  As I was putting something in my car, two elderly ladies standing in the rows directly across from me caught my eye.  They had obviously been somewhere together, because, honey, they were dressed up.  And they were both just as cute as buttons.

I got in my car and watched them as they said goodbye to each other, laughing and patting on each other with such familiarity and gentleness.  As one of them got ready to cross the lane and walk to her car, the other stopped her, and — I swear — straightened her wig.  Apparently it was a little askew.

Rather than seem embarrassed, the wig-wearer just tilted her head back and laughed.  Then she poked her friend with her elbow and teeter-tottered to her car.  She got in her great big pearly-white Lincoln, and her friend eased into her sleek black Cadillac.

I finally quit gawking at that point and went on my merry way, but I’ve thought of those two ladies all weekend.  There was something spunky about them, and I do love spunky little old ladies.  But more than that, there was something so dear about their friendship.  I imagine they’ve seen each other through just about everything life can throw out.  Joy, pain, surprises -both good and bad, laughter, tears, the fat days and the skinny days, the times when their husbands acted like complete morons and the times when they came through like heroes.  You name it, and I’ll be willing to bet that they were right there with each other.

In all, I probably watched those ladies for less than a minute, but seeing them made me happy.  Thinking about them still makes me smile.  

All of us need at least one friend who loves us enough to straighten our wig now and then.

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