Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Birth of Bubba

My son’s identity has changed since the birth of his
sister. He is no longer referred to by
name when my daughter is around. He is
affectionately known as “Bubba.” This
was not intentional. Nicknames such as
this never are. It just came about in a
natural progression when my daughter was learning to speak. “Bubba” is much easier to say than
“Truman.” My son was quite resistant to
it at first but has embraced his new name with gusto, using it to get his
sister to follow his directions and live by his strict dictatorship. He will take her by the hand and say, “Let
Bubba show you how to do it.” or “Follow Bubba.” He has found that using his new name is a much more effective
method for getting his sister to do what he wants. 

I never thought I would have a family member that I referred
to as “Bubba.” It existed in the same
realm of possibilities as my husband and son attending a Monster Truck
Rally. It was inconceivable. It is funny how things can change when you
have children. Everything does. It is impossible to avoid. We live in East Tennessee. My husband plans on going to a Nascar Race
with some friends every year. I recently
purchased a mini replica of the “Grave Digger” and my son has dropped his
relatively uncommon, fairly noble name in favor of a name that evokes images of
a good ol’ Southern boy driving a pick-up truck with a “#3-God Needed a Driver”
bumper sticker on it. “Bubba,” however, is here to stay. My daughter lights up when she hears that

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


I just wanted to send a shout out to Alyson, Chase and Camden.  Congratulations on the arrival of Cooper Gray, a healthy baby boy born this morning. Alyson is bound and determined that he will NOT be called "Coop."  Yeah, good luck with that.  We cannot wait to meet him!

Monday, February 26, 2007

Sleeping with Guns

Gunplay among children, especially boys, is certainly a hot
topic. Many mothers are vehemently
opposed to it while some feel that it is harmless and natural for boys to want
to play with guns. I am somewhere in
the middle of these two extremes, trying to decide how I feel. I grew up in a home with no guns. My Father is not a hunter. The closest I came to a gun as a child was
hearing my brother talk about target practice at Boy Scout camp. That was close enough for me. I did not care about guns or weapons at
all. I was all girl and preferred
Cabbage Patch Kids and Barbies to guns and swords.

My son’s favorite activity is playing policeman or
cowboy. These activities always include
guns. He fell asleep last night
cuddling a little neon green handgun that came with a police kit that I got him
at the dollar store. My sweet little
boy, who normally sets up his stuffed animals in a row and meticulously covers
them up to their necks so they won’t get cold, slept with a handgun last
night. It was a little disturbing for
me but I am coping.

My husband grew up around guns and has assured me that
gunplay is a natural activity for boys. He frequently played guns with his two brothers (both of whom are now
policemen) and turned out just fine. He
is a classic middle child, though, and is the only one of his brothers who
doesn’t have to remove his firearm to sit down for dinner. I’m not quite sure what this says about gunplay but his brothers
are both highly responsible, upstanding citizens that just never lost their
interest in guns. As long as my husband
and I make a concerted effort to educate my son about the dangers of guns and,
if his interest continues, proper safety and use, I will accept his interest. I’d prefer that he grows up to
enter some sort of non-gun-carrying profession but, if he is destined for a
gun-centered profession, I’d prefer law enforcement to violent crime. I wonder how many hardened criminals slept with
toy guns as preschoolers. It might be worth
looking into.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Doghouse

My husband is in the doghouse. He’s sleeping there, eating there, and working there. The trail leading back up to the main house
is full of potholes and booby tracks. He has a long, hard journey ahead of him.

Yesterday was my birthday. My parents came over to take us out to dinner and have cake and ice
cream. The meal was pretty good. The cake was delicious and it was time for
my favorite part: the present
opening. I didn’t have any actual
presents, just cards. My husband turned
his back to me, reached into his pocket to get something and then handed
two cards to me. The first card I
opened had a picture of a college-age cartoon kid on the front and it said
something like, “Mom, it’s your birthday and you have something to be proud
of.” On the inside it said, “I
remembered your birthday and I’m wearing clean underwear.” It was signed, in my husband’s handwriting,
with both of my kids' names. There was
no homemade card, no picture, and no little gift from the kids, just that lame
card. I did not laugh. I did not even smile. I was pissed. There was, however, another card from my husband on the table.

I braced myself for the worst and hoped for the best as I
opened the envelope. Inside was a card
with a cute, complimentary message.  It
was a perfectly acceptable card with a short, hand-written note from my husband
on the inside. In lieu of a gift, my
husband had put a Best-Buy gift card on the inside of the card. This would have been a decent gesture had it
not been a used Best Buy gift card that my husband received as a Christmas gift
from his boss in early December. It had
a remaining balance of between $7-15. He couldn’t be sure. I was
disappointed and hurt but, most of all, I was pissed. I still am.

It should be mentioned that my husband did bring me flowers
and brought a cabinet into the kitchen that he presented as my gift. It is a tall, thin cabinet that he found on
the side of the road and thought it was worth saving. He did some minor repairs and painted it white. This is what he does. He likes to find things of no value and make
them valuable. I support this hobby but
he does it for himself, not me. I have nowhere
to put the cabinet and, while I acknowledge the gesture, I am not someone who appreciates birthday gifts found on the side of the road. I like thought and sentiment. I don’t need expensive things, just thoughtful things. If not for the cake and the birthday song,
my kids would never have known that it was my birthday. I still feel a little sting of pain when I
think about it.  It quickly turns to anger.  Wish him luck people. He’s going to need a small miracle to make
the trek back to the main house.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Possessed Appliances

Our microwave looks like something from prehistoric
times. It has no digital display, no
buttons and is adorned with two old school knobs, one to choose power setting
and the other to select the number of minutes. It’s a real gem and was bought, surprisingly, about three months
ago. Our old microwave was fairly
modern in comparison but it started exhibiting poltergeist behavior of late:
turning on randomly, continuing to cook when the door was open (NOT good) and making
odd noises when it was in use. I don’t deal well with possessed appliances and
I told my husband that it had to be replaced immediately.

It was close to Christmas when our microwave broke so our
replacement budget was tight. I had little hope that we would be able to find a
microwave for under $50. We made our
trek to Wal-Mart and, low and behold, the very first microwave on the shelf (made by the
illustrious and well-known small appliance company, Galanz) was a whopping
$34.99. We debated between the Galanz
model and the GE but the GE was $55.99 and we could hardly justify spending an
additional $20 when it was not absolutely necessary. So, we purchased the Galanz. I was quite skeptical of this machine with its 1985 knobs and bizarre
name. I filed it under reliability next
to the Broksonic VCR that we bought for $22.00 when our old one died. It has, however, survived two and a half
months in our household with nary an issue and makes for a humorous
conversation piece.

The night of my son’s slumber party, Camden (age 4) ran into
the kitchen while I was cooking popcorn and said, “Wow. What is that?” I told him it was a microwave. He replied, “Where are the buttons?” I explained that it had knobs instead of buttons. Awestruck, he paused for a minute and
yelled, “Hey guys. Come see this
microwave. It’s really cool.” Within seconds there were three kids staring
in wonder at my microwave saying things like, “wow” and “cool.” That $34.99 turned out to be money well
spent. My house is like a fun factory
when popcorn is cooking.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Not Recommended for Children Under 5

This weekend I did the unthinkable.  I invited three of my son's friends over for an impromptu slumber party.  I think that I was suffering from temporary insanity when I actually issued the invitation because here is who arrived at my house on Friday night:

Katherine:  almost 5 years old
Camden:  almost 4 years old
Patrick:  almost 3 years old

Including my own children, I had five children under five years old under my roof from 5:30 pm Friday night until 12:00 pm Saturday afternoon.  It was the first time that I had attempted anything such as this.

I am happy to report that it went fairly well.   Prior to the arrival of the extra kiddos on Friday evening, I researched some game ideas online.  The overwhelming consensus when I googled "preschool slumber party games" was:  DON'T HAVE A SLUMBER PARTY WITH PRESCHOOLERS.  This made my palms sweat a little and caused me to rethink my decision.  I knew that there was no turning back at that point as I had some pretty significant child-care debt to pay off to my friends.  I decided to structure the night as much as possible until 9:00 and then put in a movie for the kids so they could wind down. 

Here's how the evening went:

We had pizza waiting when Camden, Patrick, and Katherine arrived.  We ate, did a little freestyle dancing and then played a little game of freeze dance.  I threw rolls of Smarties at the winner (the fastest to freeze when the music stopped) and gave out extra Smarties for most enthusiastic dancing.  This was quite entertaining for all involved but it had to end when the sheer volume of Smarties got out of hand.  So, we had a little freeplay time while I broke out the big guns:  Play Doh.  This accomplished two goals.  First, it gave the kids an incentive to clean up the massive amounts of toys they had gotten out and secondly, it occupied their attention for quite some time.  After Play Doh, we all got ready for bed, I popped some popcorn and we put in a  movie.  The kids were really good but, unfortunately, not a soul fell asleep during the movie and we had to read stories and attempt to get my son, Katherine, and Camden to fall asleep in one bed together.  This was quite a challenge but it finally happened sometime betweeen 11:30 pm and 12:00 am.

My husband and I went to bed as soon as it was confirmed that every child was asleep.  Other then one small eruption of giggles at 3:45 AM that was promptly nipped in the bud, the night went quite well.  All of the kids had a wonderful time and I would definitely do it again...  as long as it is reciprocated.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

:) :( ;0 :o) :O)

I would not classify myself as an airhead in any way, shape or form but I do have my moments.  Yesterday, I noticed how frequently I use the email smiley and it brought back a memory of one such instance of idiocy.  I had been utilizing email as a communication device for at least four years before I figured out what the smiley meant.  For those of you who may be in the same predicament that I was (and I doubt there are many), this is what the smiley looks like:   :)  It's little sideways eyeballs and a smile created using keyboard punctuation. 

I received email after email with this symbol at the end of a sentence and never quite understood what it meant.  I know this sounds absolutely idiotic but I just never took the time to view it from a  different perspective and I only saw it as a colon and a parenthesis.  I just assumed it was some type of weird email punctuation and, since it never interfered with my understanding of individual email, I let it go at that.  Finally, one day several years (literally) after I opened my first email account, it just clicked.  I read an email and happened to look at the symbol differently and a light bulb went off in my head.  It was a smiley face.  What a cute idea!

From that point on I became the smiley queen.  I use this little symbol in at least half of the emails that I send out.  It is a surprisingly useful but very simple tool that, when used properly, conveys the same thing that a wink following a snide comment in a conversation conveys.  This is something that is very difficult to do in written communication so I love to throw a smiley into my emails and, when I do so, I feel confident that the recipient of my email will not take my sarcastic or snide comment too seriously.   So for those of you out there who, like me, are in possession of a one-way ticket to the short bus when it comes to email punctuation, I hope this was a useful lesson for you :)

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Hallmark Holiday

I always get screwed during the Holiday of Love due to its close
chronological proximity to my birthday.  This really isn't a big deal
as my husband and I are not big Valentine's people.  I can pretty much
guarantee that I will not be recieving any jewelry on this glorious
occassion just as I can also guarantee that my husband will not be
recieving any power tools or garden gadgets.  It's just not something
we do.

Our Valentine's spending limit is usually around $10 (and
that includes the card!) so my husband usually ends up with two or
three pez dispensers (he's a collector) and I end up with a bag of
gummy worms (my favorite treat).  I know some women who get diamonds
every February 14th.  I am not one of those women.  What can I say?
For me, gummy worms are a girl's best friend.

I debated about
what to get my children for Valentine's Day this year.  I was going to
just get them a card until I talked to some friends and found out that
they were getting some candy, a card, and a $20-25 gift for their kids.  Never one to
shy away from keeping up with the Joneses, I braved the Valentine aisle
at Wal-Mart with all of the rest of the last minute shoppers.
Thankfully, the children's card section was relatively crowd free. 
The same cannot be said for the wife/girlfriend section.  That small
space was stuffed with men of all ages, arms heavy with all varieties
of candy and lame $4.94 stuffed animals, perusing the cards searching
for the perfect one for their special lady.  I rolled my eyes and
judged them harshly for their procrastination.  Without further ado, I
made my way to the  husband card section.   I found pretty good cards
(considering the sparse selection) for my husband and my kids and made
my way to the book aisle.  I purchased a book for each child as well as
a small candy treat.  I think that is sufficient.  I'll probably hear
stories about my son's friends and their shiny new Valentine's bikes
and Power Wheels but I will have no problem responding to these tales.
I'll just look at my son knowingly and say, "Just be thankful that one of your gifts
was non-perishable."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Coked-Up Puppies

My kids are like puppies when I turn the vacuum cleaner
on. They don’t bark at it and try to
attack it but they come pretty close. Apparently, the sound of the vacuum triggers the release of some type of
endorphin in their brain and they both immediately start running circles around
the table screaming. My son usually
runs around very quickly, jumping over the vacuum (sometimes successfully,
sometimes not so much) on every lap. He
laughs hysterically and screams sporadically. My daughter, upon hearing the vacuum, makes a b-line for her room and
her baby stroller. She tears around the
table, getting lapped by my son, pushing that stroller as fast as she can,
screaming and laughing giddily.

I’ve gotten so used to this behavior that it doesn’t even
faze me. In my life, screaming and
running are just a part of vacuuming the floor. I like to listen to loud, upbeat music while I clean so I
usually blast it loud enough that I can hear the songs over the vacuum and the
screams and laughter. I routinely vacuum
during the day and my husband is not a party to this activity so today, when he
walked into the kitchen with a “What the hell is going on in here?” look, I was
perplexed. Then I realized that it was
probably the combination of the vacuum, Bob Marley and two seemingly coked-up
kids that threw him for a loop. I’m
pretty sure that he felt like he was transported to a bad episode of “The
Osbournes” on his otherwise quiet Sunday afternoon. He immediately coaxed the kids out of the kitchen to let me
finish vacuuming. The silence (aside
from Bob Marley and the vacuum) felt eerie to me and I caught a glimpse of what
vacuuming the floor will be like in a few years when my kids get a little older
and don’t turn into coked-up puppies at the first roar of the Dirt Devil. Cleaning the house is going to be so boring.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Bonding Boot Camp

My son has a problem communicating with non-family-member
adults. He rarely makes eye contact
with them and does not respond well when other adults attempt to discipline
him. These are not very good qualities
and it is something that I am working on. If you were to ask my friend Jacquelyn, she would say that she does not
have much of a relationship with my son. I do, however, have a very close relationship with both of her children
and they know and love me (at least I think they do). I know them very well too and feel a pretty strong bond with
them. I wish that these feelings were
reciprocated in my son’s relationship with Jacquelyn.

We’ve got a plan to make my wish come true. Tonight my son is at Bonding Boot Camp. He is spending the night at Jacquelyn’s house and they are going
to run through a series of bonding exercises. First, she is going to put some type of solid obstacle in an unusual
place in a high traffic area of her home. The chance that my son will run into it at least once during the course
of his stay is 99 percent. She will
ensure that she is there when the incident happens and comfort him with gusto
in the absence of me. This should build
trust between my son and Jacquelyn and, hopefully, will not cause a serious
injury. Secondly, she is planning to
serve him a meal that he does not like. He will complain about it and refuse to eat it. Instead of chiding him and forcing him to go
without food if he doesn’t eat what is on his plate, she will offer him chicken
dinos and mandarin oranges as an alternative. This will send my son the message that he can eat the foods he likes in
her house and will thus cause him to feel love for Jacquelyn. We discussed the possibility of performing
some type of trust fall with the children but decided against it as it would
not be a fair match up. Jacquelyn has
about 100 pounds on Truman and it might result in a serious injury for her. The last thing I want to do
is weaken the bond that she feels towards him. 

After tonight my son and Jacquelyn should have a renewed
relationship. Perhaps he might even
start making eye contact with her. That
would be major progress. I’m not
expecting a miracle but I would like to avoid incidents like the one that
happened a couple weeks ago when I told my son to apologize to a friend and he
responded, “But Mommy. I don’t say ‘I’m
sorry’ to any grown-ups but you.” Yeah,
I’ve got my work cut out for me.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Tonsurophobia Part Deux

My son looks like he’s going to ship out any day now. I woke up to him saying, “Good morning
Mommy” on Monday and took one look at his disheveled, jacked-up,
clearly-a-non-professional-haircut hair and decided then and there that I would
shave it all off that morning. I could
not stand it one more second. He is
such a handsome boy but his hair was completely out of control. So, during breakfast we had a talk. I told him that he could make a choice. I could either take him to a salon and a
stranger would cut his hair (this was gratuitous as I knew he wouldn’t choose
this option) or I could use the clippers and buzz it all off. I asked him, “What do you choose?”

My son’ reply was, “zero.” I explained to him that he had to choose one or the other and, after
much deliberation, he chose the Mom-made buzz cut. Knowing his history of major issues with anything involving his
head, I decided not to waste any time. I prepped the living room, let him choose a movie and decided, with
absolute certainty, that he would have to be restrained in some way. I knew that he would not let me get the
clippers anywhere near his head if he were just sitting in a chair. I’d spend the entire time chasing him
through the house with the clippers in tow. No thanks. So, I placed my
daughter’s high chair in the living room and placed my 4-year-old son in
it. At first it was kind of a novelty
and he thought it was fun to sit in the high chair. As soon as I turned the clippers on, he freaked. He buried his face in the high-chair tray
and braced himself for a torture session at the hands of yours truly.

I worked swiftly and efficiently. I buzz my husband’s hair on a regular basis so I am pretty adept
with clippers. The fact that the noise terrified my son actually worked in my favor. He kept his fingers over his ears instead of
using them to block my access to his head (his usual practice when I attempt to
cut his hair using traditional scissors). I was done in less than 10 minutes and I marveled at my
accomplishment. My son no longer looked
like a little orphan child. He looked
like he was about to enter boot camp. I
kept running my hand over the top of his spiky head and telling him how
handsome he looked. I made him take a
look in the mirror. He liked what he
saw. So did I. I wish that my son didn’t look like he was
seven but I’d take seven over orphan any day.

Monday, February 5, 2007


A prolific speaker since his second birthday, my son has
come up with some doozies in his short lifetime. In the past week, he has come up with some absolute classics so I
am dedicating today’s entry to my son. His “isms” are better than any material that I could come up with today.

Son (from the bathroom): Mommy, could you please come in
here. I need some help.

Me: (surprised—he’s normally pretty
self-sufficient in there): What do
you need?

SonI need help wiping. I
have a little quesadilla.

Son (from his
car seat on the way to soccer registration): How do you know how
to get to the soccer field?

MeBecause I’m a genius.
SonOh. When will I play
my first game?

MeI don’t know.
SonI thought you were a genius.

Son (on the
phone with my Mom after a traumatic buzz cut by your’s truly): You
should see my hair Grandma. I’m blind. 
Pause. Because my Mom
cut all of my hair off. I’m blind. I have no hair.

MeSweetie, you’re not blind. You’re bald.

Please forgive the Family Circus-esque genre of today’s blog
entry. It’s not my style, I know, but I
couldn’t resist.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Grave Digger

Grave_diggerIn my slow but steady progression towards full-fledged redneck status I have crossed many things off of my “never in a million years” list. After tonight I can cross off one more. Tonight my son and husband will attend the Monster Jam Thunder Nationals.  For those of you unfamiliar with this event, it is a monster truck show. You know the kind that you see in passing on television in which a 25-foot tall airbrushed pick-up truck drives over a row of piece-o-crap cars, crushing them under the weight of its tires? Yep, that’s the one. That is what my child will be doing tonight and he could not be more excited. It is a proud day for me as a parent.

While the male members of my immediate family are attending the most notoriously redneck event in the world, I have decided to take my 20-month-old daughter to get her first tattoo. My friend and I are thinking of buying our daughters their first pack of cigarettes as well but we just don’t know if they are ready yet. That’s a big milestone.

Thursday, February 1, 2007


As you can see, I have changed the format of "Another Gray Hair" a bit.  I was tired of pink and green and that picture was, well, a little bit outdated.  I hope you enjoy the lovely new color scheme and the updated layout.  If you don't, get over it.  It's here to stay (at least until I get bored again).