Sunday, February 26, 2012

backroom deals

sometimes people make fun of southerners. as a matter of fact, i've been one of those people on numerous occasions. it's kind of like making blonde jokes. they're just fun to tell even though they clearly don't represent every person who falls into the broad category.

but there are reasons for those jokes. there's a legitimate justification for some of them. let me just tell you a little story.

when i was 20, i was living in north carolina, and i'd been driving for 3 years. i'd gotten my first ticket a few months before and i'd gone to stupid traffic court in georgia because i'd been traveling when i got tagged for speeding.

i was trying to find a back way to work in an effort to avoid the jammed up highway, but i got lost and ended up far away from my target destination, somewhere out in the sticks in south carolina. once i crossed the state line, i realized that i was going to be late for work. this was before cell phones were in every pocket so i had no way to call, and being the responsible person that i was, i got sweaty and anxious at the thought.

my natural reaction was to find a spot to turn around and then floor it. i was going to find my way back to civilization as fast as possible. i bet you can guess what happened next. . .

oh yes, i got nabbed for speeding. again. i didn't cry, but i may possibly have used some bad language under my breath.

the cop was polite and gave me a little lecture about the dangers of a lead foot. my push up bra and batted eyelashes were definitely not getting me out of this one. i was given a court date a month later in some dinky town in south carolina of which i'd never heard.

i showed up for my court appearance, dressed nicely and ready to speak articulately in hopes that i could get some leniency from the judge. i knew what to expect because i'd just been to court in georgia and sat through hours of watching and listening just a few months before.

when i got to the address shown on the ticket, i felt sure i was in the wrong place. i drove up and down the road looking for a court house, but there was no building that looked like what i was expecting. so i pulled up to a ratty looking little building with a small state seal on the front door and a hand-written sign that said to go around to the back. there were no other cars in the parking lot except one broken down pickup in the back of the lot.

i walked solemnly around the building, feeling a little nervous about what i might find. there was a door in the back, hanging slightly ajar. i tapped on it hesitantly and slowly pushed it open. i heard a male voice holler out, "cmon ee-in."

in front of me was a small metal desk with a large man sitting on a folding metal chair. he looked at me expectantly so i held out my ticket by way of an explanation for my presence.

the man picked up a mtn dew bottle that had the top half cut off. he was moving his jaws around oddly like a cow chewing cud, then he brought the converted bottle/cup to within a few inches of his mouth and spit out a stream of brown slime, most of which made it into the container. he wiped his hands on his pants and reached out for my ticket.

my eyes were bugging out and i was experiencing a rare moment of speechlessness.

the man looked over my ticket and announced the fee i would be required to pay in order to make it go away. i wrote a check and set it on the desk. he took it in his meaty, brown-stained hand, scribbled my name and the check amount onto a post-it note and stuck the post-it to a grubby clipboard that was lying haphazardly on the desk.

he smiled, showing his rotten brown teeth and said, "thankeevermush." with a nod, i was dismissed. he looked back down at the magazine on his desk and i was free to go.

for months afterwards i was sure that i'd get a nastygram in the mail rebuking me for not tending to my traffic ticket. but apparently, the little backroom exchange with man with questionable hygiene was the real deal.

either that, or there's an outstanding warrant for my arrest in south carolina.

Friday, February 24, 2012

chemical peel hag

earlier this week brooke was working on a story for a little school assignment. she decided to write about two hag queens. she had fun writing the story and decided to do a couple illustrations to go with it.

she pulled out a piece of paper to begin drawing, but then paused with a bewildered look on her face. "mommy, i've never drawn anything ugly before. i don't know how. will you sit across from me so i can look at you?"

me, "are you saying i'm an ugly hag?"

brooke, "no. but i only usually draw cute things."


here are the story and drawings if you want to see them. she decided they were good enough that they should make it onto her blog.

this happened the day before my chemical peel. now would be a better time, i think, for looking at my face while drawing an ugly hag.

i had no idea what to expect with this chemical peel business. i've seen the sex and the city episode where samantha gets a peel and her face looks all burned and disgusting, but the dermatologist assured me that what i was getting was a different type. i got the vitalize peel.

i got it tuesday morning. it didn't hurt to have it done. but the chemicals that were rubbed all over my face were so strong they took my breath away. three different things were rubbed into my face and the first was just like nail polish remover. it was used to remove any oil so that toxic liquids that were rubbed on next would absorb better. i don't know what the next two things were, but each time, as the substance got close to my nose, i literally could not take a breath for a few seconds and i thought i would choke, but she quickly put a fan up and made that crap dry quickly and as it dried, the choking sensation went away. it was a bit distressing though to be trying to gasp for air, but have my airways were blocked by the fumes.

my face turned a little yellowish when i left the doctor's office, like i had jaundice again, but then it looked mostly normal for the rest of that day and the next.

yesterday though, the third day, i woke up looking like a lizard in a full shed. i put on moisturizer like my paperwork said i could, but that burned like heck for a couple minutes and then all the top layers of skin looked kind of grayish and the new skin underneath that was starting to peek through looked bright pink. twasn't a pretty look.

today it's getting better. more has peeled away so that a lot of my new pink skin is showing now. i feel like a bug that is cracking out of its old shell and shimmying out into the world with my tender new skin showing. i think i should sit tight for a couple days until i firm up again and am less susceptible to predators.

and then when i'm whole again, i'll change my pillow case. because i suspect that it's starting to look like this. but less snake shaped. more face shaped.

day before peel

when the peeling first started. this was right after i moisturized.

all red and tender, but not fully peeled around the outer edges.
three weeks later -
UPDATE/CONCLUSION: it took about two weeks for my face to stop peeling and then feeling rather scaly. it definitely looks better than it did before the peel, but i can still see some of the old acne scars and melasma that it's supposed to be removing. i guess that's why you're supposed to get at least 3 peels to see the full results.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

nail clipper medical plan

do you ever notice something about yourself that you don't especially like and wish you could do something about it? like maybe you want to slice off a blob of belly fat, but you're afraid of bleeding to death in your bathroom, so you don't. or maybe you wish your toes weren't webbed and sometimes you imagine yourself using a scalpel and just slicing the pesky webbing away so your feet look like all the other kids.

i suspect that we all have those moments. or maybe it's just me. and my people.

i know a man who had a toothache and instead of going to the dentist like a normal person, he got out his pliers and ripped that sore tooth straight out of his head.


i have a family member who would periodically cut off a mole on his neck with nail clippers. just snip, then blood pouring out, then bye bye neck mole. until it grew back. then it was time for another round of snip. bleed. bye bye neck mole.

i've tied string around moles til they got shrivelly and then cut them off with nail clippers. but it doesn't work on all types of moles. i learned this the hard way. if it throbs for several days and starts to swell rather than shrink, it's probably the wrong kind. and then it's hard to cut the string back off. let this be a warning to you adventurous types out there. don't try this technique unless you have a backup plan for how to remove the string should it start throbbing, making you feel like that part of your body is going to explode.

i cut a plantar's wart out of the sole of my foot with nail clippers. i tell ya, those nail clippers are a surgeon's best friend! never sterile, but always handy and maneuverable.  and easy to rinse off when they get bloody.

one day, i decided that i didn't like it that one of my two front teeth was a little bit longer than the other one. it had been bothering me since those front teeth grew in during second grade. i decided it was time to do something about it, so i got out a metal nail file and started filing away. a little at a time because it was hard to stand the way it was radiating through my whole body for very long. but over the course of a couple hours, i got that one longish tooth evened up perfectly with the other and i even rounded off the edges a little so they'd match perfectly.

the moral of the story is, if you have string, pliers and a good manicure kit, you can take care of most of what ails you.

please share any of your home solutions because you never know when i might have a need for a new treatment plan.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the valentine squirrel

every family has some traditions that make certain days extra special. there are the standards like santa and the easter bunny. or you might have an adoption day celebration of some sort. when i was growing up, my mom was really good at inventing ways to make days feel special. at one point, she decided that whenever one of our family members who didn't live in our house had a birthday, we'd have dessert for breakfast. brownies and milk before school? yes please, and happy birthday aunt joan!

another little gem she invented was the valentine squirrel. we would get an annual visit from the mysterious squirrel. at night while we were sleeping on the night before v-day, the squirrel would hide 25 hershey kisses around our bedrooms for us to find and gobble upon waking. of course, we never found them all right away. sometimes months would go by before the last one or two would be discovered and one even turned up possibly years later when we moved. by then it was mummified, dusty and covered in white spots.

there was also a treasure hunt with clues that led us to some prize at the end and a basket filled with fun little goodies. it was kind of like easter in february, but without the bunny or eggs.

i've started doing the valentine squirrel with brooke for the past several years. each year i have more fun hiding the kisses because her ability to look for them improves, so i like to give her a challenge. she decided after the first year that she couldn't properly celebrate this holiday without an actual, physical squirrel to hold and play with. but do you have any idea how hard it is to find a toy squirrel?

we searched high and low for a couple months to find this elusive squirrel and one day at walmart, brooke spotted one in a lady's cart, walking through the store. so i ran to catch up with her and asked her where she found it. in the dog toy department! why didn't i think to look there? we found it, bought it and brooke promptly named it Tiny.

one year i made a cute little pink, hearty shirt for tiny to wear on his big day, but brooke immediately ripped it off and told me that squirrels don't wear shirts. duh. i guess i won't waste any more hours making clothes for squirrels. though, in brooke's world, dogs, cats and hamsters do wear clothes. obviously.

i haven't started on the treasure hunt business yet because i just haven't felt inspired to invest that kind of time in the process. and once i've done it the first time, i'll never be able to NOT do it again without brooke feeling let down. so i just haven't done it. however, she did get a bowl filled with paint bottles and sugar this morning.

i was awakened at 7:30 by brooke bouncing on my bed, squealing, laughing and telling me that she'd already consumed at least 30 pieces of chocolate. she woke up at 5:55 and got started right away. this is the one day of the year that i let her go buck wild with the junk food and we take a day off from school because there's no way she'd be able to concentrate with blood as thick as syrup slogging through her veins. plus, if she eats it all in one day, we can get back on track tomorrow and fondly remember the day when sugary goodness rained from the sky.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


you know what a prairie dog looks like, right?

completely adorable and so fuzzy!

when i was 20, i was a live-in nanny for a family with three little kids. i'd been there for over a year when i went into a pet store one day and they were selling prairie dogs. oh my gosh, i couldn't stand the cuteness of these little guys! i was overwhelmed with my need to own one no matter what.

it was $100 for the critter and $200 for the cage which, fifteen years ago was really pricey. but it didn't matter if it was a thousand dollars. i was going to find a way to own one.

i went home and begged my boss to let me bring one to her house where i lived. she reluctantly agreed as long as it would stay in the cage and not make her house stink.

away i went, back to the pet store to pick out a prairie dog of my very own. i ooo'ed and aawww'ed over them all for a while and then picked out the sweetest little boy ever. i took him home and got his giant three story cage all set up for him. 

i loved him. i poured over maps to find a perfect name for him. i wanted to give him a name that would represent his roots, so i picked the name seymour after a town in texas where i imagined he might have been born.

seymour never liked to be held very much. he was definitely a wild animal even though he lived in a cage in my room. he was silent all the time, but seemed happy when i fed him every day. i kept waiting to hear the legendary prairie dog bark, but months went by without so much as a peep.

then one day i got sick. i had a nasty cold and couldn't stop coughing. and suddenly, seymour wasn't mute anymore. he barked every time i coughed. day and night. yip, yip, yip. i'm still not sure if he was making alarm calls or if he was responding as if my cough was conversational. once i was healthy again, i would often fake cough just to get him to bark at me.

the kids i lived with thought seymour was pretty cool. they spent a lot of time in my room talking to him, watching him, petting his little face and paws with their fingers through the bars of his cage.

unfortunately, he started getting aggressive after a few months. he would bite any finger he could grab and he chewed at the bars incessantly. sometimes i would come into my room and find a toenail on the floor and blood spatters on my rug from him trying to dig his way to freedom. he also started to smell really bad. my room became super ratty and gross.

i contacted the pet store to see if i could sell him back, but they weren't having it. i tried several places in the area like animal shelters, zoos, wildlife conservations places, but no one would even take him for free. one place did tell me though that it was prairie dog mating season and his behavior was typical of a male looking for a female. so there i was, stuck with this angry, stinking critter who was hurting himself in his desperation to get out of his cage. it made my heart sad every time i walked into my room or thought about poor seymour.

there came a time when i finally had to admit defeat. i couldn't keep a bitey, stanky, self destructive rodent in my nanny house any longer. and no one would take him. i couldn't think of anything else to do, so i drove way out of town in my little hatchback car with seymour in his cage in the back end. i found a place that was mainly devoid of humans and i set him free. he scampered off lickety split into the underbrush without so much as a look back.

i bawled my eyes out and then took his big, expensive cage and pitched it into a dumpster behind some shopping center because i never wanted to see it again. i didn't want to be reminded of my failure to make a lovable pet out of an adorable wild animal. i didn't want to think about the fate that probably awaited my little seymour now that he was back in the wild again.

when i think back on it now, i like to imagine that maybe he found a foxy little squirrel girl to shack up with and maybe they made some nifty mixed race babies. maybe he lived to be an old grandpa, telling stories to the kids about his former life spent barking at the coughing lady in the big house.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


i talk about my mom fairly regularly on here because she's such an interesting person. she and i have a lot of fun together and since i moved to her town 8 months ago, we get to spend a lot of time together. she helps me figure out how to do the projects i dream up and she's encouraging when i need uplifting.

a few years ago, my mom started going on short term mission trips to different countries. she's been to south america a few times and two years ago she went to china. a few weeks ago, she went to africa. she went to a tiny little country on the western side of the continent called guinea bissau.

this place was rated as the worst place on earth to be a woman. the living conditions are awful and poor and dirty. the women do all the work and have piles of babies to tend to while trying to keep their homes maintained and food in the bellies of their families. they live in mud houses with dirt floors and thatched roofs.

the purpose of my mom's trip there was to spend time with the ladies in the villages surrounding the missionaries' house giving them some pampering and showing them that they have value in God's sight. she bought and packed piles, bags and boxes full of all kinds of fun beauty, spa treatment things. nail polish, exfoliating scrubbers, foot soak, massage oil, nail clippers, moisturizers, the works. 

these ladies didn't even know what most of that stuff was and had certainly never had any kind of pampering before. there isn't even a word in their language for "spa" so they settled on calling it a "salon" because they at least knew what that was even if they'd never been to one.

my mom started a blog after she got back to tell the stories of how she got to guinea bissau and what happened happened while she was there. she includes lots of pictures and tales of how different life is in that amazing place.

you should definitely check it out. i've read all of it so far and keep going back to look at the pictures again. 

here's the link to the first post, but don't stop there. keep clicking. Where He Leads

Monday, February 6, 2012

want to come over for dinner?

imagine the scene if you will. . .

you're making dinner for friends who are coming over. there will be at least 10 extra people sitting around on your couches and folding chairs tonight. you're scrambling to get every little thing ready before the first guest arrives. the potatoes are roasting. the burgers and dogs are ready to be tossed on the grill that's heating outside the kitchen door. drinks are in the cooler and the macaroni and cheese is finished.

you've got the washing machine and dryer in the corner of the kitchen covered with a cute table cloth where you'll line up all the food, buffet style since you have almost zero counter space.

you've got almost everything finished so it's time to start the salad. you pull all the fresh fixings out of the fridge and start getting things washed and chopped. you wash off the lettuce and plop all of it into a lingerie bag and toss it into the washing machine over in the corner and turn on the spin cycle to get all the excess water spun off so it'll be clean and crispy.

the doorbell rings. you answer the door and let in two of your closest girl friends. you run back into the kitchen and invite them to follow you while you finish up the salad. you open the washer and pull out the bag of clean, dry lettuce and then recover the machine with the table cloth. you proceed to the counter to chop up the lettuce and get everything tossed together when you notice a strange thing. it's silent in the room.

the two ladies you invited in aren't known for being quiet. ever. why aren't they talking? you look over at them and they're both staring at you with a look of mutual horror on their faces. you don't understand what's wrong. you look around trying to figure out what they see that you're clearly missing. you find nothing amiss.

you ask "what?" they start sputtering and pointing to the lingerie bag you're holding in your hand. one points to the washing machine and says, " you just.... you took that... that bag out of the washing machine." the other one jumps in. "there was... LETTUCE in it?"

you still don't see the problem. of course there was lettuce in the bag. and of course it was in the washing machine. you consider yourself fortunate to have a washing machine so handily positioned whenever you're spinning your lettuce dry in the clean lingerie bag that was purchased specifically for that purpose. doesn't everyone do that? how else to get it perfectly dried without having to wipe off each piece top and bottom?

every other guest that arrived was greeted with news of the salad in the washer. and the story got bigger and more elaborately outrageous as the night went on. i became the hostess of questionable standards. the one who couldn't be trusted to make responsible choices in what she fed to herself or her friends.

and oddly enough, there was a lot of salad left over after everyone went home.

what about you? do you vote for it being a great idea or are you reading this with the look of horror on your face to match my loud mouthed friends? it's okay whichever way you vote. i'll still like you. i might even invite you over for dinner. and salad.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

self improvement in 2012

i used to hear people say things around new years like "well last year was a really bad year. i hope next year will be better." and i never really grasped the concept of a "bad year" until a couple years ago. right as we rang in 2010, one of our cars died. never to be resuscitated. i thought it would be only a brief foray into being a single car family, but here we are more than 2 years later still with only our vanny to share.

right after the car died, chris developed auto immune disease and lost the hearing in one of his ears and found out that he was pre-diabetic, so it seemed like everything for him changed all of a sudden. and as his life changed, so did mine, but it certainly didn't feel like it was for the better.

so 2010 was a rotten year of learning to adjust to new norms. i hated all of them. i was so glad when 2010 was over and i was hopeful that 2011 would be better. however, as the year progressed, chris' health got even worse and brooke was doing badly with school which, as a homeschooling mom, left me feeling extremely frustrated and often helpless and stuck. but in june, we packed up and moved all of a sudden. we left behind a few friends, but for the most part, our lives there had been feeling like we were at a dead-end for a while and we desperately needed something to change.

we moved in with the in-laws and have worked our way through some adjustments. it's hard to live with other people, but chris' health has improved quite a bit and that's worth a lot to me. but i've been feeling stuck here too. it's time to stop just being as i've always been. stop living my life simply in reaction to the needs of the people around me.

2012 is going to be my year of self improvement. i stopped swearing. i've got tons of will power when it comes to decisions i'm really ready to make, so that hasn't been too hard.

i've started volunteering with a group that's associated with my church to provide clothing to people who are too poor to purchase clothes. brooke's going with me each time i work too, so i'm setting a good example for her of learning to take care of other people even if they're not technically our responsibility.

i got to the dermatologist and my skin is loving the new products i'm using. for the first time in over a year, i've been able to spend days without makeup covering my face just to make me presentable.

a couple weeks ago, something happened to a family member and it was life changing for me. it's not my story to share publicly, so i won't, but it made me desperate for answers from a supernatural source because there were no good answers to be found in the world around me. so i dug into my bible like i haven't done in far too long. and i opened back up a relationship with Jesus that i have neglected. that's definitely an improvement in my life.

my sister sarah asked me to be in her wedding in august. of course i'm happy to do so, and it gave me exactly the kick in the pants that i needed to start getting in shape. i've dropped most of the bad foods and added in many healthy ones. i've started exercising every day and already, in just 3 weeks, i've lost 10 lbs. i've also started eating barley powder again, but that's a story for another post.

all in all, i can feel my life shifting in a much more positive direction. i've never been one who's always looking for ways to change and improve myself and clearly, that's why so many things have been wrong for so long. but this is a new year and today is a new day.

and by august, i'll be ready to wear whatever dress sarah decides to put me in. here's the picture she sent me today as a possible option for the wedding party. won't we look awesome?