Wednesday, October 2, 2013


It’s the 2nd of October. What am I thinking about? Christmas stockings. That’s right, I said Christmas.

But, Jamie, we’re barely out of September. That’s ridiculous. I just hate it when stores put out Christmas decorations before we even have Halloween. Wahhh, wahhh, wahh….STICK IT!

Do you know why I am doing this? Because I’ve missed the boat on every holiday since Henning was born and before all that is holy, I’m not missing this one.

Technically, I am giving myself a free pass for St. Patrick’s Day and Easter. St. Patrick’s Day because it’s not fun unless you’re Irish or drink green beer and Easter because it was like three weeks after someone cut a baby out of my midsection. Plus, it’s really unnecessary to have an Easter basket for an infant, and it’s a pain in the ass to put them in dressy clothes. Looking back, all I can do is think, “Why don’t I have a picture of my kid in some bunny ears or lying next to a sheep?”

Halloween was going to be my chance to get back in the game. I obsessed over it all through August and just couldn’t make a decision. Truthfully, I was leaning towards Henning as Sweet Pea because Pete looks so much like Popeye, but I don’t know that enough people would get the reference. Then I decided we needed one of those baby animal costumes, but only a weird one. Like a baby goat. Then I came to my senses and realized that being without teeth or the ability to walk kind of limits Henning’s Halloween fun. So I figured I wouldn’t waste a good costume idea on a year the kid won’t even remember and just pick up something at Old Navy or Carters. I watched their Halloween email notices come, and thought “There’s almost two months until Halloween. I don’t need to order that yet.“ Then I saw the sale emails and thought, “It’s only September. I don’t need to order that yet.” In fact, it was at this point that my mother called to ask if I had thought about a stocking for Henning and my VERY WORDS to her were, “I haven’t even gotten him a Halloween costume yet. I don’t need to worry about that yet.”

YES. YES YOU DO need to worry about that. In fact, as soon as the stick turns blue, you should go on and just get yourself a Chasing Fireflies catalog and open that puppy up. Because mamas be crazy. Now, when it’s time to order a Halloween costume, all the good places are sold out. Old Navy, Carters, nothing but the leftovers from their stock of orange onesies. You know what’s left? Pottery Barn. Pottery Barn has greeeeeaaaat costumes. Pottery Barn has both Max AND the monster from Where the Wild Things Are and we read that book every night of my life. However, Pottery Barn reeeeeaaaaallly likes those costumes and I just cannot make myself pay $80 for a baby Halloween costume, free shipping or not.

Of course, I could still find all sorts of costumes at actual Halloween places and on, but they all look like that type or rayon/polyester that would catch on fire if it got too close to a hot cup of coffee, and I am a-feared of stuff like that. What we will probably do is obey the 836 people who have emailed, texted, and sent pictures of kids to let me know that bald babies seem to somewhat resemble Charlie Brown, and buy a yellow t-shirt and a black Sharpie.

Anyhow, this is how I wound up spending an alarming number of hours considering Christmas stockings. My family has matching knitted Christmas stockings that we have used since the early 80’s. Because stockings are for LIFE. Only Communists buy new stockings every year. (Communists who celebrate Christmas are kind of rare, I guess.) These stockings were very popular in town and I know several families who use the same ones – one friend of my mother had to ask the lady to come out of retirement so her last child could have a matching stocking. I used to think that if I ever had a kid, I would want him to have a stocking like ours, but that lady has been dead for years.

Enter etsy. I was looking at stockings and making a ridiculously large list of favorites when I saw my brother’s stocking. Turns out these stockings were not a LaGrange 80’s fad, but became a trend in the 1950’s and never went away. They are from Mary Maxim and you can still buy similar patterns on her website, although I don’t think the newer ones are as kitschy.

The fact that these stockings still exist – and are actually starting to sell out in some Etsy stores because I am obviously not the only 35 year old with an overdeveloped sense of nostalgia -  has resulted in an embarrassing amount of pondering: Do I get Henning a matching stocking? I could get him one in red or white since all ours are in green and it would mark him as a new generation. Of course, then I would have to get Pete one so we would all match. Wait – I don’t even have my stocking. Mom has my stocking. I wonder if she’s going to fill stockings for Pete and Brandon this year. Maybe I should get Pete a stocking for over there. Still, those stockings are kind of fugly except for being steeped in tradition so maybe I should just pick out something new for Henning. Especially since those stockings are red and green and all my Christmas stuff looks like Dr. Seuss and Whoville. But then what if Lulu or Mitchell has babies and they get the old school stockings and I am sorry I got these?

GOOD GRIEF. I realize this is ridiculous and I’m driving myself nuts. Although I did inquire into the stocking future of my newlywed sister’s non-existent, hypothetical, future children, and she assured me that she would be finding her own stockings. BUT, then came the Great Saga of Personalization. As you see, those old stockings have the name knitted right into them, which is really how stockings should be. But I can’t find a colorful, Dr. Seuss, Whoville, knitted stocking that has a name. And, obviously, all stockings should be knitted. There are rules to this sort of thing. So now I am stuck. I have, of course, found the perfect Whoville stocking with no name included.  WHAT IS A GIRL TO DO????

Maybe I can tack an initial onto the toe…..

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

I've Gain-ed some Guilt.

My mother is big on sayings. I cannot express to you how often she says “God works in mysterious ways” and “What goes around comes around.” Obviously, her choice of saying differs depending on whether she is riled up or not.

I have decided to join her and take up a new mantra. Really, it should also have been my old mantra. I have chosen to now live by these wise words: “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”

 See, I am rapidly learning about the wide world of parenting fails. For example, Henning turned 8 weeks old last Friday and I just realized I have yet to sit him beside a stuffed animal and track his growth for a scrapbook. I even bought this ginormous stuffed dragon shortly after finding out I was pregnant for this express purpose and now we are screwed. I guess I could start him off at three months, but that just seems like advertising my own idiocy.

He also drinks cold formula. MADE USING TAP WATER. I can’t figure out if I am the cool, laid back Mom or the ridiculously lazy Mom. I know I am not the only person who does these things. I know that because I stole both these ideas from other Moms, and if you don’t think I bless them every day when I am standing in the kitchen after midnight running cold tap water into my formula, you are sadly mistaken. But I still feel guilty about it.

As it turns out, there’s a lot of guilt that comes with motherhood. Maybe this is why mothers are notorious for laying guilt trips on their children. Maybe there is just so much guilt that it has to be spread around. The fact that Henning and I miserably failed at breastfeeding has happily become less of a worrying factor just in time for me to find out that I could be making my own floor cleaner. And detergent. And using cloth diapers.

 Truthfully, I would totally use cloth diapers if Pete would let me. I think those new covers are suuuuper cute. But even if we used cloth diapers, they would still be washed in Gain detergent because I am wholly indoctrinated to the chemical-laden world and I love that fresh, clean scent. We don't even buy Dreft for the baby clothes. Did I just choose a fragrance over the well-being of my child and planet?

 Yes, yes I did. And I feel TERRIBLE about it, but not terrible enough to wear clothes-scented clothes. Maybe I just feel terrible that I don't really feel terrible about it? Henning also has a used crib AND carseat, both of which I’m pretty sure are illegal in the state of Georgia.

 However, the thing that makes me feel most terrible is when I am busted mid-fail. My Dad, Big Daddy Lee, kept Henning for a while one afternoon last week. We were running through the list of things packed in the diaper bag and I was feeling mighty superior. Extra clothes? Check. Wipes? Check. Bottles? Check – I even packed one wet and one dry in case of emergency. Socks? FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, CHECK!!!!! (My parents are nuts about the socks. They don’t care if it’s 75 degrees outside. I can’t decide if they are old or I am uncaring.) Baby powder?

 Baby powder? Baby powder. Baaaaaaaby powder. Huh.

I look at Pete. Pete looks at me. Dad looks at us both like we are completely and totally inept.

 Do people still use baby powder? Is that still a thing? Did that not go away with Mad Men? We haven’t used any for over 8 weeks now and Henning has no sign of any rash or swamp-butt of any kind.

 Several people gave us bags of baby supplies at my showers. We have desitin. We have wipes for both sets of cheeks, and the face ones smell like grape kool-aid. We have gripe water and gas drops. We have creams and lotions, washes and soaps, medicines and remedies of all kinds. I could be mistaken, but I don’t remember any baby powder. Surely the diaper industry has become so advanced that baby powder has gone the way of Brylcreem.

 Apparently not.

 So there you go. Judge not, lest ye be judged. I’m not going to watch you, and you promise not to watch me, while my Gain-scented kid sits over here probably not properly buckled into a borrowed swing, while his gums are chattering from the cold formula and lack of socks.
I think he's onto us already.


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Music Soothes the Savage Beast

Things that happened in the last fifteen months:

 Got a new job…Pete moved home….we bought a house…..we got married….oh, and this:


Henning Miles Daniel

7lbs. 2ozs. of pure sweetness!


Should you wonder if hindsight says this was a timeline more people should adopt, I can promise you that hindsight would slap you upside the head. With a mallet.

 So, even though Pete and I have absolutely no idea what we are doing, Henning seems to be thriving and I don’t think we have messed him up for life yet. I have discovered, however, that we have absolutely no consistency as to what either of us does with Henning when the other is not looking.

 Like when he sleeps.

 Generally, at six weeks of age, Henning will go to sleep around 9:15 pm and wake up anywhere between midnight and 1:30 am for a bottle. I give him a bottle and then we have a sing-a-long in the rocking chair. We have a regular playlist of 70’s singer-songwriters and children’s music, including Carole King, the Muppets, and that song Maid Marian sings in the Disney version of Robin Hood. And we always include Sweet Baby James. I think he’s actually starting to recognize that one, but it could be wishful thinking.

 Between the bottle and the rocking, there’s roughly an hour involved in this routine until he falls asleep and I can slide him into his crib. If he wakes up while I try to move him, we start over for a song or two. And I have been congratulating myself on getting this handled in the middle of the night with no fussing.

 He then sleeps until anywhere from 4:30 to – if we are very, very lucky – 6:00. If it’s nearer to 4:30,I will take the second shift, but the later it gets, the more likely that Pete will handle it. Fairly often on the weekend he will give me a break and take both night feedings, which is fantastic. Some mornings I wake up and he has given Henning a bath and fed him and they are watching tv in the den. It’s pretty awesome.

 Last night we made an important discovery. Henning stayed with his awesome Aunt Nicole yesterday, and playing with Amelia and Annie tired him out and he fell asleep on the way home. There was no waking the boy, and it was close to 9:30, so I put him down without worrying about a bedtime bottle. Mistake. Big mistake. He woke up around 11:00, which never happens, for his first bottle, drank it, and fell asleep before even finishing it. I put him in the crib – and actually felt sad that I really hadn’t spent much time with him between work and being out on the Ponderosa for dinner with the Comerfords after his afternoon out there.

At 2:39 am, he woke up and I stumbled into the nursery, to find Pete already at the crib. We did the late-night mumble: “You got it? Yeah? Umph. Bed.” And he took him, but I heard Henning whining a little while later and got up to investigate. Pete had fed him, dropped him in the crib and gone back to bed in the nursery twin bed. I’m trying to think of a word for what I felt, but I don’t have anything better than naked, blind, rage. I was cussing him out inside my head. “Why can’t he rock him if he’s going to feed him? What the hell does he do when I’m not looking? What kind of father does that……” So I picked up Henning and he was WIDE awake. Just looking at me with these huge eyes like he is ready to play. We got in the rocking chair and sang our whole playlist. Not even a blink. We rocked silently. Still looking at me. We started singing again and he finally closed his eyes, only to wake up when I moved him. It took FOREVER to get him to sleep, and I was SO mad.

 At 5:55 the same thing happened. Pete got up, fed Henning a bottle, and went back to bed. Henning started whining again and I stormed into the nursery, ready to do battle. After all, I had to be at work this morning! I needed my sleep! I got Henning out of the crib and got ready to get back into the rocking chair…again. Pete, who could see that I was steaming mad, rolled over and said, “Can he not go to bed without an hour of that?” and I said “He’s a BABY. OF COURSE he wants to be rocked. You can’t just feed him and dump him in there!”

 And my husband said, “If you lay him there for five minutes, he’ll go back to sleep. I usually just shut the door so you don’t hear him fuss.” And I laid the baby in the bed. And this child, who keeps me awake rocking and likes to be completely asleep before he is ever-so-gently placed in the crib, CLOSED HIS EYES AND SIGHED.

I think I got played by a 6 week old.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hay Fever

I am coughing.

I’ve been coughing since the July 4th weekend, and I can’t make it quit. One day, I had that little throat tickle that means your summer cold is about to arrive, and the next day I needed a little band of grade-school kids to follow me around saying, “Oooh, She POPPIN.!” Now it’s just this never ending, sinusy little cough and it’s driving me insane. We went to see Harry Potter over the weekend and I was so nervous that I was going to be the annoying theatre cougher who ruins the movie for everyone, and then I had a realization.

I sound just like Aunt Marian.

Aunt Marian kept a case of what she called “the hay fever” through all four seasons, 365 days each year. I could sit in the balcony at church and hear her coughing into her Kleenex all through the service, and know the back corner was taken care of for another day. The coughing was kind of comforting from a distance, because you knew she was in the building, but from an up close and personal perspective, it embarrassed the fool out of me. No matter where we were, people were offering her water, cough drops and handkerchiefs, and she would just smile and wave them away as she got herself under control. Restaurants, movies, department stores…it didn’t matter where we were, there always seemed to be someone who looked ready to jump her with the Heimlich Maneuver at any second.

It drove me CRAZY. And until now I didn’t realize how much I have missed it.

I’m not sure when exactly it happened, but somewhere early in her series of stokes she lost the cough, along with everything else that followed: her independence, her driving, her speech and her memory, as if she was being chipped away piece-by-piece. She was mostly confused, often ornery, and seemed to be stuck in Fayetteville, circa 1930. She loved to have visitors, but would get extremely frustrated with her inability to communicate and eventually tire herself out. The last time Pete and I were there, you could get the start of a sentence, with a patented AM catchphrase, “Well, I declare…” and then she would fade off to a soft whisper and we would ask her to repeat herself. But, then sometimes she was a pistol from the minute we walked in the door, adamant that she was going home – sometimes to her childhood home and sometimes to the home we have recently put up for sale – no matter that she could not drive, bathe herself, or move around without help.

And now she is gone.

I have been wondering for quite a while how I was going to handle this whole death thing. I’ve never lost anyone really close before, so I had figured she would be the first one. It’s not going particularly well, which I really find ridiculous especially taking into consideration the length of time we were given to prepare for this.

It’s not as though I don’t have any closure. I sat there at Hospice, both alone with her and beside the rest of the family, watching her fade away from us as we followed Lulu’s instruction that she not ever be left alone. Stubborn, determined Lulu, the most like Aunt Marian of all of us, was holding her hand when she died.

The memorial service captured her perfectly. The pastor, who knew her well and referred to her as “Aunt Marian” rather than “Mrs. Davis” talked about how much of a mother she was, although she had no children, and to me that was always her defining quality. When I was younger I always felt sorry for Aunt Marian, and once I asked her why she and Uncle Jack had never had children. Now I can see the flip side of the situation, and how she had the opportunity to be so important in the lives of so many more children – neighborhood children, church children, all of my Dad’s generation and their children – than she could have if she had been a parent, which is something I am starting to think is a superlative choice.

Now it’s been almost two months, and I think the old bird is haunting me. I dream we are at her old beach house, and can’t get a dial tone on the pay phone she kept in the hallway and I can’t find any change. I keep buying strawberries and those 6-packs of yellow shortcakes rounds to make for dessert. I pore over her datebook from 1981 and call my parents to explain mysterious entries, and wonder how anyone could have that many luncheons. Last weekend I saw a locust, which I thought had all died off earlier this summer, and I laughed, thinking how much she hated locusts and how religiously she stomped them. Pete has caught me crying several times over old photo albums that are supposed to be in storage at my parents’ house.

And now I have this cough. This stupid, annoying, “Jamie, do you want some water?” hay-fever sounding cough.

I get it, old woman. I miss you, too.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Foreign Language Fail.

Today, Mom and I stopped for lunch at our local McDonald’s. In our cosmopolitan city, there are now no less than four convenient McDonald’s locations, but the best by far is the original Commerce Ave. Mickey D’s. It might not be as clean as the others, or have a PlayPlace, or be new and fancy with that one-sideways-yellow-slash logo, but the fries are hot and crispy and the sweet tea is almost syrupy in its icy cold sweetness. Maybe it’s just me – I also exclusively patronize our original Wendy’s, even though at times they should probably be shut down and their staff looks greasier than the fries. I swear it tastes better. Just don’t look at the health department rating.

As we walked in the door, there was a Korean man at the counter trying to place his order. He had absolutely no English, so the cashier was using the time-tested method of yelling at him in hopes that he understood. “You want THREE DOUBLES? THREE?” The man ordered, paid, and the line moved on. Just after Mom and I placed our order, he received his. It was wrong. Way wrong.

No one seemed to be sure of what he wanted, but every person in line had an opinion on it. I suppose that’s the spirit of hospitality we have here in LaGrange, because he had plenty of people attempting translation. “He wants a NUMBER three, not THREE DOUBLES!!!”

Finally, the man took his extendable measuring tape out of his belt loop, stretched it out a remarkable distance that would have NEVER been able to stay straight had I been holding it, leaned waaaaaaay over the counter and started tapping the photo of the Number Eleven Value Meal. That’s a Filet-o-Fish meal, for those of you who are curious.

The cashier kept asking, “You wanna eleven? ELEVEN?” as he kept banging on the sign. He would tap chicken nuggets and say “NO” and then tap the Filet-O-Fish and make what looked like a sandwich with his little hands, and say “THREE.”

Because I have a full understanding, not of Korean, but of fast food ordering hand language, I can interpret this to mean that what he really wanted was three filet-o-fish sandwiches without the fries, just the sandwich.

Just as Mom and I received our food and headed towards the booths, the cashier threw her hands in the air and gave up.

She rolled her eyes and said, in a tone of complete and utter exhaustion, “LAW. And you KNOW I don’t know no Spanish.”

Only in the LG.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Jamie's So-Called Life

Sometimes I think my life is really a sitcom and nobody told me about it.

Lots of people used to tell me that the Sara Rue character from Less than Perfect, a slightly wacky administrative assistant at a TV station, was oh-so-exactly like me (this was before she became a spokesperson for Jenny Craig) which I never really understood, as I am not at all random and flighty and apt to tell long rambling stories at the office to people looking at me like…I…am…..Oh. Nevermind, then. Moving on.

Anyhow, the big news this week is the marriage of country singers Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert. I don’t really listen to much post-Shania country music anymore, because it’s mostly pop anyway and Pete hates it. So we compromise and I don’t make him listen to country if he doesn’t make me listen to Perfect Circle. I could write an entire blog post about my hatred for Perfect Circle. So I kept seeing all these articles about Blake and Miranda meeting at a CMT concert where they performed “You’re the Reason God Made Oklahoma” which I have now watched 8 billion times over the past week because I just love a cheesy 70’s country duet. Those late night Time-Life collection infomercials? Oh, I am there.

As a result of all this, I made myself a little Pandora country station and have spent the week trying to train it….Crystal Gayle, yes… Toby Keith, not so much. I have been just as happy as a little clam all week long. Until this morning.

It’s Friday. There is nobody here. So I turned my Pandora up and was singing along with my country station, and Bryan White started singing “Someone Else’s Star.” Oh, broken-hearted ballad of the late 90’s, how I missed you without even realizing it! That whole Bryan White album is like a playlist of old, unrequited crushes. So Bryan and I were just a-singing, and we went in for the last big chorus, “I guess I must be wishing on…..” and at some point in that chorus, the phone rang, and I, without even realizing what I was doing, automatically picked it up, and rather than answer “________ ______ ______ _____ ______” (my very long company name) I totally kept singing into the phone, until I realized what I was doing when someone said, “Hello?” and hung up on me.

Do you know how embarrassing that was? Hugely, hugely embarrassing. Stuff like this happens to me all the time. Remember the blog about when the hottie caught me trying to scratch my peeling, sunburned back with a spiral binder? All the time. I think I just got lost in the moment, because that’s just one of those (bazillion) songs that just puts you back in a very specific time, and I LOVE WHEN THAT HAPPENS!

Perhaps we each should have a playlist. Mine would have, in no particular order:

1. Anything from the Judds Heartland album sounds like riding down the road perched on the hard plastic middle compartment of my parents car, singing my little Dorothy-Hamill-hairstyled heart out while my brother and sister were passed out in the back seat.
2. Anything from the Indigo Girls Rites of Passage album sounds like power ballad-ing with my sister, competing over who can take the melody and who gets stuck with the harmony, which I lose every time. This guy I knew in college once said Lulu sounded powerful like Wynonna and I sound timid like Alison Krauss and she has been really cocky about it ever since.
3. Most of the Paul Simon Graceland album, but especially the song “Homeless” because my brother cracks me up every time he sings along with the choir from Zimbabwe.
4. “Another Lonely Day” by Ben Harper and David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” sound like one college year’s worth of house parties and Josh on acoustic guitar.
5. “Jezebel”, by Heritage Cherry (Shannon Wright before she was “The Wrights.” Townie shout out!) sounds like a Thanksgiving band night at the restaurant where I learned how to wait tables and how not to finish college.
6. That one album Oasis made and early Dave Matthews sound like long road trips in Becky’s red Saab convertible to various locations far and near.
7. Tonic, Danny’s Boy, and the “Once” soundtrack all sound like long afternoons on Leighton’s front porch.

I’m sure there are more, but lunch hour is nearly over and those are just off the top of my head. Do you have a list? If “You’re the Reason God Make Oklahoma” is on it, we have a duet coming up!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

True Love and Hooters.

Here we are during the last week of January, and what did I see today?

Cadbury Eggs.

Normally, I am a huge proponent of keeping holiday items out of sight until their proper season. Like, I don’t like to see Christmas decorations in Wal-Mart before Halloween, you know? Cadbury Eggs are the exception to this. I may have mentioned this before, but Cadbury Eggs should really be available all year long.

Anyhow, the Cadbury eggs threw me for a loop, and all day I have been thinking Easter was next month and how great that was, because it would be warm by then. And then I woke up and realized that something was missing!

Valentine’s Day!!!!

I LOVE Valentine’s Day. (As I have previously discussed.) I love any holiday, really, especially if there is a Charlie Brown special about it, but Valentine’s Day really rocks my socks off. Do you know what I really wish we could do? I wish grown-ups could exchange Valentines. I think it would be so awesome. Valentines are a lot like school supplies. They both give me the same sort of giddiness. Don’t you think it would be fun for that one day a year if you just dropped all your friends a little card? We could make envelopes and put them on our doors. It would be great.

Really, I think kids Valentine’s Day is WAY better than adult Valentine’s Day. I think we try to make too much of it with the flowers and the candy and the restaurant reservations. The most memorable Valentine’s Day of my life occurred when I was in middle school. True story – that year, all five Seagraves piled in the car to go to Columbus. I don’t remember what we were doing down there, maybe we went to see a movie. Anyhow, after we finished doing whatever we were doing, it was dinner time and it dawned on Dad that we were never going to get a table anywhere on Valentine’s Day. There were hour-plus wait times at all every place we stopped. Where is the most embarrassing place a preteen girl can get trapped with her family on Valentine’s Day? Hooters. No joke. I couldn’t look anywhere, so I just kept my face in my sweet tea the whole time and consequently almost peed myself on the way home.

But now, I don’t think about how mortified my conventional little self was to be surrounded with big ol’ boobies at Hooter’s, with my parents and siblings, on Valentine’s Day, when I really wanted to be at some middle school party wearing a Skittles hairbow. I think about how awesome it was that my folks took us to go do whatever activity I am sure we enjoyed before the boobies totally took over the entire story. That’s awesome. That’s love.

That being said, do we think that, hypothetically, if someone saw two lockets on etsy that would make perfect Valentine’s presents and knew her boyfriend would never look there, is it tacky to have someone call him with this information? Because if it’s NOT tacky, please point Pete
here and here.

Or were y’all down with making envelopes? Arts and craft party next week!