Friday, July 11, 2014

I Am Not Formal Wear Material

This is so typical "us."

Lyndsi got home from work at 6:30 last night, and we left immediately to go dress shopping.  Her brother is getting married in 4 weeks (August 9th) and she is getting married 7 weeks later (September 27th.)  I had been thinking earlier in the day about which would be better - to buy a dress and then maybe (hopefully!) lose weight between now and then, causing the need to either exchange or have the dress altered?  Or to wait to see how the weight fluctuated for a few more weeks, causing a mad, crazy, super stressed shopping frenzy to find A dress, ANY dress, for the Big Event(s)?

First thing's first, of course.  We went straight to dinner.  No salads for us.  Shopping?  Pfft.  Carrabba's, baby!  We loaded up on Chicken Alfredo with bread dipped in herb olive oil.  Oh yeah!  We DID have a salad.  Caesar.  On the side.  Smothered in dressing and Parmesan cheese.

Sufficiently bloated and full, we first shopped the formal dress department at Belk.  Lyndsi found one dress that made me almost swallow my tongue (it was GORGEOUS) but she is waiting to see if she can find anything she likes better.  Besides, they only had one dress in the size needed.  Someone too big had obviously tried it on because the fabric all along the zipper had been shredded in their attempt to get out of it.  But Belk has the dress available online.  We took a picture for future comparison.  And in case she decides she wants it after all.

I tried on a couple of dresses.  All the other dressing room occupants heard, "YUCK!"  "Ugh."  "Ew."  "Get it off.  Get it off, get it off, get it offfffff."  Shopping with me is not for the faint of heart.  Lyndsi says I'm too picky.  I say I just know what I like (and what I don't like.)  For these weddings, I want blue, gray, silver, brown or black dresses, with sleeves and a flattering cut, that's comfortable, and doesn't look like I'm running the risk of duplicating Great Grandmother Zelda.  Or Morticia Addams.

At 8:15 we decided we should give up on Belk and try Dillard's.  Which was at the other end of the mall.  Which closed at 9:00.  We decided it would be fastest to drive over.

We walked into Dillard's at 8:25 and I saw the sales lady roll her eyes. And I totally agreed.  30 minutes?  Really?  I usually DESPISE being hounded and followed around by sales ladies.  I'm closed minded that way.  I think I know best what I like and what I'd be seen wearing.  But she was helpful.  She pointed out 2-3 pretty dresses that I agreed to humor her (as she put it) and try on.  But I also grabbed a dress that caught my eye on the way to the dressing room.  She rolled her eyes again.

I was nice.  I tried on her suggestions.  They were pretty.  But one was sleeveless.  And another had one of those tiny bolero jackets.  The third one - the color.  Iridescent blue.  Is that still around???  And then I tried mine.  The instinct grab.  And Lyndsi and I both had that knowing look in our eyes before she even zipped me up.  It's classic. It sparkles and shines but in all the good ways.  I told her I felt like Lucille Ball and 1950's.

The dress was falling apart.  The sales lady acknowledged that that is what happens to a lot of the beaded dresses from being stuffed and moved around on the racks so much.  She special ordered a duplicate to be shipped directly to my home.  And of COURSE I woke up in a cold sweat this morning, thinking I should have ordered a size smaller.  I have 11 weeks to lose a dress size.  It could happen!  I looked my order up online at 8:00 a.m.  It has already shipped.

I guess I will wait and see how it looks when it gets here.  Maybe I'll exchange for a smaller size.  Or maybe I'll just embrace my gut and welcome the fact that no diet is necessary.

Monday, February 24, 2014

My Big Brother

My brother has a girlfriend!  And I am tickled to death!

I remember when I was 14, a freshman in high school.  Wade was 17 and a senior.  I remember being totally shocked when girls would tell me how cute he was, how sweet he was, that they had crushes on him.  Several tried to get ME to help THEM get a date with him.  And I would think, “You’re talking about MY brother?  Wade?  You have GOT to be kidding me.”

Growing up, I idolized my brother.  He was the only son, the only grandson on my father's side of the family, and we all thought Wade was the greatest thing since sliced bread.  He was smart.  He was funny.  He was mischievous.  And he was downright mean to his little sister!

EASTER, 1966
 I remember the summer when I was about 5 years old he would somehow convince me to play this game where I would step wherever he pointed.  (Give me a break.  There was no such thing as video games.  Our one, 12" TV had 3 channels.  In black and white.)  How many times do you think he was able to get me to step on a bee perched on clover?

If he didn’t have me stepping on bees, he was convincing me to try one of mother’s skinny little green peppers, fresh from the garden.  He would take a bite and say, “Look, Kerry.  It’s not hot!  You’ll like it.  I promise.”  Or, “I SWEAR this one’s not hot.”  And, like a puppy wagging its tail, I would stick my tongue to the tip of the pepper and start screaming from the heat.  Nothing made him laugh harder that summer.

Then there was the time mother gave him the chore of knocking a wasp nest off her clothesline in the backyard.  He managed to convince me, his naive little sister, that a real live wasp looked way cooler, way different, than a dead wasp lying in the corner of the carport.  He chose a spot for me to stand and instructed me that as long as I didn’t move a muscle, I wouldn’t get stung.  He threw a large dirt clod at the nest and ran away laughing as I stood bug-eyed and mesmerized by all the angry wasps buzzing around my head.  And of course I got stung.  Right.  Between.  The eyes.  (This was before Botox was all the rage.)  But although mother yelled at him, he still turned it around to his favor.  Mother was out of Clorox that day and allowed Wade to chew up some of daddy’s Beech-Nut to take the sting out.  He always wanted to chew tobacco because daddy chewed tobacco, but usually mother would not have it!  But she did that day.  She even ASKED him to!  And afterwards, Wade happily went galloping off into the sun to find other exciting things to get into while I lay prostrate in my bed, suffering from a hot, sweaty, stale summer day, with a wad of tobacco perched between my eyes.  (Which was wet from Wade’s spit!)  Talk about adding insult to injury...!

I won’t even try and count the number of times he left dead snakes in the path between our house and Granny’s to scare the living daylights out of me.

And so, when all those giggling girls in high school starting saying, “Oooooooh, Waaaaaade!” I would roll my eyes and think they were nuts.

A lot has changed since those days, though.  Now I am 47 and Uncle Wade is 50.  But he is the one person in my life who shares the same memories I do:

Being banned to the apple tree in the middle of the pasture and pretending it was a fort.  Riding his pony around our grandfather’s 40 acres, playing cowboys and Indians. The smell of Paw’s cigarette lighter fluid; the sound of his laughter.  The taste of Granny’s biscuits and
dumplings and fried apple pies.  
Riding over to Pea Ridge with Granny to help her pick blackberries so she could cook one of her cobblers or make blackberry jam. The sound of mother and daddy and Granny singing around the piano after Sunday dinner. The back bedroom at Granny and Paw’s house, where we would run and slide across the cold linoleum floor in our sock feet.  The sight of Paw and Granny playing Rook around the kitchen table with Uncle Bud and Aunt Myra.  Watching Granny take such loving care of Paw while he was bedridden with Rheumatoid arthritis.

So after Wade’s divorce last summer I became extremely protective and territorial of him.  I had been through the newly divorced, single and vulnerable game and I had learned a lot of the tricks that people play.  I made a point to warn him against the pitfalls of dating at our age.  The things to pay attention to and the things to avoid.  I talked him into joining Facebook to ward off some of his nighttime loneliness and, when he thought he was ready, I encouraged his joining an online dating site to try and find a suitable companion.  But I would log into the site as well, to point out the women I thought he should avoid or the women I thought he might want to get to know.

MARCH, 2008
I realized that some women may not think that my brother is perfect, but that others would think he is awfully close.  I saw his tender heart, his handsome looks, his charm and sense of humor.  I saw what the single women our age would see.  A good man.  An honest man.  A dependable, loving and loyal man.  A hard-working man.  A one-woman man.  A man of integrity, strong values and morals.  A man that isn’t easy to come by in this day and age.  And I worried.  I worried he would fall, fast and hard, for the wrong woman.  A woman who would take advantage of him and hurt him.  A woman who wouldn’t appreciate him and love him the way he deserves.

But I didn’t give him enough credit.  He found a girlfriend!  (Of course he did.)  Someone very kind and warm-hearted, loving and giving, who takes good care of him.  Who fits right in with the rest of our family.  And I am tickled.  To.  Death.
JULY, 2013

Monday, December 16, 2013

Granny's Dolls, Part II

People who know me well know that Christmas is no longer my favorite time of the year.  It used to be!  Christmas growing up was so magical.  But since my parents divorce, and several divorces of my own, Christmas - for me - has become more of a burden.  My brother and I along with our families go to my mother's for Christmas Eve dinner and make arrangement to go to my dad's house some other evening for dinner, sometime within the Christmas week.  Then Steve's and my children spend Christmas Day with their other biological parent and grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, leaving Steve and me to spend the day quietly alone.

My Christmas List has a minimum of 20 presents to figure out and buy and wrap and deliver and on top of that, everywhere you turn people are asking for donations for the needy.  My church does the Christmas shoe boxes to send to children in foreign countries as well as the Christmas Angel tree for the local needy children.  All the Walmart and grocery stores have Salvation Army bell ringers in front of their doors to greet you every time you come and go for the month (or more) leading up to Christmas Day.  The radio stations and television stations host canned food drives and Toys for Tots and bicycle drives.  The different departments located in my building at work take up a collection to give as bonuses to the custodial workers who clean our offices, and an extra large box is also placed just inside the entryway to collect new toys to be donated to some other, non-specified charity.  It’s exhausting!  It wears me out!  And puts me in a black funk for weeks.

And then there was yesterday.

Yesterday Steve-O was off work, so we left the house to go mark a few presents off our list and to take care of a few errands, with no particular destination or time-frame in mind.  And as we passed an antique store located 2 miles from our house, I pointed it out and told him that I had seen a cookie jar there a month or so ago.  Something he and I had jokingly talked about giving to my mother as a gag gift some year.  So Steve turned the car around and, on a whim, we visited the little store.

We were walking up and down the aisles looking for the cookie jar when there sat one of Granny's Raggedy Ann dolls.

Oh, it might not be.  There is absolutely no way for me to prove that it is.  She didn’t mark “her” dolls in any way.  But its hair was orange instead of red.  And it was left in loops instead of cut into individual strands, as Gran had sometimes done.  And the hen and egg fabric of its dress was familiar - because I had wanted her to use that fabric for MY doll's dress.  And the legs were blue stripes instead of red, which reminded me of the pillow ticking fabric Gran sometimes used.

I had a gut reaction.  I latched onto the baby doll, and at 47 years of age, I became an emotional wreck.  Steve didn’t understand at first that when I said, “This is one of Granny’s dolls!” that I meant this PARTICULAR doll had been handmade by MY grandmother.  There was no way on earth I could leave without her.  She was only $15, but Steve knew it wouldn't have mattered if she was $100.

I've compared her to my babies, the ones Gran made especially for me 37 years ago.  The ones I have stored underneath my bed in a protective plastic bin.  She may not be one of Gran's dolls, but no one will ever be able to convince me that she isn't.

And 22 years after Gran passed away, she gave me back my Christmas magic and joy.

Read, "Granny's Dolls" here:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Mr. & Mrs.

Steve and Kerry
November 3, 2012
Four years ago today Steve asked me if I would like to take the day off work to hang out and run errands with him.  He works in sales, so he usually enjoys days off during the week while I work a standard Monday-Friday office schedule.  Since I always enjoy a good reason to take an unexpected day of leave, he didn’t have to persuade very hard. :o)

After sleeping in, we decided to skip showers, get dressed and make our first stop of the day at Gibson’s Bar-B-Q, a local restaurant that is a favorite spot for breakfast.  Over our biscuits and gravy Steve casually said, “We could get married today...

We had met almost two years prior ( and had been talking marriage since the very beginning.

From: Kerry
To: Steve
Sent: Monday, August 13, 2007 2:21 PM

S:  What day would you choose?
K:  The day we met two years from now.
S:  Okay. Why 2 years. Is 1 bad?
K:  1 is fine with me.  I was thinking about Lyndsi.  You get everyone's approval (my Mom, your Mom, my Dad, your Dad, Beck, Jordan, Logan, Lyndsi, Holden, Wade, John, Jonna) and I'll marry you whenever you want.
K:  Lyndsi will be off to college by then - assuming she doesn't go to Calhoun or UAH and live at home!

K:  All the kids will be used to the idea of us by then.
S:  Hopefully they'll be used to the idea of us before then.
K:  Some will take longer than others, I think.  Especially yours.  Remember - you just moved out in April and their parents were still married a month and a half ago.

K:  All our parents/siblings/extended family will be used to the idea of us by then.            
S:  Mine are already good. It’s your side
K:  True.  You haven't been married/divorced 3 times in 20 years.  My family thinks I'm nuts.

K:  We won't have rushed into anything.
S:  Who's rushing?
K:  Um...  We didn't even KNOW each other 39 days ago.

K:  We will have witnessed every possible mood swing by then.
S:  I don't foresee any real mood swings, unless you're going to surprise me
K:  I do have PMS sometimes.  And sometimes one of my kids or someone infuriates me.  I'm pretty even keel most of the time, but not always.

K:  We will have had at least one disagreement/argument/fight by then.
S:  Disagreement yes, but argument or fight?
K:  It's not all the same thing?  I don't fight physically, if that's what you're worried about.  :o)  I don't punch.  I don't hit or slap.  I don't throw things.  I DO slam doors on occasion...

K:  Glennis will be reassured that I'm going to be good to/for Holden by then.
S:  Reassuring Glennis is not up on my list of priorities
K:  No, Glennis instigated this whole thing.  Had she not chosen to quit your marriage, you and I would have never met.  But she could cause us problems through the kids if she ever wanted to.  I think it's important, given Holden's age, that she and I be on friendly terms.

K:  You're going to be my fourth husband (if I can talk you into it.)
S:  WOW. Who'd thunk... If they would have appreciated and caressed you, you may still be on number one or two...
K:  Don't think I never pointed that out.  I'm not perfect by any means, but I didn't give up.  They did.

K:  I want you to be my last.
S:  I'm not planning on going anywhere. So that would be up to you.
K:  Pinky swear you'll never, ever use the "D" word?

K:  The only way for you to know if you could always be happy with me or not is to spend a lot of time with me.
S:  That's what I'm planning on doing.
K:  Good.  :o)  That's what I want.

We had discussed what day we should get married many times, and I had decided we should marry exactly two years from the date we had met – 7/7/2007.  The problem was that Steve was going to have to be out of town with work on 7/7/2009, and so his argument over coffee was:

S:  Okay.  So what’s 7 times 3?
K:  Twenty-one.
S:  And how many 7’s are there?
K:  Three.
S:  What is 21 plus 3?
K:  Twenty-four.
S:  Today is June 24.  It was meant to be!

Needless to say, it’s pretty easy for Steve to talk me into things.  And I had been putting him off for two years already – neither one of us wanted to wait another year for July 7th to roll around again.  So we finished our biscuits, paid the tab, and rushed back home to Google Madison County, Alabama marriage license requirements.  I begged for time to shower, to wash my hair, but Steve would not have it.  I managed to brush on a little blush and mascara while he searched out our 2007 divorce decrees and then we drove straight to the Madison County Courthouse wearing our shorts and flip flops.  After filling out the bride and groom marriage applications, while waiting for the Clerk to round up the vows, Steve called my dad to ask for his permission.  The ceremony itself took about 3 minutes.  And we were thrilled!  And official!  And then we walked across the hall and changed my name on my driver’s license like any other responsible newlywed would do.  :o)

From the kids
Posted to the refrigerator June 24, 2009
We had parked the car, gotten married, renewed my driver’s license and were back to our car in less than 15 minutes.  So I texted all the kids to tell them we had just gotten married.  Which Steve and I thought was hilarious!  All the kids knew we were going to get married, we just didn’t know when, but I think they’re all still a little miffed that they didn’t know until afterwards, and then via text message!  LOL…

We spent the remainder of the day doing other, responsible newlywed things, such as changing my name at the social security office and adding me and my kids to Steve’s health, dental and car insurance. 

I sometimes wish that Steve and I had been high school sweethearts and that we had shared our entire lives with one another.  I wish he were the father of my children and that I were the mother of his, and that we shared all the same memories.  But I don’t think either of us would have appreciated the other like we do, having been through bad relationships and rough periods of time before having met. 

Besides, I’ve had fancy weddings and have worn expensive, impressive rings.  But those things didn’t amount to anything when the relationships went sour.  I love that Steve and I have a funny story to share, and we’re happy with our $7.50 stainless steel rings.  :o)  We share a very happy life, full of laughter and funny moments.  And we wouldn’t change a thing!

Our Family
Lyndsi, Jordan, Steve, Beck, Kerry, Logan and Holden
November 25, 2010

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Oh Fashion, How I Wish We Got Along

(Internet Photo)
I spent my lunch hour today shopping. Shopping in vain. And now I am depressed. (As usual.) Whatever happened to "classic" styles? Good quality fabrics? Clothing meant to flatter; not meant to emphasize our problem areas? And when did women over 35 give up? We live in a world where our fashion choices are to either dress like 25 year olds or 65 year olds, and we look ridiculous either way. And who in their right mind wears 5" heels to work? I mean, I would love to. If all I had to do was get from the car to my chair in the morning and then back out again in the afternoon. But I have to walk. And bend. And pull and tug and lift and rearrange. And carry!

I am rarely in the mood to shop for clothing, but when I am I even more rarely find anything I would be caught dead wearing.

I believe that women of a certain age should pay attention to their necks, their arms, their muffin tops, their thighs. All too often other women's clothing choices make me think to myself, "Girl, nobody wants to see that!" Over time, my rule of thumb has become - if I don't want to see it in the mirror, I certainly don't want you to see it walking down the street.

So here is my shopping list:

I want a collar.
I am not scarf material.
I want sleeves.
I do not want sleeves that fit tight (think knit or polyester.)
I hate sleeveless shirts and blouses and dresses, and I hate cap    sleeves.
If I am going to wear a dress, or a skirt, it has to be a good length.
(Internet Photo)
Hemlines at the knee make    me look matronly.
Hemlines at mid-thigh are    too short.
Hemlines at the ankle are    good in theory, but I have    yet to find one in a pattern    or material that works.
Women with thighs like    mine have no business    wearing leggings.
Women with thighs like    mine have no business    wearing pants tucked into    boots.
I hate knit.
I hate polyester.
I love turtlenecks.
I love linen, drawstring,    wide-leg pants.
I love black.
I am usually uncomfortable    wearing lots of color or

Now, jewelry? I could shop and buy that stuff at any hour of any day. I love me some shiny, sparkly, dangly, obnoxiously big bling. But I can't leave home without clothes.  :o/