Friday, September 26, 2008

More Stale Pix

One of our family theme songs is "Sweet Home Alabama," because it is in fact, Mark's home. We went and visited at the end of July, and got to see some of Mark's friends and relations who were around. Most of them have stayed right there in Bessemer, which is a few miles outside of Birmingham. Mark had to work a lot, as did everyone else, so it was pretty quiet. We went to visit his grandmother one night at her home. They call her "MaDear" (pronounced: madeah), short for Mother Dear.

Here she is again at Sunday dinner, with Tehrea, Aunt Reta, Arcola (Nana), Rewa, and Mark with Max in the background.

Mark's sister, Rewa, aka Tee Tee Rewa, lives in Atlanta. She's pretty busy as an assistant district attorney and mother of 2, but she came out to visit for the weekend, and brought Kel and Kayla to meet their new cousin Max. We were all astonished at how much Kayla and Max resemble each other. Here are the "mock twins"sitting on their Nana's lap:

It's her first birthday today (Happy Birthday Kayla!), so they are only a few months apart.

On Sundays, they all gather together after their various churches they go to and have a southern meal. They don't call it southern food though, they call it regular food. We had macaroni & cheese, turkey & dressing, collard greens, fried corn, sweet potato souffle, banana pudding, 7up cake, and lots of other low-cal items. It's good but we usually can't move for several hours afterwards. I was so happy that we actually got nearly everyone out on the front steps for a group picture. Mark's dad didn't make it.

And one last shot of Nikea holding Max. He proved to be a popular baby, since he's pretty happy most of the time and shares smiles so readily. I don't mind having such a sociable child, especially since the other 3 are pretty time-consuming...unless "Family Feud" is on, hosted by none other than Mr. Peterman.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

The First Day of School...a month late

I lost my camera for a little while, so I got panicked and had to slap up a bunch of pictures, regardless of how hopelessly out of date they are. These ones actually aren't so dated, they are just from this August, when Mark stayed home to take the kids to the first day of school:

Matthew looks pretty happy to be awake, dresesd, and fed by 7:30 am.
Whereas Max is still in his Sunday clothes. What can we say, he takes after his Uncle Brian.

Katrina was pretty excited (but too cool to show it) for the first day of Kindergarten
with the lovely Miss Lawson:

Here's Felicity, right outside her classroom. She has Mrs. Kinney this year, who told me today that if we get sick of her, Felicity can move to her house. Interesting how (some) children behave better at school than at home. But we'll keep her.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

My baby I mean my Barbie kept me up all night

Yesterday I had a terrible night. Felicity has a Hannah Montana Barbie that someone very generously gave her for her birthday. It could not have been bestowed on a more grateful recipient, and has been the source of some contention and many performances in our home.

For those not in the know, some Barbie dolls are equipped with a radio inside, because a baby doll's "Mama" was not good enough for the rocker girls of today. No, this doll can belt out Hannah Montana songs and the backup instruments to boot. It's surprising how loud they can be. There I was, minding my own business by sleeping in bed at the ungodly hour of 2 am, when I was jolted awake by,

If you could see the other side of me!
I'm just like anybody else
Can't you tell can't you tell
I hold the key
to both realities
blah blah blah

After the initial shock and wipe off of drool, I soon figured out that there was no burglar in the house playing in the toyroom and went back to sleep. But five or ten minutes later, she was singing again! Admittedly, I am a light sleeper, but this hummer was LOUD. So loud that I woke up again. I am embarrassed to acknowledge that my sleep-induced stupidity put up with this routine 3 or 4 times before I decided to Take Action. I charged into the toyroom with both fists going and turned on the light, looking for the culprit. Sure enough, she burst into song again. I couldn't figure out how to stop the noise so I went downstairs, opened the door, and chucked it outside. At this point, I was wide awake and Mark's gentle snoring was not going to lull me back to la la land, so I went back to the toyroom. It must have haunted by her presence because what little sleep I got was plagued with visions of Miley Cyrus.

But I got my revenge: today was trash day.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


A little while back, I felt compelled to write down a memory. Today seems an appropriate day to share it.

Although I lived in the New York City area when 9/11 happened, it did not affect my life very much directly. True, my husband worked in Manhattan, as I had, before I stopped teaching to have our first child. But he had called me early that morning, shortly after the first plane hit the World Trade Center, to make sure that someone we knew was all right. He told me he was getting out of there and although I couldn’t reach him again for most of that day, I knew he was probably okay. Most of the people we knew who worked downtown worked in other buildings. Later we learned that those who had or who were supposed to be there were for whatever reason, out of the building during the scariest moments. I went outside and saw the buildings standing alone in their inferno, as one tower went down and then the other. I saw the shock and horror on my neighbors’ faces, this crisis to weather together, even though we didn't know each other. It was a horrible and surprising day to our entire country.

Still, in some ways, I felt disconnected from the tragedy. We lost tv reception, because all receivers for our area (but CBS') were on top of the towers. There was a stench in the air that reminded everyone that this was more than a bad dream. It wasn’t until we went to the Laundromat a few days later and saw the Missing signs posted that I realized people in my own little neighborhood were so effected. That Friday night, people lit candles and tried to summon up whatever peace they could that our country could recover, that we would be okay, and that those directly impacted would be taken care of.

After 9/11, people took down their Cuban, Puerto Rican, Japanese, or whatever other flags they had and everyone displayed their American pride. It was a way of saying, we are individuals with a past to celebrate. But right now, we’re remembering that we are all Americans. We are brothers and sisters of the same mother country and we are standing together. I really felt this one day at the park.

There was a Catholic church in my neighborhood that had a bell tower. They played hymns or familiar religious songs throughout the day, typically around lunchtime or in the early afternoon. The church was built in the early 1900s and was across the street from a park where I often took my little girl. This park was strangely silent at times, since many of the children were from varied nationalities with different languages spoken at home. Some of the children came with their day care groups, and as children (and adults) who spend lots of time together often do, they fought sometimes. One day, the children were playing somewhat peacefully and quietly as the carillon tower bonged out various hymns. Then the musician played one that was familiar to everyone there. Suddenly, all of the children, completely voluntarily, started to sing, in their own voices, musical or not, native English speakers or not:

“God bless America, land that I love!

Stand beside her, and guide her

Through the night with a light from above.

From the mountains, to the prairies,

To the oceans, white with foam-

God bless America, my home, sweet home!

God bless America, my home, sweet home.

I don’t know if any of those children were directly impacted by the man-made disaster which had rocked our nation shortly before. There was a chill in the air and undoubtedly many in the area were afraid for what the future held. As I quietly sang with the children in the park, I felt comforted and assured as we sang that there is a God, and he is mindful of us, from one end of the country to the next. This song was written in 1938. I don’t know if Irving Berlin ever had the vision that in the next century, children would be comforted by his words and music. I am thankful that many of the rising generation has trust that the Lord will continue to bless this great nation, that we have been so blessed to call home.

Felicity and I at Liberty State Park (where survivors from Ground Zero were taken), on August 31, 2001.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Senior Moment

My mother-in-law refers to her lapses of memory as "senior moments". Although I am nowhere near old enough to qualify for senior citizen status or the discount, I have the moments all the time and have been having them since I was a child. This Sunday there was a funny one.

My job at church is to come up with the music for sacrament meeting, the meeting that everyone attends together. Basically, it's just picking the hymns and signing people up to share their talents for special musical numbers. I am definitely not the most qualified, but I do appreciate music, want to learn more about it, and I love this calling. So on Sunday, I was feeling a little more righteous than usual and decided to call & remind people of their commitments to sing/play/whatever. Somehow, I mixed up in my head some random people in the congregation and made the following phone call to someone who justifiably could qualify for a senior moment:

"Hi, this is JoEllen M from church. How are you?"
"Fine." (probably had no clue who was calling)
"I'm just calling to remind you that the RS choir is singing next Sunday?"
"Oh, I don't sing in the choir."
"No, not the ward choir," I explained very patiently, "the Relief Society choir. Remember? Is it okay with you if we sing this coming Sunday?"
"Sure! Go right ahead!"
"But won't you be singing too?" gently reminding her that this is actually her responsibility, I'm just being nice and helping her remember.
"Oh, I haven't sung in years!"
At this point, I was feeling slightly disoriented. I thanked her for talking and hung up. I then looked at the list and realized what an idiot I was to have confused the names of this sister and the one who actually was in charge. Not even close. In fact, there's no reason whatsoever I should have mixed up the two ladies. Just my slice of humble pie for the week! And something to laugh about whenever I sing in RS.