Friday, July 31, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me

I think this has been the greatest birthday I've ever had, except maybe that time when I was nine and my mom gave me a surprise birthday party with all my friends. I was just as blown away today as I was that day I turned nine.

Every year my family buys me a present to show their love. Today they simply proved their love. My son vacuumed the entire house for me while I was at work. My sister brought me a beautiful bouquet at work from her fabulous flower nephew brought me a fantastic CD he burned (he has terrific taste) and I got over 60 messages from friends on Facebook. Some of my regulars came in and tipped me $30.00 on a $17.00 tab. One of the cooks gave me a five and a huge hug. One of my managers came in and gave me a bear hug so tight that I thought he was putting a "kick me" sign on my back. He told me how much he loved me and all that I do for the company. Going to my sisters for dinner at her farmhouse with my entire family...even the 23 year old is going and my husband bought me what I hope is the winning lottery ticket!

This day has been one of the best days I have had in quite some time...even with the difficulties we are having financially, it has made me realize once again how truly blessed I am.

My girl is home from band camp. Her first time away at camp and it was a trying week for her as well as for me.

This is how my day started out...

The phone rang at 8:00 sharp this morning, just as it has every day since she left. The first few days the calls were really upbeat. As the week wore on, she complained of her knee hurting and how hard the choreographer was pushing them. She came across a knee brace a while back while rummaging through my closet. As I have stated previously, her fascination with plaster casts, wheelchairs and eye glasses have always been a fascination bordering on obsession.

Since she has never broken a limb or had to use a wheelchair (I think she envied Frances' a bit though), she decided a knee brace may fill the gap left after she finally got eye glasses.

Massey has never been athletic or played sports..and believe it or not, color guard is really a strenuous sport. The week before they left for band camp, they had guard camp at the school Mon-Fri from nine in the morning til nine every night. Only water breaks, lunch and dinner breaks...all out in ninety degree weather on asphalt in the broiling sun. Although band camp was fun, they push these girls and PUSH and push.

She told me the choreographer was relentless and when she complained of her knee he screamed through the bull horn that she had 3 minutes to sit down and then it was "back in line." I told her he wasn't there to coddle them or be their best friend but to help shape them into the award winning team that they were.

I think part of it was that she began to get homesick and part of it was that she has never been part of such a driven and competitive group. I have always babied her, I know I shouldn't but she is my only girl and it is just so easy to do.

When I answered the phone this morning, knowing it was her, she weakly said "Hey." I asked what was wrong and she said her knee was sore. I know I shouldn't have but I kinda exploded. I thought she was calling to tell me happy birthday. Instead she called to whine about her knee and how hard it was to practice. She said she was going to see if she could sit out during the performance for the parents coming to pick them up from camp. I told her to toughen up or she would be labeled a weakling and a baby. I told her if she kept on complaining they would take her to the doctor themselves and once they found out we didn't have insurance she would get kicked off the team.

She hung up on me.

I called her right back, MORE than furious.

I told her that she was to NEVER, EVER hang up on me again...especially on a cell phone that I was paying for. Then I REALLY unloaded.

I asked her if she realized how hard it has been for me to manage to pay for camp, uniforms, wind suits , dues and accessories she needed to be a part of this sport. she apologized for hanging up on me but I felt no better when we said good bye. She never even mentioned my birthday.

After talking to my husband, we decided on the ole "reverse psychology" that had worked so well on my son. I called her back and when she didn't answer I left a voice mail telling her that her father had said if her knee hurt THAT badly , just tell the coach that she couldn't handle the pain in her knee and was quitting the team...we would have her knee looked at by a doctor when she got back home.

On my way to work an hour later I called my sister and said that I was worried that her knee may be really hurt. My sister thought I may be right since she had started out loving the guard so much.

Two hours later.

I was working a busy lunch shift when my cell was Massey. I snuck to the bathroom to answer and heard the old Massey's voice, chipper as a bird!!

"Hey Mama!!! My knee feels a LOT better and I am going to perform with the group!!...Courtney's parents are picking us up at one and we will be home by four, I meant to tell you happy birthday and that I love you and hang on all the girls in the room sing happy birthday to you and I love you so much and can't wait to see you"... all in one long run on sentence.

Thank the Lord she was just the "Girl Who Cried KNEE."

The week was long and hard, harder than anything she has ever done. She had fun in the down times and the fun and games but they pushed my girl like she has never been pushed before.

You don't win gold medals at state competitions without working your butt off and this team she is on is truly a championship team (I have seen them perform.)

She came home a few hours later ... threw her arms around my neck and hugged me more tightly than she has in quite a while. She hasn't mentioned her knee once, she immediately apologized for hanging up on me and went right into a full length description of the week's events and activities.

As soon as I can I will have her knee looked at, but I think it felt better the minute she walked into the house. They had a registered nurse with them at band camp and I know that if there had been the slightest inkling that something was wrong with her other than her wanting to give up too easily, I would have been the first person they would have called.

I think Massey is glad she made it through camp. She didn't WANT to...but she DID and now she feels a tremendous sense of accomplishment and pride that she actually did.

This has been her first in a long line of "Life's Tough" lessons and experiences.

I didn't mean to blow up at her and have apologized several times for doing so.

She seems to have either forgotten it or realized that she needed it.

What a great birthday and what a gift Massey has given me showing me finally what she is really made of.

Sometimes you just have to push when your kids seem to want to pull away and pray that they don't stumble (or hurt a knee) along the path of life.

Yes, I am truly, truly blessed.

BTW my brother gave me the birthday card in the picture above this posting...with a Franklin in it.

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Just One More

Just got home from work. Massey comes home tomorrow and I couldn't be happier. She has had a good time but I can tell she is ready to come back and rule the castle once again.

Went to see Frances today. My restaurant called me early this morning asking if I could go by the restaurant in my town and pick up some cheddar cheese and bring it in when I went into work. I told them that I'd be glad to but I didn't come in til 4 PM. The manager said that I was due in at 10:30. I freaked out, thinking they had changed my schedule without me noticing. The manager said, "It's Tuesday." I told him that in fact the day was Thursday. After making him feel stupid, I told him I was heading that way anyway to visit Frances and if he would buy her lunch for me to take to her I would oblige.

Zoomed by our restaurant in Newnan to pick up the cheese and phoned Frances' lunch order in when I got back in my car. When I got to the store I work at, I handed off the cheese and Frances' lunch was ready for me. I went to the nursing home with her lunch in my hand and of course she was thrilled with the salmon, rice and vegetables I had brought.

When I walked in the room it seemed a lot bigger and then I realized that Frances was sitting in a chair by the bed and the wheelchair was gone. She told me that they had taken her wheelchair away and put her on a walker. That is good news means she is improving .

By this point my sister had arrived and I exclaimed "Frances is on a walker now!" Frances said that she made them put a basket on the front of her walker so she could carry the computer up to the lobby to connect to the internet. She made the comment "They took way my car and gave me a wheelbarrow."

So after lunch, Frances pushed her wheelbarrow up to the lobby with me and my sister in tow to "Get on line." We had to restart the computer and it took a few minutes. Frances is always so upbeat...she remarked "I got nothing but time." She checked her email and we helped her clean out her inbox. Then she got on the family web site to read where all of our relatives have been writing to her. When we are in the lobby, we are at a table with Frances' back to everyone else, including the front desk. Frances won't mind me saying this (I am sure she knows it more than anyone) she is extremely hard of hearing. That is the whole reason we wanted her to have a computer here, so she can keep in touch via email, my blog and the family website. Not to mention she can check her bank statement and make sure all bills are being paid online.

While we were sitting in the lobby the girl at the front desk made an announcement over the P.A. "Patients , employees and visitors please ignore the upcoming fire alarm, we are just testing the system."

It was followed by a piercing screeching noise that continued on and on and on. Frances with her back to it all just kept on pecking on the keyboard. The minute it started, patients were scrambling on their walkers to get through the fire doors before they swung shut trapping them in the lobby. Frances kept right on typing. My sister and I were in tears by this point. Finally Frances glanced up from the keyboard, cocked her head to one side and made a squinty face toward the sound. She quickly resumed her typing and finished her post on the family website.

I guess being hard of hearing has it's advantages at times.

What was killing all of our ears was merely a nuisance to her... once it penetrated her hearing aide.

She's a cracker jack. She has a great wit and an even better outlook on her own situation. I turned to look at the ladies behind the front desk and commented that I bet an actual fire drill was a site to see in a nursing home. My sister added that she bet a lot of employees called in sick that day. I can just see the patients pushing other walkers and wheelchairs out of their way, thinking...Now is the time to get the hell out of here, MOVE OUT OF MY WAY!

Frances was still typing when I realized I only had an hour to get back home, iron a shirt for work and barely make it on time. My sister said she would wait and walk Frances back to her room.

I needed that laugh, me and my sister were in tears. Everyone else on alert and Frances happily typing away.

I called my sister tonight when I got home from work and she told me that when she walked Frances back to her room she made the comment that the "alarm" just kept going off. So she heard it after all, but it was just a slight annoyance to her when it sent other patients scrambling for cover.

Going to visit Frances is always interesting, always a pleasure and always a good blog!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day Four...Two More To Go

Just got off the phone with Massey. The weather finally broke and they got to have their bon fire. It has rained on them the past two days and several of the scheduled activities have had to be rescheduled . The food still sucks she tells me...the turkey tetrazini for lunch looked like dog barf (bless her pea picking heart).

Tonight was the night for the senior pranks and she is washing the ice cream toppings and whip cream out of her hair as I type this post. With her massive thick curly is no easy feat. She acts like she is complaining but I know she is loving every minute of it.

The band program at her school is huge. They have a tractor trailer painted in the school colors with the Indian mascot painted down the side. They took it with them to camp, along with the three golf carts and ATV that they use while there. They have posted over 600 pictures on the band web site since they have been there and it is fun to look at all the pictures. I wish I could have afforded to take off a week from work and go as a chaperone. Maybe next year.

Instead I stayed at home to work. My luck ran out on my clever banking skills, and now I am in the hole. Obviously the treasurer for the band stayed home because they shoved my check for her dues right on through my account. Now I have paid her next payment of $220.00 for her dues plus a $36.00 check charge. It's my own fault you know why my husband won't bank with me. My husband would croak if he knew or read my blog. "What happens in my account Stays in my my account" is my motto.

I will be caught up again in a couple of shifts at work and no one in my house will be the wiser.

In situations like this I have the opportunity to go into work with the mind set that I will MAKE every customer love me and their meal and almost mentally will them to leave me a fat tip.

It pretty much worked tonight. I did well and it was a slow night.

When I first go in, I am the only server on the floor for the first 30 to 45 minutes. I try to make that count in my favor.

Today a new hire was doing his manager spiel. When the new hires get through training they have to wait on the manager as if they were an actual customer and get critiqued by the manager and another key employee.

The guy (who I had not trained) came up to me and said he needed a table visit. That is when something goes wrong at a table and you get a manager to go try to diffuse the problem. He said I was the closest thing to a manager he could find and would I mind going to the table. I asked what the problem was and he said he hadn't put the proper brown sugar coating on the rum spiced ribs and that they didn't have enough BBQ sauce. The managers sometimes just tend to push the limits to see how a new server reacts to problems at a table and how well they try to make a good recovery.

I hadn't even realized the server was doing his food review with management because I was busy waiting on my own six or seven tables and was training a new guy to boot.

I told him I would be glad to go by, and approached the table. I told the manager ( who was posing as a guest) that I was truly sorry he didn't have everything served or presented properly and that after correcting the problem, we would send the cook back to Mexico and fire the new guy.

Luckily the manager was in a good mood and laughed at my feeble joke. All that really matters is that the new hire knew when something goes wrong at a table, get a manager involved immediately before things escalate to a point where we can't make a good recovery and keep the guest happy.

It isn't easy being a good server. Being a server is easy enough, but to be a good server takes a lot of patience and a lot of psychology and knowledge of the product you are pushing.

I remember eating at a new restaurant once... when I ordered the house salad with the house dressing, it was delightfully delicious. I asked my VERY young server what was in the house dressing and he replied "Ya know, they are just CRAZY back there when they are mixin' all that stuff up."

What in the heck kind of answer is that? He would have been better off winging it with his own made up version of a recipe than to tell me they were just CRAZY back in that kitchen while they were mixin' stuff.

It made me think maybe they had a meth lab back there as well.

All in all a good day. Massey is still having fun at camp, she comes home day after tomorrow, I am now $120.00 closer to being back in the black and luckily when I walk out of work tomorrow night, I will walk out with another paycheck. "CHA CHING!!"

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Day Three

Massey called me today when I was visiting Frances. She said she is having a blast but the food sucks. She said there was mold on her pineapple (Right!). I told her to eat up! The penicillin will be good for her. I am sure the food is fine...not four star, but it will keep her alive.

Frances seems stronger every day. It seems I have created a monster of a running joke. My sister said when she went to visit earlier today she had taken Frances some jello cups with fruit in them. She went to stack them in the window sill and Frances exclaimed "Don't put them there, somebody'll TAKE them." Frances' niece said emphatically "No one is going to take your FOOD!!" I told my sister she could have put them in the lock box. When I went to leave, Frances' niece asked if I would take my sister back the vase that she had brought flowers in from her garden . Frances' niece said we didn't want it to disappear. Frances' room mate is an elderly woman who I have never even heard speak. Her two daughters...about my age are there with their mother every day. One of the daughters who was sitting in the chair on their side of the room wittily added "I already had my EYE on that vase!" It seems I've created a paranoia monster that is like a runaway train. Even though we are all joking, we now tend to be on alert!

Frances is one sharp cookie. Getting to know her and her out of town relatives has been a pure joy. Frances always has something funny to say and we all laugh the entire length of each and every visit. Now that we all have our eyes and ears open...we seem to be mentally "daring " someone to try and take any of Frances' belongings. I hope none of the staff overhears our jokes, or they may say "You know what Mrs. Cotton, Frances will probably be just fine at your house with all the locks and deadbolts I am sure you have there...let's wheel her on out to your car."

We readjusted the lock box to a position on the bed frame that is easier for Frances to access from her wheelchair. All kidding aside, it really was a good idea to get . It gives us all more peace of mind and something to joke about every five minutes.

The walls on her side of the room are covered in cards from friends and family and she seems to get her fair share of visitors.The wound nurse said today that she was healing really well and THAT was good news to everyone, especially Frances.

Hopefully she will be released before I manage to get her kicked out! The lady at the front desk who I have pressuring about the wifi problems doesn't even bother to say hello anymore and tries her best to look incredibly busy every time I walk through the front lobby to access the internet. At least when I am there she seems to be really earning her pay... as much as I am there, I may end up being the reason she gets a raise!

If she does get a raise and happens to send me a thank you note, I'll put it in the lock box for safe keeping.

I keep worrying that they will change the security code I use to enter the always locked facility and the next I pull in the driveway... will have Frances already wheeled out to the curb still in her bed with the lock box dragging alongside on it's bicycle chain. They'll say "Don't even cut the engine off, just tell us the combination to the chain lock and we'll put the box AND the patient in the back seat for you.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Day Two

First off , my son commented that I call my blog "A waitress and a Mom" why wasn't it a Mom and a Waitress?

I told him I have been a waitress for over thirty one years and have been a Mom for only twenty three years. Ya gotta give credit where credit is due!

Massey is safely at camp, having a blast. She called last night around midnight to tell me that there was another convention group at the same site. A "Clown" convention.

Massey has always been terrified of clowns (like Kramer on Seinfeld.) She, even at a young age said that you just never knew who those people were behind those painted on faces and didn't trust them. I told her that she was with the East Coweta Indians marching band and that Indians could take care of clowns pretty easily. She laughed at that and told the other girls in her room and I heard them all giggling.

This morning I woke up with a new mission. Yesterday when Zach and I went to visit Frances, she was in the church service and we had to wait to see her. A therapist was waiting for another patient so I took this spare time to pick her brain. I told her that what we really needed was another table that you can roll across the bed like the one Frances eats her meals off of. I told her that I had brought in my daughter's lap top for Frances to use while she was there and if we had another table, we could leave the lap top on one while she used the other for meals.

She told me that while Frances was not one of her patients she had heard of her and her situation. She also told me that she told her own patients not to bring their watches, jewelry or even their teeth to re hab as sometimes things seemed to (using quote marks in the air with her hands) disappear.

This shed an entirely new light on the situation. I haven't even finished paying for Massey's lap top. It had not even occurred to me that someone would try to steal the computer. I told her that I had brought Frances a lap top bag to keep it in. Her comment was that would only make it easier to walk out with.

I told her that I just couldn't even imagine taking this life line away from Frances. She is hard of hearing and can't communicate over her cell phone, but with the computer she can keep in contact with her family in Tennessee, North Carolina and Texas.

I am still paying the computer off and was torn as far as what to do. I talked to my sister later on that night, she was in Florida for a weekend trip. Cindy mentioned that we should get a briefcase with a combination lock to keep the lap top in and chain it to the bed with a bicycle lock.

Problem solved! I went to Walmart this morning to get a briefcase with a combination lock. Obviously they stopped making them in the seventies. Every bag for a computer was soft and pliable. I couldn't find a hard case to put the computer in that could be locked. All anyone had to do was use a knife or razor and zip the bag open and walk out with Massey's computer.

I was determined.

I found myself finally in the sporting goods dept. finding a Black and Decker tool box that was hard plastic and had a place on the clasp for a padlock. Only ten bucks...and once I took out all the shelving, there seemed to be room enough for the lap top. I purchased a three foot long combination bike lock and a padlock for the tool box.

$10.00 for the toolbox, $2.00 for the padlock, $3.00 for the bike lock...cost to keep Frances happy...PRICELESS !

Got back in the car and headed happily to the re hab to see if my computer was still there.

Got about a mile away from the place and realized I was once again SO out of gas. Pulled into a gas station to buy my next $6 fix and realized I had left my debit card at home.

I turned my car around, hoping I had enough gas to get back to the house , when I realized I would have to pass the restaurant I worked for on the way. I stopped in the middle of a lunch shift and asked the girls if anyone would loan me six bucks for gas. of course they did and I returned to my mission (thanks Darby...I owe you big time).

Got to the re hab and found Frances had two visitors. I came in looking like a mechanic carrying my tools and told them why.

It took us at least half an hour to figure out the bike lock, and Frances' two friends had quite a time with the combination padlock..."Just like we used to have in school on our lockers!"

We finally figured it all out and put the combination to the tool box on the underside of a small figurine that sat on Frances window sill.

When I stepped out of the room, I ran into the woman who had told me about the dangers of having an unsecured computer on the premises.

She immediately told me she was so sorry she had said that to me yesterday. I told her that I was entirely grateful she had. She said she didn't mean to imply that the staff was dishonest. I told her that I just hadn't thought of the big picture. Someone visiting a patient could be cruising by Frances' room when she was in therapy and see a lap these hard times if you aren't an honest person a computer sitting all alone can not only be a temptation but an invitation.

I told her not to feel bad about saying that to me, but to know that I appreciated her bringing it to my attention.

We are now secure with the computer and Frances has a place to lock up any of her valuables as well.

I wheeled Frances up to the lobby to connect to the internet (she SHOULD be able to get online from two doors down from her room) another battle I am currently fighting.

Ya know, God smiled on me once again . No checks bounced, Massey is off at camp with everything she needs, Frances still has the computer, I didn't run out of gas and things are good. I am a firm believer in " What goes around, comes around."

She was so excited to get email from our relatives, read my blog and check her bank account. It really doesn't take much to make another person happy.

You know what...I think it may have made me even happier.

When I went to leave, she stood up in her wheelchair and I thought she needed me to help her get onto the bed.

She just wanted to give me a hug.

That was the most touching thing I could have ever gotten from her...THANK YOU FRANCES.

You are my hero...In the words of Oprah....YOU GO GIRL.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Day One

It's a little after midnight and I just got home from work. This morning I got up and took Massey to get two more items on her "Essential" list for camp.

Zach and I were going to go the the re hab center to visit Frances , but Massey was scared we would run her late (she had to be at the school at noon.) I dropped her off at her friend's house who is also on the color guard. This other girl's parents said they would give Massey a ride to the school when they took their daughter. I told Massey that Zach and I would go see Frances and come by the school before the bus left for camp.

Went to see Franny and helped her out some with the computer. I took a mouse that I had in a drawer, hoping it would fit the lap top. No such luck. The lap top is a Dell and the extra mouse I had was for my HP at the house. I was hoping it would work, but maybe I will take her my wireless mouse and hook up the extra HP mouse to my desk top at home.

When we got there Frances was in the church service held on Sunday mornings. Zach and I hung around til it was over and Zach wheeled Frances back to her room while I wheeled another woman back to the same hall. I suggested a wheelchair race but the two women didn't seem interested so we just strolled back. We could only stay a short time because I wanted to see Massey off at the high school.

Zach said I was being stupid...the other girl's parents were giving Massey a ride and there was no reason for us to go back to the school.

Oh, there was a good reason!

Don't think I am going to let my girl go away for a week without holding that sweet face in my hands, hug her tightly and tell her how much I love her.

I was five minutes away from the school when she called me and said they were already on the charter bus. I was so out of gas it wasn't funny, but I floored it anyway and pulled into the school parking lot as the buses readied to leave. She had told me she was on the last bus, so I jumped out of the car as the driver was getting on board and asked if I could get on and tell my daughter good bye.

She still had her cell phone in her hand, her ipod stuck in her ears and a huge smile on her face when she saw me coming down the aisle of the bus.

I remember the first time I went to camp. My parents had gone out of town for the weekend and left my sister who was probably seventeen at the time in charge of getting me off to camp. She took me to church with my stuff and dropped me off. I got to camp and realized when I walked into the cabin that I didn't have sheets for my bed, no pillow or blanket...just a stained mattress to lay down on and hoped that I dreamed I was warm when I went to sleep. She had given me no money for snacks (they had an AWESOME "canteen" to buy snacks in). I was so homesick by the second day that I felt like I wanted to die.

On the third day, early that morning I saw my parents driving down the dusty road that led to the camp in our ugly 68 Ford Galaxy..."The Black Beauty" as we called it. (We were smart asses even as kids.)

They brought me a pillow, sheets and a blanket and money for that wonderful "Canteen" snack shop that all of the other kids had been bragging about. I had never been happier to see my parents. After they left, I had a wonderful time and didn't think about home again until I got there at the end of the week.

I just had to make sure Massey had everything ( though I couldn't imagine what I could have possibly forgotten.)

I have had too many losses in my life to let a good bye be "poo-pooed."

I could tell from the bright smile on her face she was glad that I had come to hug her one more time. I think it was more for me than her, but it felt good to both of us.

She called the minute they got there and has called twice since and sent me text messages as well.

She is having a ball and I feel good about holding that precious face in my hands one last time before the bus rolled out. Zach still thinks I am stupid for racing to the school...but for me and for Massey, it was the right thing to do.

You can't love your kids too much in my opinion .

Now Zach and I have a full week to hang out, get to know each other better and reconnect. I am almost as excited about that as Massey is about band camp.

Til next time...COTTON

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Last Day With My Girl

Massey leaves for band camp tomorrow morning. She is so excited she can hardly stand it. It's a good thing she leaves tomorrow because I ran out of money two days ago! Using my crafty kiting techniques... by the time all the checks hit the bank I should have them all covered from my next two shifts at work. The packing list they sent home on Thursday was two pages long!

Geez, you'd think they were going on a mission trip to a third world country. We got all the necessities, skipped a couple of suggestions that just seemed to be superfluous and in the end have her all ready to go and me ready for bankruptcy!

Totally kidding, making your kids happy is worth every penny.

Zach is still on a "Cleaning High". Today he cleaned all the kitchen counters and is upstairs now cleaning a closet after finishing up all the laundry. I secretly hope he never gets a job, I can keep him under my psychological spell til he gets married. Then HIS wife can take over.

Went to visit Frances in re hab today. Massey has donated her lap top to Frances for her stint in re hab so she can keep up with everyone. She is sharp as a tack and computer savvy. When we got there she was no where to be found, so just like most of the patients that can...we roamed hall after hall til we found her in an office trying to get on line courtesy of the activities director who led her to a desk top in some office. Her nephew was here visiting, super nice guy. You should have seen Frances' face when Massey pulled her lap top out of her bag and presented it to Frances. She raised both arms above her head and exclaimed "Hallelujah."

Her nephew wheeled Frances back to her room and we got Frances all plugged in. We couldn't pick up a signal in her room, it kept asking for a pass word so we went to the family room two doors down that had a sign saying it was a WI FI hotspot. That didn't work either, we will have to wait til Monday when the ad min office is open so we can get the password. Frances had told us as soon as she saw the lap top that you could get a connection in the lobby, so after trying three different rooms claiming "Hot Spot" we wheeled her up to the front lobby. I wish you could have seen the stares from the folks sitting in wheelchairs and perched on walkers. I don't think they even knew what the lap top was but they were all riveted to our arrival. One woman excitedly said "Here's a plug by me, plug it in by me!"

Bingo! We got online and Massey set up the computer with all Frances' favorite sites saved at the bottom of the screen. With a quick tutorial from Massey, Frances caught right on to using the lap top and when she got to her email was tickled pink to send an email to her niece in Texas.

After that she asked Massey to help her see her bank account and find our family website as well. After a few minutes I told Frances to check her email again and YES, she had a response from her niece!

It is nice to know now she can stay connected to all of us anytime she wants and we can stay in touch with her just by a few clicks on our computers as well. Modern technology...ain't it grand?

Massey and I went to the store to get a few more things for camp and picked up a lap desk for lap tops so that she can use the computer from her wheel chair more easily. It has a bean bag type bottom and holds the computer more securely in her tiny little lap.

It is so easy to make someone else happy...I need to do it more often.

She has a little trouble controlling the tiny mouse pad with her finger (I have the same problem when I use Massey's lap top!) so I told her Zach and I would bring a mouse from home so we can plug it into the lap top and she can use it like she did on her desk top at home.

She is really improving, still upbeat and happy. God is really taking care of her and we pray that her recovery is faster than anyone has predicted. With an attitude as good as hers, I know it will be!

When Massey and I came back from getting a quick bite to eat, she was sitting reading my blog!

This one's for YOU, FRANCES!

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, July 24, 2009

Just Exhausted

Going on month five of husband being out of work. No fault of his own, he sends out over ten resumes a day at the post office and is looking for work every day.

Meanwhile I feel like I am working every day. I almost am at six days a week. What worries me is that if I am getting depressed, how bad does he possibly feel?

I made my daily pilgrimage to the grocery store dragging my son along to load the groceries for me. The woman who checked me out asked how business was and I told her it was picking up a bit. They all know me at the store, know where I work and since I am a regular who bags her own groceries and takes them out too, they all seem to remember me. (especially the bag boys who can't accept tips)

She is a nice pleasant older white woman, one of my favorite cashiers. She was ringing up my groceries with a nice young black kid bagging. I totally mean no disrespect calling him that. "African American" came way after I was born.

When I was young, (much to my regret as an adult) they were either called the "N" word or "Colored."

To me, these are people, as equal and as qualified as me...sometimes more so.

She said that things would be okay according to our President, and gave me a wink.

Who was that wink for? Was it for me , letting me know that she thought the President was a joke, or was it for the bag boy... to seem supportive while giving me the "You know what I mean" wink ?

Either way it rubbed me wrong.

I know I live in the deep south. I know that my views on politics are taken as ridiculous.

I also know that this country voted our President into office with not only the popular vote but the electoral vote.

He is trying to help this nation...trying to help people exactly like me.

Socialism and Marxism is in Cuba. There... a bell boy makes the same wage as a doctor. Ask anyone in France or Canada what they think about their health care system and you would be hard pressed to find complainers.

Our President has been in office for seven months, with a four year term to serve. Can we quit bashing him and SUPPORT him while he tries to get us out of this hole that the nation got into before he was ever in the picture.. or will we berate and belittle every thing he says?

We can spend billions and billions and billions on a war that is in the wrong country to begin with, but other Americans are upset that he wants to spend that same amount on helping Americans me (people that have no insurance).

I say let's give this man a chance. Throw some support behind the effort that the administration currently in (elected) power is trying to make.

I wonder sometimes, are people just that racist, narrow minded... or stupid? Did the last eight years help us much? Can we venture to say let's try this another way?

"FDR " was a Democrat and brought this country back from scraping the bottom of a soup kitchen bowl to a country that is awed by every other nation.


He has already said he would make mistakes, and he has. He will again. I also believe that he wants to change this nation for the better and that with an enthusiasm that this country hasn't seen since the Camelot years, I say "LET HIM TRY."

My family is moving into a desperate situation. I am the only one working. I am trying to balance working six days a week with making sure all the kids think everything is okay. I try to help out others, my neighbors ... my relatives and co workers while keeping my own kids unaware of the fact that we are sinking .

I have a good job, a really good job. I am blessed with that, but looking at the immediate future, I look to the leader of my nation, after looking to God.

I have had friends and even strangers help us out and for that I am truly grateful.

If I can't rely on the leader of the free world to be in my corner...I am REALLY exhausted.

Like I told my sister, I am tired of people sending me FB quizes.."DO you support the President?"

You know where I really like to express my opinion? In the voting booth. That's the opinion that matters and that's the one that has him in charge of our nation. As I have found out personally in the last few months... support can truly make a difference.

I don't voice my political beliefs on FB or twitter or myspace.

But this IS my space and I just was so depressed tonight that it felt good to get it out.

I have faith in the fact that our President is looking out for people like me and the people in general.

I may be wrong, but he has four years to prove me wrong...can't people at least give him some slack after only seven months?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What am I Gonna Do With Her...What am I Gonna Do Without Her?

One more day of guard camp at the high school. Nine to nine...go home smelling fine! I told her tonight that she needed to wash her unitard out EVERY night with Woolite. Of course when you have 25 (by 10:30) stinking girls out on asphalt from nine to nine every day, the smell just melds together.

She has been a trooper though. She hasn't complained once. She comes home at 9:30 every night, eats a quick bite and goes to take a bath. She gets online for a few minutes and talks to a few friends on the phone. By 10:15 she is OUT!

She has lost five pounds this week. She is getting into terrific shape, learning discipline and commitment... and having a good time to boot.

She has one more day of "BOOT CAMP" as I call it. On Sunday morning she leaves for Band Camp in north Georgia for a week.

I was looking for my nail polish remover tonight and couldn't find it. She was taking a bath and of course the door was locked tight. I asked her where my polish remover was and she spat back "I dunno."

Let's see... she and I are the only two females in the house and the boys tend to shy away from painting their nails. Maybe my female Boxer felt the need for a "ME" day and was doing her talons out in the dog house. I KNOW who has my remover or at least moved it from the spot I keep it . But she swears up and down that she hasn't seen it (that means she has lost it, but at least she's not actually being totally untruthful.)

I told my husband as I was rinsing out her unitard "What am I going to do with that girl?" I think what I meant to say is "What am I going to do WITHOUT that girl?"

I love all three of my kids equally... but they all give me different feelings and emotions. I fret about my boys, after all men aren't known to be capable until the age of thirty.

They would rather me forget they were there until they get really hungry or broke. They throw me a kiss and tell me they love me, but for the most part unless they are sick they want their own space and I give it to them.

Massey is totally on the other end of the scale. She needs me twenty- four seven and I LOVE it.

When your kids reach those tumultuous teen age begin to miss those good night kisses and those times when they had a bad dream and just want to snuggle up with you.

I am lucky that my boys are decent men...they both need some work but will eventually find some woman who will shove them down the right path of life. I'll have to remember to send that woman a Thank You note.

Some girls at Massey's age are really a piece of work and make it hard to even pretend that you actually remember loving them.

She can make me mad. She can really tick off her brother that is still at home. Then she can do something so wonderful and sweet that you realize how lucky you are to have her be a part of this family.

God bless the man that marries her. She is a high spirited filly. She is still an innocent and naive girl and shows no desire to be cooler than she thinks she already is. Ya know...he will be a lucky, lucky man come to think of it.

It was tough getting her here. She was due in October, came in August and had me on total bed rest from early June till my emergency C-section in August.

Since, she has been a delight and a blessing, readily welcomed when I was already living in a house with three men.

We have that female bond. We can give each other a look when one of the males say something that we both know is laughable, and they NEVER know. But WE do.

I hope she always loves me as much as she does now. I hope she is never embarrassed by me or doesn't want to be around me. I know kids go through that stage where their parents are a "Total Drag."

I hope that she only has that feeling about her father, not me.

My husband is wonderful and an excellent father. I just know that he could take the snub with more grace than me.

I want my girl to always feel close to me... like she does now.

Boys seem to want to turn into men quickly...and girls seem to want to be the Princess forever.

Sometimes my boys act like I am the wicked witch, and my girl always just wants me to be the magic fairy god mother.

You know what it really is? She is already a "Woman" and she is WORKING me!

I'll have to give her credit, she is learning to "Work It" and she's doing pretty stinkin good.

I'll still miss her and her devious ways!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Golden Boy ???

Started a new approach this past week. I am constantly cleaning up the kitchen, house in general... take care of our yards, the neighbors next door and the front of the sub division. The laundry is never ending and lucky me I have three bathrooms to clean as well.

My seventeen year old son who doesn't work or seem to be able to pass his classes in school is my intended target with my new approach.

About five days ago, I just quit. I quit doing dishes or unloading the dishwasher. Dirty clothes piled up in the hampers and the dust just stayed where it was on all the tables and shelves. The bathrooms I ignored except the one on the first floor where people coming over to visit would go.

Day four into this new approach I hit pay dirt (Pun intended). Zach cleaned his entire room and cleaned the living room that he claims as his "Video Lounge." He organized all his video games , cords and controllers.

He then made the comment that there was dust every where. I casually said that I hadn't noticed. He asked how you dusted a room and did we have a duster? I told him several places to look, never getting off the den couch. He couldn't find a duster and I said that I kept a bucket full of cleaning supplies in the laundry room "Use the Murphy's Oil Soap spray bottle, it's good for any surface except glass."


After he cleaned the living room , he moved on to asking where I kept the vacuum cleaner. I told him (again from the couch) where to look.

The door bell rang and it was the next door neighbor's son wanting Zach to help him go dump some scrap metal . They took the frame for my trampoline that I had taken apart because so many springs had broken off. One more thing done for me!

I left for work while they were gone, went to pick Massey up at guard camp after I got off and came back home. Zach immediately shouted out from another room "Mom, I vacuumed the whole house and the dishes are done."

Let 'em live in squalor for a few days and they suddenly realize that maybe they should help out. They are lazy but not stupid. Zach can't gripe about how the house is falling apart because his only apparent job is keeping the sofa warm and eating six times a day. He WANTS to, but he knows he has no line of defense. He scrubbed all three bathrooms...not really good , but the attempt was there and at least they looked a little better.

Suddenly this concept has inspired him. Suddenly he has grand plans for the living room closet, still full of board games from long ago. Candy Land, Hi Ho Cherrio, Mouse Trap and several Monopoly games. Some are missing pieces, others just haven't been played in ten years.

He boastfully guides me through the house every time I come home now and points out his latest completed task.

I finally realized that I was killing myself like I did when all three kids were young over ten years ago. I work six days a week, always have. I am a pretty good mom I think... but my kids have seemed to forgotten that I'm not having to wipe their butts anymore and they can touch the dials on the stove now without having their hand slapped.

Dang, I should have done this five years ago. All I have to do with Massey is threaten her with taking her out of her many social clubs and activities if she doesn't help, but the boys are another thing. I have finally found that with them, reverse psychology is very effective. Let 'em not have their favorite footies clean when they want them or their favorite fork for dinner clean. Let them realize what a poor shot they are with their penis when they are urinating ... You would be amazed at how quickly that yellow spatter shows up around the toilet rim.

They don't clean the way I would do it, but I look at it this way..."My job is half done for me!"

I was totally wiped out this morning. I left the house yesterday at ten in the morning and didn't stop to sit down or eat until ten thirty at night.

Zach sits around all day and has a lot more time to see the dirt build up than I do. He has finally found that sitting in a clean house is a heck of a lot better than sitting in a dirty one.

He asked me tonight before he went up to bed if I could show him how to do the laundry tomorrow. He said he just wasn't sure when to use bleach or where it went.

I already have an index card with explicit instructions for washing hot or cold, where to pour the fabric softener and when to add bleach...ready to be taped above the washer.

I asked him tonight what I should blog about and he said "Write about how much I am helping out around the house."

He was puffed up with pride and I said I would title it "Golden Boy." He said he felt "Platinum" was more appropriate. He can remain "Golden Boy' ...WITH a question mark.

As for me and my WAY too late new approach...I will be "Platinum Psychologist."

Ya know, I just have to start thinking on my kids level more often. It gets much better results.

Monday, July 20, 2009

The "REAL" Moon Walk

Had my one day off and started it at the high school with my daughter who started Guard camp today. Nine to nine, Monday through Friday out on the hot asphalt of the high school parking lot that has been painted like a football field.

I volunteered today since I had the day off (although I had a million other things to do.)

I met three other guard moms (who are stay at home moms.) After two hours of listening to them talk about their relatives, husbands and in laws..I knew I wasn't really needed all that much . I left to go get Massey some lunch, came back and ate with her. I stayed a while and then said I had to go to the grocery store and post office and would be back to bring her dinner. Had she said "Why aren't you staying?" I would have stayed the entire time, but since she was okay with it and the "Real Housewives of Coweta County" seemed to have it covered..I slipped off.

I work in my yard for sometimes five hours and get no sunburn. Sitting doing nothing for two hours I was roasted. Even my lips are sunburned. At least now I have figured out that all I have to do is drive to the school about three times a day and spend an hour or so each time...just in case.

The reason we are there (supposedly) is in the case of an emergency or if something out of the ordinary happens. I hope neither does, but I am okay going up several times a day, always asking the "Housewives" if they need me to bring anything back or if there is something else I can do.

So far it is a win win situation. I am doing my part and I am making it as painless as possible.

My husband just walked through the door from picking her up at nine and it seems there were no rumors about the "run away mom."

I have found my niche with this group. Just show up every day and ask if there is anything I can do, if there is I will do it gladly. If everything is okay I will go back to my own life for a few hours, work a shift and come back to claim my kid.

Talk about "One step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

All that these organizations need is some kind of effort on the part of every parent and I am down with that!

I will be there every day this week, just at different times and when I can fit it into my work schedule.

But ya know, that is all that is needed to make it a well run system. It's the parents that just can't seem to squeeze in an hour a week to help out that put a kink into things.

I mean if we are paying over $700.00 for our girls to be a part of this group. I for one, want to see it in there every step of the way and get the most enjoyment I can for forking over almost a thousand dollars (after wind suits, undergarments and other equipment.)

I am just happy to know that they are a friendly group...all they want is SOME help. I can do that!

SEGUE... I used to call this "Anyhoo".

Can you believe that a man walked on the Moon forty years ago? How did time fly by so quickly and where did it go? I remember us all huddled around our black and white TV with the aluminum foil wrapped on the rabbit ears for better reception.

When I was a kid we had one TV and one phone in our house. The TV was as big as a love seat. The phone was a black rotary dial hanging on the wall in the kitchen. As far as video games go... we had Atari. Man , was that fun batting that little ball back and forth with our straight line paddle! As you got better you could speed it up to another level . I don't think we ever had a push button phone, but I always loved using the one at my friend's houses and was always amazed at how fast they could punch in the numbers. Me, I fumbled around looking for the next number and just couldn't get that rapid dialing technique down like they did.

In our house now , we have five televisions...all with cable. We have four telephones, a computer in the downstairs and my daughter has a lap top. We all have cell phones. If you had told me forty years ago that I would have all of this in my house when I was grown, I would assume that I was going to grow up to be a millionaire... especially if you told me I would have a riding lawn mower parked in my garage as well. Heck , even having a garage would have impressed me almost as much.

I am not rich. I am far from it, but I am blessed.

Went to see my co worker tonight (this blog is a two day long post) at The Sheperd Center. The girl is looking great! She finally got the cast off of her leg and is coming home on Saturday. I asked her if she was X'ing off the days on her white board in her room and she said she was. Her younger brother is here from Michigan and he noticed that she was a day behind in marking off the days. She said she was glad to be going home and felt bad about the way she had treated some of the nurses when she first arrived. She said she had apologized to every one of them ... I told her they were most probably used to reactions like that from patients when they first arrive. I told her the nurses probably had a mark off calendar counting down her release as well in their nurses station !!

If a man can walk on the Moon forty years friend can walk out of that hospital on Saturday and be on cloud nine. She has a great family support system and people sending up prayers every day on her behalf. I told her tonight that she has given me a new perspective on life and has inspired many, many people.

I am going to see Frances tomorrow in her new digs at the Rehabilitation center. Today at work, "The Girls From the Home" (see previous post) came in to eat with me. They are from an Alzheimer's Home and are quite a hoot. At least this visit they all kept their granny panties on. One of them did slip an appetizer plate in her purse as she passed a table on the way out of the door. Hey, if it makes her day a little brighter, I would give her a stack of them! But she was happy with her one little stolen plate and they all thanked me like I had just given them all a massage and pedicure. While they were eating I chatted with the nurse that had brought them and told her that my father's cousin had been sent to a certain rehabilitation center and asked if she knew anything about that particular place. She said it was a great place and was where they sent their own residents for re hab. That made me feel better about Frances being in her new temporary home.

Men walked on the Moon forty years ago... and my co worker and cousin are making just as great an achievement every day.

God has blessed them both and made my life richer just being able to witness them healing and getting stronger every day. They both could not have impressed me more if they had walked on the Moon themselves.

The inspiration these two women have exuded has shown me that landing on the Moon and making a miraculous recovery from a devastating downfall can be just as amazing and much more satisfying.

Sunday, July 19, 2009 Least it is for me

Just finished my work week...WHEW!

These Sunday shifts just kill me. It wasn't really busy which makes it seem even longer and harder. Lots of goofy customers (at least we had a few laughs behind the scene at our customers expense.) You have to takes the perks where you can get them. Like the man who refused to verbally ask for more coffee. He just jiggled his cup in the air like a Shriner with his bucket at an intersection. The server would lean down with his hands on his knees and ask pointedly "Would you like some more coffee?" If he just waved his cup again, the server would say "Now, it that regular of decaf?" It's like some people just hate having to acknowledge that we are someone they have to actually look at or speak to . So we servers make a point of MAKING them have to look us in the eye or make them respond to questions with words and not head gestures or hand motions. Boy... that is a satisfying feeling. I take my fair amount of grief from people when something goes wrong at a table, but if you want to treat me like a grunt for no apparent reason or humiliate me just for a power trip, be sure NOT to ask for my table. As I have stated many times before... I have my PHD in BS , treat me badly for no reason and you are fighting a losing battle. Sometimes I am so good at it, I have them eating out of my hand before it is over and feeling bad about the way they treated me initially...leave me a really good tip to boot!

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE me some reverse psychology !!

I made three times what the other closing server made...nothing to do with her as a server, I just got lucky and had regulars come in ; Got a couple of other really Phat tips from people you would never think to expect it from.

There was the family of four with parents that had tattoos on every visible part of their exposed body. At least I knew what they would be giving their kids on their seventeenth birthdays...a "sleeve" for both arms ! They were nice though and when they paid they said to keep the change. Their tab was $74.00 and he gave me a Hundred.

You just never know in this business. I like it because it is like a play. You can go to the same play over and over again, but since it's a live performance it will be different each time.

I meet new people, wait on old friends and have made new friends. I have learned to dread certain customers and learned to genuinely love others.
My hours are generally short shifts and I walk out with a paycheck every night I work.

I can put up with a few idiots for that, especially if they are paying my bills. If you didn't meet the really bad people would forget how lucky you actually are .

It's like a job, therapy and acting all tied up with a bow called "Sales and Marketing."

At least I am off tomorrow and can just be a "MOM." That's the role I really like to play.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Couple of Updates

My father's cousin , Frances was moved to a rehab center this past week. After open heart surgery and two other major surgeries in less than a week... she is amazing! So full of life and so upbeat. The rehab is close enough to my house that I can go visit her in less than thirty minutes. My sister went the other day and took this picture. I am so glad that she has come through all that has been thrown her way. Sometimes when people are getting older they seem to give up in the face of adversity. She seems to rise to each challenge and has a positive attitude each step of the way. I certainly hope that I have a lot of her genes in me! I have been too busy with my own things to go and see her, but am going this week to see her and visit "a spell" as she would most probably say.

My young co worker that is in the Sheperd Center is going to be released on the 25th. She then begins a six month out patient therapy five days a week at the Sheperd Center. Her aunt sent out an email that broke my heart and made me say an immediate prayer to God for my three healthy kids. Although my friend is 21...Frances will most probably make a full recovery before my co worker does.

Not to downplay the wonderful progress that she has made...just that people at work don't realize the extent of what a brain injury can do and how it can be a daily struggle just to get through the rigorous physical therapy when your brain is not working to it's full capacity.

Oh, people at work ask how she is and want updates. But what my FRIEND wants is to be visited. Every one has an excuse for not going. If it was any other employee that had been in a car friend who is sitting now in a wheelchair would have been the first person to go and visit them..and not just once but most probably every day.

I think that they feel like since she has made it this far she must be "OKAY" and will just wait to give her a hug when she comes back to work. I am no doctor, but I can tell you that if you wait to give her a hug when she walks through our door at work, you will be waiting one to two years.

If you visit her once you may not notice the change so dramatically. If you visit her like I have you notice the inconsistencies and sometimes the more you visit the more your heart breaks. I have three kids that I love more than life and if any one of them were in this situation, I would be a basket case.

I know I am older and that I work with mainly youngsters...but this is a wake up call. My friend is a youngster as well and this could happen to any person at any given time. Just a random freak of events that have altered this girl's life in a huge and catastrophic way.

It's always some excuse or reason.

My own life is in a mess right now, but to go see this girl is not a chore. It is an act that makes me feel blessed, makes me see the total picture of how lucky I have been in life.

My seventeen year old son wants to go with me and Massey tomorrow to see her. That should give her brain a good does for me. My friend , in some of her wandering talk has mentioned (several times) how she just had to have a Sham Wow. I guess she was watching TV late at night in the hospital and the infomercial has just stuck with her. She has talked about the Sham Wow every time I have been to see her. Massey got her one the last time we went to Walmart and has it all wrapped up in pink and purple tissue paper with a ribbon. We are taking it to her tomorrow along with a hot dog from the Varsity .

I am printing off an email that her aunt sent and posting it on the wall at work. If that doesn't get them up there to see her...they must just be heartless, not young and unaware of the definition of friendship as I have been assuming.

Yes this girl is better.

Yes she is improving.

Yes it will be at least two years before she has made it to the point of recovery...and only then will we know how much of our old friend we will have back.

At least we still have her.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Sound of Silence

I am sitting out back in my little world that I enjoy beyond belief.

Worked the day shift, came home and took Massey shopping for her "necessary" items for Guard camp next week. Went to BJ's and bought a hundred pound bag of dog least it felt that heavy heaving it into the car. Grilled tuna steaks and talapia and made a hash brown casserole. Put another load of endless laundry in the washer and went out back with my book (currently an Anne Tyler selection).

The cicadas and frogs are chirping and croaking. I have the radio on a public radio station (88.9 just to plug them cause they are GREAT.) They play all classic rock and oldies. When is the last time you heard "Stone in Love With You" by the Stylistics or "One Toke Over the Line" on the radio?

If you live in the Atlanta southern is the greatest thing to happen to music lovers.

Just tonight I heard songs I remember from the skating rink (Seasons in the Sun)... "We had joy we had fun, we had seasons in the sun"...the East Point swimming pool... "Brandy" and songs that I remember my older siblings listening to. I like a radio station that still plays "American Pie"... "Me and Bobby McGee" and even "Brick House."

Am I getting old or am I trying too hard not to?

In the words of my almost fourteen year old daughter "WHATEVER."

I got a lot of things done around the house and yard and ended up on the back porch with a good book, a cold beer and time to myself...listening to music that not only takes me back but makes me feel grateful that I was a part of it. I mean REALLY...who plays Carole King on the radio anymore? If I hear them play Janis Ian's "At Seventeen" I might cry. At least I will know EVERY word ...

This May Go Into Overtime...

Just got home from work and I am irritated .

Really, I had a good night at work. I started training a girl who I could tell from the first five minutes would make a good addition to our store. We were busy and that is always a good thing, but when you train a new hire you want them to see how the "CRUNCH" really unfolds and how immediate our job can be when it is busy. Three minutes makes a huge difference at a table many times.

Before I went into work, I went to the "PO- Leese" department to pick up my new alcohol permit. Don't even let me get started on what a waste of money these are and a slush fund for the city. I lost mine and had to pay another $25 ...even though I renewed mine in January (they are good for a year.)

This was my sixth visit to the ...let's be generous and call it a 'Precinct.'

The idiot behind the luckily bullet proof glass told me that I had come at the wrong time. She and a co worker were chatting and I guess that pressing a button or two was just more than they could handle. The last time I went she asked me how I wanted to pay and I told her I had paid over two weeks ago and was just waiting to pick up my permit. She told me to come back to have my picture taken and I told her she could use the old photo.

Of course they can't!!

I have to return tomorrow at nine in the morning to have my picture taken. Dang, did I fill out the application for Secret Service Agent?

By the time I actually receive my permit...I may be standing in line for next year's. I told my husband that it was like visiting the Mayberry Sheriff's office and finding Andy and Barney had gone fishing and left Floyd and Goober in charge.

Then I go in and train a new hire. She is an on the ball girl. She doesn't try to over do it...maybe she could but she shows patience with my tired ole half century old body and actually let's me train her.

We got pounded for a Wednesday night and she was extremely helpful to me and the entire shift.

When I train, I do not get paid any extra money. They let me be exempt from polishing and rolling silverware...usually a count of about 80 sets of silver. It is a pain the the butt, and no one likes doing it. I also get a training meal. After the shift, we sit down and each get a meal that I discuss and describe to them, and they get to taste several varieties of our menu. The first night you each get a fillet Mignon. The next night you each get either of two grilled chicken dishes that we have. The third night you each get any burger or sandwich. The last night you each get a kids portion of ribs with any dessert you choose.

Tonight when I ordered our steaks...the bartender who rings up training meals remarked that we had to "Share" one single meal. Per orders from the corporation who bought our company out last October.

Heck, this is mid July. I have trained probably seven people since then and this was the first that I had heard.

ANYHOO...this part is being written by me the NEXT night...I warned you it might go into overtime!

I went to the Mayberry jail to pick up my alcohol permit this morning. She chirpily said "It'll just be a minute!!"

After sitting in a chair for forty five minutes, the Asian woman in front of me in the que, went into their 'mysterious secret room' to have her ID scanned with her photo and spat out of the other end of their fancy dancy alcohol permit making do thingy.

I heard computer rebooting, drives opening, film being changed (they were talking about what could possibly be wrong with the machine.) After thirty minutes the Asian woman came back out and sat with me. She said "The machine no working." I gave her a sad shake of my head and told her I heard. She asked me "Why it take so long?" I replied as honestly as I could and simply said "Because they are idiots."

The desk clerk that I was coming close to hating came bouncing out of the room and said "I just don't know what to tell you. This machine is so big and bulky...way too complicated if you ask me... have you SEEN how big that thing is?"

I told her "No, I haven't gotten that far along in the process yet." She told me since I had already made a couple of trips there she would go ahead and take my picture on the digital camera and I could come by before I went into work and she could have it ready for me.

I was so ticked when she took my picture... but at least she didn't say "CHEESE!"

I left (again) over an hour early for work to go get my "Golden" Id card.

Ya damn straight it was ready! I think after she saw my photo on the card...she knew she was close to having me really go off on her. It is hands down the worst picture I have ever taken. I came home tonight and told my daughter to check out my ID card. I told her I was so mad when they took it that it was the worst picture I had ever taken. She said "I bet you looked like THIS"...and put an expression on her face that made me feel like I was looking into a mirror at my own self whenever I open one of Zach's report cards or when my oldest son TJ calls with news (always bad.) Thank the Lord Massey can't see my expression when I read some of her "Important" texts she sends me in the middle of a busy shift. At least she always includes a smiley face made with punctuation marks.

Is the "Mother is REALLY pissed" look actually that obvious ? And if it is, why doesn't it work more often with my kids?

At least it worked with the idiot at the police department.

Obviously it worked with my managers as well.

They informed me at work tonight that the company was strictly following the rules now and I had to split a meal with my trainee.

I replied that if we were strictly following the rules, I would go get the server training manual (that none of them have ever looked at) and show them where it said pertaining to trainer meals:

Day Two: Fillets

Day Three: T- Bone or New York Strip

Day Four: Rack of Ribs, appetizer and dessert

It was amazing. The general manager said "Let's just keep it the way we had it."

I feel like if the trainees see that the company is already trying to rip them off before they ever get on the floor (it ain't helping our cause)...What kind of trade is a burger or sandwich for a rack of ribs, appetizer and dessert? I feel like saying "Welcome to corporate ."

But at least I got MY meals back. It fed Massey tonight...although after that impression of me I should have made her eat Spaghettios, not the fillet I brought her home tonight since they stiffed me on it last night.

All in all it turned out to be a good day... as long as I don't look at my pic on my ID card.

Monday, July 13, 2009

All Better Now

Took Zach to the doctor this morning. My low cost clinic had a $100.00 co pay. $50.00 for each additional procedure. So much for low cost. Heck I could have taken him to the emergency room over the weekend for that much!

I think I threw up a little bit in my mouth when the nurse told me it was a $100 just to get to see the doctor. I was too embarrassed to leave so I paid the co pay and waited . I was just hoping the doctor didn't come in and announce there was a brand new procedure for cleansing poison oak and another procedure that he could do as well to help with my son's acne.

He prescribed a shot of cortisone and a two week supply of steroids. It sounds ridiculous but I was already wondering if the shot was considered "another procedure" and if he would count writing a prescription yet another one.

Nurse "Ratchett' came in with a filled syringe and told Zach she needed a cheek. My sweet boy looked earnestly at her and tilted his chin up and turned his face to one side. She replied that she needed the other cheek so he turned his face the other way.

She told him she meant the OTHER cheek, and running out of options quickly, Zach said "My butt?" She nodded and he asked which one...she said it was his pick.

I guess I should have waited in the waiting room, but for $100 plus bucks I thought I may as well come along and Zach didn't seem to mind. I was giggling so hard by then that I had already turned away and spared him anymore discomfort.

The nurse said the prescription had already been called in and when we followed her out of the exam room I kept thinking she would say "That will be $50.00 for the shot."

Lucky for me the shot came with the initial co pay. But a two minute exam and a shot in the butt for a $100.00... Dang, what are they charging for cancer these days?

But about an hour later he was feeling so much better that he remarked he didn't realize how miserable he was til he started to feel better.

The steroid cost $52.00 even with my $9.00 "Publix feels sorry for people without insurance discount." At least they gave me one though and I was grateful.

I told my husband when I got home that I was going to the DFACS office tomorrow and signing up both my minor children for Peachcare. I have been working and paying taxes since I was fifteen years old. My husband is out of work and we are out of insurance. I will stand in line with the masses and jump through the hoops, but then I can take my kids to their regular physicians and their regular dentist. I can get Zach back on his ADD meds, and take them both for a physical. It has been a while since they have had one and if anyone deserves to use this system is my family.

I don't plan on staying on it or abusing it, but it is in place for exactly these type of situations. It will be humbling to say the least, but I can do it easily for my children. They don't even have to know what I've done. It's not like they pay attention when I am paying the bill.

If poison oak costs $152.00 to get rid of...then we are ALL in trouble. But my kid is well and I can pick up one extra shift and have it covered. What I need to do is worry about covering them for the next time, til we get back on our feet.

Zach has thanked me about five times today since we got home and comes to show me every couple of hours how much better it looks and how much better it feels.

Guess I can take that powder Tide back and get a refund...six more bucks is better than nothing back in my pocket.

But my kid feels better and even if I had to pay too much, I did the right thing.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Spreading Like Wildfire

My son's poison Oak is spreading like wildfire. I am just trying to get him through the weekend and will take him to the doctor tomorrow. Bless his heart he has been really good about it (considering it was my request he do some yard work for me.)

It is all over his stomach and chest...arms and legs too. He takes at least four Aveeno baths a day and has been through three tubes of cortisone. There is a low cost clinic near me that I can take him to ...and plan to be waiting when they open the doors. Thank the Lord he bites his nails other words he doesn't have any nails. At least he hasn't been able to draw blood and all the rashes are closed. I need to remind him NOT to bite them now...Pete's sake, something ELSE to worry about! I already gave him the "Handwash really good BEFORE peeing or you'll REALLY be sorry."

I've been lucky since we lost our medical insurance. All my kids have been happy and healthy and God has kept them all safe from illness and harm.

Of course they find other ways to make money are good at that, but at least they've been well.

I feel bad because I am the cause of Zach's need for a doctor. He DID do a really good job in the yard though and when he came down with the rash I decided to pay him for his work. I also wanted to show him how much I appreciate him letting me try a dozen or two home remedies and wive's tales on him before taking him to a real doctor (bless his pea pickin' heart, I know he's been miserable.)

My sister tried banana peels for her poison ivy, my manager at work said bleach in his bath water...oatmeal and vinegar paste and a friend said on facebook to let him wash with Tide powder detergent.

A regular of mine came in to eat tonight. She is a pediatric nurse so I sat down and told her about my 'cherry' red boy. She immediately said I had to take him to the doctor for a shot , if it got in his blood stream he could end up in the hospital (something ELSE to worry about.) I told her all the home remedies I had tried and told her that a friend suggested him washing himself in powder Tide.

I wish you could have seen the look on her face.

It reminded me of the look I got from my pediatrician when she took off Massey's diaper during a routine physical and saw that I had a quarter taped over her belly button with a band aid. When I was at work, a sweet ole SOUTHERN mother of three was watching Massey in her own home, along with Zach and TJ . When I picked Massey up the first day the kids went to her, she commented that Massey had an "OUTY" and not an "INNY."

She told me that her mother's aunt's cousin always said to tape a quarter over the baby's belly button and it will make an "OUTY" an "INNY." So I stopped on the way home and bought some band aids and kept that quarter on her belly button just as faithfully as I kept the heart monitor strapped to her little four pound body.

When I took Massey in for a check up and the doctor saw the quarter taped over my infant's belly button...the look on her face was pretty impressive. I didn't know eye brows could go up that high!

She was very sweet to me. She's from India originally ...I absolutely love her to death and she has seen all three of my kids... Massey and Zach from the day they were born. She said " Oh Missus Cotton.. you really need to take that off of her belly button, Massey will be just fine without it ."

She was right. Massey turns fourteen next month and has a really cute belly button...and it's not an "OUTY."

I used to run to the doctor for every symptom with my kids. Then as they started to grow up and I realized how hearty and resilient they were..."Wive's tales and home remedies" started having an appeal.

I would NEVER endanger my children and have been through a couple of operations (tubes) for Massey's ears, a couple of bone breaks and always trips for stitches with the two boys.

It's kind of like the "Pacifier" evolution.

When you have your first baby and they drop their precious pass rush to boil water.With the second you run it in under hot water and with the third you stick it in your own mouth . Thank goodness I only have three kids... if I'd kept on like Octu Mom ... by now I would be letting one of the dogs lick what is obviously their own dog hair off and feeling it was a win win situation.

I know when to throw in the towel though and this is one of those times. At least when I take him and the doctor comes in, he won't have a quarter taped to his belly button... he will just most likely drop to his knees and say " Doctor, please help me ... FOR REAL."

Special thanks to my boy for at least letting me try...sorry it took me so long to give up.


Friday, July 10, 2009

A Good Day

Just got home from the Sheperd Center, visiting a friend.

She was much better today and has obviously developed a talent for cursing! I made this comment to her...number one because I have never heard her curse and number two because I felt she NEEDED to curse.

She feels lost in a jumble of feelings... memories and pain.

I harassed two other servers into going to the hospital as well and we all sat around and laughed and talked. Many times my friend lapsed into repetitiveness and mentioned the same thing over and over, but we all acted like it was the first time we had heard it and even knew the ending to the story she was telling and had time to find a new and different response.

What is important here is that we are helping fill in the gaps she seems to be having. She is aware that she has a brain injury...I told her that the fact that she KNOWS she has a brain injury is a good sign. If it was That severe she wouldn't even know it.

It will be a long road to recovery. It may be that she makes a full one...that is what we are praying for.

It may be that she comes back a little different. We will have our friend back, but it may be a new friend that we all have to get to know again.

She sometimes gets agitated and begins to feel anger (who wouldn't) but then a minute later is the old demure friend that is just happy we are there.

What is important my opinion (not exactly professional) is that we support this girl, go see this girl...and pray for this girl.

I was working at lunch today when I waited on a table ... a young woman with a two year old in a high chair. She told me she was my friend's aunt...the woman my friend was living with when she had her accident. It felt so good to hug her neck.

I expected her to be a dowdy mole faced "AUNTIE" . I guess that's what happens when you are almost fifty and hear someone say they are living with their aunt.

Not the case here....a beautiful young woman with a little boy so full of life it seemed he wanted to jump out of his highchair and begin to rule the world at that exact minute. (Good luck when he is previous posts).

Her gratitude amazed me. "Ole Auntie" Thank you very much.

It has been an experience. I had never been to the Sheperd Center before this accident. When I went the first day I was guided to the "GYM" aka the dining hall. It almost broke my heart. There were people there that I knew without any training...were at their peak.

They are in wheelchairs, they are paralyzed...they are just existing.

My friend has an outlook that I feel good about. She may not be the same ole friend...but she will be mobile, she will walk out of this center a person that can cope.

I find myself ready to stay friends with the people that are left at the Sheperd Center. It has touched me the way that nurses recognize me from bringing them chili dogs from the Varsity. The way the security guy remembers me bringing him fried pies, the way that they treat their patients. They genuinely care about our loved ones and give them the great respect that they deserve.

I have my weekend all mapped out. A trip to Crawford Long to visit my distant cousin and a visit back to my young friend...she is starting to be a hoot as she recovers her capacities.

She is getting downright "Ballsy".

That is what I like to see. To lay down and give up is an awful protest... want to move on and advance is a sign of improvement in my mind.

I have GOT to get my friend a "SHAM WOW". She talked about it for thirty minutes today. I guess she wants to give the entire unit at Sheperd a thorough cleaning or that is the last thing that has stuck in her head. Either way my fourteen year old daughter told me that our next door neighbor has bought one and they are pretty amazing. If all it takes is a Sham wow and a hot dog from the Varsity to make her the words of Emerill...BAM!!

I think we just kicked it up a notch.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another Day

Took the kids out for lunch and had to stop by Target to get some cortisone for Zach. He cleaned out my island in the front yard and has a patch of poison oak on his belly. On his 27 inch waist it looks huge, but I want to keep it under control.

The pharmacist looked at it and told me to get Aveeno cortisone. She said that he should take Claritin as well. Zach said in his usual dead pan voice "Do you think xannax would help?"

I commented maybe it would help his mother, and thankfully the pharmacist laughed. Zach watches 'Jack Ass' too much. He's a good kid, but the things my kids say trying to be funny....WHERE DO THEY GET IT FROM?

We went to find Massey who was shopping for a new purse the size of a carry on bag. She had called me twice on my cell phone while I was talking to the pharmacist...I didn't answer either call. For Pete's sake she was eight aisles over! She had gotten a gift card from a friend and was itching to use it.

As I wheeled the buggy toward the purse aisle I told Zach that the first bag she showed us to say "Man, I really like THAT one." I DID have to be at work in two hours and we both knew how Massey shopped. The minute I said the words to Zach, I heard Massey from the next aisle say dryly "I heard that."

She picked out her bag and we got in line. I had Mr. Funny aka Zach scan my debit card while I packed up our bags. Massey conveniently forgot to give me her gift card ...she got lucky, my cousin and her two little girls got in line behind us and I started chatting with them. Haven't seen them in a while and I got sidetracked. Plus when she said her mom really enjoyed reading my blog, I felt so stunned that I forgot to get Massey's gift card from her.

I guess that I've always just thought I was the only person that really 'enjoyed' my blog. I mean I did it for myself...I love to write, in this cyber age of texts, emails and just feels good to me to create a written word version of the way I am feeling. I often go back and re read posts I have done. Sometimes I will laugh as I remember that funny thing that happened...or I will cry as I remember my parents reading another one.

I know people read my blog...somehow I just felt like they were doing it to be nice (which I totally appreciate) or maybe out of pity ! (just kiddin'....I HOPE)

It seems like something happens every day in my life that is so worth writing about...I just can't help but to write it down.

Take for example when Massey and I were riding up the interstate to Atlanta. People flying at the speed of sound...the car in front of us swerves between the emergency cones off to the side of the highway that is being paved. His hood has not only opened...but has flattened back against his windshield. I am sure the windshield had to be cracked in a million pieces. Here this guy was going 70 MPH and WHAM!! If that had happened to me I don't know if I would have the nerve to swerve over and stop. I would freak out and probably have a coronary on the spot.

The guy made it safely from the fast lane over to the shoulder where they were currently working with the hood of his car obstructing any possible view.

Dang! I was impressed and so was Massey. We always seem to see something unbelievable on the interstate...I am not sure if that is good or bad.

Til next time, Cotton

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just Do It

Went to work today and everyone wanted to know about our co worker who is in the Sheperd Center.

If you want to know...she is not in Florida anymore. She is forty minutes away from you in downtown Atlanta, sitting in a wheelchair waiting for a familiar face to walk in.

My father's cousin (in her seventies) who I went to see yesterday as well in a neighboring more in control of her faculties than our 21 year old co worker.

Had this have happened to any other employee...she would be the first person to walk in the hospital room with a bunch of balloons and a smile on her face.

Instead she is forty minutes away from almost 100 people that work with her...and hundreds and hundreds of miles away from her home in Michigan.

I know that several co workers are planning to go see her...but "DO IT NOW."

At the most it will take two hours out of your day.

She needs to have recent friends and co workers jog her memory. It took me about fifteen minutes to get through to her...but I DID.

I have a son two years older than her and he is a nightmare to us sometimes with his stories, reasons and explanations...but he can run a mile in no time, can swim like a fish and seems like he could be a Rhodes Scholar (not happening, but he COULD).

This 21 year old girl is sitting waiting for another therapy session. She is battling to make herself whole again...and people can't even be bothered to drive into the city to see her.

I think my guilt is working at work!

I hope it does. With an outpouring of familiar faces and conversations that can maybe help her remember some of the recent past, she may be helped . If she isn't...YOU will be.


I hope with my ranting that my co workers will go see this young girl who was ready to take the world by the tail three weeks ago... I found her yesterday sitting in a wheelchair waiting on one of US to come by.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Massey and the "BUBBLE" of Life

When I got off from my lunch shift I went home and picked up Massey and we headed into downtown Atlanta.

My father's cousin, Frances had a triple bypass and two other operations within the past week. She looks GREAT! Still as sharp as ever and in great spirits. Her niece (I believe) was there with her and was a pleasure to finally meet. She acted as if she had known us all of her life and made us feel right at home. The hospital seems to be giving Frances excellent care and I was amazed at how good she looked and seemed to feel. Not one complaint came out of her mouth the entire visit. I think a good mind set is some of the greatest medicine there is, therefore Frances is well on the road to a full recovery. Massey and I both promised to come see her when she is moved to a rehabilitation home here on the south side and told her to let us know anytime she needed anything.

After that we drove on up Peachtree to the Sheperd Center. A young girl who works with me was in a car wreck driving to Tampa to visit friends. She was temporarily paralyzed on the left side of her body. The wreck was over three weeks ago and she has just been moved to the Sheperd Center. She was in the recreation room when we got there. She was sitting by herself at a table in her wheelchair, waiting for her dinner.

When you walk into a recreation room at the Sheperd Center, you immediately realize how very lucky you are. It is at BEST heart breaking. Young kids, teenagers and adults all facing tremendous challenges and obstacles. The staff is incredible and I know that she is in the right place, it just breaks my heart that she has to be there at all. Security is really tight, you have to sign in with security before even going up to the floors. I know that it is a great facility and she is in excellent and caring hands.

She seemed not to really recognize me at I jokingly said "Hey, It's me... KELLY from work!" She weakly said "hey." When I quickly recovered from the shock of seeing such a spirited and vivacious 21 year old sitting in a wheelchair, I plowed right on talking (because that's what I do) and she seemed to come around. It just takes a few seconds for her to absorb and process information and I really do talk too fast. I told her all the work gossip and caught her up on things. She started to perk up and I could see the old her coming out. They placed her dinner in front of her and we watched her pick at her macaroni and cheese and totally avoid the lame piece of broiled fish. I told her Massey and I were going to the Varsity to eat, and we could bring her back something.

Massey and I were even MORE shocked to hear that this poor girl had never eaten at the Varsity!! It is almost criminal to live in Atlanta and NOT eat at the Varsity. I told her what all they had and she said she liked hot dogs. I told her about their great onion rings and famous "PC" (plain chocolate) ....the best chocolate milk I have ever had. She seemed up for it so I headed back to the nurse's station to see if it would be okay to bring her back some food. The nurse said she had her feeding tube out now and was on a regular diet. I told her I was going to the Varsity...I wouldn't call it's food a regular diet, but the nurse said it would be okay. Another nurse perked up and said how she loved their hot dogs. Another asked if they still had F.O.s (frosted orange) I told her they did and we would bring them chili dogs and an F.O as well.

We headed back down to security , asking the guard if we had to sign out if we were just going to get a patient some food. He said we did and I told him we were just going back down Peachtree St. to the Varsity. He said he liked naked dogs. That is the terminology used at the Varsity for a plain hot dog. I told him we were getting the nurses some and we would get him one too (they are only $1.84). In 'Varsity speak' I said "One naked dog walking." At the Varsity that means one plain hot dog to go. He said quickly, "You know, don't even bother to sign out, just go on and go...and don't you DARE get me a peach pie." The Varsity is famous for their fried pies as well.

Massey and I scooted back down Peachtree St. to the Varsity and ate in the car..."The World's Largest Drive In" (another fun fact about the Varsity.)

We had the NICEST car hop . A friendly smiling guy that just catered to us like we were sitting at a table for two in The Four Seasons. After he took our order, Massey said "He is my favorite here...we should always ask for him."

When he came back with our huge to go bag for the Sheperd Center, I paid and gave him an $8.00 tip.

You would have thought I had just handed this man a hundred dollar bill. I mean with me and Massey eating and food for the patient, the nurses and the security guard (don't you know we bought him that peach pie) the tab was around $37.00. I had bought my son and husband a couple of dogs and onion rings as well to take home. Dang though, I fed eight or nine people for $37.00. Not bad, and it made me feel good. I always tip at least is in my blood, especially when they make an effort to be nice. The crappy servers even get 15% from me...just to make them think "Hey, how much would she have left me if I had really tried?"

So we trudged back up Peachtree again with our Meals on Wheels.

The security guard had a replacement. He said the other had just stepped away for a minute, so I left his naked dog and peach pie with his partner.

The nurses couldn't believe it when we walked in with their chili dogs and F.O.

One of the nurses said we were her new best friends. I don't know if you have ever heard of the Sheperd Spinal Center in Atlanta, but it is a highly respected facility. Christopher Reeve went there after his accident. These doctors, nurses and therapists do some amazing things for their patients. If a hot dog from the Varsity makes them smile, I say my buying them a chili dog is tiny compared to what they do for these patients every day .

Finally we came back to my friend's room.

My friend liked the hot dog...scarfed it down in a New York minute, I held her chocolate milk to her lips with a straw and could see how good it tasted to her. We fed her onion rings and fries and gave her a napkin to wipe off her Varsity lip gloss. (Everything is greasy at the a good way if you ask me)

People have done so much for me over the past few months that it made me feel good to do something for someone else for a change.

Massey made the comment when we were first driving to Atlanta early this afternoon...she had a theory that her best friend's cousin proposed while in Myrtle Beach .

God and love are like a bubble. Some people have the bubble so tight around their body that you don't even notice it is there. Some people have a big enough bubble that you can actually see it. Some people's bubble is so huge that it covers them and everyone around.

On the way home in a beautiful twilight driving through downtown Atlanta (a really fabulous city) my daughter remarked that she felt like our bubble was pretty big right now. She said we visited Frances, met her niece and hopefully made them feel better, went to see my friend and made her feel better, met the nicest car hop (in her words "He was AMAZING") made his day giving him a well deserved great tip...made the security guard happy (when we left the Sheperd Center, we bumped into him coming around a corner with the hot dog stuffed in his mouth, carrying his peach pie on a plate) we made the nurses almost giddy...they were also cramming food in their mouths at the nurses station when we left and all smiled and thanked us.

Massey and I are going back to visit both our friends later this week. This time all the grease will go to Crawford Long Hospital for Frances' relatives who are staying with her. Sorry Frances, but after a triple bypass...I don't think the Varsity would help you would probably give you those three extra years of age I gave you in a past blog and possibly a clog. Maybe I will bring you an "F.O" how bad can a frozen orange drink be, even from the Varsity?

My bubble does seem to feel bigger and feels easier to breathe in.

My daughter can really know how to make me look at the big picture and see the beauty.

PAY IT FORWARD...a motto to live by.

Frances is doing amazingly well, despite being in her sixties (you're welcome Frances) on the road to a full recovery I am sure and has a great support group of family and friends. "A tough ole bird" as we say in the dissing the south that is a true compliment to a strong willed... minded... and independent woman.

My co worker is in one of the greatest facilities in the nation and I happen to be lucky enough to live outside of that city and can go see her often.

All in all...a good day for me and one that made me realize once again how truly lucky I really am .