Wednesday, March 31, 2010

May I take Your Order?

I thought you might all like to see a picture of me in my new uniform...the hat is my favorite part!

I studied for three hours today anticipating a test suitable for a Quantum Physics final.
I picked Zach up from school (Massey left with a friend) and he quizzed me from my index cards I made for my BIG TEST today. He massacred the Italian language but helped me out more than you could imagine. The wines were the hardest part and he had to correct me over and over again. I mean one wine has hints of black berries and plum...the next has hints of black cherries and mild tannins. The next one is crisp with pear and peach flavor and the next has a lingering finish or ends with a zing. Zach said I kept getting my adjectives mixed up and he was right. I finally nailed down all the house wines , where they were from and just had to be satisfied with that feat in itself.
The food was a bit easier. I made mental notes and ways to remember certain dishes. 'Tortellini Tricolore' has red white and green pasta...spinach, tomato and flour combined with red white and green ingredients...sun dried tomatoes, fresh basil and garlic cream sauce. Throw in the "double P's" Prosciutto and peas and THERE YA HAVE IT!
Some of the dishes are so similar that it boggles this ole brain but I have about three quarters of it down pat and can fake the other third til it all sinks in.
The owner's wife graded my test. In the words of my 17 year old son, "She knows her crap." She corrected me on a few points but said "Good enough...clock out as a trainee and clock back in as a server."
Thank goodness it was a slow shift. The weather was so nice I am sure many people grilled out or worked in their yards. It was a great night to learn how to do everything correctly and get a sense of actually waiting on customers myself.
I sold a bottle of wine to my first table. It was one couple who's tab came up to $58.00 and they left me an almost $13.oo tip.
The feeling of a family owned restaurant is something new to me but is totally refreshing and uplifting. The owner let me order anything I wanted off the menu tonight and I had the most delicious Chicken Fiorentina I have ever tasted...Chicken breasts sauteed in olive oil topped with spinach and fontina cheese, served on a bed of of linguine with Alfredo sauce.
At least working there I will be back up to my fighting weight in no time!
So I had myself all worked up over this least I am basically knowledgeable now about the products I am serving and can blunder through the rest learning it as I teach my customers and lead them (line by line) through the menu.
Yesterday was my day off and I met one of my regulars from my old restaurant at my NEW restaurant to have lunch (her treat...she's a sweetie.) I had a delicious pesto chicken sandwich. She had a meatball sub (homemade meatballs,YUMMY.) We had a wonderful two hour lunch and talked at length about my firing and my new hiring. She made me realize even more that this was a blessing from God and now I am in a friendly warm and loving environment where I can thrive, grow and be happy.
We have a long way to go but instead of spinning my wheels, they have finally hit the ground and with the help of my training wheels (people who have unselfishly helped us through this difficult time) I am getting traction again and moving forward with a smile and a sense of pride in my work.
BTW...did you know that our Pinot Noir has bright black cherry flavors with hints of tobacco and mint that allow a smooth silky texture? NOW YOU KNOW (and now so do I.)
I was in the kitchen at work tonight when the young Latino dishwasher came up to me and asked if I was Zachary's mom. He knows Zach from the high school and said Zach was one of the smartest kids he knew. I'm glad to know Zach is impressing someone with his knowledge...if I could just get him to share it with his teachers I'd have something going!
Back on track...moving forward and leaving yesterday behind...DANG it feels GOOD!
Til next time 100 percent COTTON

Monday, March 29, 2010

Worried...But in a Good Way

I am beginning to wonder if I am really a slow learner after all. I think I had best concentrate on being a fast cheater.

I want to be ready to go on the floor at work and start making money but am still apprehensive about the menu. I have starting thinking up ways I can cheat off the customer's know, kind of guide them through it pointing out things as I glance at the description and use the menu as a cheat sheet.

Then there's always the customers asking "What do you recommend?" My recommendations will be the three dishes I have memorized verbatim.
Three pasta dishes, three chicken dishes and three seafood entrees.

Besides the ones I have memorized I know my kids favorites at the restaurant and mine as well. Okay, so I know six dishes really well and three more I have committed to memory. I am pretty comfortable with about ten other dishes which only leaves me thirty more to memorize and feel comfortable with describing.

Then comes the part where I have to actually ring them into the computer correctly.

I have lost faith in myself as a server but have to regain faith in myself as a person.

I can DO this...I am at the point of "I think I can, I know I can."

Wish me luck as I take this plunge.

You can't fear what you haven't tried.

I will wake up tomorrow and forge ahead. Losing faith in yourself is just a stumbling block not an excuse.

What I lack in knowledge is not what I lack in persistence.

I am WOMAN, hear me roar..or at least meow, for now.

Wish me luck and thank you ALL for the overwhelming support.

Til next time a CAUTIOUS Cotton

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Starting to Smile Again

Just got home from work...waiting for Massey to get back from her state competition in Macon. I've got her room all neat and tidy ready for her to come home and dump all her bags in the now clean floor and start the mess all over again.

Work is amazing!

I had two different parties come in and ask about me tonight...what a boost to the ole bruised ego. The owners I work for are exactly the kind of people you would want to work for. They empower you to make decisions on your on regarding the customers and back you all the way.

It has been hard being a fifty year old newbie in a restaurant filled with servers my kid's age but they have all made me feel welcomed and my trainers seem pleased with my progress. Granted it isn't brain surgery but it is still nerve wracking just the same. They seem to all like me and that is refreshing in itself.

The new schedule came out tonight and they have me working six days next week...I was ELATED! The owner said "I didn't think you would mind me piling on the shifts" and he was OH SO RIGHT! Working six days a week at a job where it was obvious they didn't want you but wanted to have six days in which to criticize and belittle you compared to working six days at a job where they know you will work hard and feel fortunate to have you join their team is so totally mind blowing to me and just the thing I needed (financially and mentally.)

Last night I trained with a young girl that was really on the ball and showed me a lot of things I had been wondering about and let me do many things for myself just to get me more comfortable with the computer system and the menu.

Tonight I trained with a cute guy around my oldest son's age...again an on the ball server who makes every thing seem easy. I learned many new things and felt a lot more comfortable in speaking with the guests. He has feet the size of an air craft carrier and the patience of Job. I know I slowed him down quite a bit but he never complained...only prodded this ole gal along and once again I learned even more from him. When I got ready to leave he came up to me and gave me the tip from the table that had asked for me. I refused twice but on the third time stuffed it into my apron and felt like kissing him on the cheek. That's gas money for a week...if he ever needs a ride anywhere, he's GOT one! I have landed a great job with great people...who could want more? NOT ME...

I had forgotten how it felt to be happy at work.

In the words of Willie Nelson I am "On the road again." I should have made this move a year ago, before things got so negative in my professional and financial life. You can't go back though you can only move forward and finally I feel I am doing just that. If we can hang on for ONE MORE week I think everything will be okay...actually I KNOW it will.

My middle son and I went to the grocery store today with our gift cards and my clipped out coupons. With my coupons I saved almost $47 and the total bill was $87. I had $90 in gift cards and sailed out the door with a week's worth of groceries and three bucks to boot!

Food in the fridge, a job that I love and that seems to love me...friends taking care of and praying for me...what more could a person ask for?

Before you know it I will back to my old self...what a welcome relief THAT will be.

Til next time...Crackin' a smile COTTON

Friday, March 26, 2010

Missing My Girl

I just got home from work (Gee that sounds so GOOD to me.)
Tim has left for work, Zach is upstairs in his own little world and I sit here with three dogs wrapped around my feet already missing my girl who has only been gone nine hours. I miss my boys when they are gone but most of my spare time is spent with Massey right by my side if she is home. I've been lucky that Massey has always felt close to me and there aren't many things she doesn't share with me.
I try to remember if I was close to my mother when I was 14 but having to think hard about it lets me know I was not. Had I known when I was 14 that I only had 3 years left with her I would have stuck to her like glue but when you are 14 you don't think about death too much and it seemed to me being popular with my peers was much more important than being popular with my mother.
I think that losing my mother at such an early age is what makes me feel such a close bond with Massey. She is named after my mother, was born eighteen years to the day my mother died and is such a big part of me that if I didn't have her I would truly feel incomplete. Paraphrasing Jerry Maquire... "She completes me."
Don't get me wrong. I can get mad as a hatter with her...especially when I walk by her bedroom, which I call "Ground Zero." She is the biggest slob I have ever seen when it comes to her bedroom but when she walks out of it she is dressed and accessorized like she has a personal designer hidden in her closet. I don't know how she finds any thing in that room...sometimes you can't even tell if she has carpeting. She could go in there and rip the carpet up and it would never be noticed since you rarely ever see the actual floor. Her closet is makes "Ross Dress For Less" look meticulously organized.
She is like a female "Pig Pen" walking through the house, dropping bobby pins and leaving empty glasses , back packs notebooks or just wadded up pieces of paper in her wake. It's always easy to track her down...just follow the trail.
My boys say I spoil her and they are probably right. But after marrying a man, having two sons and a male dog I was READY to spoil by the time Massey made her early arrival into this world . Boys don't want to be spoiled, they want to be left alone.
She has been dramatic since she ruptured my placenta almost eight weeks early and came into my life weighing barely 4 pounds and causing me to lose almost 5 pints of blood...Talk about an entrance!
I love my boys...boys are so low maintenance, give them Pokemon cards and Legos when they are really young, rent them videos games when they reach the age of 8 and leave them alone after they hit 13.
My girl came into this world in a dramatic fashion and immediately found her niche.
I think that losing my own mother so young has drawn me to Massey in a way that makes me want to hold her as close as I can for as long as I can.
I miss her tonight, I started a new job and wanted to give her all the latest news...but she is in Macon at a competition. I usually never miss a competition but work had to come first and missing my girl fell into second place.
Last year at this time I was preparing to drive to Macon in the biggest torrent of rain I have ever been witness to (see previous post.)
Luckily she gets home tomorrow night...actually after midnight but I will be the first one in the parking lot of the school.
I will clean her room tomorrow before I go to work (already rented the back hoe) and will be so excited to just see her face looking at me as she walks to my car in the parking lot of the school.
My boys need me but act like they don't. My girl needs me and would be devastated if I wasn't there for every moment of her life.
I wouldn't have it any other way.
Boys are boys and girls are girls...but being a Mom RULES!
Till next time COTTON

Thursday, March 25, 2010


So as part of my training I had to work the hostess position tonight. Talk about a fish out of water!

I haven't done this type of job in almost 13 years...the last time was when I did it for training at my old store
(which will remain nameless to protect the innocent.)
After just two days at this new job and even though I haven't made a dime yet I already feel like I should send my old boss a "Thank You" note. I am nervous and have so much to learn but the atmosphere is that of "One big family" and they all act like it's a great thing to have me join them...not like the last job where I constantly felt like the "Red headed step child."
Granted getting fired could not have possibly come at a worse time and when you are already feels like a cheap shot to the ribs and leaves you actually physically aching from the blow.
After a complete mental and emotional melt down I have begun to see the daylight again.
With the help of God, family, friends, strangers and even anonymous donors my family is being taken care of while I get my feet wet again in another restaurant and my husband works two jobs and goes on interviews for a full time position.
I received an envelope today in the mail with a note simply reading "Praying for you and your family" with cash folded in with the note. I received a gift card from a grocery store with a beautiful card saying simply it was from an old high school class mate and Facebook friend. I got enough Chic fila cards to give the Cathy's a heart attack.
Yesterday I received a heart warming letter and generous gift from a server I used to work with. Battling difficulties in his own life he is supporting my family in their own time of need.
The feeling is over whelming and at times makes me feel guilty for taking these gifts.
At other times it makes me feel that this is my sign to help others even more than I have in the past and to live my life as a testament to the power of God and the power of true friendship and caring.
My husband has been amazing and is the one that shook me into action when I felt like staying under the covers and burying my head in self pity.
My middle son has stepped up to the plate and is an incredible help around the house and even passed all his classes this semester (the greatest gift he could give me.) He's my ace in the hole...smarter than Bill Gates and MUCH better looking, once he figures out he can't beat the system but needs to work it instead he will be just fine and end up being a tycoon that takes care of mama one day. My older son has helped even more by not moving back home again !
My daughter has begun to feel the pressure and the age of 14 compiled by being female is a drama fed combination in itself. I sat her down tonight and told her emphatically "IT WILL BE OKAY."
I have said that in the past, not really believing it myself but as I told her that tonight...even I believed it. I told her to give it a week or two and things will be totally different. I told her we were blessed with so many people loving and looking out for us and God has opened that window... a window to a better and different life.
I am ashamed that I have had to accept so much help from so many people but at the same time I would be so lost without it.
This new job is a new beginning.
It is Spring finally and my faith has blossomed. It has been there all along, but for a while I piled the gravel of depression and doubt on it, keeping it from blossoming. It has now broken the surface and my friends and family have watered it with generosity and care. It has bloomed and it the most amazing flower I have ever seen.
I have so many people to thank and so much to pay forward...but thanks to them soon I WILL be able to do JUST that .
I'm not sure what I have ever done in my life to deserve all of this love and care but know that without it I would not be here tonight feeling for once that the worst is finally behind me and all that lies ahead is a beautiful rainbow over my life.
The clouds have parted and the sun is shining ...I think I can make it now, the rain is gone .
Til next time...COTTON

Monday, March 22, 2010

Getting Started Back on the Climb of Life

I awoke this morning expecting a call from my new job saying "Come on in and let's get you started." After 10:00 I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be today and returned to that steaming hot shower and called out to Dr. Bombay once again...neither he or Aunt Clara appeared so I knew I was own my own again.

I decided to go by the Dept. of Labor to file for unemployment "Just in case" but was blown away by the fifty people in front of me trying to squeeze in the door out of the cold morning air. Thinking that I was most likely starting a new job in the next day or two I left as five more people tried to squeeze into the warmth of the lobby.

Next stop was for food stamps.

I have never imagined that even in a million years I would need to know where to go for food stamps but I thought that the WIC office was a good place to start. I scooted my 85lbs. into half a seat sharing it with a toddler that kept getting up and down (she didn't seem to mind me) and signed in at the front desk. When the woman called my name my face went red but I quickly realized no one else even looked up, much less AT me. The woman asked for my case number and I told her I had never been there before. I said I was there for food assistance and she said they would call me back shortly.

Back to my half seat I went...thinking at least the toddler didn't seem to recognize me as a former waitress of hers.

Called to the window again I was told to come down the hall to the second desk. Gladly leaving the "day care center" called a waiting room I shut the door behind me...just like the sign said to (in English AND Spanish.)

The woman asked me if I was pregnant and I almost laughed for the first time today. I told her my story and said I needed to apply for assistance. She asked the ages of my children and I told her..."A girl 14 going on 30 and a boy, 17 going on 12."

She said unfortunately none of those ages were acceptable at WIC and I needed to go to DFACS.

Directions in hand I waved bye to my seat partner in the 'Day care center" and left.

Next stop was much more pleasant...if you can call going to apply for food stamps a pleasant experience.

There was a bulletin board filled with job postings and I was copying down all the ones that I thought may apply to my husband when I heard my name being called out AGAIN over an intercom. Lucky for me I was the only person in the waiting area that understood English ... my name didn't seem to stick out to any one and I felt better about it.

I'll have to hand it to this office...the woman I spoke with was tremendously polite and reassuring....I guess me breaking into tears the moment I began to speak may have had something to do with it.

It's an embarrassing thing having to ask for help when you are 49 years old.

It's a worse thing to do nothing to try and help your family.

I told her I had worked since I was 15 years old, been paying into the system every pay check ... just thought I would see if maybe I was eligible to maybe start drawing on that for a while til we got back on our feet.

She was awesome...she didn't blink an eye when I told her how much (little) I had in the bank and told her of my husband's woe's compiled by the separation notice of my own that I held in my hand.

She had me fill out a form, told me she would give it to her best case worker and we would go from there. I hated asking but "heck" when you're already sitting in a chair in a DFACS office, what's modesty? I asked how long it would take and she said normally 30 days but with our dire situation she could almost guarantee we would receive a card in 10 days.

I felt 20 lbs. heavier when I left that office (and that's a GOOD thing.)

I had to stop and get a quart of oil on the way home at a gas station (not the best section of town) and the woman in front of me in line was telling the cashier she was headed to talk to the "Investigators" because her best friend had killed her boy. My heart sank. I've often said "I could KILL Zach" but never meant it in my wildest dreams. They kept on chatting and it came out her "BOY" was her boyfriend who she had stabbed after he beat her. I noticed as she paid for her items that it was two blounts and a quart of Malt Liquor. Good luck on THAT interview...

So once again I realized that I AM pretty lucky.

I'm marching into my new digs tomorrow and saying "Thought I would come by and pick up a menu and get started on learning the menu and wine list...just to get a jump on my training."

What a day! What an eye opening experience and just the thing I needed to let myself know I was STILL one of the lucky ones.

Whatever life throws you way always remember...IT COULD ALWAYS BE WORSE.

Once again keep me in your prayers and I'll keep sending up ones of my own.

On a brighter note I got an email today from a regular customer from my old job that made me smile made me cry and made my day. It meant the world to me.

When I went to leave the DFACS office this morning the woman helping me handed me a sheet of paper and told me to take it with me as well. When I got home and looked over all the papers she had given me... the last sheet she had given me read:


There is really nothing we need to know
Or even try to understand.

If we refuse to be discouraged
And trust God's Guiding Hand...

So take heart and meet each minute
With faith in God's Great Love,

Aware that every day of life
Is controlled by God above...

And never dread tomorrow
Or what the future brings,

Just pray for strength and courage
And trust God in all things...

And never grow discouraged
Be patient and just wait.

For "God never comes too early
And He never comes too late!"

DANG!! Now I have ONE more person to repay... This poem is now on my refrigerator right next to my lucky charms. At least I remember the woman's name and once I get back up those steps and back on the track...she will be one of the people on my long list of people to Thank and Thank and Thank.

Psalm 55:22

Til next time...CATCHIN' UP COTTON

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Lucky Charms ??

So while enjoying (NOT) my pity party over being fired for the first time in over 30 years I found myself searching my soul and searching my yard for a sign that things would be okay.

Lo and behold I found (with the help of my best friend Massey) five Four Leaf Clovers.

I taped them to a sheet of paper and put them on my refrigerator to remind me I could still have good luck in my life even when facing the most devastating thing to happen in quite a while. I guess losing a job isn't that big of a deal to some people but when you still have two kids at home and a husband struggling to catch up after being unemployed for a's a HUGE deal.

Over the past week I have prayed more than I have in quite a while...and I pray pretty often anyway.

I even prayed that maybe Elvis was still alive and would hear from one of his body guards that a Southern gal was down on her luck and he would send me a new Cadillac that I could sell or maybe just send me the money straight out. After not hearing of any recent "Elvis Sightings" on TMZ I went back just to praying flat out for a miracle.

I prayed on my knees, I prayed at the kitchen table and I prayed as I cried myself to sleep each night.

I even sucked in my pride and called a higher up in my (now former) company and met with him, all but grovelling for my job back. Actually it WAS grovelling and in hindsight quite humiliating. It's amazing what a mom can do for her family.

After meeting with him and getting assurance that he would look into the situation and get back to me soon I felt a weight being lifted off my already scrawny shoulders. I prayed all the way back home and went to wake up my 17 year old son who I had let sleep in with a bad cold and took him to check into school. Once in the car again I started mumbling my prayers half out loud if for nothing else than to keep from crying. On about the third verbal prayer in the short car ride to the high school my son commented very matter of factly "Mom, you're getting on his nerves."

I believe I was getting on my son's nerves but at least he gave me a small chuckle so I leaned over and squeezed his hand.

I waited three days to hear back from the higher ups but never heard a peep.

I stared at those clovers every time I walked into the kitchen, I continued my Prayer Pa Looza and sunk back into a dark hole called depression and self pity. It's not comfortable in that hole but it is dark , you're alone and feel like the rest of the world can't see how terrible you feel or look.

Two days and six hours of a Bewitched marathon on TVLand later ... I just couldn't take doing "NOTHING" any more. The tears finally stopped falling, the puffiness in my eyes went down and I stood under a steaming hot shower pumping myself up for a job interview. As I called out "Dr. Bombay, EMERGENCY come right away" and got no response I knew I was on my own...heck, I would have even been happy to see Aunt Clara show up beside me!

I went to a restaurant here in our own town that has offered me a job a couple of times. A family run restaurant with fabulous food and beautiful decor. When I walked in today the owner said "I was looking for you last week." I told her I was looking for myself last week !

All said and done...THEY WANT ME... I feel like a new person. Of course I am nervous about starting over and learning an entirely new menu and extensive wine list not to mention a new computer system as well. It will take me about 2 months before I will even begin to feel comfortable but being wanted for my skills and dependability is huge thing to me and the boost I have needed for quite a while.

If we can just make it through a few more weeks until I can get my bearings and learn THEIR system, I feel like all will be okay.

I have had more support and prayers than I deserve.

A HUGE "Thank You" to the big Guy upstairs (no..not Elvis) for not letting me get on his nerves!

Continued prayers are welcome and needed.

Til next time.... "Employed Again COTTON"

Friday, March 19, 2010

Battling Back Sounds Easier Than It Is Sometimes...

I haven't written in a while. For the first time I can remember I just feel like an empty page.

I think the Beatles summed up my feelings:

"There are places I remember all my life
Though some have changed
Some forever, not for better
Some have gone and some remain

All these places have their moments
Of lovers and friends I can still recall
Some are dead and some are living

In my life I loved them all

And with all these friends and lovers
There is no one compares with you
And these mem'ries lose their meaning
When I think of love as something new

And I know I'll never lose affection
For people and things that went before
I know I'll often stop and think about them

In my life I loved you more."

I wonder if it was my blog...I wonder if was my outspoken nature...I wonder if it is just God testing me to the max?
I told my husband tonight before he left for work...when I die have them throw me into the fire and escape with the smallest bill you can. I want to be cremated...just didn't think I would get cremated before I even died!

I know I am just having a pity party for myself. I know that I can battle back from this. I know that I am a better person than I am being at this given moment.

I have three great kids, a husband that loves me (I'm still trying to figure THAT one out) and a God that will take care of me.

I have hit a new low...which only means to me that I will finally begin to rise again.

This blog has always been MY heart.
This blog has always just been ME.
This blog is nothing more than a place for me to express MY feelings.
If you can't be yourself in your own small space in the world that is a sad thing.

Wish me luck, blow me a kiss...


Til next time...COTTON

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Day the Music Died...But The Guard Survived !

It was the last day of competition...our Guard had won 1st place on Saturday and was back on Sunday to try and repeat. I was crouched in my filming position ready to go. The judges were ready, the Guard was ready and "East Coweta Varsity" took the floor for competition.

Before our girls went on I was sitting up in the stands by the mother of a girl on another guard team. She asked me what team I was there to see and when I told her, she rolled her eyes and gave a slight shake of her head. EVERYBODY knows our team! She said it was always a great show when our team performed. I puffed up with pride and told her the team put in long and hard hours to do as well as they do...she said politely "It really shows."

Sitting crossed legged on the floor of the balcony in the gym like the graceful lady I am I turned on the camera and blew my daughter a kiss for luck.

Great start...great spinning and every one was in sync. I have finally mastered how to operate my cam corder (with many tutorials from my kids) and things were looking good for our team through my viewfinder.

A little over halfway through the program I began to relax a seemed the Guard did too and they all looked like they were having the time of their life.

I thought the music seemed to be dragging a bit, but attributed it to that major stroke I have felt coming on for about a year now. was DEFINITELY dragging and sounding worse every second. It began to not even sound like a song but background music for a haunted house. The team kept right on.

Right before the music stopped completely the team began counting time out loud. First one person, then another joined and before three more seconds passed the entire Guard was counting off the routine with no music whatsoever. They never paused, hesitated or let the smiles fade from their faces. They ended the routine just as they had time after time before. The entire gym stood and gave them a standing ovation.

As the Guard exited the tarp they all gathered in one corner of the gym.

One of the Guard, a petite and absolutely beautiful girl inside and out has a heart condition and has had a few episodes as of late. Thank goodness her mom is a nurse...that's what I have always admired about nurses, they are the most calm and reassuring people you could ever want in a crisis. Her dad and mom led her out of the gym and you could tell from the young girl's face she was most definitely in distress and was having a hard time even breathing.

Right after this happened it was determined the Guard would have a second chance to perform once the music track was fixed.

By this point all the Guard was frantic about their friend and worried about marching right back in front of the crowd...without their team mate to do another performance. I think their motto is most certainly "All for one and one for all."

The young girl was being taken care of by her mother (luckily also a nurse) and as they say in show business "The show must go on."

I scrambled back up the steps to resume my lady like position on the floor and once again heard "Are the judges ready? Is the Guard ready? East Coweta Varsity you may take the floor for competition."

So they're off again...rattled and worried about a team mate and more determined than ever to make it a tribute to their friend. (At least that's the way I saw it.)

They pulled it off...they squeezed together a little and spread out a little and to the amateur's eye you didn't notice the missing Guard...she was only missing in the Guard team's own minds and thoughts.

Luckily the girl recovered...since I'm a bit touchy about getting things right I got the scoop from her mom/nurse.

"It was not a heart attack but sinus arrythimia, exacerbated with increased heart rate that wouldn't drop with rest. She also had chest pains with shortness of breath."

That, my not a hang nail but a serious situation.

Praise the Lord she is oaky.

Praise the Lord our Guard won another first place.

Praise the Guard they presented this girl with their first place trophy to take home as her own.

The above video is the now wildy popular video of "The Day the Music Died." Enjoy...


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Yeah I'm FUNNY !

Massey had a competition this weekend and I am worn out. I didn't get to help work at the school because I worked all weekend and squeezed the Guard competition into my off time...that means before and after work.
I hate that I couldn't volunteer at the school, those parents worked their butts off this weekend. Every time I go to a competition, the food runs out and all that is left is a random Gatorade (the flavor no one likes) or a hamburger that has been sitting around for hours waiting to give you food poisoning. I'll have to hand it to OUR school. Plenty of food...pretty good food and they didn't run out of anything. All I had to eat yesterday was a burger and chips washed down with a coke after Massey's performance but it tasted like Fillet Mignon to me.
Today I went back to the school for her last performance (another blog altogether) and dashed to work only one hour late.
Once the race was over the bright colored jackets and trucker hats descended upon our restaurant and I made some decent money. I was so tired it wasn't funny but I knew in 6 hours I would be off and knew I could struggle through one more shift.
I went to greet a new table and there sat Kyle Petty with a crew member and his girlfriend. I mostly remember his dad, Richard with his cool shades but knew who Kyle was. A few people stopped by his table to pester him but I guess that million dollars sitting in his bank account makes it worth it. I have waited on him before and the crew guy said he remembered me from their last visit.
I told Kyle "Hey, I know who you're Ricky Bobby aren't you?" ( from Talladega Nights)
He didn't miss a beat and said "I certainly am."
Thank goodness he thought it was least his crew member did, he laughed for a good thirty seconds.
They left me a phat 20% tip and I got lucky with a kid who was by himself and left me a 30% percent tip (he was a server too.)
So I got to make a funny joke with Kyle Petty, got to see my girl perform and walked out the door with almost two "Bills."
Laundry is washing, dogs are by my feet and I am headed back to work in the morning .
NASCAR....I just don't get it.
They are all headed THAT a way hanging a continuous left.
Different boats for different folks.
Glad this weekend is over...unfortunately I picked up my only day off so I am back to a 13 day stretch.
Til next time... COMIC COTTON

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Love That ECHS Guard...It's Worth Every Penny I Owe

I think that this is the sweetest picture I have ever seen. This is my girl and her guard reciting the Lords prayer.

As crusty as I act and as butch as I look I am really just a softy when it comes to things like this. No wonder this team has gone as far as it has.

I just can't say enough good things about this money pit my daughter has sucked me into. When she first started Guard and I found out how much it cost I thought maybe Massey was kidding. I thought to myself that it was a total waste of money (and that was back when we HAD money.)

It has opened my old eyes in so many ways that I have a hard time thinking where to start.

Number one I had my reservations when Massey started high school. Thousands of kids going to ONE school couldn't POSSIBLY be a GOOD thing...not in the eyes of a mother of a 14 year old daughter.
Fortunately she fell right into the RIGHT crowd. A great band program with a great band director and assistant and a guard coach that my husband has labeled "Napoleon."
He's a bit taller than me but give him a double breasted gold buttoned jacket and stuff one of his hands inside the coat and there you have him.
He's eight feet tall to these kids, they hate him sometimes and they respect him all the time. In teenage speak, that means he's doing his job. He pushes them like I wish I could and get the same results.
He doesn't pick favorites...he picks on them all.
When they don't do well he is the first one to tell them and the only person they hear at that given moment in time.
When they do well he praises them (with comments about how they can do even better.)
The parents in this organization are amazing...I really mean that.
I try to help, I really do. I have so much on my plate that it is overwhelming at most every moment of every day but I think they have come to like least I hope they have.
So many guard moms have done so much for my daughter, picking her up for practice when I am at work and bringing her home again before I get off.
I have come to realize that this is one of the greatest things that has ever happened in my girl's short life. She is part of a group that supports their own...and promotes not only camaraderie but commitment and dedication. She is a part of a group that has parents ranging from hippies to preppies. (I think I fall more into the hippie group.)
The thing is they are all there to support their kid and every other kid that is on that guard.
Massey seems concerned of late as to how much this is costing me.
To see your kid see them a part of a wonderful network of teachers, parents and volunteers and to see them win first place time after time is one of the few highlights I have left. I don't care how long it takes me to pay off dues, I don't care how many more days in a row I have to work.
All I care about is having her have this awesome opportunity to be in one of the greatest programs I have ever seen for a kid. A world filled with care, concern and the motivation to be better.
I know she is a better person for being a part of this group. I know that I am a better parent for letting her join this wonderful group of uplifting...sometimes demanding and always rewarding team of young humans that have actually given me some of the biggest smiles of my recent life.
A group that loves, sometimes regrets and sometimes fights but ALWAYS comes together for the common goal.
Isn't that what life is really ABOUT?

Teaching Your Dog to Speak

This is a video one of my three big mutts. Meet Ham, who we call "Chewbaaka." I'm not sure if that is how they spelled it in Star Wars...but it is definitely the same language.

This big boy is teetering on 100 pounds and is the biggest gentle giant I have ever met. The female boxer that hops up beside him is Rosie, his aunt...or as my husband says his "Aunt girlfriend." Luckily aunt girlfriend has been fixed .

Whenever my husband rubs my shoulders or pets Rosie, Ham starts this weird talking. We're not sure what he is saying but he is pretty emphatic about it. It doesn't bother Rosie in the least she gets free lovin' so we can all laugh at Ham.

Ham is quick as lightning and can jump over six feet off the ground with ease. He could maul you to death if he wanted but is the sweetest tempered dog I have ever owned. It took the bulldog a few months to realize that...he pushed Ham over the edge a few times and for a while we called the bulldog "Scarface" because of all his battle wounds. Ham never started one fight but when Charlie would cross the line the talking turned into action and that was NEVER good news for Charlie. They have finally all learned the pecking order and peace has been restored. My husband calls Charlie "Half Pint." He roots under my bed like a little fat white troll...the boxers can't fit under there so they stay on top on the bed with us and the bulldog snores away under his little bridge.

Massey watched a Star Wars movie in class at school the other day (obviously one of her easier classes or lazier teachers) and commented on how much Chewbaaka and Ham sounded alike.

He sleeps with his back up against mine when Tim works overnight and hops off the bed the minute he hears the garage door in the morning. Of course when Tim climbs in bed Ham jumps back up to lay down right between us (he thinks he's a chaperone.)

Hands down my three kids are my pride and three pups run a close second. They don't cost near as much as my kids and never talk back (except for Ham.)

Til next time...COTTON

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Where "IS" That Hidden Camera ?

This is a picture of me after I finished my shift today holding my tray. Don't let the good lighting fool you, it was a long shift!

Actually it was almost laughable so I decided to share my story with you.

Lunch went smoothly, pretty busy for a snowy day but then it died around 2:00. That's when all the weirdos come out to eat. First off I went to greet a table...a couple in their late fifty's or early sixty's. They each had a cell phone stuck to one ear and had a finger plugging up their other ear. Neither one of them even looked up at me so I just stood there like a mime.
After about 20 seconds the woman got out a pen and started writing on the beverage napkin I had placed down for their (hopefully) soon to be ordered drinks.

Let me stop right here and say that cell phone etiquette is out of control. I won't even talk on mine if a cashier is ringing up my grocery order. I just feel like it is rude. Another thing I hate is when you are riding down the road behind are both clipping along just fine , then the driver in front of you starts talking on their cell phone and immediately their car slows down as they begin to chatter away. If you can't maintain your speed, you don't need to be talking while driving. What? Is it easier to listen at a slower rate of speed?

Okay back to the couple on their "Jitterbugs." Finally the man looks up at me and mouths the word "COKE." So I mouthed back "Yes sir." He then tapped his fingers on the table in front of his wife who was writing a novel on her bev nap. She looked up like she was irritated and said to whoever she was talking to "Hang on" and mouthed "Sweet tea." I mouthed the words "Be right back" and left the table.

Do they not know when they sit down at a table in a restaurant there is most probably going to be someone coming by pretty quickly to TAKE AN ORDER???

They stayed on their cell phones until the meal arrived... after both mouthing their orders to me.

I told another server that I felt like whipping my cell phone out of my back pocket while they were mouthing their order to me and holding up one finger to them and saying "Hello?" into my cell phone like I was getting an important call. Or I wished they had asked to talk to my manager and I could hand them my phone and say "Four on the speed dial."

At least after they finally both got off their phones the man DID say "I guess we were being really disrespectful there!" And you know what? That was all I wanted to hear. They were really a nice enough couple, I just don't get the whole concept. They should be telling the person on the phone they will call them back in a minute or tell THEM to hang on while they at least SPEAK to me!

Then it got almost comical. I was seated with an elderly couple and their son...the Dad was toting his oxygen tank with him and their grown son (at LEAST in his fifties) carried his mother's purse. Took them forever and a day to settle into their seats and then it began.

The older man ordered de caff coffee and so did the son. They ordered water for the lady who was shuffling off to the restroom on her walker at a snail's pace bless her heart. When she came back she asked where her coffee was and I asked if she wanted a cup...she was miffed at her men for leaving her out. I came back with her cup of joe and the older man asked for a glass of water. It took forever for them to order but I am used to that and at least they weren't on cell phones. She ordered something that wasn't even on the menu anymore...after trying to order something we haven't had in six months and didn't have the items it required to make in the restaurant. We had the items left in house to prepare the item she finally selected and the order was put in.

Another server ran the food to the table and came back to tell me the younger man wanted a glass of water. Okay...if we ALL want water, let me bring them all at the same time. They were short one straw and I went to fetch another one. They ate like it was their last supper and were putting off the inevitable. The older man was the first to ask for a to go box. I brought it back and packed up his left over shrimp for him. When I got through doing that, the son said with a very irritating nasally voice "I don't know why he didn't tell you we need two more small boxes." I said it wasn't a problem and went to get two more small boxes. When I came back with the two boxes the woman said "Well if I put my salad in THIS box and my son puts his steak in THAT box, where will I put my crab gratin?" I told her I would be glad to go and get another box to put her gratin in and even wrap them up another loaf of bread to go with their meals.

When I came back and packed THAT up, the son said his mother wanted a to go cup. I asked if she wanted me to make her a coffee to go and she said she really wanted to drink it there but hers was cold. Dang! Who's fault is that? Did I tell her NOT to drink it while it was hot or did I tell her to let it SIT and get cold? I cheerfully (and I meant it) that I would bring her a fresh cup of hot coffee to drink at the table. I brewed another fresh pot (they had drank the entire pot I had made for them.) This only took two minutes and I brought the ole gal a steaming cup of fresh de caff to enjoy at the table.

On my way back through the dining room the father was shuffling off to the restroom dragging his oxygen tank with him and stopped me to say his wife needed a go cup for her coffee... "We got to get up on outta here quick like."

I took a to go cup to the table and asked the woman if she wanted me to pour it in the Styrofoam cup for her? She peered up at me as her son was answering his loudly ringing cell phone with that horrible rotary dial ring tone that I detest. The volume was up so loud on his phone he may have just been better off using a tin can with a really long string and just 'holler' to the other person.

The woman asked me if I was kicking her out? I told her her husband was kicking her out and had stopped to ask me for a to go cup for her coffee. I told them I would bring them a bag to put all their boxes in and went to fetch it. I came back to the table and began packing up their boxes when the son with that 'nasal' sound said "Well...we ain't all going to the same place but I reckon we can get it all separated when we get there." I went to get another bag...with a spare one to tie over my head and face if they asked for ONE MORE THING. They paid with a gift card and I told them they had seven dollars left on the card and told them which copy to sign.

When I went back to the table as they were shuffling out the front door there was no sign of the check, the black book I had put it in or even my pen I had left them. I just was grateful the bill had been paid and they were gone without any last requests.

At least I ended my day with a good laugh as I told my co workers about the prank Ashton Kutcher obviously "PUNKED" me with. Ashton never appeared, my tip never showed up... but I guess I made three people as happy as I could and my day was almost over.

Tuesdays are my good days... working with two of my favorite servers. I was starving and told Terri that I wanted to split a Parmesan Chicken with her...MY treat. She said she hadn't made much money and I said she could buy the next time. After we ate like pigs I bossed her around for about thirty minutes getting her to do most of the side work it takes for us to leave. Nothing like having someone owe you to get a lot of free work out of them!

After I finally thought she had earned her half of the Parmesan Chicken we let her leave.

I waited until I knew she was in her car and called her cell phone. When she answered I told her we were out of bleu cheese dressing and would she mind coming back and getting me another pan of it out of the little fridge we keep it in? I could her hear laughing from a mile away! Nothing is funnier to me than beating a dead horse so I called her back in five minutes and told her we needed more ice and the sweet tea urn was empty.

God bless the old people...ya gotta love 'em and good friends... Where would I be without them?

Just thought you might want to hear about life in the least I HAVE a workplace!

Til next time... Comic Cotton

Monday, March 1, 2010

Reading the Fine Print...Not Easy With MY Eyes !

First let me say my eyesight has gone down the tubes as I raced through my forties. I would look to see where all the time went so quickly but I wouldn't be able to see it!

I have begun in earnest clipping coupons and shopping for bargains. Nothing like a kick in the ole pocketbook to get you stretching every dollar as far as you can.

My daughter and I recently went to the grocery store. The total I paid was $64.00 . With my coupons I saved $25.00. It's actually amazing and exciting at the same time. Massey was beside herself...she said "Let ME tell Daddy how much we saved when we get home!"
What she really meant was "Think how much more money you'll have to spend on me!"

Either way it's a win win situation.

Now when planning dinner I think more along the lines of how to include a dish with the sour cream that was on sale with the Talapia filets that were BOGO and how to convince the kids that the soft pretzels on sale are actually fancy rolls. So far they aren't complaining.

My only complaint is the the writing and specifications on these coupons are so teeny that I have to strap binoculars around my neck to make sure I am buying the right items if Massey (my GOOD pair of eyes) isn't with me.

I went to my brother's house the other day and he had two entire Sunday papers with nothing taken out but the sports page. He let me have them both and I clipped about 50 coupons from them. It's amazing how your wants and tastes can change with the added incentive of saving 25 or 30 dollars.

So we aren't really wild about "Chicken Voila" but it sure tastes better when I feed all three kids for under $1.99. So fish sticks aren't Tuna steaks...throw in some corn that was on sale and the promise of double stuffed Oreos for dessert and my family thinks it's Thanksgiving Day. We're 'simple folk' here at the Cotton house and my family really is low maintenance when they are hungry.

I've had to rein myself in though. I thought briefly about marinating the chicken breasts that were on sale with the citrus Suave shampoo that was 99 cents...would it start foaming up when heated to 350 degrees? And would they REALLY believe it was "Baja Citrus marinade?" Could they clean their plate and their hair at the same or am I breaking some sort of law ? I decided not to risk it.

I had to stop myself from peeling the potatoes with the Gillette razors that were almost free...who wants to mess up a clean potato peeler when you can peel them with something even sharper and then rinse it off and put it in Massey's bathroom for leg shaving...couldn't hurt her and I would be using it on the food first!

The only place I don't skimp is on my pups...ironic, the only ones that can't actually complain! Of course if I am lucky enough to find a coupon for Iams dog food I'm all over it but it's not good when you switch brands...messes up their digestive system.

Hope my family doesn't read THIS blog! They may have ME eating out of a dog bowl saying "It hasn't killed them and think how shiny your coat will be!"

Til next time...Clippin' Crazy COTTON !