Thursday, April 29, 2010

New Job...New Stories

Here's a shot of some of my new kitchen co workers...TOTALLY kidding, just a cheesy attempt at being funny .

Every restaurant I have worked in since the nineties (only two) have had a back of the house staff of mainly Latinos. I've met a couple of lazy ones but for the most part they work their butts off and never talk back. Well, maybe they talk back to each other but it is in such rapid fire Spanish that you miss everything except the curse words.

My new store is no exception.

The head cooks are all American...and no dummies by any means. One is the owner's son, one is a former manager of mine at my last store and of course the owner is the head chef.

They are backed up by others...some being Latinos. Some are cooks and some are dishwashers or bus boys.

They mostly work on the end of the line putting out salads appetizers or pizzas. There is a sweet African American girl called "Peaches" that makes the pizzas, appetizers and salads and has helped me out more times than I can count. There is a crazy nutty cook called Freddie that is so outrageous it's not even funny and another cook called Nacho that is one of the sweetest guys I've ever met. There is a Latino dishwasher named Anna who has platinum blonde hair and always has her face all fixed up and even has lipstick on every time I see her. There is an older quiet Latino dishwasher named Eva who just looks the part, bless her heart. No make up no frills just a sad face and an extremely quiet demeanor. One of the hostesses is another African American named CeCe...I couldn't pronounce her full name on a bet.
All in all I am back into the eclectic world of the restaurant industry.
The other night I had two tables of ten going at once and was pretty busy...being new it doesn't take much for me to get busy.
One of my tables wanted to change from a mixed green salad to a Caesar so I had to go back to ask Peaches for another Caesar. By mistake I called out "Hey, CeCe, I need another Caesar salad, please." She cut her eyes towards another cook and said "I know she didn't just call me CeCe." I quickly grimaced and said "I am SO sorry...I'm just busy and got mixed up."
To play it off I said "You know you all look alike to me." She laughed...knowing I was kidding. I am one of the most liberal and racially unbiased people alive.
Well they all started making fun of me getting Peaches' name wrong. Anna the dishwasher was laughing her head off and she and Nacho were going on and on about it. Next time through the kitchen and they were still cackling at me so I looked back at Nacho and said "What are YOU laughing at, Freddie?"
Oh that got everyone laughing EXCEPT Nacho!
My next trip into the dish room with a pile of dishes on my arm I said to Anna "I'm right behind you with dishes, Eva." Now everyone was laughing EXCEPT Anna!
She turned around to look at me and said "OHH no you dinn!"
We all laugh about that every time I work now and are constantly joking with each other. I respect each and every one of them and speak to and inquire how their day is going ... in return they are all nice as can be to me and helpful in any way they can be.
It's a really great group of people I work with and they all seem to genuinely like me. What a relief after my last stint as a server.
When I left work today Anna cheerfully said "See you LAYtor, CeCe." I just laughed.
Dang it feels good to laugh again and know I can still make people laugh as well.
I am loving my new home and my new found family.
Til next time...ALGODON

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

One Day of Work and Another Day Off !!

After my last blog about my grass fire on my "John Dear" a friend sent me this picture of her father's mower after the same thing happened to him....except he had parked the mower under the back of their house and jumped on another mower to cut somewhere else. The mower caught the back of their house on fire and a passerby had to go tell them their house was on fire.
Needless to say I will hose off my mower after every cutting and keep my baby grass free.
Went to eat lunch at Mama Lucia's today with a regular from my old restaurant (which shall remain nameless to protect the ignorant) and a former co worker that is a dear friend of mine as well. We had a nice two hour lunch...Mozzarella Fritti for an appetizer....fresh mozzarella lightly breaded and sauteed in olive oil. Miss Donna and I each had Shrimp Scampi over Angel Hair pasta. She had cream of Tomato soup and I had a Caesar salad. My former co worker we'll call "Ole' Gert" had the Barbarella Salad...mixed greens with artichoke hearts, grilled eggplant, roasted red peppers and pecan encrusted goat cheese. I swear this place has some of the best food I have ever eaten and the portions are HUGE. I brought home half my scampi for Tim to eat when he got up and was stuffed.
When I got home it was time to get ready for work and was back at the store an hour later.
We have nightly specials that aren't on the menu and just to show you what a variety of things they are a couple of them from tonight:
Maryland Crab Cakes: Jumbo lump blue crab cakes sauteed in olive oil and served with broccoli and roasted red bliss potatoes.
Parmesan Encrusted Talapia: fresh talapia topped with herbs and parmesan then baked with diced roma tomatoes, lobster broth and cream sherry. Served over spinach.
I have found a new home in this place and eating all this good food will back up to my fighting weight of 105lbs before I know it.
My first table was four men, total bill $166.00 They left me a $32.00 tip. BINGO !!
I never dread going to work anymore and it is nice to be somewhere you are wanted.
Tomorrow I have another day off. It has been YEARS since I had two days off in a week and I am enjoying it immensely.
After taking the kids to school I am going to work in the yards(That's right Mrs. Walsh...private joke) and clean house. Mr. (slow)Lee and his wife are back in town so I can expect him to be leering at me over the bed of his truck once again. Zach pruned my Pear tree so I can cut underneath it now and the yards are looking good again. My Gladiolas, Irises and Lilies are all blooming and my Lenten roses are about to bloom. My Rose bush is loaded with buds and my little purple flowers (will have to ask Cin what they are) look ready to bloom as well.
It's kind of like my yard knows I am awake again and feel like I am blossoming so they are all joining me in a Spring time awakening.
I have started the task of writing Thank You notes to people that have helped us make it...I bought ten cards but should have listened to Massey and bought the 20 pack. It feels good to begin to pay it forward in some small way. It's nothing but a card but it is always nice to open something from the mailbox that doesn't require "immediate attention" or an amount due. Life seems to be blooming and booming for us and we are all incredibly grateful. This has not only been a life lesson for Tim and me but for my kids as well. They seem to understand now that money doesn't grow on trees and you need to count your blessings every day of your life.
Tim just left for work...BTW he LOVES his new job , feels like he has finally secured a job that he can move up in and make a career of.
Yes it is Spring time outside and it is Spring time in my heart and home.
Time to go snuggle with the pups in my bed while I write a few more Thank You notes. I tend to write a short story in each should see how long it takes me to do Christmas cards!
Every one enjoy this beautiful Spring favorite time of the year, especially THIS year !!
Til next time..."POPPIN' COTTON"
PS Have a hilarious story about work that I will post tomorrow...yeah, I'm "fittin' right in."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Another Work Week Done...

Just got home from work and am looking forward to a day off tomorrow.

The job is still great, screwing up less and less every shift and already have people coming in asking to sit at my table.

Tonight was kind of a bust...had a table of seven out for a business dinner. They had two bottles of pretty good wine and ate like horses. Unfortunately they tipped like a horse's ass. That kills me...when it is on someone else's dime you would think they could at LEAST leave 15%. My other tables were good though and I still came out of the place with more than I walked in with.

I felt like crap all day today. About a year ago I worried myself into an ulcer. It is a miserable feeling...just a dull ache in your gut that won't even subside long enough to get to sleep. I tossed and turned all night and the ache was worse this morning..."Welcome back, Mr. Ulcer."

Prilosec works wonders but you have to take it first thing in the morning before eating. I had moped around all day and ate before I left for work. I stopped by the drug store on the way to work and bought some of the wonder drug. The problem is I took it on a full stomach at 4:00 in the afternoon. It didn't kick in til after 9:00 tonight so I was pretty much miserable at the work entire night...NOT a good feeling.

It's a bit better now and will be LOTS better now that I have something to take first thing in the morning.

Tim just left for work. He finally got the job with Southeastern Freight that he had really been hoping for. This job is in logistics like his experience has been in for the last 20 some odd years. He is starting out low but the job has huge growth potential and I think once he gets in there and proves himself he will rise through the ranks swiftly. He goes in at midnight and gets off at nine...bad for him...good for me and the pups!! They love being smack next to me, even when I am sleeping and Tim doesn't allow them to sleep on the bed. I guess I'll have to start washing the sheets twice a week now and brushing the dogs more to keep our little secret from Tim.

The bulldog is too low to the ground to make the hop onto the king size bed but enjoys being directly underneath me in his little cave under the bed. The male boxer sleeps with his back against mine with his head on Tim's pillow...snoring only a bit louder than Tim does. The female boxer sleeps below the male at the foot of the bed and all in all we are our own little "Pack."

Hopefully tomorrow my ulcer will subside once I can start the Prilosec first thing. I am a worrier by nature and I have been lucky it hasn't resurfaced before now. I also think that I overdid the yard work gig a bit this past week on top of working nine shifts. Now that I have it all cut short I can keep it all neat and trim without having to weed eat so much and now have two days off a week and can split it up.

I am off tomorrow and will take the kids to school before starting my weeding. My flower beds need some serious attention and I love to pull weeds. It is the best exercise for the back of your legs and the results are great to see. (In your garden and on the back of your thighs.)

I have more than several thank you notes to write having put them off far too long and will also get them all done tomorrow.

The meteorologists promise a sun shine filled day tomorrow (although sometimes I think I could do their job just as easily) and will struggle through one more night of this feeling that someone has punched me in the gut to get up...medicate and weedicate !!

Tim is starting a great new job...I am finally getting the hang of my great new job...and the dogs are giving each other little 'high fives' when they hear Tim's car pull out of the driveway at 10:30 PM.

Life is finally looking up for the family AND the fido's.

Seems to be a "Dog's Life" here at the Cotton house hold.

Til next time...COTTON

Friday, April 23, 2010

Guess What? The Grass IS Really Greener...

Yesterday was my second day off this week...something I haven't had in over twelve years and was a therapeutic day for myself.
I worked in the yards from noon til dark and nothing makes me feel better than to see my handiwork at the end of the day. My next door neighbors are retired and off gallivanting in Florida with all the other I cut their yards for them.
I moved on to my own yard
and cut the front and sides...going over it with my trusty weed eater to make it nice and neat.
Put some more gas in my boyfriend "John Dear" as I call him and trucked to the front of the sub division to cut the entrance.
I was through with one side of the street when I moved over to the other side. I smelled burning grass and attributed it to some neighbor burning leaves from Winter. I didn't see the usual smoke cloud in the air but as it got stronger and stronger I turned around to look noticing it was coming from the back of my "Honey." That would be "John Dear.'
I love my mower but don't clean it off regularly or hose it off when I get through cutting.
From all the cutting I had done, grass clippings were built up around the tailpipe and I had myself a small grass fire going around my tail pipe.
I jumped off and tried to blow the smoldering fire out... NOT A GOOD IDEA.
The flame fanned and started to grow.
I tried to pull the grass out with my fingers but after burning off all my fingerprints I searched quickly for a small stick before my gas tank (recently filled) ignited.
The first small stick broke off and added fuel to the fire. Luckily the second one was smaller and I scraped out all the dead grass and put the fire out with my flip flop. After looking around to make sure none of the neighbors were video taping me...I hopped back on and cut the other side of the entrance.
The problem with this second side is that the house right next to it likes to cut their yard twice a year and it wasn't due for another cutting til the dog days of August. I mean where do I end the entrance cutting to make it look nice and trim when their yard which sits next to the entrance is a foot high and looks like a field of Dandelions and Clovers?
Problem solved. I just cut their front yard for them.
I was about 3/4 of the way through when the "Vampire" wife (as Massey calls her) came out with that cigarette that is always velcroed to her fingers and watched me for a good five minutes before giving me the 'Time Out" signal. You know, One hand bouncing perpendicular on top of the other telling me to stop and cut my engine.
Massey swears this family, who is relatively new to the neighborhood are vampires and after agreeing to feed their cat when they went home for Thanksgiving (turned out it was seven cats and just a creepy place on the inside.) They are pale as crap and even though I have a pretty good tan, they make me look like one of the "Jeffersons."
You can dig back in my blog to read about them but my point is...I was busy...busy cutting their yard and didn't have TIME for a time out.
I cut my blade and engine off and she came smoldering over with her Marlboro to hug my neck. Thank the Lord I had eaten at my restaurant the night before and still reeked of garlic!
I told her I was cutting the front anyway and to just consider it a small present from me. I think that is a better present than a wooden stake through her heart.
About that time her son , who looks like he would be on" Team Jacob" in the middle of his transformation into a werewolf got off the school bus and lumbered down the driveway with a grimace on his face. I cranked my mower back up and shouted to him "Tell your dad YOU cut it!"
No smile, no wave...but at least he didn't attack me.
I finished as quickly as I could and put the mower in gear five and scooted back down the street to the safety of my OWN coven.
Living in a subdivision is a bizarre meet all kinds and sometimes meet no one at all...even after fourteen years.
Back home in my "Safety Zone" I cut my own back yard and let my dogs out to play. They really seem to appreciate a freshly mowed yard and once my husband came out back to admire the yard, you know where the two males that stupid branch they have been consumed with as of late.
A different day but the same ole branch amused them for at least thirty minutes.
I have included pics of my yard (I am a PROUD grass cutter) and a nice profile pic of my boyfriend "John."

As a parting shot I have included another video of my two male dogs giving that branch a good jumping at and giving me a good laugh at the end of a long but satisfying day.

My new job is going great, I screw up sometimes but am getting more proficient every day and thanking the Lord every night that He has led me there.

Enjoy my pictures and know how grateful I am that my life has been so blessed after it has gone through so many trials.
God is good...and He has been my Saviour...Literally.
I Pray for the vampires too and that I don't find them hanging upside down in my garage when I come home from work one night.
As on the pictures for a closer view !!

Til next time...COTTON with a smile (Geez it feels good to write those words.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Why Did I Wait So Long?

I just got home from work. It was a slow night...not that it matters at my new job.

As one of the cooks pointed out tonight..."It's quality here, not quantity."

I only had four tables all night but walked out the door with almost a hundred dollars in my pocket. The people that eat with us are there for great food and great wine and leave with the feeling that they have had their money's worth. I haven't gotten under 20% for a tip since I started and know that it will only get better as I feel more comfortable with my new job.

I thank the Lord every day for sending me to this restaurant and giving back my confidence as a server.

Tim has started a new full time job, Zach is passing all his classes and all his friends seem to like hanging out at my house. Massey has started therapy for her bum knee and my dogs are on YouTube. I am one lucky woman.

Friends and family and yes, even strangers helped us make it through to the 'other side' and is a most tremendous and welcome feeling of exhalation. I have been holding my breath and holding in my stress. I have aged ten years in the past ten weeks but feel the wheel of time slowing down and letting me catch up with it.

My husband has been my soul mate all along...we drifted for a while and squabbled when things got tense. We hung in there and by the grace of God and many others have finally seen the light and both need knee pads now from the major amount of time we have both spent on them praying for an answer.

One door was closed but a HUGE picture window opened and the sweet fresh air is filling our lungs and giving us the oxygen to move on and move up.

Even my dogs seem happier!

If it had just been me and Tim, we would have probably killed each other by this point. When you have kids the equation changes and takes on an entirely different sum.

You bring kids into the world, they didn't ask to be here but are here because of you. It is a tremendous responsibility to be a parent (if you do it right.) It is also one of the greatest blessings you can ever have. There will be great times, good times and even some bad times...but if you are a parent that it what it is all about.

Keeping your kids safe. Raising them to know right from wrong and leading from example.

I hope I have done alright in these critical areas.
I have tomorrow off has been years since I have had two days off in one week. But still working nine shifts and the feeling of complete calm and reassurance makes it seem like I am working part time.
Working in the yards tomorrow and cutting the front of the sub division again. Nothing like a day doing yard work to make me feel relaxed and grateful to be one of the creatures taking care of the nature God has blessed us with.
Unfortunately Mr. (slow) Lee is out of town and won't be there to gawk at me on my John Deere but I will cut his yard anyway and pull weeds in my flower beds and make the entrance to our sub division a vision of "Delight" with my other best friend "Mr. Weed Eater."
You cannot imagine how relieving it is to feel good about yourself after such a dry spell and feel that you have made it back from the dark side.
I have so much to pay forward that it may become a full time job in itself...but that is fine by me.
I am just happy to be here, happy to feel good once again and still have the good fortune of being able to do what I can...make life happen one day at a time and make the most of every breath I take.
I've gotta start remembering my sunscreen. Tonight at work the young dishwasher who is a sweet Latino kid who knows Zach from school asked me "Why are you so dark when Zach is so white?"
I told him it is hard to get a tan in your bedroom... guess who might be pulling weeds with me tomorrow after school?
Til next time.. COTTON

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Vertical Fetch...No One Said They Were Smart

My two male dogs are more entertaining than circus clowns. There is a tree at the back of the fenced in portion of our yard with a limb that TJ and Zach have broken off but is still attached. The MINUTE my husband starts to walk to the back of the yard...the two males beat him there and sit waiting for him to pull the broken branch down so they can try to finish the job Zach and TJ started.

The bulldog gives it his best shot but obviously has lead pipe inside of him... "Literally." He probably found one in the yard and decided it looked good enough to eat. Remember, this is the dog that ate insulation that fell out of the attic when I brought down Christmas decorations. I saw a piece on the carpet and tried to get to it but his mind was saying "If SHE wants it first it must be good" and scrambled over and snorted it down.

The boxer seems to be made of springs and can easily jump over six feet without trying too hard. They will continue this vertical fetch game for thirty minutes at a time and only stop when they are panting so hard they absolutely HAVE to take a rest. The female boxer barks at them the whole time in "dog speak" seemingly telling them they are both idiots and have no sense of depth perception. I'll have to hand it to Ham (the boxer) he gets pretty close...Charlie (the bulldog) just gets an "A" for effort.

Just thought you might like to see "Dumb and Dumber" in action!

Had another great day...I could get used to this and hope I do!

Stayed up way too late blogging after picking Massey up from Prom and doing laundry ... woke up 30 minutes before work this morning. Thank the Lord for my easy hairdo and the fact that I always get a bath at night. I got to work exactly on time and worked the brunch shift. Now THAT'S some good eating... French Toast, Strawberry pancakes, Eggs Benedict, Spinach Frittata, every kind of Omelet you can imagine and homemade biscuits with gravy, grits and home fried potatoes. It wasn't too busy and I was almost glad after last night's barn burner shift. I got off by 2 and had to be back at 5:30.

I came home and put on some shorts and a bathing suit top...Mr.(slow) Lee's favorite outfit and washed my car and cleaned all the windows. My brake light has been out for months and I decided to attempt replacing it myself. Whadda know??? I'm a mechanic too! One of my driving lights was out too but once I open the hood of a car I tend to get nervous. At least I can open a hood...Tim is a lot of wonderful things but mechanical he is NOT. Remember this is the man that pushed my mower to the neighbor's years ago before I got my riding mower because it wouldn't start and my neighbor told him it was out of gas.

I pulled my car one driveway over ...not Mr. (slow) Lee's way but the other side to ask my next door husband (see previous post) to help me. He fixed me right up (after I went back to Auto Zone and got the right bulb)... I have GOT to stop asking Tim to go to Auto Zone for me. While I was there exchanging the bulb I told the man "For future reference, never listen to my husband when he comes in...I'll just send a hand written note with what I REALLY need."

Case in point: Our hot water heater went out a few years back and after my next door husband fixed it twice he said we needed to get a new one. A good friend of ours who has a handy man type company and has helped us many times, pressure washing our house, cleaning the chimney etc. told Tim to go buy a new water heater and he would come over and install it. When he got there, Tim had hauled the new one up to the third floor ready to hoist it into the attic (what idiot builder puts a hot water heater in an attic?) When our friend got there to install it.... Tim had bought an electric water heater when in fact we had a gas one. I love him anyway and he is a great dad and husband, but couldn't fight his way out of a paper bag if all he had to use was a wrench.

Luckily Tim doesn't read my blog unless I force him to. I won't bring my blog up for a while til this one gets buried by others. I don't mean to hurt his feelings but he will be the first one to tell you the extent of his knowledge about repair work is Flathead vs. Phillips Head.

Car washed, lights fixed. Headed back to work. Had a pleasant night and feel more comfortable with each shift I work.

The owners of my new restaurant know of our situation and have me scheduled for 9 shifts this week. I have people at work asking me if I want to give up shifts but will forge on and get myself ahead while I have this opportunity.

A new job. A great job . Tim starts his new job in the morning with Pepsi/Snapple.

God, family and friends...even strangers have gotten us this far, to the other side. The place I needed and wanted to be.

Enjoy the video of my dogs...I am thinking about "YouTube" for them. I have one even better where they actually sit underneath and howl at the limb above them.

Lovin' life, and for once I will sign off as..."LUCKY LEACH"

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Big Night...For Massey And For Me

It's hard to believe that almost fifteen years ago this same time I was on complete bed rest waiting for Massey to make her entrance into my life.

She came into this world in a BIG way , my placenta rupturing and having an emergency C-section at 4:20 AM...almost three months early.

She was a tiny thing barely 4 pounds and didn't make a peep until she was almost a year old. She was a pensive quiet toddler who came into her own by first grade and hasn't stopped talking or going since.

She has blossomed over the years into a young woman who is not only my favorite daughter but my best friend.

Tonight she went to her first prom (she's already beating my record...I didn't go to any).

My husband came downstairs this morning where I was watching the news on TV to cook breakfast. If things hadn't worked out for us I was sending him to Waffle House to apply...he can cook a mean stinkin' breakfast...home fries and all! I asked what Massey was doing and he said she was upstairs getting ready...for Pete's sake it was 8:30 in the morning!
She has a mass of curly hair that she hates and every one else loves and was upstairs with a straightener smoothing out her locks. Once AGAIN we were blessed...A friend loaned her a dress and she went as another girl's date who had tickets. I gave her $20 to eat with because they were going to Texas Roadhouse and that was the extent of my cost. I decided she needed a corsage and bought her an inexpensive wrist corsage from Publix.
We came home from the grocery store and sat out in the back yard for an hour while I gave her a manicure and a pedicure. Purple polish (of course) to match her dress and she marched back upstairs to work on her Medusa curls one more time.
I had to be at work by 5:30 and all the kids were meeting at 5:00 for pictures so it worked out great for me. I took her over to another guard parent's house where every one was meeting and took a ton of pictures and made this short video.
These wonderful parents had rented a small bus and took the kids to eat at Texas Roadhouse and then on to the prom and back home again. The dad who drove them even had a digital sign flashing above the windshield saying "Congratulations class of 2010, East Coweta High School" or something to that effect.
I gave my girl a kiss and hug, left her smiling and went to work with one minute to spare when I walked through the door at work.
The place was packed (a good thing) and between the usual Saturday night crowd and two Proms on the same night the joint was hopping.
I had six tables before I had been clocked in for five minutes. The next two hours seemed like two days and I made a few mistakes...none that the customers knew about. Just having to have certain drinks transferred to another ticket because I was so overwhelmed and rang them on the wrong ticket. I cashed out one table when I meant to cash out another and had to have it pulled back (a lot of server mumbo jumbo...but basically it means I goofed up.)
Luckily nothing outrageous happened like me having to pay for anything myself and by 7:00 I could breathe again.
Nothing like "trial by fire" to get you learning the ropes. If I could have FOUND a rope around 6:00 I may have put it around my neck.
As usual every one I work with helped me through the crunch and somehow I made great money and walked out the door shaking, tired but SUCCESSFUL!
If I can make it through the shift I just worked...I CAN MAKE IT.
Picked Massey up when the bus rolled back home, dumped her in bed and started this blog.
When I went to the mailbox at home earlier today, I received a card and gift from a relative that has been related to me all my life but who I have only recently met. The card read: "Just think of this as a little time-out in the game...a chance to consider your options, design some new plays. And remember...lots of people are cheering for you. Especially us." These wonderful new found relatives have once again sent me hope and help when I have needed it the most. My life has been humbled and blessed all at the same time.
It is a good day to be a "Leach"... the family I was lucky enough to be born into. Without family, friends and the great God upstairs I hate to think what would have become of me and my family. Instead I am giving Thanks, picking up my girl from her first prom, wiping my brow from a butt kicking at work and feel the strength to do it all again.
The words come back to me that the Neurologist asked my father to say when he was in the hospital before he died from West Nile ... trying to determine his lucidity and awareness.
"Today is a sunny day."
Indeed it is.
Til next time... Continually Grateful COTTON

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Lil' Fam Takes in Lil' Five For the Day

It is hard to believe that the two little kids in this picture are the same kids I just spent a day with in my favorite part of Atlanta, Little Five Points.

We started off at Children's Healthcare for a rigorous first round of physical therapy for Massey's bum knee. Therapy must be a synonym for "torture." We ended the day in our new favorite store...RAG-O-RAMA. I bought Zach a pair of $65 jeans for $16 and he got five new (vintage) tee shirts to wear with his new uniform pants.

Massey enjoyed the sunglasses collection, they had HUNDREDS of them.

My nephew's girlfriend made the day trip with us...looking at her photo lets you see why Zach is so crazy about her (as we all are.)

No trip would be complete without me making an idiot out of myself. I mean, REALLY...they had about thirty pairs of these shoes I am modeling. Zach just kind of hung back while we made this shot like he really didn't know us but was just watching a middle aged woman make a spectacle of herself.

Here is a picture of my Zach in one of his new uniforms. I'm so used to seeing him in a black tee shirt that it is a joy to see him in a shirt that matches his eyes instead of his demeanor. He's a big fake though. He puts on a tough act but is still the little boy in the first picture and always will be to me.
We had an awesome day. Massey was feeling the effects of her deep tissue massage and therapy ... slept the whole ride home. Zach actually told me thank you for his clothes and said it was a great day. That's a LOT coming from a seventeen year old boy/man.
Spending a day in Lil' Five is like spending a day on another planet. You see things you have never seen and people that are simply entertaining just to watch.
We were walking down past one group of shops when two homeless guys with beards that ZZ Top would envy were sitting with their backs to the building talking to each other and smoking butts of cigarettes. Massey made the comment that when she had been in Little Five two months ago those exact two men were sitting in the exact same spot. I told her of course they were...It was their living room. But if you're homeless , Little Five is better than under the bridge by Turner Field.
We ate at Little Five Pizza. It is exactly the same kind of pizza joint I worked in when I started working for Johnny's Pizza back in 1981. A hole in the wall. When I started with Johnny's they had two stores. One on Cheshire Bridge Road (another hole in the wall) and the one on Virginia Ave. We were next door to the original Starship Enterprise store and our little strip center was like a family. I can still remember all the shops. Johnny's was on the end, in a former Huddle House. Next store was Starship. Next store to that was Washington Printing (never got that name...he was an Asian who's family ran it.) Maybe they used to be in the laundry business and once through with all that 'washing' learned how to run a print press instead of a pants press and just kept the'washing' part as their name. Maybe after "washin a ton" of clothes they changed their vocation but couldn't think up a new name...hence "Washington Printing." Next to them was the locksmith shop and on the end was the tailor shop run by a Cuban woman. We were like our own little five...before Little Five was Little Five!!
I have been lucky enough to survive and enjoy life for almost half a century.
Going to Little Five reminds me of when I was a reckless twenty year old...reminds me of working at Johnny's (now franchised with well over 100 stores) and reminds me what it means to be young , eclectic or just marching to the beat of a different drum or simply searching for yourself.
All I have to say is I am glad "TATS" weren't the rage when I was young and stupid but can see "Laser Removal" being a booming industry in about twenty years.
Who wants to be in a nursing home when your nurse says "Now Mr. Jones, we got to turn're getting a bedsore where that tattoo is that says "FU#@ the System."
Had a great day and have a great family . Days like this are what make memories for a life time.
Til next time...COTTON

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

A Day Off... With My Kids

Believe it or not I have TWO days off this week. I had yesterday off (You know...the greatest day I've had in months) and I worked tonight. I have tomorrow off and finally got Massey an appointment with the physical therapist at Children's Healthcare in downtown Atlanta for her knee.

I have been so blessed with the government help I have recently received I decided to use that Peachcare plan I have the kids on to finally get her some help for her knee that has been bothering her for months.

The thing about Massey is that she is so dramatic I never know when it's real or just her earning another academy award for "Best Actress in a dramatic role." Her nickname on the Guard is even "Drama" and that pretty much sums her up.

I poo-pooed it for a while but when she came down with strep a couple of months back and Tim took her to the doctor they examined her knee as well and said she needed physical therapy. GO FIGURE...the little stinker was legit with her complaints!

The first time she told me she needed glasses I took her to "Claire's" and bought her some clear glasses just figuring she wanted to have some glasses to look all "Glamorous" and she would be satisfied. When I took her for a sports physical when she wanted to try out for the middle school track team she flunked her eye test and I felt like "Worst Mother of the Year."

You never know with girls...they are either on top of the world or drowning in despair.

The closest place to take her is Atlanta in North Druid Hills...45 miles from home.

I have done a lot for Massey, granted she makes great grades really a sweet girl but with our misfortunes of late I feel I have neglected Zach .

He will NOT allow me to buy clothes for him and would rather go to school buck naked than to wear clothes I pick out for him. He has one pair of cords that he likes and several tee shirts that I bought him two years ago off "" and a Ramones hoodie that my brother bought him for Christmas last year.

Every morning I say "Zach, get up and put on your's time for school."

When he was younger (probably 8, my sister was taking him somewhere in her car when they passed a private school just letting out. He made the comment to my sister as they drove by...'Do they wear the same costumes every day?"

That's what Zach wears every day of the week...his costume and I bet the teachers wonder how poor his parents are that he owns one pair of pants and three tee shirts that all look alike.

So tomorrow we are all headed to Atlanta together.

We will take Massey for knee therapy and Zach for fashion therapy.

Zach is a different kid...DEFINITELY.

He marches to the beat of a different drum...sometimes I even wonder if it IS a drum.

I came home from work tonight and googled thrift stores in Little Five Points in Atlanta. If any one is a " LittleFive" guy, Zach is. He has never been there, but it is place that he will probably see and say to himself "I HAVE FOUND MY TRUE HOME."

You can find some really cheap vintage and classic clothes for a steal. Two bucks for a pair of pants and shirts for fifty cents.

Maybe I'll get REALLY lucky and he will refuse to come back home with me. (TOTALLY KIDDING !)

So Massey will get her much needed therapy and Zach will get some much needed new "Uniforms."

Little Five is an eclectic and funky area that Zach will fall in love with I am sure. My boy needs to have something to smile about and after all I have done for Massey (guard, chorus and even those glasses I fought against) he is due.

Headed off tomorrow for a day with the kids and to enjoy some "ME" time. Isn't it nice that you can consider a day with your teens "ME" time?

An outing and an adventure with the kids...let's see how far I can stretch twenty bucks...I'm guessing pretty far and the reward of being with my kids will be even greater...worth millions!

At least my teens will still go somewhere with me...


Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Black Hole Seems to Have Light

For the past year I having been sinking...slowly and surely into a black hole.

It started as a mole you might feel was suspicious and need to get checked out.

Then you just think it is nothing and keep on going.

Months down the road the mole turns into a wart that luckily is in a place you can hide from others. A few more months and OMG the wart has hairs growing out of it and you begin to feel disgusted.

Suddenly you feel overwhelmed by the hairy wart but think that if you just keep on hiding may go away.

Finally some low life points out your hairy wart and begins to pluck the hairs out at your own by one, leaving you with nothing but a wart.

It's still not a good feeling but at least it's just a wart.

Then you find out the wart is not just a wart but a virus that is encompassing your whole life. You feel like you are secure, have had the same job for over 12 years and feel that at least you have that to fall back on.

The next day you wake up and your wart is a land slide blocking you with no other way out.

At first you just lie under the rubble hoping someone will wake you up and tell you it is all a bad dream. Then days later you realize that your worst nightmare has become a reality and you are on your own...literally financially and emotionally.

That is when true friendship and the love of God comes into play.

You've always been a decent person and always helped others...suddenly your true friends show their true colors and WHAM... lift you up with prayers , e mails calls and monetary help.

They send you gifts... they feed your family and take care of your kids.

Yes it is humiliating in the beginning but welcomed in the end.

I still had a job and was keeping our heads above water.

Then the black hole sweeps in and you are lost. The job you had dissolves. All the work you have done for the past 12 years is nothing and you are left with a gape of wonder and a sense of "What the hell happened."

Then your family and your friends kick into overdrive...keeping not only you but your family afloat.

It doesn't pay your mortgage but allows your family to survive and concentrate on MAKING that mortgage.

I got a new job...a job that I love and a job that loves me.

Until today I did not know that in actuality we were close to being three months behind on our mortgage. My husband talks to the lenders on our mortgage...I don't need any added stress. He told me he was sorry that he had told me and didn't mean to add to my burden.

The thing is...we are a team. He has been overwhelmed as I have by all the gifts that people have sent us...but losing a $700 a week job has set us back even further and I had no idea til today that we were that close to losing the house that is over our heads.

The bank was in the process of trying to debit the monthly payment from my account...for the third time and after failing twice had nothing to show but the two $37 charges for returning the check .

I went to my new job to pick up my paycheck...the one for training and probably the last check I would get...most servers never get a paycheck because taxes are taken out of their tips and the tips are what you live off .

I had a $251.oo check and drove straight to the bank to deposit it along with the money I made last night.

I had to go by and pay Charter because we were late with their payment and my Internet wasn't working.

Came home and got online to check my bank balance and there it was!!

Unemployment had finally been approved and paid me for the last two deposit of $330 and another or $285. With my paycheck the house note cleared and now we are only two months behind.

Baby steps...a little at a time. One foot in front of the other.

When I went to the mailbox...a task I dread lately...I had an debit card from DFACS for food stamps...over $500 for food for my family and the sweetest thing I have had happen in a while. Now I can put all of my tips toward paying bills and the mortgage.

Granted we are still behind but now they know we are making the effort and hopefully we will keep the house.

Without the help of so many we wouldn't have been able to make a house note clear...without the help of so many we wouldn't be in our house at all.

I went and bought groceries...LOTS of groceries and took my coupons with me. I had $40 worth of coupons and if I didn't have to buy dog food would have walked out without spending a dime. My dogs have been downgraded to Kibbles and Bits, but didn't seem to mind. There was a short time that I thought my kids may be eating Kibbles and Bits so it worked out really well.

I know God is never late to answer prayers but he sure can keep you in suspense...

Thanking God, my all my friends and family and a new job for letting me feel like that hairy wart is finally going away. When you're 50...a hairy wart doesn't help.

Getting up in the morning to start paying forward...look out people I intend to make all your love not only justified but well deserved.


TIL NEXT TIME... Cotton with a black hole behind her and a hairy wart fading fast

Monday, April 12, 2010

Server Overboard !!

I just walked in the door from work. Dang, it's a good feeling!

Paid forward some of the many acts of kindness I have been shown and cut my elderly neighbor's yard before work. You know, Mr. (slow)Lee. As usual he stood with his arms crossed over the bed of his huge diesel truck and chain smoked while he watched me cut his front and back yard. I'm not sure why he watches me but he seems to enjoy it so I just wave to him every few turns. I'm not much to look at but I do have a better figure than Mrs (slow)Lee but of course it is hard to see what kind of figure you have in those flowered smock house dresses that women over 80 seem to have a closet full of.
I guess when you're retired there's plenty of time for everything...including watch your neighbor cut the grass. I think he's just waiting for July when I wear my Sofee shorts and a bathing suit top. He's obviously an "A" cup man!!
My cousin's husband came over earlier this morning to service my A/C unit. He gave me a GREAT deal on the freon that has to be replaced every summer and even offered to do it for free. I finally talked him into taking $40 and still got the better end of the deal. One year when I had a Heating and Air guy come out they charged me $250. Our house is a tri level with only one unit ...a 14 year old unit and all the bedrooms are on the third floor. It makes the one unit have to work really well to cool the whole house but a shot of freon once a year does the trick.
Tim got sent for a drug screen for a new job and we are hoping that he starts this week. A drug test is usually a good sign and we are hoping that is the case with this one. He had an interview to be the guy wearing the statue of liberty suit outside of Liberty Tax service but it fell through (Totally kidding!)
Went to work at 5:30 and was disappointed it seemed slow.
Not to worry!
I had only waited on two tables by 7:00 when I got a ten top of women celebrating a birthday...ALL WAITRESSES !!
It was the first big table I had gotten by myself and with LOTS of help from the bartender...a super nice guy, I made it through my first big party . All the girls were from Longhorn. Not the one I worked for but I knew about half of them.
Of course they had heard about my dilemma.
I told one of the girls the same thing I told another former co worker today on Facebook... I should have jumped ship a long time ago but didn't really appreciate being thrown overboard. Thank the Lord I knew how to tread water!
They tipped me $75 letting me walk out of the restaurant making $90 on just three tables. GOD BLESS THE SERVER...THEY TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN !!
Came home all smiles until I walked in the kitchen and saw that Massey had been cooking. In her words...OMG...WTF...(That's 'fudge') I was not LOL and most certainly not ROTFL. I don't feel like she is my BFFL right now. That girl is a walking train wreck. Every pan she used is still in the sink, her burned cookies are still on the stove stuck to the cookie sheet and the trail of crumbs tells me every step she took.
The kitchen will look exactly the same when she gets up for school.
All in all a great day.
The mortgage check still didn't clear but maybe the third time will be the charm! But we're getting closer and closer every day and you know what?? The stinking banks are one of the biggest reasons for the crappy economy and who exactly do they think wants to buy my house besides us? Tim gets paid this Thursday, is it gonna KILL them to wait 72 hours for a payment on a house that is almost paid for anyway? The Clark Howard side of me says it's not. It may not boost our credit rating but credit rating is way down my list of priorities right now.
In the words of ole Willie Nelson we are "On the road again."
I absolutely love my new job and will never work for a big corporation again. The sense of peace I have when I walk in the door is still there when I walk out and the money is more than I would have made being a newbie at my old job.
My new boss is a dead ringer for Mike Meyers as 'Dr. Evil" without the scar but I haven't seen him put his pinkie to his mouth yet and he has been very nice and patient with me...teaching me a lot about Italian food and teaching me how to stay away from an Italian when he is mad. His wife is a wine snob who has taught me a lot about wines and how to stay away from the wife of an Italian when she is mad.
It's a family ... a quirky family but a hard working, nose to the grindstone family who both work seven days a week and have welcomed me with open arms. Of course when they are hugging me they may be shaking their fist at someone behind my back but if I continue to work hard I'll be just fine.
It's been a long time since I have been happy at is a tremendous relief to be somewhere I am wanted and somewhere I want to be.
Til next time...Signora Cotton

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Back Home, Snug in Her Bed

My girl is back home, snug in her bed, visions of World Championships dancing in her head.
Back from Ohio, worn out but ecstatic...bubbling when she got into my car and didn't stop talking until she crashed into her bed.
Thanks to another guard mom for all these pictures...they tell the story of a long road for these young adults and what it means to have perseverance and dedication.
The competition was in Dayton, Ohio and was the World Championships. There were teams from Australia and even Japan.
Our team came in 20th...a pretty remarkable feat for this group of kids. Led by their fearless leader who pushed them long and hard all season, it paid off. Just to look at these pictures and see the smiles on their faces and looks of determination warms my heart.
I love the picture of the saber being spun high in the air and the ending of their show with the guard in a close circle with the confetti being thrown into the air.
Massey was talking 90 MPH to Tim and me in the kitchen as he got ready for work and I packed his lunch. She said "I even got Aunt Cindy something for her birthday." She pulled out a round yellow pin that says "GUARD AUNT."
I thought that was so sweet and was thrilled she didn't pull out another one that said "GUARD MOM GONE WILD."
After having two boys that just wanted to 'Get out of school' as quickly as possible, it is nice to have a kid that is taking advantage of every opportunity she has to savor and enjoy her time there, and make the most of just being a teenager.
I absolutely hated missing this trip, but it just wasn't possible to go. Instead I stayed here and worked...made great money and still got texting from her on an almost hourly basis and spoke with her every night when I got home from work.
The picture of them all dressed up is from the luncheon banquet. Massey said she didn't expect to... but cried at the banquet. This team is a tight one and the love running between them all is even tighter.
They all had matching practice suits (with their names on the back) compliments of two of the guard parents, matching bandannas they all wore and just had an all round wonderful experience and created memories that these kids will think about years from now.
The last picture is of the guard in their circle before warm up (I think)...Massey is the one shoving food in her mouth, but the way they huddle together and they way they bond not only makes me proud but makes me smile .
My girl is home again.
She had many 'Guardian Angels' (BIG pun intended) watching out for her on this trip, that it made the separation so much easier and I have several Thank You notes to write.
So her season is over...I can honestly say I am sad to see it end. What a great organization and great school...but HEY at least she is just a Freshman!!

The picture above is the saber spin and one of my faves. The guy to the left is the hard nosed leader that makes them the champs they are.

This picture is the finsh of their program and brought tears to my eyes...they just LOOK like they are celebrating, don't they?

Yes, I guess I am "GUARD MOM GONE WILD."

As always, click on the pics...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Time For the "DAYUNCE"

I went into work tonight to see girls in prom dresses being led to one of my tables.


No server likes prom night. It's amateur night...people that would normally never go out to a nice restaurant but have been forced (by Mother's Day or prom) to spend money on a fancy meal when they would rather be cooking a frozen pizza or eating microwave popcorn.

The two young girls sat down at my table...perfect hair, manis and pedis freshly done and hair do's that set their parents back as much as the meal was going to cost. I went to greet them and told them they looked beautiful (which as 16 year old girls they already knew) and took their drink orders.

When I came back with their sweet tea I asked what prom they were going to? They replied with such a southern drawl that it made me sound like a Southie from Boston. They were from about an hour south of Newnan...a small town (and it showed, bless their hearts.)

I asked if they wanted to start out with something and OF COURSE they said "Just some of that bread y'all bring." The table was set for four and I asked if they were waiting on other girls or dates?

One of the girls replied that it was their dates and the other girl said "They gone to get diesel." I kept a straight face and made it away from the table without cracking up. "Gone to get diesel"...I think I would have just said they were at the gas station.

I immediately pictured them pumping diesel into a monster 4x4 trying not to spill it on their pants.

The boys arrived shortly thereafter and I began to take their order. The first girl pointed to the "Adriatica'...scallops, shrimp and Maryland blue crab meat cooked with lobster broth, sherry and marinara sauce served over pasta (excellent choice) but she ordered it this way: "I ain't got no clue how to say it but this is what I want."

On to the first young man...he ordered Chicken Alfredo. I asked him what type pasta he wanted and he said "I guess them noodles like they have at Olive Garden." I replied "Let's give your the fettuccine."

They were really sweet kids and I wish I could tell you how long one of the boys took figuring out the tip on his phone/ calculator. At least he put in 15% and that's what I got. The other guy was cheaper, probably saving money for some Sloe Gin later on if they could find someone to buy it.

The night picked up. Although it was slow I sold three bottles of wine ($120.00) to two tables and made a $20 tip on a $70 tab and made a $44 tip on a $242 tab. In my 12 years at Longhorn I NEVER sold three bottles of wine in one night.

This is the place I needed to be years ago. A place where the food is fresh, custom made...specials every night of the week and owners and staff that are like one big family. MY FAMILY now!

How about these for specials?

Steel head Trout: Fresh steel head trout lightly dredged in corn flour and pan fried in olive oil. Served with lemon tarragon aioli, smashed red bliss potatoes and asparagus with chili vinegar.

Or...Roasted Pork Tenderloin: spice rubbed pork tenderloin, roasted and served with fennel, caramelized onions, sauteed apples, walnuts and an anisette and brown sauce. Served with roasted red bliss potatoes.

Or even my daughter's favorite... Parmesan Encrusted Tilapia: Fresh Tilapia topped with herbs and Parmesan then baked with diced Roma tomatoes, lobster broth and cream sherry. Served over spinach.

Just one more...

Zach's favorite... Seafood Crepes: Crepes filled with shrimp, scallops and salmon in a sherry lobster cream sauce. Served with deep fried green beans.

I have found a new home and a job that doesn't FEEL like a job. Life is looking up, and so am I every time I thank The Lord for taking care of me and leading me once again in the right direction.

Til next time...Contented COTTON

Friday, April 9, 2010

Simply Sisters


She is my best friend. She stepped in when my mother died and raised me to be the woman I am today (I hope I have lived up to her standards.)

She will probably want to kill me for a lot of these pictures, but who WAS cute in elementary school? I can guarantee that my mother sewed most of the outfits we are all wearing as kids...she was a "Demon" with a Singer sewing machine.

My brother stepped in as my Dad as I have grown older but my sister has been my best friend, mentor and saving salvation as I have traveled the road of life and steered me in the right direction numerous times...she is my personal GPS.

So she started out cute as a button in the baby picture...curly pig tails and all. Once her permanent front teeth came in it was a whole different story!

At least my parents had the sense (and cents) to send her straight to the orthodontist once those "Chompers" grew in. I was always a gawky ugly sort but at least I couldn't eat corn on the cob through a picket fence!

Once those braces came off she was a true beauty...still is.

She was a high school teacher out of college, taught my college room mate in high school... introduced us and gave me another life long friend.

She left teaching to become a flight attendant with Delta...for thirty plus years, and retired to follow her calling as a "Professional Volunteer."

An avid Braves fan, an excellent painter (rooms not canvases) and a friend to every person she has ever met...her heart has no depth.

She volunteers at a Thrift store and is one of the greatest things to ever happen to her church, volunteering so much her tithe ought to be cut in half.

She helps out her two boys (who are really men, but when they are your kids they will ALWAYS be kids.)

She is a dog lover, just like me...has a boxer but has lost several over the years. She even has a "Hell cat" that I can't for the life of me understand why she loves so dearly. But that's my sister.

Full of love and good grace.

Full of compassion for others (including me) and would take the entire world under her (left) wing if her arm pit was big enough.

The things she has done for me and the immense love I feel for her simply cannot be put into words, but don't need to . They are a feeling, an emotion and a sense that is indescribable but felt in the heart , soul and mind.

My mother left this world when I was 17, my father when I was 42.

They knew what they were doing when they left me in the hands and heart of my sister and brother.

Life has finally sent me a few bumps and ruts in the road. My siblings have been my paving crew. They have not only paved the way but given me the gift of love, support and the chance for some breathing room while I take a breath , plunge ahead and move on to survive.

Hopefully you will click on all the pics because even though she was geeky and buck toothed in her adolescence...she has turned into one of the most beautiful women I have ever known and feel ridiculously lucky to have her as a sister.

Happy birthday, Cin.

Know that I love you and that you have made a difference in literally hundreds of lives...if not thousands.

Thank you for giving me the honor of calling you my "Sis."

Happy Birthday, wishing you many, many more!

Til next time, COTTON

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Homely and Lonely...That's ME!

Geez, it's been 15 hours since my girl abandoned me for Ohio and I'm already missing her. I thought it would make me feel better to upload some of my favorite pictures of her. Most of them are from her early youth and one is my favorite guard picture of the girl's reciting The Lord's Prayer before a competition earlier this season.

How do kids grow up so quickly and kill us so slowly?

It's ALWAYS something with your kids; The girls AND the boys. Granted the girls are always more dramatic and intense and the boys are much easier to please...but I love them all and couldn't imagine my life without them.

Massey left this morning...they were to meet at the school @ 6:30 and Massey was riding with a girl on guard who has her license so I wouldn't have to take her. Massey is an early riser so I knew I wouldn't have to wake her up. I set my alarm for 6:10 so I could see her off. I woke up and called to her but she didn't answer. I figured she was probably downstairs on the computer or in the kitchen eating breakfast. I wandered downstairs to find an empty kitchen and no one on the computer. I went back upstairs and saw she hadn't taken her pillow so thought she might be out in the driveway waiting on her friend.

I got her pillow and a blanket for her to use on the bus and went out in our driveway to find it dark and empty.

My heart dropped. How could she leave without even waking me up to say good bye? I immediately got dressed and threw her pillow and blanket in the car and zipped off to the school. I sent her a text "Where R U?" She sent one right back "I am on my way to OHIO!!!"

The thought of her leaving for Ohio without me being able to hold that sweet round face between my hands and sink my fingers into that mass of curls while I kissed her good bye and told her I loved her gave me a sickening feeling.

I arrived at the school and there were about 5 guard girls standing around their cars in the pre dawn light. I got out of my car and asked if Massey was there and they said "No."

Panic began to sink in and my "Parent Paranoia" took over. Zach says I am the most paranoid mom he has ever met (lucky boy in my book.)

I immediately started thinking "What if something happened to her OR me while she was gone and I hadn't had that last look into her clear blue eyes and told her face to face how much I loved her?" ...Maybe Zach IS right, but I don't care!

The little stinker had left early to go to McDonalds with her friend and wasn't even to the school yet. I sent her a text telling her I was at the school and she text back "Be Right there."

WHEW!!! I hadn't missed her after all.

The car came rolling into the school parking lot and Massey came bouncing over to the car. I asked her why she left without waking me up and she said she was going to but Jill got there early and was already in the driveway so she had to leave.

I asked her if she had her pillow , she rolled her baby blues and said she had left it on her bed.

BAM! Mama had the pillow AND a blanket in the car to make that 9 hour drive comfy and warm. I have to hand it to myself, I know how to make kids feel guilty and make myself look like a hero all in one fell swoop.

She was so excited about this trip and teens have no concept of the meaning of paranoia or concern...they are all invincible and live strictly "In the moment."

I told her she couldn't leave me without a hug and kiss for luck and she sweetly apologized ; I got out of the car and we held each other tightly and I breathed in the wonderful smell of my little girl who is quickly...too quickly becoming a woman and making her way into young adulthood.

What a feeling of relief to see her, hold her and give her a kiss as she starts this first big journey of her life. I know there are many journeys trips and adventures in store for her and I want to kiss her goodbye at the start of every single one and be the first person she smiles at and hugs tightly when she returns.

HEY!! She owes me that much and as a mother...that is all I need.

I drove back home with a feeling of serenity and a sense that "All will be okay now."

My paranoia went away, I worked a double shift with no worries or regrets , knowing that she is having the time of her life and MY eyes were the last ones that held hers in a look that says ...


Dang being a parent is tough...Thank the Lord the rewards are so sweet.

Til next time... Constantly Cautious Cotton (or as Zach says...Just a Freak)

P.S. As always, click on photos to view in original size...she's even cuter close up!