Thursday, December 29, 2011

Dr. Seuss Was Right!

"What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?"

I stressed myself to the max about two days before Christmas Eve. I didn't have a tree (for the first time in fifty one years)  I hadn't bought the first present for anyone, let alone my kids. Unfortunately...or not , my kids all know I am broke and asked for nothing.
While at work the day before Christmas Eve, an angel came in and handed Barb, my boss an envelope to give to me. She left quickly saying she didn't want me to see her and when I opened the envelope there was a note that simply read "Merry Christmas from a friend" and had a hundred dollar bill inside. I was stressed because I knew I was negative in my checking account, which allowed no room for my artful kiting skills. I knew over the next  two days I would make enough money  to buy some food and a few small presents but was frantic over my bank account. My wonderful boss offered me a loan and between her and my Christmas angel I was on my way as soon as I got off work. My bank account was in the black and I had at least one present for each of my kids.

It doesn't end there. I got home with less than a hour before I was due back for the dinner shift and a friend of Massey's mother had come by and loaded my kitchen cabinets with food and my freezer as well. I sat at the kitchen table and bawled like a baby , wiped away the tears and headed back to work. I made pretty decent money and Christmas Eve day bought a couple more presents and since I was in the black went by my favorite store (who takes longer than any store I know to process a check) and finished my shopping. It was a bare minimum and I felt like a crappy Momma but now  had some presents and food for Christmas Day.

I gave my husband the twenty bucks I had left and demanded he go out and find me a tree while I was at work Christmas Eve night.

We were busy as a bee hive at work and my last table (who came in five minutes before closing left me a forty five dollar tip on a hundred dollar tab.)

By the time I got off it was 10:45 PM on Christmas Eve.

Like any other waitress or bartender... I headed to the gas station...the only store still open. I was first in line with a Waffle House waitress behind me and her co worker behind her. I took that last PHAT tip  and bought forty five scratch off lotto tickets. When I bought the tickets and commented they were for my kids,  one of the waitresses behind me said "You're a good Momma!"
 I got home and divided them up between my  kids and two nephews. I called my sister (like I do most every night) and we decided to set ground rules. "If they hit anything over $100 I get a ten percent cut."

Barb had given me  a Turkey Breast from Honey Baked Ham for helping the restaurant with their Face book page and once home,  I was all set! The tree was up and decorated and my oldest son was there. I had all three of my kids there for Christmas, had presents , a tree and felt the weight of the world suddenly lift from my tiny, bony shoulders.

On Christmas morning I woke, tired as a granny from the ten shifts I crammed into the past week... but when my kids opened their presents and we had a tree to sit around, it felt really good.

A few hours later my nephew arrived with his girlfriend, followed shortly by my sister her husband and my other nephew. My brother showed up last announcing his arrival by coming in my back kitchen door blowing an air horn. It's the first time my bull dog's ears have worked and the hair on his fat little neck stood out like a Mohawk. He barked for five minutes and we all laughed for at least fifteen.

The party began, my brother started making bloody mary's and all the food was set out to eat. We laughed so much it was ridiculous, we ate drank and quickly became merry!

All the kids were spoiled  rotten by my brother and we all laughed and laughed and laughed. If there is one thing I can say about my's that we are a fun bunch!

The one person  that deserved a gift from me was my brother. He was the one I didn't buy for but knew he would understand. He would want me to buy for my kids...and I did. My sister and I  already pinkie sweared we wouldn't exchange gifts and were okay with that. She gave me dish towels that I desperately needed and I gave her a hour long massage that made us look like Ellen and Portia on their anniversary. If my family heard her utter one more time "OH yeah, RIGHT there" we would both be masters of ceremony in a gay pride parade. It meant a lot to her and she swears I could be a professional masseuse. (Shows how easy my sister is to please.)
The next  day I got up to go to work and my car battery was dead. My brother in law came over and took the battery to be tested (it was  dead as a door nail) and fixed the breaker switch so the washer and dryer my brother gave us worked .

It was a great Christmas! I was together with my family, we laughed more than I have in months and everyone had a good time.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." (Dr. Seuss)

I am not a great person, far from it. But I work hard and love harder and my life has been blessed because of it.

Enjoy the video of my crazy brother berating my nephew for not knowing how to use Massey's camera...he was supposed to be taking a picture but shot a short video instead. A short glimpse into the family that means more to me than anything. They are my life and the reason I keep on keeping on!!

Til next time...COTTON

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Well..It's Christmas and All Through the House...

It happened... Christmas that is.
I worked myself into a frenzy and had several breakdowns but as usual God , family strangers and friends made it happen.

I wasn't crazy about working Christmas Eve night but didn't have a choice...I needed to. Of course I got seated with a party of five, five minutes before we closed at eight PM. Only one woman ... with a child in a high chair.  She was waiting for the rest of the party to show up. They got there at 8:20. I felt like throwing up. I had so many things to do at the house.

I sucked it in and treated them as well as I do any of my tables. It was their first time eating with us and I gave them my spiel. They were really  nice... anyway, what does it matter if it is after eight thirty on Christmas Eve? Even Wal Mart was closed. I  sold them two desserts and got the tab up to $100.
 They left and I went to clear  the table. They had left me a $40 tip!

I chased them down  in the parking lot and told them how much I appreciated their generosity and said to the man who paid the tab "Thanks Santa!"
I  got out of work around ten and headed  for the gas station to finish my Christmas shopping  I started today at noon. I was in line first with a Waffle House waitress behind me and her co worker behind her. I decided to play the odds and take that last phat tip and gamble it on lotto tickets  for my three kids and my two nephews.

 I said to the Indian guy behind the counter who totally spoke no English "I want forty Christmas scratch off tickets." Thankfully his cousin Apu was near by and translated. The waitress behind me looked at me and I said "They're for my kids." She said "Damn you're a good momma."

You know what? I have been so stressed thinking what a terrible mom I am not being able to spoil my kids rotten this Christmas.
But when I talked to my sister last night,  all depressed about Christmas  she reminded me that when all my kids were young and believed in Santa...Tim and I were sitting PHAT and spoiled them rotten.

 Now they are all old enough to know that utilities and  the staples of life are a gift.  None of my kids expect anything but with the help of generous customers and my generous bosses they will all have a pretty decent Christmas. My brother came through , fixed our furnace and gave us a new washer and dryer, my sister came through and talked me out of my suicidal breakdown, friends have provided us with Christmas dinner and all will be Merry at the Cottons on Christmas morning.

Two tough years behind me and the world in front of me..

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Til next  time..Popping Cotton!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas is Next Week, Right?

I have two days til Christmas Eve and haven't done anything. No tree... It's the first time in 51 years I have never had a live tree. I've bought two presents and one of them has already been given.

I make myself feel better by saying "Christmas isn't til next week." In fact Christmas is on Sunday, which is the first day of the I'm good til next week.

I'm not  stressing too much. My kid's are old enough to know I am broke as a joke. My sister and I have agreed to not buy each other presents. I am giving my brother a check for $1000.00 post dated for 2014 and giving my nephews gas cards. Depending on how much I make tomorrow on my double shift...  they may get twenty a piece or if I hit the jack pot, thirty.

I am more concerned about buying a ham and a turkey for sandwiches on Christmas Day when everyone comes to our house.

I truly believe that this is our last "poor" year. I have Massey's wish list covered when I get off from my lunch shift  Thursday, my boys could care less about a present  and as long as I have plenty of food and drink we will have a fabulous time.

It's hard to be fifty one and struggling. On the other hand it has brought me promptly back to Earth. Nothing is promised, nothing is  guaranteed. The things that are important change as you grow older and you simply adapt.

I am more worried about getting my house clean before everyone comes over on Christmas Day to get their "Non" presents. I have two dogs and two teens who battle for the messiest and I am working double shifts on Thursday and Friday... My oldest son has moved away but will be here too.

It will be a house full of Leach/Cottons and a place that will warm my heart and soul.
It will be what Christmas is all, fun and tons of laughter.

My present will be all of us being together. Trust me, when my brother and sister are here...add me in the mix and it is a pretty good time!

We had great parents...they left us way too early but left us in the company of each other. I think being  around my sister and brother is the greatest Christmas present I could ever wish for.

I may not be able to buy presents but my family's "Presence" is just the thing I need !

Working double shifts Thursday and Friday. Have Saturday day off to scramble together food  and first/last minute shopping.

I have a feeling this will be the greatest Christmas EVER!

No wonder they call me Rotten Cotton...I am spoiled beyond belief. To put it simply... I am loved!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Tis The Season...

So as I sit here at my computer...time is ticking away. I have four days til Christmas Eve and  finally bought my first present today. Actually my second. (I bought a  friend a book I knew she wanted and gave it to her when she came in for a Christmas party with her work group at my restaurant. She brought me the same exact present when she came in...great minds think alike)

So I've bought two...Starting early this year! You know I used to get stressed out. I passed stressed out about a year back, moved on to freaking out , sat in a closet and cried for a day and then just moved on to face the rest of my life. You can hide from your problems but they won't go away...only YOU can make them go away. I was one of the lucky ones, I had tons of help...more than I deserved.

I am lucky that my kids are 25, 19 and 16. The Tooth Fairy , Easter Bunny and Santa years are behind them. For years they were all spoiled rotten, so was I.

The past two years have been eye opening yet heart warming. We have made it through, lost some perks but have  learned to truly appreciate.

My kid's are kids. They took everything for granted. Over the past two years they have learned (along with me) NOTHING is guaranteed. They have  learned how to make dinner out of whatever is in the kitchen cabinet and not one of them has whined about it. (well maybe, but just a little)

I think this may be our greatest Christmas ever...

I have tomorrow day off and plan to go buy a Christmas tree. Heck, shouldn't they be marked down by now? I may bring home a twenty foot tree for twenty bucks! Then I'll go into work and let Zach decorate it. Granted I may come home to a "Bob Marley"  Christmas tree but that's okay with me...maybe I'll drink some"Red, red wine" and help him.

I have been paying bills and just trying to stay ahead of my checks. I have been working like a demon while being sick for over a week. I am old, I am sprouting more gray than Betty White but bursting at the seams with the Christmas Spirit.

It's not about the gifts. It's about saying Merry Christmas to random people you pass on the street. It's about holding a door open for someone. It's about letting people cross in front of you when you are sitting in your car waiting for a parking spot while they are walking in the rain carrying packages.. It's about dropping a dollar into a Salvation Army bucket every time you see one. It's about going to Big Lots and buying baby dolls and dropping them off for "Toys for Tots." It's about telling people "God bless you" when you hear them sneeze.

It's about not judging people. It's about loving. It is about knowing however bad off  your life is, there are literally hundreds of millions that would feel lucky to walk in your shoes...Heck, they would be thrilled to just HAVE shoes.

I am not worried one bit. I have a houseful coming over on Christmas Day...but they are MY family and I could feed them all Spaghettios and they wouldn't complain. That's how lucky I am.

I am one of the luckiest women in the world. I have a husband that for some bizarre reason loves me. I have three kids that are healthy,  perhaps sometimes underfed to their glutton's desire but doing okay. I have a brother and sister who have come to my rescue more times than I can count. I am a lucky woman.

My Christmas will be already is. Our furnace is fixed thanks to my brother, who is probably still looking for a transfer to Yemen to get away from me. I have a sister who is my touch stone.

Christmas will happen...I am sure of it. It may be a Christmas of home made gifts and excuses but it will be a Merry one.

I will be at the gas station on Christmas Eve. I will start on the motor oil aisle, work my way to the gift card stand and end up buying scratch off tickets and gas cards for my nephews.

We'll have a big ham and eat sandwiches all day and my brother will bring his rolling bar and provide us with Bloody Mary's.

Never take for granted what you have today, just be thankful for God, family and the chance to wake up tomorrow and make it a better day.

So what I'm not a big dog anymore...I have seen Chihuahua's that could chew your arm off, or at least act like they could.

It's not the size of your stature but the size of your heart. Tell a random person "Merry Christmas" and notice the surprised look on their face...That should tell you a lot about what is wrong with this world.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

Merry Christmas...God bless, and Pay It Forward!!

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Spin It Any Way You Want...I'm On The Downhill Slide

So I am fifty one years old...will be fifty two in seven months. Even if I live to be a hundred I am on the down hill slope of my life. My eyes are terrible my legs kill me constantly and I think my wrinkles are in a race with my gray hair.

I waited on a table the other day of six Blue Hairs, all decked out in their Christmas sweaters, earrings bracelets and socks. They were so sweet but it started me thinking..."This will be ME in twenty years." (if I live that long)
I went to take their drink order when the one on the outside of the booth was dabbing at her nose with a Kleenex . I asked what she wanted to drink and she promptly pulled out her blouse and tucked the tissue into her bra and not batting an eye said "I'll just have water." For Pete's sake! It wasn't an embroidered linen handkerchief from her great grandmother, it was a piece of tissue... (fancy  toilet paper) but she was saving it for future use.

People  in their eighties remember what it's like to be poor and most probably are freaked out over gas being sometimes  almost four  dollars a gallon and monthly electric bills that would once have heated their house for the entire year  . People in their eighties know how to stretch a dime and obviously a Kleenex  too. People in their eighties are ME in less than thirty years...YIKES!

I like waiting on older folks. You  bring bread to their table and they all clasp  their hands together in joy as if you sat down a plate of caviar. Most all servers I work with are in their twenties, so when I wait on   seniors and chat with them I  remember things that they do...rotary dial phones, even the ones you hand cranked. My mom had one hanging on our kitchen wall.  Ours didn't work but the bell still did. I remember black and white TV, rabbit ears and "Charles Chips." I remember the Cuban Missile crisis , Truth or Consequences,  The Lawrence Welk Show and Art Linkletter.

JEEZ...I AM old!

How did it happen?  I don't stuff Kleenex into my bra (although I did in high school) but I AM guilty of sometimes squeezing my legs together when I sneeze real hard. I still weigh what I did in high school and it suddenly seems  that is about all I have left of my youth.

I know it could be worse but I sure wish I could roll the clock back JUST a bit. My twenties I don't really remember much (oops), my thirties were great and my forties were outstanding.

Now I sit at the top of the last slide of life. I don't want to go down but I have to.  Age is behind me shoving from the back. I can hear them laughing "She can't even read a book without glasses, just give her a push... she won't see where she's going."

I had kids late in life so now I am faced with growing old and still having to stay somewhat young so I don't look like a complete idiot to my two remaining teens and their friend's that feel my house is a food/ drink/ video/ cyber magnet.

I like having teens here, I really do. If they weren't all hanging at my house I would just wonder where they  were... worry  more and  increase my wrinkles/gray hair intake.

 My doctor (the one on General Hospital) says to keep  stress levels down so I just let them all hang here and have learned quite a bit from them along the way.

It took me a while to learn how to use "Word" on my cell phone and even longer to learn all the text acronyms. I am now FYI, SMHS  at WTH is going on with not only society but the world in general.  We seem to need help ASAP  and realize  WWJD?

I'm hanging in there, I'm coming off a two year run of bad luck but by the grace of God and the love of family and friends will make a while longer.

I am thinking about a book of acronyms for us ole farts.  I  Like  HFM "Hot Flash Momma" or BIKM "Back Is Killing Me."  How about SCP911 "Sharp Chest Pains 911" I think the best would be MCBRTY..."Merry Christmas Blog Readers Thank You."

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Til tomorrow...COTTON

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Welcome To MY World Little Missy!

So Massey has started working part time for the restaurant I work for...and she thought OUR family was dysfunctional!

We are a bunch of nuts at work and all a little crazy in our own individual ways, but that's the way I like it. Mixed nuts have always been my favorite.

She's not feeling her best, our furnace has been out for three days and of course she came down with a cold right before the heat went out. On top of that her bedroom is the only one on the ground floor with the garage on the other side of one wall and the front of the house on other words her room is the coldest one in the house. Luckily I bought her a small ceramic space heater last week on a whim for her room and also she is right by the kitchen so I just turn the oven on 200 degrees before I go to bed around 2 and Tim turns it off when he gets up early for work. Heck, I should throw a roast in the oven before I go to bed and dinner would be ready by six in the morning!

She worked with us last night busing tables and I'll have to hand it to her, even feeling like crap she did a great job. She has grown up surrounded by the restaurant world and knows how the system works, knows to ignore the potty mouth she hears from the back and how to behave in the front of the house. One of the hostesses who is eighteen decided to call in and quit over the phone so she got got put on the schedule for this morning as well. I had to close last night and didn't get out til late so Tim picked her up and she came home... fell into bed with another dose of cold medicine and was ready before me this morning for work.

When we got there she asked who the hostess was and I told her "It's YOU."

With brief instructions we opened the doors and "Off she went!"  She did just fine and hung in there til almost four this afternoon when I got off. I took her across the street to Target and bought her some flu medicine, bought her and Zach some sandwiches from Panera and dumped her off at  home and got back to work ten minutes late for my night shift. What amazes me is she did a better job than some of the grown people we have had host for us. She made me proud and has fifty bucks to show for it.

She has the owner Len wrapped around her little finger. I have never seen the big ole bear  as sweet as he is when talking about or to Massey.

Another server, Hoke (my best friend...remember Driving Miss Daisy?) told Massey "Don't get sucked into this restaurant's like a drug, you just can't stop or get out." He is right in a way...look at me! It's a life I chose but a life that has served me well. (small pun) Every shift I work is  pay day, the better I do my job the better the pay check. Not always,  but if you do your best the odds are in your favor. At  the age of fifty "ish" I think of myself more as a writer...a poor writer but still a writer. I have faith in myself that one day it will happen for me and being a server has helped support my family until I can reach my OWN goal... of being discovered, published or both.

Massey will go far in life, I have no doubt. She is driven and hungry (totally a metaphor...I DO feed my kids although we HAVE been through a ton of peanut butter in the past two years and she has only recently learned to drive.)

She will use this job as a vehicle to help her reach her her desired goals and it will be padding along the bumpy way to a successful life.

She's working with a bunch of nuts,  me being one of the biggest ones. I like being a nut, makes life so much more fun!

Another server and I had a group of ten older ladies in a private room today  for their little Christmas get together. They all came,  each in a Christmas sweater or vest..some had both. Of course it was all separate checks. I had the checks printed off but when I went back into the room they had all changed seats to chat with other friends so I just called out what they had ordered wanting them to raise their hand and claim their check.

The first check,  I said "So who had the small Barbarella salad?" They all sat stunned and no one said said anything. I repeated it and they all sat silent and stared at me. Finally the woman in the reindeer vest sat up straight and said "Oh, that was me!"

I said "Thank goodness, I thought maybe I was in the wrong happens to me all the time, that  hamster falls asleep in his little wheel." That got  a chuckle and things went smoothly after that. They were adorable and left us a phat 20% tip.

I  enjoy being in charge of my own destiny. The harder I work, the better service I give... the better my audience seems to appreciate me.

My co worker was right in a way...waiting tables IS like a drug. You need money... you work.  If you need more money you work even more. You work until you have what you need then enjoy the high of your success and want even MORE!

People who don't think being a server is a real job aren't  being me!

I don't wanna brag but I am a master of my craft and a professional at what I do.  What makes icing on the cake is that I enjoy it and it suits me just fine.

Call me a dealer...I am! I deal out great service in a time when people want the best bank for their buck. When they go out and spend hard earned lucky are they to get not only excellent service but a comedy show for free?

Come see me...I do ten to twelve shows a week!

The beach season has opened in the restaurant world...three weeks where you pack your nuts for the rest of winter. Hopefully my little cheek's will be poppin' and droppin' !!

Come see me for some yummy food and meet the new Hostess Extraordinaire!! Remember, mention my blog and you get a free appetizer or dessert!

Til Next time...COTTON

Saturday, December 10, 2011

At Least He is Handsome and Hardworking...

I have been married to Tim for over twenty years. He is handsome and hard working but knows his weaknesses. "Fixing anything or even attempting to try."

Me...I'll attempt anything and usually get the job done with a minimal amount of duct tape. I have replaced the faucet and pipes in  the kitchen sink, fixed ole Johnny Boy on numerous occasions and fixed our dryer several times. My next door husband has taught me a lot and I learned a lot by trial and error. I have unstopped drains and replaced the innards of toilets. I have fixed ceiling fans and I have replaced many a vent hose. Lawn mowers seem to be my "Forte" I feel like I could build a John Deere from the ground up.

Our microwave quit turning about a year ago and was just aggravating. The food never heated all  the way through because the table didn't turn and  burned popcorn every  time for the same reason.

I work in a restaurant which means we are in our "Beach Season." We have from Thanksgiving to New Years to pack our nuts for the Winter. Massey was at work with me one day last week and as I counted my tips said "Let's go get a new microwave when I get off."
 A co worker said "Can you wait three days?" Of COURSE I can wait three days...I have been using a piece of crap microwave for over  a year. She owns a house in South Carolina she is trying to rent and had an extra microwave in it. She was driving up  to check on the house and said she would bring the spare one back for me.

Just like my email address says, we are "The Clampetts." She brought it to work with her a few days later and I stuck it in the trunk of my car when I left after a lunch shift to go pick Massey up from  the high school. When Massey  came out and popped the trunk to throw her book bag in she squealed "OOH a Microwave!"

We took it home and you would have thought I brought a new puppy to the house. Zach came into the kitchen and commented on how much bigger it was and toted the carcass of the old one out to the garage to die.  Massey immediately wanted to cook some Ramen noodles and I took a picture of her using the microwave for the first time and we sent the pic to my co worker on my phone.

Some people may think that is pitiful..we call it "Stinkin' Grateful!"

Massey and I went to the grocery store and while there picked up some microwave pop corn in  celebration. I asked Massey if we should get big bags or  mini bags? She voted for the mini bags so we chose them .

I got home from work the next night and Massey  told me when she asked Tim how he liked the new microwave he  said "Well the POP CORN button doesn't work, it burned the crap out of it."

I think microwaves are spooky too from the get go. They move molecules around and cook things. But they aren't smart enough to know if you put in a mini bag or regular size bag of pop corn!!  I guess Tim thought they did.

Yes, he is my "Homer Simpson."

But if he can put up with me I guess I can put up with him...

Til next time...Marge COTTON

Thursday, December 8, 2011

So I'm Old..

Got home from work tonight and walked into the house through the kitchen door. I had the thermostat set on 67 and it was 64 in the house. Now I am all about keeping cool all with my hot flashes, but knowing Massey is sleeping on the bottom floor of the house  and winter has made it's appearance known the past two days... it worried me.

I didn't want to open the attic door on  the top floor of the house,  flooding the upstairs with cold air in case it was something I couldn't quickly fix but did it anyway. The furnace was making noise so I scampered back down the stairs and quickly shut the door.

Like the new age techno savvy mom I am I went to Face book for an answer, getting post after post from a friend of mine from when I worked for Johnny's Pizza back in the early eighties. That's what broke people like..."Free advice."

We went through several question and answer  posts and after determining it was a gas furnace and secretly going into my kitchen to light the stove top to make sure we hadn't had our gas turned off, my friend mentioned maybe I should check the batteries in my digital thermostat. Heck I didn't even know it HAD batteries! I pulled the cover off and discovered three totally dust covered AA batteries. I went around the house and pulled three AA batteries out of remote controls and plugged them in. When the thermostat came back on the numbers were so bright it looked like a neon sign in Vegas.

I was on the phone by this point with my sister. It was cold in  the house so I started drinking some wine Barb had given me from work. (A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do to keep warm.)

When I changed the batteries we went from 64 to 65 in a matter of five minutes.

I told my sister I never even knew the thermostat ran on batteries.  It reminded me of the time when the kids were still young and they came out with the wireless mouse for your computer. Of course when they first came out you paid like thirty bucks for one and since we were still doing well back then I ran out to Circuit City and purchased it.

About eight months later it stopped working and I took the mouse back to the store. I told the woman behind the service counter  it had stopped working and wanted another one. She asked me if the batteries in it were new? I said I didn't know it took batteries and she simply replied "Baby, did you  think it was magic?"

Well as matter of fact I did! It came with a little plug in for my modem and I thought it was working off of that.  I felt like an idiot (what else is new) when she put in two AA batteries and it worked like a champ.

So a digital thermostat has batteries too... Learned me another lesson! We are back up to 65 but still a little chilly. I think my batteries were dead in my thermostat but may have a furnace problem too. Just going to bed with the oven on 200 degrees and dealing with it tomorrow.

Massey has a space heater in her room and I have one in the kitchen. All the rest of us are on the third floor where it is five degrees warmer.

Surviving another night here in the Cotton compound. If we can can live without money for two years we can make it one night without heat!

At least I don't have to worry about hot flashes tonight...


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

27,000 !!!

Logged in tonight and noticed the stats...I have had 27,000 hits on my blog! I went to the stats page to see what kind of people read my incessant drivel. I have readers from not only the United States but the following: Russia, India, Philippines, Canada, Germany, Italy, Pakistan(Yikes!) Puerto Rico, Turkey, United Kingdom, Slovenia, Denmark, Australia, and Netherland. That totally blows my itty bitty mind.

I started my blog as a vent but it grew into a personal venture and a healing machine for my soul and sanity.

I went from comfortably well off upper middle class to welfare in the span of less than twelve months. It was an eye opening jaw dropping  lesson in humility and gratitude. I have learned a lot about myself and a lot about how much I am loved and how many blessings I have.

We are on the road back to what Massey calls "Being unpoor." Although Tim and I felt the finacial weight bearing down on us like a ton of bricks, it wasn't easy for my two kid's still at home. We actually had to not so gently shove the oldest out to flap his own wings and fly away. I still feel bad about that, but he has matured and made it on his own and it makes me smile to know how wonderful he has turned out to be.

Still got two at home both in their teens driving me to look like the above photo. Massey is a great girl but when you are feamle and sixteen...Drama is your middle name. I remember it well.
Zach is like a son in a sitcom series....somebody's gotta be making this crap up! I love him anyway but he is close to getting shooed out of the nest as well. (Maybe his older bro needs a room mate.)

My life is comical to say the least. It is never dull around here.

I came home from work tonight after working an eleven hour shift to find my living room all re arranged by my younger son. He moved the 42" TV to the other side of the room which was fine by me. Now it won't have the glare coming through the windows making the picture harder to see in  the daytime.  My problem was he routed the cable wire across my fireplace mantle and had it tacked down with push pins (nice touch.) He also moved my sofa out of the living room and into my dining room for some unknown and bizarre reason.

I came home from work and sat down at  the computer in  the dining room to check my email when Tim came downstairs from the bedroom and spoke to the two dogs laying on  the floor behind me. "Well look at  this, now Momma can do her blog and then just plop on the couch and go to sleep."

I glared at him but relented the glare when he rubbed my aching shoulders for about 45 seconds.

Now tomorrow I have to drag my couch back up to the living room. At least the living room is all vacuumed and ready for the return of the "sitting device."

One thing is for sure...there's never a dull moment in our house (unless we are ALL gone) but then again who knows WHAT my two crazy pups do when we are!

Thinking about getting a Christmas tree on my day off tomorrow. Heck I could buy a forest of trees with all the room we have now in my livng room...

Til next time, lived another day to tell another story COTTON

Monday, December 5, 2011

Had a "ME" Night

 I don't get out much unless it is to work, the high school, bank or the grocery store. Tonight I met former co workers at Mama Lucia's for a Holiday gathering. The above photo is Massey with one of my favorite former co workers who looks so much like Massey it scares me. They both have that wild curly hair  they always try to pin down (not working) and those wide faces. When I started working at the Western Sizzler back in 1998 (When Massey was a toddler) people used to think she was Massey's mom. Looking at pictures of them together I can see why!

I booked us a room at Mama Lucia's and we all got together for the best  three hours I have had in a while.
 Of course the food was fabulous. The wine even better and the company outstanding!
 These were the peeps I worked with WAY BACK WHEN...when it was fun to work at Western Sizzler.
I think only one of them works there now, which should tell you something about working for corporate.

I work like a demon but it is TOTALLY my decision to do so. Two years ago Tim and I were bringing in six figures a years. We bottomed out when Tim lost his job and fell into bankruptcy when I lost mine.

We have scraped, kited and been blessed with amazing help from family friends and even strangers we are almost there, we are on the cusp. We can breathe and answer the phone again.
I was pretty pissed at my former job for firing me, actually I still am...and will be for at least the next  ten years.
Tonight I met my former co workers for a Holiday dinner at my new place of employment for some of the best food and drink you could have. We laughed and remembered old times...the GOOD times.

My boss gave us all free appetizers and the meal was outstanding...the company even better.

You know, I  had a couple of tough years but when you are fifty one, that is a blip on the screen in the grand scheme of life.  I had so many friends tonight tell me that I was doing it right. Keep going, don't look back...there is nothing you can do about the past, you can only control your future.

My future will be great. Heck give me another year and maybe I can also solve the whole "Hot Flash" thing because it is driving me insane. When I was younger hot and sweaty meant great it means "Turn the  ceiling fan on."

I take maybe one day off a month (maybe two) but tonight was one that made me smile, made me happy and made me feel like I was  young again.

It is nights like this that make it all worth while...I felt young and pretty (all dressed up) and spent the night with peeps that I love.
Thank you PEEPS for making me feel loved, I needed that!

Til next time..Contented COTTON

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Merry Christmas...Sometimes You Have to Make it Merry, But "It's All Good"

 Above is the woman who started it all. She married my Diddy  and spat out three kids,  me being the last. We lived a marvelous life, nowhere near being rich but pleasant loving and comfortable. I wouldn't trade my upbringing for anything. The only regret I have is that my Momma died way too soon and never got to meet her grand kids. Of course all of the grands know about her, we talk about her all the time as if she were still here and have so many things of hers in our houses  that it like a "Momma Museum."
 Once I finally grew up at the tender age of thirty I met and married a wonderful man I have not only shoved down the path of life but hollered at most of the way,  and he still comes home from work every night. We have three kids and somehow they all survived having an idiot for a mother. I will be the first to say "I am a little OUT THERE." I am frantic and go go go most all the time, when my husband is more "Do what?" He has always been the bread winner (considered THAT his input to raising kids) and I have always been the Momma. When the kids were young I took them down to the Christmas parade in you think HE would? (That would be a negative, Ghost Rider.) It was freezing cold and the kids were like little frozen statues but the parade was awesome!
 Santa was there and I believe this preceded the year my older son told his younger brother there was no Santa...(He got in a heap of crap for that seepage of truth..)
 Christmas is wonderful when your kids are young...especially REALLY young. Hand them a fancy bow and a big box they can climb in and "It's all good."
 Then they start to grow up and you have to actually somehow fulfill wishes. Lucky for us we were doing pretty well until a couple of years ago.
 I remember one Christmas when a friend of mine at work said she had a small rabbit coat just the size for Massey when she was about four. I took it home and put it out Christmas Eve  like Santa had brought it.  She woke up and thought she was a movie star when she saw the jacket. We went to my sister's house Christmas day and my brother in law commented to her how beautiful it was and asked if it was Mink? I'll never forget little Massey looking up at him , rubbing the arm of the coat and replying "No it's Chicken." In the above photo she allowed her older cousin on the left to wear her "Chicken Coat" for this photo.
 The kids starting growing up but still had Gran pa. My Diddy really never recovered from losing my Momma. She was bossy like me and totally ran the household while my Diddy was away earning the money to pay for it.
 Tim and I were much the same. He made most of the money and I made most of the decisions regarding the kids. I went to the PTA meetings,  was the room mom and the one at the Fall festival and award ceremonies at the end of the school year.
 My older and only brother has given up and loved his nephews...and wrestles the crap out of them every  time he sees them. He has spoiled Massey for me, and for that I will always be grateful.
 The above photo is my fave...Does this picture not SCREAM "I Love You Uncle Chris, just let go?"
 This picture of Massey and her Dad makes me smile. Number one I love Tim's hair short and Number two the look on Massey's face tells it all. She loves him even if her her tiny arms can't reach around him. Sometimes your arms aren't big enough to grasp the love...But it is there.
This was one of the last Christmas  photos with my Diddy while he was in complete control of his faculties and  still the Diddy I grew up with. He died from West Nile virus in 2002 and although it almost killed me it also made me realize how lucky he was to go from healthy to death in the span of ten days. My brother always reminds me..."Our family takes the express checkout."

I have had a fabulous life. I had a childhood that millions of children dream of. I have had an adulthood that I didn't deserve after my wicked  twenties and have a family of my own that I love so intensely it sometimes consumes me. Completely.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Day For Myself

So if you read my blog you know how terrible (or clever) I am with my checking account. Somehow  all my checks have cleared and that only means one thing to me...I can take a day off!

I had Thanksgiving Day off and have worked eight shifts since. I could tell you  I am embarrassed to be a fifty one year old woman still  living not only paycheck to paycheck but shift to shift. In the grand scheme of things I feel pretty stinking lucky. So what I am just a waitress? If I worked in an office, bank or some big company do you  think I could say "Oh crap, I am fixing to bounce a check, let me stay late and write up two more proposals and do another power point presentation?"

Well you know what? I may be just a "Waitress" but when I need money I just pick up another shift and another shift and when everything is covered THEN I say "Give me a day off."

It's been a while but that day has arrived and I am delighted beyond belief! I got off at nine tonight and don't have to be back at work til Thursday morning. I usually pick up on my off day but by the grace of God and some great regulars  I have enough money to claim being current on my bills. Not ahead (but I like "Baby Steps.")

For two years we have been stressed not only to the max, but sometimes looked back and saw max with his hands up like "What the hell?"

Tim is working again and it is a great job with much room for advancement. Me , I am still just a waitress ...but at a restaurant that has not only given me a chance but  helped us not only over the hump but urged us forward.

They let me work like a demon for almost two years, shift after shift after shift. That's the way when you are a server. If you work you make money, if you take a day off you  take a pay cut. I have been there about a year and a half and have taken off maybe twenty days. Not because of them but because of ME!

But we have battled back, I have paid quite a few NSF fees and have a new branch of my bank opening thanks to my generosity. (There better be a plaque of me on the wall in the lobby)

I am on the cusp of being right on the brink of being almost there!

I used to think I would retire when I was sixty five...that's probably the funniest thing I have said in a while.

I work with kids in  their twenties who whine like babies when they have to work a double shift. I am fifty one and grateful to have a job where I can work day after day after day until my bills are paid. THEN I take a day off!

Guess what? WOOT WOOT... hell YEAH...True THAT and SEE YA! I finally have it all covered , a fire in the fireplace a cold one in my hand and not stepping out of my house til Thursday morning! I still have family and friends to pay back  but  lucky for me they haven't enforced late fees (but do not think I have forgotten.)

Of course when I go back on Thursday it is another double shift and so is Friday...but you know what? I will get back on top sooner than  sissies who are scared of working hard...

I am just lucky to have a job that allows me to work when I want and thankfully they love it when I do!

Somebody tell Santa all I want for Christmas is a hour long foot massage...

Til next  time...COTTON

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Snow is Falling The Snow is Falling!

For Pete's sake...just MENTION the word "Snow" in the south and people go crazy (or as Massey says "cray-cray.")
Granted just this past week I had to turn the A/C back on in our house and now I am sitting in flannels with my tights from work still on underneath with a pair of tube socks and my bedroom shoes. That's okay, in fifteen minutes a hot flash will hit and I will be peeling off the layers just as quickly as I put them on. Just call me a "Flashy Mom."
I went into work at ten this morning in my usual uniform...skirt, black tights and work shirt.  I came out of work at nine tonight and the minute I opened the back door of the restaurant and saw how far away my car looked , it felt like I was wearing Daisy Dukes and flip flops.  God turned the heat off and forgot to warn (or warm) me.

It's all  the buzz around here "The snow is coming the snow is coming!" Ask someone that lives in North Dakota...they would consider this a balmy breezy day!

So in anticipation of no accumulation but a slight wintry southerners have raped the store shelves of milk, bread , Red Man and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

I myself stocked up on what I consider the essentials...Tomato soup and Velveeta cheese to make grilled cheese sammiches.

It's not like an ice storm is headed our way... it's more like a break from the heat is headed our way. The power bill absolutely killed us this summer...obviously our A/C unit runs on 14K gold .

 We are dressing in layers and throwing an extra blanket on the bed if we can't get one of the pups to sleep on our feet.

When you live in the deep south you live in a totally different world. There seems to be a low tolerance for cold weather, Liberals and homosexuality. Thank the Lord I only hate cold weather.

Watch it snow a foot and make me look even MORE least I have two pups and four cans of tomato soup...that should keep a hot flashing  ole woman good for now!

Til next  time...Cold Cotton!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Get Real, People!

 So I had ME a day off, thanks to The United States of America shoving all the native Americans out of their rightful homeland and cooking a big dinner to celebrate! My sister cooked a fabulous meal and we all ate drank and got tipsy! (My kind of day off)

Right back to the grind today. I am working double shifts the next four days and already dreading it. The holiday season in the restaurant world is like the summer is in a beach town. This is my summer and I gotta strike while the iron is hot!

Worked the lunch and dinner shift with my buddy, Hoke.  We could have fun together at a blood letting. It was pretty stinking busy, our restaurant is located in a popular outdoor shopping park and with all the big "Black Friday" hoopla (don't get me started on THAT...another blog altogether) we banked at lunch.
My last table was a party of four...a family. A man and his wife, maybe a sister and their mother. The mother was a trip from the start. We had been busy and had to clean off a table for them. The old mother shook her head and said it simply wouldn't do. She couldn't sit this close to a kitchen or area where people would be leaning over her table and "Doing all that sneezing on us."

Barb moved them to another table (of their own choosing) so far away from my section of tables I felt like taking a golf cart to go greet them.

I told Hoke I was gonna go up to Granny and say "Sorry it took me so long to greet you but this Swine Flu has been kicking my butt. I thought that Legionnaire's Disease was bad but WOO...this makes THAT look like a sniffle, by the way does this rash look contagious?"

Of course I didn't but every  time I went back into the kitchen Hoke and I came up with another good one. "How about saying can you feel my head, do I feel feverish to you?" Or "That turkey gave me the trots yesterday, I'll be back in a minute."

If you are a germaphobe restaurants probably aren't your best bet...we aren't called "Food Handlers" for nothing.

It got worse, she didn't know how to read a menu either so I spent five minutes explaining where to find the salads..."They are listed under the section titled SALADS." After I also pointed out the section titled "Pasta" her daughter rolled her eyes for at least the fourth time and smiled sweetly at me. Thank God I was just their waitress...when they left I would be done with them, the daughter lives this EVERY DAY.

By the time they left Hoke and I had come up with about ten more jokes to play on "Granny Germaphobe."

My kids have been exposed to so much dirt and grime growing up with a full time working mother that they are immune to most everything...except ME!

The restaurant I work for is hands down the cleanest one I have ever worked in and I have worked in quite a few. People need to get a grip and reconsider their gripes.

I have a ton of shifts ahead of me and  have to pace myself. The shifts aren't so bad but some of the people I wait on could kill you quicker than a mean H1N1 virus.

Heading to bed to rest up...

Til next time Contagious COTTON

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Giving Thanks...

Jeez...I have so much to be giving thanks for that I hardly know where to start.
This time last year we were in a heap of do do so high we couldn't peek over the steaming stack of crap on our plate. This year we have scraped away at  the pile and it's down to just scrubbing up and keeping on keeping on.
I aged more than I have in ten years in the past twelve months but lived to tell the story.

It is the story of a family that after twenty three years of sitting pretty  hit a bump so high that it rocked us to our bare existence and made us realize how true the words are "Love is all you need."

By the grace of God the love of family and the help of many, many friends we made it through. I never pass a homeless person without thinking about how close we were to being their neighbors.
I went to Little Five Points this last weekend with my brother and sister to meet up with a long lost cousin. We had a ball and a great meal,  all thanks to my bro and his excellent credit. He thought he was riding with me to meet a cousin we haven't seen in decades and re connect. It was really HIM treating US to a great time and my sister and me re connecting with a long lost cousin and our brother's wallet.

When we left the restaurant I had an awesome half  a turkey club sandwich in my hand when a homeless woman approached us and asked if we had any food? I really wanted that sandwich but thought about the fact she was most probably living on the streets and would most probably never eat a club sandwich still warm from a restaurant.  I handed her my box and my sister immediately said "Good for you, Kell."

That's the way it is in my family and that's the way it is in my life.

The Golden Rule is what we should ALL live by.  Not doing so is the result of ALL our problems. Just think about it...

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
It's so simple..."Others" have not only taken care of me but gotten me through and  made my life all the better.
Can we not love EVERYONE like my family and  friends have loved ME?
So what there are a few (million) free loaders.   Hasn't there always been?  They profit from our generosity and sincerity but I am a firm believer in Karma... Pay your taxes learn  the language and make a positive impact on our  society.

I have never been homeless but  been close (kinda in  my book.) To not experience begging for a meal... only tells me  I am on top and one of the lucky ones. The top of the  lower middle class suits me just fine...heck it is a step up!

Count your blessings name them one by one....It's amazing when you do!
I went to my sister's house for Thanksgiving today. My sister is struggling just like me and my brother is just happy he only has see us twice a year (Thanksgiving and Christmas) . "One down one to go!"

With my brother at my back and my sister by my side...My blessings are easy to count..God blessed me with amazing sibs and friends too numerous to name.

When you think your life sucks,  think about kids that are sexually abused. Think about kids that are bullied. Think about people who are starving ...think about people who are blind , deaf or mentally challenged. In the grand scheme of life I am "Effing Lucky."

True Dat, High Five and a WOOT WOOT!

Til next time...COTTON

Monday, November 21, 2011

Keeping On Keeping On...

I went into work at 10:30 this morning and got  home at 10:00 tonight. As you can see from the above picture I came home and kicked off my pumps. Obviously this isn't a REAL picture of me because the room around me looks entirely too clean to have been taken in MY house.

It's not like I live in a dump but having two teens at home I have decided at  the age of fifty one, if they don't mind dust and dog hair...neither do I.

Just in the last few weeks I have noticed how the past two years have aged me. I HAVE to quit using my magnifying side of my make up mirror. My face looks like a tangled up piece of Saran Wrap.

Jeez...I have to smile all the time or I look like Cloris Leachman really pissed off. When I smile it seems to dissolve some of the wrinkle action but when you have three kids, two of them still at home it ain't easy.

They wonder why I get so ticked so easily? At least they can still jump on a trampoline or sneeze without wetting their pants.

I am a server but when I card people for their ID I have had to fake it some times when I don't have my glasses on me. One woman today had "Check ID" on the back of her card. I read that when I was running her card but left my glasses on the computer when I took the check back to the table. I asked for her ID and when she showed it to me I said "This all looks like gibberish without my glasses but the picture kinda looks like you...if it's not leave me a really big tip cause it ain't your money anyway."

I get home from work at night and my feet feel like I am walking on pegs with spikes going through them. My shoulders feel like I have been hunching them all day saying "I dunno."

My sister and I used to laugh at my Mama when we were younger. She would be pushing a shopping cart down the aisle of the A&P and cross her legs when she sneezed or coughed. We thought it was a I know it was because her era was waiting for "Depends" to be invented.

I am only fifty one...I like to use the word ONLY hoping I make it much farther. But with the hairs I see sprouting out of my face and the aches in my back and the creaks in my knees and the pains I feel in my feet, I'm not really sure anymore.

You know us women...we will keep on keeping on until we can't bitch any longer and then  blame it all on our husbands.

So I still weigh what I did when I was fifteen...that's gotta count for something doesn't it?

Some days I wake up and think I can't do it anymore. Some days I wake up and think that it is getting better. Some days I wake up and think "Thanks for letting me wake up!"

I am trying to be a positive person that has a suddenly wrinkled face and mucho gray hair...At least I WOKE up today... "Put that shovel down grave was just a HOT flash."

Til next time Hottin Cotton

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Our Family Just Got a Bit Bigger

 I absolutely LOVE this picture of my parents. This was when my life was a safe and wonderful utopia. I look at  this picture and it immediately takes me back. My Diddy in his work shirt, my Mama in a shirt she sewed herself. The red and white checked wall paper in the back ground with the trivets hanging on the wall (which I still have) hung above the bench my brother and I sat on to eat dinner (I also still have the bench.) I was a lucky little kid...and having that childhood , it made me a lucky slightly over middle aged woman. My Mama died WAY too early and even when my Diddy died 25 years later it was also too soon. They left me and my sister in good hands.
 My brother is larger than life. I have never met anyone who doesn't love him...except maybe one of his former employees that didn't work hard and  felt the wrath he can whip out when you don't give something your all when you are being PAID to. He is single with no kids (that he knows of) and has worked his way through the ranks, starting years ago at Consolidated Freight on the loading dock and now is what  my sister and I consider a "Big Wig" with a huge  company. He probably can't afford to have kids because he is so good to his sisters.

 He has helped me out so much over the past couple of years that I almost feel like making my kids call him Uncle Daddy. I have never asked him for help and been denied.

 It's not like I call on a whim but when our life took a downward spiral, he was there for me and my family.. and has continued to be .

I've heard through the grapevine that he still has a request transfer in for Yemen.
So as my life begins to regain some type of semi regularity I started thinking about my Mama's side of the family. Mama died in 1977 which caused the whole side of her family to fall apart.

 She was the strong one. She grew up very poor, her mother divorced when divorce was unheard of. My grand mother started working full time and my mother pretty much raised her younger brother (my uncle.)  She doted on him and continued to throughout her adulthood.

My Mama met my Diddy,  they married and started spitting out babies. I think Cindy was born nine months to the day they were married (wink wink)  Chris came four years later and I surprised them  three years later when a condom probably broke while Chris and Cindy were  at a sleep over. We had a middle class family that was made to feel like a palatial family of five by my Mama's handy sewing,  art of refinishing and restoring anything she lay on her  hand on and their wonderful sense of  morals and clean living. Every one loved my parents...including me and my Sib's.

Once Mama died we lost touch with her side of the family. We have continued to keep in touch with Diddy's side through reunions every few years but the two cousins we had on my Mama's side got lost in the years of growing up and starting our own families.

Last year I starting creeping (as Massey calls it) on my cousins from my Mama's side of the family. I knew I had two but hadn't seen or heard from them since their own father (my Mama's brother died in the early eighties.) It took me a while but I tracked one down (like the stalker I am.)

We met up with her yesterday in Little Five Points, my favorite part of Atlanta. I arranged it all (like the creeper I am)   talked my sister and brother into going to meet with her after almost a quarter of a century. She is a jewelry designer in Atlanta and after quite a few  emails we decided we would all meet in Little Five for lunch. I wanted my brother to drive since gas is so high and we had given him back the gas card he loaned us for a year. He text Massey and said his Taurus was in  the shop and only had his Porsche. (rubbing my fists on my eyes like I am crying for him... NOT)

I told him I would pick him up in my little Beemer and we headed out for our adventure. We left his apartment complex and I mentioned I only had a quarter of a tank of gas and I needed to stop at Kroger and pump in ten bucks. We pulled up to the pump and he said (as usual bless his heart) "I got it."  When it hit $34 I hollered out the window for him to stop and thankfully he ignored me and filled my tank.

I don't think he was pumped about going but he is my new DIDDY and has resigned himself to the fact. We got to L5P's and parking was $5. I tried to pay (I really half way did) but he  chucked another five out his window and we parked.

We met my cousin in Junkman's Daughter and when she walked in it all changed...for the better!

We connected immediately. It was like all the years lost simply dropped away. She was cute as a button, the spitting image of her mother with a new age twist.

We all went across the street to have lunch. It was me, my brother and sister, my sister's oldest son and my youngest daughter Massey, who is named after my Mama's maiden name which happens to be my new found cousin's LAST name! Ain't life weird?

We had an absolute ball.
Number one: my brother is so funny he makes me seem gloomy.
Number two: My sister is the most precious person I have ever met.
Number three: Our new found cousin was a breath of fresh air in a part of our family we thought was gone forever .

We laughed, we ate, drank... we remembered and  shared so many memories. She was all I expected her to be and then some. She is beautiful and successful and  made me realize my Mama's side of the family isn't gone...we've just lost touch. Family is important to me and this re connection was amazing and eye opening.

My new found cousin and Massey got up to go to the restroom and my brother followed . The waiter brought the bill and like the quick,  broke thinker I am said "Wait til I go the restroom. When they get back , if you can get my brother to pick up the whole check My sister and I will each give you an extra five bucks."

Bless my brother's heart...I bet he is at home right now researching if his company has any locations further away than Yemen. He not only paid the entire bill and tipped but bought me a tank of gas and paid for parking for a wild hair I had to find a cousin we haven't seen in decades.

But you know what? After we left  the restaurant , we went by her jewelry design shop to take a look.

 We got back in my little Beemer to go home. My bro commented "There aren't many artists that can support themselves totally with their craft. I'm impressed."

I was impressed with the entire day.

 I have a new found cousin who is a total delight.  I have a full tank of gas and  am reminded once again how important family is (especially brothers)

My life has had its ups and downs. It has good days and bad days. But if you have good have the warranty. They will have your matter what.

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger... And Ready For the Next Hit

 I had a horrible  yesterday. Thank the Lord it is behind me. I have had a tough couple of years I would like to forget but need to remember.

When life is going great it is TRULY great.
Life can change in an instant and end just as quickly. Mine hasn't ended (yet) but yesterday I reached the end of the frazzled rope I have been desperately clinging to.

Work sucked (which it normally doesn't) and my kids were driving me the short distance to crazy. By the time I got home from yet another double shift... I sat in my car for five minutes in the garage wondering how people actually hook up those hoses that feed  exhaust fumes into the car. After five minutes I had a good cry , remembered I had thrown away the garden hose anyway so I got out of the car and went inside.

I called my sister and we complained together.  I am fifty one years old. I should be picking out a time share in Aruba. Instead I am picking out who to kite a check to to keep the utilities on and continually telling myself "It could be worse ."

I woke up this morning after a late night big ole fat come to Jesus meeting with my nineteen year old son who is playing me like a broke fiddle (huge pun intended.) I finally broke down with him (blubbering like a baby) and broke it all down FOR him.

I am a server. If I need money I work. If I need more money I work more shifts. If I don't have money  I can't take days off. If he doesn't help me he's hurting me. If I'm hurt I can't work. If I can't work you may as well kite another one of my checks,  go ahead and buy another garden hose... run it into the garage and crank the engine on my car up....and pick up a shovel while you are there.

My point hit him fists wanted to but he's a smart kid, He got it!

Sometimes you just have to lay it out. "This is our life, this is the way it is. It could be a heck of a lot worse or we can try our best to make it better."

I was a VERY stupid kid and didn't begin to grow up til I was in my late twenties. I lost my Momma at the age of seventeen and my Diddy didn't have a clue ...Momma raised us,  he brought home the pay check and gave out the occasional whooping with his belt when we did something bad.

My family is much the same way...Tim brings home his paycheck and asks where he left his belt when he gets up to leave for work.

It's getting better, it really is. I just have a meltdown once every six weeks or so (you think the fam would be marking the days on their calendar.)

Let me cry and puff up my eyes, make Zach hug and tell  me he loves me ... Massey will clean her room and after a good night's sleep it is back to what "We" call normal.

Til next time...Hangin' on and doing it again tomorrow COTTON

Friday, November 11, 2011

My 36 Hour Vacation

 I got home from work on Wednesday night after working a double shift Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Only worked a Tuesday night shift but headed back for one more double on Wednesday. When I got home I felt like screaming like the above photo "LEAVE ME ALONE!"

I changed into a sweat shirt and pajama pants and hit the sack. I woke up Thursday morning to the sound of Tim taking Massey to school and meandered downstairs to the sofa in  the living room and pulled a blanket over my head. There! I DID something.

That was the last thing I did for the next ten hours, unless you count rolling over or hollering for someone to bring me a glass of iced tea or rub my back. I moved to the living room because it is on the second floor of the house and when I holler for something,  whether they are downstairs OR upstairs they can't say they don't hear me. I will have to admit the family was pretty decent to me while I was on the couch for my 36 hour stay cation. I didn't leave the house once, didn't comb my hair or brush my teeth.  When I got hungry they brought me a snack, when I got thirsty they brought me some juice or tea (of course I am sure they rolled their eyes and stuck their tongue out in my general direction) but they know when I crash like I did...I NEED IT!
They came and went about as I lay on the couch watching (sometimes snoring through) the same CNN news for hours on end. Zach went and picked Massey up from school for me and I struggled to the kitchen to throw a roast in  the oven and was back in a coma on my comfy couch before he got back with her.

I continued my zombie state until seven o'clock when Massey had the nerve to say she was hungry.

I rolled my eyes when she wasn't looking and dragged myself to the kitchen and made gravy from the roast in the oven , cooked some rice and field peas and even cooked some carrots. It was the longest thirty minutes of my life. When the dishes were done I was exhausted and crept back up to the living room and "Resumed the position."

This morning I woke to Tim once again taking Massey to school and think I may have heard the word "Bum" tossed around but figured they must have been talking about one of the dogs and rolled over and went back to sleep. Tim got home from taking Massey to school and I remembered it was his day off..."BINGO!"

I hollered upstairs and asked (kinda) nicely for a cup of coffee ... heard him let out a big sigh but ten minutes later he brought me a steaming cup full of sugar and loaded with cream (love me some kiddie coffee.)

He hadn't been upstairs five minutes when I hollered up again "Dang it's cold down here can you bring me a comforter?" He looked like he wanted to smother my face with it as he walked down the stairs but at the last second draped it quite nicely across me and I settled back in for a nice morning nap.

Zach wanted to borrow my car so I bargained that he could as long as he picked Massey up from school at 3:30. He had already cooked me a cinnamon raisin English muffin (although he DID just bring it to me in his hand, no plate no napkin... at least he he toasted it.)

I heard murmuring upstairs and Zach left saying "Dad will pick Massey up."

Okay, so I still had Tim there.
About 2 o'clock I bellowed up the stairs from my position on the couch that some heated up left overs would be really nice. I knew I was pushing it but I only had three hours left in my staycation, I had to work at 5:30.

Ole Timmy boy came through for me like a champ. Of course by  this time every one was ready for me to go back to work, but when I finally crash...I crash, HARD.

He went and picked Massey up and I rolled back over to keep myself from developing bed sores. I didn't crawl off the couch until after 4:30 when Massey screamed from downstairs it was time for me to get up. I rolled over once again and woke back up when Tim hollered from upstairs that it was 4:40. I hollered back upstairs that if he ironed my work shirt for me I could sleep five more minutes.

So I abused my family for 36 hours...they have abused me for 23 years.

I didn't want to get up but when I stood  and felt woozy from being vertical I knew I had rested enough. I only had to limp through a night shift but had a double shift Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

Sometimes I just need to check out of life for a day (or 36 hours) and  can come back strong(er.)

My family depends on me...I have created a "Momster."

At least when I finally tucker out they all realize that they can either pamper me for a few hours or be left to do it all for themselves ALL the time.

It was a great staycation. I can tell you about every update on the Penn State debacle (which BTW chaps my already bed sore a**) and catch you up on General Hospital , my previously recorded episodes of Parenthood and tell you the weather outlook for the next week "Verbatim."

Now I am back! I feel rested I feel renewed and ready to go.

A big shout out to my FAM for loving ME when I needed some loving!

Til next time a rested and LOVED COTTON

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Not a Fan of the Time Change...

We'll get to the time change in a minute...

I found this old ID card of Zach's in a junk drawer last week and still laugh every time I see it.  Number one if the look on his face isn't pitiful enough just look at his hair.
This was the year  Zach began to rage against the "machine" and entered his Anarchy phase that he is currently still in at the age of nineteen. He wouldn't cut his hair (like THAT made any kind of statement) but realized at a young age how pathetic society was becoming (making ME realize what a smart kid he really was.)

I love the way he filled out the back of the card. Under distinguishing features he wrote "Ugly, thin, fast." That's my boy! A 90 lb runt with "Dirdy" blond hair that can out run anybody.

I saw a picture the other day that reminded me of Zach. Someone had spray painted on the side of a building "Spread Anarchy." Someone else had come back and crossed it out and spray painted "Don't tell me what to do!"

I've got my hands full with this man/boy but if he ever realizes his full potential "Look out world!" He will make Bill Gates look like Urkel.

Now on to the time change...I HATE IT. I have an internal alarm clock and now  wake up every morning a hour early.  I NEED that extra hour sleep but haven't had it yet.

The only time I liked it was when all the kids were too young to tell time. Five thirty would hit and the sun would go down. I would tell them all "Go put on your PJ's and Momma will read you ONE more story before you go to bed." Come six o'clock and I had the rest of the night to myself!

When Tim and I first got married and were pretty poor (the first time around) we would wait til we had a few extra bucks and buy the kid's a toy they wanted and a cake from Wal Mart and announce to them in an excited voice "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!" It worked for several years til they started school and learned how to tell time and read a calendar (Darn those teachers!)

It's always been like that in my house...CRAZY but full of love.

Even my Anarchist still calls me Mommy when he is sick or wants something from "This" machine. When I call home from work on the restaurant's phone he will answer our house phone "Thank you for calling Mama Lucia's... how can I help you?" The first time he did it I thought I  inadvertently called the office from the hostess stand and someone from the restaurant had answered.

 He's a trip... he's WAY too much like me and it is a constant battle of wits, sarcasm and mental arm wrestling. I wouldn't have it any other way (well maybe I would but it ain't gonna happen so I just love him like he is.)

I got my $7.99 coupon in the mail from Great Clips today and went and got "re- butched" between my shifts. When I went back to work the Latino cook said "Hola nino." He asked me where I got my hair cut and I told him a military base.

I like my hair short, it takes all the gray out takes ten seconds to style and six weeks to need another cut. "True THAT!"

I shouldn't even count the number of days in row that I work but I do. My last day off was Oct. 29 but I have tomorrow off and I am elated. All my checks have cleared and I am the proud owner of $5.99 in my checking account. Went by and threw forty bucks at Verizon when I got off tonight and in celebration wrote a check at Kroger (God bless their three day processing time) for some groceries.

Tim didn't get his promotion but we are making strides, don't have to worry about renting out our house and it gets just a bit easier every week.

A "Bit" is all I need to keep "My" machine going.

Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Raising Little Ones Sure Has Changed

 I can relate to this photo...a Mom's gotta do what a Mom's gotta do! I recently went to a baby shower for a friend of mine (who is obviously much younger than me) and found myself running late as usual and totally unprepared. I went to the grocery store to buy fresh fruit to make a fruit tray to take and found myself desperately short on time. They wanted us to bring a pack of diapers for a game so I screamed over to the baby aisle...which I haven't been on in fifteen years. As I searched for a cheap pack of diapers I quickly realized there WERE no cheap diapers and threw a $9.99 pack in my buggy panicking that I only had one hour to slice up a fruit tray shower and GO to the shower! I turned around behind me and searched the shelves for a gift as well...may as well kill three birds with one stone.

I found a quilted "Thing-a-ma-bob" that you can put in a high chair or shopping cart to keep your baby all nice and comfy and put a buffer between them and all the germs of the world. I flew home to wrap the present and found we were out of tape so I settled on a gift bag we had that said "Happy Birthday" and decided I would just hide my present when I  got to the shower. I did just that , because every present was wrapped or packaged perfectly and looked like a picture out of a baby catalog.

I sat with some old friends at  the shower and remarked that I had run out of time and hit a new low buying a shower present at the grocery store. I told them what it was and one of the women at our table (who I DIDN'T know) remarked how handy they were! My friend next  to me said "When my kids were little I just stuck them in a shopping cart and they gnawed on the handle while I shopped." That started the old "Clean pacifier" know, when you have your first baby and they drop their pacifier you run to the kitchen and boil a pot of water. When the next one comes along you run it under hot water after it gets dropped. When the third baby arrives and drops it you stick it in your own mouth (taking the germ hit FOR them and plug it right back into baby number three's mouth.)

 You know how my kids have survived? I started building up their immune system from the get go. In the event of a nuclear apocalypse the only thing left roaming the earth will be cockroaches and my kids!
 Then I saw this above photo and thought "Been there done that (kinda.)  When TJ was about six we were at the beach staying in a condo with my sister. The condo was on the third floor and I wanted a pic of TJ and me sitting on the rail of the balcony with the ocean behind us. TJ is like his Dad...not too fond of heights and it took forever for me to get him to sit on the railing beside me but when I did the photo turned out priceless....TJ looked terrified and I was laughing so hard I was almost crying. For Pete's sake it was just SAND three stories below us. I still have that picture and TJ still hates it.

My sister went to Miami to visit a good friend of hers when her boys were young and on an outing in the Everglades they came across an alligator sitting on the bank. My sister's friend (who never had kids of his own thankfully) said "Get over there and I'll take a picture of you boys ." Then he said to move closer and my sister said she thought that was close enough. He prodded them to move closer while my sister started to sweat. After the THIRD "Move closer" the picture was taken and  the Game Warden rambled over and remarked "People forget these are wild animals." My sister says she still has bad dreams about that photo shoot.
Then when they survive long enough and you keep having more kids you begin to think about yourself again...hence the above photo. Everyone in the photo looks terrified and  looking out for their own safety while the toddler seems to be saying "Here I am, come to ME!"

Young parents come into the restaurant with their kids and it takes  literally five minutes for them to settle the kid in their comfy  quilted "thing-a-ma-bob" and plaster down a plastic mat for the kid onto the table for a sterile eating surface. Then they all get out the hand sanitizer and pass it around. I feel like I should be wearing a Haz-Mat suit just to take their order.

Protect a kid too much and you shield them from the real world. My view is expose them to the real world and teach them to make good choices!

I can remember being a cautious mom and that is a good thing. Overdoing it just blinds your kids to reality and makes it harder when you aren't there to boil their pacifier.

Live and learn!

Til next  time...COTTON with three kids that have the immunity of a cockroach!