Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Eagle Has Landed

TJ spread his wings like an eagle and has finally landed safely in the "Land Down Under." He flew to LA first and spent a few days with friends. He landed tonight in Sydney, after nineteen hours in  the air.

Here's the most amazing thing about this trip.When your kid travels to  the other side of the planet everyone who loves and cares about him suddenly become BFFL's.

When I met Tim, TJ had just turned two. When we married he was four. I've never called or considered TJ a step son,  that just sounds "Cinderella Mean" to me. I consider  him the son who didn't give me stretch marks.

I've really had no reason to talk with his mother over the years. We met and spoke at TJ's tee ball games when he was little but other than that, he was either at our house or her house so there was no reason to worry or really converse.

Moving to the other side of the world is a whole different deal.

When I met Tim,  I was pretty  jealous of his ex. She was much more beautiful than I KNEW I would ever be and besides that..."She was his ex!" Weren't new wives supposed to hate ex wives? Well they did in the late eighties! I guess it was all  that hair spray and spandex confusing us with all the fumes and pants that were way too tight.

After TJ moved in with us I've probably spoken with her MAYBE twice.
I've probably spoken ten words to her in the last  ten years, but that was okay. I knew when TJ was with her he was fine and she knew when TJ was with us he was fine.

Now he is on the other side of the world  and suddenly we  ALL need to communicate.

His mom remarried and she and her husband own horses. We have dogs. Guess who's house got the better end of THAT deal?

We are both over two decades older. We are both over two decades wiser. We both love TJ  and's the thing which brought us full circle.

I am excited beyond belief for TJ and think this is an awesome thing he is doing.
I am almost as excited his blended family,  all of us,  have rallied behind him putting petty  differences and history to  the way side.

It's TJ  who matters and we all have his back!

His mom sent me a copy of the chat she had with him when he had free WiFi after he landed.

It's nice to all get along. It's nice to all have a common goal. The Beatles were right..."Love is all you need."  Til next time...COTTON

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Heaven Must Be Popping at the Seams

It's been a "Ruff" day around here. My sister's boxer (above) who happens to be my dog's father and sister to our beloved  Rosie, who we lost last year went to Heaven today. He's out of pain and I can just see him scrambling around the pearly gates with Rosie, Maggie and Bear. (the other boxers we have lost over the past few years)

Then I come home from work and find out dear friends of mine lost their Jack Russell today. They don't have children...wait a minute, yes they do. They had two Jack's for fifteen years and they ARE their children.

Bogie lost his fight today too. It's a sad day.

I have three kids who I love so much it makes my heart seem too tiny to handle all I feel for them. Add in my pups  and my heart is so full it should have popped years ago.

“Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in.” 
― Mark Twain

My sister's dog has been declining rapidly. Just like I did with Rosie (his sister) she kept telling herself he was okay when in fact she was keeping him alive to just be able to have him.

Sometimes you  have to step back and say "Is this good for them or am I just making excuses so I don't  lose them?"

Well she lost her boy today and I can tell you she was pretty upset. My sister is a rock and seldom gets emotional  whereas I am an emotional wreck twenty four seven.

Us Leach kids love our boxers. Let's count them all. We had Sampson before I was born. Then we had Punch (I still  think that name rocks for a boxer) Then we had Smokey. Then we rescued a Scottie named Angus who was an escaper like Ziggy. My sister had Champ and  Spunky, then Maggie. Next came Rosie and Boss. Then Ham.

Long story short...we are dog lovers.  What's NOT to love about a dog?

They never ask for anything and are  grateful for everything. They make your day, they love you unconditionally and keep you warm on a cold night.

They lick your face and are thrilled when you pet them or simply say their name.

I have a life  which hangs on by a thread. Family, friends and pups  make it all worth while.

One year when we went on vacation after my momma died, Diddy  decided to stay home and watch Cindy's boxer, Maggie. Maggie was a good dog but was never leashed walked. My Diddy didn't know that and tried to take her on a walk one day. He called us that night in Florida and said "I tried to take Maggie on a walk today. I put a leash on her and she acted like she had lost her mind." We still laugh about that.
At least I hopefully have a few more years with my three idiots. Ham is just six, Charlie is five and Ziggy is not quite a year old.

I told my friends today who lost their beloved Jack Russell, The ONLY bad thing about having a dog is losing one.

It breaks my heart Sandy Par has lost her lifelong friend, Bogie. I know my friends are devastated but at least they understand why he is gone.

My sister lost another boxer a couple of years ago and Boss felt lost as well when his buddy, Bear was suddenly gone.

A good friend told me one time ..."There is a reason DOG is GOD spelled backwards." He was right.  Both are all accepting, forgiving and love unconditionally with no questions asked.

The above photo is Rosie who we lost over a year ago. Boss was her brother. Now we have Ham, who was Rosie's nephew. Charlie was TJ's to begin with and now ours by default. Ziggy's just our way of helping  the mentally challenged. It's like a canine soap opera around here! Let's just hope Ziggy's evil twin doesn't show up on our doorstep.

Dogs are great pets, companions and members of your family. They just don't live long enough, even when they live to be fifteen.

I'll still stick by "It is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all."

Heartfelt condolences to my sister, Del and Ellen for their horrible losses.

I bet my Momma and Diddy are up there walking them both around and maybe even letting them pee on the Pearly Gates!

Til next  time  Canine Loving COTTON


Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Happiest Bad Dog in the World

This was Ziggy  the first day we  brought him home. He was so little and cute!  He learned his pecking order quickly and still knows it.

He has grown into a lanky jumping gazelle with a Tasmanian Devil twist. Who needs a garbage disposal with Ziggy around? Not us! He's eaten flip flops and shoes. He's eaten tubes of  tooth paste,  at least a dozen potatoes three onions and at least three loaves of bread. Three remote controls, two razors and my sewing kit full of pins and needles (and lived to tell  the story). He's eaten at least three books...the latest was one my sister loaned me.

My sister came by  tonight while I was at work to pick up her book and posted this picture of it on her Facebook with  the caption "Got the book back I loaned my sister, if anyone wants to read or chew on 'The Chaperone' just let me know."

I called her when I got home from work and said not to be mad at Ziggy, I think he read it to Ham because Ham can't see. Ziggy's just a helper, plain and simple!

When we all have to leave the house for more than ten minutes, we now leave him in a crate we borrowed from a friend. It's saved what is LEFT of my house.

He's not crazy about it yet but doesn't go bonkers. We put his dog bed in it and he caught on quickly. He hasn't peed or messed in it, which is more than I can say for the rest of my house and as you  can see the crate is big enough to leave Zach in there with him too!

Ziggy is a pest, especially to Ham and Charlie.  I know it's just because he is still a puppy but keep waiting for  the day I walk upstairs to the spare bedroom where we keep  the crate and find Ham and Charlie have crawled inside the crate and pulled the door shut just to get away from Ziggy.

Then there is the fence issue at  the back of our yard. In the summer the woods grow through the hog wire staked up at the back of the yard. In the winter, the brush dies and Ziggy discovered the hog wire fence. It's only about four feet high and Ziggy can easily jump over six feet with little effort and amazing agility. A creek runs behind the fence and sixty  acres of woods beyond that. Squirrels, rabbits, foxes and deer are constantly on the other side of the fence just begging Ziggy  to come and get them...and he's all for it!

Zach and I spent over an hour today reinforcing the escape route. It lasted thirty minutes before Ziggy  found a weak link.

So he's a bad inside dog and he's a bad outside dog... and I still love the the little sh*t. Even my sister, who came by  to pick up her destroyed book told me "That's the softest, cutest, happiest bad dog I  ever met."

My nephew taught the little dummy how to shake on Christmas Day and now he shakes every time he wants something or simply wants attention. I was eating a grilled cheese sandwich today Massey made me. I was sitting on the couch in the living room and Ziggy came up to me , sat and lifted his paw and placed it on my knee as he sat drooling at my sandwich. I was getting  ready for work and had a glass of iced tea on the floor beside me while putting on make up...looked down and Ziggy  was lapping out of my glass. I popped him on the head and he sat and shakes his paw at  me...like he had forgotten to ask and felt bad about it.

Call me crazy, you certainly won't be the first but I love my pups.  I love the deaf one, I love the blind one and I even love the bad one. As bad as Ziggy can be...he loves me. I come in the door from work  and he is the first  one there! Ham comes next because he's slower now that he has to navigate his way.  Charlie is always last because the dummy can't hear or maybe like my kids simply refuses to listen.

Here's the  thing. If I am wiped out from working weeks in a row they will all climb in bed with me and not move til I do. They know when to lick my face and they know when to keep  my feet warm. They know when I am depressed and never leave my side. They never ask questions ...heck they never ask for anything but always seem grateful just for a pat on the head or scratch on the belly. They are my buddies, worth every penny I spend on them and worth every thing I have to fix (Mainly Ziggy on this one.)

My sister is having to  put her male boxer down soon ...like hours away. It's killing her and I remember feeling the same way with my boxer Rosie. (his sister)

If I'm lucky,  all my kids will live longer  than me. My pups won't. They may have wrecked my house but they never wrecked my car. They never ask for one thing but always seem  grateful for ANYTHING.

When we had to put Rosie down it was horrible. The only thing good about it was she went peacefully in our home, thanks to a friend from the humane society. My sister called my friend and are going to do the same with their boxer. Let him stay home and drift off in a familiar environment.

So I am a crazy dog loving person. I can think of a lot worse things to be.

When I totally lose my mind  and bodily functions... when the end is near, I want someone to come to my house  and simply give me a shot. I'm gonna save this woman's number. So what she does it for dogs? If I'm gonna go anyway, what do I care the shot was meant for dogs? Sounds easier than the Kevorkian way and cuts down on the legal battles.

How come people who can be so rotten live to be ninety plus and dogs who are great even when they are bad like Ziggy only live to be thirteen if they are lucky?

That's messed  up if you ask me.

This is Boss, Bear is on the left and also left us way too early. Yep, my sister's dogs were escapees too.

I am pretty low maintenance. I don't want to be in a nursing home but would prefer to GO at home.

Til next  time...feeling for my sister and her loss of the wonderful "Boss Man"  COTTON

Friday, January 25, 2013

Life Is Crazy...I LIKE Crazy!

I went into work today at  three PM and got my butt kicked from the time I went in til  the time I left at ten. I had to stop for gas on the way home and was back in my hacienda by ten thirty. Like every other stupid social media addicted person I checked in on Facebook.

I had the nicest note from TJ's mom waiting for me. She somehow read the blog I wrote about TJ leaving and sent me a sweet and heartwarming note.

Here's the thing. When you have blended families, that's what they should do...blend.

I've always known I wasn't TJ's birth mother but have always thought as him as my son. Once he got older he was always conflicted on holidays...should he be THERE or HERE? We both  wanted him which speaks volumes about what a great a kid he is!

 There are some families who have kids they hope WON'T show up at a family get together!

Not true in this blended family.

We left the send off breakfast leaving TJ's mom to take him to the airport.  It's a good thing because I bawled like a baby in the restaurant when TJ wasn't looking. I cried silently in the front seat of the car the entire ride home.

Here's the thing. She is TJ's Mother. I am TJ's momma. So the boy got lucky and got a two-fer! I've never thought of him as a step son but also never tried to replace his Mother.

It's worked out well, we haven't crossed paths since TJ moved in with us when he left middle school. I know that she was mortified when TJ wanted to come live with us and  was a hard pill to swallow, but she bit the bullet  and let him live with his Dad.

When  we had his send off breakfast it was the first  time Massey and Zach had ever spent any time with TJ's Mom or sister.

Sounding crazy again but it went GREAT!

When you have kids, you love and want the best for them. That's what TJ has gotten. The best of both worlds.

She might not like me so much after I post this but she left me the most sincere and heartfelt message which I got when I came home from a long and tiring shift. It made my day.

I saw the blog post, and yes we all love him dearly ... I would like to tell you THANK YOU for being a great mom for him. I remember TJ coming home after a weekend and saying Mom I don't know what to call her, I said well do you love her, he said yes, I asked what do you want to call her, he said I don't know, (obviously the others called you mom and it confused him) I told him then that if he felt you were like a mom then you should be called mom. He asked me if I would be upset, I told him NO if you feel that way then I am happy that she is in your life. When he came to me and wanted to go live with his dad it absolutely broke my heart, but i also had to remember he was part Tim. . I think I gave TJ his family, both sides. It was hard as hell but he deserved to know both sides, not just mine because i was his mom.

Thank you DeAnn...for sharing a great kid with me!

Til next time...COTTON

Thursday, January 24, 2013

I Think I'd Freeze Without Hot Flashes

It was fifty three degrees here in JawJa...tolerable by my standards. As soon as the sun starts to drop so does the thermometer. I get off around ten and by then, it's too cold for  this skinny gal. I go to the grocery store (another place too cold for me) and by  the time I get home my feet are freezing. I think when my family hears my car pull in the garage they all scramble for their bedrooms and  turn out their lights. I come in the kitchen door to drop my groceries and am greeted by  three pups who's faces say "Take us out please."

I zip my jacket up all the way and head out back with the "Hounds of Bowel'sville."

Here's the thing. If it was just Ham and Charlie, I could simply open the door and let them go out. With Ziggy, opening the back door is like saying "Hurry! Go find another way out of the yard and try to do it in under thirty seconds."

The minute I open the door, Ziggy literally "SPRINGS" out the door and leaps over the muddy  patch right by  the patio and with his black coat is invisible in  five seconds.

I have enough chicken wire stapled across the top of  our back fence to keep Andre the Giant in but Ziggy easily leaps over six feet high (with grace I might add) and takes off through  the woods. Sometimes he'll stay in the back yard for hours. Sometimes he's out of it in under ten seconds.

During the day time I take my chances but at night  have to walk out back with them to keep from having to search  the neighborhood for him. Like  the cartoon  says "I wasn't made for Winter."

I worked on the fence for an hour today, adding layer after layer of chicken wire and came inside to make lunch  for Zach and me before I had to go to work. I took my lunch in the living room because General Hospital was on and Port Charles is really messed up right now ... there is nothing I love more than a Soap Opera Train Wreck. I told Zach to sit at  the kitchen table and watch the dogs out the back window,  making sure Ziggy didn't go all "Houdini" on us again.

He hollers from  the kitchen just as things got really crucial in  Port Chuck, "He looks like he's trying to get out!" I hollered back "Go open the back door and call him." Zach replied with  another holler "I just wanna see where he's getting out this time...OH There he goes, Damn that dog can jump high!"


I went out the garage door to call Ziggy and Tim was pulling in from work, he went in at four AM so he got off early. I handed him  the leash and told him it was his turn to find the Hopping Houdini.

He walked around the front yard and our neighbor's yard then came back and leashed up Ham  to help him look. Talk about "The blind leading the blind!"

 I gave them  ten minutes,  then  got my car keys out and went looking too. The school bus had just pulled in our neighborhood and I was worried  about the school traffic on the main road by our house. We have an elementary school right around the corner from us.

I got home fifteen minutes later and Ziggy  was sacked out in the kitchen floor, worn out from his adventure. Tim said they came across  him coming out of  the woods behind our house as he circled them going about thirty miles per hour jetting off every time Tim tried to catch him. Finally worn out he followed Tim and Ham home.

I walked into the kitchen and Zach said "Can't we just quit looking for him when he runs off?"

Well any other person probably would but I am a freak of nature and for some reason love  the little idiot.

So I get home tonight from work, freezing in my ninety five pound body and know for sure the little idiot most probs has been inside since I left for work. He leaped out the back door like an antelope and I leaped out right behind him. I followed him to the back fence and as he turned to look at me I swear I  think I heard him say "You always ruin every  thing!"

We have a forecast for freezing rain and sleet on Friday. I'll tell ya one thing...Ziggy  will be walked on a leash. I don't do chasing in  slushy conditions.

He better be glad we chase  him at all!

Putting on my PJ's and turning in.

The only thing good about cold weather IS hot flashes..."True That!"

Til next  time...COTTON

The Hidden Tears

My oldest son TJ (Tim junior) left this morning on his life adventure. He's decided to move to Australia. I'm behind his decision one hundred percent. Wish I had done something that like when I was in my twenties.

This pic was after Tim and I had been together for a year and right before we married. TJ has always been a sweet  boy and although I didn't give birth to him he will always be my first born.

We were just like any other family. The kids fought like crazy and all seemed to despise each other growing up.

Then they grew up.
Massey is absolutely crazy about her oldest brother now,  and coming around about her younger brother.

Here's the thing.

When you have sibs,  you  all fight like crazy when you are young... you blame every thing  on each other and never expect them to come to your rescue, and that's a good thing...because  they won't.

The older you get, the smarter you get.

My own momma taught me that before she died when I was seventeen.

So here are all three of my kids together today. TJ has decided to simply take a leap of faith and move to Australia.

The best part about him moving (if there is one)  is that it has emotionally moved  not only Massey (who adores him) but  more importantly emotionally moved his younger brother, Zach.

Over the past two months Zach and TJ  have  in the words of the Beatles, " Come Together, Right Now."  They mended fences and dug in deep as brothers.

In true Cotton fashion we were running behind this morning to meet TJ for his send off breakfast  by  the Atlanta airport.

We met TJ for breakfast with his Mother and his other sister. It was a Brady Bunch send off!!

I haven't seen Tim's ex wife since TJ played Tee ball when he was five.

We all came together today for a common goal. We all came together to show TJ we loved him.

Massey brought her camera and we took lot's of photos.

This is a pic of TJ and his mother, his sister and his niece.

Massey commented yesterday she thought it would be awkward because she has never met TJ's  mom or sister.

Zach clarified it for us all  this morning on the way to the  breakfast sendoff.

"We all love TJ and that's all  that matters."

We are a blended family...but we are a family.

I hugged TJ one last time and my eyes filled with tears. I turned away so he couldn't see it but my heart swelled, my eyes brimmed over and everything wrong he had ever done fell to the way side.

The only thing that made this alright was  he had both his moms and all his sibs. Family is everything in my book and TJ had it all!

Massey gives him two thumbs up  and I am just thankful to call him my son. I am just as thankful that DeAnne has allowed me to be a part of his life.

Waiting to hear great things from you TJ!!

WE ALL LOVE YOU...especially this old COTTON

Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Good Night Off

I work every weekend night. Tonight was the exception and an excellent decision. Massey was selected for the district Honor Chorus from her school. She wears me out but fills my heart.

She spent yesterday and today learning and memorizing four songs with others from our district and they performed tonight. It was an  amazing concert and I wouldn't have missed it for the world.

Tim went and even Zach. The place was packed and as they announced videos were forbidden, I took my place on the last row of the balcony crouched with my cam corder on. I took it as a mere suggestion.

The chorus filed in, well over one hundred kids...closer to two hundred. Massey walked in and immediately spotted us (me) waving at her and the smile on her face made my heart sing.

I've attended every one of her concerts except one , and I sent Zach  in my place with my cam corder to record it for me. I came home to discover he went with his buddy and they not only sat on the back row but talked throughout the entire concert and video taped every hot girl's face in the auditorium and gave a running commentary  the entire time with Massey's choir as background music to  their montage of random photos  and thoughts about who was a geek and who was a loser.

Tonight was magnificent!

She was selected for Honor Chorus from our school district and the concert certainly didn't disappoint. As we waited for the doors to open I asked the woman working the event if I could video tape and she said it was prohibited. I started to ask "Even for Cotton's?" but decided on "If it was your daughter's senior year and she had never been selected before , would you  tape it?" She wavered her head and looked away with a smile which to me said "Sit on the back row and keep  the camera low."

OH MY GOSH...When the first sounds came out of their mouths I started crying. It was glorious!

I have a girl with some serious talent. I have a girl who is just hitting her stride. I have a girl who is going places.

I leaned against the back wall of the church illegally filming with tears in my eyes. I don't care if I could have made two hundred dollars tonight at work...this was worth every penny.

I'll tell you how good they were, even Zach was impressed.

I went backstage afterwards to find her and hug her neck. We immediately held hands and every thing was perfect in my world. The first  thing she said was "Thank you for taping us when they told you not to."

Massey can wear me out and often does. Then I think back to how I was at her age. No where near as committed, driven or determined. The only direction I had was to go away to college and major in night clubs and dancing.

I'm gonna give Massey a pass on wearing me out because she brings such light and joy to every one she meets. I'm still gonna have to keep tabs on her and reign her in every once in a while but tonight I felt like the luckiest momma on earth...and I am.

Til next  time...COTTON

Friday, January 18, 2013


I went to the grocery store yesterday and was gone for less  than thirty minutes. I came home and ole Ziggy had rooted through the kitchen trash, eaten my large yellow onion, eaten a  hard back book of my sister's, chewed up a cushion with the stuffing EVERYWHERE and went into the living room  to poop some of his snack out. The day before he ate my sewing basket. Pins and needles were every where and I'm actually impressed he survived. It's been raining so much I hate to leave him outside because  the little dummy won't get in the dog house. He just sits by the back door in the rain.

Today at  work the bartender told me she had a crate they weren't using and offered to loan it to me. She has a Beagle Mix.  I knew it would be a tight fit but I only need it for a half hour at  the most. Here's the thing...He's ten months old and simply hasn't learned how to behave when left alone. He's torn up more things than all  my kids did when they were young and there were THREE of them! I knew the crate was too small once we brought it in the house and Ziggy  stood beside it. He's like a young black Giraffe. But at least I could run to the bank  and not have to spend thirty  minutes cleaning up when I got back home since I had to be back at work in less  than an hour.

I got a few comments on Facebook about how small the crate was. For Pete's sake it's not like I would keep him in this crate for any extended period of time, I simply needed to go to the bank one single afternoon.  We opened the gate and he looked at  it and could almost hear him say "Thank you but NO." We threw a dog biscuit into  the back of the crate and he walked all round the outside trying to get the treat to no avail. He finally peered in  the front and I shoved his butt in. He looked like Andre The Giant in a metal shoe box. He didn't fight it, just simply looked like he knew he deserved to be in there but wasn't thrilled about it. When I opened the gate,  he bounced out. Charlie walked right into the crate and plopped down seeming to also say as Goldilocks did..."This one is JUST right!"

When I went back to work another friend of mine, a hostess said she had a crate she used for her Collie and would be glad to loan it to us.

I've always been opposed to crating but since we've had Ziggy have heard a lot of GOOD things about crate training from a lot of people who love their dogs too. Seems  they find it a comfort zone.

Heck...maybe I need to get ME a crate!

He'll only be in it when no one is at home or the weather too bad outside to leave the dogs out. In hindsight I should have done this months ago.

But then again who else would have taken down my Christmas tree for me? Who else would have helped me get rid of a five pound bag of potatoes so quickly? Who else would have ripped all the carpet out from in front of the door of Massey's old bedroom? Who else would have eaten two full loaves of loaf bread, a twelve pack of hamburger buns and a pack of sub rolls? Who else would have crapped it all back out on my carpet? Who else would have eaten three tubes of toothpaste, two tubes of mascara, one hairbrush and two  complete books? Who else would have chewed up three remote controls within the span of one week? Who else would root through my kitchen trash  on a daily basis?

That Ziggy is just a busy, busy boy! He just "Does" so much  for us that it is simply time for us to give BACK.

We're giving him his own space. One he can call "ZiggyLand" and one we can call "Let's give the vacuum cleaner a rest."

I'm out of options. The dog's  a little demon but the happiest one I have ever met! We come home to a destroyed house and he is always right by his handiwork wagging that tail, tongue hanging out exhausted from all his frantic work and looking happier than any dog I have ever seen.

He won't have to sleep in it. He loves sleeping with Zach in his bedroom and scratches on the door when he wants out in the morning.

He simply needs to learn he can't run a muck and have free reign when we aren't home. He can't destroy what little I have left here. After raising three kids and four dogs in this house we ain't got much left!

I love Ziggy...he is so stinking beautiful  and happy, but he is also SO bad! Ham and Charlie love him too but even THEY know he is ...shall we say "Challenged?"

We're all going to Massey's Honor Chorus Concert  tomorrow night. We will leave Zig in his new digs (the bigger crate) and just take it day by  day.

I feel another blog may be necessary soon as an update!

Til next  time...COTTON

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

It's the Little Things...Some Bug Me and Some Make my Day

I just finished an absolutely excruciating work week. Well not really, I still have to work a double on Friday, work Saturday and another double on Sunday but at least I have thirty six hours til I have to pull on tights, a skirt and put on make up again.

My oldest son has been  with us for the past week spending some time with his sibs before he leaves for Australia next  Tuesday. It has been so nice to have him around. Bless his heart he had to sleep somewhere different every  night. Sometimes Tim gets home from work  and crashes in the spare bedroom we call the "Black Out" room. He hates it when I have the TV on in our bedroom and I can't go to sleep without it on. It's Massey's old bedroom and has thick black curtains we put up when Tim was working the night shift and had to sleep all day. Massey  has taken over TJ's old room on the first floor. He's slept in the "Black Out" room and he's slept on  the sofa in  the living room. He never complained...God Bless  him!

I've been working at least nine shifts a week all the while wondering how others seem to get by on  four shifts?  Then again I have three kids, although TJ helped us out time and time again this past week. He bought pizzas for the kids when I was at work and even filled up Massey's car with gas yesterday. Having a responsible, "Paying  you back" kid is wonderful!  We spent plenty on him when he was a teen and it's nice when they remember that.

This was my life for ten days... Go  to work. Come home on break to discover Ziggy squeezed through yet another hole he made in the fence.  Take my work apron off and get my chicken wire, wire cutters and staple gun and head to the back fence.  We have so much chicken wire going across the hog wire fence it looks like we are trying to keep  the Taliban out of our yard.

I just don't understand this little idiot, Ziggy. He has it great here . He's quit pooping in the house but decided his mission is to spring out of the back door every time it's opened and run as fast as he can to  the back fence and escape as quick as possible. He then jumps over the creek which runs behind our house, rounds the bend and jumps back over the creek behind Mr. "Slow" Lee's house and sits by  the front door or garage door waiting to be let back in.

It wouldn't bother me so  but we have a lot of Coyotes behind our house and Ziggy would be a snack for them. Maybe  they would let him live if he licked their goobers like he licks Charlie's. We  call them Siegfried and Roy and both better be glad I am  Liberal because they even get on MY nerves!

Ham's doing great. He started his heart worm preventative last week and doesn't care to have his goober licked (he can do it himself). Even though he can't see...he CAN see  they are both idiots and tends to just hang out with me.

Massey is graduating this year..."YIKES"

She missed the trip to Hawaii with the band a couple of years ago  because we were broke. She missed the trip to New York last year with her chorus...same reason.

The chorus is going to New York again this year and I want my girl to go. It hasn't been easy but have managed to make every payment and only one of them bounced. (that's a win in my banking schematics) Made the last payment today and hope they noticed I post dated the check for Friday.

Here's the thing. Massey is spoiled and I know it.

Then again I look at many of  the girls she goes to school with.Some of them drive new cars, have every thing they could possibly want yet have lost their virginity and mind if you ask me. Good Lord, you got your whole life ahead of you, why rush it for a boy who won't matter in the grand scheme of life?

I was old school. I was a virgin til I was twenty and it was even a mistake then. I didn't even know what having sex was til I was thirteen and consider that a huge advantage.

My friend (Patti Raiford)  a couple of years older than me was walking to the pool with me one day when we noticed a scrawled painted message  in the under pass of a bridge right past the Dairy  Queen on the way to the public pool. It read "Tom made love to Mary here."

I asked my friend (I've written about this in a previous post) what making love was and when she told me I was furious.

I declared my Diddy  was a deacon and elder at our church and he would certainly NEVER do anything like that to my mother.

Sad truth...two weeks later my Momma sat me down and gave me the news. Patti was right.

At least now I knew why my parents locked their bedroom door twice a week.

So here I am. Fifty three years old. I work hard but what decent person doesn't?

When I want to feel like it is a lost cause, the reason for the cause comes back to me. When I feel like a failure as a parent, my oldest son helps us through a rough week.

My younger son cleans the house, feeds and bathes the pups.

Massey will step up, I have no doubt .

I am being totally honest when I say I am the luckiest woman on the face of the earth.

When you sign up to have kids...you sign up for life.My kids didn't know I'd be broke when they needed money and it is kinda embarrassing but my kids also know that WE will make it happen.

Massey will go off to New York. My oldest will travel to the land down under. Zach will keep on the straight and narrow.

I will wake up tomorrow and be grateful.

It's all  KARMA. I get as much as I give. What I put in I get out. What I do for others is what I should expect them to do for me.

No more no less.

I keep thinking I am  tired and over worked...but then realize I am one of the lucky ones... "For Real."

Till next time COTTON

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Ten Days Til Takeoff

TJ spent the weekend with us. Well he spent most of it with his brother and sister. I worked all weekend and was gone more than I was home. It was still nice spending time with him before I went to work and seeing him spending time with his brother and sister when I  came back home.

I know from experience how it is to be one of three sibs. When you're really little you all get along. Once the oldest hits middle school the younger two become idiots and a nuisance. When  the oldest gets their license they have their escape...just borrow the car to get away.

TJ graduated high school with great grades and began at Georgia State University. Unfortunately he also joined a Frat. His Big Brother got to select his Halloween costume that year.

Not a good idea.

Then he decided to take a semester off and work...Terrible idea.

He worked full time and made a little money but told him if he didn't get back in school that's exactly what he'd still be doing when he was my age...making a little money.

Then he met girl. Then they moved in together. Even a worse idea.

Then they bought a puppy together named Charlie,  who cost more than a used car. Horrible idea.

Then they broke up and TJ moved  back home with Charlie in tow. TJ won the nasty custody battle and Charlie became a Cotton.

I didn't want or need another dog but seriously, who could refuse THIS face? Before TJ moved back home we had rescued our Dog, Ham.

Let me tell you, an English Bulldog and an Old English Bulldog /Boxer mix aren't great friends right off the bat when they are both male and still have their nuts. They can DRIVE you nuts! We had many a dog fight. Ham was docile but Charlie was a brat who had been spoiled by his mama and daddy,  never been  around other dogs and certainly never learned the word 'share' or 'play nice.' Ham outweighed him by twenty pounds and towered over him but Charlie was "The Man" in his own tiny mind and got his butt whooped again and again and again and was always ready for more. We went through tube after tube of  antibiotic cream and bottles of hydrogen peroxide trying to heal Charlie's face . Tim gave him the nick name, Scarface.

Then TJ moved out again and ole Chucky stayed. At least he had a huge yard and another dog to play with.

We kinda nudged TJ out that last time. It was when we were in a desperate position and it was time for him to stand on his own.

He did it! He survived, he got a pretty good job which led to an even better job and most probably made more money than me.

Here's the thing. When sibs are together all the time they sometimes bicker and fight. Split them up and they become closer and closer and closer. The time they DO get to spend together seems important. The time they are away from each other just gives them more to talk about when they do meet up.

My three have come full circle.  They were close, then they weren't. Then two got close and the other was on the outside. Then it switched the other way.

Now TJ is leaving for the land down under in  ten days and all three are thick as thieves. They sit for hours talking. They watch  movies together,  they go out to eat  together,  they do nothing together.

They are simply being together and enjoying it.

That's the kind of thing that makes a momma proud. That's the kinda thing that makes working crazy  hours tolerable. That's the kind of thing that tells me  they were all listening to my constant lectures when they were young,  even though  they were all rolling their eyes like I didn't see them.

I may not have raised rocket scientists but I raised three good kids.  They all love each other and in today's society that's quite an accomplishment.

They are all  three smart and loving. They all three care about other and this earth. They all three have the ability to do amazing things.

My money is on my kids.  Granted I don't have any money, but if that was the price to pay for having  three amazing young adults all under my roof one last time and not only witness but feel the love between them all...I'd do it again in a heartbeat

We'll take care of Charlie while TJ does what what I wish I had done when single and in my twenties.

Go see the world.

College isn't for everyone but world is! He's smart and good looking. He has a great heart, works hard and has my blessings. I have full confidence in TJ.  Go Gettum Kid!!

One down two to go!!

Til next  time...COTTON

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Dog's Life

This is a pic of me when I still had my peepers. I've lived with the Cotton's since they rescued me from being chained to a tree. I moved in  with them and my Aunt Rosie...

It was swell, til the "Bully" moved in with us.

Charlie came to live with us when his Baby Daddy moved back home. Baby Daddy moved out but left Charlie. He just never got the pecking order memo. It was Rosie, me and THEN him.

We had a few dog fights and let me tell you, a fight between an English Bulldog and a Boxer / Old English Bulldog mix is not a pretty one. Charlie never won a fight, always started them and refused to ever give up. My family used to call him "Scar Face" because he was always seeming to heal from the wounds he insisted I inflict. He spent the first year of his life alone with baby Daddy and never learned how to play well with others. It took him about a year and a couple of tough butt whoopings but he finally learned. I am "Ham the Man." Rosie was never involved in one fight...at least we both knew who was the "Lady of the House."

Rosie was a sweet girl. Her hips started getting bad and after about a year momma decided we were just keeping her so we wouldn't miss her. She could barely walk, her legs splayed out from under her and had to be helped outside. A nice lady from Animal Control came over to our house and administered the lethal shot. Rosie went peacefully as Charlie and I were locked up in separate bedrooms. We both pawed and scratched, howled and whined. We may just be dogs but somehow knew what was happening. Zach and his buddy had dug her a grave at the back of the yard and she was gently lowered to her final resting place. Momma told me the day Rosie died, Zach  posted on his Facebook wall "RIP Crazy Legs."

A year went by. Charlie got his butt handed to him a few more times but we finally agreed...He's just a brat.

Then a friend of Momma's at work, who owns two Boxers had a litter of unplanned pups. They already had a six month old little girl, two Boxers and seven pups. The female pups sold quickly but the males went slower. Massey and Momma made a Craig's List ad to help her sell them but by week nine she said "Please take one" so we did. We let her pick out the pup and paid her twenty bucks for gas since she brought the pup to us from Paulding County. It's AKC registered and a beautiful black Boxer. It's also an idiot.

So now we have Ziggy too. We are three rescued pups and all happy as can be! My one eye started going bad around the time Rosie died. Over the past year my one eye went totally blind and the other seemed to be racing to catch  up.

All the while, my family had hit the skids. I don't know anything about money but  heard them talking about going from over six figures to welfare and didn't sound happy about it.

Then my Momma did a blog about me. It was an amazing response. People actually helped me. People actually cared about me. People actually saved my life.

A man my Momma has never met but who reads her blog sent us the money to go see a specialist about my eyes. They were really nice and even remembered my daddy who also suffered from juvenile cataracts and had implants from the very  same clinic.

Then I was dealt another blow. Momma took me straight from the specialist to have my shots all updated at a mobile Vet here in our county. They barely had enough money to feed us and certainly didn't have money  for shots or heart worm preventative. This mobile vet was low cost (extremely low cost) and simply gave me an exam and my shots in the parking lot beside our car. The only bad thing is, I tested positive for Heart Worms. You can't have eye surgery and be put to sleep when you have heart problems.

 Momma took me back  to our own Vet and they said it would be over $1,145.00 to do the quick kill. The next  week Momma took me back to my mobile Vet and he said he could do it for $500.00.

People...humans who have never met me sent us check after check. Some were tagged "Dog Food" Some were tagged "Gas Money" and some simply said "Get better buddy."

Thanks to you all I had three quick kill treatments from my Doc in a Box. The first one almost killed me, I didn't move and didn't eat. The next  one was about the same, and my Momma worried the Heart Worms had won. We had three weeks between  the second and third shot and I felt a  lot better. When I went for my third shot  the mobile Vet (shout out to Dr. Marseli)  said my prognosis was good because I am such a strong and muscular dog.

Momma still has money donated to get me back to the eye specialist once I test negative for Heart Worms in February. (Paws crossed)

It's crazy how people love me...although I have to say I am pretty  adorable!

I have had a great life here. I'm loved and loved and loved. My momma has been even luckier. People read about my plight and helped me when Momma simply couldn't.

I start my preventative  tomorrow and go back in a few short weeks to be retested. Once cleared I am headed back to the eye Doc.

Once again I am just a dog, but a very lucky one. Charlie and Ziggy even seem to know I've been sick. I have over seventy friends on something Momma calls Facebook. Ziggy and Charlie helped me write this . Momma just came in and kicked us off the computer...gotta go!

Thanks for loving me ! I want to lick every one of your faces.

Ham Cotton

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Not a Fan of Winter...That's Why I Live in the South

I know it doesn't help  I am at least fifteen pounds under my fighting weight but neither does all this cold weather...and don't even get me started on the wind and the rain, and I live in the deep south! I don't know how they do it way up north. They must make clothes thicker there because when I get home from work at night am cold for at least thirty minutes after I get into the house. I usually don't take my coat off for at  least an hour. Granted my house is sealed about as tight as a colander but I have towels stuffed under every exterior door and scream at  the kids constantly, "Shut the door for Pete's sake" as they stand to talk to me with  the door wide open. I keep the heat on  68 degrees but have two small space heaters I keep  by  the front and back door to help with the wind that blows through the doors.

We bought our house brand new sixteen years ago but it was obviously built by either idiots or extremely drunk shoddy  workers. We  were just so excited to be be buying our first brand new home that we really overlooked a lot of flaws. As  the years went by we noticed more and more. I've used a lot of duct tape and fixed the  things I could but it's like we live in a wind tunnel in  the winter months and a hot house in  the summer. At least it's ours (or it will be in less than four years) so we just make do.

 My Diddy  bought our house on Bayard Street the year I was born for $15,000. It was sealed tight as a drum.  We never replaced a furnace, never needed air conditioning, every room had at least three big windows and a huge attic fan kept air flowing during the summer months. He never had to replace a stove or oven (they were separate in those days...at least at  our house) and the screened in back porch  had storm windows he put up every winter.  If you  put a space heater out there it was a comfortable place to be even in cold weather. He never had to replace our washer or dryer. He never had to replace our refrigerator or dishwasher.  We have had to replace or fix every  single one of these things in the sixteen years we have lived in our "Brand new house."

"They  just don't make things like they used to." I used to always wonder what they meant by  that but now I know  and ain't THAT the truth!

It rained from Christmas Day  til New Year's Day and I felt like the sun would never shine again. I hate to keep  griping but it's feeling good so I will continue.

How do People live in Seattle or Oregon? They must have a phenomenal suicide rate.  Wind I hate, it makes me skitter across  the parking lot on the way to my car  but can wear  a hat and scarf and carry a big rock  so I won't blow way. I dress in layers for the cold but the rain just depresses the crap out of me. It makes me feel like God is mad at  us for something.

I like it when the sun is beating down on me.  I already suffer  from hot flashes so it's nothing new to me to sweat. I like cutting grass and pulling weeds. I love my weed eater and he makes my yard look so nice and trim. I could ride my Johnny Dear all day long and often have.

Guess I'll  have to just struggle through a few more months of this cold weather. I wear a skirt with tights to work. I get home and keep on  the skirt and tights and put on my flannel PJ pants over them both once I finally take off my coat. I put on my bedroom shoes and get one of the pups to lay on my feet as I type away on my computer.

Hate is an ugly word so guess I will  say I highly dislike cold weather. I go to bed with my tights and flannels on and peel them off during the night as the hot flashes warm me up. I wake up and get into a hot shower,  thanks to our second hot water heater in  less than ten years. I head into work with my hat scarf and gloves on. I drink enough coffee  to keep me warm at work until a hot flash hits and then I switch  to water.

All I am saying is that winter is just not for me. I can enjoy one big  snow, it's pretty and seems to make the world  seem  so silent that it is a beautiful  thing to witness.

That  little groundhog better come out next  month and make me happy with his prediction because winter isn't a skinny old woman's friend.

If Tim could just find a job in Key  West...

Til next time...Cold COTTON

Saturday, January 5, 2013

All Back in the Nest One Last Time

TJ came down  to spend the weekend with us today. He's leaving January 23 for Australia. He plans on  living there for at least a year.
Massey and he have gotten really close these past few years but thanks to all the technology and social networking they will be able to stay in touch.

He also had to come say goodbye to his boy, Charlie. TJ bought Charlie but for most of his life has lived with us. It took a while but he settled in here and it would break my heart  to give him up.

Zach was here today as well and it was nice to have all three kids and all three pups back home. We all sat together and talked. TJ gave Massey lots of advice on  college and Zach added his. Tim was off too so it was the whole family and a wonderful afternoon.

Last week at  my sister's house we were talking about all our kids and my sister brought out a little box with index cards where she had kept notes our Diddy had written to her and on some cards were notes she had made of things the kids had said over the years

I think one of my favorites is when Massey was just five or six. Santa had brought her  Doctor's kit and she had me on the sofa taking my vitals. I asked in a feigned tone, "Doctor, will I live?" She removed her little plastic stethoscope  from my chest and pronounced solemnly "Yes, you will live with your family." I laughed and she got furious with me. She probably over billed me for that check  up.

Then there was the time when I was driving my minivan with Zach  and Massey in it. Zach was about eight. We passed a private school and the kids were just getting out. Zach looked at  them  then back at me and asked "Do they get to wear the same costumes every  day?"

This one reminded my sister of the time when she was driving Zach somewhere, while around the same age. She said he pointed out the window to  the sky and calmly said " Hunh. Aunt Cin, look at that bird...I think that's  a Pterodactyl."

The ball  was rolling now.

One time when Cin took her boys with her on a trip when she was a flight attendant , they were in Puerto Rico . Her boys were in  grade school (as us ole farts still call it.) She commented "Look at that huge Rubber Tree." Her son Griff, shaking his head simply said "Mom...that's a REAL tree."

Then there was the time on vacation in  Florida. The boys, my two and Cin's two were tossing around a foot ball and one of the palm trees had some bird in it that kept making this noise. My  nephews, a couple of years older than TJ (they were all tweens) were wondering what it could be when TJ piped in "It's a duck, DUH!!"

Another favorite is when Zach was about six. It was Easter Sunday and we were heading to my sister's house for dinner. We passed a church with three huge crucifixes.  Sadly I didn't do a good job of taking the kids to church when  they were little but preferred to  home school them in religion by  cleaning house every Sunday morning before I left for work with "Jesus Christ Superstar" blaring throughout the house from my stereo CD player. (Side note...I know every word to the entire opera)

  Zach was in his car seat and asked about the crosses. I told him Jesus was hung on the middle cross and two robbers hung on each side.  I threw in a quick lesson  and added, They nailed him to the cross with nails through his hands and feet. He didn't miss a beat..."I thought they hung you  with a rope."

I continued my mobile Sunday School lesson and said "You know what was  the last thing Jesus said to all the people who did that to  him? He said I forgive you."

Zach  thought about that for about ten seconds and commented "I would have said, I will GET you."

I was  glad they were all in the back seat and couldn't see my face trying not to laugh. I told Zach. "Well that's why His name is Jesus and your name is Zach  Cotton and we'll  all be in church next  Sunday."

Raising kids is truly hard but leaves you  with so many good memories. They always overshadow the bad memories.

I had all three here this weekend and it was great.  I'm not the best Mom in  the world but they have all survived and so have Tim and I.

I have so many stories about my kids I could literally fill a book.  Maybe I will one day! But for now it simply fills my heart to have them all under one roof again.

I've had good times and I've had bad times. My kids will always be my good  times, even though some of them have been bad!

Kudos to TJ for going on this great adventure. It was nice to have them all back under our roof and them all getting along. I have great kids.  They have goofed up from time to time but what kid hasn't? I wouldn't want a kid that didn't goof up when they were young.

 If they don't that only means they are waiting til they are forty  to goof up and will be bringing grand-kids back home with them for you  to raise while they try to get a clue.

I took my lumps when I did and love them for hitting me early with them.

I have a good feeling about my kid's futures.  They are all three gonna make me proud.  Heck... They already have!

Til next  time...Contented COTTON

Friday, January 4, 2013

The Last is the Hardest, By Far

This teeny tiny girl, barely weighing four pounds came into my world on August nineteenth in the year 1995. She was due on  October fifth. The amazing thing is right from the jump I knew she was a miracle. I already had two sons. When I found out I was having a girl and her due date was my late momma's birthday I decided right then to name her after my momma. My momma's maiden name was Ann Massey so I picked Massey Ann for my girl's name. She surprised us all by coming WAY too early  when my placenta ruptured in the early morning hours of August. I was rushed to the hospital by  ambulance and delivered Massey in less  than ten minutes via an emergency C- section.

Her face was smaller than my hand and I'm no giant. She was  tiny but she was beautiful.

She didn't say a word for almost two years, but hasn't shut up since so I knew she was mine!

This is hands down my favorite pic of Massey.  The people at  the nursery school didn't think I would like it because she wasn't smiling but  this is PURE Massey! She's a head full of curly hair and a mind determined. She made it from a premature baby to blossom and grow beyond my wildest dreams.

She was a beauty and captured all of our hearts.

 She has a BFFL living right next door and they have grown up together.

She  hit middle school and found her stride. She became involved in  the crazy world of Color Guard and sucked me right into  it as  well.

She learned camaraderie and commitment. She learned what it is to dedicate yourself.  I learned how powerful  love and friendship are. We didn't have money  to pay our mortgage but by  the grace of friends,  Massey spent five seasons with the Guard.

Her Junior year she quit the Guard and focused on her studies. My oldest son sailed through high  school graduating with a 3.8 GPA. My youngest son was lucky to make it out but could rule the world if he applied himself. He's the smart one who refuses to accept his genius abilities but seems to be coming around.

Massey simply wants to conquer the world and I am behind her one hundred percent.

It hit me tonight like a ton of bricks. This little girl, this tiny baby I had almost eighteen years ago is  ready to flap her wings and I'm not ready to let her go.

I've be so concerned about my pup, Ham. I've been so concerned about our IRS debacle. I've been so concerned about bills and starting a new job that I failed to  realize in less than six months, Massey will be gone.

When I wasn't looking or thinking, my girl has grown up. She is hands down my best  friend. She is high maintenance but gives me so much joy that everything else falls  to  the way side.

Go Gettum Massey.  You have already made me so proud. Can't wait to see how far you  go!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Cotton Compound

So far 2013 is looking pretty good as I peer out at it from behind the beauty which is my life. I can't remember the last time I had Christmas Eve and New Year's Day off. Actually it has been at least thirty some odd years. The holidays are behind us, everything paid for in cash and just feel that "Thirteen" will be our year!

I went to work today at three, got off around ten and don't have to be back til Friday morning. Then I have Friday night off too...it's like a belated Christmas present!

I made a list tonight of everything I have to do tomorrow and it's a long one. Ziggy helped with taking the tree down last night and stripping it of ornaments and lights. Zach's gonna burn the tree in the fire pit out back. Massey heads back to school tomorrow and first off I am heading to Great Clips to get all this gray hair cut out of my head. (Got my $7.99 coupon!)  Next stop BJ's for dog food (incredibly cheap for Iams) before my free membership expires. Cleaning bathrooms, cooking dinner again for my family who wonders who took over their mother's body this past week but aren't complaining.

It's been nice to have more than two days off in a month which is what my schedule has been from before Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. It was of my own choosing but worked out pretty well for us.We didn't charge one thing for Christmas which is easy when you don't have credit cards.

Ziggy tore my arm up last night playing. He sliced my forearm open and with my "Old lady skin" left a gash two inches long.

I am just excited about another day off and only a day shift on Friday. Ziggy has all his shots so I just need to apply Neosporin  and clean it with Hydrogen peroxide.

Massey has always said thirteen was her lucky number. I'm gonna join her. 2013 will be our year.

My house is a crazy house... and I wouldn't have it any other way. We are a fly by the seat of your pants clan. We roll with the punches and come out swinging.

I waited on our bankruptcy lawyer tonight at work...which the IRS dismissed because of the debacle over the company that Tim got suckered into and no one stepped up to help with.

I told him we had gone from being seven months behind on our mortgage to eight weeks behind. He said to come see him and refile. "It will get the bastards off your back."

We have climbed out of the  valley and began the rise to the mountain top!

Life can be tough...but if you fight and persist, you can make it.

It hasn't been alone. It has been with the help of many. It felt lonely at times. It has been overwhelming at other times.

2013 is going to be a lucky one!

I think thirteen is my lucky number too !

Til next time...Cotton

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Another Year Behind Us

I can remember when I was little and thought about the year 2000. It seemed a million miles away and now is thirteen years behind me. When I was a kid anyone who was thirty years old was middle aged. I am almost fifty three and find it hard to think of myself as middle aged...it freaks me out. Truth be told even if I am extremely lucky I am well beyond middle aged which freaks me out even more!

I'd call chapter one my childhood. It was a happy chapter. We had the greatest parents a kid could ever wish for  and every one, young and old loved being at our house. It was a great place to be, in Ann Leach's kitchen at 2545 Bayard Street.
Solid working middle class family with so much love we all felt rich beyond belief...and were.

Chapter two was a scary chapter. We lost our mother within the span of thirty seconds on a shopping trip. It was Momma, my sister and I who left for a day of shopping. We  came home without her and it changed all our lives. It's been thirty five years but I  can still see the scene in  the store, I can still remember the panic I felt. It was the first big lesson I learned in life...that it can be gone in an instant.

Chapter three: I met Tim,  we married and I immediately started shoving him down the path of life. We've got three great kids who are all so different I often wonder how they all started out from  the same place yet end up in such different places.  None of them look like or act like each other but the older they get the closer they become and it warms my heart. After all, variety is the spice of life!

Chapter four: For over twenty years it was full steam ahead, always moving up and advancing, economically. Here's the thing I have learned in chapter four. You need to go back and re read chapter one.
My parents didn't have a lot of money but were loved by every person who met them. I am in no way as good a person as either of my parents but have been loved so much in chapter four that it makes chapter five easy  to write.

Chapter five:
I have made it from the above...to this.

I have made it from this to this...Just us three kids left now but enough love to fill an ocean.
Even when times got really bad and my pup got sick, People, friends and even strangers helped me get to this point...
Helping Ham has been an amazing journey. This was us at  the vet specialist for his eyes.

Chapter six:
Love is a great blessing. We are still in our house, thanks to help from many. My kids are all healthy and happy and on the road to success. My pup, Ham is on the road to recovery and regaining his sight, thanks to many.

Chapter seven:  "Count your blessings, name them one by one and you will see what The Lord has done."

When upon life's billows 
You are tempest tossed 
When you are discouraged, 
Thinking all is lost 
Count your many blessings, 
Name them one by one 
And it will surprise you 
What the Lord has done. 

Count your blessings, 
Name them one by one 
Count your blessings, 
See what God has done 
Count your blessings, 
Name them one by one 
Count your many blessings, 
See what God has done. 

Are you ever burdened 
With a load of care? 
Does the cross seem heavy 
You are called to bear? 
Count your many blessings, 
Ev'ry doubt will fly 
And you will be singing 

When you look at others 
With their lands and gold 
Think that Christ has promised 
You His wealth untold 
Count your many blessings, 
Money cannot buy 
Your reward in heaven, 
Nor your home on high. 

So, amid the conflict, 
Whether great or small 
Do not be discouraged, 
God is over all 
Count your many blessings, 
Angels will attend 
Help and comfort give you 
To your journey's end.

It's a New Year . These three kids above sitting on the side of this old station wagon are now all in their fifties. Both parents are gone but they are hanging as tight as they were in this photo.

Life is a journey.... a long one if you're lucky. There are going to be hills to climb, valleys to climb out of  and  mountains to conquer.

It never stops and you shouldn't either. Sometimes I am embarrassed by needing help but have helped others when I could. Sounds trivial but is under rated..."Love is all you need."

My husband loves me, my kids love me, my brother and sister love me. My friends and in laws love me and even strangers have loved me. It's a great feeling to be loved and one that should always be paid forward. You get what you  give...I don't remember giving as much as I have gotten but promise to give even more in "Thirteen."

These two people created us  three  sibs.
The three sibs  rocked it in the eighties.

It all began here at a wedding shower. She opened a present, married my Diddy and gave life to us three. My only regret is they are gone.

The rest was destined to happen. The definition of Destiny is  "The fate to which a particular person or thing is destined; one's lot."

I've had a lot, I've endured a lot but have been blessed a lot. I'm calling it a win! By the way, Webster's also defines a win as "To achieve success in an effort or a venture."

So I am over middle aged...at  least I have made it this far. Hoping that in 2013 I can help others like they have helped me.

I am a blessed person and intend on paying it forward!

Til next  time...COTTON