For Addye: Musical Marriage Advice

This weekend my friend A’Driane is getting married. When I heard the news, I was instantly happy for her even though I’ve never met her beloved, Bert. Okay, I’ve never met her in person either. But I know her. I adore her. I admire her. I respect her. A’Driane and Bert work at their relationship. They are meaningful in their actions toward each other. They take care of each other. I predict a lifetime of love and laughter. Even though I know these two crazy kids already know a lot about love and how to stay knee-deep in it, I still want to offer some wisdom on the topic. And in my experience, the best love advice comes from country music, specifically 80’s country.

Islands In The Stream-Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers

If you go by Pandora’s rotation, 80’s country begins and ends with this song. And who can argue?

“Baby when I met you there was peace unknown.

I set out to get you with a fine tooth comb.

I was soft inside; there was something going on.”

When you’ve found the right person, your soul is calm and you finely comb your hair? And your insides got something going on. Yep. That’s love baby.

When You Say Nothing At All-Keith Whitley

Not to get all mushy, but this song makes me think of my husband. Thank God he doesn’t read my blog, or he’d be embarrassed I told you that.

“The smile on your face let’s me know that you need me.

There’s a truth in your eyes saying you’ll never leave me.

A touch of your hand says you’ll catch me if ever I fall.

Yeah, you say it best when you say nothing at all.”

Trust in what you know about your spouse and how they express their love. Also, never underestimate the power of The Look. No, not the sexy times one, the Dude, Seriously? one.

Forever And Ever, Amen-Randy Travis

Lots of love songs make promises, but this one seals it with an “Amen.” A promise that’s a prayer is what marriage means to me.

“Oh, baby! I’m gonna love you forever, forever and ever, Amen!

As long as old men sit n’ talk about the weather, as long as old women sit n’ talk about old men

If you wonder how long I’ll be faithful, I’ll be happy to tell you again.

I’m gonna love you forever and ever, forever and ever, Amen!”

Now that’s a promise! Forever and ever. The end. The only problem is I can’t hear this song without picturing Randy’s mug shot.


Meet In the Middle-Diamond Rio

If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a million times: marriage requires compromise. When I’m feeling like I’m at an impasse with Michael over something, I ask myself, “Do you want to spend time with him being angry or being happy?” And then I answer myself because I have lots of voices in my head.

“I’d start walking your way.
You’d start walking mine.
We’d meet in the middle
‘Neath that old Georgia pine.
We’d gain a lot of ground
‘Cause we’d both give a little.
And their ain’t no road too long
When you meet in the middle.”

If all else fails, take a long walk and get your priorities in line. Make sure you have your cell phone so you can call for a ride home when you realize you’ve crossed state lines.

Close Enough To Perfect-Alabama

Bert, this song’s for you. I mean, it’s for you to live up to. This is how you should treat my girl.

“She kisses me each morning,
And smiles her sleepy smile
And she don’t have to say it;
I can see it in her eyes.
Don’t you worry about my woman
Or what you think she ought to be,
‘Cause she’s close enough to perfect for me.

Well sometimes she gets down and starts to cry,
But then again a lady has a right.
She’s everything I ever wanted; she’s all I’ll ever need.
She’s close enough to perfect for me.”

Did you know Alabama released an album every year in the 80’s? I have no idea what that has to do with marriage, but I’m sure you can think of some way to apply it.

So, turn up the volume and dance a little Texas two-step my friends! Here’s to marriage and to A’Driane and Bert!


Joe Elliott And I Go Back A Long Way

I hadn’t planned to write this week or next. We are moving. Moving! And my brain is not to be trusted or used for anything more difficult then figuring out how to heat up frozen pizza. But last night it became clear that I need to share an important part of me. If you can’t handle it, then I guess we can’t be friends.

You see, I love Def Leppard, and I strongly believed for the longest time I would marry Joe Elliott.

It all started with being the new kid. We had just moved to Concord, California, from Carrollton, Texas, and it was a tough one. I was headed into fourth grade, which, as we all know, is the time that lifelong friendships and cool statuses are made. I spent the entire summer with my brother Robert who was 16 at the time.

What he loved, I loved. This included his taste in music and shoes (Vans) but not the smell of Polo cologne. We rocked to bands like Krokus (with their eight-year-old-girl-friendly hit, “Eat The Rich”), Iron Maiden, and Def Leppard.

When school started in the fall, I knew it was time to spread my wings and make some friends my own age. I was ready for my place at the cool table. My surefire method of showing my savvy? Wearing my Def Leppard bandana and pin every Friday. (Look, my brother had the Union Jack shorts like Rick Allen; it was the 80s, don’t judge us.)

One Friday Todd started mocking my awesome fan attire. He said, “Oh yeah, I bet you really know all about Def Leppard.” I hadn’t quite developed my smack talk yet so my response did not hit the mark. I said, “I do! I have all their albums!” To which he replied, “Yeah? All two of them?”


Anyway, my love of Def Leppard was rock solid and could not be lessened by Todd and his back-pocket-comb. The obsession was fueled by MTV. I can pretty much give you a frame-by-frame synopsis of the “Photograph” video, and I do a fantastic impression of Joe Elliott’s snarl from “Rock of Ages.”

I could get all deep and sentimental and lay some line on you about how Def Leppard reminds me of my closeness with my brother and the struggles faced when having to move. But also? They rock. And they had great rockstar hair. I’m sorry; they have great rock star hair.

See? Rockstar hair. And an earring. And dear Lord has he gotten puffy.

We moved again just before I entered seventh grade. My brothers did not come with us, so I was left to fend for myself in the identity-creation department. I went with wearing all black and being snarky. It felt right. Then, the summer before eighth grade, Def Leppard released a new album. (And yes, their drummer was down to one arm. Ha ha. Very mature thing to laugh at.) Again, the power of MTV brought the rock gods to me every day. I was sure I would one day be discovered by Joe and asked to be in a video.

My friends were kind and bought me the VHS Historia movie. They tried not to laugh at my notebook covered in fan pics of Joe Elliott in those famous ripped jeans.

THIS. This picture was on my notebook and graced the wall in my bedroom.

Hold on. I need a moment.

Anyway, the Hysteria album cemented my love forever. Though I would go on to see them in concert three times, I seemed to stop adding their new music in the 90s. It’s possible that my brain was just too full to add any more awesome. Or maybe those early albums are just tied to memories too big to expand upon. Those hair band albums of the 80s just make me happy. I sing into my hairbrush and dance like a video queen. I have attitude and spunk. And cleaning the toilets is much cooler.

So, that’s it. Now you know. If my hair band love with heavy emphasis on Def Leppard makes you think less of me, so be it. I don’t need your approval. I just need to rock.

How To Raise A Little Geek

In case you missed my 256 announcements yesterday, I’m guest writing on Quirk Books in their Raising Quirk Community. I’d love for you to go over and take a look and maybe leave a comment.

Mommy Days

When I get a case of the Mondays, it’s a bit different than the kind an office worker gets. It’s me screeching away from the boys’ school after drop-off like I’m leaving the scene of a crime. Even a stop at the grocery store is less annoying. I get my list items and some fresh bread to celebrate. Then I get home and run a victory lap in a quiet house.

Don’t get me wrong; I love our weekends. We hang around the house in jammies, and we play. But there’s just something so great about having the house to yourself. No one is here to tell me ‘no’. No one is here to silently judge me for propping my feet up in front of HGTV as dirty clothes threaten to smother us. (Okay, truth. Michael doesn’t care if I watch TV instead of clean. When he gets tired of the filth, he gently asks if I can get to it ‘sometime this week’. The silent judgement I assign to him is my projection. I feel guilty when I sit down. I feel I do not deserve a break from doing bare minimum. In other words, my brain does special Stephanie-thinking.)

After Monday, my second favorite day of the week is Stay At Home Mommy Day. This is the one school day a week I keep the boys home. It’s usually Thursday, but sometimes we wake up, and a rainy Tuesday is just the perfect day to stay inside. I love being able to keep them home when either they or I feel like it. I will miss these days when they go to kindergarten, and I go back to work. I actually get chores done because they play with such gusto. They are free to do as they please, and they know it. They do not waste a minute. They can play one thing all morning. And of course they invite me along.

No school? Let's get after some hanger art in our jammies.

No school? Let’s get after some hanger art in our jammies.

One of our favorite games on Stay At Home Mommy Days is bear family. We all pretend to be bears, and my bedroom is our cave. As bears, we fish, gather honey, and take naps. Yes, being a carnivorous beast is exhausting, even if you’re on the small side. The naps are only pretend, but I enjoy the chance to cuddle under the blankets with my sweet boys. I often get roped into telling stories during bear naps. Then the boys will tell some. It’s pretty great.

These Stay At Home Mommy Days are my special reward. I seem to be able to enjoy the boys and who they are becoming while also getting things done around the house. They are the days I hoped to have when I pictured being a stay-at-home-mother. I will never regret this time with my sons, and I hope they remember that Mommy was not all work and no play.

Back to School

I imagined my ideal start to high school being something like Winnie Cooper turning into a hottie over the summer on The Wonder Years. Then, once my power and charm were established, the second year and beyond would be like the Pink Ladies showing up to Rydell High ready to rule the school.

So, that didn’t happen. Instead I spent a lot of high school fretting over who I could get a ride to lunch and/or home with and where I could hide if no rides appeared. And I kept waiting to, ahem, ‘blossom’, but never did. The good news is that I still found a lot to love and developed my passion for words and the atmosphere of education.

That’s why the start of school is my favorite time of year. I missed it so much the first year I stayed home with the kids. Being on bedrest was the only reason I stayed out of the stores and their tempting Back to School displays. Not having a class to outfit would not have stopped me.

I started dreaming of the boys going to school as soon as I held them and not just so I could be alone in my house again. There will be no first day dresses, but there will be backpacks, pens, and meeting teachers. All the best stuff lies before them. My greatest hope and my greatest fear is that they adore their teachers. I of course want them to have the kind of teachers I remember, but I’ll be sad when they have someone else they are trying to please.

I’m getting all misty and dreamy because today is the first day of school here in Poland. It was such a sweet scene near the schools and bus stops. There were bunches of kids dressed to impress. They looked nervous while attempting to look cool. Some were escorted by parents, and I imagined them to be new to town like I have been so many times. The sky was blue and the blazers were new. My own boys were dressed in polo shirts and jeans and excited to see what might be new at their school.

That’s why school is so great. It is filled with hope every new year. At least, I pray that’s what it’s like for my sweet boys.

The very first, first day of school, Sept. 2010. Okay, I’m lying. This is their second day. The first day involved flash flooding, cussing, and emergency surgery for the cat. No time for photos.

Same backpacks, bigger boys. 

And a smile from the other one!

Where Are All The Words?

That cloud you see over Texas? That’s what’s left of my three-week word storm. I chatted up friends, family, and strangers until my thoughts swirled around the place like a good ‘ol Texas dust devil. So, as you can imagine, I ran out of words to spew here.

Our visit was fast and only a little bit furious the first few days after my steroid shot. The dermatologist promised relief and then disappeared with a medical emergency. It seems even doctors in Texas have been unable to cure my dry, painful skin condition.

The boys had so much fun seeing friends, and I was really pleased with how quickly they jumped into the fray and made themselves at home. When we got to their godparents’ house the second time, they left me at the door and ran upstairs. They played with all of their toys and then learned how to shoot Nerf guns. There was swimming and bounce houses and fireworks, oh my!

I too enjoyed ‘playing’ with my friends as did my husband. We share a lot of the same buddies so that worked out well.

My parents were, as always, fabulous hosts. They got up with the boys in the mornings and always had food at the ready. I won’t even tell you how much ice cream we went through, though I can tell you it was less than it could have been due to my amazing self-control.

My dad and I revived a tradition of watching bad TV together that began when I was 12, and we enjoyed Friday nights filled with WWF (Wrestling, not pandas) and American Gladiators. This time we found Cajun Justice and Swamp People. My mom and I fought over the crossword puzzle in the paper even though they were rightfully hers. She graciously gave it to me on our last day as a parting gift. We also dreamed of a shopping and massage day which will have to happen later.

Our flight home was easy but not something we’d like to do again in the next month or two.

I’ll be back on the blog this week with all the words. I’m also making a guest appearance at Aiming Low in the coming weeks. Don’t worry, I’ll remind you a million times when it is published.

Stay tuned……

A Slow Walk

Dear Jack and Alex,

Thank you for being you.  Thank you for being 4 and full of wonder, humor, and earnestness.

We just walked Daddy to work and stopped for a doughnut with him.  You made his Monday much better.  He misses you after spending the weekends together.

On the walk back home, you made Mommy smile.  I can’t believe I get to watch you learn.  I literally see when you make connections and ideas about the world around you.  It is truly the definition of awesome.

We walked slow because your legs are little.  Also?  You get distracted by everything in the stores and parks and houses we pass.  Well, not distracted really.  I guess it’s more like you are taking it all in.  You aren’t in a hurry to get home and start the laundry.  You don’t worry about how long this short walk is taking.  I had you stop and listen.  It was quiet except for the birds singing.  Jack, you declared that one of the birds must be a robin which is your favorite bird.  I have no idea what a robin sounds like compared to other birds, but I like your theory.

We looked at a bush which had small green shoots working their way out of the branches.  Alex, you took one look at this scraggly bush and said it was a forsythia.  It was ‘pokey’ and the leaves looked yellow to you.  We decided to come back and see if it does indeed grow into a gorgeous, yellow forsythia we’ve read about.

When you exclaimed about the berets in the hat shop, I had to stifle my chuckle.  You were so excited that you knew they were ‘Art Hats!’ that you wear while painting.  I absolutely love it when you are earnest in your explanations.  You are so excited and so serious at the same time.  You are proud of yourself and the things you know.

Moments like these are one of the unexpected benefits of being a parent.  I knew I would love you and guide you and raise you the best that I could.  I did not know you would teach me things about the world and myself.  Or that I would get to know all the parts of you so very well.