Sunday, July 27, 2008

Let's Go!

Boy howdie, that last post really got y'all all flustered! I've had calls from all sorts of long lost folks wondering what in the world was about to change. I'm afraid you may be sorely disappointed. It's not that exciting! Thanks to my friend Tiffany I got the itch for a change of scenery. I felt a little outdated and well, perhaps a bit blah. I needed some updating and a new look... a different look. So I contacted Jennisa and got the ball rolling. It's been about 3 months in the making (she's very good & apparently popular) and today is moving day. So let's go! We're moving. No... not just me and my family... ALL of US... you too. Yes, you. Let's go!


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

How do y'all feel about Change?

Stay Tuned....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

China Trip Tuesdays

Today we're going to talk about something that is not a mainstream American habit but is quite common in China: CARRYING UMBRELLAS to protect yourself from the sun. Unless you are a modern-day Scarlett O'Hara and don't want your fair skin tanned by the sun, most of us here the in States walk out in the mid-day sun with little more than sunglasses or a ball cap to protect (mainly our eyes) from the blaring sun. We drive cars with A/C... we take buses with A/C... we don't walk anywhere very far... we wear shorts, tank tops or sundresses to stay cool... we have good accessibility to swimming pools, sprinklers and clean lakes... we're addicted to sunscreen and icy drinks... we have battery operated fans that spray mist... our buildings have central air... and most adults and lots of children wear sunglasses. In China, the preceeding statements, are not true for most citizens. And thus, they use umbrellas to shade themselves from the hot summer sun. In Guangdong Province in Southern China where the climate is sub-tropical, the summertime heat brings afternoon thundershowers. Our guide Connie said the ladies of Guangzhou always carry an umbrella in their purse for both the sun and the rain.

Carrying an umbrella isn't just for the ladies. Here a group of men shade themselves while shooting the breeze. Notice how none of them have on shorts.

Here's another group I captured. I love the sweet guy holding the umbrella for his girl. I was lucky Big Daddy T gave me a couple yuan for a bottle of water. (I kid.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Camp Summertime
(This post will make my Mother's skin crawl. My Dad will wonder where he went wrong. And Big Daddy T thinks I'm ridiculous. )
The summer is quickly slipping away here in way-too-hot Georgia and that means before long we'll have to close down Camp Summertime to get ready to go "Back-to-School." I am a single mom most of the work week while Big Daddy T is in Hotlanta chasing his entrepreneurial dreams. Instead of all my kiddos piling in my bed while Daddy's away, I established Camp Summertime. You see, I gave birth to 3 little nighttime scaredy cats. When the sun goes down the jitters rise up. Heck, I remember being nervous at night when I was a kid. And I suppose if I were honest, where the kids sleep at night... specifically in their own assigned beds... is not a battle I care to fight. As long as they get sound, restful sleep... especially in the summertime when we tend to live life a little freer... I'm happy. So, I started in my big girls room, which they share, with a twin bed for each. Then I rounded up all the extra comforters from over the years and made 2 very soft... very thick pallets on the floor. Little Lilly Lu is in her crib across the hall... I'm not that nuts... and with the 2 beds & 2 pallets... all 4 of us can sleep in the same room. No nighttime jitters, no scary dreams, the kiddos get better sleep which means I get better sleep. I get 1 bed... again, I'm not that nuts... and would you believe the 3 fight over the pallets instead of the other bed? We have had such great summertime slumbers all cozy & cool in the room together... I'm actually going to miss Camp Sumemrtime when we get back in the school routine.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I'm not sure who came up with these, but my favorite brother-in-law "Chief" passed them along to me. Girls... you know it's true!


1. "Fine:" This is the word women use to end an argument when they are right and you need to shut up.

2. "Five Minutes:" If she is getting dressed, this means a half an hour. Five minutes is only five minutes if you have just been given five more minutes to watch the game before helping around the house.

3. "Nothing:" This is the calm before the storm. This means something, and you should be on your toes. Arguments that begin with nothing usually end in fine.

4. "Go Ahead:" This is a dare, not permission. Don't Do It!

5. Loud Sigh: This is actually not a word, but is a non-verbal statement often misunderstood by men. A loud sigh means she thinks you are an idiot and wonders why she is wasting her time standing here and arguing with you about nothing. (Refer back to # 3 for the meaning of nothing.)

6. "That's Okay:" This is one of the most dangerous statements a women can make to a man. That's okay means she wants to think long and hard before deciding how and when you will pay for your mistake.

7. "Thanks:" A woman is thanking you, do not question, or Faint. Just say you're welcome. (I want to add in a clause here - This is true, unless she says "Thanks a lot" - that is PURE sarcasm and she is not thanking you at all. DO NOT say 'you're welcome' ... that will bring on a 'whatever').

8. "Whatever:" Is a woman's way of saying "Kiss my GRITS!"

9. "Don't worry about it, I got it:" Another dangerous statement, meaning this is something that a woman has told a man to do several times, but is now doing it herself. This will later result in a man asking 'What's wrong?' For the woman's response refer to # 3.*

Friday, July 18, 2008


People, there's a reason I'm not fitting into my old clothes. Well, actually more than 1... more like 790 reasons. Yep... 790 filthy, dirty, wicked calories. And to my detriment... I'm addicted to each and every one of them! If you haven't tried Chic-fil-a's new Cookies & Cream HomeSpun Milkshake get up in the morning and go get you one. Especially you skinny folks! And you gotta go tomorrow 'cause the next day will be Sunday and then you'll have to wait another WHOLE 24 hours to enjoy the sinfulness of this beloved dessert. I have to cut back... I think I probably had 4 of them this week... perhaps 5... and I'm feeling the urge to purge... no I'm lying... looking at this picture is making my mouth water and I'm trying to justify in my mind going back for a 5th or 6th tomorrow! They might think I'm the Chic-fil-A cow and ask me to hold a sign and stand out by the road trying to get the folks driving by to "Eat More Chikin!" But that's my problem... you get shakin' (no pun intended) and go try one!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Look What My Baby Girl Can Do!
It took her a few weeks to get the mechanics and rhythm of crawling down, but last week she took off. Now she's crawling around and pulling up on everything... and this week, falling down less... getting more steady on her feet. We are in love!





And up my leg she climbs!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

China Trip Tuesday

Today we're going to talk about one of my most favorite things... LAUNDRY! Boy howdy do I enjoy doing laundry. No, really... I do. Honest. My house is pretty much the center of a tornado most days, but you can be guaranteed that all my little pigs are wearing clean, sweet smelling clothes. I do laundry every day. My friend Sergeant SuperMom says she only does laundry once a week. After I quit laughing (remember she has 5 kids) I told her she was from another planet that on the planet I come from we do laundry every day... usually all day. If I'm up and at home... I've probably got a load of laundry going. My laundry is like a baseball game... a load is always at bat and one is always in the on-deck circle and there are many other loads waiting in the dug out for their turn in the washer! So when I knew I was traveling to another country for 16 days and advised to take way less than 16 outfits I was certain I would have to do laundry in China. And it was great! In fact, I could almost get used to it. Let's take a look...

You take your laundry to the store in a bag... we used the hotel laundry bag. In Guangzhou just about every little shop on Shamian Island will do laundry and in Nanchang our guide arranged for laundry pick up... we just bagged it, took it to her room & the laundry service (The Elephant King) brought it back to us & collected their money.

Oooooo... ahhhhh.... neat huh? All the laundry is folded neatly and placed in clear, cellophane bags. I never had anything lost or returned faded or shrunk... (or is it shrunken?)

Here's another view. My only constructive criticism would be for the Chinese to discover DOWNY. I'm used to my clothes smelling oh-so-fresh. The laundry didn't smell bad... just smelled... blah... nada. But hey, it was clean, neat & cheap... I'm a big girl... I can handle 2 weeks w/out Downy.

Now get this... in Nanchang, our laundry service, The Elephant King, sewed the tags in each piece of clothing. Sewed. By hand. See the tiny little knots & the white thread. How unique is that? I was just blown away by the small detail. Some of our travel clothes still have the tags in them 'cause I haven't cut them out. It's a little souvenir. Or maybe I'm just lazy???

For those of you who may be about to travel, here is my suggestion for the type of outfits you should concentrate on when packing.
  1. CREW neck t-shirts. I read this suggestion on Rumor Queen before I traveled and I thought "nah... this round face looks better in V-necks... to heck with that suggestion!" Well, I owe that person an apology. Once you get your baby... you'll be holding and bending and putting her in the carrier & taking her out of the carrier and she'll by climbing on you and pulling on you and sleeping on you and you're better off with full coverage. I bet I showed my boobs to 1/2 of the people of Jiangxi & Guangdong Provinces... not to mention my travel companions! To all of them, I apologize.
  2. A sports bra. Ladies, comfort & practicality are your top priorities. Now granted, I am not well endowed... so there ain't alot of support needed for these little mamas. You'll be doing a lot of walking and riding and it is just more comfortable in a sports bra. It is.
  3. Shorts. I did bring some skirts to China and they were o.k. and cool in the hot summer. But you will be doing a lot of sitting on the floor with your baby & getting on and off buses, airplanes, taxis. Again... practicality... it's key.
  4. And lastly, I'll admit that AGAIN... that I did not heed the suggestions of those that traveled before me and I packed WAY too many clothes for the trip. I should have packed LESS and done laundry more. Now don't you make the same mistake. O.K.?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sergeant SuperMom
We got a HUGE surprise phone call this week from our dear friend "Sergeant SuperMom" who was one of our nearest & dearest friends during our 5 years living in South Florida. Sergeant SuperMom got her name for many reasons:

  1. She's a total stud... she graduated from West Point Military Academy. While I was running around the sorority house with a grosgrain ribbon in my hair at a state school, this she woman was working her butt off earning a degree from one of the toughest universities in the country... not only to get into, but to graduate from.

  2. She then went to Ranger School & jumped out of airplanes. I am nervous to ride "Goliath" at Six Flags and this girl used to JUMP OUT OF PLANES! Whew!

  3. She had 5 kids... yes, 5 in just over 5 years. AND her husband is a football coach for one of the top programs in the state of Florida & so she's a football "widow" from August through the championships in December. Remember... she has 5 children... boom! boom! boom!

  4. She's one of the most disciplined & organized people I know. All weekend I was like "O.K... you tell your daughter to clean her room & she cries and complains... what should I do?" I asked her for advice on dozens of parenting topics. She runs her house like the barracks... lots of fun, but no funny business allowed!

  5. The United States government trusts her enough to give her "TS" (a.k.a "Top Secret") Clearance for us civilians.) My husband barely trusts me with a checkbook and this gal has the trust of the US military with stuff "if I tell you, I'll have to kill you!" Wow.

So, Sergeant SuperMom calls to say she's in Atlanta for two weeks of active duty at Fort McPhearson & could we get together this weekend? YES! So she drove down yesterday and stay overnight. You know you have a FOREVER FRIEND when you don't see each other for 3 years and you pick up right where you left off! Last night I was getting onto Baby #3 for interrupting me while I was talking to Sgt. SuperMom and by today I was like... "That's not really fair 'cause we've been talking NON-STOP since last night... he hasn't had a chance to get a moment alone without interrupting!"

For being a stud she's a tiny little thing isn't she? Or am I freakishly big?

She called me a sissy for only having 4 kids! Of course, I'm kidding. But she was happy Hillbilly Baby and his affection for not wearing proper clothing attire moved away from her kids. "Bad company corrupts good morals!" Kidding again... she loves my guys!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

China Trip Tuesdays (posted just in time!)
I have been trying to work on this post ALL DAY LONG and little Miss Prissy would not stand for it! The big girls are at camp this week which leaves me home with Babies 3 & 4 and right now little Miss Prissy has a hissy (hey, that rhymes) every time Big Brother tries to touch her. And I don't know if it's because he's a boy and they like to bother girls or because he really loves her... but he ALWAYS wants to touch her and she ALWAYS get's mad. Anyway, it's taken me until quarter 'til 12 to finally get a chance to finish this up. O.K.... back to China. And what's something very fun to do anywhere you are??? Yep, that's right... SHOP! So today let's GO TO A CHINESE DEPARTMENT STORE! This particular department store was downtown NANCHANG in Jiangxi Province where Miss Prissy is from and it's name is Parkson. Let's go.

Here we are pulling up outside the store on our group bus. Notice the store looks more like an American office building... there are 4 or 5 floors inside. Also, instead of a traditional food court in the U.S. we found several fast food restaurants around the store. This one shown here is a Pizza Hut.

Once inside the atmosphere is quite different than that of the streets outside. The store is quite opulent & sophisticated... much like a designer department store like Macy's or Nordstrom here in the States. I liked it! Here is a ritzy jewlry store on the first floor.

This cracked me up! China is a little behind the times with American style & trends. For example... we saw a lot of "Snoopy" articles... Snoopy was big when I was a kid. Kids here in the U.S. are into Spongebob or Hannah Montana. Well, same for cosmetics & beauty care. Olay here in the states is quite ordinary... available at any Wal-Mart or Dollar General. Department stores here sell high end cosmetics such as Laura Mercier or MAC. That'll arrive in China by the time I start collecting Social Security!

Escorted by our guides we make our way up the escalators to the Baby Floor.

And we arrive. The prices are in Yuan and the discounted sales are also in Yuan... making it difficult for a bargain shopper like me to figure out what I'm about to spend. We saw familiar brands & some no-so-familiar brands... but cute stuff just the same.

O.K... so here's the major difference in shopping at a Chinese department store and an American department store. Here in the States you can shop all over the store collecting merchandise from different departments as you go. Heck, I've paid for shoes in cosmetics and jewlrey in Men's wear. Once you're done shopping you pay for all your purchases at one time... or at least I do... I ain't standing in line more than once! Well, in China let's say I want to buy a dress for Lilly, some shoes for me and some sheets to bring back for my room. First, I would have to select the dress I want. Then I show it to the salesperson. The sales person writes me a TICKET for the dress & holds it for me. Then I go to the next department. I show the person the shoes I want. They write me a ticket and I move along. Until I'm done shopping.

Here's the gal in the children's department writing me a ticket for a dress I picked out. Notice the calculator on the counter. ALL Chinese salespeople... whether at a department store, a street vendor or a small shop... are fast & furious on the calculator. They always divide the price in Yuan by the current exchange rate... usually take a discount (especially is you bargain) and show you in American dollars how much the item would be. Every store... every shop... every booth... every salesperson has a calculator... EVERY ONE!

Then I ran into Big Daddy T who was bored out of his gord and looking at me like I had purple hair & polka dotted teeth... like "Why on earth would you possibly need clothes for this new baby?" Men... they just don't get it!Or is it just my man?

O.K... back to the shopping. So, you've collected tickets for all the items you want to purchase. You then find a CASHIER. You hand the cashier all your tickets and they total them up. You pay the cashier and they give you RECEIPTS for all your purchases.

Then you go back and collect your purchases from the salesperson in each department that is holding them for you. Kind of a pain huh? I went back to infants and handed the gal the receipt & picked up the dress. Then I had to go to toys and pick up something there. Honestly... and not just because I'm American... I like the American way better.

And while I was paying for and collecting my purchases, Big Daddy T went & found him some AMERICAN FOOD! After being offered fried fish heads, braised pork blood, old hard boiled eggs & more rice than the law should allow... it was like an oasis to see the KFC outside the store.

What kid doesn't love french fries?

It wasn't long before we attracted stares from some curious little ones.

They were laughing and giggling at us and the mamas were kept encouraging them to come over to see us & get their picture taken. What American parent... with all the "Stranger Danger" drilled into our heads, would send their daughters across a restaurant to be photographed by a complete stranger? I suppose we looked very sweet & friendly!

And finally they came & saw us... flashing the very popular "peace" sign. Notice the jade necklace on the one girl. Jade is a very important part of the Chinese culture. I'll talk about that more on another China Trip Tuesday... but all our guides wore jade bracelets, the director of our agency also wears one... and they took us several times to see & buy jade in different cities.

We did as the Chinese and made our daughter be photographed with strangers. She was a little embarrassed but the little girls loved it. And before she could finish saying "CHEESE" it was time to catch the bus for the hotel. With full tummies and some goodies to go, it was a fun afternoon learning about how to shop at the mall in China.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Free Babysitter
O.K. friends... I'm going to give you a tip on how to keep your kiddos busy this summer while you enjoy adult conversation without them AND this babysitter will also tire your little lovebugs out so when you take them home they're totally pooped & ready for bed. So... here's what you do:
  1. Find someone who lives on the lake and crash their dock party like we did at my parent's house on the Fourth of July.
  2. Get a tube used for tubing behind a boat or jet ski.
  3. Put lifejackets on your kiddos because the lake scares me to death & you want to make sure when they fall in they won't go or stay under for long.
  4. Tie the ski rope to the dock so the kiddos can pull the tube in to the dock. They also can use it to yank the tube out from under each other & 'cause them to fall, resulting in squeals of laughter!

So... allow our family to demostrate.

Baby #3 will start us off. They begin to try to stand up on the tube.

Lookin' good...


Uh oh... somebody's getting a little big for his wet britches... better keep focused on your balance!


Good try buddy, good try! On to Baby #2

What is it with my kids flashing me the "I love you" sign? I don't think they really love me... the little punks are confused and really meaning to sign "Rock On!!! I'm cool!

Here she goes...

And another one bites the dust!

Let's see if my oldest & most experienced water baby can rise to the challenge of the tube!

No... she also falls victim to the wobbly powers of the tube.

Now have your kiddos do exactly what you've just witnessed over & over again. They'll love it... and you'll love the fact that they're busy and active. But... beware... if you break out your camera once... yes, one teenie, tiny time they'll then be busy screaming:
"MOM! MOM! MOM! Take my picture! LOOK! MOM! Are you looking? MOM! MOM! MOM! You're not LOOKING!!! MOM! LOOK! Get your camera and TAKE MY PICTURE!!! Did you take it? MOM!