I Wish I Hadn’t Said That

I wish I hadn’t said that.

Seriously. I have said this to myself a million times. Maybe I accidentally offended someone with something I said. Or maybe I struck back hard (verbally) at someone who, I felt, had struck at me first. Maybe I overreacted. Maybe I used inappropriate language. Maybe I was sick or tired…and I was snippy. Maybe I wasn’t sick or tired, but I was snippy for some other reason. Maybe I said something ugly I shouldn’t have said. Or maybe I repeated something I shouldn’t have repeated. It happens…not just to me. It happens to lots of people, unless they’re living in a cave…alone…with no one else around to talk to.

No matter what the different situations were, there have been lots of times I have wished I had kept my big mouth shut.

I’m guessing everyone on the planet has said something they wish they hadn’t said. Unfortunately, once we put words out there, we can’t reel them back in. It’s a lesson we should all learn as children, but sometimes we make mistakes.

I was talking with a teenager the other day who told me she regretted some things she did and said when she was younger. She told me some of the things she regretted…most were silly, elementary-school type things. And that’s when I took a moment to tell her that, even at 54, I still say and do things I regret. Many times, I look back on things I have said or done, and I know I could have handled things differently. It’s just part of life. We like to think we learn all the lessons we can ever learn, but I know really nice, good-hearted, genuine people who tell me they often wish they had handled different situations differently.

A friend was telling me just yesterday how her Mama Bear instinct had kicked in on a situation with her daughter, and she had interceded where she shouldn’t have. I get it. I have been there. I have done that. That Mama Bear instinct is fierce. People who have never been a Mama don’t understand just how strong that instinct is. And even some Mamas don’t have the same strength of instinct as others. My friend said she can recall lots of times she lashed out over situations involving her kids…and she cringes. Again…been there, done that…I wonder how many hours of my life have been spent cringing over something I have said.

I’m certainly not perfect. I’m not a perfect person. I’m not a perfect parent. I’m not a perfect friend. I try, but sometimes my emotions get the best of me. But if anyone tries to tell me I’m the only crazy mom out there, I will laugh. I know I’m not the only one. I know every mom out there is capable of doing whatever it takes to keep her baby from getting hurt. But in most of the cases in which I have interceded, I have regretted it. In almost every instance, I later wished I had just stepped back and let things play out. Protecting our kids is not always helpful. Why? Because as painful as it may be, they need to learn to protect themselves. And honestly, in hindsight, I wasn’t always interceding on my daughter’s behalf…it simply felt like it at the time. But often, I found I was interceding because of my own beliefs…not hers. She usually didn’t even care about what was happening, but I did. I’m cringing again right now.

So yes, those regrets continue throughout life. Even today…this very day…I regret something I said to my husband. I was in a hurry to get somewhere, and he was slowing me down with a conversation…I got snippy. Instead of asking him nicely if we could discuss it later, I said, “I’m trying to get out the door! Can’t this wait?!?” I ended up apologizing later. Fortunately, he accepted my apology…probably because he has to live with me for “as long as we both shall live.” Forgiveness is key.

It’s important to remember that forgiveness is key in all these situations. We all live in “glass houses.” We all hurt people sometimes. We should all be forgiving. And we also have to learn to forgive ourselves.

So when I offend you…I can almost guarantee it will happen at some time if we are ever around each other…I will likely ask for forgiveness if I’m aware that I have hurt you. If you’re not the forgiving type, we don’t need to be friends anyway, because I am definitely the forgiving type. I only hope my friends will offer me the same courtesy I would offer them in a situation. I tell people all the time, “You have to try to offend me…and you have to try many times before it becomes an issue.”

And if you’re my friend for very long, you’ll hear me say at least once, “I wish I hadn’t said that.” Maybe I should just carry cards in my handbag that say, “Please forgive me for _____________. I wish I hadn’t said/done that.” I can hand them out after I realize I’ve likely offended someone.

I wish I hadn’t said that.

Underneath Is Just A Lot Of Poop

***I wrote this when my daughter was 14 and never published it. Found it today and remembered this conversation that made me laugh.***

Recently, my daughter was telling me how much she would rather be participating in something one of her friends is participating in than what she was doing at the time. It was the same old song and dance, “Bertha (not a real person) says it’s great.”

I responded with, “I hear what you’re saying. I know you think Bertha’s activity is more fun, but you need to remember, the grass is always greener over the septic tank.”

She looked at me, puzzled. “What does that even mean?”

Of course, she has no idea what it means, because she has no idea what a septic tank is. So first, I had to explain what a septic tank is. She made that ugly face teens make when they think something is disgusting. I then tried to explain the septic field to her, but she didn’t want to get that in-depth, and she again asked what my statement meant.

I explained that sometimes, concrete septic tanks form cracks in them, and a little bit of what’s inside seeps into the surrounding area…causing the grass above to grow a little greener. It was easier to explain it that way than to get into the mechanics of a septic field. Of course, that elicited an “ewww.” I explained the meaning of the saying this way, “Sometimes you see green grass (or hear about green grass) and that lush, green grass is beautiful, but what’s really underneath is just a lot of poop. That means someone might be telling you how great their life/job/school/relationship is, but you can’t see what’s underneath, and it might really be bad, but it looks good from the outside. You can’t see the poop, but it’s there.”

She understood poop talk, of course. I’m sure my explanation left a mark on her memory. She likely wishes she hadn’t asked. I was just glad we could stop talking about septic tanks, even though I was the one who mentioned them in the first place.

Y’all know I totally stole that saying from Erma Bombeck, about whom I’ve written before. Thank God for Erma. I’m reading her books now, and hopefully, I’ll find some more words of wisdom I can use on my daughter from time to time…especially ones that contain bathroom humor. Teenagers totally understand that.

For now, though, I”ll just keep using, “The grass is always greener over the septic tank,” and if she keeps doubting what I’m telling her, I might have to make her get into the car. We might have to drive a long way to find a septic tank for me to prove it to her. I don’t know exactly how far outside Charlotte that will be, but I’m willing to do it to make a point.

Or I guess I could make her watch The Wizard of Oz with me again. We would have to watch the whole movie to get to the point in the story where they pull back the curtain on the “wizard,” revealing that things aren’t always what they seem. I’m still a little afraid of those flying monkeys though, so that will have a to be a last resort.

And maybe one day I’ll have an opportunity explain to her what a grease trap is and tell her about the time our neighbor’s dog fell into ours while it was being cleaned! Ewwww!

Let’s Get Patted Down

Let’s get patted down.

Yesterday, when I was preparing to return to Charlotte from Montego Bay on a flight today, I was having a lot of difficulty with the Verifly app. I couldn’t get it to work for me, while all the other people in our group (high school senior spring break) were zooming right through the flight check-in process on their apps. I was frustrated and wasted a lot of time before finally giving up. I knew I could check in at the airport, so I wasn’t terribly concerned.

I should have known better.

When I arrived at the airport three hours before my international flight, I went straight to the American Airlines Priority line and got checked in. And that’s when I saw it: the dreaded SSSS on my boarding pass. For those who don’t know, if your airline boarding pass shows SSSS on it, it means you have been selected, for some reason unknown to you, to be subjected to a full bag check and pat down. I groaned audibly, and my daughter asked what was wrong. I told her, “I’m going to be pulled for extra security check.” She rolled her eyes. Was she surprised? No. She had encountered this with me many times. I have been flagged more times than I can count.

I have done everything I can to make the travel gods know I’m not a criminal. Sure, I drive slightly over the speed limit sometimes, but that’s about it. I even come to a full stop at all stop signs…unlike most people I know. I have TSA Precheck, for goodness sakes, but sometimes, they just don’t care. I guess they like looking at my underwear.

It has actually been a while since I have seen that dreaded SSSS…so long, in fact, that I was shocked to see it this time. Before I had TSA Precheck, I had SSSS on my boarding pass every time I flew. The first few times, it was frustrating. After about the 20th, it just made me flat-out angry. And today…I was angry. Really? I’m a short, middle-aged mom from Charlotte. I don’t look threatening. Nothing in my past makes me look threatening. Big Brother clearly hasn’t watched closely enough to realize just how boring I am. I just don’t understand it. And that’s why it makes me angry. It’s pretty frustrating to be in Group 1 for boarding but have to stand aside to be searched while groups 2, 3, and 4 fill up the overhead bin space. And it’s frustrating to have someone pull your dirty laundry out for everyone to see…literally, your dirty laundry. Add the fact that something inevitably gets lost…today it was a pen and a book…both disappeared after they searched my bags. Oh, and did I mention they were soooo slow? One girl was searching the first bag while the other one watched till I said, “Really? Can’t you be searching the second bag while she searches this one, so I don’t miss out on the overhead bin space altogether?” She actually said, “Everyone gets the space above their seat.” I literally laughed out loud. It’s a dog-eat-dog world, honey, and those dogs are eating your overhead bin space.

If you don’t understand the frustration, you clearly have not had to endure it. Shoes off…standing on a nasty floor where you’re likely to pick up a fungus. Someone feeling you up without buying you dinner…someone you don’t even know, in fact! People boarding the plane ahead of you and looking at you like you’re a criminal. People going through your personal belongings and then getting some of your dirty laundry caught in the zipper of your suitcase when they try to close it back. Because yes, I expect them to close it back. You open it…you close it…and good luck with that. Ugh. And then you board the plane and pray there will be overhead space. It’s frustrating and maddening. And now that it has happened again, it is likely to keep happening to me. I probably need to take an anti-anxiety med before going to the airport from now on.

So if you have trouble checking in for a flight online, it might be because you’ve been flagged. If you check in and see SSSS on your boarding pass, prepare yourself for what’s ahead…a thorough bag check and a pat down. You can ask for all of it to be done privately, but then you just lose more time. Just suffer through it and be on your merry way. If you’d like to read more about the dreaded SSSS, click here. And if you would like to apply for a government redress number to possibly avoid this in the future, read more about it here. It is one reason you need to get to the airport well ahead of your flight time.

Today, I finally boarded the plane and found I had superhuman strength from the angry adrenaline when I lifted my luggage into the one space left in the overhead bin near my seat. Honestly, I think I might have just sat down and cried if it hadn’t been available. It was a long trip. Not long in time, but I was feeling really under the weather most of the time, and it was a group. The people in the group were absolutely lovely, but generally speaking, I just don’t do group travel. I like my travel to be more my own thing. I like to make my own plans and do my own thing. I’m kind of selfish about my travel, because well, it’s what I like to do, and I’m particular about how I do it. I guess I “don’t play well with others,” so whatever viral thing I have made it a struggle…not COVID…I tested negative for that. This trip wasn’t about me, anyway. It was about the high school seniors, and they had a blast.

Let’s get patted down.

Forever Friends

Forever friends.

We never really know who will be our forever friends, do we? I have had friends in my life I thought would be forever friends, but for different reasons (sometimes my fault, sometimes theirs, sometimes no one’s fault), it didn’t work out that way. For the most part, we just never knew the last phone call would be the last phone call. Or the last lunch would be the last lunch. We just drifted apart for whatever reason…moving, new responsibilities, life. No matter what, they all had some effect on my life. I have learned something from every friend in my life.

But my 18-yr-old daughter is visiting a friend in Pensacola, Florida, this weekend, and I think they are going to be forever friends. I can’t explain why I think it, but I do. Something about these two…a bond formed outside of other friendships, maybe? They support each other all the time. They have each other’s backs all the time. And they have similar interests (they’re both athletic, fun, and funny). They talk, I think, almost every single night via Facetime. So many nights I have walked into my daughter’s room to wish her good night, and she is talking with this friend. It makes me happy.

In 2014, when my daughter was 10 years old, we had a place on the Alabama Gulf Coast. That summer, because we knew she wouldn’t be willing to do it later, we decided to spend most of our time there…at the beach. Our daughter was playing club soccer, and at that point, she was very into it. Her club soccer coach, upon hearing we would be at the beach for the summer, suggested she find someone to practice with there…or even attend a camp there. So I did what moms do; I enrolled her in a camp and also enrolled her in some regular training sessions.

The camp I signed her up for turned out to be on the Naval Base in Pensacola. That Monday morning, bright and early, when we arrived, she looked out at the field from the car and said to me, “Mom, it’s all little kids.” She was right. It looked like a lot of six and seven year old kids. We had arrived early, so we had time to sit in the car and talk while we scanned the field. After a few minutes, I spotted a blonde girl who appeared to be about my daughter’s age, and I said, “There’s a girl your age!” She didn’t waste any time; she jumped out of the car and ran straight to the girl on the field. I stayed for the session but didn’t watch all the training. I walked around the area for exercise while she played, but I noticed when they had a break and walked back over to the sideline. My daughter came running over, her new friend in tow and introduced me to Lindsey. Even after knowing each other for an hour, they were already acting like best friends!

The camp was a one-week camp. Our daughter wasn’t feeling well one of the days, so she missed. Another day, it stormed, as it does on the Gulf Coast. But when she was there, she played soccer with her new friend at the camp. The last day was cut short by another storm, and soon after starting, the skies opened with torrential rains. We all ran to our cars to escape the downpour, and the rest of the last day of the camp was canceled. We left without getting contact information for Lindsey, because everything had ended so abruptly. It was fun while it lasted.

The next week, I took our daughter to the first of the weekly soccer training sessions. It was just going to be two hours a week on Wednesday mornings. So that Wednesday morning, I drove her to the field. And when we arrived, she looked out at the field and said, “Mom, it’s all big kids.” I couldn’t believe it. She was right. They all appeared to be over 13, and she was just 10. We sat in the car and talked about whether she wanted to do the training or not, and after a few minutes, I saw a minivan pull up behind me, and three kids tumbled out…two older kids and a girl who appeared to be our daughter’s age. I said, “Look! That girl is about your age!” She looked back and excitedly said, “It’s Lindsey!” And she couldn’t get out of the car fast enough! She jumped out with her soccer bag, and the girls embraced happily before going out onto the field.

After that, Lindsey visited us at our place on the beach, and the girls bonded. Whenever we visited the beach after that, they hung out. Two girls who lived 500 miles apart became best friends…having been brought together by soccer…with a little nudge from God, I think. Eventually, Lindsey visited us in Charlotte a couple of times, and last year, she vacationed with us in California. I’m not sure if her parents know it yet, but the girls are planning for her to vacation with us again this summer…maybe more than once!

Their meeting and formation of a friendship is one of my favorite friendship stories. In the fall, they are both off to college. No, they aren’t going to the same school. Mine is going to the University of Alabama, and Lindsey is off to Ole Miss. They’ll be just three hours apart, so I see lots of road trips in their future.

They’ll likely still Facetime regularly, though not every night, but I feel pretty sure these two will be forever friends. God put them in each other’s path for a reason.

Midnight Sledding

Midnight sledding.

It started snowing at our house in Charlotte, NC, yesterday at about 6pm. We were expecting a few flurries and nothing more. Even flurries are pretty to a girl from Alabama (me), so I enjoyed watching them from the warmth of our home, and eventually, I realized we were getting more snow than had been forecast.

Our daughter had a friend sleeping over, but they had gone to another friend’s house a few miles away in another friend’s car. At about 11:30pm, my daughter texted me, “Can you come pick us up?” I responded, “On our way.” My husband and I got into his Jeep, and once we were on the road, we realized how fortunate we are to have a Jeep with 4-wheel-drive, so even driving on slippery roads wasn’t difficult. (Don’t make fun, Northerners. The city did not prepare the roads in advance, it appeared. I’ve read about schools closing up north because it was too hot to go to school at 85 degrees. I went to school in 100 degree temperatures growing up on the Gulf Coast, and we didn’t have A/C in schools then…seriously.) We saw a few accidents along the way. One car had slid into the back of another. Another car had slid into a light pole. But fortunately, we were fine.

We delivered our daughter and her friend safely back to our house, and as soon as we got home, we all ran inside to put on snow gear, so we could go sledding! Yes, it was midnight, but that just made it more fun! After putting on warm clothes, coats, gloves, and hats for the snow, we all met in the garage and grabbed sleds. Fortunately, our daughter gets a new sled from Santa every Christmas, so we have a collection from which to choose! To purchase the fastest sleds we have, click here.

I’m sure our neighbors thought we were crazy, but we didn’t care. They might have even been disturbed by our laughter, but we didn’t care. I could hear one neighbor shoveling snow while we were sledding (yes, shoveling in the middle of the night), and I just felt sorry for him. He was missing out. We just wanted to have some fun, and we did!

My husband and I started the fun by taking a sled run down the big hill on our street. The snow wasn’t packed, so it wasn’t as fast as it usually is, but it was still fun…and funny. Then our daughter and her friend started sledding down another smaller, but steep, hill next to the lake. They laughed, and we laughed. Between sled runs, we threw snow balls and took photos. My husband was wearing a Santa hat for warmth, which made the pictures even more festive.

We had lots of fun. We laughed. We sledded. But mostly, we made midnight sledding memories. We don’t have snow every winter in Charlotte, but when we do, we try to take advantage of the opportunity. Over the years, we have made some great memories with great friends. In fact, a friend who now lives in Boston saw my new photos on Instagram and commented, “Brings back fun memories.” And that made me smile. So yes, we made more fun memories last night too. Our daughter is 18 (so hard to believe) and will be heading off to college in Alabama in August. She won’t be here in Charlotte during January and February anymore, so we likely won’t get to sled with her next winter. We were thrilled to have the opportunity to go midnight sledding last night.

And today, we’ll do a little more sledding. It’s going to melt pretty quickly, so we will have to take advantage of it early. We’ll make a couple of runs down the big hill before going over to the adjacent golf course. I won’t stay long…one or two quick passes down the hill…but we will make good memories. And we will laugh. Our daughter will likely stay a little longer, and then everything will melt, and we will go back to business as usual.

But years from now, if our daughter has her own child(ren), I hope she will tell stories about midnight sledding with us. Last night, she said of me and my husband, “Y’all are both just five years old at heart. Most parents are just getting old.” She probably doesn’t even remember saying it, but I remember it; I took it as a high compliment.

I hope it snows again soon, so we can go midnight sledding again!

Holiday Gifting (Part 5): Give the Gift of Fun!

Give the gift of fun!

So, we have all been hearing for weeks on end that we need to shop early this year, because the supply chain is messed up. I have seen a few signs that this might be true, so I’m looking to purchase gifts that don’t have to be shipped here from other countries. Near the top of the list? The gift of fun! Someone said to me recently that I remind them of Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woods. At first, I didn’t understand, so I simply asked, “Tigger?!?” My friend responded with, “Yes, Tigger! You’re always looking for the next fun thing!” Well, I won’t argue with that. And I love to share fun with other people! So why not give the gift of fun?!?!

Here are some ideas:

  • Amusement Park Passes. If you happen to live near a good amusement park and have someone on your list who loves rollercoasters as much as I do, a season pass could make a great gift! We are fortunate in Charlotte to have Carowinds, an amusement park with world-class thrill rides and rollercoasters. I used to be a regular there when our daughter was growing up, but in the last few years, I haven’t even been! I’d love if my husband gifted me with a season pass…it would give me an excuse to go!
  • Movie Passes. Movie theaters are finally open again, and we need to take advantage of it! I haven’t been to a movie since the pandemic began, but I plan to change that this week when I go see High Society (it’s the 65th anniversary) on the big screen! And I hope to continue going to movies! If you have someone on your list who enjoys a good movie, movie passes or a gift card to a local theater could make a great gift! And if they happen to love older movies, you might want to check the schedule for big screen oldies here.
  • Sporting Events. If you have a college or professional team in your area and have a sports fan on your list, tickets to a game could be a fun gift! In Charlotte, we are fortunate to have the NFL Carolina Panthers, the NBA Hornets, the minor league Charlotte Knights baseball team, and even some college teams! Not in Charlotte? Look around for other sporting events: rodeos, track meets, and more! If it’s a female friend, maybe you order an inexpensive stadium-approved clear handbag from Amazon (click here) and put the tickets in that!
  • Concerts. A few years ago, someone gave us tickets to a Sade concert as a Christmas gift. My husband loves Sade, but I was never a big fan…till we went to that show! John Legend opened and put on a fabulous show, making me a big fan, and then Sade was incredible! Wow! The lady is a performer! We had a great time, and I knew then that concert tickets make great gifts. Don’t we all remember concerts we’ve attended? How many gifts of “stuff” do you actually remember?
  • Special events. Maybe a local hotel or restaurant is hosting a wine tasting? Or maybe there’s a local Yoga and Mimosa event? Tickets to any type of special event of interest to the recipient make great gifts. A hotel near us, for example, hosts afternoon tea on weekends. Tickets are not required, but I have a friend who loves the afternoon tea experience at this hotel, so I know I could give her a hotel gift card with a note about the tea, and she would love it.
  • Family experiences. If there’s a family with kids on your list, they might enjoy a night at a Great Wolf Lodge! When our daughter was younger, she absolutely loved our local Great Wolf Lodge…the water slides, the restaurants, the kids club room, the arcade…everything about it. And I loved taking her and a friend, because I could relax while they had all the fun they could stand! Top Golf is another fun family experience…give a gift card for the whole family to spend some time together there! For kids, you might give the gift of art at Small Hands, Big Art, where they have art classes for kids of all ages.
  • Classes. I have a friend who loves taking classes. She just loves trying new things! She has taken cooking classes at Sur la Table. She has taken painting classes. She has taken glass-blowing classes and pottery classes. She loves to learn, so I know I can gift her a class of some type, and she will be thrilled!
  • Thrilling experiences. Have someone on your list who is a bit of a daredevil? Maybe they would like to try skydiving? Check with local companies…they might offer gift cards. Or maybe they would just to do indoor skydiving at iFly Charlotte. That’s an experience I’d love to have myself! Or if NASCAR is their thing, give them the Richard Petty Driving Experience! Into whitewater rafting? We are fortunate to have the US National Whitewater Center right here in Charlotte. It’s worth a trip to Charlotte for all the fun there! Or maybe they just like to watch thrilling experiences…like an air show. Air shows are held all over the country; check your local listings…tickets to an air show could be fun for the thrill enthusiast. Or perhaps flying lessons?

Just consider the recipient and think of something that would be fun for him/her. A cooking class sounds dreadful to some people (me), but lots of other people would co crazy over it!

The gift of an experience is something that will be remembered forever.

So this year, instead of worrying about whether or not the gifts you ordered are on a ship in the Pacific, give the gift of fun!

Your Moms are Watching

Your moms are watching.

College football is my favorite sport. Sure, it can bring out the good, the bad, and the ugly in people, but it is my very favorite sport. I look forward to football season every year. It’s fun, and it brings back lots of great memories of my childhood, my high school years, and especially my college years.

During college football season, we watch a lot of games at our house. Every Saturday, we somehow manage to get showers, have meals, and get some exercise before, between, or after games. But no matter what, during college football season, we find a way to watch football all day and night on Saturdays.

We love a good football game. And we love crowd shots. And most of the time, we get a good laugh at the antics we see on the television screen. Students at ESPN College Game Day, holding signs behind the commentators…trying to get on national TV. I always think most of them just want their mamas to see them. I can only imagine my own daughter at College Game Day, holding up a silly sign…and if she got on screen, she would likely call me to see if I spotted her. If we’d had cell phones when I was in college, I feel sure I would have done that.

During games, we see students with painted bodies, spelling out the names of their teams. Or maybe they have just painted their hair. Or maybe they are wearing some outlandish outfit, trying to get the attention of the camera operators. It’s almost always good-natured, and we laugh. I always hope their mamas see them and get a good laugh out of it too. When I was in college at the University of Alabama, I had a friend who told us that, during televised Alabama games, her dad would call her mom into the room any time there was a crowd shot, so they could look for their baby girl. He’d yell, “Vonnie! Vonnie! Crowd shot! Crowd shot!” I don’t know if they ever spotted their daughter in the crowd, but they tried!

But occasionally, things turn ugly. It turned ugly during the Tennessee/Ole Miss game in Knoxville yesterday. Anyone who knows anything about college football knows UT fans hate Lane Kiffin, the current head coach at Ole Miss. He was the head coach at UT for a hot minute in 2009 before taking a head coaching job at the University of Southern California unexpectedly and leaving UT in the lurch. He coached at USC for about three years before being fired in the middle of a season; the firing took place at the airport, immediately after the team had flown back to Los Angeles after losing to Arizona State. Kiffin didn’t even get a bus ride back to campus.

Subsequently, Coach Nick Saban, of the University of Alabama, took Kiffin in. Saban is known for what we refer to as the “Saban Coaching Rehab,” because he takes in coaches that might have trouble getting jobs after a failure somewhere. Kiffin became the Offensive Coordinator at Alabama and was quite successful with the offense, but his off-field actions and his mouth often got him in trouble with Saban. He eventually took a head coaching job at Florida Atlantic University for a few years before taking the job at Ole Miss.

All this is my long way of giving you the history behind why Kiffin was not welcomed warmly in Knoxville Saturday. And I get it. However, it’s one thing for a fan base to hate a coach, but it’s another for them to get out of hand…and they did. Late in the game, after a questionable call went Ole Miss’s way, incensed Tennessee fans began throwing debris onto the field…cans, mustard bottles (why did someone take mustard to a game?), water bottles, and even a golf ball. Some of the debris hit Ole Miss cheerleaders, and the golf ball hit Kiffin. Don’t get me wrong. I know all the Tennessee fans were not participating. ***My daughter and I visited the University of Tennessee several times over the past few months, and we found their students and employees to be gracious, lovely people.*** I’m sure there are lots of Tennessee fans who were embarrassed by the other fans’ behavior, but it seemed mob mentality took over.

Here’s the thing: don’t you think there were probably some moms who saw their kids behaving badly when the cameras panned over the crowd? Did those fans not consider that? No one wants to disappoint their mama, right? I can only imagine how angry I would have been if I’d seen my daughter throwing things onto the field! She would have received a phone call from me immediately. And she would have regretted it right away.

The general rule at our house is to think before you act. It’s the rule, but just like everyone else in the world, we don’t always follow the rule. Many times I have said to my daughter, “Before you do something, consider whether you’d want me to see you do it.” Considering throwing debris onto the field? Think about what Mama would say. Considering doing shots of Fireball with your friends? Think about what Mama would say if she walked in and saw you. (I never, ever approve of doing shots, because of the danger involved.)

The world may never know exactly how things got so out of hand at Saturday’s game, but I’m guessing the participants weren’t remembering that their mamas might be watching. If they had even thought, for one second, that their mamas might see them, I have a feeling they wouldn’t have thrown stuff onto the field…no matter how they felt about the call or how they felt about Kiffin. My guess is that there are some angry Tennessee mamas right now.

As for Lane Kiffin, I understand why folks don’t like him. Personally, I find him amusing and colorful, but I know everyone doesn’t. He has a sarcastic way about him, and he says some crazy stuff. Before the Alabama/Ole Miss game this year, he said to Jamie Erdahl in the pregame interview, “Get your popcorn ready.” That was it…his words of wisdom before a “mic drop,” which was actually a headset drop. Ole Miss ended up losing the game, and Kiffin became a meme. In the week that followed, lots of folks had various kinds of popcorn delivered to the athletic office at Ole Miss. Alabama fans aren’t perfect, but that is the way to handle Kiffin. Don’t throw stuff onto the field. Just beat him at his own game…on the field and off.

And do it in the right way…remember, your mama might be watching.

***I’m definitely not knocking the University of Tennessee. My daughter and I both have friends who are students there or are alumni…and they are all lovely people…some of the best people we know, in fact. This kind of debacle could happen at any sporting event in any city.***

Keep Them Happy with Breakfast

Keep them happy with breakfast.

Our teenage daughter often has lots of friends over at a time. Sometimes they arrive hungry late at night. Sometimes, they need a big breakfast after they wake up. Same with visitors from out of town…we need to feed them!

When it’s just a few people, I don’t mind being a short-order cook. Want your eggs scrambled medium? You got it! Want two eggs sunny-side up? I can do it! Toad-in-the-hole? I can even do that like a pro!

Classic Toad-in-the-Hole

But when it’s a crowd, I do not want to be a short-order cook. I would be a terrible cook at a Waffle House, because there is no way I would be able to keep up. For those times, I take a different approach. For crowds, I plan ahead.

Last weekend, my daughter had twelve friends over after the Homecoming dance at her school. I knew they would arrive hungry, so I planned ahead. On the day of the dance, I made a grocery store run and stocked up on all the things I would need to feed a hungry crew. Feeding a crew is something I love to do, so I was probably singing as I strolled the aisles of the grocery store!

That evening, my husband and I went to a local country club, where our daughter, her date, and all their friends had gathered for pre-dance photos. They were a good-looking, happy bunch. They didn’t get to have a Homecoming dance last year, because of COVID, so I think they really appreciated the opportunity to have one this year. They were excited to dress up and excited to be together. I was excited to get to take photos of her final high school Homecoming. After all the parents acted like paparazzi for a while, the kids all went inside to dine, and the parents all went on about our evening.

When I arrived at home, I started preparing. Yes, I was excited. A good hostess would have all her fine china out, but there was no way I was going to stay up washing dishes in the middle of the night, so I used paper plates and plastic flatware. Sorry, Martha Stewart…I know I’m a disappointment. I got those out and set them at one end of the island in our kitchen…the island would be acting as my buffet for the evening.

Next, I pre-assembled two giant breakfast casseroles. There were quite a few boys in the group that was coming to our house, and since I grew up with a brother, I know how teenage boys can eat. I got the casserole all put together and stuck them in the refrigerator. They are the kinds of casseroles you can pre-assemble and cook later, so that’s what I did. I also made sure everything else I would need was within reach. I then texted my daughter and asked her to text me about an hour before they headed our way.

She did as I asked, and when she did, I put the two casseroles in the oven. Then, about 20 minutes before they arrived, I cooked the grits on the stovetop, cut up the fruit and put it into a bowl, and plattered the bagels near the toaster oven, in case they wanted to toast them.

When the kids arrived, everything was ready. When I invited them to come into the kitchen and serve themselves, they did. And I was thrilled to see them pile the food on their plates. Fortunately, my daughter’s date happily handled the toaster oven duties, so that cut down on some confusion. I spooned up the grits, and the kids served themselves the casseroles and fruit. And they ate…and ate. In fact, they mowed through the bagels and wanted more, so I started making my “special toast.” I could give away the secret on that, but that’s one secret I need to keep.

The first secret I will share, though, is about grits. For the record, instant grits are OK in a pinch, but real southerners cook real grits. I prefer mine with some butter and cheese added. For this particular event, I purchased Quaker brand Old-Fashioned Grits. I cook them on the stovetop according to the package directions and then add the butter, Colby Jack or Cheddar cheese, and salt at the end.

The second secret I’m happy to share? The breakfast casserole recipe, because all moms should have this recipe on hand. It’s great for a bunch of teenagers, but it’s great for holidays and family gatherings too. It’s super easy and can be pre-assembled. Enjoy!

Here’s my recipe that serves 12 (unless some of them are teenage boys, and then you need to make two casseroles!):

HASHBROWN BREAKFAST CASSEROLE

Ingredients:

  • 30 oz pkg of Ore Ida shredded hashbrown potatoes
  • salt and pepper
  • 12 eggs
  • 1.5 cups half and half or heavy cream
  • two cups cheese of choice, grated (cheddar, colby jack, or pepper jack)
  • 2 cups Smithfield cubed ham (or preferred meat)
  • optional: Rotel original tomatoes and chilies

Directions:

Grease a 9 x 13 casserole dish and preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a mixing bowl, mix shredded potatoes and ham, then spread in bottom of greased casserole dish

In another bowl, mix eggs, half and half, cheese, salt and pepper (to taste), and optional can of Rotel.

Pour egg mixture over potatoes/ham in baking dish.

Bake uncovered for one hour or till eggs have set.

Serve immediately, offering sour cream and salsa as toppings.

Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights…Not an original title, obviously. Chances are, you know I’m talking about high school football. More specifically…high school football in Charlotte, North Carolina. Not exactly what I consider a hot bed of football. North Carolina is more of a basketball state. But we sure had fun at a high school football game in North Carolina last night.

It was the first home football game of the season. Growing up in Alabama, I always loved the first home football game of the season at our high school. Total excitement and anticipation. I vividly remember the big win our high school team had in the first game of my senior year. I was a cheerleader, and we had cheered through two miserable seasons in the previous years, but that first big win of my senior year was foreshadowing of a great season to come. Our team ended up playing well into the playoffs…up to the semifinals…before losing to the eventual state champion team. Last night, it felt much the same at our daughter’s high school. After last year, when fans were not allowed to attend the few games we had, this was a welcome change! It was a fun excuse to get out on a lovely Friday night and celebrate something together…namely, a big win for our high school team. I like to think we were celebrating the win, but we were also celebrating the opportunity to be together. Whole families came out to the stadium for some good, old-fashioned fun on a Friday night, and it was electric!

Our daughter is a senior at an independent school. She started school there when she was four years old, entering at transitional kindergarten, a kindergarten readiness program. She has grown up there. And this year, her senior year, is the first year she has been a cheerleader for football. She played varsity field hockey for the first three years of high school, but opted for a change this fall. She has been a basketball cheerleader for two years, so she wanted to try cheering for football…this is her first experience cheering for football…and she is loving every minute of it. The team started the season with two away games, so the girls were looking forward to the opportunity to lead a home crowd in cheering for the team. And last night, they did a great job.

The football team did a great job, ultimately winning by a large margin. I’d be lying if I said I knew the exact score, but I know we won by a lot. There were some exciting plays for both teams…long passes, big tackles, turnovers, big runs. I love football in almost any form, and our team did not disappoint. The concession stand crew was working hard, just like they used to do pre-COVID. The pep band showed up in full force. The dance team put on a heck of a halftime show. And we all cheered our team on to victory. The elementary-aged students were happy to be together in the stands. The families were thrilled to catch up. It was exciting to hear the familiar voice of our announcer on the loudspeaker. It was awesome to feel “normal” again.

Many of the students in the crowd and on the field have grown up with our daughter. I was talking with her transitional kindergarten teacher in the stands, and we reminisced about the time…way back in 2009…when a little boy in the class broke his shoulder blade at the end-of-year class party. At 6 feet tall, that little boy is no longer a little boy. The broken shoulder blade healed quickly, and he is a now a handsome young man on the varsity football team. Many of those TK students are still at the school…graduating with my daughter in May. The two other senior cheerleaders started in kindergarten with our daughter in 2009. Almost all the senior football players have been at the school since kindergarten…all except one, a young man who entered the school in ninth grade and quickly endeared himself to his classmates. He’s a superstar on the field and in the classroom.

As it turns out, Friday Night Lights can be fun no matter where you are…Alabama, Western Pennsylvania, Texas, West Virginia, or even North Carolina. FNL looks much the same in Charlotte in 2021 as it did in Alabama in 1985. I’m just glad it doesn’t look like it looked in 2020!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Girls just wanna have fun.

And I’m using the term “girls” loosely here, because the “girl” I’m referencing is myself…I am the “girl” of whom I speak. I just wanna have fun. To people who know me, that’s no surprise. Nobody loves to laugh, joke, and have fun more than I do. Well, there are probably some people who have so much fun that they don’t “tend their knitting,” so they’re more fun than I am. I take care of business, but I make time for plenty of fun too. And there are lots of ways to make life a little more fun.

Before Mother’s Day, I ordered some fun pool rafts and called them some of my Mother’s Day gifts. They are both Barbie-themed (as in the Barbie brand made by Mattel) but made by a cool company called Funboy. One is in the shape of a convertible, and the other is in the shape of an inflatable golf cart. They are both cute. Yesterday, I wanted to get in the pool, and while we have lots of different pool rafts, I opted for the Barbie convertible, because well, it’s more fun than a regular pool raft. My husband laughs at me every time I use the raft. Granted, he might just be laughing at me climbing on it, but whatever. It makes him laugh, and it makes me happy! Floating in the pool is a lot more fun on a Barbie convertible raft. To see what Funboy offers on their site, click here. Or you can look at Neimanmarcus.com or Revolve.com to see Funboy offerings.

A couple of weeks ago, I had lunch with a friend in Knoxville, Tennessee. After lunch at Not Watson’s in Market Square, we strolled around the block to Mast General Store. For info on Mast General Store, click here. I wanted a Knoxville hoodie, and I got a cute one that looks a little 70s-ish. I also wanted to peruse their vintage candies. I was so glad I did. I have great memories of buying candy cigarettes as a kid. Now they don’t even call them candy “cigarettes.” They call them candy sticks, but the packaging still looks like cigarettes, so every time I see them somewhere I buy them and hold them between my pointer finger and tallman finger to mimic smoking, just like I did as a kid. It makes me happy to remember! If only I had thought to take those out on the raft with me yesterday! What a fun photo op that would have been! Mast General Store also had other cool vintage candies: Chick-o-Stix, Pixy Stix, and one of my personal favorites…Zotz. Lots of people don’t remember Zotz, but when I was a kid, I loved them…and I still do. They also make me think of my friend, Wendy, who passed away three years ago. She and I loved our Zotz. During the summer, when we would vacation in Maine, we would always go to the candy stores in Kennebunkport and York, and we would always load up on Zotz. I smile just thinking about it. My Knoxville friend and I walked down to Cruze Farm Ice Cream after we left Mast General Store. We got swirly ice cream cones…making us feel like kids again (except when I was a kid, I likely would have dropped the ice cream off the cone). The girls who work in Cruze Farms all wear red/white gingham dresses with aprons and kerchiefs, and their bright red lipstick matches their dresses perfectly. For more info on Cruze Farm, click here.

But when I’m in Charlotte, there is a surefire way to feel like a kid again: Carowinds Amusement Park. I haven’t been this summer, but I can hardly wait to get on a rollercoaster again. My friend, Jenn, and I are planning a Carowinds visit soon, because we both love rollercoasters. Most parents, I think, dread taking their kids to amusement parks, but when our daughter was a little girl, I took her almost every day of the summer. It was an easy way for us to spend time outside, and she was happy to see all the action…and ride any rides she was tall enough to ride. Now that she is almost 18 (how did that happen?), she would have no interest in going to Carowinds with me, but my friend and I plan to go soon. We are waiting till some of the schools are back in session, so the crowds are smaller. We can hardly wait to get back on the Fury and the Intimidator…great coasters! I learned when I was in my 20s that going to an amusement park can make you feel like a kid again. And what’s more fun than remembering how it feels to be a kid? For information on Carowinds, click here.

I just walked into the kitchen, and my husband found my candy cigarettes. He smiled and said, “I loved these when I was a kid! My cousin, Glenn, and I would get them and pretend we were smoking.” Yep. It was the 1970s, after all. And as much as smoking is taboo now, it was fun to pretend when we were kids in the 70s. Just having candy cigarettes now makes me feel like I’m six years old again. It’s fun to reminisce. And “girls” just want to have fun.