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Archive for the ‘southern’ Category

I hate change.  When Facebook changed the look of my “wall,”  I despised it.  When a well-meaning friend moved my sofa to the other side of my living room, I freaked.  Don’t even get me started on the whole controversy when they “changed” Coca Cola.  I am a creature of habit and I’m not afraid to admit it.  However, some change is good.

Very good, indeed.

I am referring to the weather.  I live in the south, where it is supposed to be balmy, even at Christmas.  This year is the exception.  It has been a very cold (and bleak) winter.  We’ve had a couple of good snows…which translates into some snow days for the kids (except mine who go to private school…I guess they want paying parents to know that they’ll make sure you get your money’s worth when it comes to education…keep ’em open…come hell or high water).  My kids have managed to use the plastic saucers and sleds to slide down our steep driveway through the snow.  We even made a snowman complete with carrot nose.  Our winter has been unseasonably cold and I say….

ENOUGH ALREADY!!!!!

Where’s this “global warming” everyone was talking about?  I’m tired of the cold…and wet…and overcast days.  It’s enough to make you think you’ve got seasonal affective disorder…even if you don’t.  I find myself watching infomercials and am overwhelmed with the idea of  buying things I’ve never bought before – like snuggies (those blankets you wear), ice scrapers, omelet makers, ShamWow towels and those lamps you plug in that mimic sunlight.  It seems like the colder it gets….t.v. gets even worse.

I miss the sunlight.  I actually miss spring!  I’m ready to shed these sweaters and enjoy sandals.  Frankly, I’m worried that it will be too cold to enjoy linen and seersucker at Easter.   I’ve never thought white shoes looked particularly good on anyone other than little girls at Easter, but I’d at least like the option of saying that white shoes were permissible.  (You know, you can’t wear white shoes after Labor Day…only on and after Easter?)  It’s just too cold to even consider the color white.  Goodness, gracious!!!!

I’m getting rather desperate over here.  I even feel the need to apologize to my mother-in-law, a woman who is chronically cold-natured.  Every time she visits, she complains that my house is too cold.  At seventy-two degrees in my living room, I’ll find her wrapped in a thick sweater, which she reserves for her visits to my house.  I jokingly tell her it’s because she lives in Florida, which is basically, like living in a third world country.

Up until now, I’ve always thought I’d love to live somewhere it’s cold and snowy with a long winter.  I imagined myself curled up on some sofa, feet tucked underneath me, sipping a big mug of hot cider while reading some thrilling novel while the falling snow softly blankets the ground outside my cabin…somewhere in the Adirondacks.  What a dream.  Yeah, it’s a dream…not reality.  It’s pretty difficult being cramped inside all day with three kids with a severe case of cabin fever…in southwest Tennessee.

I say bring on SPRING!!!!!!  I’m ready for a long, warm day…watching the kids swing on the tire swing.  My boys are ready to run through the freshly mowed grass in their bare feet.  Enough of hot apple cider.  It’s time for lemonade with big chunks of ice.  Ahhhhhh.   Change can be nice.

Change of seasons...and scenery would be nice.

Change of seasons...and scenery would be nice.

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Lipstick can convey many moods

Lipstick can convey many moods

“Go put on some lipstick…it’ll make you feel better.”  This little piece of sage advice is the one thing that my mother has offered me when I’ve called her sharing some great tragedy (fought with friend, break up with boyfriend, fiance calls off wedding, fired from job, get sick).  I know how it sounds when I’ve told people that this is what my mother has offered me to pull me through situations.  However, as I look back …it’s really not bad as far as advice goes.

Being a southern girl, makeup is taken quite seriously.  I went to college and joined a sorority where it was practically a felony to leave your dorm room without a “painted face.”  In fact, it was commonplace to see girls power walking around campus, pony tails swinging, wearing greek letters…all with perfect makeup that would make Miss South Carolina jealous. As a natural blonde (complete with blonde eyelashes & eyebrows) with fair skin, makeup is not a luxury, but a necessity.  Without a little mascara and lipstick, I can easily look like the walking dead.  I’d love to be that girl who can throw on some jeans and brush her hair before walking out the door.  However, that is a dream that will never come true for me.  My mother is very aware of my shortcomings.

The first time my mother gave me her “lipstick lecture” I was in college and my boyfriend (I’ll call him Jake, but really his initials are WBB..that no-good #@$%er)  broke up with me to date some mousy brunette that wore Birkenstocks and tie dye…sans makeup.  I was so depressed that I spent several days locked in my room with five pints of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream watching Rob Lowe and Demi Moore in About Last Night (it was the early 90’s). When my mother called to see how I was doing, she decided to give me a big dose of tough love.  She told me to make the scoundrel regret his decision.  My mother further advised me to clean myself up, go for a brisk walk, put on something cute….and “wear some lipstick for Pete’s sake.”  I took my mother’s advice.  After several days, I got the courage to dress up and “run into” Jake at his place of employment – the Gap.  Before entering the Gap, I made sure I had on a lipstick that would show off my tan – a frosted pink called “Showgirl.”  I sauntered into the place and said “hello” with an aloofness that would make Angelina Jolie look like a cheerleader with ADHD.  I bought a t-shirt before leaving.  Later that evening, I got a very unexpected call.  Jake said that his co-workers couldn’t imagine why he dumped me to go out with someone else.  Jake then said, “You looked really hot!  Wanna go with me to see my roommate’s band on Saturday night?”

Hmmmm.  I looked at myself in the mirror with my pink frosted lips and savored the moment before I told him, “There’s no way in hell I’d go out with you ever again.”  I hung up the phone.  I placed the tube of  “Showgirl” in a special drawer.  Unfortunately, I had cause to retrieve the lipstick only two years later.   After Jake, I began dating my college sweetheart.  We were engaged during my senior year of college.  He broke up with me three months before we were to get married.  I cried and cried…then decided after taking a long hot shower and putting on some makeup that I didn’t want anyone who didn’t want me…so forget him.  I would survive and did.  I spent one memorable night with a group of my girlfriends at a karaoke bar.  I smeared on some “Showgirl” and got up on the stage.  I confessed to the packed audience (probably while slurring my words) that my fiance broke up with me before singing a truly awful rendition of “I will survive” that inspired every girl to get out on the dancefloor.  By the end of the evening, our group of six girls had turned into a group of thirty five women laughing, singing and dancing.  I think that every man in the place secretly blamed me for ruining their evening.  Oh, well…

Several years later when I was in my late twenties, my best friend from childhood, Nancy, flew from Manhattan to Atlanta to visit me as a last “hurrah” before I set off for law school.  Nancy and I had a blast one Saturday afternoon before going out on the town.  We decided to sit at the MAC counter at Saks and have a “lip makeover.”  Nancy was feeling a bit dangerous and decided to go with a deep burgundy shade called “Carnal.”  I liked something a bit lighter and bought a tube of lipstick in a pinkish-red color called “Bombshell.”  After buying our lipsticks, we headed out for a night in Buckhead.  We had a great time and joked that it was all due to our new lipstick.  I celebrated the beginning of my legal career with “Bombshell” and that night I felt like one.

It was in my last year of law school that my mother offered me the same advice that she offered me in college….”Put on some lipstick, it’ll make you feel better!”  I was very unsure of myself and my future.  I had an interview for a clerkship and I felt that I wasn’t the most qualified candidate.  I asked my mother, half-joking, what shade of lipstick I should wear to the interview.   My mother responded with utmost seriousness.  In a lowered hushed voice, my mother said that I needed , “Red.  Blood red.  Chanel Red…  It invokes confidence.”  With only forty-five minutes to spare before my interview, I ran into Dillard’s department store and threw thirty dollars across the counter and blurted out “Give me red!  Chanel Red!  STAT!”  I opened the box and dabbed it on my lips.  I inhaled deeply before going into my job interview and exuded the confidence of which my mother promised me would be found in that tube of lipstick.  I  got the job.

Now, I sit here as the mother of three small boys.  I am tired.  I don’t have alot of time to spend on looking my best…or so that’s what I’ve been thinking.  I go to the gym and eat healthy.  I’ve managed to lose some weight and have been wanting to feel and look better.  The other day, I took a long look in the mirror.  I decided that maybe looking good and feeling good are complementary feelings.  If I feel good on the inside, why not try to look my best?  So, I resolved this year to put my best “face” forward.

This is what I did just last week.  My husband had been out of town on business and was due to arrive back in town Friday night.  We had planned to take the kids and go out to dinner.  I decided that instead of meeting him in my trusty velour sweatsuit,  I’d put forth some effort.  I pulled out a great black turtleneck sweater, jeans, and some boots.  The shade of lipstick I wore was “Nutmeg”…good for winter.  I’ll just say that all of the effort was greatly appreciated.  ‘Nuff said.

My dilemma is that I’m not sure what shade I need right now at this time.  You see, “Nutmeg” can get a little boring if I wear it too much.   I think I need a trip to the MAC counter.  I’m feelin’ very “Girl About Town” these days.  However, who knows what circumstances will call for “Lady Danger” or “Frou Frou.”

What I do know is that a good lipstick can make you feel better.  It may be all in your head, but who cares.  It’s a cheap fix and one that’ll add a little color to your face.  So go put on some lipstick…it’ll make you feel better!

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Southern girls in smocked bishop dresses

Southern girls in smocked bishop dresses

Smocked john john

Smocked “john john”

It’s official….I’m giving up.  I’m throwing in the towel…at least where Will & Jack are concerned.  If the pictures on this post haven’t given me away, I’ll let you in on my distress.  I’m giving in and dressing my boys in conventional clothes.  They are getting too old to put them in “john johns.”  It’s just getting too hard to fight them.   On the other hand, I still have George to dress.  George who is 19 months isn’t that hard to wrestle into a “john john.”  Will and Jack are not so easily overpowered.   I’ll explain:

For the southern “Mama,”  it is an unwritten rule that children are to be dressed a certain way.   Little boys are to wear longalls or shortalls (a.k.a. “john john” in honor of J.F.K. Jr. who was photographed under the desk of his father in the Oval Office wearing such attire).  Little southern belles wear bishops, which are dresses with no waist and long with three inch hems.  No little girl is complete without a giant grosgrain bow pinned to her little head.  Southern Mamas favor smocking, appliques, and fanciful prints.  We love to dress our children in matching or theme clothes (Halloween, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, etc.).   In formal photographs, you will see children in smocked clothes and in bare feet.  I don’t know why….it’s just the way it is.  Maybe we just like for our children to look like children.  Children grow up too fast anyway.  We just like to prolong babyhood.  Who knows?  I do know that there will be a time when all three of my boys will beg me to take down the 16 X 20 formal photographs of them as three month old babies…all wearing the same antique baptism gown that I wore as a baby.

Yes, I said gown.  Southern Mamas dress their newborn boys in gowns…baptism gowns, christening gowns, day gowns.  Look, before long…Daddy’ll have ’em out there in a duck blind or on the golf course.  Let us have our moment, OK?

Why am I distressed?  Well, once Will became a “big boy” and started school, he starting wearing a uniform.  Will attends a private school and I am most grateful that he wears the standard khaki pants and polo shirt.  We don’t fight over clothes in the morning and it’s easy.  When I caught a glimpse of my firstborn for the first time in his uniform, a lump formed in my throat.  I shed a tear.  He looked so…. grown. He doesn’t look so little anymore.  For mothers, you know when your babies start looking more like children…they lose that precious baby fat around their wrists, the face thins out, etc.  (sigh) Anyway, don’t worry.  I would never even think to put him in a “john john” at this point.  I certainly don’t want him to be picked on at Sunday School.

Jack is 3 and hasn’t reached the magical “cut-off” for the “john john.”  However, Jack is tough looking….Bless his heart.  Jack never looked right in a longall.  Jack looks more natural in camouflage or cowboy gear.  He’s a little John Wayne.  So for Jack, he has escaped having to spend another year suffering through my attempts to make him look like Little Lord Fauntleroy.  It looks like Jack gets to jump right into khakis and polo shirts.  I think he is secretly relieved.

George is another story.  I took smocking classes right after George was born and learned to sew while I was pregnant with him.  I’ve made several outfits for him and need to start on his Easter outfit now.  However, I am tired….so very tired.  At the end of the day, after putting everyone to bed, I just don’t know if I have the gumption to sit up and whittle through a smocking project.  It’s just so easy to pick something up off the rack at one of those chain stores.  Herein lies the problem…

All of those chain stores cater to people who like for their children to look like little adults.  There are exceptions to the rule (Little Lambs & Ivy, Janie & Jack, Chocolate Soup, Strasburg).  However, I am always shocked when I go into one of these “adult-like” childrens’ stores and see leopard prints on little girls’ clothing or t-shirts that say “Hottie” or “I’m the one your mother warned you about.”  Who are they selling this crap to?  Pedophiles?

In the alternative, there are stores who sell clothes for little boys that appear as their aim to have boys look like 45 year old golfers, professional skate boarders, or pimps.  I’ll never forget a gift that I received when Will was a baby.  A very well-meaning relative sent us a suit for our three month old son.

A suit.

A three piece suit.

It was black pin stripes.

It came with shoes…and a tie.

Honestly, it looked like something you’d bury your child in.   I didn’t know whether to laugh or be terrified of the outfit.  I thought about dressing Will as one of the Blues Brothers for Halloween, but I couldn’t find a little black hat.  I tried to sell it on Ebay and no one wanted it.  I did get a question about the suit.  A woman in Oregon wanted to know if it would fit her ten pound Yorkie.  I told her that the tag said it is supposed to fit a three month old baby, but I didn’t know about a little dog.  I never heard back from her.  I even tried to put the suit in a garage sale, but it didn’t sell.  I finally gave it away to Goodwill.  Maybe someone thought it was “precious” and felt lucky to have the thing.

I realize that I’m tired from running after three little boys all day, but unless I want George to look like Tony Hawk at Easter, I better get busy on that “john john.”  Oh, the plight of the southern Mama….

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