Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My not-so-little-anymore-little-boys

It has been a long time since my children were pre-adolsecents. Decades, in fact.

It is amazing to me the things I have forgotten

Like how funny the word 'ass' is in the Christmas story to a ten year old boy. Or, that any mention of words like 'balls' or 'nuts' can elict a giggling fit that lasts for half an hour.

Or how, once the fit is almost over, his brother can simply say the word-not even in a sentence- just the word...and the giggling begins again.

Ahh...the joys of boys. I've spent the past few days with my grandsons, and have had a delightful time.

I threw caution to the wind and laughed at a fart joke or two. I took them to spend the Christmas money that was burning holes in their pockets. We bought some shelves and beanbag chairs for their room at my house (with my money...not theirs). We ate cereal for dinner...just because we wanted to. I let them stay up late and play their video games after lights out.

I buy HoneyBuns by the case at Costco and that is what they eat for breakfast at my house.

For a Grandmother, I am pretty doggone cool! At least to my grandsons.

My children have observed that I allow my grandsons to do things I would have NEVER allowed them to do. They are absolutely right. But, then...I wasn't their grandmother.

I know that it won't be long before they give their hearts and minds to the fumes: the gas fumes of their first automobiles and the per-fume of their first girlfriends. Probably not in that order, either! Until then, I can laugh at the fart jokes and giggle with not-so-little-anymore-little-boys.

Monday, December 21, 2009


My last post was about ANTICIPATION. About how anxious I was for Saturday night when my Rocket Man would step off that Delta Flight and be home for the holidays.

So, guess what? It didn't happen.

His presence is required in Florida for meetings on Monday and Tuesday. It did not make sense for him to fly home on Saturday night, only to turn around and fly back on Sunday. Really. It didn't.

That didn't make my disappointment any easier to swallow.

In all the plans, scenarios, thoughts, hopes and dreams I had for Christmas this year...this particular set of circumstances never even crossed my mind.

But you know what? I'm thankful that he has a good job and that he enjoys his work. I'm very thankful that he really wants to come home to me. I'm very, Very, VERY thankful that I have lots and lots of minutes on my cell phone plan. Lots. I think we've used them this weekend.

And, won't the disappointment on Saturday make the homecoming on Wednesday all the sweeter? I'm counting on it.


Thursday, December 17, 2009


Isn’t that what Advent is all about?
We are waiting expectantly for the new born King-for the Christ Child who became flesh and dwelt among us. We yearn for THE day..and the night before. We are so geared right now for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We know how many days it is until Christmas. Some know how many hours of shopping time are left. I know people who have no shopping left to do, and others who haven’t even started.

I remember when my children were small, the anticipation was crushing. We lived far away from family and only went home a few times while they were growing up. Every package from faraway places only added to the anticipation. My mother-in-law was quite a stickler for opening presents on CHRISTMAS MORNING…not Christmas Eve, certainly not when they arrived. She always marked the packages in magic marker with the words ‘Do NOT open until December 25’ and other such things.

The presents would go immediately under our tree, which we put up the day after Thanksgiving. Much shaking and wondering what could be in those packages. They would come from other relatives and the pile would grow. Pleas to open just one present were constant.

I believe that Christmas happens daily and in our hearts, so I never cared so much when those gifts were opened, much to my mother-in-law’s chagrin. I don’t think my children ratted me out, I think she just knew. I let Jamie and Annie open gifts before Christmas. Usually not before the 20th (although why I picked that date out as an okay date to open gifts is a mystery to me), but often daily after that. It just didn’t matter so much to me.

I know that my friends were aghast. I was the mother who made it hard for all the others. Along with my gift-opening non-compliance with THE RULES, we didn’t have Santa at our house. We weren’t evangelical about it. I promised all sorts of consequences of biblical proportion if my children told other children that Santa didn’t really bring their gifts. It was sort of our little secret. But people knew that we didn’t have Santa and we were THAT family who didn’t believe. My pastor’s wife once asked me why I ruined Christmas for my children and just what our focus was if we didn’t have Santa. I shrugged my shoulders and offered a timid, “Baby Jesus in the manger?” which she wasn’t even buying. Ruined Christmas? Really?

This year, memories of Christmas past have flashed past my eyes and I can almost feel those precious hands on my face and those sweet voices asking, “Momma, is it EVER going to be Christmas?” or the year I asked Jamie what he wanted for Christmas and he told me he really had everything he needed…lets just get some new toys for Annie (he was 4). Annie at 13 months in the most precious pajamas you ever saw at the midnight service with her white whispy hair and huge blue eyes, saying (loudly) “yight” every time the word “light” was said in the service. Their eyes when we were in temporary quarters over Christmas and I bought a small tree and decorated it with our most precious ornaments and they applauded because we were having Christmas…even in the TLQ. One year, as we were moving at Christmas, I flew ahead to take possession of our household goods so that they wouldn’t go into storage. We had one of those amazing door-to-door moves. They stayed at our old duty station and rode to our new home with their Daddy, with our live Christmas tree tied to the top of the car. We used it in both homes that year. So many wonderful times.

My anticipation this year is quite different. I am and have been mostly at home alone during Advent. Rocket Man is traveling. He has been home every weekend, but gone during the week. The thing I am waiting on expectantly this year is his return.

And while I still believe that Christmas truly happens in my heart, despite my geographical location or my circumstances…I am sure that the lights will be just a bit brighter, the music more harmonious and my joy in earthly things more complete when he steps off that plane on Saturday night and I know that he has come home to stay…at least through the holidays.

Having the earthly expectation this year has made me cherish the spiritual aspects of Advent all the more. I have had more time alone to ponder the past year and be so very thankful for all the blessings it has brought.

Along with all the children I know, those who are young and those who are young at heart…I am longing for Christmas Day. But more than that I am longing for Saturday night when my heart becomes whole…when order is restored in MolliWorld…when Prince Edmund comes home.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Need a Little Christmas?

Been busy? Fighting the Christmas shopping crowds...or like me, fighting my computer to purchase online? Cookies to bake? People to visit? Gifts to wrap? Have you got more list than you have time to accomplish said list before Christmas Eve ushers in Christmas Day (which, by the way is only 2 weeks from today...how did THAT happen?)

Me, too! I took one of my last vacation days of the year yesterday, just so I could work on my house and go shopping for our Church's Christmas Benefit tomorrow. Rocket Man and I help buy food for some needy families. Imagine taking a vacation day to go grocery shopping...but that is exactly what I did.

I came to work with a bit of fear and trembling today. What would be waiting for me there? I work in a church. A large church. A VERY large church on a very busy street, across from a bus stop and up the street from a hospital. My concern as I pulled into my parking space was that we might be overrun with people needing help with utilities, medication, fuel, food, christmas gifts for their children. In years past, we have been very busy with such things. There are so many needs and we have limited resources, even though we have a large congregation. No congregation could meet all the needs of the people who walk in off the street. It huts my heart to turn people away. Especially on cold winter days.

I did the things that needed to be done. I typed the bulletin for a funeral service this afternoon. I met my deadlines for the monthly newsletter. I answered calls, returned calls and emails. I corrected addresses in the database.

I'll have to say that by 2:30, I was happy about what I'd accomplished and thankful that we'd had no emergencies. As far as I know, we don't have anyone who has been rushed to the ER, Hospice hasn't been called in for anyone new, nobody has died. No one has come to my office needing anything, other than my boss and his needs were of a clerical nature.

Then the most wonderful thing happened to me. Our organist came by and asked if I would come to the sanctuary and listen to a few pieces he was working on for the Carols of Christmas on Sunday evening and for the rest of the Christmas season. I thought for a nano-second and jumped up to follow him to the sanctuary.

We have an amazing organ. Amazing. It is something like the 9th largest organ in the state. When Mark turns that thing loose, it is astonishing. Really and truly fantastic. Mark is such an accomplished and talented organist and so kind to ask me to come and listen.

As I listened to him practice some really powerful, heavy-duty organ music, a precious peace settled on me. The music was glorious. Music celebrating the birth of Christ. God's only Son who became flesh to come and dwell among us. If the practicing of a gifted musician here on earth could give me chill bumps and take me to a place of peace and comfort in a busy season...what must the hosts of heaven sounded like when they sang Gloria in excelsis Deo? I still have chill bumps!

I'm leaving now to go home.
Hurridly, as I have to bake something to take to the party we are attending tonight.
Quickly, because we will spend tomorrow helping to get Christmas gifts and food to some people in our community who are less fortunate than we.
Sadly, because washing Rocket Man's clothes and repacking them so he can leave early Monday morning is on my list for the weekend.
Frantically, because of things I have left undone that must now be done.
But along with those feelings, I'm taking a bit of that glorious mini-concert I had with me. I'm tucking it in my heart and carrying that little piece of Christmas with me. I know I'll need it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I Can

I complained about the cold and wind this morning…
until I heard from someone who might be sleeping in her car tonight, because she has no place to go.

I was unhappy because I had to run out in torrential rain last night to get my trash can before it floated off…
this morning I was thankful that we sustained no wind or flood damage, as did others in our neighborhood.

I was grumpy about my headache…
until I remembered that I know someone who is having his leg amputated today.

I was resentful of a relative who I thought behaved poorly...
until I talked to someone who had a death in his family today.

You know, when I take stock of the things I have to be thankful for,
I am ashamed of even the smallest complaint I allow to settle in my thoughts…even when they go unsaid.

In this season of jingle bells, Joy to the World and heartfelt stories of Christmas miracles...I pray that I will be mindful that all around me there are people whose lives have come to pieces this very day. This very day!

My prayer is that my response to them, as our paths cross, will always be caring and concerned, even if I can’t give them the help that they ask for.

I can always pray for them.
I can always be kind to them.
I can always have compassion.
I can always let my own light shine into their darkness, so that they can see their way to a brighter tomorrow.

I can...but will I?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Happy Mammogram Day to Me!

I’ve been a happy Mollianne today. I have been seen bouncing around The Church House just beaming. I woke up and my first thought was, “Its Mammogram Day.” Now you might not think much of Mammogram Day, and I’ll have to admit that the process itself isn’t my favorite thing in the whole world. But I have a rule and we strictly adhere to the rule.

When I have my mammogram or various and sundry other ‘female’ yearly things done, I get a prize.

I’ve had this rule for as long as I can remember. Thing was…nobody but me adhered to the rules. And buying a prize for myself just didn’t make me feel as rewarded as having somebody else give the prize.

However, I recited my rule to Rocket Man when we were first married, just in case. You know what? He bit! He asked a very logical question, “What constitutes a prize?”

Here was my chance! I could set the parameter of prize-giving! I nonchalantly said, “Ohhhh….something like a piece of jewelry, dinner out, flowers…the usual. A Prize.”

He nodded and said, “Okay.”

Okay? Could it be that easy? I love prizes! He asked what I would like for that particular mammogram and I told him I was in need of a long silver chain to wear with several pendants. Presto! I had a chain. This was going to work splendidly!

Since I try to be fair, I asked him if there was anything he had to do that was unpleasant and offered to give him a prize for that, but he didn’t seem to think he was in need of prize-receiving. Guess that is a Mars/Venus thing.

Over the years we have adjusted the prize giving and receiving. He has taken me to lunch at my choice of restaurant, he has given me flowers, and my favorite of all…he finally told me to just pick out a prize and he would pay for it. Can you believe it?

The most precious prize giving for a mammogram happened several years ago when I found a lump in my breast. I was terrified and rushed to the doctor. Of course, it happened on a Friday and the next emergency mammogram appointment wasn’t until the following Tuesday. Just hearing the words ‘emergency’ and ‘mammogram’ in the same sentence made my blood turn cold.

That was a long, long weekend. To make matters worse, Rocket Man was leaving for a meeting in Houston that he really couldn’t get out of, short of me being in surgery. Too many people were scheduled to attend and he was vital to the meeting. Besides, it was only a mammogram. Really. I think I’m big…so I said I could have that done without him. After all, they wouldn’t let him accompany me into that cold room where they keep the torture device. No boys allowed! It was probably nothing anyway. Only a very few people knew that I was going to have it done. No sense in getting folks stirred up for no good reason.

That Tuesday, the downstairs Administrative Assistant came parading into my office with the most beautiful dozen red roses that I have ever seen. They took my breath away. The card read, “A Prize Before You Go! All My Love, Ed.”

What a darling man! That mammogram showed a lump that needed to be biopsied, but the biopsy results were that the lump was benign. He was in the room with me, holding my hand when the biopsy was taken. That was the really scary part. Don't you think that benign is one of the most beautiful of all the words in the English language? I do!

So this afternoon, I’m off to get squashed. Then, I believe I will stop at Hobby Lobby and get some sort of Christmas decoration. That will serve quite nicely as my prize!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

I Found Out

Last year, as I was busily planning our Annual Thanksgiving Brunch, my Mother- in-Law came to our house to talk about Thanksgiving. I should tell you that she would be the first person to say that she doesn't care to cook. I think that she can't honestly believe that anyone else would actually enjoy cooking, especially a traditional Thanksgiving meal.

Her idea was this: She was going to take us all to Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving dinner.

If my own Mother had been in the room, she would have told me to close my mouth before flies flew in it. I was absolutely at a loss for words, and that doesn't happen to me very often. Thanksgiving dinner at Cracker Barrel? I hope I was kind as I told her I would have to turn that gracious offer down. I explained that we had been having brunch for several years. It works for us. My step-daughters don't have to choose between our house or their mother's house for a big meal...and they don't have to pretend to eat two meals. My daughter and her family are free to have Thanksgiving dinner with her in-laws, if they wish. We have friends who enjoy coming over for brunch and fellowship before going to their respective feasts.

Quite frankly, Edmund and I have come to enjoy the thought that everyone can come and go as they please, and hopefully all of them will be gone by early afternoon and we can enjoy a quiet afternoon and evening together. Sometimes, it has actually worked out that way.

Anyway, as I thought of the offer of Cracker Barrel, I tried to explain that I really do love to cook, and quite frankly...it is something I do well. I like to think of the wonderful treats I make for our Annual Brunch as a gift I give to our friends and family. I'm quite attached to the whole idea, and don't miss the turkey and dressing much.

After we got the whole thing settled, and she agreed to come to our brunch, I pondered the whole thing for quite some time. I kept coming back to the same question over and over. In what circumstance would I find myself that would make it okay for me to feel good about going to Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving Dinner? I suppose if I was too ill to cook it myself, and something was terribly wrong with my daughter so that she couldn't fix it and my mother was unable to come and I couldn't manage to score an invitation to eat with friends...I might think it was okay to go to Cracker Barrel for Thanksgiving Dinner.

Fast forward to this Thanksgiving. Edmund was to be in Cocoa Beach for the week proceeding and week of Thanksgiving on business. He would be free to come home the day before Thanksgiving. You know...the busiest travel day of the year! As we contemplated the holiday, the gears in my brain started turning.

We both were in need of some time away to relax. He was already going to be at the beach. I looked into a short cruise from Port Canaveral, but we had to nix that because my passport is expired. We briefly talked about a trip to Vegas, but that would involve even further travel for him, and he hates to travel. We finally settled on what seemed to be a wonderful plan.

I would fly to Cocoa Beach the Saturday morning before Thanksgiving. We would have the weekend together, and I could rest and relax at the beach while he worked Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. On Thursday, we would take a picnic to the beach and celebrate a very non-traditional Thanksgiving with turkey sandwiches.

Oh! I giggled as I told everyone what a lovely escape we had planned. I was giddy at the thought of the day. I could envision a delightful day.

Guess what? It didn't quite happen like we'd planned it. Ed's Uncle Jerry died after a long illness on the Friday in Macon, Georgia. We found out on Sunday that his graveside service was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

Monday turned out to be quite a day. Changing travel plans the week of Thanksgiving can be quite an adventure. Especially since Edmund's travel had been booked through the travel agent his company uses and I had booked my flight using his frequent flyer miles. If there was a possibility to get us to Macon in time for the service that we didn't consider, I would like to know it!

We ended up flying to Atlanta on Tuesday, renting a car and driving to Macon. We kept our return to Huntsville open, not knowing what the situation there would be and if Ed's Aunt would need us to help with details, etc.

We did spent the day Wednesday with his Aunt and Cousin. We decided to drive home on Thursday.

You see where this is going? We checked out of our hotel in Macon at about 10 am, and by the time we were nearing Atlanta, we were getting mighty hungry. Guess what? There aren't a lot of places to eat open on Thanksgiving. But Cracker Barrel is open. They serve a lovely Thanksgiving Dinner!

I found out what circumstance would make it okay for me to eat Thanksgiving Dinner at Cracker Barrel. A death in the family. Travel. Hunger. I had to laugh as we took our seats. I looked over the menu. I really do love to eat at Cracker Barrel. We decided to go ahead and have their Thanksgiving meal. The whole deal--turkey, ham, dressing, green beans,cranberry sauce, biscuits and pumpkin pie. All for $8.99 a plate. Our waitress was as cute as a button and very kind. Edmund doesn't care for pumpkin pie, and she offered to tell them he was allergic to it and got him a nice slice of pecan pie.

We had such a nice time eating at the Cracker Barrel. I think we'd have had a nice time eating most anywhere. thanksgiving isn't about your location or the food. It isn't even really about with whom you celebrate, although being with someone you love is certainly a blessing. Thanksgiving is about what is in your heart. And mine was most certainly full of gratitude for our blessings, which have been in abundance this year. I hope yours was, too!

Monday, November 23, 2009

You get what you need

When my children were little and something didn't go their way, I sang to them. They got to where they didn't like my little song, but it was somthing I think they needed to hear, so I continued to sing it. It held a good message for children and adults alike.

You see, when I heard a whiney "But I dont waaaannnnt to!" I would sing a Rolling Stones song, "You can't always get what you want...." I usually prefaced the singing with saying something along the lines of 'You know what my friend, Mick Jagger says...." On occasion, not often, they would laugh and sing along with me.

One time, when his 1st grade Sunday School teacher told the class something she didn't want them to do, my son piped up and told her, "My mom's friend, Mick Jagger, says you can't always get what you want." God love that sweet lady, she came and asked me if I really knew Mick Jagger. You gotta love that! I said of course not!

Then she wanted to know why I would refer to him as my friend when he really wasn't. She was quite a literalist. I told her that it was a joke. "Oh, I see...but it isn't funny," was her reply. Maybe not, but that conversation certainly was.

Every now and then, my words/songs come back to bit me in the behind.

This week is one of those times. Remember my plans to spend Thanksgiving at Cocoa Beach with Rocket Man? I could quote another icon of my youth, "Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans!" Life has barged into my plans and I am NOT going to spend Thanksgiving on the beach, eating a turkey sandwich.

In fact, I'm not actually sure where I'll be on Thanksgiving. Maybe in a hotel in Macon, Georgia. Rocket Man had a death in his family. His Uncle Jerry died late last week after battling some severe health issues for a long time. I have spent my morning rearranging flights, making hotel reservations, cancelling hotel reservations, etc. etc. etc. so that we can leave first thing in the morning and fly to Atlanta. From there, we will rent a car and drive to Macon for a mid-afternoon Memorial service. After that...who knows?

So, Jamie and Annie...this one is in honor of all the times I sang it to you...
You can't always get what you want...you try sometimes, but you get what you need.

In this case, Rocket Man needs to be with his family, and I need to be where Rocket Man is. Its a good thing I learned a long time ago that holidays are not about where you are or with whom you eat...or even what you eat.

Holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas are about what you hold in your heart.

This will be a wonderful thanksgiving, because we have been so blessed, and we truly are grateful! God's blessings are so bountiful! I'm afraid that no mater how diligently I try to live with an attitude of thankfulness, I often disregard things that I ought to be mindful of as I scurry about doing the things that I do.

This day...this Monday before Thanksgiving...I am thankful that I spent a good deal of the day yesterday walking the beach, picking up seashells and watching the sand pipers. I'm thankful for the pelicans we saw on the pier and the quiet, often amusing conversation that began when we woke up and continued until after we saw a rocket launch from our hotel balcony. I am thankful for a husband who is concerned about my health and wellbeing, and who is very sorry to have to change our plans. I am equally grateful for the kind of husband to whom family is very important and whose intergrity is such that he has forgiven the things that have gone before and lives in the present.

So, no Turkey on the Beach for Mollianne and Rocket Man. But it really is okay.
It did sound fun, though, didn't it?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Fear of Flying

Cruising at an unknown altitude between Atlanta and Melbourne, Florida, I look out the window and see the fluffy tops of clouds. Such a lovely view! There is an ocean of fluffiness as far as the horizon.

I have taken that HUGE (for me) step of faith and checked my very cute and sharp Kershaw knife, walked down the jetway into the small puddle-jumper, strapped myself into the too-small seat and given up control of myself and my environment in an effort to be reunited with my heart which Rocket Man has taken to Cocoa Beach with him!

As an aside, I feel duty bound to tell you about the man in front of me on the first flight. He got into his seat, buckled in and within about 45 seconds was sound asleep and snoring so loudly that people several seats behind me were laughing. This over all the noise of the aircraft and the announcements over the intercom system. It was pretty doggone funny

Anyway, the only sliver of control I possess is the choice of beverage (I'll take a Co-Cola, thank you so much) and the choice of music on my very pink iPod shuffle. Freddie Mercury makes me smile, wondering if anybody can find him somebody to love. Elton John declares that losing everything is like the sun going down on him. Rascal Flatts assures me that I can lean on them and Carole King is feeling like a natural woman.

The music diverts my attention from the bumpy ride. It takes me away from the normal anxious thoughts and feelings I have during flights. It diverts my attention from the rather funky odor of the man next to me as he is nearly sitting in my lap. He can't help it(the lap part). The seats are small and very close. The music helps me forget my questions about air travel in general and my total distust of anyone who would choose to make their living being a pilot. It's not natural to 'slip the surly bonds of earth' and I really don't care about the thousand things you might have seen! There is a small part of me the honestly believes if God had wanted us to fly...He'd have given us wings.

To top it all off, I just know that the FAA has it out for me. Any minute now they are going to announce that Molli must turn off her pink iPod as we begin to make our descent into Melbourne. My little shuffle could somehow interfere with our ability to land safely...or something. Yeah, right! It is all beyond my ability to comprehed.

My big burning question is this: WHO is giving away the Big Girl Merit Badges today? I write at 9:50am (ET) and I've been up since 3am (CT), parked my trusty Jeep in long-term parking, hiked into the terminal by 4:30 am (CT! I have taken off twice and am about to descend to my final destination and Rocket Man, who certainly awaits in some sort of rental car chariot to take me to the beach!

I have not....not even once...babbled to my seatmate about my fear of flying, my amazing grandchildren, the Ares IX launch, our plans for a Thanksgivig picnic on the beeach, Memphis Tiger basketball or Georgia football. All of this without the aide of any drugs to 'take the edge off'! (even though I have 2 lovely yellow pills that could do just that leftover from my MRI)

I've been very big today, and nobody around me even knows it. I think I've earned my Big Girl Merit Badge today, thank you very much.

Ooops...here comes the in-flight host to tell me to turn off Kenny Wayne Shepard while we prepare to land. Guess the hot pink earbuds and my bobbing head tipped her off that it is on. The GRAND PRIZE..the one and only Rocket Man...awaits! Maybe he has my Merit Badge.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I think I’m BIG!

Remember my big girl panties? Gotta put them on Saturday morning. I’m flying to Florida to spend Thanksgiving on the beach with Rocket Man. Most of the time, I think I’m BIG… but I’m not so big about flying. Don’t like it. Never have. Probably never will. If, however, I want to get away and have some time alone at the beach with my best guy and enjoy a picnic on the beach in lieu of Thanksgiving Dinner…I’m going to have to go get in that aircraft, strap myself in, give up all control over myself and my environment and fly away!

I really do think I’m big most of the time. In truth, I am not even 5 feet tall. At my zenith, before gravity began to take its evil toll on my height, I was roughly 4 feet, 11 and one half inches tall. I clung to that half inch, let me tell ya! Proud of that half inch. I’m afraid it has gone with the wind. I’m not quite sure exactly how tall I am (or am not) and I’m quite content in not knowing.

Anyway…my children always say that I grew to be about 7 feet tall when I was angry. You mess with me, and I’m not nearly so cute and perky. Several years ago, I had a very bad day. I’m talking bad like an Old Testament butt-whipping bad day. I was about 8 weeks into wedded bliss with Rocket Man, we were trying to blend a family that included 3 teenage daughters and one grandson. Our house was not nearly big enough and I’m not sure that 7 bathrooms would have been sufficient. My stepdaughters were not taking well to having an evil, wicked stepmother in the house full time. My ex-husband was being a stinker about all sorts of things and I was just about at the end of my rope. Oh, and Rocket Man’s Grandmother had died and we were driving to Macon, Georgia that evening. Ma’s death was the third death of a family member in the first 8 weeks of our marriage.

I was exasperated! I had gone to the Court House (with ex-stinker stuff) and was stomping my size 5 ½ feet back to the parking garage. I had my keys in my hand. I carried on my key ring a rather sharp knife. Just seemed like the prudent thing to do. My ex-stinker was a military man and he had shown me how to use the knife if I were to ever need to protect myself. As I stomped my way back to the garage, a huge, rattle-trap, beat-up Lincoln Town Car pulled in front of me as I crossed the entrance to a parking lot. There were some unsavory characters hanging out of the windows and they said some really, really ugly things to me.

I’m talking UGLY. Nasty things. (I had to ask later what some of it meant!) Those boys had no idea with whom they were dealing. I might look short and cute and perky…but I am a legend in my own mind and I think I’m BIG! I stood as tall as I could, flipped my knife open, narrowed my eyes and said very deliberately (so as to avoid confusion about what I meant), “If you come near me I will cut out your hearts and eat them for supper.” Their attitude changed in a big hurry. They laughed nervously and said, “Hey, lady. We was just funnin’ wi’cha. You can put the knife away.” The behemoth of a car was thrown into reverse and they high-tailed it down the street. I must have looked crazed, because they acted scared to death!

As I stomped up the deserted stairs into the deserted parking garage, I did think that perhaps I had acted in haste. Those boys were probably on the other side of that door and would probably kill me with my own knife. Let them try! Knife in hand, I opened the door and proceeded to stomp to my car and head to the house.

Much later that evening, we were between Atlanta and Macon and I told Rocket Man what had happened. He looked at me in horror and simply put his hand out. I knew he was taking my knife away from me. I took it off my key ring and listened to the very stern but very loving rant that he felt obliged to give me. “How many of them were there? Did I know I could have been hurt? What was I thinking?” Well, I was thinking, “I’ve had enough and you better get out of my way!” That’s what I was thinking! Poor, poor Molli. My knife was gone. How was I supposed to be big without my knife?

About 4 years later, when I graduated from college, Rocket Man gave me a wonderful gift. It was wrapped up all pretty. It was the cutest Kershaw Scallion knife to go on my key ring. It is colored like a rainbow…even the blade. He keeps it sharp for me. When it is unlocked, I can snap my wrist and it pops opens. I think they call that automatic. Did I mention it was sharp? He has shown me (even though I already knew) how to stab someone in their liver, twist and pull it out. It is really sharp. But, oh! so! cute! He could shave with it, it is so sharp. Anybody who messes with me will probably laugh as I attempt to stop them in their tracks. Somebody may kill me with my own knife, but you need to know this: I will die having at least tried to stab them in the liver. You see, I think I’m big. Especially with my very sharp knife.

Except when I can't take my very sharp knife and have to get on an airplane, strap myself in and give over total control of myself and my environment to a pilot whom I don’t know. I’m not so big then.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

See, Annie! I told you! Its a learning style!

I have been laughing at my daughter, Annie, on facebook recently. For one thing, she really is a funny young woman. Witty is probably a better word. And she has the most amazing ability to laugh at herself, something I find quite refreshing in a world where so many young women find it necessary to take themselves and their tasks so seriously.

My Annie is in college. It is near the end of her term and she has papers due. On Sunday, she was watching a Looney-Tune marathon…instead of writing her paper. She said that she was going to do it with her 'spear and magic helmet!' I snorted milk out my nose laughing at that one. It is a vewy funny old family joke. She later proclaimed herself to be the Great and Powerful Oz (of procrastinators). She hemmed and she hawed. She finally wrote the paper and finished it a whole whopping 12 hours before it was due. No sense in getting in too big of a hurry to finish, right?

I enjoyed teasing her. I offered to put on my ‘Mother’ voice and tell her to get to work. I threatened to call Rocket Man and tell him. Her reply to that was, “I’m not scared…not much.” We all gave a big Woo-Hoo when she got done. I told her that I think it isn't really procrastination, it is a learning style!! Yeah, right.

So…you know that old saying about apples not falling very far from the tree? I’m supposed to go get some blood work done today. I was going to do it on the way to work, but would have had to drive right past the Church House to do that. I convinced myself that I would be conserving gas if I pulled on in and went to work (not to mention that I need to put gas in the Jeep, and haven’t done that yet). Then I was going to take a break and drive across the street (I am not kidding when I tell you that I can probably see the lab from the other side of the building) mid-morning. Hmmmm, couldn’t do that without putting gas in the car. So, I decided to wait until after lunch. It is now after3 pm and I STILL haven’t done it. I guess at this point, I’ll leave work early and go get the blood drawn. Maybe. By the end of the day, I can convince myself that it won’t make any difference if I do it first thing tomorrow.

Here’s the deal. I don’t really want to know what the results are going to be. We are trying to rule out a fairly serious and nasty condition with the blood test. You’d think I would be just thrilled to have someone push a garden hose sized needle in my arm and draw about a gallon or two of blood. I’m just not! And if I’m going to find out that I have this condition, I REALLY would like to put it off. And if I DON’T have the condition, why am I letting them put the garden hose in my arm?

If I don’t have it done by the time the lab closes, I’ll have to explain it all to Rocket Man. I’ll hear the special way he says, “Mol-li!” I’d really rather hear my name said that way when I’m giving him a bad time. Not because I deserve to be fussed towards. (He NEVER fusses at me…he fusses near me, toward me, around me, over me…but not at me). So, in order to avoid hearing, “Mol-li” tonight, I’m going to go on over and bare my arm and let Lady Dracula draw some blood.

In the meantime, I got a lot...I’m talking a LOT of things cleared off my desk today. Paperwork done and filed, database entries up to date, things a bit straighter than they were. All in an effort to avoid the awful, evil lab. I’m tellin’ ya…I have accomplished much today. In fact, everything except my blood work.

See, Annie. I told you. It’s a learning style!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fly Away

I made my way to the Huntsville/Madison County Airport this morning…AGAIN! Not that I was headed for anyplace other than work, but I needed to drop Rocket Man off…AGAIN! This is the 3rd time in 4 weeks that he has left to be gone for at least a week. I am beginning to wonder if I’ll see his face on the back of a milk carton with the missing people!

I am not complaining. Really, I’m not. I’m so thankful that he has a job and a good one at that. I know that there are people who are really struggling financially, and some of them live in my neighborhood. I know a couple who has lived here for years and years and they are selling and moving to Houston for work. I know another couple and the husband is working in North Carolina, coming home on the weekends. I know people who have been laid off or had their hours cut. So I’m really not complaining.

Not complaining, however, I do not like this. As much as I cherish a little time all alone, I’ve had plenty of my own company lately. I miss seeing the light in his eyes when we meet up at the end of the day. I miss having those strong arms around me when I wake up in the morning. I miss the whispered, “God Bless Molli” in the middle of the night when he thinks I am asleep. I even miss the game we play with the toilet lid. He walks through the bathroom and puts it up and I walk behind him and put it down. (Still trying to convince him to keep the lid down because I have NEVER dropped anything into a toilet when the lid was closed...we're not even talking about the seat here..just the lid!) I miss the possibility that someone else might let the cheeky dogs out and feed them, or take out the trash or make up the bed. The bed I can let go…the cheeky dogs and the trash must be attended to.

So, my Rocket Man is on his way back to Florida. The good news is this: at 4:00 on Saturday morning, I’ll be driving back to the airport...AGAIN! Not to pick him up, but to join him. I’m going to Florida to stay with him while he finishes up his work next week. We’ll come home the day after Thanksgiving. Our plan right now is to eat Turkey Sandwiches on the beach. How cool is that?? Those plans could change, depending on the weather, but he has our beach blanket packed in his bag for the occasion.

Knowing that I would join him made the good-bye this morning a little easier. The idea of a relaxed Thanksgiving on the beach with my favorite human in the whole- wide world has me just about giddy. What a blessing after such a hectic…oh….about 3 years!

Godspeed, my Dearest. Tell the pilots to fly carefully…they are carrying a precious cargo!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Day of Remembrance

Veteran’s Day sparks a flame of patriotism for many people. We celebrate with parades, memorial services, sales and for many…a day off. I am so privileged to have known many vets, and to be related to some.

My first marriage was to a young 2nd Lieutenant, freshly graduated from the Air Force Academy. He was on active duty the first 10 years of our marriage and in the Tennessee Air National Guard the last 10 years. I have first hand knowledge of the military, its members and its workings. Even though our marriage didn’t turn out so pretty-good in the long run, I was always proud of my ex-husband’s deep call to duty, honor and country. He was an exceptional officer and he served our country with dignity. I am thankful for him and his sacrifice to our nation.

Our family sacrificed as well, and I understand in some small ways what the military family of today goes through when Daddy or Momma has that bag packed and at the foot of the bed, waiting for that recall notice. I have answered the questions of my children when they wondered why was Daddy leaving and when would he be home? To all those who are currently serving, I offer heartfelt thanksgiving. May God grant you his full measure of blessings to keep you strong, brave and to give you comfort and peace in your hearts.

I am the daughter of a man who served during Korea. Daddy didn’t have to serve. He could have used his exemptions, but he chose to offer his service in a time when our country was involved in a ‘police action’ half-way around the world. For men and women like my Sweet Daddy throughout the ages who have chosen to serve, even though they didn’t have to, I am grateful.

Both of my brothers served. My brother, Terry, served during Viet Nam. My brother, Rob, was a career military man. For part of his career he was a drill sergeant, training the troops and preparing them for duty. To both of them, I offer thanks.

My son was enlisted in the Air Force and is now a disabled veteran. For his service and for what he sacrificed for duty, I am not only grateful but also proud. God Bless you, dear son.

To Bob Austin, Gene Austin, Charles Austin, Sherman Buster, Chuck Sheible, Chuck Nathan, Jerry Strange, Pete D’Agistino, Brydon Ross, Carla Wood, Jim Lambirth, Dave Lambirth, H.D. McFetridge, Lynn Wills, Clark Wigley, John Yoder, Ryan Todd, Nick Reybrock, John Garrison, Wally Pearson, Elmer Bush, Jeff Grechanik, Bill Hogan, Jerry Murphree, Mark Ross, and many, many more who have answered the call to duty and served our country with honor and dignity…I say thank you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby

I say the words, but they don't make sense to me. My baby girl will be 29 years old tomorrow. What a ride her life has been. So many precious memories flash before my eyes, so many heartaches are right there, too.

How can I possibly tell you about my Annie? She has a smile that is pure sunshine, and she flashes it indisciminately. I am not kidding...when she walks in a room and smiles, it is like someone turned on a 1,000,000 watt bulb.

I had a troublesome pregnancy with her. In my first trimester, the doctor decided that I either A) had twins or B) the fetus was not alive. I was so huge and they could not find a heartbeat. The debate was how far along I was. I insisted I knew when I got pregnant (I was in North America and her father was in Europe for about 6 weeks before she was born. Those dates didn't impress the doctor, but I knew. In the end, I was right! Duh!) Anyway, at one point, the doctor was insistent that I check myself into the hospital and he would do a 'little procedure and take care of the problem'. It was all I could do to keep from decking him. I was not going to abort my baby. When she was born by scheduled C-Section about 6 weeks before I insisted she was due, the doctor decided that she was 6 weeks premature and said, "oops. Guess you knew what you were talking about!" She was perfectly fine, and weighed almost 8 pounds. Pretty good for a preemie, don't you think?

She has been a source of pure joy to me, but she has not always been an easy child. She was born when her father was on a remote tour of duty with the USAF in the Philippines. She was 9 months old when he came back stateside to reunite with us. You can imagine that I wasn't all that trilled to be sacrificing for my country, left with a precocious 2 year old and an infant. And this infant was not so happy to join the party. It seems that she cried 26 hours a day. She was not,and is not the best sleeper in the world.

She is the child I rushed to the emergency room over and over and over again. Who knows how many stitches she has had in her body? The night I watched as they put 53 total in her beautiful face was a long night. I lost track of the number of times we went for stitches, but it was a lot. Can't forget that she broke her wrist twice in 3 years, either. Or the broken fingers. Did I mention stitches? She has never done anything half-way. Nope. Not Annie. She broke out with the chicken pox on top of a bit of sunburn and already on antibiotics for strep. That's my girl! If you are going to be sick...be very, very sick!

I can remember holding her when she was a preschooler and thinking that if I admited to myself how absolutely amazing and beautiful and wonderful (not to mention smart) she was, that something bad would happen. Like in ancient times when people were afraid that the gods would be jealous and bad things would happen. I was content some days to just sit and look at her. How in the wide, wide world of sports did someone as average as I am have this wonder-child surgically extracted from my body?

She was magical and precious and so loved. She spent an entire day once being a kitty cat. As a toddler, she was fearless. I keep looking for the suction cups that must be on the bottom of her feet, because I promise you...she could shimmy to the top of the refrigerator. The words, "Momma...come look!" could strike terror in my heart, because that could mean that she was on the roof, the refrigerator, or perched to do a swan dive from the top bunk of the bunkbeds.

Her teenage years are her own story to tell...not mine. Her early twenties were not easy for any of us. But from those hard times has emerged a confident, sparkling, brilliant young woman who has such a heart for family and friends and the people around her. I never wanted my children to be rock stars or even 'the best'. I always wanted them to be strong in their faith, able to make good decisions, and be citizens in their world.

My Annie is all those things and more. The path she chose has not been easy, but she has come through the fire, purified and strong. I was in awe of the wonder of Annie when she was a baby, and I am in awe of the strong woman I see today.

Happy Birthday, Annie Sunshine. The world is a much better place because you are here. I love you with all of my heart.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Day to Remember

I’m not very sentimental. I don’t like books and movies that are oooey-goooey. I don’t cry when children start kindergarten, walk to the pool all by themselves for the first time, get their drivers license, or take their last final. I will admit to shedding more than a few tears when my daughter got her Associates Degree last spring, and no one was more surprised than I was that those floodgates opened!

Anyway, sentimental or not…I am a keeper of dates. I couldn’t tell you when my utility bill is due without looking, and I imagine it is due the same day each month. But anniversaries and birthdays and the like…my brain recalls that date. Who can say how and why ANY brain works, much less one such as mine.

Today, however, is an exception for me in that it is a date about which I am sentimental. I miscarried a baby 25 years ago today. I have peace about that loss and have had for a long, long time. But on November 3 of each year, I think of the dark day in 1984 when I suffered that loss. I occasionally wonder where that child would be and how different would my life be if that angel had blessed my life by being born and living. That child is a treasure who lives deep in my heart and is my very own.

The other occasion for sentiment is a kiss. Not a simple kiss. This kiss was a kiss of monumental proportions. It was 13 years ago on Sunday, November 3 that my Rocket Man rocked my world with perhaps the sweetest kiss ever given or received! Do you know that in 13 years there are: 156 months, 676 months, 4748 days, 113,568 hours, 6,814,080 minutes and (can you believe I’m doing this?) 408,844,800 seconds? (Live with a Rocket Engineer long enough and you might begin to do crazy things like this, too!)

THAT kiss, the one that changed my life forever, was full of promise and anticipation and hope and grief and healing and joy and passion and contentment. Did I mention passion? I’ll have to say…I thought he would NEVER actually kiss me. We had been ‘keeping company’ for some time and things had picked up in intensity over Halloween. Emails were flying between us, phone calls, sitting on couches with our children around us. That very evening, he had driven in from out of town and come to the church to get his youngest daughter who happened to be in my children’s choir. I wasn’t aware that he was in the building and was watching the bedlam of children going to their next activities. He came up behind me and whispered in my ear, “Do you want to go to Wal Mart with me?”

My knees turned into overcooked elbow macaroni. My heart started pounding. I got so short of breath that I had to take a whiff of my asthma inhaler. At that moment, I would have gone to Timbuktu with him, and not stopped to get my toothbrush!

We took his daughter and went to WalMart. (I’m telling ya, I was a cheap and easy date!) We got something to fix for dinner and went back to his house. I could see something in his eyes that fascinated me. I began to notice that he has a crooked tooth and found that wildly exciting. I was a goner.

We ate dinner and he put his children to bed while I sat on the couch nearly swooning. He sat close to me…he took my hand. He leaned in and whispered, “I want you to promise me something.” Yeah, right! Anything. Just kiss me before I die! “Promise me you won’t ever be crazy.” Say what? “Yes, I promise. I won’t ever be crazy.” “Promise me that you won’t ever call me cheap.” You got it! I’m dying here. I promise, I promise, I PROMISE! “Do you want me to promise anything?” Sure! Promise that you are going to either kiss me or call 911 because my heart has exploded! “Yes, Ed. Please promise me that you won’t have a mid-life crisis or ever say ‘Shame on you’ to me.” He thought about it and nodded solemnly. Good gracious….I was dying. DYING!

Then he did it. First kisses are often sweet. At least, I think so. I haven’t had all that many, but I’m not so old that I don’t recall the thrill of my very first kiss. But this kiss…man, oh! man! So tender and careful. It was as if he had my broken heart in his hands and that with this kiss he could heal it. You know what? That kiss couldn’t have completely healed all the hurt my heart had endured. But the man giving the kiss most certainly has.

Yes, I’m sentimental about November 3. One of the hardest days I’ve ever endured and one of the sweetest I’ve enjoyed. Oh, if that Rocket Man were at home tonight, the kiss I would give him!! *sigh* It will just have to wait until he comes home!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Party is Over....Everyone Out of the Pool!

WHEW! October 2009 will go down in the history books as one of the more exciting months of my life. Much more drama than usual for my mild-mannered family.

Started out by having surgery to remove a cyst from my spine…with only 40 hours notice from the time the doctor said the word surgery to me until I was getting that lovely shot of whatever they gave me to ‘take the edge off’. In 40 hours I cleared my desk, lined up folks to stand in for me with various duties, packed my bag, straightened my house, got my affairs in order, made a stew and did the laundry! That in itself was quite a feat, and I hope I never have to do that again! I was amazed at what I could do when I was really under the gun, but I prefer taking my time and procrastinating a bit.

October 2 saw the removal of that pesky cyst and a night in the hospital. Oh, if I emailed, texted, or posted to your facebook and it seemed that I might have been just a bit stoned…I was. If I said anything lewd, embarrassing, or way out of line…please forgive me and believe that it was just the drugs talking.

Two weeks at home with my Dear Mother and Sweet Daddy helping the Rocket Man take care of me and I was almost as good as new! How comforting to wake up from a drugged stupor on my couch and have my Sweet Daddy keeping watch. How wonderful to have my Dear Mother keeping house and feeding me whatever I thought I wanted. And, how amazing the tender love and care I received from my Princely Rocket Man! He used the exact amount of ‘be careful, Mollicaution with the best ‘you can do it, Mollianneencouragement and it all equaled one of the easiest and fastest recoveries from surgery that I have ever experienced.

I was back at work for a week, helped with a terrific rummage sale, and then left for Cape Canaveral on the 24th to see the history making launch of the Ares IX (see earlier blog about that). She flew on the 28th and we partied a bit and came home on the 30th. Quick trip to the store to get the necessary candy to give out to our Trick Or Treaters, and all of the sudden…It is November! And The Rocket Man is headed back to the Cape today for the week, working on a proposal.

November? Seems like it was just May and the year was lollygagging along. Where and when and how does the year pick up such steam and seem to be firing on all cylinders so that it seems to be moving so quickly? March NEVER seems to move this fast. But have a little surgery and a launch and you can lose an entire month!

So now I have to begin to take seriously the fact that Daylight Savings Time is over, Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas is but a few days away. List making will commence and a Merry Molli-Holiday Celebration countdown will begin. The Party is over. No more lollygagging. Everyone out of the pool!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

In The Shadow of Giants

My alarm is set for 4 am, and it is now after 10 pm and I've been awake since 4 am this morning, but I'm not able to sleep.

For one thing, I'm in a hotel room (extra-special nice suite, I might add) and not in my own bed.
For another, I'm mildly insomniac, so this 'not-sleeping thing' isn't all that unfamiliar. Add to that the sound of thunder rolling outside and that I had a very exciting and stimulating day and you'll end up with a wide awake Mollianne, sitting here with a laptop beside my gently snoring husband.

We are at Cape Canaveral for the launch of the Ares IX, which was scheduled to launch at 8 am this morning. My rocket engineer husband (whom I affectionately call Rocket Man) works for a NASA sub-contractor building Space Flight Hardware. We live in Huntsville, Alabama (Rocket City, USA) so this isn't a big deal to anyone in Huntsville. I don't know how many rocket engineer/scientists there are in Huntsville, but I know enough of them to know that there is surely a mathematical formula that would tell me exactly how many there are!

Anyway, Rocket Man and his trusty team of amazing engineers, machinists, Quality Control folks, software and hardware people helped design and build the Roll Control System for the Ares IX, which is probably more than you want to know. I cannot do the math (any of it) but I do know some things that I have learned mostly by osmosis about flight hardware and the Roll Control System. If you really want to know, leave a comment and I'll get you an answer. Sufficient here to say that when I heard him asking someone on the phone yesterday, "is it 1.3 x 10 to the eleventh or the fourteenth? We need to know!"...that is just all in a days' work for those guys.

So, today was the big day. Launch day. I cannot tell you how excited I have been about this. I remember watching launches on old black and white TVs in the classroom as a child in elementary school. I recall so vividly the first moon walk. I was SO doggone impressed when I moved to Huntsville and actually met people who worked for NASA. NASA, I tell ya! For several years, I kept season passes to the Space and Rocket Center and took my children there regularly to play among the exhibits and look at the rockets.

Rocket Man and I woke up at 4 am this morning and were in the car headed to Kennedy Space Center before 5. We had had packed a bag of things we thought we might need; binoculars, camera, cell phones, hats, sunscreen. badges and boarding passes for the bus. We went through security and found out seats on the bus. My heart was racing as we got closer and closer to the viewing stand. Ares IX was lit up and so splendid on the launch pad. We drove past the Vertical Assembly Building and finally pulled into the parking lot. We secured our seats in the stands with some of Rocket Man's co-workers and commenced to wait for the launch. I took pictures of the countdown clock. I took pictures of the rocket on the pad. I took pictures of the sunrise. People were mulling around and as the clock counted down from 1:45:24 when we arrived to 59:00:00, the excitement was electric. Less than an hour.

They had warned me that there would be a scheduled hold at 4 minutes, that would last for 20 minutes. As we neared the time that the clock would be reset, we listened so carefull to the loudspeaker as Mission Control asked each system for Go/No-Go. Green or Red? Each 'go' was met with a cheer. When they asked for the RoCS (Rocket Man's handiwork) and I heard the strong "Go" I had tears of joy. Then, we got the 'No Go'. Weather, wind, the probe cover and a cargo ship in the danger zone became the subjects of the morning.

In the end, he launch was scrubbed. We are going back tomorrow in hopes of seeing a launch. The thunder outside is not very encouraging right now. Maybe it will blow on out to sea before morning.

I have to say, I feel today like I was standing in the shadow of giants. In my lifetime, the very first rocket was launched. John Glen orbited the earth. We have taken one small step for man and giant leaps for mankind. I felt the shadow of those giants as I sat in the stands and sang our National Anthem. All those guys from the film clips with black horn rimmed glasses, white shirts, crew cuts and skinny ties who used slide rules to figure out things that computers calculate today in an instant seemed to be there with us. I know some fine men who are now retired, but whose careers included helping to put an American man on the moon! The moon! Can you imagine? The men and women who worked so diligently on the Shuttle program since I was in Junior High School were surely there, cheering alongside us with each "Go" that rang out.

We honor those who were pioneers in Space Flight, but I also honor those who worked on the vehicle that is standing strong and true on the pad right now. Men and women who took the challenge and did something we haven't done as a nation in 30 years...built a new launch vehicle and rolled it out for test flight. I was not in their shadow, I was sitting among them. '1.3 x10 to the eleventh' is recognizable to me only as a mathematical formula, but to the man sitting next to me, it was a difference between "Go and No Go" on a paint sample.

I am in awe of what my husband is capable of doing and what he seems to do with such ease and capability. And he is but one of many. The giants of the early space pioneers, both engineers and astronauts cast a long shadow, but my Rocket Man and countless others have taken up the torch and kept the space program alive and are holding that torch toward the future.

I stand in the shadow of the giants who have gone before and I am gazing with love at the one beside me, sleeping the deep sleep of a man who knows he has done the best he can do and who is confident that what he has done is up to the test.

He always says to me that he is just an average guy who tries hard. I say that he is one of the giants. His children and grandchildren will be able to look back on this launch and proudly say that he was part of the team. The shadow he casts will be long indeed. The excellence he holds himself to sets a high standard for the rest of us.

I am so thankful that he has brought me along and is allowing me to share this amazing, awesome, exciting and at times emotional experience with him.

Godspeed, Ares IX. Fly true. Punch a hole in the sky and gather the data we need to continue our journey in space! For you are in the shadow of the giants that have gone before you and you pass the torch to future generations.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Almost as Good as Christmas

I think I must be about the luckiest girl around. I'm married to such a dear man. Oh, he can be frustrating (can't we all?) and some of the things that I admire most about him are the very things that drive me up a wall (which I think is probably true in most relationships), but all in all...I think he is the most wonderful creature God ever created.

He's a rocket engineer. He's an athelete. He is passionate about University of Georgia football and University of Memphis basketball. He loves cars and working on them. He does that remote control thing that lots of men do. He leaves the toilet lid up, but he always puts his clothes in the hamper. He was a single dad with custody of his two daughters for 6 years before we got married, so he can be fairly self sufficient. He laughs and says that the only time he is in touch with his feminine side is when he is touching me. That is a true statement. He's a man's man! He has lots and lots of golf clubs, but thinks I have too many dishes. He also thinks I have too many shoes, and I counter with the number of tools he has. Oh, and tools brings me to the point of this post.

A dear co-worker of mine brought me some banana pudding while I was recovering from my recent surgery. As she walked through the garage, she asked Ed if he liked tools. He said yes. Then, she asked him if he would like to have some tools she had in storage. They were her father's tools, and he had been a Mac Tool distributer. She had been hoping to find someone who would take them and appreciate them. Ed was astonished and said that he would love to help her out.

He called our 'friend with a truck' who lives up the street from us, and who also works on cars and has a big, big garage full of tools. Larry was as excited as Ed and agreed to help pick up the tools and bring them home. They were both absolutely giddy.

Now, for you ladies who are like me and probably don't know all that much about tools...Mac tools are the smack daddy of automotive tools, I think. On top of that, these tools are sort of vintage. It would be like someone telling me that they had a kitchen remodel to give away, would I like to have it. This is a big, stinking deal!

So, Sunday evening, we took the truck and met my co-worker at her storage facility to get said tools. They are in a large rolling toolbox with all these neat drawers. The box has a nice, new home in our garage. Only there's a catch. The drawers are locked and the keys have been misplaced. So its like Christmas anticipation at our house right now. There are new toys to play with and we can't get to them.

Ed called his mother to see if she could help. Seems that she once took a Locksmithing class with Ed's dad and she was pretty good at picking locks. Who knew? Since she was out of town last week on her birthday, I fixed dinner to celebrate and Ed picked her up on his way home. She brought her lock-picking kit and went right to work on that lock after we ate. She poked and jimmied. She held her mouth this way and that way. She really tried hard. She couldn't get that lock unlocked.

Not only does Mac make good tools, but they also put good locks on the drawers of the toolboxes. Larry called this evening to see what was in the box, and came by to watch the picking process (and helped us eat some of the food that was leftover from dinner!). She gave it one more try and had to give in.

From here, I guess we'll contact Mac and give them the serial number on the toolbox and see if they can get us a key. If not, maybe we'll call a professional locksmith to come and take a look at it.

Until it gets opened, I have a husband who is like a child sneaking down to shake boxes under the Christmas tree. He has a treasure but can't get to it. At least not yet. But in the battle of Ed vs. the toolbox, my money is on Ed!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Boss of Me

Remember my 'that ain't right' back? How about my big girl panties? This turns out to be a trilogy ending with 'The Boss of Me.' Seems that the MRI that made the big girl panties necessary showed that my 'that ain't right' back is a big mess. Among other things, I had a cyst on my spine. According to the doc, I wasn't going to get any relief until that dadburn thing was removed.

Surgery was in my future. Turned out, the doc had an opening 40 hours hence and I took it. In just about 40 hours, I made arrangements to be away from work for 2 entire weeks, got my house in order, got my affairs (last will and testament, living will, durable power of attorney-not to be morbid, but something I'd put off long enough) in order, did some laundry, straightened my house, packed my bag and was processed into the hospital with an orange bracelet on my wrist that proclaimed me to be a 'fall risk'.

My parents were in the middle of a trip and due to be back at my house in a few days and they cut their trip early and came back right away. Everything fell into place in a most amazing way. I felt at peace about it all and quite frankly, I was looking forward to relief from the pain that I've lived with for nearly 5 years.

You want to know the hard part of all of this? The moment I realized that I was going to have to ask for help. Lots of help. For more than a day or two. Before we went to bed the night before the surgery, I looked at my precious Rocket Man and said, "For the next week and even longer, if the situation calls for it, I'm agreeing that You are the Boss of Me." Very seldom have I said words with more gravity, or meant them more. Hard words, those that surrendered my independence into his safekeeping.

I think that my Prince, in his infinite wisdom, knew how hard that was. His is the last face I recall seeing before I went into surgery. When they woke me up in the recovery room, I asked for him. When they took me to my room, he walked in behind me. He took up residence at my bedside and only left me a few times, and then only when someone else was by my bed. He called for the nurse when I needed her. My parents and daughter and a bunch of preachers were there, too, and it took a village to take care of me.

He brought me home and helped me get settled. He helped me shower, get to the toilet, and has changed my dressing. He has overseen my medications, entertained me and held my hand when it hurt me too much to have him hold me. And you know what? The surrender has not been difficult. How could I be anything other than grateful to one who cares so for me? With purpose, I gave up my sassy self and allowed not only the dear man of my dreams, but also my wonderful parents and my precious daughter do for me the things I am so used to doing for myself.

And, isn't that just how things ought to be? Isn't that what the marraige of hearts, minds ,souls and bodies works in a perfect world? The sweet surrender of my independence ushered in the tender and careful care of my person that I will hold dear in my heart forever. Much of what happened is a haze. Drugs really were my friends. But a week out, I am feeling so much better than I felt 2 weeks ago. The surgery has relieved a great deal of pain...pain I had become so used to that I'm amazed off and on every day at how easy it is to simply walk across the room.

I'm being a very good girl. I am not picking up things that weigh more than 5 pounds. I am asking for help, even if I think I can do it myself. I'm learning a lesson that I seem to require on occasion. That is the lesson of gratitude. For all the mercies, prayers, food, phone calls, emails, facebook posts and love that I have received from my friends and family, I am very grateful. I fear it will become harder to adhere to the rules and honor the bestowing of bossness upon my Prince as I feel better. I am afraid that when the pain and stiffness subside, I'll want to be the Boss of me before it is really a good idea. I'm not sure, but I have a hunch. I've known myself for a long, long time.

The boss of me? Absolutely! I couldn't have found a better person to be the boss of me than my Prince. He is wise, he is the funniest human I have ever known, he is gentle yet he can be firm. He loves me in ways that take my breath away. He's cute to boot. He can be the Boss of me... because after all, we really are happily ever aftering here in Camelot!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The day I knew

I remember the day I realized that I had become a no-joke, honest-to-goodness, card-carrying grown up. 

I was in my very early 30s, had children in elementary school and had gone back to college. Back in 1975/76, I had attended college for a year after I graduated from high school. At the time, I was much more interested in getting married than in earning an education, so I dropped out to plan my wedding and my future.  Going back to college, even a Community College, after 13 years was a scary thing.  I remember that on the way home after I registered for classes and paid my tuition, I had to pull the car over because I thought I was going to throw up.  What was I thinking?  Could I really do this?  Study?  Write papers?  Take exams?  Pass Pre-Calculus?  AND continue to be a wife, mother, chief cook and bottle washer, Sunday School teacher, and work part time?  

The thing that caused me to lose sleep was silly.  I didn’t know what to wear!  My previous college experience was slap dab in the middle of the 1970s.  I wrote a paper titled, “The Trial of the Chicago Seven” in a Current Events History class (be honest…most of you will have to wonder what in the world is she talking about!).  In the 1970s in Colorado Springs, we wore blue jeans, t-shirts and hiking boots to class…when we actually went to class.  In the 1980s, I had big hair and shoulder pads were ‘in’.  I think I compromised with a new pair of blue jeans, spanking clean Reebok tennis shoes and a fancy shirt with shoulder pads. 

Here is when I knew that I was really a grown up.  On a day, not unlike this day, in September when the sky was a blue as could be and the air just a bit crisp…with a hint of chill in the morning, I got up and put on my Reebocks and went to school.  I was on my way home before I even considered that I might have taken off to the mountains on such a beautiful day.  Attending class was more appealing to me than skipping class-no matter what the reason! 

My childhood was officially in the books.  I had made it.  I was an adult.  Or at least…cleverly masquerading as such!

P.S.--I didn't pass Pre-Cal until the fall semester of 1999!  One of the things the Queen of MolliWorld got really, really good at was dropping math classes BEFORE the last day to get your tuition refund!  The Pre-Cal class is another story for another day.  

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Big Girl Panties

We girls talk all the time about 'putting on our big girl panties.' When we say that, we are talking about doing something hard or disgusting or hateful or that we just don't want to do. I've said it a million times. 'Guess I'll put on my big girl panties and go to that meeting' which means 'I'm going but I dont' want to." You know exactly what I'm talking about.

I needed big girl panties yesterday. I thought I had them on. They were my control top big girl panties and I thought I was absolutely large and in charge of the situation. I was going for the MRI (you recall my 'that ain't right' back') Well, I was going for the MRI so they could figure out ...oh something. I really am bored with my back, my central nervous system, etc. I occasionally throw up my hands and declare myself done.

So, Rocket Man had rearranged his morning so he could take me for said MRI. More than a few discussions had passed between us about this particualar event and I was just about put out with him. I thought he was asking the unreasonable. He was simply trying to help...but it appeared that he was trying to be bossy. He is quite famous for being bossy. Ask the folks who work for him (although I suppose a boss is allowed to be bossy). Anyway, I was certain that I knew what was best and I was going to just take charge.

MRI? ha! I was laughing at it. This was not my first trip into that coffin. In fact, it was my 4th in the past 3 1/2 years. I won't bore you with allthe details, but the others have been scans to image my big, giant brain. When they do that, they lock a cage around my head to hold it completely still. I require Valium for the head-locking procedure. But, I just knew that since we were taking pictures of my lower spine, I would go feet first, it wouldn't be a problem and I was A-okay. Really. I had it under control. The dear Rocket Man asked me until he nearly irritated the pooh out of me if I was okay. Well, of course I was. This was not going to be a big deal.

I wan't anxious. I was flippant about it. I slept well the night before. I got up early and did some things around the house and thought how nice it was to have coffee together before we left the house. We got there and were laughing about something silly on the news when the sweet lady came and took me back for the test.

I had to leave anything with metal in it in the locker. I could wear my top, but had to leave my pants because of the zipper. She gave me disposable shorts to wear (more about them later). I sashayed into the room, hopped up on the machine, although my enthusiasm waned a bit when I realized I was going in head-first. But there was no cage for my head, so I was good with it.

Wrong. I had my eyes closed tightly, something I'd learned was a good idea in my previous trips into the very small tube. I was saying my mantra over and over, 'Don't open your eyes, Molli. Don't open your eyes, Molli." I was okay for about a nano-second and then I came completely unglued. I'm not talking a little anxious. I am talking full-blown, get-me-outta-here-NOW, unglued! I was embarassed. I was relieved. I was crying. I was blathering. I was lightheaded. I was apologizing to the sweet lady, who assured me that the same thing happened to everyone.

I got out of those shorts and back into my clothes in short order. I went out and told Rocket Man that I had to get out of there IMMEDIATELY. God bless him, he didn't say "I told you so" and who would have blamed him? He didn't remind me that he had rearranged his entire day. He held me and told me it would all be okay. And, it was.

I called and rescheduled after the nice nurse called in a prescription of Valium for me. 10 mg one hour before the test, 10 mg as soon as I walked into the door of the center. They rescheduled me for 8:35 last night. Who knew that they did such things that late?

I took the meds, went and had the test. While it was not my favorite thing, I was much calmer about it. In fact, I was much calmer about everything. The test didn't take too long and we were out and home in no time. The whole thing shook me up, but I'm okay. Amazing how 20 mg of Valium can change your perspective.

The Big Girl Panties? Oh...I'm saving them. There is a picture of them at the top of this page. The disposable shorts that I put on before the failed attemp ARE the smack daddy of Big Girl Panties. Look for yourself and see. If you ever need to borrow them, give me a call. I'd suggest you take 10 mg of Valium, put on the big girl panties and let me know if you feel better in the morning.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dear Neenie

She was the biggest little woman I ever knew. Slight of stature but she could fill a room with her presence. Regal in her composure, yet composed with humility. Her hands were gnarled and knuckles huge…but oh! my!...the things she could do with those hands. She tatted and made lace, she played the piano and organ, she sewed, she wrote lovely letters, she baked and she cooked, she painted and she did every sort of craft you can imagine. She touched my face with her hands and she made an indelible mark in my heart. She loved us deeply and she taught us greatly. She loved her Lord with an unwavering faith. She followed His commands and she prayed. Oh, how she prayed for me.
My maternal grandmother. Known lovingly as Sister, Irene, Mother, Mrs. Younger, Neenie, Aunt Sister, and Mrs. Whitehead. Her name was as big as she was little: Ella Alice Irene Austin Younger Whitehead! But for a long, long time…they just called her Sister. Only daughter born to her parents, she was the first-born of 8 (6 survived). I imagine that everyone who ever knew her loved her. Everyone I knew did.
As I walk through my house, there is something in every room that reminds me of her. I have pieces of furniture that were hers. I have dishes, artwork, doo-dads, jewelry, books, bibles and clothes that were hers. Oh, and hankies. She loved hankies. But more than those things that she gave me, I have memories of her. And a relationship and love that endures beyond the bounds of time and space.
She once said to me, "Mollianne, there are things between us that don't have to be said out loud. Because they are in our hearts, and our hearts know." That is where I carry her now. Reverently, humorously, delightfully and with a bittersweet memory of that wonderful creature that God allowed to grace my life.
This day, the anniversary of her birth...102 years later, I hope that I live my life in such a way that she would be proud of me. She always encouraged me. The last conversation I had with her 6 years ago was about my upcoming college graduation. She was so proud that I finally finished my degree. She reminded me that we didn't have to say good-bye, because when she went to heaven, it was just a matter of time until I joined her there.
Six years later, I still miss her. I miss calling her when I find the first crocus in the spring. I miss calling her to tell her I made her chicken and dumplings. I miss her when I find a card that she sent tucked away in a book. I miss her when I read poems that she loved. I miss her when I put one of her hankies in my Bible on Sunday morning before I go to church.
Much of what I am and who I want to be has to do with her calm and gentle influence in my life. I am so blessed to have had such a grandmother. And the most wonderful thing she ever did for me was to raise my Mother. God must have just known that it would take the whole tribe to raise me, and he found a line of strong, elegant, capable women and put me in their care. I am so thankful for them. But I still miss her.
She used to tell me that she loved me 'more and more'. Well, Little Neenie, I love you...More and More! If they celebrate birthdays in heaven, I hope that a choir of angels and all the people who loved you on earth are singing to you tonight. And I hope that there is vanilla ice cream to go with the cake.

I promise

I promise

I promise that I am going to try to do better. Really.

I promise that I am going to eat healthier foods, although I have made an effort in the past year to do just that and am sticking to it.

I promise…really and truly promise…that I am going to find out what is wrong with my back and do what the doctors tell me to do so that I can get back to a regular exercise regimen. Really. Truly. I’m thinking hard about it.

I promise that I am going to finish my ‘pay it forward’ projects and get them delivered before December 31, as I originally said I would. Really promise that one. I think about it every day.

I promise that I am going to clean up My Thoughtful Spot so I can fulfill the ‘pay it forward’ promise. Seems like I’m always having to clean up that room.

Hey…I promise that I will stop dumping everything that doesn’t have a home in My Thoughtful Spot! Once I get it cleaned up and figure out where everything goes. Then I won’t have to clean it so often!

I promise that if and when I find out why the quarterback (doesn’t matter which one, just the quarterback) doesn’t roll the pocket, Rocket Man will be the first person I tell. Promise. Cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die! While I’m finding that out, I’ll also ask why-Why-WHY don’t they take a knee when they catch a kickoff or punt in the end zone. I can pinky swear on that one, and spit over my shoulder! And guess who’ll be the first person I tell? Rocket Man! I promise!

I promise that I will try to stop being quite so headstrong when other people (especially the beloved Rocket Man) only want to help me.  I am always so  absolutely certain that I know the good, the better and the best.  I'm afraid this is where my masquerade has gaping holes.  I don't want anyone else to be the boss of me.  I think I'm pretty big.  So, I promise.  At least... I promise to try.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Everything I Need

A poem I have come to love...

Everything I Need

I asked for strength and
God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom and 
God gave me problems to solve.

I asked for prosperity and
God gave me brawn and brains to work.

I asked for courage and
God gave me dangers to overcome.

I asked of patience and
God placed me in situations where I was forced to wait.

I asked for love and
God gave me troubled people to help.

I asked for favors and 
God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted.
I received everything I needed.

My prayers have all been answered.

-Author Unknown

Friday, September 18, 2009

That ain't right!!!

This hasn’t exactly been my all-time favorite week.  It hasn’t been the worst week of my life either, but I’ll have to say that when the whistle blows at 5 o’clock this afternoon, the door won’t be hitting me in the butt as I’m leaving, if you know what I mean! 

That presumes that I can make it to 5 o’clock.  You see, I’m having some back problems and dealing with some pain.  I went to a doctor with the chief complaint that my hip was killing me.  When he asked me what he could do to help (duh?) I told him it would be okay with me if he could pull it off like a Barbie leg and get me a new one.  After an exam, he took X-rays.  He looked at the X-rays and then took me out to take a look-see of my X-rays.  I did not go to medical school and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I could tell that something was amiss.  The good doctor shook his head and gravely said, “That ain’t right!”  This is the same doctor who gave me a diagnosis of being ‘off’ last spring.  Add that to the number of doctors who have told me I'm interesting.  Good grief! 

So, I’m off to get an MRI next week.  I have to wait until next week, because it takes 3-4 days to get approval from my insurance company.  After that, there will be the minimum requirement of several days to evaluate the images.  Then, they will call and tell me that I have to go see another doctor.  I’m guessing 2 weeks before I see the doctor.  This is not my first trip to the rodeo.  I sort of know the routine.  Same story, different ailment.

In the meantime, it still hurts.  I have some pain medication, but really…I should only take it when my adult supervision is with me.  Seriously.  I’m told that I can be quite amusing in a drug induced haze.  I only have one or two inhibitions and if you give me the right drugs,  I lose them all.  Seems I hummed all night long the other night.  All. Night. Long.  And, not a lovely melody, but an off-key and very grating hum.  ooops!  Sorry!  I also am told (I have to take his word for it, because I don’t recall a thing) that I think I’m Christopher Columbus.  I get up and explore, looking for new worlds.  So, while I’m passed out and unaware of my pain…poor Rocket Man is on duty trying to keep me from heading out the door and down the street in my pajamas.  Oh…I also am told that if I get hot, I’m likely to shed my clothes.  I see great opportunity for embarrassing moments with the neighbors if I ever actually escape and decide to do a strip-tease in the Camelot subdivision.  

This morning, I’m feeling sort of hung over.  I didn’t actually sleep that long after I took the medication.  I woke up at 12:45 a.m. and spent the night awake in a drugged haze.  If I emailed you and it read like I was slobbering all over you, I’m sorry.  If I posted something silly on your facebook page, please forgive.  I’m pretty sure I kept my pajamas on, so I don’t think I owe my neighborhood an apology…yet.