Thursday, July 23, 2009

Never seen up North...

For all my non-Southern readers, this doesn't mean "slap your mother in the face". It's more along the lines of the country song "...OoooWeee, shut my mouth, slap yo' grandma...", which in Northern parlance, roughly translates to "Stop trying to say inadequate congratulatory things and give the cook a congratulatory (and not too robust) slap on the back/behind".

Still....never seen up North. :)

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mardi Blah

When I moved South a few years ago, I was surprised at what a big deal folks make of Mardi Gras. I knew it was an institution in New Orleans, but I had no idea that the entire Deep South pretty much grinds to a halt for four days. We didn't get a day off on President's Day, but most citizens are enjoying an extended weekend to take part in Mardi Gras festivities.

The great irony is that most of them are Southern Baptists ("don't drink, don't dance, don't run around half naked"), and not Catholics (who observe the liturigcal calendar that includes Ash Wednesday and Lent, which spawned Mardi Gras...).

"Fat Tuesday" started out as a day to use up all the extravagant foodstuffs in the home before the austerity and fasting of Lent began on Ash Wednesday. Folks were to roast all their meat and enjoy the gravy before a month of bread and vegetables. It has evolved into an NC-17 secular celebration of excesses in places like New Orleans, where a lot of folks won't go for fear of being shot in the street if things get too wild.

In small town South Mississippi, though, things are pretty low key. Every little community has a parade, where "Krewe"s (organizations that put on Mardi Gras parades or balls) convert trucks or buses into parade floats, play music from loudspeakers, and throw strings of irridescent beads at watchers along the route.

Churches, Lion's Clubs, Shriners, and any other community association you can think of host plate suppers where you can have a piece of King Cake. School classrooms and office break rooms are awash in King Cakes from Twelfth Night (the twelfth night after Christmas and the beginning of the Carnival season) through Mardi Gras.

For those of you who don't know...a King Cake is a circular coffee cake laced with cinnamon and iced in purple, gold, and green. It is circular to portray the route used by the kings to get to the Christ Child, which was taken to confuse King Herod. A small plastic baby is hidden inside the cake, to symbolize the Christ Child. The person who gets the hidden piece is declared King for the day and is expected to carry on the carnival festivities by hosting the next King Cake party.

It sounds like a lot of innocent fun on a small town scale, but I haven't been able to gear myself up to attend a parade this season. Mountains of homework and clinical rotations haven't helped; on my days off I usually just want to rest. I'm not sure what else is contributing to my "blahs" this year. I think that part of me feels like it's wrong to celebrate excess, when excess is what got our economy to the sorry state it's in. Excess ruins a lot of lives on an individual scale, too, but that's another story. And fact of the matter is, we just have way too many Mardi Gras beads kicking around the house.

So to all those in my small town who love Mardi Gras, forgive me for having the Mardi Blahs. I love y'all, and I'm not being a stick in the mud. Have a piece of King Cake for me now, hear? I'm gonna get back to my studying.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Today I am grateful for...

Encouragement. I am in the midst of a very overwhelming week at nursing school, and encouragement has come in many forms: hugs and help and reassurances from my husband; commiserations and positive feedback from classmates; smiles from instructors; a long chat with a friend; and one-liners from my four-year-old: "Mommy, are you going to work at the hospital and wipe sick peoples' bottoms today?"

Small town friendliness. It was cold and raining outside, and I didn't feel like leaving my warm nest on the couch to go to the store and get the staples that were absolutely needed before morning because we were almost out of bread, milk, and toilet paper. The husband was even more exhausted than I, so I dragged myself to the store and plodded through the aisles, draped over the cart. Ever had a night like that?

Well, what if you were plodding through the store draped over your cart and you happened to meet someone familiar who called you by name, smiled at you, and asked about you? Wouldn't you immediately stand up straight, smile, feel better, and feel cared about? I know I would. And I did, when it happened to me.

Cool thing happens all the time in a small town. :-)

How about you? What are YOU thankful for?

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Power of a Woobie

It was my son who first taught me. He was my original "Linus", with a fleece blanket always in tow or close at hand. Once, when he was four, I was having a particularly tough day and I sat at the bottom of the stairwell to have a little private cry. Matt found me, and lay his blankie on my lap as his serious gaze assessed the situation. "Mama, everyone needs sof' blankies", he said. I tried to give his blankie back, thinking it too precious a gift. He wrapped it around me as best as he could, gave me a hug, and toddled off. I sat on the step, trying to regain my composure, pondering his loving actions.

As I rubbed his blankie against my cheek, I did feel better. Was it the tactile stimulation? The soothing softness? The love that had been hugged into that blankie by my son over several years? Or the love in his act of lending it to me? Why do sof' blankies have so much power to comfort and heal?

I've pondered this question many times over the years, primarily because I have four children. But I've come to the conclusion that the blankie's power to comfort, reassure, and heal is due to all four reasons.

Countless scientific studies have proven what every human knows from birth: soft things feel good. Especially when we rub them over our skin. This causes the release of endorphins in ou bodies, which result in a feeling of comfort, relaxation, and satisfaction.

Tactile stimulation, especially light rubbing and stroking over the skin, also relieves physical pain. This is because the brain can only take in so much physical stimuli at one time; biochemically, pleasant stimuli take precedence. If your leg is in pain, and you start lightly rubbing your arms and cheeks, you might find your pain lessen--because the brain is in essence "distracted" by the stimulus and the chemicals it releases inside of your body. It lets them into your central nervous system and reduces the number of pain chemicals that get in...kind of like letting the feel-good chemicals cut to the head of the line. Pretty cool, huh?

My oldest child has had a few different "specials" over the years, but they've all had one thing in common: they need an occasional "refill" of Mommy love, in the form of me hugging them long and tight. No matter how cute a doll or stuffed animal matter how pretty a blanket, quilt, or afghan is...the recipient always seems to be able to tell the difference between a store-bought one given with little thought, and something lovingly handmade or selected. Why is this?

Have you ever walked into a room and before one person looked at you or spoke, sensed love? Have you ever walked into a room and before one person looked at you or spoke, sensed a hostile, hateful environment? I think just about everyone has, at one time or another. I believe that we all have the capacity to sense love....and that a recipient can discern gift made or given with much love, which makes it that much more special.

Then, there's the act of giving. We are touched by a handmade gift because of all the hours, the skill, the work, the thoughtfulness, and the love that went into it. We are touched when someone offers to lend us their most precious possession, merely because they love us. "Oh, no", we say, "I couldn't possibly..." Yet they insist, whether or not we merit the object. True love is unconditional. True love deems us all worthy. And we are.

Over the years, I've made a lot of woobies. In our house, we all have one. When someone is discouraged, tired, ill, sad, frustrated, upset, or hurt, you'll see them with a woobie wrapped around their head or shoulders or torso, and somehow it seems to help the difficulties recede into the distance while the comfort infuses into our weary bodies and souls.

There's a really special international movement called the Prayer Shawl Ministry. The shawls may be knitted, crocheted, quilted, or sewn. Whether they are called Prayer Shawls, Comfort Shawls, Peace Shawls, or Mantles, etc., the shawl maker begins with prayers and blessings for the recipient. The intentions are continued throughout the creation of the shawl. Upon completion, a final blessing is offered before the shawl is sent on its way. Some recipients have continued the kindness by making a shawl and passing it onto someone in need. Thus, the blessing ripples from person-to-person, with both the giver and receiver feeling the unconditional, loving embrace.

I encourage you to embrace the power of the woobie for yourself or for someone special in your life. Try making even a simple one, and giving it to someone you love. You never know how much it may bless you...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook - Wednesday, January 21st

FOR TODAY, January 21st...

Outside my window a perfect crescent moon is rising higher into the black velvet heavens, while the first hint of dawn is breaking on the horizon. A live oak tree is perfectly silhouetted against the glow.

I am thinking about the intricacies of postpartum assessment.

I am thankful for dear friends, old and new.

From the learning rooms: I am doing a happy dance because I aced the advanced dosage calculation test! The first microbiology exam is today, and Friday is the antepartum/intrapartum/postpartum exam in nursing. I'll be practicing IV insertion all weekend for a test on Tuesday...anyone want to come over and help me study? :-)

From the kitchen: leftover homemade vegetable soup for lunch today, and an italian sausage and white bean cassoulet for dinner.

I am wearing my favorite sheep's fleece slippers. They have a Birkenstock-style bottom and a clog upper, and I would go EVERYWHERE in them if I could. Come to think of it...I have!

I am creating, on average, 100 pages of notes per week in class.

I am going to a nursing convention in April, up in Vicksburg, and I'm excited about it.

I am reading nursing textbooks, nursing textbooks, and more nursing textbooks. Will there ever be time for a novel? One day, perhaps? I'll settle for a short one...

I am hoping that today flies by quickly.

I am hearing my daughter's quiet breathing as she dozes in my bed across the room.

Around the husband did the laundry and things are looking pretty good!

One of my favorite things is a cranberry, walnut and date raw foods snack bar.

A few plans for the rest of the week: Study, study, study, study, study.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing:

Wrapped around my daughter's head is her "special", a blanket I started knitting the day I found out I was pregnant with her. I literally prayed with every single's kind of like a soft, cuddly rosary. I somehow think she has always sensed that, because ever since she was a newborn, she has shown a preference for that blanket.

She calls it her Woobie, and it's not just a bedtime cuddlie and a comfort object. It's also a cape, a dress, a headscarf, a picnic blanket, a skirt, and occasionally (insert mom cringing here) a mop. It has survived countless washings, and is now restricted to home because of its increasing fragility. I offered to knit her another one out of the exact same yarn, and she recoiled in horror: "Oh Mommy, NO! There can be only ONE Woobie!!"

I love this sweet picture. And today I wouldn't mind wrapping a woobie around my head and going back to sleep, either. :-)

Scoot on over to The Simple Woman's Daybook to read more entries...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Today I am thankful for...

My girls passing their dosage calculation test. We studied together for hours on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday for this make-or-break test. (10 questions, and you've got to pass with an 80 or you can't continue in the nursing program.) I am SO proud and so happy. They not only passed the test; they conquered their fears!

Hugs. I can't think of anything else in the world that has the power to instantly comfort and restore us like a warm hug. Like my oldest has always said, "Love is the BEST medicine."

What are YOU grateful for?
Scoot on over to Gratituesdays to read more reasons for giving thanks...

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I Just Haven't Been Myself Lately

Monday, I had the giggles. They started during a Microbiology lecture. All it took was one farting noise coming from three seats down. It sounded like a kamikaze mosquito: zzzzzt.....splat. My lips turned upward in a smirk. A few staccato bursts of air escaped from my nostrils. My back and shoulders started to shake silently. "You WILL NOT snort", I told myself, and decided on clearing my throat as an acceptable alternative to relieve the rising pressure. The "ahem" was only halfway out when the snort made a run for it and escaped: a loud, moist one. Then another. Then five more, in rapid succession.

All eyes in the room turned toward me, eyebrows raised. The fart, they hadn't heard. The snorts, they had. I put my hand across my mouth and nose, gulping rapidly to try and suppress the snorts. It seemed to work...but no sooner had attention returned to the lecture than a rather large, loud, very long one escaped, followed by a chortle. A sharp glance from the lecturer sent both of my hands flying to clap over my nose and mouth, while I continued to shake with silent giggles.

All efforts to control myself were quickly failing. Tears were rolling down my face. My nose was starting to drip. I sniffled, and that made me think of the snorts, which of course made me...snort.

A dirty look from the professor. My hands moved higher to cover my whole face, while my body shook and a high-pitched, wanton giggle escaped. Oh, NO. I never meant it to get this far. I was trying, really and truly and desperately trying, to control it. I took a deep breath in, and held it. I held it until my chest ached and my head felt fuzzy, hoping to once and for all cure the irresistible urge to giggle.

The tide of hilarity began to recede, and my mind was once again engaging in the subject at hand, pondering the difference between DNA viruses and RNA viruses. I dropped my hands, focused on the board, and took a deep, cleansing breath. A long sigh of relief followed, and I began to take notes. At last, decorum reigned.

Mosquito Boy farted again, and I lost it. Snorts, gasps, snarfles, and a long chain of high pitched giggles poured forth from facial orifices while tears ran down my cheeks and dripped off of my chin. My rational mind looked on helplessly. "Oh, Rosie, what has become of you?? You're a 41 year old woman, for crying out loud. Pull it together!" But I couldn't. I looked helplessly at the professor, and he nodded assent as he rolled his eyes toward the ceiling (no doubt asking the Good Lord why, oh WHY, did he have to put up with the likes of me), so I grabbed my things and bolted for the door.

Wednesday, I cried at the drop of a hat. There must have been a lot of folks dropping hats, because I was pulling out a new tissue every 15 minutes. Mind you, these weren't tears of sorrow. Most of them were brought on by precious and meaningful things like a beautiful song on the radio, a doe nibbling at the bushes on the side of the road, the sight of a sweet, cooing baby, or the fact that Starbucks still had fresh decaf brewing. For a few outbursts I had no explanation whatsoever. I mean, a row of four live oak trees in the highway median normally doesn't make me come unglued. Reading the want ads typically doesn't cause the dam to burst. But there I was, sobbing like a baby while I read about goats for sale in the Pennypincher. Go figure.

Thursday, anyone who spoke to me didn't know until it was too late whether they were going to receive a sharp reply in return. It wasn't that I felt irritated by anyone or anything...more that everything I said just came out wrong. I'd speak, and afterward the words would echo inside my head as I wondered, "Now WHY did that sound so cross?"

Later that evening I asked my husband whether or not I'd been cranky lately. After all, perhaps I was just imagining things.

No such luck, as it turns out. My husband, God bless him, is a tactful man. "Well baby, you've been known to show more patience", he ventured.

"How long have I been this way?" I began to worry that I'd been grumping at everyone without realizing it, when in truth I felt quite happy inside.

My husband, who had been standing with his arms around me, took a step backward. "Since before Christmas, my love". WOW. I had no idea. And was it so bad that he was afraid I was going to take a swing?

All I could do was apologize profusely, and assure him of my love. "It's alright, bubby", he said, holding me close again. "I love you anyway."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Out of the Mouths of Babes

I had no sooner posted the vegetable soup recipe below than my four year old daughter rolled out of bed and padded in to my room for a hug and kiss. As we headed into the living room for, she looked up at me and said, "Can we go to the doughnut store for breakfast? I deserve a doughnut, Mom."

I swallowed my rising laughter and said, "Honey, do you know what 'deserve' means? It means you did something good or nice that should be rewarded. What have you done that's special and deserves a reward?"

Without missing a beat she squinched up her nose, smiled sweetly, tilted her head to one side, and said, "I'm going to let you take a shower without walking in on you and watching".

The laughter escaped this time.

And guess what?

She's going to get a doughnut for that one. :-)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Simple Woman's Daybook ~ Wednesday, January 14th

FOR TODAY, January 14th

Outside my window sunlight and shadows dance the afternoon away in an open meadow, while a bluebird clasps a strand of barbed wire and sings to me.

I am thinking about the rest of my to-do's for today. I am thinking that I lack motivation to-do them. ;-)

I am thankful for renewed faith. How did I ever put one foot in front of the other without it?

From the learning rooms: Tonight, I have four chapters to read on the postpartum phase of childbirth, and one more to read on gram staining microbes. Oh yes, there are a bunch of dosage calculations to practice, and injections to practice before tomorrow's test-off.

From the kitchen: After spending most of today pondering what to make for dinner and feeling guilty about my recent lack of creative and elaborate meal preparation, I've decided to resurrect an old tradition that my oldest daughter and I used many years ago to make a fun and lighthearted evening out of tiredness: "snack supper"! An array of healthy snacks both warm and cold will be put out for hungry and weary family members tonight, and we'll enjoy the lack of pressure to create a formal meal while we unwind together and do what each of us needs to get done.

I am wearing my favorite old jeans that fit just right, and a black long-sleeved t-shirt.

I am creating a list of knitting projects in my mind and trying to choose which one I'll tackle next!

I am going to be really glad when my homework is done tonight. :-)

I am reading Maternal Child Nursing Care, by Wong et al

I am hoping that all test results will come back in normal ranges this Friday.

I am hearing nothing but the whirring of the fan within the computer, and the happy clacking sound of my fingers dancing on the keyboard.

Around the house, things seem to be in stasis. There will be time to clean, create, and rearrange on Saturday.

One of my favorite things is having a good laugh with a girlfriend!

A few plans for the rest of the week: A joint birthday party for our youngest and two of her friends at Pizza Inn on Saturday evening. It will be fun for the families to get together and have a good time watching our childrens' delight! The three mommies have already shared so many tears and so much laughter. It will be nice for the daddies to all finally meet!

Here is a picture thought I am sharing:

My husband has crystal clear green eyes. (He'll argue and tell you they're hazel). They are expressive eyes. They reveal his soul to me, his bride. There have been some days in our life together, though, when no language in the world could describe the depths of love, tenderness, concern, and joy emanating through these eyes: right before our first kiss...our wedding day, while he was saying his vows to me (see above)...and last night-- just because. :-) This love always makes me cry the happiest kind of tears.

Scoot on over to The Simple Woman's Daybook and check out some other thought-provoking entries...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Today, I am thankful for...

My wonderful husband. He can make me smile and laugh again after the worst of long, hard days filled with bad news. Better yet, he can even get me cracking jokes and making him laugh, too. I am convinced that his hugs have magic powers. :-)

Lunch with Karen. We bemoaned a bad case of brain cramp after an intense morning of dosage calculations, formed a plan of attack to study the difficult stuff this month, and cracked central line and NG tube jokes, all over po' boys at Huckleberry's.

My dancing princess, a.k.a. the newly-minted four-year-old. She's absolutely right: twirling and giggling does put the day into proper perspective!

"I love you, Mommy" texts from my fourteen-year-old. :-)

What are YOU thankful for?