Monday, November 24, 2014

What is the one thing that you want to be remembered for?

What a tough question...

1) What I think I should say:  I want to be remembered for loving Jesus and genuinely showing his love to others.

2) What I want to say:  I want to be remembered for being kind, genuine, and compassionate.

3) What I hope people will say:  Betty Anne was hilarious.  Could always count on her for a laugh.

4) What I actually think people will say:  Bless her heart.

about 2:  I'm decent at being kind to strangers.  More than decent, actually.  I'm routinely very, very nice to people I don't know.  I smile when I don't feel like it.  I go out of my way to make customer service people in particular feel appreciated.  I've been in customer service roles.  I get it.  It comes pretty easily to me to show these people kindness.

Why, then, is it so hard for me to be as kind to those around me that I interact with every day??  Scott, my kids, my parents??  I can be mean in a heartbeat to any of them.  Why??  They aren't mean to me!  (well, the kids are sometimes...) Why is it so much harder for me to be consistently nice to those closest to me??

What do you want to be remembered for?

Saturday, November 22, 2014

How has your own childhood changed the way you raise your own kids?

There are probably a million ways this question could be answered, but I'll focus on three.

1)  As a kid, I remember two people influencing heavily my perception of motherhood:  my mom and my Aunt Rhonda.  They really listened to me and made me feel important, even as a kid.  Both of these women were frequently patient with me when I was misbehaving.  Every once in  a while I remember each of them losing their temper, but that was the exception, not the rule.  I want to be like them with my own kids.  And yet, I'm sitting down to type this up after just putting my kids to bed and being supremely frustrated with James and Reese.  I let my frustration be known to them in no uncertain terms.  <sigh>  I have much to learn...
Me and my Ma
Photo credit: Diane Lewis

Uncle Phil and Aunt Rhonda, Photo by Diane Lewis

2)  I remember feeling stressed about finances as a kid.  We were a family of six living on my dad's Air Force income.  We didn't lack for anything important, but I do remember observing the financial strain on my mom and dad.  This memory etched into my brain influences how I want things to be with my own kids.

3)  Our family's faith was a crucial part of my upbringing.  I want to duplicate that for my kids.  I want them to be grounded in their beliefs.  I want them to see Scott and I living and walking out our faith, not just telling them about it.

I would really, really love to hear some other thoughts on this topic.  How would you answer this question?

Friday, November 21, 2014

Surprise Party!

Have you ever been thrown a surprise party?

The year was 1990.  The place was Carlisle Barracks, PA.  It was my 12th birthday.  I suspected nothing ahead of time.  I was invited to a slumber party with some friends.  I was riding with my friend Nicole and her mom on our way to the slumber party.  Nicole's mom said we needed to stop by Nicole's grandmother's house for a quick moment.  We stopped by the house, parked out front.  I waited in the car while Nicole ran inside for something.  After several moments, Nicole's mom asked me to go check on Nicole and see what was taking her so long.  "No problem!" I said.  And naively off I went to the house I'd never been to belonging to someone I'd never met.  In retrospect, I could've been set up to DIE, but thankfully that was not the case.  I don't remember how the surprise part actually went down, like who let me in the door?  What I do remember is walking in and several friends jumping out and yelling SURPRISE!!  Fun times!  I'm sure we did girly things like watch Dirty Dancing and play the board game "Girl Talk".

Fast forward one year.  1991.  13th birthday.  Seoul, Korea.  Again, I suspected nothing prior to the party.  I came home from a babysitting job to a group of friends at my house who surprised me.  My mom organized this shin-dig.  She went so far as to coordinate a FAKE babysitting job for me so I would be out of the house prior to all the guests arriving.  I should've guessed something was up when I arrived at the babysitting house, the mom stared at me blankly for a moment.  She forgot I was coming over for her to babysit so she could run some errands.  Understandable, since my mom had set this up. When I got home to my house, the back door I usually came in through was locked (I had no key) so I had to walk around the house to the front door.  This was all part of the party organizer's (Ma!) plan so I would be maximally surprised by the friends hiding behind the living room furniture.  Mom had a list of pictures we had to take for the evening with my POLAROID camera.  Aw yeah...polaroid...  One of the pictures was of all of us under a table.  I'm sure we giggled our way through it like 13 year olds would. :)

I'm pretty sure I was surprised again for my 14th birthday, because I remember saying "Wow! Three years in a row!  I'm really, really gullible!"  Alas, I don't have any specific memories of my 14th birthday or the surprise it included.  My complete non-memory of it all must mean I got ridiculously drunk.  JUST KIDDING.  I didn't drink at age 14.  Promise. :)

How about you?  Have you ever had a surprise party thrown for you?  Did it work?  Were you surprised?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Describe Your Father and Your Relationship with Him

My Pa.  He is tall.

"Lemme 'splain..."

I already know that I will not be able to do my dad justice in one blog post.

"There is too much...lemme sum up..."*

My dad, Retired Air Force Colonel Steven David Acuff, is by all accounts an incredible man.  He loves the Lord with his whole heart and is committed to his relationship with his wife and kids.  He's been married since 1968 to my equally incredible momma.  He's has four kids, two boys and two girls.  He served in the Air Force for 30 years as a C-130 pilot.  He loves:
  • history
  • politics
  • air planes
  • driving
  • traveling
  • talking to people
  • laughing
  • his family
  • John Wayne movies
  • and helping people
just to name a few.

Dad, Mom and Nikki 1971
With Baby Nikki 1970

Easter, 1978 (Baby Betty Anne)
Pilot Dad, Midriff Shirt/Mullet Betty Anne. Yikes.
Reliable ride-giver
Camping Enthusiast
Wood-chopping project supervisor
While growing up, I remember my dad traveling a lot with the Air Force.  When he was home, he would take all of us kids (on bikes) running with him while he trained for one of the four Marine Corps Marathons that he ran.  He taught me that I was built to run.  Or so he told me anyway.  Even when I'm not in the habit of running, I think about it often.  He would help us kids memorize bible verses as he ran.  His faith was (and is) hugely important to him and he imparted that to me and my siblings.  We had devotions in the morning (at the crack of dawn, as I recall) before we all left the house for the day.  He would read something out of the bible to us and each of us got a turn to pray.  I am so very, very grateful for the spiritual guidance and leadership my dad provided in our home.

When I got to high school, it was just me left at home.  My siblings were all in college or no longer living at home.  I didn't love being what felt like an only child.  I missed my brothers and sister!  But it was at this time that my relationship with my dad started to change.  We had a lot of time together, as he was traveling for work less.  We watched Disney movies (Lion King!) together.  He helped me with my paper route every single Saturday when I delivered The Washington Post on base where we lived.  I would hang on to the back of the Ford Explorer, tossing papers to houses as he drove slowly.  If he disapproved of one of my tosses because it wasn't close enough to the person's door, the vehicle would stop.  Because we had a routine, I knew I should just go ahead and go get that last paper I threw and re-position it closer to the door.  The Colonel had standards.

As I applied to colleges and started preparing to leave home, I remember countless conversations about those topics.  I appreciated his input, perspective, and willingness to listen to me.

I highly value how he treats my mother.  He showed me by example, not through words, as I grew up how a husband should treat his wife.  Even in their disagreements I saw each of them be respectful towards one another.

He didn't invent these concepts, but he liked to use them and enforce them:

"If you don't have time to do something twice, do it right the first time."

"Do the right thing even when nobody is watching."

I observed him being a man of integrity in his job, his church and his home life.  Related to the integrity characteristic, he also is a ridiculously hard worker.  You know the type from his generation... they are a breed about to go extinct in this day and age.

When I told my parents about being pregnant with Chloe, my daughter I placed for adoption, he was kind and gracious.  He put her ultrasound picture on his dresser and prayed for her daily.  Watching him with his grandkids now is such an incredibly awesome experience for me.  In my mind, he's superman.  He can change diapers, play outside with them, or squelch a temper tantrum if needed.  He asks James and Reese "Have you ever seen a horse eat an apple?"  They innocently say "No!"  He then proceeds to grab right above their knees and pinch, usually causing them to double over laughing and squirming to get away.  He also asks them if they've ever had a knuckle sandwich (while holding up his fist), but he doesn't follow through on that one. :)

If you didn't/don't have a great relationship with your dad, come talk to me.  I'll see about loaning** you mine because he's pretty awesome.

Pa, I love you dearly and you are not allowed to die until you're 150. Kthx.

*Princess Bride quote

**Fees will apply.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Had a bad day again...

Can you think of a bad day you had in elementary or middle school?  Two specific days come to mind for me.

1)  4th Grade:  In the Acuff household, unless you were ACTIVELY vomiting or had a fever documented by my dear mama, you went to school.  On this particular day, my stomach hurt.  A lawt.  But since I had not yet vomited, my dear mama (who was used to kids making up ailments since I was the youngest of four kids) sent me off to school.  I don't know how long I was at school before I got sick.  I remember telling the teacher I didn't feel well.  She told me to sit down at my desk and put my head down, so I did.  She also told me if I needed to run to the bathroom at any point, to just raise my hand and she'd let me go.  As I sat in class, everyone else doing some sort of school like activity, I very suddenly got the feeling I was going to throw up.  You know how when you're a kid, you can't seem to recognize this feeling more than 0.2 seconds before it actually occurs?  That's what happened this day.  I quickly raised my hand, the teacher waved me out, mouthing "Go! Go!"  I only made it to the door of the classroom before I stopped, realized I wasn't going to make it ANYwhere, turned to left and threw up in the trashcan by the door.  Twice. 

You can imagine how well this went over with my compassionate classmates. 




This was in the day and age of garbage pail kids...the grosser version of cabbage patch kids.  Apparently there was one named Barfing Betty.  And if there wasn't, my classmates convinced me there was now.

Thankfully, I got to go home and didn't have to stay at school to further humiliate myself.  But the damage was done for that year...

(I don't blame you for this bad day Momma, I don't.  I will probably have the same standards when my kids start school.)

2)  6th Grade:  I pulled a ligament in my knee skiing and had my leg in a cast for several weeks.  That wasn't the bad day-part, though.  The first day I went back to school, that was a bad day.  Just trying to get up and get ready for school and negotiate the stairs in our house (there were MANY, MANY stairs in that on-base house in Carlisle, PA), it was overwhelming to me.  I remember my dad helping me out to the bus stop (right in front of my house), trying to put a hat on my head and help me zip up my coat. It was February in Pennsylvania.  It was cold.  Hats and coats were appropriate attire. That didn't keep me from feeling mortified that he put a hat on my head (duh..that would mess up my hair!) and when he zipped up the coat, the zipper broke so that above and below the zipper was unzipped, held together only at the little zipper itself.  I started to cry.  Sixth grade is cruel for anyone, especially if you don't look just like everyone else and wear the right clothes and such.  And here I was, looking like frumpy-mcfrump-pants with a broken zippered coat, now-flat hair because of the hat, and a mismatched outfit because nothing that really went together would fit over my big ole cast on my leg.  Dad kept telling me "You'll be alright! You'll be alright!"  as if he said it peppy and frequently enough, I might believe him.  Eventually the bus came, I got on it, tears and all, and headed off to school. 

(I don't blame you for this bad day, Dad, I really don't.  I did not enjoy my 6th grade year at all...the kids were cruel.  That's not your fault.)

**As a side note...just writing this has made me a little twitchy, revisiting icky memories.  Tomorrow, something peppy-er, I promise!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Ok To Wake!

If there are small humans in your house that get out of the bed crazy early and come into YOUR room, waking you up, this genius invention may be for you...

A few weeks ago, I bought James an "Ok to Wake" clock off of Amazon.

The idea is that the parent sets what time it is okay for the kiddo to get out of bed.  When the clock reaches that time, it turns green.  You teach your child that green means go!  Before it is time to wake up, the clock is yellow:

When it's okay to get out of bed (or leave the room), it turns green:

Prior to bringing this lovely invention into our home, James' wake up times kept getting earlier and earlier.  He used to wake up around 7:30 am.  PERFECTLY reasonable.  Then it was 7 am (quasi reasonable), then 6:30 (too early), and when he came in our room a few mornings at 6:10 am (FOR THE LOVE...), we decided to do something about it, before it moved into the five o'clock hour (insanely early).

After researching options like this, ordering it online and waiting for it to arrive, I gave James the clock as a present.  He loved it.  He carried it around all that day.  We talked about how the clock was yellow, but in the morning, before he gets out of bed, he has to wait for it to turn green.  I set the clock time to show him the yellow vs green colors.  (we're still learning colors)  That first night, I reiterated the instructions.  The next morning, I was eager to see what happened.  Of course, at 6 something, he comes barging in to our room, carrying his new clock-best-friend.  I asked him if it was green yet (it was not).  I gently reminded him that he needed to go back in his room until it turned green.  He hung his head, so very sad, and went back to his room.  You should've heard the excitement in his voice when it did turn green.  He busted out of his room saying "It's green! It's green!"  

The next morning, he stayed in his room until it turned green.  I would say MOST mornings since then (almost a month now), he has waited for it to be green.  I set it for 7:10 am.  I realize he isn't necessarily sleeping until 7:10 am, but at least the rest of the household can get a few more minutes of sleep while he waits for "green means go."  

This clock also has a nap timer on it.  Every day at nap time, I set the nap timer for 2 hours.  He needs to sleep/stay in his room until it turns green (after 2 hours).  Sometimes he takes a while to fall asleep and then sleeps right through the green time.  After a set amount of time, it turns back to yellow.  You can adjust this time.  I make it stay green for an hour, just in case he sleeps for a while.  I like those features, both the nap timer feature and that I can tell it how long to stay green.

Why I think this works for us:

-James is 3 years old (almost 3.5).  If he was a two year old (like Reese), I don't know if this would work or not.  Reese is still in a crib, though, so no leaving the room unassisted for her...yet.
-His personality works with this.  Some kids are going to do what they want to do, no matter what. 
-He is not night-time potty trained yet.  He still sleeps in a diaper.  If you have a child who leaves the room to go potty at night or early in the morning, I don't know if this would work for you. 

This gadget has allowed Scott, Reese, and I to get a little more sleep, which really benefits the whole family. :)

Have you found a gadget or some technology that has improved your quality of life??

**This is not a sponsored post.  I purchased this clock.  It was not provided for me to review.  All opinions are my own.**

Monday, November 17, 2014

Pulling A Prank

Have you ever pulled a prank on someone?

Once upon a time, I was a twenty-two year old recent college graduate starting my first job as a campus staff worker with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a college ministry.  I was in Madison, Wisconsin (IV headquarters are here) for about a week for New Staff Orientation.  It seemed like it was mostly IV staff workers staying in the hotel I was in.  We overtook that place with our palm pilots and side shoulder bags and meaningful, intentional conversations and bible reading.

While we were there to learn our about our new job, we also had some fun.  If you've ever been to Madison, you already know State Street is pretty amazingly cosmopolitan.  It has almost every type of food on the planet represented.  I remember trying Jamaican and Ethiopian food specifically.

One particular day, a fellow staff worker (who shall remain nameless) from my region (Blue Ridge - North and South Carolina and Virginia) and I devised an evil plot.  We were going to break into one of our fellow Blue Ridge region staffer's hotel room and tp it.  Fairly inconsequential, but devious for us bible believin' folk.

We had a small window of time to work with when we knew Haars* was away from her room.  I went to the front desk of the hotel and told them I locked myself out of my room, giving them her room number.  I told them my name (her name).  They asked for identification, as I expected they would.

My heart was pounding out of my chest by this point.  I WAS LYING TO SOMEONE ON PURPOSE.  I'm a campus minister for goodness sake!  What am I doing??!

I told them my purse and all my stuff was in "my" room, so I had no ID to show them.  They looked skeptically at me, but gave me the benefit of the doubt.  They quickly made me a new room key/car thingy and I was on my merry way.

I scurried up the elevator to meet my accomplice at the room.  We hustled inside with my ill-gained key to Haars' room.  In just a few moments, we toilet papered everything we could.  We put hotel-provided lotion under a few drawer handles, just for extra pizazz.  We moved clothes around to different drawers.  For fear of getting caught, we finished up and bolted out of the door.  We split up and went different ways, so as not to be seen together.

Later that evening when we ran into Haars, she had quite the tale to tell about what she found in her room.  She asked everyone for any leads on who could've done it.  I was sure my face alone betrayed me.  I'm really not a good liar.  Despite my terrible acting, Haars didn't seem to know it was me and my partner in crime that had pranked her.


Well, at least until now when I'm telling on myself...

Take away messages:

-Campus staff ministers are no more innocent than the rest of the population.  We need Jesus just like everyone else. :)

-Haars, I'm sorry I lied to you.  In case you didn't know who dunnit, IT WAS ME!  And my partner in crime.

-Hotel security has most definitely changed (I hope) since this event in 2000.

-*Name changed to protect the innocent.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Favorite Childhood Event

Some of my absolute favorite memories of my childhood revolve around the yearly Acuff beach trips my extended family would take.  In the early years, there was camping involved.  My memories do not extend that far.  I do have a little bit of photo evidence that I was there:

Grandma and Peepaw (maybe that's me in the crib, hard to say) 1980ish

This is definitely me. ~1980

When my memory kicks in it's when my dad's parents would rent a beach house, usually in Myrtle Beach, SC.  My family, grandparents, my dad's two brothers and their families would all meet there.  These trips took place as early at 1975 (or earlier?) and lasted through the '80's and beyond.  The memories I have of these trips are mostly from 1983 - 1988, ages five to ten years old for me. 

Thing I loved about our trips:

  • My Peepaw (dad's dad) loved the beach.  He was born to be a beach bum.  He loved floating in the ocean with his toes sticking out of the water.  Grandma did not love the beach, but she did love Peepaw and her family, so...

Me and My Peepaw, 1983

  • I remember watching (maybe helping, but probably not) my cousins and siblings build sand castles almost daily.  Not just little ones.  Big, big sand castles that took all day and several Acuff creative minds to build.

Some cousins, who shall remain nameless and our awesome sand castle!  I say "our" as if I helped at all.  This is unlikely.  No, your vision isn't blurry.  This picture is.

  • My cousins.  I'm one of eleven Acuff first cousins.  I really, really love my cousins and their spouses and families.  They are hilarious (must be an Acuff trait) and entertaining, especially when grouped together.  There are seven boys and four girls.  The years these trips were taken, my sister Nikki and I were the only girl grandchildren there.  The other two girls arrived on the scene later.  Nikki and I spent a decent amount of time with our mom and two awesome aunties.  I felt like I got to pretend to be a grown-up since I got to hang out with the "big girls" at times, as opposed to the "little boys" (all my boy cousins).

  • The beach.  Look how much fun I was having!

It is quite possible my siblings will disown me after posting this photo...  But it will be worth it.  How cute are we??
Maybe 1983?

Our beach schedule was something like this: 

10am-2pm BEACH
2pm - inside for lunch and naps, for napping-aged children (somehow I was ALWAYS in this group!?)
5pm - beach, or dinner prep for whoever was making dinner (I don't recall being helpful in this arena. Ever.  At the beach or otherwise...)
After dinner - walk on the beach or go carts or putt putt or something called the Pavillion (is that still a thing at Myrtle Beach?)

At least once during our trip, we would all go shrimping.  My "shrimping" memories consist entirely of trudging through stinky, sticky mud and losing flip flops.  I don't think I enjoyed shrimping all that much.  At that time I didn't even like shrimp, so the whole experience was lost on me.

As a parent now, I wonder a) how exhausting this trip was for the adults and b) how did they keep us all from drowning in the ocean??  I'm pretty sure it was my Peepaw, dad and my two fun-loving uncles that were responsible for watching the kids in the water.  What could go wrong??!  I can only imagine how late we all went to bed every night.  All of us kiddos were strewn about the living room and bedrooms, sleeping on couches or on the floor in sleeping bags.  Kids in the 80's didn't need beds.  I feel like that isn't the case kids require beds...

These "good old days" are about the only days of yore I wouldn't mind going back to revisit.  Fun, fun times with fantastic family.

Is there any childhood event(s), recurring or otherwise that make your top five favorite memory list?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

What Scares You?

Describe something you are afraid of...


I am terrified of them.

I know, I know.  That is ridiculous.  They don't exist anymore.  For some reason, this does not prevent my brain from coming up with horrific nightmares revolving around dinosaurs.  Only two kinds of dinos haunt my dreams:  T-rexs (or rexes??) and velociraptors.  I mean, are there any other kind to be be afraid of??  I don't remember if I had dinosaur nightmares prior to 1993 when Jurassic Park came out.  I'll bet not.  That movie probably created my dinosaur fear FORREAL.  Thanks for that, Hollywood.  I have since seen that movie more times than I can count.  It's like I can't look away if it comes on tv. 

Don't look at me like that.  You know you do the same thing with scary movies you come across while channel surfing.  You just.can't.stop.watching.

Thankfully, I don't have nightmares often.  But 95% of the time when I do, it involves dinosaurs.


Gaw...just typing that phrase makes me breathe faster.  I have been snorkeling a few times in my life.  Someone once suggested I take scuba diving lessons.  "With scuba you get to see so much more than you can see on the surface of the water while snorkeling," they said.  WHY WOULD I WANT TO DO THAT??!  If I can't see it from the surface, I don't wanna see it.  And there's stuff I can see from the surface that I don't wanna see (sharks).  On our honeymoon, Scott and I went snorkeling.  They made us have a buddy when we got in the water, for safety purposes.  The first time they let us get in the water with our snorkel gear on, I put my head under the water, viewed the vast expanse of ocean around us, and promptly hyperventilated.  That's hard to do when your nose is non-functional due to a snorkeling mask.  They ended up throwing me a swimmy-thing that they recommended non-stellar swimmers use.  I am not a novice swimmer, but in that moment, I was doing great to keep my head above water.  Pretty sure Scott wanted a new snorkel buddy after that... 

I went on a cruise. Once.  I struggled the whole time with the idea of how deep and dark the water we were in was.  ZOIKS. 

I absolutely love the beach, but freak out about deep ocean water.  Go figure.  For me, walking to the end of a pier and looking down is a fantastic exercise in mind over matter. *deep breaths, deep breaths*

Besides losing a loved one, these are two of my top fears.

Watchoo afraid of??

Friday, November 14, 2014

Have You Ever Been Fired?

Bloggy challenge continues...

Have you ever been fired?

Why yes, yes I have and thanks for asking!

I can think of three jobs I was fired from, two of which I'll discuss here and one I won't. :)

My sophomore year of college at NC State (circa 1998), I worked at Rock-ola Cafe as a server.

It was my first waiting-tables job.  I'll be honest...I was not exceptional at it.  Although I wasn't the best server in the business, I was reliable.  I didn't call out sick or not show up for a scheduled shift.  My coworkers did all.the.time.  One particular time, I had an opportunity to work a one-time weekend serving job through NC State (Madrigal dinner, I believe it was) and earn $300.  That seemed like a million dollars to me!  The catch was I had to participate in a mandatory training session the Monday evening before the event.  I was scheduled to work at Rock-ola on that Monday evening.  I tried to find someone to switch shifts with me.  Nobody was available or willing to switch.  I talked to my manager about the situation.  He basically told me I needed to show up for my shift or I was fired.  So....I made my decision.  I did not show up for my Monday shift.  And I was fired because of it.  My very first and only no-show shift and it cost me my job.  In hind sight, I shouldn't have made the decision I made, but younger me was not so wise.  I worked the Madrigal dinner, made my $300 and got another job to replace my Rock-ola gig.  I found out later that two weeks after my manager fired me, he got fired.  I might have been able to go get my job back, but I didn't try.  Instead I moved on to another job...

...which leads me to my next 'getting fired' story.

After Rock-ola I worked for an emergency vet clinic as an animal assistant.  I was one step below the vet techs.  They told me what to do, I did it.  When I was hired, I was pursuing vet school.  I worked every other Saturday and Sunday nights from 6p-12a.  Twelve hours every two weeks.  Somewhat understandably, my learning pace was a bit slllllllooooowwww.  They would teach me how to do something one weekend, but after two weeks, they would have to show me again how to do it (like starting IV's and such that requires more practice than every two weeks).  I never had my three month performance review that I was supposed to have.  Instead, after working there for a year, I received a call from my boss.  In short he said that as a result of my three month review that happened after a year, they were letting me go.  I tried to ask for an explanation right then on the phone.  He wouldn't answer me specifically about what the issue was leading to my firing.  He kept referring to the nebulous review I'd had.  When I hung up, I cried.  Getting fired hurt my feelings. :(  Especially when he wouldn't give me any hints about WHY I had been fired.  If I was a dreadful employee, I needed to know it!  I made multiple phone calls and wrote a letter to both of the owners of the clinic, the one who fired me and his business partner, asking for clarification about my firing.  After receiving my letter, the business partner owner called me to say he was unaware I had been fired.  He stated he would talk to his partner and get back to me.  I never heard back from either of them, despite a few more phone calls.  (not psycho 34 in a day...just two or three calls over a few weeks)  I had a couple speculations about why I was fired.  1)  This was a great job for a pre-vet student.  Since I had started working there, my trajectory had changed from pursuing vet school to applying to work for a campus ministry after I graduated.  Maybe they only wanted pre-vet students and so I needed to go because I was holding a valuable spot?  2)  Although enthusiastic, as I mentioned earlier, I was a slow learner at this job.  They had to teach me things again and again.  Perhaps that led to my poor review and ultimately my termination?  3)  The boss hated my hair.  Or I smelled funny.  Purely speculation, but I'm grasping at straws here...

So there ya have it.  Two of my three firing stories.  Is it awkward to talk about this? YES.  Getting fired isn't quite the badge of honor one might expect...  I feel okay writing about all of this since it happened in 1998 and 1999.  I (hopefully) have proven in my last ten years of employment to be a trustworthy, reliable employee.

How about YOU?  Have you ever been fired?  Why did they say they fired you?  Why do you think they fired you?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Reese is TWO

Dear ReeseyPiece,

You are the busiest person I know.  Your curiosity and joie de vivre are unmatched.  As Pawpaw says, you are just happy to be here!  And we're happy you're here too!  

We had a Strawberry Shortcake-themed birthday party.  You ate several strawberry flavored cupcakes.  We'll find out next week what all your latest "stats" are...height and weight and such.  To be sure you are in the 90+ percentile for both.

If Walmart would hire you at two years old, I would let you work there.  You are the best greeter of strangers I've ever seen.  Today when we left Cracker Barrel, you waved bye to every single table we passed on the way out.  Loudly and with enthusiasm.  You make everyone around you smile.

We love you so much and are better people with you in our lives!

Read about when Reese was born! 

Part 2

yes, it's a ridiculously long story...

Part 3

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Causes of Happy

I'm participating in a bloggy challenge.  We're supposed to write every day on the prompts provided.

Prompt:  What makes you happy?

1)  Candles.  I love them.  Because of curious cats and now more curious kids, I don't have many at all.  But at night with the lights off and candles lit, I love that.  The ambience is peaceful.  Maybe I was born in the wrong century?

2)  Kittens.  They are fuzzy, cute and crazy playful.

3)  Toddler-speak.  Little kids learning to talk are hilarious.  For example, my two year old says "chawbeebee" instead of strawberry.  And "mar-sham-moes" instead of marshmallows.

4)  Good listeners.  Partly because they are a rarity.  Partly because I'm a talker.

5)  THE BEACH.  Walking on the beach is one of my favorite past times.  Don't get to do it much, but I love it.

6)  Winning with money.  What I mean by that is making good money choices, staying out of debt (except for the house), and enjoying the peace of mind that comes with it.  Paying bills is a pain, but it doesn't stress me out or cause me grief.  We budget and we stick to it.

7)  Long-time friends that know me well. (and still put up with me)

8)  The following foods:  cotton candy, chicken and dumplings made by my momma (or my granny, but she's in heaven now and has yet to make me any from there. yet.), chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls sans nuts or raisins, french toast, papa john's pizza, eggs: scrambled, over medium, or hard boiled.

9)  The following beverages:  hot tea in the cold months, sweet iced tea in the summer months, dr. pepper, pumpkin spice chai from sbux (not a coffee drinker, so can't do the pumpkin spice latte), and a variety of milkshakes.

10) An unprompted act of kindness by one of my kids.  Doesn't even have to be towards me, just seeing them being kind every once in a blue moon makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

11)  While watching football, when one player helps an opposing team member up from the ground.

12)  Tiny baby feets.

13)  Singing.  I'm an alto.  I love acapella music, but don't get an opportunity to sing it anymore.

14)  Encouraging people.

15)  Scott's (the husband) sense of humor.  He makes me laugh.  A lot.

How about you?  How would you answer this prompt of "What makes you happy?"

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Five Fun Facts

About me!

1)  I have lived in nine different states and one foreign country.  It went like this: TX--NC--AL--VA--NC--PA--Korea--IL--MD--NJ--NC--SC--NC--SC.  I seem to be stuck in a bit of an NC/SC vicious cycle!  I grew up as an Air Force kid, in case you were wondering why all the moving.

2)  I could probably live on only cereal.  Who am I kidding.  I mostly do already.  Lucky Charms, Oatmeal Squares, BiLo brand Crispix, Honeycombs, Life….how do I love thee…

3)  I was born to take regular trips to the beach.  I love it there.  One day, I will own a beach house.  Mark my word.  One of my favorites:  Bald Head Island, NC

4)  Having a double name (Betty Anne) is NOT the most awesome thing ever.  I would not recommend you ever burdening a child with such.  People always leave off the second name, or forget it and make up a replacement (ex: Betty Sue, Betty Jean)  If you do this to me on purpose, you are just being hateful.

5)  I'm a "clean car" person.  In this case clean means clutter free, not necessarily dirt free.  Every time I go into the house from my car, I take stuff with me.  I don't let mail, random papers and receipts, kid* toys/shoes/snacks/sippy cups/diaper bags accumulate.  Sadly, this is the only junk free zone I maintain well.  My house, my room, my desk…they suffer much worse fates.  Where do you think I put all the crap from my car??

*Nor do I allow kids to accumulate in my car.

There ya have it.  Five random facts about ME.  Your turn!

Monday, November 10, 2014


Do you have regret?

 I do.  I am in possession of the regrets. :)

I wish I had listened to my dad (you hear me, dad?! you were RIGHT!) all those many years ago when he recommended I pursue medical school instead of vet school.  At that time, I had no interest in working with humans.  I loved animals and wanted to be a vet!  Well, I thought I loved animals…  After getting a degree in Animal Science and working in the vet world for a few years, I realized I don't actually love animals.  I love cats.  Only cats.  And in case you've never taken a cat to the vet, it is AWFUL.  No bueno. 

Ironically, now I'm a nurse working with hoomans.   I've pondered several times going back to school to pursue a medical degree.  Each time I consider it I determine that maybe if I was in a different stage of life, I would possibly go for it.  But at this stage of the game, with young kids, I don't want to start pursuing something so all life-consuming for so.many.years.  And after all the years and years of MCAT'ing and applying and getting accepted and going through intensive schooling, residences and fellowships, the job itself is intensive as well.  Not too many 9-5 doctor jobs available for new doctors.

So that is what I regret.  Not chasing after medical school as an 18 year old.

What do you regret?

Monday, October 20, 2014

Where Are You From?

As a military kid, I always found this question difficult to answer.  We moved every 1-4 years.  I was born in Texas.  I graduated from high school in Maryland.  I went to college in North Carolina.   I had grandparents in Charlotte, NC and Williamsburg, VA.  My name, Betty Anne, sounds as deep south as one possibly can, but my accent doesn't match.  However, when people asked me where I was from, they were usually looking for a location--a city and/or state.

I came across this recently, and it made me ponder some things.

Where Are You From? (*language warning*)

One part that stood out to me was:

"If you spill your coffee on me once, it's no big deal.  But when I get coffee spilled on me every damn day, can you blame me for being pissed off when you spill your coffee on me too?"

That is a really, really great analogy.  To me it means that I need to be more aware of what I say to people.

1)  I need to keep in mind that I may be genuinely interested in getting to know someone better and learning more about them, but perhaps they have fielded the "where are you from" question one too many times.

2)  Genuinely getting to know someone better and learning more about them may be appropriate motivation for a question about where someone is from.  It may be okay in the context of a developing friendship with an individual.  The stranger behind me in the Target line is probably not a developing friend.  Neither is the coffee shop barista.

3)  Thinking before I speak is a struggle for me day to day.  In this case in particular, I need to think about why I am asking such a question.  Am I just nosey/curious/wanna know and therefore it's all about me?  Because that's probably the answer 90% of the time.

4)  I think pregnant women could identify strongly with the "coffee spilling" analogy above.  Visibly pregnant women get bombarded with all kinds of inappropriate, personal questions daily.  As do multiracial families.  Or really large families.  Or... or... or...  the list could go on and on of people fielding repetitive questions from strangers.

I feel like I'm not expressing myself very well right now, but hopefully I'm making some inkling of a point.  Let's think more about what we say before we say it and have a little bit of mercy for one another.

Maybe that person has had one too many coffee spills...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

God Made Dirt and Dirt Don't Hurt

I better believe that least after yesterday...

James, Reese, and I were moseying around the backyard yesterday seeing what there was to be seen.  As we strolled around the trees, we noticed a plethora of these creepy creatures:

There were at least five of these empty shells on each tree trunk.  We walked around each tree and brushed them onto the ground.  If I had to name that game, I'd call it "flick it" or something, because that's what we did.  Keep in mind, I never touched one of these suckers.  Not once.  James was carrying a toy with him.  He used said toy to flick the cicada shells to the ground.  So James never touched one either.  Reese, however, is a different story.  She boldly grabbed them with her bare hands.  Ew ew ew.  If we were keeping score in our game of Flick It, she would've definitely won for the most cicadas flicked.

She is woman hear her ROAR. This picture isn't from yesterday, but it shows her personality well...

After that game ended and all the trees were ridded of their ghostly  freeloaders, we moved on to attempting to weed one of our flower beds.  I put on gloves.  James put on gloves, but didn't touch the dirt.  He just wandered around the yard marveling at his gloved hands.  Reese opted out of gloves and dove hands first into the dirt.  Raise your hand if you're surprised.

I made a little bit of progress.  Not a lot, but a little...
See how there is WAY MORE grass/weeds/green stuff on the left, inside the "flower bed" than there is on the "grass" side, on the right??  It's shameful, really.  What can I say...I'm not a yard work person.  As if I need to tell you that after sharing that photo...

I would've made more progress (possibly) except for how helpful Reese was.  As I was bent over pulling weeds, she managed to get a handful of dirt projectiled through the air in the exact right fashion that a whole lot of it ended up in my below-the-belt undergarments.  NOT COOL Reese, NOT COOL.  I reprimanded her for throwing dirt and continued on my quest.  I figured I could handle a little dirt in some awkward places.  That's what showers are for.

A few moments later, having not heeded my stern instruction, Reese launched another fistful of dirt at me, this time it hit my head and upper body, a fair amount miraculously ending up in my above-the-belt undergarments.  This was the last straw for me.  Apparently having dirt in my underwear was okay, but DIRT IN MY BRA and in my hair was just too much.  I fussed at her again and dragged all of us inside for baths/showers.  James looked confused, appropriately so, since he was the only clean one of us at that point.  

I share this story so that years from now, when Reese wants my help raising a mess-loving daughter of her own, I can point her back to her own childhood and snicker, just like my mom is doing now...

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Just Another Day

As I sit here typing, my skirt is half damp, half dry.  My kids are talking to themselves in their beds, hopefully heading to sleep soon.  And I'm trying to remember to laugh at myself (and my life).

Let's back up...

Sometime in May, I think it was, I received a work email stating the need for me to make an appointment with Employee Health to have blood work drawn by August 28th.  Maybe your work health insurance is similar?  If you jump through some extra hoops, you get a major discount on your insurance.  For me that discount is $30/pay period, or $780/year.  I can think of a lot of things I'd rather do with that money than give it to my health insurance company.  Keep that figure in mind...$780.  One of the hoops is having blood work done through Employee Health.  In May I thought "Oooooh I have plenty of time to get that appointment done before August 28th!"

You can guess where this is going.

August comes and I haven't made that appointment yet.  Last Friday (August15th), I got another work email stating that day was the last day to make these type appointments for blood work at Employee Health.  I immediately called them.  It was 5:02 pm.  The vmail message I reached said they closed at 5:00 pm.


I left a message anyway.  Over the weekend, I emailed a lady in Employee Health as well, hoping for the best.  (skipping a few parts of the story here for brevity's sake)  Appointment lady emails me back and says be there at 9:30 am on 8/20.  They will try to work me in around other peoples' appointments.  (translation: be prepared to wait)  But hey, woohoo!  I have an appointment!  $780 Here I come!

I decided to take my kids with me.  Not because I love sitting in waiting rooms with a 3 year old and a 1 year old, but because my parents have already done a LOT of babysitting this week and I thought they could use a break.

Also of note, I have to fast for this appointment.  No breffiss for me.  Bummer.

This morning (appointment day!) I got up, dressed and got the kids up and dressed and fed.  I packed a to-do bag with some toys, my ipad, a couple of diapers, and an almost empty container of wipes. I don't know for sure if they were done eating or not when I plucked them from their chairs and tossed them into their car seats.  Off to the appointment we go!

9:19 am we pull into the parking garage.  9:20 am, while making our way to a parking spot on the 3rd floor, I hear Reese throw up.


"Mess! Mess!" Reese squeals. "Where's Reesey's bucket?  Where's Reesey's bucket?" James exclaims.  (I give him a bucket to throw up in when he gets sick.)  Since Reese is rear-facing still, I can't see the mess, but I can imagine I'm about to have SO.MUCH.FUN. when we pull in to park.

I wanted to just turn around and go home.  Forget the appointment.  Forget the 10 people I'd bothered (part of the story I skipped) to make this appointment happen today.  Forget the $780.

But I couldn't.

I was determined to make it.  I'M GOING TO GET MY BLOOD DRAWN TODAY DANG IT.  (perhaps I was hangry?!)

After parking, I grabbed my meager stash of wipes and head to Reese's side of the car to assess the damage.  She holds her hands up "Mess."  I said "Yep, you're a mess.  We'll fix it."  To keep you from throwing up as well, let's just say the volume of material on her wasn't so terrible.  Her shirt was soaked, but the entire car seat wasn't, thankfully.  The content of the material?  Bacon.  So much bacon.  I wiped up what I could, using up all my wipes.  I prayed nobody would poop during the next little while.  I put Reese in a stroller, hoping to minimize her interaction with anyone else and contain her messy self.

About that time, a coworker (#1) walks by and says hello.  I immediately told her Reese threw up so she could keep her distance.  She told me Employee Health was a zoo right now, so best of luck to me.  Oh yay.  Fun fun times.

With my sights set on $780, I walked towards the building, one hand holding James' hand, the other trying to drive the stroller while holding a wadded up pile of bacon vomit wipes, eyes peeled for a garbage can.

Found a garbage can, and proceeded on to Employee Health.  I don't even know what time it was at that point.  To be sure it was after 9:30...

Trying to open the door to Employee Health was challenging because of a) the stroller I was pushing and b) the crowd of people inside the waiting area.  Holy Moly.  Here comes me, my faintly-bacon-smelling stroller child, James and I...hoping to find a spot in the waiting room.  At this point I was reeeally hoping a lot of things:

1) Reese doesn't throw up again.

2) Reese isn't really sick, but maybe just car sick, so I'm not exposing everyone to some vomit bug, because $780 or not, that's just RUDE to everyone around me.

3) That we aren't in this place for hours and hours waiting.

4)  That nobody notices the bacon smell.

In the first 20 minutes, Reese has asked to get down 50 times and I've gone through all the toys I brought in our bag.  I busted out the ipad for them to watch a show.  Two seconds after their show started, they call my name as well as three other names.  They took us down the hall to another waiting area.  At least there were less people in the next room.  We waited maybe 15 more minutes before they called my name.  The appointment lasted 10 minutes or so.  I got weighed (yay!  who doesn't love getting weighed!), blood pressure taken (114/64...hypertensive for me...I blame my stressful morning), and blood drawn, all with Reese and James watching attentively.  I think James (and his constant motion) made the lab tech nervous.  She got him a chair to sit in, probably hoping that would keep him somewhat contained.  I agreed with whatever she wanted to do.  The last thing you want is a nervous lab tech right before they stick a needle in your arm...

On our way out of the waiting room, we bumped into coworker #2.  She was super sweet to my kids.  I didn't want to announce to her (and the rest of the room) that Reese had thrown up and probably she didn't want to touch her.  Thankfully she just patted her head.  That was probably safe.

We scurried back to the car to make our way back home where there's a bathtub and cleaning supplies and clean clothes for Reese.

At home, I fed them a quick snack and put them in the tub.  They proceeded to have an absolute blast splashing each other.  They made the biggest bath-mess I've ever witnessed in their short lives.  The kinda mess where there seems to be as much water IN the bath as out of it and the tile bathroom floor is down right treacherous to walk on.  This is where my drenched skirt came from.  It was collateral damage.

Now they are in their beds...hopefully asleep by now...  I've disassembled Reese's car seat to wash the cover.  Hoping there's no more vomitousness in my immediate future...

After all this, I better have met the criteria for the $780!!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Buyer Beware

Just a quick note today to increase awareness for


or TSTFS for short.

If you buy these shoes for your toddler, they may end up with these toddler feet:

This can be prevented.  

Please help me raise awareness.  

Don't let one more toddler be impacted by TSTFS.

*cue Sarah Maclachlan Angel tear-jerker song*

Friday, June 20, 2014

James is THREE!

We celebrated James' third birthday over a few weeks time.

There were presents:

(clothes modeled here)
There was cake:

James had cake too, of course, but didn't make this glorious of a mess, so Reese earned the photo op.

There was singing:

In retrospect, we could have let him get a tiny bit closer to the candles.  Maybe next year.

There were friends and family that helped us celebrate James in South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.  Lots of love for this guy across the tri-state area.

James is into cars (McQueen!), trains (Thomas!), tractors and trucks (no cartoon names come to mind immediately).  We're just getting started with potty training.  His favorite foods are non-real-food items such as nutrigrain bars, chips, and cookies.  

He's an introverted quiet type-guy.  (Is that redundant?)  

He loves to "fwim" (read: swim).

He has an affinity for his blanket, especially the tag on it.  Or actually, tags on anything.  Shirts, towels, etc.

Based on the number of times in a day it happens, I have to assume James enjoys crying.

He just moved into a "big boy bed" (twin mattress on the floor).  And when I say "just", I mean today.  He's slept in it a few times here and there, but we just rearranged rooms and put Reese (in a pack and play her whole life) into his crib in her room.  No turning back now!

James, you're a great kid!  We're lucky you're ours!

Parenting is Tricksy

We have a freshly turned three year old son.  Based on his words and actions, he thinks the world is here to serve him and fulfill his every need and whim.

This has GOT to change.  With a quickness.  Before his sister gets the same idea.

The parenting game is changing.  It's less about keeping the child alive and more about shaping this little human into someone compatible with other humans.  Hoooboy.  I know people say things like "Just when you think you've got it all figured out, the rules change!"  Let's be clear.  I don't think I have it all figured out.  In fact, I'm positive I do not.  Every day when I learn something new, I'm usually learning a new thing I didn't know I didn't know.  If that makes any sense.  So for the rules to change in this parenting game which I'm still a novice at, seems unfair.  I shouldn't have to move up in difficulty levels, like a video game, until I've mastered this level, right??

TANGENT:  Tonight I felt like I was living in a video game. Probably Zelda.  I was trying to kill a fly with a fly swatter.  That stupid fly would not die.  I made contact with it at LEAST four times, with no success.  The thought went through my head: "This is like one of the bad guys on Zelda when you're getting to the end of the game and they take forever to die.  That was this fly.  He took SEVERAL of my Zelda hearts away and he still didn't die.  Dangitall.  Meanwhile James is at the dinner table saying "Getchoo fly!  Momma getchoo fly!  'Ere it comes!"  That's better than Zelda.  I don't think they have cheering sections...

Anyhoo...back to parenthood...  I want to raise responsible, highly functioning, positive contributors to society that possess discipline and integrity.  I have some of those attributes.  I'm a very responsible person.  I have integrity.  I am not the most disciplined of individuals.  I dabble in discipline-ville.  I do not live there.  People say more is "caught than taught" when it comes to kids.  They will do what you DO more than they will do what you SAY.  This concerns me on the discipline-front.  Not too sure they can catch intermittent discipline.  And actually, now that I think about it, if it's intermittent, it probably isn't discipline.

Aw dang.

Those of you older, wiser, more experienced, or younger, green and more vocal and opinionated, what say ye??

Help me Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope...

Sir James and I, his servant

Roof Troubles

On May 23rd here in Columbia, South Carolina, we had one doozy of a thunderstorm.  Awesomely, it included golf-ball sized hail.  My car was in the garage.  Scott's car wasn't**.  It sure took a beating.  Although it didn't show up well in pictures, it looked like the car had chicken pox scars all over it.  Maybe you can see the one in this photo?

(look at the door handle, then up and to the left a little)

The right side mirror was busted, too.

After a phone call to the insurance company, a visit to a body shop for an estimate, and a week in the shop, the car is looking much better.  No more chicken pox!

We also had a rep from our insurance, USAA, come look at our roof, deck, and fence.  He said other than lots of dents on the aluminum vents on the roof and downspouts for the gutters, the roof looked great.  Based on his assessment, the work that needed to be done to fix the dented vents wouldn't even add up to our deductible.  He was convincing, seemingly thorough (up on the roof for several minutes), talked in detail about the type of shingles and the age and when we should think about a new roof (about 5 years from now).  

Phew.  Our roof was fine.  I felt relieved.

Over the next few weeks, however, three of our neighbors have had their roofs assessed by their own insurance people and are getting new roofs due to the hail damage.  


This makes me question the information I received about our roof. All of our roofs are approximately the same age, within a few months of each other.  To the untrained eye, the roof materials seem to be the same.  Our houses are on a cul-de-sac and therefore all face slightly different angles, which could matter in this equation, depending on the direction the hail was pelting down and such.  

This week I called a totally random roofing company to have them come take a look.  The guy was up there approximately 3 minutes. He came down and said yes, there is hail damage.  He recommended a new roof.  I told him what the insurance adjuster said.  He offered to meet with the adjuster at the house and walk the roof together to see if they can agree on the work that needs to be done.  I like that idea.  This is the direction I'm heading in at the moment.  It's all I know to do.

Here's the thing:  I don't know who to trust!!  Obviously the insurance agent is looking out for the best interests of the insurance company.  They don't want to pay for a new roof if they don't have to.  Then the roofing guy comes out, looking out for HIS company's best intere$t, and recommends a new roof.  


Do any of you have good family friends or someone you trust implicitly that could come make a really objective recommendation?!  Because making the roofing people and the insurance people take lie detector tests seems a little extreme, but I've pondered that option...

**Sadly for our friend, Jason, his car was at our house getting pelted along with Scott's.  Had Jason been at home, this wouldn't have happened.  So very, very sorry Jason!!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

A Lesson in Bath-ing Diapered Children

A few helpful lessons I learned (again) during bath time tonight:

  1. Do NOT remove the child's diaper prior to a bath unless you are ready to place said child IN the bath that very second. 
  2. If you remove the diaper, turn to adjust/test the water, and turn back to the child, there will be pee on the floor and bath mat. 
  3. The amount of pee will be a disproportionally large amount when compared to the child's size.  
  4. Due to the large volume of liquid, one may briefly confuse the liquid for bath water, despite no reasonable explanation for how that fluid got OUTSIDE the tub.  
  5. You will get the pleasure of locating clorox wipes in your friend's house (thankfully under the same bathroom sink) and washing a load of towels and bath mats. 
  6. The "fun time" of bath time rises proprotionally to the amount of liquid on the floor.*

That is all.

*note sarcasm