Rants, reality and learning to embrace the little things.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Hate Christmas II

I've decided I'm going to make this an annual Christmas post. Why hold my cynicism in? I'd much rather share it with the masses!

 I have a confession...I didn't decorate for Christmas this year. No lights, no tree, nothing. I'm a horrible mom aren't I?

NO! I'm not! My kids haven't even asked me why I didn't decorate. I assume their lack of inquisition is due to the way my Christmas decorating efforts have turned out the last two years. Allow me to explain.


This was my first year as a single mother on Christmas. I had lovingly set up the fancy, artificial tree stolen from Baby Daddy's attic (HE HAD TWO!), in my tiny two bedroom apartment and did my best to ignore the mass amount of plastic tree needles being shed to the floor with every fluff of a limb despite knowing I would later have to unclog those needles from my vacuum. I even hummed Christmas Carols and screamed "HOLY CHRISTMAS BALLS!" instead of my normal curse word when one of the metal tree limbs nearly took out my eye. I spent close to 4 hours decorating that tree. (I have ADD, don't judge.) When all was said and done, I stepped back, marveled at its department-store-like beauty and sighed a breath of relief. The Christmas decorating was done. I threw my three boys, who had passed out with exhaustion after the tenth time of me re-positioning the ornament they had just hung (I also have OCD, don't judge.), over my shoulder (yes all at once! I am she-woman.) and tucked them into bed. I then allowed myself to retire for the evening. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep with a smile on my face that night.

I awoke the next morning and stumbled to the kitchen for my daily caffeine drip. Once I was able to hold my  eyelids open without using my fingers for assistance, I turned  toward my beautiful Christmas tree and the tiny sleeping kittens beneath it. Sergeant and Pepper. They looked like tiny, furry angels beneath that glowing....


The top piece of the tree was dangling by a cord of lights, the beautiful, golden star topper hanging on by a tiny stretched out wire. The gorgeous ribbon of garland was tattered and askew. Glass balls were shattered on the ground and expensive, dangling ornaments had become shredded cat toys. I was frozen in place. Stunned.

Once my paralyzation of shock wore off, I did what any normal person would do. I let out a blood curdling scream, hurled the kittens across the room (simmer down, don't call the ASPCA on me, the kittens really bolted in fear and hid for about 3 days) and ripped the tree down in a Hulk-like manner while letting every bottled cuss word from the night before, fly. The boys emerged from their rooms, puzzled, naturally. I screamed "CATS!" and there were no further questions asked.

That Christmas, we merrily drank hot chocolate around the glowing....garland.


My first Christmas in my new house as a single mother. I managed to get the Christmas tree up without fuzzy terrors shredding it to pieces. I decided, with that success under my belt, I would move on to the outside.

I balanced on my rickety, hand-me-down ladder and spent no less than three balmy hours hanging Christmas lights and glowing garland. I even remembered to plug the strands of light in and test them first. I [only] cussed a few times, however, with very good reason. The staple gun I had obtained did not have the right kind of staples in it and kept getting clogged so I had to use my parents electric staple gun which took about 3 to 4 times of trigger pulling for a staple to actually...well...staple. On top of that, my power cord had channeled a boa constrictor and I nearly plummeted to my death at least 4 times.

Despite my obstacles, I perfectly toggled each staple in place, careful not to pierce the light's wire, and stepped down from my ladder. I excitedly rushed to the garage outlet, eager to plug in my lights. Smiling, I emerged from the garage....into the darkness...

All but a tiny section of my lights were out. Apparently, dropping the wadded strands from the top of a ladder 18 times, damages them.

As I stood in paralyzed shock, for yet another year, one end of my garland fell loose from it's staple and dangled menacingly in front of me. A few seconds later, the other half of garland followed behind. I broke into a cold sweat...I shook in anger...I paused and actually thought about my forth coming reaction as several neighbors were out hanging their (disgustingly working) lights. Then, finally, I said "F*** it" and repeated the Hulk scene from last Christmas. Only this time, I grabbed the dangling end of garland and took off running towards the street. Lights down. No ladder needed.

Our house was the only unlit one on the street. I rebelled even further and refused to turn on the porch lights until after New Years.


I'm down a cat. Not sure where he went but I bet it's to a family who's mom doesn't cuss while decorating for Christmas. Cat's are smarter than people give them credit for.

I painted festive scenes on brown contractor's paper to decorate my cubicle for work. I actually did it to passive aggressively rebel against real Christmas decorations. If my boys are lucky, I might replace our Christmas Pumpkins (the trash man just comes SO early) with my fancy finger paint Christmas Tree.

Probably not, though.

Don't worry, the boys are still enjoying pretty lights and trees adorned with choking hazards...I mean ornaments. Their dad has become quite the Martin Stewart (get it? Martha...Martin....? No? OK.) and decked out his house with loads of festive merriment. I suppose I taught him well in those 8 years I played June Cleaver. Too bad she died with our marriage. (Ouch.) HOWEVER, I did let the boys know that since their father and I have rekindled our love, (SURPRISE! To those of you I have not already gushed this news to.) HIS Christmas decorations count for MINE too, therefore, I am decorating exempt. Plus, Jesus didn't have Christmas lights. AND, Santa is still coming despite the darkness of my home...maybe....

*beep* Christmas morning alarm set.

Maybe next year June will emerge from her tomb...as a Christmas zombie....with a pension for beer.

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Today Nolan is 11 years old. That means that 11 years ago today I was a terrified 17 year old, in ugly maternity clothes, delivering a child with a massive head while my equally terrified, 19 year old, baby daddy looked on wide eyed, attempting to at least  feign support but really focusing on whether or not he should burst into tears and run out of the room and down the hall screaming like a kid who just had a bad dream.

Yes, that is the only significance of today. No other reason. I am certainly NOT in awe of how fast the time has flown by or what an amazing little boy my eldest son is. I mean, that would completely take the focus off of me!

Who am I kidding? I'm busting at the seams with pride! Oh Nolan, what a ride it has been!

Now back to me...

This past weekend, I ripped up my living room carpet. All of it. By myself. No one helped me.

Fine. Baby Daddy helped me. But ONLY because he would rather do dirty, nasty, physical labor than attend a party with a bunch of screaming children, running around and hurling themselves from a trampoline....in the dark. I mean, who would want to miss out on that? I LOVE having glow sticks thrown at my head. It's even more fun when one lands in the bonfire you are warming your hands over and explodes....

Alright, maybe that last part didn't really happen. Well, in my head it did, but not in real life. However, I DID dodge a few flaming marshmallows!

Why do kids think if a marshmallow catches on fire the best thing to do is fling the stick around? Baffling....just like Baby Daddy wanting to miss that party.

Anyway, post party, I returned to my carpets gone. Well, not gone. They were on my front porch....because that is the best place to put them. Not in the back....or even the garage, but the front. Right next to the pumpkins.

I gleefully thanked Baby Daddy and gave him a beer for his efforts. I sent him home and the childrens off to the grandparents house to sleep so they would not injure themselves with hammers and exposed splinters. My TV was also unplugged so I had no babysitter. KIDDING!

That night, I stood in the silence of my home and stared at my bare floors happy that the carpet was out, but fearing I had gotten in over my head.

*Side note, the house was not really silent but that sounded better than, "That night, as my dog tap danced across the floor, giddy that his paws now made sounds...."

My fear soon turned to determination. I was tackling a project that several people had tried to talk me out of. I was going to PAINT my plywood sub-floors and they were going to look GOOD!

So, I spent this past weekend inhaling saw dust (thanks to the electric sander  Baby Daddy so graciously purchased), covering myself and the floors in wood filler, primer, paint and polyurethane and getting high on the fumes of spray paint...inadvertently of course...because spray painting in the house with all the doors and windows closed is a great idea. Just like the carpet on the front porch.

After several Ibuprofen, some beer, and a side trip to the Haunted Woods, my living room floors are done! And guess what? I LOVE them. ME! Not my mother, not Baby Daddy, not the neighbors. ME. No more decorating the way other people might like. I am doing things the way Brandi likes!!

I have some pictures of the floor that I will show you soon. I'm also excited to share a few other projects I am attempting to tackle. The transformation of my home has only just begun. (And maybe, eventually, the colors of my blog. I'm not loving it.)

OH! And, I bought a reciprocating saw. It was on sale. I cannot promise there will not be holes cut randomly into my walls should anyone visit. I have no control over my creative actions. I don't really know why I even needed the saw...but I wanted it and right now, that is all that matters.

Friday, September 9, 2011

If You Give a Nolan a Soda

If you give a Nolan a soda, he’s going to want some more.
Once he drinks some more, he’s going to get chatty.
When he gets chatty, he will talk really fast.
When he talks really fast, he can talk about a lot.
He will start by talking about school which will make him think about lunch.
He will want to see the lunch you packed and ask you lots of questions.
Asking all those questions will make him kind of thirsty.
He’s going to want some more soda.
He will drink some more soda while you tell him to put on his shoes.
He will walk to his room but probably get distracted by his brother and forget why he was there.
He will come back to the kitchen and ask you more questions.
Asking more questions will make him thirsty again.
He’s going to want some more soda.
He will drink some more soda while you tell him to put on his shoes...again.
As he leaves the kitchen, you might hand him his lunch to pack in his bag.
He will put his lunch in his bag but forget to put on his shoes.
His bag will probably be close to the TV.
He will want to watch Phineas and Ferb.
Watching Phineas and Ferb puts him in a trance-like state.
You will probably catch him watching TV and see he has on no shoes.
You will tell him to put on his shoes...again.
He will squeal really loud and run to his room,
but he will want to change his shirt instead.
He will want to explain to you why he should change his shirt.
He will find you in your room.
He will start talking really fast and raise his arms above his head so you can see his shirt is too short justifying the change.
You will probably stare at him and say “okay”.
He will run to his room...again...
You will see he still has on no shoes and yell after him to put them on...again.
He will emerge from his room in a new shirt and tightly laced shoes.
Finally seeing he is ready for school, you will tell him to get in the car.
As he walks to the car, you will yell at his middle brother for unlocking and insisting on exiting through the front door.
You will need to lock the front door again.
You will probably notice that Nolan’s youngest brother has done everything he is supposed to without being told and you will quietly thank God.
As Nolan and his little brother open the door to enter the garage, you might remember that the garage door needs to be raised and the little one is not tall enough to reach the button.
You will tell Nolan to press the button.
He will probably say okay but instead of pressing the button he will realize he is thirsty.
He’s going to want some more soda.
He will leave his little brother standing in the dark of the garage to go drink some soda.
You will have to tell him to raise the garage....again.
He will probably say “oh” because he is so engrossed in his soda that he can’t think of a good excuse as to why he did not do it the first time.
He will open the garage.
For good measure, you will probably tell him to get in the car...again.
At some point you will make your own way to the car to find that Nolan is not in it.
He has run to the end of the driveway instead.
His brothers have followed him.
You will need to yell “Boys get in the car!”
There will probably be several neighbors outside.
You might even realize that this is why the neighbors don’t talk to you...
The boys will finally get in the car but as you begin to drive, Nolan will get chatty...again.
He will want to talk about football.
He will probably ask you who won the game, who you wanted to win the game, why you didn’t watch the whole game, make a comment about school, do some math problems out loud that relate to the score of the game, state some statistic that would have needed to happen in order for the other team to have won the game, make a comment about the player who manages the time, explain to you how the players do that thus defining “kneeling”.
You will finally reach your destination and probably bolt out of the car before any of the kids can get out.
You will quickly explain to the boys father which child thinks they are sick, hug the little one who is crying because everyone came inside and shut the door before he could get in and oh by the way...
“Nolan had soda.”
You will shout “Goodbye!” and maybe even “Good luck!” and run quickly out the door to your car.
You will throw the car in reverse, peel out of the driveway and might even take part of your bumper out on the curb.
As you drive down the road you might take a sip of coffee and secretly wish it was vodka...

The End.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Furry Blob

Many of you reading this already know that I have a love/hate relationship with my cat. Some days I think he is the King of the world and feed him tuna from a tiny, silver fork. Other days I try to push him off the ledge of my deck...he always lands on his feet. Here lately I have been leaning more towards the “How far can I drop kick you?” emotion as it is as if my cat schemes up ways to annoy me. Let me explain...

The other day I treated myself to a tasty gyro and sweet potato fry dinner from a sweet little restaurant in Spring Hill called Paprikas. Their gyros are especially tasty because they add large amounts of feta cheese. My favorite! I excitedly brought home my special dinner, paired it with a tasty glass of wine and curled up on the couch to partake in a little prime time television. Specifically the game show “Wipeout” (a goofy, guilty pleasure). I am happily enjoying my dinner and watching people make utter fools of themselves when out of the corner of my eye, I notice a furry blob inching his way closer to me ninja style. I ignore the blob and the loud chainsaw noise coming from it and continue to eat. In a matter of minutes there are whiskers on my face and a sniffing nose annoyingly close to my mouth. I put the food I am eating down and the nose follows. There is now a furry face hovering over my food. I am annoyed, however, being the nice person I am, pick out a delicious piece of gyro meat and attempt to feed it to the blob. Apparently eating from my hand is unacceptable and I get a blank stare in return. I place the delicious, sacrificed morsel on the table. The blob sniffs and half heartedly paws at the food and returns yet another blank stare. I roll my eyes and flick the food onto the floor as it has become obvious the sofa table is also an unacceptable place to eat from. The blob leaps for the food, stabs it with a claw and flicks it into the air. The food flies, the blob chases, sniffs, contorts his body into odd angles to supposedly...better sniff...looks at me and walks away from my sacrificed deliciousness. My irritation rises. This process is repeated with a sweet potato fry. Not only has the blob successfully distracted me from my show, he has left me a mess to clean and wasted two tasty bites of food that could have gone into MY mouth.

Another issue Sir Furry Blob and I wrestle with are his chosen times of affection. I’ll break this down for you list style:

When I want Furry Blob affection and how:

1. When I am curled up on the couch alone I would enjoy a purring, warm creature in my lap.
2. When I am down on my hands and knees calling “Come here Furry Blob” in a baby voice I would love a playful rush towards me and a cuddle.
3. When I am falling asleep a purr and cuddle can be quite soothing.

When my Furry Blob chooses to be affectionate and how:

1.When I am on the couch working on my laptop he lays on the keyboard.
2. When I am eating (read the story above).
3. When I am on the toilet my lap is apparently very welcoming.
4. After I get out of the shower and my legs are wet he decides that is the appropriate time to “lovingly” rub on me. He sheds.
5. After I apply lotion to my legs. See #4.
6. As I am walking across the house carrying a full cup of coffee, laundry basket or anything heavy he “lovingly” darts in and out of my legs.
7. When I am headed out the door and dressed for work and he has just come in from the rain and apparently from under a muddy porch he “rubs me goodbye”.
8. After I am already asleep he lays and/or sharpens his claws on my closed eye lids. Fun.

Now doesn’t that all seem a little planned? I understand now why my dad would bring home a kitten that was stranded in the middle of the road and later wish it would eat a poisonous plant and “disappear”.

Despite my frustration/ irritation/ anger/ profuse cussing, the softy in me looks into my furry blob’s evil, scheming, yet somehow helpless eyes and says “Yes furry blob, you may stay. Why not jump onto my freshly cleaned counter tops and then go take a nap on my clean, crisp, white pillow case to show me how much you appreciate me....”


Monday, May 16, 2011

The Oner

Have you ever known someone who surrounds themselves with things that only they dub appropriate? As if they have created their own bubble world filled with only the things they like and enjoy allowing nothing else in. I know a person or two like this and can often find it very frustrating to communicate with these people.

I call these people Oners (won-ers). They are Oners as they believe they are number one and have an insane ability to one-up you in anything. They will always have a better story, a better idea, be a better cook, a better friend, a better employee, and will basically just be better at everything and there is nothing that anyone can ever think about anyone ever thinking about doing that will top them.  It can be infuriating. I, however,  have developed some sure fire methods to help your recognize and deal with Oners whilst managing to simultaneously entertain yourself. Please read on.

Oners will often allow you talk or tell a story while politely feigning interest until their moment to one-up you is allotted. A simple way to identify a Oner is by the distant gaze in their eyes. This gaze means they are only half-listening and have already began to plan out the better thing they are going to tell you and are completely distracted by the awesomeness of it. Should you notice this gaze, you can simply stop talking. Once the Oner realizes the noise of your voice has ceased, they will begin their story, completely unaware of the fact that you did not finish your story or even finish your sentence for that matter. Should you be feeling creative, it is sometimes fun to “end” your story or conversation with an off the wall and unrelated instance. For example: “...and then the donkey sprouted a horn, told me he was really a unicorn and thanked me for the tea.” The Oner will not notice the farce verbal trail you have taken and will either nod their head in humored acknowledgement or use the word “Cool” before transitioning into their tale.

Please take note that the Oners tale will usually be completely unrelated to the subject matter you have presented. They are unaware of this fact as they truly were not listening in the first place. Should the Oner actually relate their one sided conversation to the subject, it will likely be long winded and will veer off in several directions before coming to an anti-climatic close. This time of solo chatter may be used wisely with practice. You may choose to perfect the distant gaze the Oner unconsciously develops. They will not notice as they are completely wrapped up in their own world. With the distant gaze you can do awesome things. Perhaps a voice over in your mind. Maybe the Oner now sounds like Yogi Bear as they weave their wondrous tale. You can also run down your grocery list, write a short novel, replay an episode of your favorite TV show and so much more. With practice, you can even sleep.

The key to the distant gaze is being aware of when the Oner stops talking. You must pick up key phrases so you can excitedly respond with something similar to this, “WOW! The next time I need new tires, I will definitely check into that wireless store where I can sweet talk my way into an amazing deal on a cell phone! Thanks pal!” The Oner will feel accomplished and you will now have recalled every spice in your cabinet and figured out exactly how to better organize them. WINNING!

One of the best thing about Oners is how utterly clueless and easily confused they can be. For instance, say the Oner has professed their love for the show “Hoarders” and has let you know that everything else is dull in comparison and how insanely stupid you are for not watching this show. Use this to your advantage. Make a comment like “Wow, the footage of the devastation this string of storms has caused across the south is heartbreaking.” The Oner will stare at you blankly. Continue with “I wonder if they are going to cover the damage on Hoarders. What if one of the Hoarders house got hit? Do you think they would pick up all their hoarded stuff and then find others people lost stuff and hoard that too?” Since the Oner only hears words of interest to them (in this case “Hoarders”), they will find themselves totally lost. Knowing they are to respond in some way the likely comment made will be something along the lines of “Hoarders rocks!” To which you can return a blank stare.  Bonus points if this conversation happens in front of a group of people. You will then have successfully confused the Oner whilst making fun of them directly to their face in front of a group of others who have likely been victimized by the Oners narrow minded ways as well. High five yourself on a job well done!

A few other ways to entertain yourself via the Oner:

Create an email composed of fragmented sentences, random statements, and off the wall, highly irrelevant facts. Ask the Oner to respond with their thoughts.

Ask the Oner when their signifcant other, child’s, or parent’s birthday is. Watch as they panic thinking they have missed it.

Tell the Oner you have learned to fly. Listen to the story they tell to one-up you.

Ask the Oner who the President is and what democratic party he represents. Make sure others are present for this.

...and the list could go on....I hope, dear friends, these suggestions and tips help you to identify and properly handle the Oner in your life.

With love,

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Kid that Started it All

Nolan. I could write a book on this child. What an unexpected bundle of joy this boy has been.

A little back story:

I met Nolan's dad, Kevin, while working at Old Navy in Franklin, TN in October of 1999. I had only lived in Franklin about 7 months and was absolutely miserable, missing all of my friends from my old high school in Louisiana. Kevin had recently moved from Washington state and was dealing with the same homesick misery as me. It was love at first sight...for me anyways. I will never forget how completely, utterly, and madly head over heels in love I fell with him. I wanted to give him anything and everything, and in a sense I did.

Fast forward a few months and picture two terrified teens finding out they are going to be parents. I was barely 16, still sporting braces and a baby face. Kevin had just began his freshman year of college. We were sure our lives were over. However, thanks to my uncanny ability to be optimistic in the face of sure disaster, I quickly became positive that everything was going to be okay because I loved Kevin and that was all that mattered. I toyed briefly with the idea of adopting the baby out but knew that I could never get rid of my child. Especially the child I was having with the man I was sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Nine months of morning sickness, uncertainty, and tears flew by. On October 27 of 2000, a short year after Kevin and I had met, Nolan Thomas Conklin was born. I'll never forget the first time I held him. It was if the world had stopped and everything had just fallen into place. I was holding my reason for living.

It was evident early on that Nolan was a bright child. There was something more to him than the special circumstances he came into the world with. It was as if you could see his mind working constantly as he grew. Once he learned to talk, he never stopped. He knew how to engage those around him and was more than a child, he was a little man. Ask any of my family members and they will tell you. Nolan amazed us all on a daily basis.

It was no surprise that when Nolan started school, he excelled at his lessons and learning came very easily to him. Although, in TN, it is recommended that a student not test for giftedness until the third grade, Nolan's teachers recommend we go ahead and test him a year early. He passed with flying colors and became recognized by the state as a gifted child. Kevin, my family and I were thrilled, although we had kind of expected it. Nolan continues to amaze his teachers and make his parents very proud.

My wittiest child, Nolan can find humor in any situation...unless he dubs the situation a disaster or "the worst day ever", which has been known to happen. Typically, however, you will find him cracking jokes, making up silly songs, absorbing you in a mind boggling argument (the kind that makes you stop and go "Why am I arguing with a ten year old? How did this happen?") and of course, picking on his brothers. The way his mind works fascinates me. He can challenge and engage me better than any adult I know.

Nolan is definitely the most emotional of my three children so when Kevin and I told him that we were divorcing, I expected him to fall apart. While he did have his crying spells and was naturally very sad, he truly surprised me with his strength, maturity and understanding. He was always the first to hug me, tell me it would be okay and that he loved me. That boy has consistently gotten me through tough times since he was conceived. I don't think he will ever understand how grateful I am to have him as my son.

My precious Nolan, a friend to all, a beautiful picture of strength, and proof that God can turn any situation into something wonderful. I thank God for the mountains of blessings He has given me these past 10 years in Nolan and my other two amazing little boys.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Kasen. My baby. Living, breathing animation.

What a challenge and surprise this child has been since conception. Once I felt him move inside the womb, he never stopped. He came out screaming and continued to scream, not sleep and spit up for at least two years. He is the messiest, the loudest, and never ceases to entertain a crowd. God knew what he was doing when he made Kasen last. There would have never been a Nolan or Aiden otherwise. I would not change one thing about this child.

We found out last year that Kasen had significant hearing loss. It broke our hearts to realize that his speech problems and spastic behavior were due to the simple fact that he could not hear like other children his age. We had tubes put in and his adenoids taken out and it made a world of a difference in his ability to interact and communicate. His personality, however, never dimmed. He lights up a room.

Kasen becomes Batman in the blink of an eye. He will not be convinced otherwise. When he is not Batman, he lets me know that he "Reedy wishes dat God made Batman". He also wishes that birds wouldn't poop or pee but "Dat's just the way God made dem". His insight makes me smile.
My mom dubbed Kasen with the name "Kaveman" after realizing that when he goes potty, its equivalent to turning on a fire hose full blast with no one holding it steady and that when he eats, only 50% of it makes it into his mouth. If Kasen feels like breaking a toy, it will get broken and his explanation as to why he did it will always be "Cuz. I dunno." Despite our efforts, Kasen hangs onto his neanderthal traits. I've learned to find it endearing simply because I have no other choice.

Kasen is turning five tomorrow. I cannot believe how fast the years have flown by! My curly haired, spitfire, baby is not a baby anymore. He keeps up with his older brothers and is one tough kid. I had to get onto him for jumping off the back porch after his foot got stuck in the rail and he landed face first onto the ground. He cried momentarily then proceeded to turn his attention to tackling his 10 year old brother who later came inside crying because Kasen was too rough. It was a bittersweet moment realizing Kasen can take care of himself just fine.

I thank God for my little Kaveman. For the laughter, smiles and warmth (and even for the tears and exhaustion) that he has brought into my life. It has been an entertaining, to say the least, five years and I am looking forward to many, many more!