Big Mama Blog

Down at the ranch

We went down to A.J.’s ranch on Saturday after the mighty Rainbows won their soccer game. It was really no surprise that they won given their intensity for the game as depicted in this photo.


I’m not sure if it was P’s pep talk or their pride in being able to balance their Gatorade bottles on their head that pushed them to victory, but they came from behind to defeat the Purple Flakes.

As soon as the game was over, we loaded up our gear like a modern-day version of The Beverly Hillbillies and headed south. There was barely room in the back of P’s truck for our suitcases due to all the weaponry. I wanted to point out that it seemed like overkill since a person can only shoot one gun at a time, but I knew he’d turn it around on me and my multiple pairs of boots. Which is totally different by the way because one gun goes with any sort of outfit but black boots with a brown sweater? So wrong.

We arrived at the ranch a little after lunchtime and I hopped out of the truck to open the gate because I have been chief gate opener since the day P and I started hanging out over fourteen years ago. He gives me the combination and I jump out, search the area for any rattlesnakes hiding in the grass, open the gate and close it after he drives through. We are a well-oiled machine.

I walked up to the truck and discovered another driver had taken over the wheel.


It’s our very own Toonces the driving cat.

After Toonces got us safely to the ranch house, we unloaded all our stuff and spent some time visiting with A.J.’s friends. This was important because Caroline had composed a list of our scheduled ranch activities and the number one thing on it was “Chat for a little bit”. The next thing on the list was “Go fishing” but we decided to wait just a little while.

P was on the riding lawn mower (I could tell you why he was mowing, but it’s a long story that involves needing to see any pigs that might come to a feeder) when he saw a rattlesnake. He attempted to run it over with the lawn mower in what would have been a truly grisly experience, but the snake flattened itself out so P jumped off the lawnmower, stomped on the snake’s head with his boot (hence the need for tall snake-proof boots) and killed it with his knife. He’s my very own Bear Grylls.

Best of all, A.J.’s friends told him they wanted the dead snake because they were going to cook it (I will spare you the sight of smoked rattlesnake because there are some things that just aren’t right), and they were sweet enough to cut off the rattle and give it to Caroline.


Look at the pleased look on her face. It’s the same way I used to look at my Ballerina Barbie when I was a little girl.

But the fun didn’t stop there.

We played some pool.


Caroline and A.J. found something they wanted to show me.


What is it? Maybe a bouquet of wild flowers?


It’s a giant Iguana that’s about to eat my baby.

Or maybe it’s just a Texas spiny lizard.

Either way, make the screaming in my head stop.

P missed that precious moment and when I showed him the picture I said, “Can you believe that?”

He replied, “No, I can’t believe it. How did that thing’s tail not fall off?”

Because, clearly, that’s the biggest wonder. Not the fact that I have a daughter who will hold an enormous lizard which is just a distant relative of a snake.

Later they went hunting because Caroline desperately wanted to shoot a pig. While they were gone I took a Tylenol Allergy and Sinus pill because I’m either coming down with a horrible virus, a terrible cold or just suffering from seasonal allergies. Unfortunately I didn’t pay attention to the part of the package that said “Nighttime Formula” and so I fell into a dead sleep due to my low tolerance of diphenhydramine, otherwise known as Benadryl.

(I know stuff like this because of my drug rep days when I was practically a doctor but without the eight to twelve years of school. I learned all I needed to know from a workbook and two week training sessions, otherwise known as just enough to be dangerous.)

Anyway, I woke up just as the hunters were coming back from the evening hunt and happened to catch a glimpse of the Texas A&M vs. Kansas State score. I was sure the cold medicine had made me delirious and there was no way we were losing by that wide of a margin, but unfortunately after I sobered up from my Bendadryl hangover yesterday morning I realized that it was real. We are just that bad.

And I’d had such hope that maybe we were pretty good in spite of getting killed by Arkansas since Arkansas almost beat #1 Florida on Saturday. But, alas, it was just my optimism getting the best of me.

P and Caroline didn’t see any pigs on Saturday night so they were as sad about their loss as I was about the Aggies loss. Fortunately, they went out Sunday morning and she made a perfect shot on a javelina, which is like a pig but uglier and with bad teeth.

(Picture to follow. Do not look if you don’t want to see a dead javelina.)


Thanks for having us down, A.J. It was the perfect weekend.

Except for maybe when I overdosed on Benadryl.

And when the Aggies got destroyed.

Melanie, Bear Grylls, and Toonces

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Edition 70: Fashion Friday

I got in the car yesterday to go pick Caroline up from school and the digital thermometer read 102 degrees. That is just so wrong. Of course I felt better when the weather guy on the six o’ clock news explained that it was really just 92 degrees, it just felt like 102 due to the 183% humidity. It’s beginning to feel like the summer that won’t end and I’m over it.

The biggest issue is that I have all my summer clothes in a pile and am longing to put them up in the top of the closet where they belong, but I can’t do that when it still feels like a fiery furnace filled with wet towels outside. So I stare into my closet every day and wonder what I can put on that looks a little fall-ish but won’t cause me to spontaneously combust later in the day. It is a feat of science and physics just to get dressed each morning.

I apologize for talking about the weather. I realize that if you wanted to hear someone go on and on about the weather then you could have just turned on Al Roker or called your grandmother instead of coming here, so I’ll quit talking about it.

For now.

Anyway, I’m not going to answer any questions today because I totally waited until the last minute to put this together. Between watching the riveting media coverage of the boy in the balloon who turned out to just be the boy in the attic and the season premiere of 30 Rock, I just failed to manage my time properly. And if I attempt to answer questions and do vast amounts of internet research there’s a good chance I may end up in the fetal position. In a corner. With a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard in my hand.

Now that I typed out that scenario, I don’t really see what the problem would be with any of that. However, I’m still just going to tell you about ten cute things I’ve seen this week. I should clarify that I mean ten cute fashion things. I’m assuming no one cares to see a box of puppies.

1. A plaid peacoat

Listen. No one is more frightened than me that I actually walked into the A’Gaci store in the mall the other day, especially considering that the front window was lined with enough neon and leather to reproduce a Pat Benatar video, but this jacket caught my eye from across the room. I went in to get a better look and it didn’t disappoint, especially since it’s only $29.50.

2. Julianna dress

I realize this is a sleeveless dress and you may be thinking that I have let the heat get to me since, rumor has it, winter will eventually come and the low temperatures may hover around the 60 degree mark. But I am picturing this dress with a long sleeve t-shirt under it paired with leggings and boots. Or maybe jeans and boots. Or maybe tights and flats. Whatever works for you. I just think it’s really cute.

3. Glisten loop disc necklace

I believe that a great necklace can totally make an outfit. This one is great in silver or in gold. I’m actually kind of loving the gold jewelry these days which is something I never thought I’d say since the downside of gold is that it brings back bad memories of the time I went out on a blind date with a guy who wore a gold pinky ring.

I wish I were kidding.

Needless to say, it was the worst of times.

4. Ruffle cardigan

If I could ever actually commit to a pair of boyfriend jeans, I think this would be the perfect piece to wear with them. I love how the ruffles take it from ordinary to extraordinary, kind of like when you add ham to your eggs.

5. Argyle flannel pajamas

Yes please.

6. Crossover hoodie

I’m not sure this is the one I saw (and bought) at Gap last week, but it’s pretty close. The only difference was I found mine on the sale rack for $19.99 and it instantly captured my heart and soul and I have no doubt we will be in love all winter long. Or at least until my leopard print Snuggie arrives to take its place.

7. Gumshoe sweatercoat

I realize my relationship with Anthropologie is dysfunctional at best, but what am I supposed to do? Pretend that I wouldn’t adore this coat until the day I die? Even if it is in the color purple which I find to be a stumbling block since it reminds me of Dimetapp cold medicine?

8. Acadia National Coat

I have know idea why this coat is called the Acadia National Coat. Is it the official coat of Acadia? Is that like Narnia? All I know is that it is darling.

9. Members Only Vest

I don’t even know if this is my favorite fur vest, but I couldn’t resist that it’s Members Only. That alone tells me it’s as good as gold.

In all seriousness, I truly love the idea of a fur vest. It may be a bit much for lunch in the elementary school cafeteria which is my chief social function these days, but I could probably find a place to wear it. Perhaps the grocery store? Or maybe when I take the dogs to the vet? Of course I’d be sure to let all the animals know that it’s just fake fur. I wouldn’t want to start a riot.

10. Rain boots

It seems odd to think about rain boots since until last month it hadn’t rained in San Antonio in approximately forever. But the weather people who act like they know about weather are predicting that it’s going to be an El Nino winter which means it a wetter than normal winter. And since I am fundamentally opposed to waiting in a carpool drop-off line for thirty minutes every day, there may be a lot of mornings that Caroline and I are dashing into school with only our rain boots and umbrellas to protect us from all the wet.

We might as well look cute while we’re doing it.

Y’all have a great Friday.

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This and that and the other

There are a few different things I’d like to address and so I am going to go with the handy list format, otherwise known as the lazy bloggers answer to midnight writer’s block.

1. I cannot even express my joy over how much y’all share my love of the occasional fast food item. I’d like to think Monday was a day that caused sales at Sonic and McDonald’s to skyrocket as we all indulged our cravings.

Also, I feel that I owe a huge apology to two fast food establishments for leaving them off my list. How could I forget my love of Long John Silver’s fish and chips covered in malt vinegar sauce? My only excuse is that the one near our house closed down and is now just another local taco shop. Because San Antonio really needed another one since we only have 846 of them already.

And Dairy Queen. The Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard is on my list of perfect foods. It’s got calcium, protein and chocolate. All the basic nutrients a girl needs to survive PMS or just a road trip to Houston.

2. Several of you have asked about the trip to Memphis. Sophie and I write for LifeWay on their Allaccess blog and occasionally we get to go on trips and then write about them. In fact, Sophie wrote a great post about the Memphis trip on Monday and you can read it here.

3. Every now and then I tend to get these ulcer-type things in my mouth. A few months ago, Mimi showed me an article that said L Lysine supplements are supposed to keep you from getting them. I’d kind of forgotten about it until I found myself on the vitamin aisle at the store the other day and I bought some.

You know why the L Lysine keeps you from getting ulcers and cold sores? Because the pills are so dang big that you’ll choke to death if you try to swallow one. I wish I had a picture to show you, but I don’t because that would have required effort.

4. Gulley is looking for new bedding for her bedroom. We have searched high and low, but can’t find the right thing. And by the right thing, I mean something that’s not floral or looks like the same tired Ralph Lauren bedding circa 1992. If you know of a great place to find bedding, I’d love it if you’d share.

5. Caroline and I were in the car yesterday and she said, “Mama, when you get dressed up for a wedding or a party, you always look so pretty!”

“Thank you, baby. You know what?”


“I think you’re beautiful all the time.”

“Of course I am. Why wouldn’t I be?”

Bless her heart. She just has barely an ounce of self-esteem.

See y’all tomorrow for Fashion Friday.

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Who knew Memphis was a metaphor?

You know why it’s taken me so long to write about last weekend? I mean other than all the television viewing I had to catch up on and the shopping for Christmas card outfits? And the laundry? And the dirty house? Because I know it’s going to be so long and I am a poor editor and won’t be able to cut anything out. So proceed at will, my friends, but just know that I enjoy the words.

I flew into Memphis on Thursday night. The plan was for Sophie to pick me up from the airport but she wouldn’t be able to get into town until about an hour or so after I arrived which was no big deal because I figured I’d use the time to work on Fashion Friday so that once we got together we could focus on important things like eating barbecue and discussing various reality T.V. programs. I found a vacant seat at Gate 24, purchased two hours of Boingo Wi-Fi, and began working on Fashion Friday. All was well until my Boingo wireless went away after eight minutes.

I did what all the socially relevant media hipsters are doing these days and twittered (tweeted?) about my disappointment in Boingo and how they had ruined the next two hours of my life. Within seconds, Boingo had tweeted (twittered?) me back and asked me to call their customer service hotline. So I did. And they were absolutely no help at all as I spent the next forty-five minutes trouble-shooting with a customer service rep who gave me the age old wisdom to “Shut down your computer and reboot”. In the history of technology that helpful strategy has never worked, not even one time, but it’s all the Level 1 customer service reps have in their repertoire.

However, they did reimburse me $3.95 for the internet I didn’t get to use. So although my time was totally wasted, at least it didn’t cost me $3.95 for the pleasure.

After Sophie and her mother-in-law, Martha, picked me up, we headed to Corky’s Barbecue to pick up some dinner. That was the point when I discovered that a sandwich topped with coleslaw is a thing of beauty. Then later that night I was able to meet Sophie’s dear friend, Bubba, who stopped by to say hello. I don’t know that it gets any more Southern than sitting in a living room in Memphis visiting with an elderly Southern woman who pronounces her name “MA-tha” and a man known as Bubba. It was delightful.

I slept in the next morning which was divine because it was dark and rainy. Plus the room I slept in was like a cold, dark cave complete with the softest sheets ever. If someone would have agreed to bring me food I could have stayed there until I became the subject of some sort of tragic documentary on TLC. But eventually I got up and we headed downtown to the Fed Ex Arena for sound check. I realize that makes it sound like we had some very important sound check duties, but the truth is that we basically just stand around while other people do very important things. I’ve had years of experience with this particular skill.

This next part contains a lot of sap, but it must be said because my heart was full.

When we arrived back at the arena on Friday night, there were so many familiar faces there. The faces of the LifeWay staff that have become dear friends and the faces of women that I know mainly through the blog world and Twitter. And as Travis and the Praise Team started to sing, my heart just felt so overwhelmed as I thought to myself “Look what God has done with the internet”.

I know. Totally sappy and sentimental. You were warned.

It even hit me that my friendship with Sophie seems so normal now that I often forget that our paths never would have crossed in ye olden days of the early 1990’s. Well, unless Mississippi State and Texas A&M were playing in a bowl game and we’d both happened to have been there, but the chances of that encounter turning into a lasting friendship would have been slim at best. Yet there I was in Memphis staying at her brother’s house, meeting her best friends and talking to her mother-in-law about the gold jacket she found at Steinmart(s). (It wasn’t a gold gold jacket. Just more of a mustard gold. A mustard gold! She wasn’t sure the size 4 would fit because she is very tiny! Very tiny!)

My heart was already full by the time Beth got up to speak so it should come as no surprise that I had tears in my eyes about three minutes into her lesson. She shared that she’d barely made it to Memphis because of the weather. But she knew that if God wanted her to make it to Memphis, then she was going to make it to Memphis no matter what the airlines said or whatever else happened. If she was supposed to be in Memphis, then she’d end up in Memphis. (This is all a paraphrase, but it’s the general point)

And I just felt God saying to my heart that I don’t have to worry about how I’m getting to Memphis or what Memphis will look like, I just need to trust that He’ll get me to Memphis if that’s where I’m supposed to be.

I hope it’s obvious that this epiphany wasn’t actually about getting to Memphis since I was actually already in Memphis when it happened. It was just a sweet reminder that God is the architect of the details and He doesn’t need me to control all these things that I tend to fret about because I am a fretter (not a real word) and He certainly doesn’t expect me to get to Memphis without Him.

Anyway, the Memphis part of that in my life represents several different things that I’ve been struggling with or trying to understand. I don’t know what the Memphis is in your life, but I know that if God wants you in Memphis then He’ll get you to Memphis.

I realize I am rambling at this point and if you just skimmed this post you’re probably thinking, “Wow, what’s the big deal about getting to Memphis? Doesn’t Delta fly there?” And there were so many other things that spoke to me from Beth’s message on Friday and Saturday, it just made me laugh that one of the things that spoke to my heart the most was something that wasn’t really even a part of her message.

And now that we’ve come to the 1100 word mark, I think you can understand why I’ve had such a hard time figuring out what to say about the weekend. In fact, I could go on for about another 1100 or so words, but I’ll spare you that experience since I feel that what I’ve written should serve as an example of how exhausting it would be to live inside my head.

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The quest for a photo-worthy outfit

Caroline was out of school yesterday so I took the opportunity to take her shopping. A.J. is going to attempt to take our family portrait this coming weekend (God bless her) and Caroline needs something to wear since she totally nixed me on the adorable plaid vest that I found at TJ Maxx.

(I still haven’t actually returned the vest because hope springs eternal. Plus if I can’t find an alternative I may just bribe her to wear it for ten minutes for the picture.)

I didn’t see anything that I really liked but Caroline found something she adored. In fact, she told me it would be perfect for the Christmas card picture.


Yes, if we lived in Siberia or were filming a scene for an updated version of Rocky IV where he goes to Russia to fight Ivan Drago and trains in that remote cabin and remains uninspired until Adrian shows up wearing that big fur hat that she must have bought at the Moscow Airport, it would be perfect.

This was her next suggestion.


As much as I’d like to forever remember this year as the year we sent out a Christmas card with my daughter wearing a fedora, I declined to purchase the hat.

The good news is that while I haven’t found an actual outfit for her to wear, she has the posing thing down pat.

And, yes, I realize this is not any sort of recap of this past weekend, but in my defense I was very busy shopping with my child and taking photos with my phone. Also, the DVR gets very full when you’re out of town for four days and it’s not like all that T.V. is going to watch itself.

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