Big Mama Blog

And there you are, a shooting star

I have a confession to make and it involves a disco ball.

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See? I told you.

I realize the most realistic scenario to explain the presence of a disco ball in my life is that I’ve been spending my Tuesday afternoons filming a remake of Saturday Night Fever and all I can say to that is DON’T I WISH. The truth is we’ve been spending the lion’s share of our Tuesday afternoons at the Rollercade.

I know.

It all started this summer when Caroline was invited to a birthday party at the Rollercade and she fell deeply, madly in love with rollerskating. And, really, who can blame her? If rollerskating doesn’t have an irresistible pull on the heart of people everywhere, then how do you explain the Olivia Newton-John classic, Xanadu?

I totally understand where she’s coming from, man, (Why am I talking like it’s 1976?) because once a girl discovers the feel of the wind blowing through her hair while she fast skates around the rink, it’s hard to stay away.

After her initial introduction to skating, she immediately began to beg to go back again. Fortunately for her, one of her friend’s moms emailed me to let me know that Tuesdays are half-price day and that a group from school planned to start meeting there almost every week.

So for the last month or so, we’ve spent several Tuesday afternoons skating. And yesterday was no different.

Except that I really didn’t feel like going to the Rollercade. There are just those rare days when a girl isn’t in the mood for the flashing lights of a disco ball, Michael Jackson music blaring overhead and the smell of old skates. I call those days Tuesdays.

But I’d promised we’d go and that she could bring a friend. So after school I brought the girls home for a quick snack, asked them sixteen times if they needed to go to the bathroom before we left, and then packed them in the car and headed to the rink to skate it out.

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I decided I was going to forgo skating for the day and just watch them from a terribly uncomfortable bench on the side of the rink, but I told them to wave at me if they needed help. Just when Caroline got to the furthest point away from me, she began to wave. I walked over to see what the problem was and she informed me she needed to go to the bathroom. Apparently she didn’t hear any of the sixteen times I’d asked before we left the house.

And here’s the worst thing about the Rollercade, there are no doors on the bathroom stalls. I don’t think I need to elaborate on all the ways that disturbs me. Bathrooms need doors. I have no doubt that would have been one of the ten commandments if the Israelites had public restrooms in the desert.

Anyway, I escorted her to the restroom and then she fell on the way out and then she didn’t want to skate anymore unless I was going to skate too and so I paid the extra $2.50 to rent skates and put them on and then she decided she was fine and when could we order some nachos and she didn’t want me to skate anywhere near her and I could just free skate by myself.

(Do you see how that run-on sentence just wore you out? That’s because I’m trying to do the same thing to your brain that the entire experience did to mine.)

The good news is about that time the computer began to play Boogie Shoes by KC and The Sunshine Band. If you can be in a bad mood when KC and The Sunshine Band plays, well then my condolences. Maybe it will help if I tell you I did a tap dance routine to that very song when I was in fourth grade and wore a chocolate brown leotard with gold fringe, gold tap shoes, and an enormous gold headpiece. (Hello, 1979.) Needless to say, I was fierce.

I told the girls they could eat pizza from the snackbar for dinner. When I placed my order for four slices of pizza, the girl behind the counter informed me they don’t sell pizza by the slice on weekdays and I’d need to order the whole pizza.

“How much is that?”

“Nine dollars.”

“Sold. I’d like a pepperoni pizza, please.”

And with that, she took my money, reached into a mini-freezer and pulled out a frozen HEB pepperoni pizza that I happen to know for a fact costs $2.50 at the store. If I could do the math I’d tell you the percentage of that mark up, but I can’t do the math so I’ll just say IT’S A LOT. Of course I also noticed that they charge $2.00 for a pickle which is criminal and also why I’ve decided to get into the concession stand business.

Once the pizza was finally ready, she pulled it out of the oven and handed it to me without cutting it, so I asked in my nicest voice if she could please cut my $9.00 pizza into slices and she did, although she was a little surly about it. I really can’t blame her though. I’d be surly too if I had to wear a uniform that made me look like a referee. That’s why I never pursued a career with Footlocker. Well, that and my complete phobia regarding other people’s feet.

And so with that, we sat down to a nutritious, healthy dinner that will cause moms everywhere to admire my parenting prowess.

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The girls had a little bit more time to skate once they were finished eating and Caroline even managed to find a sweet twelve-year-old girl who helped her finally let go of the wall and begin to actually skate a little bit. And I’m telling you, this girl could skate. She even played the air drums while she zoomed around the rink which in the land of the Rollercade is the equivalent to being the queen.

Just ask Olivia Newton-John.

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Career goals

Last night I was getting Caroline ready for bed when she announced that she was on the precipice of making a major decision regarding her future. She informed me that she is either going to be a singer or a veterinarian when she grows up.

(Given her gene pool, I wanted to suggest that she keep those grades up and hope for admission to vet school)

As she weighed the pros and cons of each occupation, she ultimately realized that she didn’t have to choose. She could take care of animals and sing. In fact, she told me that she planned to sing two or three times a week.

Then she announced, “But I want to be a mama too.”

“Well, baby, you can be a mama and a veterinarian and a singer.”

(And bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.)

“Yes, I want to be all of them.”

“Do you want to be a mama like me with the sweetest little girl ever?”

“Oh Mama” she said with the sigh that comes with stating the obvious, “There’ll never be another girl as sweet as me.”

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I may be slightly biased, but I kind of think she’s right.

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Because I am a culinary optimist

My trip to Nashville was fairly short in the whole scheme of things. I arrived on Thursday night and was back home by mid-afternoon on Saturday. Caroline was so excited to see me that she elected to stay at Mimi and Bops’ house and help them finish cleaning their garage instead of riding to the airport with P to pick me up. I’ve never felt so loved.

The LifeWay Women’s Forum was great. Sophie picked me up from the airport and we arrived just in time to hear Travis lead worship. We saw a couple of sweet friends, ate some delicious tomato basil soup and grilled cheese sandwiches (shout out to the chef), and called it a night because we were both exhausted.

We headed over to conference the next morning to teach our sessions and tried to mentally prepare ourselves because we’d been told that they were going to put us on the live webcast around 2:00 p.m. to do some “witty banter”. Live. Witty banter.

Adding to the stress was the memory of the last time they asked Sophie and I to do some “witty banter” after a Living Proof Live event in San Antonio or as we like to refer to it “Remember the Alamodome”. It was the most painful eight minutes of my life as we struggled to come up with even ONE THING to talk about and ended up discussing how we slept the night before which is always a riveting topic. The silence was deafening but you could hear every woman in that place saying a silent “Bless their hearts”.

But for some reason they thought it would be a good idea to give us another try and we spent all morning throwing out potential topics we could revert to if we got desperate. Our list consisted of Thanksgiving foods, Christmas shopping, hair and the dress that Priscilla Shirer had on that morning. And because we are extra nerdy and obsessive, we also had a super secret list o’ conversation topics that we didn’t share with each other so we could create the illusion of spontaneous conversation if times got hard.

Fortunately we ended up getting to interview the delightful and talented Kelly Minter about her new Bible study on Ruth. I think it went pretty well although I did have a moment of desperation and panic where I asked her about her favorite Thanksgiving food. It was turkey by the way, which I find fascinating because you don’t really hear anyone talk about how much they love turkey at the Thanksgiving meal. Personally, I could just get rid of the turkey altogether and just carb load on the dressing and broccoli-rice casserole. And the pies.

And then eat a whole bowl of whipping cream.

Anyway, after our portion of the live webcast was over, we went back to the hotel to recuperate. I had a raging headache (probably from concentrating so hard on my list of super secret conversation topics) and just needed to lie down for awhile. Eventually Sophie called my room and we decided to venture out in search of dinner.

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time then you know where this is heading.

We drove towards the Vanderbilt campus in search of nourishment but we were both totally indifferent about what we wanted to eat. Then all of a sudden we spotted the San Antonio Taco Company and we were powerless to resist. We were compelled to carry on our time honored tradition of eating the most mediocre Mexican food that the Southern United States has to offer. It’s like a sickness.

Exhibit A: Huevos Rancheros in Woodstock, Georgia

Exhibit B: Restaurant with a rat on the sign in Charlotte, North Carolina

But I thought this time might be different because the restaurant had San Antonio in its name. I felt that it lent an air of credibility.

After one bite of the guacamole (and I use that term loosely), I immediately regretted our decision. Yet, I pressed on and finished eating my beef fajita taco.

Later that night I was talking to P on the phone and said, “I don’t feel so good”.

“Why? What’s wrong?”

“Well, Sophie and I ate at this Mexican restaurant and the food wasn’t very good.”

“Why do you do that to yourself? I can’t even feel sorry for you.”

“But it was called the San Antonio Taco Company! I figured it might be good, but I think the city of San Antonio should sue them for defamation of character.”

“I think you have only yourself to blame. Anyone who actually lives in San Antonio should know better than to eat at a restaurant in Tennessee called the San Antonio Taco Company.”

He is a fount of sympathy.

By the time I made it home on Saturday I was in dire need of real Mexican food to cleanse the memory from my palate so we picked up dinner from Teka Molina and all was well.

Now I’m just glad that I’m home to stay for a while. I’ve traveled about once a month for the last four months and I’m ready for a break. It’s not that airline travel isn’t glamorous, I mean where else do you get the opportunity to take off your tall black boots and reveal to the world that you’re wearing white tube socks with your black leggings? It will just be nice to unpack my Ziploc full of 3 oz. toiletries and enjoy my people.

Even though some of them would rather clean the garage than meet me at the airport.

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Fashion Friday but without any fashion

Did I mention that I left for Nashville yesterday? Because I did. I boarded a Southwest Airlines plane to Nashville at 4:25 p.m. yesterday and as of this moment I’m in a very comfortable king size bed in my very own hotel room. It’s delightful, especially because they have fitted bottom sheets which is the standard by which I judge all hotels.

Well, that and if their continental breakfast includes more than a piece of rubber masquerading as a bagel.

Anyway, I’m here with Sophie for the LifeWay Women’s Forum. We’re teaching a class on how social media can be your friend.

(I don’t think that’s the official title.)

If you want to see some live footage from the conference, it’s being streamed live all day long from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. and you can watch it by clicking here. There’s no telling what you might see in the span of those twelve hours, but I’ll bet there will be a little bit of Travis Cottrell and Priscilla Shirer in the mix.

One more thing, if you read one thing today, make it this post that Shaun Groves wrote from El Salvador yesterday about spending time with his sponsored child. It’s the perfect picture of what Compassion does.

Y’all have a great Friday.

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The post I should have written yesterday

For the last several weeks Caroline has walked around the house singing bits and pieces of God Bless the USA by the bearded Lee Greenwood. Then sometime last week I noticed she was humming a few bars of the Air Force theme, Wild Blue Yonder. It all began to make sense when she was sent home with a note explaining that her school was having a special program in honor of Veterans’ Day.

And here I’d thought she was just some kind of musical prodigy with a penchant for patriotic tunes.

So yesterday morning Mimi and Gigi met me at the elementary school. I don’t know what they were expecting, but just seeing that gym full of elementary-aged kids and eager parents elbowing each other out of the way with cameras brought me back to the days of my own star-making role as Narrator #1 in Bammel Elementary’s production of Bambi. Which is to say that my expectations were not very high.

Then the program started and it was the best Veterans’ Day tribute I’ve ever experienced and I say that without a trace of sarcasm and that’s something that rarely happens.

I generally stay away from controversial topics like politics and whether or not I believe the best boots are the ones that zip up the side or pull on, but I don’t think it would take a political science wunderkind (how long have I been waiting to use that word?) to figure out which side of the political spectrum I lean towards. I mean I’m a Texan, my husband owns mass quantities of weaponry, and WE WATCH NASCAR.

As I watched those kids sing their little patriotic hearts out yesterday, I felt a sense of pride and hope for our country that I haven’t felt in a while. I’m not happy about the direction things are going and, honestly, I feel like we’re paying for our apathy.

Later in the day, P called me. He’d just attended a weekly lunchtime Bible study for high school students and was blown away by the guest speaker. It was an 83-year-old woman nicknamed Grandma Hansi. She was orphaned as a child and brainwashed as a Nazi Youth Leader when Hitler’s troops marched in to Czechoslovakia. At the end of the war she found herself in a Communist Labor Camp. The things she suffered are unimaginable to us but the short story is she ultimately became a Christian and came to America in 1955. She talked about the extreme culture shock she felt upon her arrival because she couldn’t even fathom the freedom that Americans take for granted. As she says on her website, “I would rather die than ever be unfree again. I pray that we as the American people will never take freedom for granted or we might lose it. If Freedom is lost, there will be no more refuge left for those who try to find a better way of life as I did when I came to America. The lights will go out around the world when freedom dies!”

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to spend anymore time taking that freedom for granted. Our veterans have fought long and hard for hundreds of years for us to enjoy the liberty we experience as American citizens and I think the best way to repay them is to not let anyone or anything take that away from us.

At the end of Caroline’s school program, two children began to fold up the American flag like they do at military funerals. As they made each fold they told what each fold represented. It was one of the most moving things I’ve ever heard and I’d never heard it before so I thought I’d share it with y’all.

The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.

The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain a peace throughout the world.

The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in times of war for His divine guidance.

The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered in to the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on mother’s day.

The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

The tenth fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.

When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God we Trust.”

I realize this is not my usual kind of post and some of you may not agree with me. And that’s alright.

Because it’s still a free country.

Also, please don’t miss Patricia’s video of the El Salvadoran Singing Bunny. It’s gold.

**Edited to add that Caroline attends public school which is what makes it even more amazing.**

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