Science fair project. Three words that strike fear into the heart of every parent with school-aged children. How do I know this? Because my dad was the king of science fair projects—against his will, of course—and I had to listen to him bitch about all the projects he had to “help” us with over the years. Of course, now that my brother and I are grown, I think Dad secretly misses our need for his creativity and technical services, but he’d never admit it outright.
I gotta say though—he pulled off some pretty amazing projects in his day, and I have his artistic talents and well-roundedness to thank. Lots of blood, sweat and tears went into those projects—and I mean literal tears were shed over multiplication table recitations. (Did I mention patience is not his strong suit?) Mom and I often encourage Dad to mass produce some of his designs in order to make an extra buck. Since he doesn’t do anything half assed, lots of his inventions are borderline over the top, Clark Griswold style. But Dad’s adamant that he only makes one of everything because he could never part with a masterpiece after all the time involved and no one would ever pay the small fortune he would ask to make it worth his while.
As I sit here reminiscing about my school days ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade, I recall some pretty fun (and some not-so-fun) projects ranging from a sand-covered replica of the moon crafted out of a rubber bouncy ball, a golf ball catapult and a pair of light-up spaceships crafted of PVC pipe and fittings, too many science fair projects to count, memorable homemade Halloween costumes, a dollhouse with over 600 individual roof shingles (to this day, Dad can quote the exact number he glued individually) and more. Some of those projects were award winning and others awed anyone and everyone who saw them.
Though my child is currently only 9 weeks old, I’ve already begun pondering the projects he’ll be assigned in the coming years. Jeremy and I have already discussed who’s responsible for which areas. I’ll happily call out Beau’s spelling words and practice reading with him. I’m more than thrilled to work with him in his writing endeavors and encourage any type of fine arts he chooses to take part in. I will NOT, however, be responsible for teaching him math as I still add and subtract using my fingers. The day he comes home with “a train leaves the station at X time…” word problem, I am O-U-T. That’s Jeremy’s area! My child’s only hope at learning math rests on my husband’s shoulders—as does the dreaded science fair project and anything else that requires manual labor to construct. Between Jeremy’s and my skills, I think we have got most of our academic bases covered—thank God!
I’m sure I’ll complain about all the projects we have to help with over the coming years—and every parent knows I use the word help loosely—but I know that ultimately, I’ll look back on those times together with feelings of nostalgia as my dad does now, some 30 years later. At the end of the day, no one really needs to build a replica of an Aztec village out of popsicle sticks to learn about the culture or catapult a golf ball 50 yards to grasp the laws of physics. These projects are merely assigned to teach kids skills, responsibility, creativity and perseverance (and perhaps punish the parents?). When my baby boy is grown with kids of his own someday, I hope he looks back on his time completing school projects with Mommy and Daddy with those same fond memories. Because ultimately, his time is coming, too—and payback’s a bitch!
When you hear the word scar, what springs to mind? For most, its a word that evokes some sort of negative mental image. People associate a scar with trauma, be it physical or emotional. A car accident, a mishap with a skateboard, a clumsy fall, a bad breakup. Not only do scars serve as reminders of past pain–they also shape the people we become and thus, we shouldn’t regret the markings they leave behind on our hearts, minds and bodies.
Just a couple weeks ago, I was getting out of the shower when my husband asked me if I was bummed about my C-section scar as I had just given birth to our first child—a precious baby boy. I dropped the towel and caught sight of the reddish-purple line in the mirror. A slightly upturned, 5-inch incision that resembled a hint of a smile. How apropos. I just responded, “No, because it’s a happy face and a reminder.” It represents the tiny (yet oh, so giant) miracle that’s sleeping in his crib in the other room.
At 35 years old, I finally became a mom for the first time. Did I ever think it would happen to me? Honestly, I really didn’t—nor did most of my family, judging by their jokes that I had changed only two diapers in my 3+ decades of life. I’m loving every minute with my baby boy, but I won’t lie—motherhood is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. But they (whoever “they” are) also say that with great challenge, comes great reward. There has never been a truer statement spoken.
When I look down at my perfect, innocent newborn as he sleeps, I’m overwhelmed with humility. The very fact that God has entrusted my husband and me with this precious, innocent life is mind boggling. An amazing gift for sure. We are solely responsible for raising him, teaching him and shaping him into a kind, loving human being. No pressure, right?!
There will be good days and there will be tough days. Joy, pride, worry, heartache, excitement, and lots of love. I’m sure I’ll even collect a few gray hairs and wrinkles along the way, but what a ride it will be. As an “older” new parent, I may have a little more world experience than other 20-something moms, but at the same time, I suddenly realize just how much I don’t know and how much I haven’t begun to live yet. The single, “it’s-all-about-me” part of my life has ended. I may be rapidly approaching middle age, but really and truly, my life is just now starting. I’m terrified and excited at the same time. I can’t wait to see what the future holds, but I promise to soak up every tender moment before it fleetingly transforms into a distant memory. I’m told the days are long but the years are short.
It’s amazing how with a single monumental life event, your priorities can drastically change. Gone are the days of putting my needs and desires first. My body will never look the same in a pair of jeans—or God forbid—a bikini. And I’m okay with that. Let’s face it—theses days, I’m lucky to get a shower in, and even 5-minute makeup is a major feat worth celebrating. Having a baby really does change everything—they WERE right about that.
But do I feel some semblance of shame attached to my C-section scar, a marking that society deems a physical imperfection that should be hidden under my clothes? The answer is a big fat resounding “NO!” It’s true I am scarred for life—that little boy is now my whole LIFE.
Upon noticing my protruding, round belly and slow waddle down the hallway at work (sans high heels!), several people have asked me over the past couple weeks if I plan on celebrating Mother’s Day this year. My answer? “Heck, yeah!” At first, I wasn’t quite sure if I’m technically entitled to celebrate the holiday with this baby still growing inside my tummy. In fact, I even Googled, “Should expecting moms celebrate Mother’s Day?” (as if Google is the end-all source for sound advice). To my doctor’s horror, Jeremy actually said I’m technically not a mom yet—I’m just this baby’s incubator. Of course, he’s only joking to get a rise out of me! I can already see him look at my growing baby bump with loving adoration. He’s about to become a daddy and his face lights up with excitement as we discuss our baby’s rapidly approaching arrival. I know Jeremy loves me as his wife, life partner and best friend…but I can tell he already has a new love blossoming in his heart for the mother of his child.
So…should I celebrate Mother’s Day before Baby arrives? Well, after much consideration and validation from Google, it occurred to me that, though Baby Beau hasn’t yet made his appearance in this world, I’m already his mommy. And I may be a little eager to celebrate my first Mother’s Day on Sunday, but it’s only because I never thought I would ever really have that opportunity.
In my younger days, I pompously declared I would never have kids (or get married, for that matter–but that’s a whole ‘nother story). I had never changed a diaper, nor did I have a reason to. Because WHY would I want to? It’s not that I disliked kids—I just never had a driving maternal NEED to birth and raise children. It’s amazing how much can change over the course of 20+ years. I guess you could say the proverbial ticking of a biological clock is a strong motivator.
I enjoy celebrating Mother’s Day every year with my family, but it’s always been a day devoted to my mom, sister-in-law and all my “other mothers” who have played an important role in my life. I’m truly blessed because, in my 35 years on this earth, I’ve constantly been surrounded by godly, strong, loving women. Most importantly—my own mother. I genuinely couldn’t have asked for a better mom, and I only hope I can be a fraction as good a mother to Beau as she has been to me. From the beginning, she’s been my biggest cheerleader, a teacher, therapist, my best friend. She painted the picture of what it’s like to love unconditionally.
Facing the realization that I’ll soon be responsible for another human life puts things into perspective. Mothers should not only be celebrated on a single Sunday in May but rather, every single day of the year! They are living, breathing superheroes, and quite frankly, it’s a bit scary to think I have those same shoes to fill for my little man. So up ’til recently, this day has always been a celebration of other moms.
Now all of a sudden, it’s my turn. From a positive pregnancy test to our first sonogram to the kicks and movements of this miracle growing inside me, it’s my turn to experience pregnancy and ultimately, the most important job in the world: motherhood. I get to be the one to give daily hugs and kisses, read bedtime stories, endure temper tantrums, poopy diapers and sleepless nights. I get to worry about saving for college and dread the day he turns 16 and gets behind the wheel of a car. I get to watch him take his first steps. I get to discover the magic of Christmas through his innocent eyes, hear his deep belly laughs and sweet, little voice proclaiming me as “Mommy.”
I get to revel in the joy that comes from raising a baby that is part me and part Jeremy—this blessing given to us by God. To say I’m feeling a bit unprepared for labor, childbirth and motherhood is the understatement of the century, but I’m taking it one day at a time and learning as I go—enjoying each milestone as it comes. Because I hear it goes by in the blink of an eye.
So am I going to celebrate Mother’s Day two whole months before my baby enters the world? Yes. Yes, I am—because I’m finally a mommy.
Happy Mother’s Day to all of YOU!
I realize not everyone has the privilege of growing up with the world’s greatest dad as I did, so in honor of this past Father’s Day, I’d like to share with you some of the things I’ve learned from my father. Below is a copy of the letter I wrote him as Hallmark could never relay my true sentiments. If you are blessed with a wonderful father, thank God for him everyday. If not, hopefully you’ll learn a thing or two from my personal experiences. (Also, if you have the great pleasure of knowing my dad personally, this list shouldn’t surprise you even one tiny little bit!) ; )
In celebration of your 34 years as my father, I’ve created a list of things I’ve either:
learned, experienced, or cherished from or because of YOU, one of my favorite and most important men in my life. So here goes…
34. If duct tape cannot fix it, throw it away—it is beyond repair.
33. the unbeatable sound of a real Martin guitar—thanks for the “G” chord.
32. the art of quoting movies in daily conversation as a result of watching them too many times to count, right, Captain Ron?
31. that a child should grow up learning such culture as how to hit a 10-yard putt with precision from her own backyard putting green—that’s more important than learning how to swim. ; )
30. that whiskey cures pretty much any ailment—from a headache to a toothache to a rattlesnake bite.
29. that it’s important to always be aware of your surroundings, thus, not an easy target for an attacker, to face the door in a public establishment and to know the exact number of airline seats to the nearest exit.
28. that one should never “quit on a garment” simply because it’s what some would consider threadbare, worn out or ragged. The sign of wear just adds character. If it has a hole in the crotch area, (see item #34 on this list)—duct tape.
27. the extensive uses of PVC pipe…everything from a golf ball catapult to the structure of a perfectly mobile and light-up UFO. Also, science fair projects come with the territory of being a parent and thus, cannot be avoided.
26. that a front porch is the best place for meditation, philosophizing, reflection and making good music.
25. that you should always keep a watchful eye while cooking beans on the stove when Mom’s out of town and the smoke detector batteries are good (impromptu backyard campout, anyone?)
24. that we don’t believe in doing things half-assed. We do big, bold, lots of color. Honey, we don’t do natural.
23. that everyone is a sinner in need of a loving Savior.
22. that lying, cheating and stealing are signs of poor character and simply will not be tolerated; however, Xeroxing $100 bills for pretend “business” is completely acceptable and encouraged.
21. that a red velvet armadillo cake is a must have for a girl’s sweet 16 birthday party.
20. that most high school math is unnecessary in real life and that no one really cares or needs to know when the proverbial “trains A and B leave the station.”
19. that physical affection (ie. hugs, kisses and Eskimo kisses) speaks louder than words.
18. that one should never stay inside her comfort zone. Talk to people on elevators, make someone smile every day and most importantly, make people LAUGH.
17. to stand out from the crowd and always be true to yourself (ie. simply don’t give a rat’s ass what other people think of you).
16. that anything (and I mean ANYthing) can be transformed with a coat of spray paint—shoes included!
15. that growing old is inevitable, but growing up is a choice…and when it comes to picking out a Christmas tree, think like a kid—the bigger the better!
14. that every aspiring singer needs her own spotlight-equipped stage in the backyard.
13. that saying you’re going to do something means you’re going to do it—and if you’re going to do it, you may as well do it right the first time.
12. that family is the most important thing in this life.
11. to learn how to sing by spending my childhood on a backyard tree swing made out of rope and a 2×4.
10. that a frozen TV dinner does not constitute a meal, so everyone should learn how to cook….and also, chicken can and WILL be cooked any and every way, 365 days a year during the first year while learning.
9. that you “can’t take it with you” so you may as well enjoy your hard-earned money while you can—this means good food & wine regardless of the price tag….and if Mom never sees the receipt, it didn’t happen! (also, every girl needs to know the importance of volatizing the esters).
8. that a fiddle contest is a perfectly good way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
7. what REAL award-winning chili should taste like.
6. that you can NEVER have too much toilet paper.
5. an example of the kind of man I should marry.
4. the importance of music and chasing my dreams, no matter how ambitious or impossible to achieve they may seem—and that I can do or be anything I want if I put my mind to it.
3. that every man should have a perm and/or a ponytail at some point in his life.
2. that a little girl’s dollhouse should not be anything short of a masterpiece that takes several years to complete.
And the number #1 thing I’ve learned….
1. that no matter how old I get, I’ll always be your baby girl.
Happy 34th Father’s Day to the best daddy a girl could ever dream of having—truly.
I love you more than my Louboutins!
Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past several decades or were recently thawed out and unearthed from the Ice Age, chances are, you have heard of the Kardashians. “Why are they famous?” you may ask. My simple and honest response: “I have no idea.” You should know that I am somewhat in tune with pop culture, Hollywood celebrities, and the fashion world—I blame it on the day job. It’s quite possible I could take it as a sign that I read too many fashion magazines because I’m certainly not watching Access Hollywood on a nightly basis. I just happen to have a gift for retaining useless knowledge, trivia and famous names. Even though I possess a wealth of said unimportant knowledge, I still found myself googling “Why are the Kardashians famous?”
The short answer is this: their father, Robert Kardashian, was the famous attorney who represented OJ Simpson during the most publicized murder trial of the 90s. That’s it. Period. I guess this just goes to show that, in life, it really is all about who you know. Sure, the Kardashian sisters may get publicity for their long, dark flowing locks (which I can assure you are as fake as the breasts of all the Beverly Hills Housewives). Their striking dark features enable them to stand out among the typical blonde bombshell type that resides in Malibu beach houses. Other than that, they’ve simply gained their place in the public eye as a result of the family they were born into. And if we’re being totally honest—it’s quite a train wreck of a family.
In a world where true talent abounds but often goes unnoticed and/or undiscovered, it’s rather disconcerting that talentless individuals grace the spotlight, basking in undeserved fame and fortune. Call me a snob, but I don’t think one’s pedigree should influence his/her celebrity status. Namely, one Paris Hilton. She may be famous (or rather, infamous) for her wealthy ancestral line, but she hasn’t done one credible thing to earn her celebrity status. Party going and posing in newspaper tabloids does not a celebrity make. Or does it?Apparently, all you need to do these days in order to gain widespread attention is film and accidentally leak a scandalous sex tape.
Instantly, you’re catapulted into the spotlight, securing your spot on celebrity A lists, at which point, you’re free to marry other fame-seeking idiots and have a child who you will forever punish by giving him the most God-awful name known to exist (but that’s another topic for another time). Now I’m fully prepared to receive hate mail from those of you who think Kanye West’s musical talent and Kim’s physical beauty entitle them to the fame and fortune they so enjoy, and I’m totally okay with that. Let’s just agree to disagree on that right up front. But regardless of Kanye’s talent as a musician, he has got to be one of the rudest, most self-absorbed individuals that ever graced the cover of a magazine, and Kim’s beauty is no more impressive than that of Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, or other Hollywood starlets who didn’t need a seedy sex tape to gain public attention. In short, someone for youngsters of today to call role models? I hardly think so.
At the end of the day, who really cares about “keeping up with the Kardashians?” We are living in a world where the very same people who could tell you the name of Kim’s and Kanye’s baby (poor child) couldn’t in the same breath tell you who our current vice president is or list the three branches that make up the United States government. Now please don’t misunderstand my rant—I’m not opposed to famous people receiving deserved recognition for utilizing their God-given talents and putting forth effort and hard work in chasing their dreams. I’m simply sick and tired of celebrities gaining notoriety for nothing more than the prestige of their surnames. Call me blunt, but I just have to say it. Kim, your fifteen minutes of fame is wearing a little long and, quite frankly, I’m ready for your time to be up.
They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so here goes…”My name is Cassie, and I’m addicted to social media.” Whew, that takes a load off my shoulders. I didn’t realize I even HAD a problem until recently when my husband asked, “Hypothetically, what would you do if you didn’t have Facebook?” Then and only then–when my heart stopped for an ever so brief second–did I realize that perhaps I should give credence to his accusations that Facebook is taking over my life.
It all started as a way to keep in touch with classmates from my past and family who lives over 1,000 miles away–a “like” here, a comment there. Over the years, however, it’s morphed into an obsession (okay maybe “obsession” is too strong a word—or is it?) where I find myself constantly taking part in quizzes to discover my spirit animal, what type of candy I am, my strongest personality trait or which famous actress should play me in a movie version of my life. Can you say, time waster?
What was originally intended to keep me informed about the comings and goings of friends and family now has me feeling as though I’ve constantly got to let the world know what I’m eating for dinner or what I’m doing (or not doing) on a rainy Saturday night. I’ve also heard it said that “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Well, how hard is it to look at picture after picture of gorgeous families in their perfect homes, enjoying the company of their just-as-perfect friends? I’ll answer that one for you–it’s very hard. But I’m not so naive as to think it’s all a bowl of cherries, 24/7. After all, no one ever posts the bad stuff on Facebook. No one posts pictures of hangovers or their new Christmas pajamas after their sick child has projectile vomited on them. No one posts about the gut-wrenching heartache they’re going through as a result of yet another negative pregnancy test or a pending divorce. No siree–it’s all rainbows, unicorns and giant multicolored lollipops here in Facebookland.
I don’t typically make New Years resolutions as there’s no quicker way to set yourself up for failure and the disappointment that follows shortly thereafter; however, I am going to try to limit my exposure time to Facebook. With that being said, if you don’t see me documenting my day in 2-hour increments in the coming months, just know that I haven’t died. I’m simply working on kicking my so-called addiction. I plan to live real life and not fall victim to the pressures and unrealistic expectations Facebook projects upon me to live a picture-perfect existence because, let’s face it, life is messy. Now if only there was a like button for that resolve in a social-media-free life.
I’ve never been one to associate my identity with my hair, but a recent decision to chop off my locks into a “chic” pixie cut has left me feeling less than confident. Any girl who has ever left the salon in tears knows all too well there’s something traumatic about a bad haircut. Don’t get me wrong–I thought about it for weeks and decided I was finally ready for something different. My short, angled bob, which I’ve been sporting for the better part of a decade, needed a little sprucing up. So after scouring Pinterest for “short, sassy cuts,” I booked my usual stylist and counted the days ’til my appointment and my new style.
The stylist assured me she could recreate the hairstyle in the photo I showed her, so I took a deep breath and told her to just go for it–knowing all too well that my new husband would hate it. Just like the typical guy, he prefers long, luscious locks. However, I have learned in 33 years that you have got to work with what ya got. I can thank my grandmother and mom for my limp, poker-straight, baby-fine hair, and I’ve finally come to embrace it. After cutting my long hair post high school, I’ve never looked back. I know I am better suited for short hair. Plus, I have a short-hair personality. BUT–and this is a huge but–I am not a celebrity. As such, those adorable, choppy pixie cuts that have been making waves in Hollywood of late are not meant for the common gal. Damn you, Jennifer Lawrence, Kaley Cuoco, Sienna Miller and Michelle Williams! Why do you make it look so good and so easy? You are false advertisers and I want my money back.
So needless to say, I left the salon with less hair and less dignity than when I arrived. The trendy, sassy, chic look I was going for turned out more like a cross between an 8-year-old boy and a 40-something soccer mom, minus the kids and minivan. While we are hoping to start a family soon, I have zero intention of ever opting for an unsexy minivan. On my way home, I stopped for a quick bite at Whataburger, and the high school kid at the window referred to me as “ma’am,” so I took that as a good sign. He still identified me as female–score one for me (I guess).
I recently read that a bad haircut is like a prison sentence, and you have nothing but time to think about what you’ve done during the growing-out process. I couldn’t agree more. So while I’ve stocked up on biotin, prenatal vitamins and anything I think could possibly aid in hair growth, I still have to look at this stranger every single day in the mirror, and I have no hope for the warden to release me from this short-hair hell even in light of good behavior. All I have is time. Time to learn how to style this damn pixie cut while I wait for it to grow, and God knows I have purchased every spray wax, sticky goo and molding paste to make the task more manageable.
In the meantime, let me give you some advice for what not to say to me when your “Wow, you cut your hair!” comments are met with shrugged shoulders, a bowed head and a disapproving look. Yes, I know it’s only hair and it will grow back. However, that does not ease the pain, and your pointing out the obvious only makes me want to take a pair of scissors to your gorgeous Rapunzel-like locks so that you, too, can share in my misery. Telling me that I’m simply not used to it also doesn’t make me feel any better about my little boy haircut. Well guess what, I have at least a year to “get used to it,” so perhaps there is the silver lining? Advising me that perhaps I haven’t learned how to style it also doesn’t ease the tension. What, are you offering to teach me? Because if not, thanks for validating my fears that I do, in fact, bear a strong resemblance to Justin Bieber’s little brother!
And one more thing, comments such as “Well, you said you wanted a pixie cut” and “I told you not to cut your hair” only make me want to flat-out punch you in the face. At what point in your life did someone tell you that “I told ya so’s” were EVER met with a positive outcome?
So yes, maybe I am a little bitter about my decision and perhaps I will be a tad bit bitchier over the next 11 or 12 months because I can’t walk around with a paper sack over my head. So sue me! I’m doing time in bad-hair prison with no chance of parole. The only hope I have of bringing even an ounce of femininity back to my look is through cute clothes and tons of fabulous shoes. Thank God I don’t have to walk around this prison in an orange jumpsuit because orange isn’t my color. Let’s face it–I don’t even think orange looks good on celebrities.
Several weekends ago, I hit up a local secondhand clothing boutique in Rockwall called Second Evolution, which was not surprisingly voted Dallas’s best vintage resaler on the Dallas A List. They are jam packed with all kinds of high-dollar designer jeans listed for a fraction of the cost of brand new ones. As I scoured the overloaded racks in search of my beloved Miss Me’s and Rock Revivals in my size, I was hit by a sudden feeling of “deja BLUE.” It seemed like I had done this before. Um, that’s because I had…and quite often I might add!
Apparently every single I time I go shopping for new summer tops (which I REALLY need) and strappy sundresses (which I don’t), I unknowingly wind up in the denim department, trying on yet another pair of blue jeans–which I really, really don’t need! I guess I’ve just become one of those people who can’t refuse designer jeans if I happen to be able to score them at a major discount; thus, my closet is embarrassingly well stocked.
I have lost count when it comes to the number of pairs of jeans I currently own, unlike shoes, which I pride myself on the actual (obscene) number. We all have our vices, right? But when it comes to jeans, I justify my borderline obsession by the fact that jeans are (and thankfully, always will be) a fashion STAPLE. They go with absolutely anything and everything. Plus, I get to wear them to work every day if I want to. That simple equation adds up to the fact that I can never have too many pairs, right? A rhetorical question–please don’t answer. Well, I guess it also depends on who you ask. I’m fairly certain my mother would have a mild heart attack if she knew just how much money I had invested in my jeans collection even though they were (mostly) purchased at less than full price. There are just so many styles, cuts and washes–and the pocket embellishments? Don’t even get me started.
When it comes to shopping for jeans, I always recommend that you purchase your jeans just a tad bit snug. They will loosen and stretch with every wear, eventually conforming to your body like a second skin. Notice I said snug–not so skintight that getting dressed in the morning requires throwing yourself back on the bed while squirming and making groaning sounds like a cat in heat just to get those jeans over your hips and butt. * Please note, however, that the universal “jeans stretch” is 100% okay. I know you know exactly what I’m referring to–those crazy, lunge-like motions and contorted yoga poses that help expedite the stretching of your just-removed-from-the-dryer, temporarily tight jeans. Every morning, I fear Jeremy will walk into the closet and witness this ridiculous-looking act, but it’s a necessary evil for all denim-sporting individuals. I digress.
If you are like me and can’t seem to shake the urge to splurge on denim, at least take my advice and satisfy your cravings at discount retailers. Forgo Dillards, the Buckle and pricey western stores, and instead, shop at discount retailers, “resalers” and the like. I also recommend Poshmark, a free downloadable clothing app on your phone that allows fellow fashionistas to buy and sell gently used (and sometimes new) clothing and accessories at unbelievable low prices. I got one of my fave pairs of Rock Revivals there for only $60–and if you think that’s a lot, you better sit down when I tell you they typically retail for at least $150 and above. It’s crazy, I know. I could never drop that kind of cash on a single pair of jeans. Same goes for True Religion. I picked up a pair of those trendy jeans on Poshmark for about only $70.
Also, if you happen to find yourself in Rockwall or McKinney with time to kill, hit up Second Evolution–you won’t be disappointed! Other places to check out are Platos Closet and other secondhand retailers in the more upscale (read: rich) cities. You’re more likely to find better-quality clothing in the ritzy parts of town.
The moral? Repeat after me, “Paying full price for designer jeans is ridiculous.” Plus, savings wads of cash on jeans comes with certain merited bragging rights. You know there’s nothing better than responding to a friend’s sincere compliments with a smug, “Thanks, I got them at (insert retailer here) for half price!”
So yes, I may have an addiction to jeans shopping, but at least I hunt for bargains. And jeans really do hold up for quite a long time if you take good care of them. God forbid I should gain an ounce and not be able to fit into my designer collection–even after I have tried and failed in my attempts to loosen the stubborn fabric with jean-stretching exercises. (I joke, but I also tremble inside at the thought–oh, the horror!) I guess the worst case scenario is that I sell/trade them in for a multitude of “new” used jeans in my current size. And so the cycle repeats itself–allowing for, yet again, deja blue.
Just the other day, a friend of mine posted a question on Facebook for her fellow mom friends to weigh in on with their opinions and household practices relating to summertime television allowances. She wanted to know how many hours of TV their kids were allowed to watch each day in the summer. Now I don’t have kids of the two-legged kind per se, so perhaps she wasn’t seeking my advice; however, that’s never stopped me from dishing out my two cents’ worth. I responded, “Make those kids play outside! That’s what we did as kids in the summertime. We built forts, rode our bikes, got dirty and didn’t come home ’til the sun went down!” Her response? “Thanks Cassie, but when the kids are outside, I’m outside, and that’s not always possible. It’s not as easy as it was when we were kids.” Well that got me to thinking–I guess times have changed and not every kid nowadays gets the privilege of experiencing small-town life out in the country as Bartonville was very much a personal “Mayberry” of sorts–only some 20+ years later. And as I scrolled through Facebook post after Facebook post, wishing family and friends a happy Independence Day, it got me to thinking about this even more–leading me straight down memory lane.
Sure, it wasn’t a totally safe and innocent world we were living in in the mid 1980s and early 90s, but for the most part, our parents didn’t fear that “bad guys” would come passing through our small neighborhood in shady-looking vans to lure us away with promises of candy and ice cream. We stuck together as a pack of kids. Where one kid went, we all went, and I guess the idea of a mass abduction seemed pretty ridiculous–especially for a group co-led by the token bully-ish “mean kid” with a personal track record for troublemaking.
I’m pretty certain the reason I was so tan as a child is because I LIVED outside in the summertime. When you’re a kid, the sweltering Texas heat is only a minor inconvenience–it doesn’t serve as a deterrent, driving you back indoors to the cool comfort of air conditioning…and us Green Oaks Estates kids played together on a daily basis. With a kind-hearted man for a next door neighbor, we had no limits to the land we were permitted to traverse. And the large pond atop the hill in my parents’ backyard (which belonged to said neighbor) was the setting for much of our childhood play.
We fashioned old, leaning oak trees into “pirate ships,” built girls-only/boys-only forts, fished for bass and went exploring, in search of adventure. Other days, we rode bikes through the neighborhood, playing cops & robbers without ever (gasp) donning a bicycle helmet. And I’m convinced to this day, I narrowly escaped death too many times to count on our neighbor’s large backyard trampoline, which was not equipped with a safety net or protective coil coverings you’d find on equipment today. My parents’ thought was: they won’t hurt themselves if we don’t own a trampoline–only that didn’t keep us off the neighbor kid’s, which, to my way of thinking made it a moot point. Nonetheless, nary a broken arm or leg, we jumped and tumbled without a care in the world until the evening “time-to-come-home” bell rang. This antique bell with an old, frayed jumprope attached as a handle served as our evening summons. Our dog just so happened to be more responsive to the bell than we were, as she often high-tailed it home while we rebelliously waited ’til the last minute possible before returning home to eat dinner together as a family around the kitchen table. We could hear that old bell anywhere in the neighborhood, and it disappointingly served as a nightly end to playtime–at least until the following day.
Other times when we weren’t traversing the banks of the pond or two-wheeling our way through the neighborhood, you could find us setting up our “businesses” on my parents’ wraparound porch and peddling goods and services with sheets of hundred dollar bills my dad Xeroxed on his home office copying machine. (If any governmental official is reading this, please take note, this was innocent “forgery” with no intent for use in real American enterprise.) I’ve hidden in every imaginable nook and cranny of that old yard during endless games of hide and go seek and kick the can, and I swear I can still hear the ringing shouts of “Ollie, Ollie, oxenfree” in my memory as a fellow neighborhood kid reached the gardenhose-encircled “base,” stomping on that old tin can and freeing himself from the potential danger of being tagged out.
Occasionally, we would break from our games and make the half-mile trek over the giant hill on Jeter Road to hit up the Bartonville Food Store and gas station for a couple dollars’ worth of candy and Dr Peppers. I was so sad to see that historical landmark finally close its doors for the last time several years ago when construction of a growing city forced a curvature in the road and passersby were thusly routed away from the mom and pop shop-style gas station, owned and operated by James Price and James Price Jr. since the early 70s.
I feel that symbolic event served as a reminder of what I already knew, yet wasn’t readily willing to admit. It was the end of an era, physical proof that time had passed, we had grown up and the “age of innocence” had come to conclusion. Though my future children may not know an adventure-filled, carefree childhood in a world that is now driven by technology–what with all the lack of personal interaction and use of imagination that goes hand-in-hand with the ownership of an iphone, I will stand by the fact that such a childhood shaped their mother into the woman I am today. Those good times and easy-going living are all I can ever wish for my children to experience someday. So when school lets out, summer vacation commences and their whining cries of boredom begin, I’ll tell them to turn off their phones, video games and TV shows–and for the love of God, go play outside! Because it’s outside in nature, on a backyard tree swing, and down by the lake amongst wooded tree forts where they’ll encounter the kinds of magical experiences that will teach them about life and shape them into adults who can only wish the same experiences and memories for their children someday.
Randy Owens of the legendary country group, Alabama, said it best…”If you’re gonna play in Texas, you gotta have a fiddle in the band.” Even though these lyrics were introduced in the mid-1980s, I don’t think Mr. Owens had any inkling as to the ultimate direction country music was headed and where it would inevitably end up some thirty years later.
Country music has unquestionably morphed and changed over the years from its down-home, backwoods roots–featuring “raw,” heartfelt vocals and fiddle-heavy background music–to the polished, over-produced, pop-like radio “ear candy,” as my dad likes to call it. The likes of Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, and various other legends are now only a faded memory for those of us who were raised on traditional country music. Even the superstars of yesteryear were heavily influenced by these old-time greats. George Strait, Randy Travis and Alan Jackson were influenced by the likes of Lefty Frizzell, Merle Haggard and George Jones, who were themselves influenced by those older ghosts of country music past. But with each generation comes new influence. The stars of today, who were raised on George Strait and other singers of the 1980s, have begun to crank out albums that hardly reflect a true country music sound. With each passing decade, country music sadly deviates further and further from its roots.
Now I’m not saying that all country music of today is bad–I’m simply stating that it has changed. The long-lost haunting fiddle solo and soul-soothing twang of a steel guitar has been replaced by modern, computer-generated sounds. You can catch me driving down the highway with my radio set to 99.5 or 96.3, and I’m most likely tapping my hands on the steering wheel, singing along with Luke Bryan and Blake Shelton, but that’s not to say that I don’t miss the “old” country music of my past. What KLUV’s “oldies” are to rock ‘n roll, I fear true country music will eventually become to today’s “young country”…and that makes me a little sad. While I find today’s radio music to be lacking, I’m glad to know I can always pop in an old CD and sing along with my childhood heroes, tapping my foot along to the beat of a hearty fiddle solo with a smile on my face. It just brings back good memories.
So say what you will, but I wholeheartedly agree with the lyrics of Alabama’s 1984 mega hit. It’s hard to argue with a band declared “artist of the decade,” (in the 1980s) who also happens to have over 30 number one hits to their name. And each time I hear that old song come on the radio, I’m gonna crank up the volume and declare my rights as a true southern girl…that if you’re gonna play in Texas, by God, you gotta have a fiddle in the band.