Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Six Years Ago . . .

Well, it actually began about 11 years ago.  I was minding my own business (and drinking too much beer) at a fraternity party at Mississippi State with my roommate, and by the end of the night, I was talking nonstop with a cute guy in glasses.  I'd seen him before at Ole Miss.  We shared lots of mutual friends.  He even worked on my brother's political campaign.  But I wasn't looking for him that night.  And he wasn't looking for me . . . but fate or chance or luck or God made sure that my roommate thought his friend was cute.  And so our story began . . .

Neither he nor I wanted a serious relationship in college, so we made sure that didn't happen.  Regardless of what we said we didn't want, we were drawn to each other.  I loved running into him on campus.  He stayed by my side for the rest of the night if we bumped into each other on the Oxford square.  He asked all of his Corinth buddies what they thought about me.  I made my girlfriends help me analyze exactly what he was thinking.  It wasn't a conventional "courtship," but I think it happened exactly the way it was supposed to happen.

A few years later we decided that we wanted to grow old together and have babies and share absolutely everything.

So we had a wedding in my beautiful hometown.  It wasn't fancy or expensive or worthy of a two-page spread in Mississippi magazine, but it was sweet and wonderful and perfect for me . . . just like Clint :)

This morning I was going through old photos and came across these . . . and, oh, how they make me giggle.  These are from a time that we knew nothing about sharing a bathroom.  We had never saved money or budgeted.  We knew nothing about fighting and crying and forgiving and laughing at ourselves.  We knew nothing about sacrificing our wants for the needs of a newborn.  We had no idea how to rely on only each other in a new big city away from family.  We couldn't fully understand what those precious vows we repeated would entail, but we knew we were up for the challenge.  

And I thank God every day that we continue to be stubborn enough to meet the challenge.  Happy anniversary, Clint!!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Things My Momma Did NOT Teach Me

It's Monday morning, which around the Darby home is "ballet day."

Mimi loves all things ballet, but I always dread these mornings just a bit.  The first few classes she was amazing, but now she would prefer to dance to her own drummer.  I love that about her.  I promise I do . . .

BUT I still feel the need to shake my head and repeat phrases such as, "Oh my word, Mimi.  What the heck are you doing?" as I see her running around the studio like a wild banshee.  She has been known to strip down and lick the mirror and totally cut in line to get her stamp at the end of class.  Very rarely do I hear Miss Taylor get onto another child as much as she does Mimi, but she's very patient and has never asked her to leave the class or anything.

The other moms giggle at her and tell me they're happy to see a child with her spirit, but something in me makes me say things like, "I have no idea where she gets that crazy energy."  And then I feel bad about myself . . .

Pride.  I have such pride in myself as a mom that I need to let the other moms know that I DID NOT teach her to act that way!  I don't like this about myself because I am not at all ashamed of my daughter.  I love her spunk and independence, and I vow today to stop this way of thinking.  So what that she acts a fool in ballet?  At least she's not standing in the corner with a finger up her nose or gripping my leg crying for dear life.  Good for her for being exactly who she is.

Whenever I say things like "can you believe she does that?," Mom always giggles and responds with, "but all four of you did the same thing to me."  It's true.  We were just as nutso as my two monkeys, but she NEVER acted like we didn't belong to her.  She was patient and loving, and I feel that I owe an early Mother's Day gift to her -- an apology.

Mom, I'm very sorry if I ever acted a fool in public.  I know you don't care and that you're giggling at me right now, but I still feel I need to tell everyone that . . . 


To drink too much beer.
To cuss.
To dance on elevated surfaces.
To smoke cigarettes in college.
To lie on the couch and watch reality TV.
To buy designer jeans and Lululemon that is NOT on sale.
To leave the house without full make-up and hairspray.
To be a snob and go a whole day without learning the entire life history of a complete stranger.
To wear pants to church.
To wear ragged jeans.
To stay up past 10PM.
To sleep past 7AM.
To sometimes be a mean girl in middle school.
To write papers for my friends in college.
To procrastinate.
To take my father's side occasionally.
To leave dirty dishes in the sink over night.
To ride in cars with high school friends who drove waaaay too fast.
To not clean out the tub or shower every. single. day.
To not iron absolutely everything I wear.
To not wear lipstick.

Sigh.  She's probably rolling her eyes about now.  I have learned my lesson about some of these things (smoking is really, really gross.  I promise I didn't do it too much.), and I'm sorry I didn't listen the first time. Since I'm stubborn, my mom let me learn some of these things on my own, and I guess I'll have to let Mimi do the same.

I'm proud to say that these are the things my momma DID teach me:

To see the cup as half full.
To always trust my gut over a book with my newborns.
To not be disappointed but to giggle when my toddlers act like toddlers.
To take care of my husband.
To let my husband also take care of me.
To cook meals AND dessert for my family.
To be silly.
To help my neighbors.
To teach my children by example.
To have live plants in the house.
To go to the doctor when I'm sick.
To not worry that my children might get their clothes dirty.
To be creative.
To not argue about politics or religion.
To not be afraid to strike up conversations with complete strangers.
To not give up the chance to hold a newborn.
To wake up early to have time for myself.
To not be afraid to ask for help.
To stay active.
To laugh at myself.
To hug often.
To eat when I'm hungry and sleep when I'm tired.
To be interested in others' conversations.
To love unconditionally.

Most importantly, she taught me that I want my daughter to have a list almost exactly like this when she's 32-years-old.

Well, except for the smoking.  Mimi, please never smoke.  Gross.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Christians are such weirdos.

Every spring Christians can be found doing some really odd stuff.

We congregate in muddy fields (with cameras on hand, of course).

We put out strange pastel decorations of bunnies and chickens.

Rain boots are fine -- as long as they are pastel.

And we carry around baskets searching for -- get this -- brightly colored eggs.  

And if that isn't strange enough, we then stand in crazy long lines to have a photo taken with this overgrown bunny.

And then we make crafts.  (Mimi said, "Oh no!  My eggs are going to die!!).

And then on Easter morning, that nut case bunny breaks into our homes (hopefully for the Easter bunny, most Christians have a home with a noisy, snoring Poppaw so that no one can hear him.).

But no one ever calls the cops because he always leaves lots and lots of chocolate and cheap toys.

Give this one a creamy center and I could eat. him. up!

"Oh my gosh!  You mean an over-sized bunny rabbit broke into my home last night???  And no one stopped him??"

"But he left candy, you say?  For little old me??"

Just don't get any on your dress, Mimi.

And then we all put on bunny ears and stick our tongues out in photos.

We even put bunny ears on Bebe and a large stuffed Winnie the Pooh.

And on Poppaw.

But after all this pastel-wearing, egg hunting, and bunny break-ins . . . we usually go to church . . . and feel quite silly for wearing those bunny ears.  But know it's okay to be silly and human . . . and mess up and try again and mess up again.  We'll keep learning and trying to follow the example of a really swell guy named Jesus by helping and loving and forgiving other silly humans.  He never wore a bunny suit (at least it's not in the book), but he's even cooler than the Easter bunny.

And because we're human, we must get our binkies and blankets, snuggle up for Sunday naps, and catch the last few holes of the Masters before going out and being regular again on Monday.  Well, maybe a little better than regular. :)

Happy Easter, y'all!

So I stole a couple of wild animals from the Memphis zoo . . .

Monkeys, to be exact.  Wanna see?


Crouching tiger.

I would pay $50 a day just to see her have this much fun.

(Lucky for me I was able to use my Lincoln Park zoo membership card and got us all in for $12.)

The animals weren't too important to them this time . . . except Mimi kept asking if she could see the cows.  I explained that there are plenty of those of the side of the road.  

And then I remembered that there aren't many cows on the side of the road in Chicago . . . and what an odd concept it is for me to raise my children in a cow-free neighborhood . . . 

While I've Been Living Life . . .

. . . all kinds of fun stuff has been happening.  

I would like to take the time to sit and ponder and write something really meaningful . . . 

. . . but I might miss the eagle's nest my parents showed us at Shiloh National Park . . .

. . . or Mimi being a full-out diva . . .

. . . or Mom's amazing cupcakes.

I don't have time to write about it all because I might miss Mimi learning how to do this . . .

Retro shades from her mom's Happy Meal in 1987 . . . check.
Pink sparkle shoes . . . check.
Old red Huffy that was six bucks at a consignment sale . . . oh, yeah . . . check!

And I couldn't possibly have missed out on Mack's first haircut from our family stylist Sharlinda.

And I couldn't miss out on meeting up with my college besties to let our girls run around naked outside -- I mean, it is Mississippi, after all.  Those photos I will not post for obvious reasons . . . but Mack decided to keep his clothes on, so here you go.

Or even Mimi's first fishing experience.

(I need a copy of this expression in every room in my house.)

. . . and bubbles . . . 

. . . and picking wildflowers . . . 

. . . and a bit more of this . . . 

. . . and I can't miss Mack's first egg hunt . . . 

. . . and I definitely don't want to miss whatever Mack's watching on the iPad.

So maybe I'll have some funny stories or great reviews or something to complain about soon, but for now I've got a bit more living to do.