Arkie Mama: Wordless Wednesday

Sometimes I forget how close in age they are. Until I look at photos like this one.

Two years apart, almost to the day

Two years apart, almost to the day

Want to participate in Wordless Wednesdays? Post a photo on your blog with a link back to me. Then I’ll list the links to all Wordless posts here.

NOTE: Next week, Moody Mom will be guest-hosting Wordless Wednesday for me!

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here:

Moody Mom

In the family way

Baby and the beasts

Hot Mama

She’s crafty

Mom on a wire

Hugs & kisses


Arkie Mama: My butt, part 2

I’m thinking about requesting a pair of Zumba pants for Christmas, so last night I asked the instructor what size she thought I would wear.

“Turn around, so I can see you from the side,” she said.

I complied.

“Well, you’re a lot like me. Don’t take this the wrong way, but you don’t really have a butt either.”

She swiveled, showing me the rest of a body that I would so love to have.

“If I were you, I’d go with a medium,” she added.

I smiled and thanked her.

But really, inside my head, there was a total fiesta going on. We’re talking confetti eggs, pinatas, streamers, the works.

She said I have no butt! She said I have NO BUTT!!!

I wanted to hug her.

My rear has long been the bane of my existence. During both of my pregnancies, I looked as though I was carrying twins — one located in the front, the other in the back. I mean, my butt EXPLODED, people.


See, I look pregnant on both ends

See, I look pregnant on both ends

When I was pregnant with the E-man, I was embarrassed twice by comments about the size of my derierre.

One day, when I was walking into work, a female security guard hollered, “Girl, I know you must be having a boy! I can tell just by looking at your backside!”

Another day, I walked into a restaurant, where I was meeting a group of Child Protective Services for lunch. I had been following two of them around for weeks while working on a story. Their secretary, an older woman, also was there.

“Oh my,” she said. “Look at that rear. Are you having a boy?”

A dozen heads swiveled to check out my butt. I prayed for a remark in my defense, but no one uttered a word. How could they, when the evidence was so plainly in front of them.

Thing is, my butt was huge during my first pregnancy as well. And at that time, I was having a girl.

Arkie Mama: Mouthwatering Mondays

This is my first go at participating in A Southern Fairytale’s weekly recipe swap. She’s a Texas gal, so I visit her blog often just to get a taste of the motherland. (Pun intended.)

Anyway, this is a recipe for Chicken Avocado Soup. I can’t remember where I stumbled across this one, but my husband, surprisingly, really likes it. Next week, I’ll try to include pictures with whatever I decide to submit. This time, you’ll just have to imagine this pot of deliciousness!


1 T oil

3 cloves of garlic, chopped

1 small onion, chopped

1 T of oregano

3 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)

6 cups of chicken broth

salt to taste

1/4 cup cilantro leaves

3 tomatoes

2 avocados


Heat oil and saute onions and garlic. Add chicken, then broth and oregano. Bring to a boil, then simmer for one hour. Remove chicken from the pot and shred it. Return shredded chicken to the pot, and add chopped cilantro, tomato and avocado. Let soup sit for 10 minutes or so. Garnish with tortilla chips (we make our own). Also, I use a little more cilantro, simply because I love the stuff.

For more mouth-watering recipes, click the button below.


Arkie Mama: Lovin’ the anti-crazy

So this morning I’m pretty certain I accidentally took two anti-depressants.

You know how it is — you’re popping the anti-crazy pill, the birth control pill and a handful of vitamins and, well … sometimes you just lose track.

Or is it just me?

The anti-depressant I take is akin to revving up on a tad bit of speed, so you can imagine the effects of a double dose. Uh, yeah. Scary. Which wouldn’t have been so bad except that today I was a speaker on a blog conference panel, and while I think I handled that part OK, I did a bit of stalker-gushing afterward when I introduced myself to local blogger Kyran Pittman, who is like this adorable little thing attired in cool clothes that I could never carry off and a totally cool attitude and I was all, “HI! I READ YOUR BLOG! I LOVE YOUR BLOG! DID I MENTION THAT I READ YOUR BLOG?!”

Evidence that I OD’d? That would be the never-ending sentence above.


The anti-crazy pill, when taken in moderation, is fab, fab, fab. It is the reason I feel equipped to face my nemesis: Winter.

A few years ago, I decided that I really didn’t need that helpful little pill. Which led to this rather melodramatic post:

When she calls

My depression is like an old lover who refuses to fade into the past.

Years go by. And then she calls.

“I’ll be in town,” she says. A pause. Her voice drops to a silky whisper. “I’ve missed you. Let’s get together.”

I demur.

“It’s really not a good time,” I tell her.

Or, “My husband wouldn’t understand.”

But at some point I must agree to meet her. Why else would I find her ensconced in my favorite spot on the couch, curled up cozily, waiting to resume our relationship?

She stays up late, too late. Sometimes, she invites Anxiety to spend the night, and we three huddle on the bed together, fretting and worrying and indulging ourselves in niggling doubts.

Through it all, my husband sleeps, unaware that she is intruding, yet again.


The therapist leans forward, eyebrows raised.

“I don’t understand,” she says. “Why did you quit taking your medication?”

I laugh nervously, make a few jokes about the side effects.

“Why do you laugh when we’re talking about your sadness?” she asks. “Why must everything be a funny story?”

I stammer, try to explain that it’s how I cope, that by turning events into amusing anecdotes, I can sometimes fend off my depression’s ardent advances.

Although, admittedly, never for long.

“It’s OK to be sad,” the therapist says. “It’s OK to realize this isn’t something you can control.”

And tears slide down my cheeks.


“I don’t understand,” my husband says.

“Why are you so unhappy? Is it me? Is it our life?”

I try to reassure him.

“She’s always been a part of me, long before I met you.”

My husband sighs. Really, there’s nothing else to say.


On a gray, rainy February day, I get up, put the coffee on.

I open a cabinet and pull out a mug. I also pull out the bottle of pills.

Will I ever not need these? Will I ever know a life uninterrupted by her long visits?

The coffeemaker hisses and gurgles.

I pour a glass of water and look out the window at the dead, brown grass, at the trash cans waiting to be hauled down the driveway.

And I swallow the pill.

These days, I’m medicated and enjoying life. I just talk. A lot.

Arkie Mama: Help me redo a bathroom

Should my employers ever decide to do away with the paycuts implemented last March, Hubs and I need to start overhauling our 1955 house.

We need a new roof. A remodeled kitchen. Rewiring in the master bedroom. And then there’s this:

Exhibit A

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

Exhibit B

No, we are not looking to revamp that cute little boy.

My problem is with the bathroom’s atrocious color scheme. The floor is pink. The wall tile is salmon. And the border (top and bottom) is BURGUNDY.

Can I fix this by painting the currently white walls? Do I need to go so far as to address the wall or floor tile? Is there a way to make this a cute retro bathroom without spending too much money?


Arkie Mama: What makes a house your home?

I’m showing you what makes ours homey, and I’d love to see what others have to share. If you decide to participate, link to me in your post and I’ll start a list on here. Or leave me a comment!

Children in the kitchen. (making cinnamon toast)

Children in the kitchen. (making cinnamon toast)

Making cookies!

Making cookies!

The swingset Daddy built.

The swingset Daddy built.

Tea parties

Tea parties

A dog who doesn't mind pretending to be a My Little Pony.

A dog who doesn't mind pretending to be a My Little Pony.

Our deck that's big enough for bike-riding

Our deck that's big enough for bike-riding




Homemade Christmas decorations

Arkie Mama: Wordless Wednesday

Sorry, ladies! Your hostess experienced a brief brain blip and was somehow convinced that it was Tuesday.


Oh how I miss Texas bluebonnets!

Oh how I miss Texas bluebonnets!

Want to participate in Wordless Wednesdays? Post a photo on your blog with a link back to me. Then I’ll list the links to all Wordless posts here.

For more Wordless Wednesday, go here:

In the family way

Moody Mom

Baby and the beasts

She’s crafty

Hugs & kisses


Blessed Mom

Arkie Mama: My son, the closet ham

The E-man, while friendly and outgoing, has this thing about going onstage for any sort of school performance. At first, he’ll stand there, with this skittish expression on his face and his fingers in his mouth. Then, halfway through, he morphs into this little comedien, playing to the audience for laughs.

I present evidence from the 2008 Christmas program:

I will not sing.

I will not sing.

But I will entertain.

But I will entertain.

So today was the preschool’s grandparent luncheon.  All of the E-man’s grandparents live in Texas, so Hubs and I filled in as substitutes.

Little man ignores the camera.

Little man ignores the camera.

After lunch, the kids put on a short program.

The E-man at first hid behind the row of singing children.

Not only will he not partcipate, he clearly has no appreciation for his classmates' efforts.

Not only will he not partcipate, he clearly has no appreciation for his classmates' efforts.

I blinked and then saw this:

And he started dancing. Like me.

And he started dancing. Like me.

Arkie Mama: I have no shame

The glorious thing about hurtling toward 40 is the near-total loss of inhibition.

In the past seven years, I’ve birthed two babies, which means a whole army of people have seen way more of the  ladybits than I ever have or will. I’ve nursed in malls, on planes and in front of fellow reporters. I’ve pumped in parking lots, bathrooms and, on one occasion, in the backseat of a car driven by a male photographer who was trying to navigate the streets of post-Katrina New Orleans.

Even better, my new carefree attitude has carried over to the gym. Nothing embarrasses me anymore. Which is why I eagerly bounced a few weeks ago into a Zumba class.

Zumba, for those of you who haven’t heard of it, is basically a class in which you dance to Latin music. I love it!

Bear in mind, I am not a coordinated person. I’m the woman who once gouged her eye with her OWN FINGER during a step aerobics class. (I had to go to the doctor for that one.) I can pick up a rhythm just fine, but until I get the moves or steps down, there’s usually quite a bit of  … well, flailing.

I present Exhibit A, taken at a wedding reception:

I'm the one with the arms flung back.

I'm the one with the arms flung back.

In my 20s, I refused to try a lot of things for fear of possible humiliation.

Now? It takes a lot to embarrass me. I didn’t even blush when, while writing a check at a restaurant, I opened my wallet to show my ID only to find a tampon stuck inside. (The young male clerk, on the other hand, became quite flustered.)

Really, the only humiliating moments I can think of in recent years involve my children doing something either horribly inappropriate (4-year-old son mooning his older sister’s after-school class) or disgusting (sticking noses and grubby fingers into candy jars at the hoity-toity grocery store).

But that’s OK. Because the older I get, the less inhibited I’ll become. And by the time they’re teenagers, I figure I’ll be going through a second adolescence.

Which will totally embarrass them. Especially when I volunteer to be a prom chaperone and hit the dance floor. I’ll use my Zumba experience to wow the senior class.

Just play me a salsa, baby!

Arkie Mama: Miss Julia

So this weekend at Duck Duck Goose I met a woman who reminded me of an old source I had while working in a Beaumont, Texas, newsroom.

So — I’m reposting a 2007 entry from my old blog because Julia — well, she deserves to be remembered.

Miss Julia was, by far, the most faithful source I’ve ever had in this profession. Well, except for this one Junior Leaguer, who single-handedly brought down a huge nonprofit agency after it failed to pay the band for the Junior League’s biggest fund raiser of the year.

(Warning to any unscrupulous people living in the South: Never. Piss. Off. The. Junior. League.)

Anyway, while Julia was not Junior League material by any stretch, she was … well …. memorable.

I met Julia while reporting for the Beaumont Enterprise in southeast Texas. Her husband, Al, had once worked at the paper, covering City Hall.

Julia called me every day at 4 p.m. That would be at the height of deadline for a small-town newspaper reporter. Still, I couldn’t ignore her, even though she talked FOREVER, because every so often, Julia offered absolutely priceless news tips.

One afternoon, after I had seriously contemplated not picking up the phone, Julia informed me that she had been listening to her police scanner — which she loved just about as much as the dozens of stray pets she took in — when she heard that a county commissioner had been blasted off his bulldozer by water from a firehose after he had tried to run over some firefighters.

The firefighters were there to put out a fire that the commissioner started while clearing brush on the job — despite a county burn ban being place.

Which, it turns out, had been secretly lifted by the county judge, who happened to be a good friend of the bull-dozing commissioner.

And now flames were shooting up past the towering pines and the firemen were livid.

Of course, I raced out there. (Firefighters! Yum!)

And it was all just as Miss Julia had said. Trees were scorched, neighbors were agog and the commissioner had been taken to the hospital to make sure he wasn’t injured.

So you see why it didn’t pay to blow off Julia.

Twice a year, for Christmas and her birthday, I dropped by Julia’s house with a card or gift. She wouldn’t let people in her house, so we’d sit at the foot of her driveway in lawn chairs. Julia always offered a leafy branch of … some plant or another … which we would use to swat away the mosquitoes.

The one thing Julia didn’t talk about was her marriage to Al, which of course, was what I was dying to hear about.

Newsroom legend had it that Al once caused a security guard to just about pee his pants after finding Al sleeping in a darkened area on the deserted third floor of the newspaper. Supposedly, it was Al’s vampirish sleeping position — hands crossed over his chest — that spooked the guard. From then on, the guard refused to go up there after hours. He said the prospect of stumbling across Al was just too unnerving.

By the time I met Julia, Al was long dead. Supposedly, the pair had split up before his passing, but when Al fell ill, Julia cared for him, a bit testily, but still…

I remember asking Marie — the editor’s assistant who hailed from Cajun Country and longtime friend of Julia — about Al and Julia’s relationship, but Marie just smiled mysteriously.

“Has Julia ever told you what she did with Al’s ashes?” Marie asked.

Again, that cryptic smile.

I begged. I fell at Marie’s teensy feet and groveled. I promised to never again make fun of her for that time she took home the leftover margaritas from the newsroom party and arrived at work the next morning with her soft, gray hair dyed a glossy ebony.

But Marie wouldn’t budge.

My imagination ran wild. Knowing Julia, she could have done just about anything with her ex-husband’s remains. And who knew what Mr. Vampire might have specified in his will?

It became a quest, to find out where those ashes were. By then, my fellow reporters were equally intrigued.

What if Al’s ashes were stashed somewhere in the newsroom?

One night, after Marie stood on a chair and tipsily sang along to that well-known David Allan Coe song at a local bar, I took advantage of her condition and asked about the ashes.

She told me. And for the next hour, I was the only person to know what became of Al.

Then I got snockered and by next morning…

… the long-sought revelation had been wiped clean from my brain by alcohol.

No amount of pleading could wrest the information from Marie again.

I have this nagging hint of a memory involving Al and a bag of dog food. But then I tell myself that surely, even given all her eccentricities, Miss Julia wouldn’t have gone that far…

I don’t think.