He would have been safer at the deer camp

Hubs was supposed to remain in the deer woods all week, but since he got a buck early, he came home early …

… to a wife who is rabidly pre-menstrual.


Hubs: I just don’t understand why women get to have that excuse.

Me: It’s not an excuse. It’s an explanation.

Hubs: *raises eyebrows*

Me: I suppose you think that suffering through an unmedicated labor is an “excuse” for all the snarling and cussing then?

Hubs: I think we should change the subject.

Me: Good idea.

Guess what, guys? We’re onto you.

So lately I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon at the grocery store —

Fathers shopping with a small child.

Now, it’s not unusual to see guys roaming the aisle ALONE. But with a kid? And no wife? Not so common. And there’s a reason for this, ladies.

The grocery store is a man’s last-ditch attempt after work to put off going home, where child-related chaos awaits. Beer with the guys no longer flies, so men have come up with what they believe is a more acceptable stalling tactic. Doesn’t matter whether you’re a working mom or a stay-at-home mom — we’ve all gotten the phone call from the huzzer:

Hey, do we need anything at the store?

You can tell your man that the panty’s so well stocked that you could survive ten rounds of bird/swine flu and the Ice Storm of the Century and still, he’ll persist.

I thought we were out of paper towels. And don’t we need laundry detergent?

I’d always suspected that the grocery-store offer was a ploy. And then my hunch was confirmed in a book called Babyproofing Your Marriage. (A hilarious read, btw.)

Here are a couple of daddy confessions printed in this book:

I drive home at about thirty miles an hour. I do whatever I can to delay the moment.

And …

Yeah, I call my wife from the car to ask her if she needs me to pick something up from the store on my way home. It’s a great stalling tactic. She hasn’t figured it out yet.

Oh yes she has! And this realization is  evidenced by the growing numbers of men at the store with small children in tow. Thing is, I’ve noticed only one child per dad, likely because the dads panicked at the thought of taking two or three at once.

Don’t worry, daddies. That’s next on our agenda.

Arkie Mama: Valentine Mommy FAIL

This morning, I drove to Arkansas Tech, where I was scheduled to speak to two classes about journalism.

Minutes before my first talk, as the students took their seats, my cell phone rang.

It was my husband.

“Hello,” I murmured. “I’m about to start talking.”

“We have serious situation!” Hubs barked, nearly blowing out my eardrum in his hysteria.

“Can I call you back?” I asked. “I’m standing in the front of the room.”

“You forgot about the E-man’s valentines,” a panicked Hubs informed me. “What do I do? I have jury duty in 30 minutes.”

Oh no.

Somewhere in our snow-day-cluttered house was a box of SpongeBob valentines, which I had completely forgotten to address and sign.

Where did I put them?

The pre-K Valentine party was set for 11 a.m. But I was in Russellville. And Hubs had to get to the courthouse.

I am a horrible mother.

You have to find them,” I whisper-hissed.

“Never mind,” Hubs said. “I already … {crackle, crackle} of it. {crackle, crackle} took some {crackle, crackle} and the teacher will {crackle, crackle}

Mommy guilt washed over me. I’d let the E-man down.

And rather than swim in said guilt, I would have to shift gears and talk shop.

Several hours later, I tracked down Hubs.

“OK, so what happened? What did you do?”

Turns out that in the 30 minutes he had left before jury duty, Hubs managed to hit the grocery store, where he bought gift bags, several varieties of candy and other party favors. Then he hurriedly assembled them in his truck and dropped them off at the daycare.

“You did what?!” I screeched. “You outdid me! We don’t do bags. We do cards. Now you’ve gone and set a precedent. I’m known as the slacker mom and  you’ve totally ruined my street cred.”

“I HAD to,” Hubs replied. “When I walked into his classroom, all these women were bringing in cute little bags stuffed with candy. I couldn’t just go buy a bunch of cards.”

“What’s wrong with just cards?” I asked. “I even got him SpongeBob ones.”

Hubs sniffed indignantly.

“He would have been a social leper. You should have seen what the other kids’ parents were handing out.”

My suggested party contribution

Hubs' suggested party contribution

So. Which is better? Yeah, I know.


But I’ve learned my lesson. Next year, I  am sooooo delegating all Valentine-related duties to Hubs.

Arkie Mama: When they retch, he flees

Yet again, the Mighty Deer Hunter has exposed his wussiness *cough* vulnerability when it comes to ill children.

Shortly after getting home from my stepson’s graduation party (photos tk), Tootie collapsed on the couch and announced, “I feel like I’m going to throw up.”

I sprang into action.

“What are you doing?” Hubs inquired as I hurried her into the bathroom.

“Her tummy hurts,” I replied, hastily pulling Tootie’s hair back into a ponytail.

He gave me the I know better than you look. (You know the one, ladies. It’s the same expression your significant other wears when telling you that when the “Oil Change” light comes on, it’s time to change the oil. Duh. Like I won’t get around to it. In a few years. After the engine has burned up.)


Tootie decided maybe she didn’t need to throw up, so I tucked her into bed with a large cooking pot and a towel.

“I’m telling you she just needs to eat something,” Hubs insisted.

“She ate two cookies, two brownies, apple pie and ice cream at the party,” I snapped. “I think she’s probably quite full.”

The E-man entered the room, clearly unhappy that his sister was getting so much attention.

“Did she throw up?” the E-man asked, almost rather eagerly.

“No,” Hubs replied.

Which is precisely when Tootie began hurling into the cooking pot.

Hubs gagged, audibly, picked up the E-man and fled.

I rubbed our daughter’s back, emptied to pot outside and mopped the floor.

Hubs and the E-man cowered on the couch.

Hours later, while Hubs curled up in the E-man’s bed, I changed the sheets in our bedroom, started the washing machine, cleaned up Tootie and told the E-man that it’s really quite rude to declare, “Mommy, I would NEVER throw up in your bed!” while your sister dry heaves and sobs.

(It’s true, though. The E-man hasn’t ever thrown up in our bed. He’s limited himself to his bed, the couch, his sister’s bed and the living room floor.)

So we’re home today, the Tootie and I, bickering over the television. For some reason, she doesn’t find HGTV or TLC quite as interesting as I do.

Hubs, meanwhile, is at work, having adult conversations with adult friends. I’m not bitter though. Because when I fall ill with this stomach bug, he’ll be all on his own when the E-man starts throwing up everywhere BUT our bed.

Arkie Mama: Perfect Linda strikes again

First, the background:

My mother-in-law — known by all as Mammaw — passed away last February. This will be the family’s first Christmas without her. At the time of her death, Mammaw had three sons, 11 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Three three sons, from eldest to youngest, are Hubs, Steve and Burt.

Steve married Perfect Linda three years after Hubs’ and my wedding. Steve brought four adult children to the marriage; Linda has two adult daughters and a 15-year-old son.

Steve’s sons are the ones who gave Mammaw here great-grandchildren.

Still with me?

OK, so when Steve’s kids started having babies, Perfect Linda went by “Granny.” She doesn’t look like a granny, but to each their own.

Hubs and I took the kids down to his dad’s house this weekend. My father-in-law goes by “Papaw,” which I always thought went well with “Mammaw.”

Saturday afternoon, Steve and Perfect Linda came over with Steve’s oldest grandchild, Seth, age 2 1/2.

And suddenly, Perfect Linda went from Granny to Mammaw.

My brother-in-law referred to her as Mammaw throughout the whole visit. “Go ask your Mammaw,” he would say, prompting all of us to swivel our necks in anticipation of seeing the REAL Mammaw, who, of course, is no longer with us.

This is Mammaw, matriarch of the family.

The Real Mammaw

The Real Mammaw

Now granted, I have issues with Perfect Linda. (She’s moody and has no sense of humor. Plus, she won’t allow my brother-in-law to have anything to do with his family. Yeah, I know. He doesn’t have to obey. But he does. Point is, she doesn’t like us.)

So to hear Steve refer to Linda as Mammaw struck me as inappropriate and galling. Not to mention, confusing to the youngest grandchildren and the great-grandchildren. I mean, Mammaw was Mammaw. Perfect Linda is NOT Mammaw.

I’d be interested in hearing your opinions, however, since Hubs plans to talk to his brother about Perfect Linda’s bizarre metamorphosis from Granny to Mammaw.

I say that given the circumstances, she should stick with Granny or pick something other than Mammaw.

I can’t figure out where the name change came from. Did she do it? Or is Steve trying to create a new Mammaw?


Arkie Mama: Thanksgiving terror

My extended family is far-flung.

My mom grew up in Kentucky; my dad in Tennessee. They moved to Texas right before I was born.

During my early childhood years, we spent the Christmas holidays in either Kentucky or Tennessee. Or both. But my parents longed to celebrate the season in their own home, creating their own traditions. So over the next few years, more and more of our visits to my parents’ home states took place during the summer.

That meant our Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays were pretty quiet and intimate. And oh, how I loved the simplicity of it all. On Christmas Eve, either I or one of my two sisters would read the Christmas story aloud from the family Bible. Then we would open gifts one at a time so that everyone could take the time to express immediate thanks for each present.

Then I married into Hubs very large East Texas family and was thereby initiated into the world of Giant Family Holidays. I found it petrifying.

I still remember those first few Thanksgivings. Lord almighty, I had never seen such a crowd trying to cram into one modest three-bedroom house.

So many people. So much noise. Too many cooks in the kitchen but not enough seating at dinner.The table allowed for only eight, so everyone else sprawled on couches or found a chair outside on the deck.

And then there was Christmas. The present-opening was the biggest assault to my already overwhelmed senses. Everyone just started ripping paper and flinging bows around the living room. I had no idea who had gotten what from whom. It was confusing. Loud. Disorienting.

Except for last year. Christmas 2008 was a subdued affair. My mother-in-law was dying, and we all knew it would be her last Christmas.

My husband caught this image with his camera. See how my father-in-law is looking at his wife of five decades? It breaks your heart.



This Christmas will likely be subdued as well. Someone else will put up the tree and decorate the house with Mammaw’s many knicks and knacks. My father-in-law will miss the homey smell of dayslong baking. And I know that at some point, I’ll miss the rambunctious nature of Christmases past.

Arkie Mama: There’s not room for a rodent in my bedroom

“Did you move this box?” Hubs asked me Friday morning, gesturing toward a large cardboard box a few feet away from our bedroom door. (Said door leads to the deck.)

“No,” replied, not paying much attention. “I think the kids did it when they were playing in here.”

“Well, I moved it there before I left to go hunting,” Hubs said indignantly. “There’s a hole at the bottom of the door from all the rain. I didn’t want any wildlife to get in.”

Niiiiiiice, I thought. I love the way he didn’t bother to mention a critter-attracting hole BEFORE he left town. For a week.

Hubs continued puttering around the room and I left for work. He had the day off. So unfair.

Around 3 p.m., he called me.

“I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but — ” He paused.

“What?” I asked distractedly.

“Well, this morning, when I was moving some things around in our bedroom, and this little furry thing went racing across the floor, so I chased it around the room, and then it ran back toward the door, where the hole is, only I’d put the box back in front of it, and then he disappeared, but I think he managed to squeeze behind the box and through the hole.”

“Furry?” I asked. “Like a mouse?”


“Noooooooo,” Hubs said reluctantly. “I think maybe it was a small rat.”

Now I don’t know why, but whereas I can kind of convince myself that a mouse possesses a sort of whiskery cuteness, the thought of a rat brings up images of the beady, yellow-eyed rodent — with glistening fangs — in Lady and the Tramp. You know, the rodent that’s out to make a snack of the new baby.

“WHAT?!” I screeched. “Are you telling me that I’ve sharing my bedroom with a RAT while you were off hunting all week?!”

“Er, yes,” Hubs replied.

“Well, are you sure it’s gone?”

“Oh, yes,” my spouse assured me. “I’m positive.”

I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering what the rat had been up to each night. Had it perched on my nightstand, watching me sleep? I thought of the glistening fangs, of the long, creepy, stringy tail. Thank God it hadn’t made its presence known while Hubs was gone. The kids and I would have been squealing down the driveway on our way to a hotel if I’d caught even a glimpse of the littl varmint.

Hubs told he he’d patched up the hole, and by that evening, I’d put the sighting out of my mind. Until, that is, I heard a yelp in our bedroom.

“Cathy!” Hubs yelled. “Get in here, quick!”

I tossed the remote and ran for the bedroom. Hubs was crawling on all fours and looking underneath our bed.

“What is it?!” I shrieked, even though I already knew.

“It’s still here,” Hubs gasped, still circling the bed. “I chased it across the room and opened the door, but then it swerved and went under our bed. I need you to stand there and watch for it. Make sure it actually goes out the door this time.

Does the man really think I’m going to just stand here, waiting for a rat to emerge? Is he out of his mind?

I shut the door and returned to the living room.

Fifteen minutes later, Hubs emerged from the bedroom, panting yet victorious.

“I’m sure he’s gone this time,” Hubs said.

“Did you actually see him leave?”

“Well. No. But he isn’t anywhere in our room. I checked.”

“What if he got out before I shut the door?” I asked.

“I’m positive he went outside,” Hubs assured me.

“Yeah, that’s what you told me this morning, remember?”

Still unconvinced, I made Hubs scour the house. When we finally turned in, I made a running leap for the bed.

“What are you doing?” Hubs asked as I landed in an ungraceful heap.

“I’m not giving that thing a chance to sample human flesh,” I said. “It might develop a taste for it.”

Needless to say, I did not sleep well. The next day, Hubs set out a trap in our bedroom. Thus far, it remains untouched and there have been no further sightings.

This does not comfort me.

Because I just know that rat is waiting for Hubs to leave town again before making his presence known.

Hello, my sweet.

Hello, my sweet.

Arkie Mama: I touched a dead deer, but only cuz I needed a potty

Over the weekend, I took the kids down to the Buck Fever Festival, which is held in south Arkansas each year to celebrate the opening of gun season. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would one day be dressing my kids in camo and partying in the deer woods, I would have declared them certifiably insane and laughed my ass off.

The only camo I ever purchased in my single-girl days came in the form of a skirt, which I figured would make for a cute clubbing outfit.

One day, I wore that skirt to work (yeah, I know, but women in their 20s have questionable fashion sense) and it immediately caught Hubs’ eye. At that time, we didn’t know one another, other than exchanging random hellos in the newsroom.

Anyway, Hubs saw that skirt and thought he’d finally found himself a gal who liked to hunt.


We started dating in September 2000, and when Buck Fever rolled around, Hubs invited me down to Banks, Ark., where his family has lived for generations.

“So you’re the latest girlfriend,” Hubs’ dad said with a laugh.

I determined right then that I would somehow distinguish myself from the other women who’d been dragged down to the deer camp.

And that night, as we sat around a campfire drinking bourbon and Coke, a moment of brilliance struck.

“I’d love to go hunting tomorrow evening with you,” I purred, sidling up to an elated Hubs.

So the next day, Hubs decked me out in hunting garb. All you could see of me were my eyes — which shimmered delightfully thanks to three shades of sparkling, autumnal eyeshadow — and my hands, which boasted 10 fingers tipped with shiny, burgundy nails.

When we got to to Hubs’ favorite spot, I trotted dutifully after him, prepared to prove myself as a sporting sort of girlfriend.

“OK,” he whispered. “Sit here and DO NOT MOVE.”

I plopped down into a position that I figured I would able to hold for the 30 or so minutes I estimated it would take Hubs to get a deer.

An hour passed.

And then another.

By this time, I desperately had to pee, but I knew that Hubs would frown upon A.) moving around and B.) leaving my scent behind after a drop-and-squat. He’d already made me shower with some sort of descenting soap. I figured peeing in an area where deer roam probably wouldn’t go over too well.

Please, oh, please just let him kill a deer, I prayed.

Bear in mind, I really had no idea to see a buck die. But in my haste to prove myself as The New and Improved Girlfriend, I’d neglected to ponder the fact that I would have to witness death in the woods.

Finally, just as my potty situation was becoming truly dire, Hubs silently and speedily pointed his gun.


“Yay!!!” I cheered, hugging him. “Now we can find a potty!”

But when Hubs tried to drag his buck out of the woods, it became clear he would need help. This was one big deer.

Crossing my legs, I mulled over my choices.

I could lag behind, maybe cop a squat when Hubs wasn’t looking. Or I could help him haul that damn deer out to the truck.

Believe me people, when I say that only a bathroom emergency would enable me to touch a dead animal.

After we heaved the buck into the truck, I ordered Hubs to take me to Grandma Hattie’s house, where a wall-papered, old-lady bathroom awaited.

And thus, my introduction and initiation to deer hunting was complete.

I married Hubs the following spring and I have never set foot near a deer stand again.

Instead, I take the kids to the Buck Fever parade, the Buck Fever catfish lunch, the Buck Fever Talent Show and the Buck Fever Beauty Pageant.

I find these activities both fun and totally surreal. And when I hear the occasional boom of gunfire, I thank my lucky stars that I got that ring on my finger before my second hunting season with Hubs.

And these days, my camo isn’t deer-woods friendly. It’s pink. And meant for sleeping.

The mighty deer hunter

The mighty deer hunter


psst … Make sure you go here for a chance to win a pair of sparkly earrings!

Arkie Mama: Yes, it really happens

Even eight years of marriage, Hubs and I still contend that pottying is a private endeavor. That’s not to say I don’t poke my head in to grab my toothbrush, but he yelps when I do that, just as I do when he turns the tables.

Which is why, nearly five years ago, I had a sinking feeling each time I remembered the pushing part of my son’s delivery.

While much remained a blur, I distinctly recalled hearing my doula say to the nurse: “Oh, I’ll get that.”

What, I wondered, was the “that”? Could it be … no, surely not.

Months later, I worked up the courage to ask Hubs.

“So when I was pushing during the E-man’s birth, did I — well, you know?”

“Yeah,” Hubs replied with a smirk. “You did.”

Pause. {blink, blink}

“Why didn’t you tell me?” I wailed.

“Because you were postpartum. And hormonal. And I wanted to live,” Hubs said matter-of-factly.

Perhaps this incident was the reason for my abnormal interest in Hubs’ first colonoscopy.

I read him the infamous Dave Barry colonoscopy column. I watched him chug his first round of the prep and then began asking every few minutes — rather gleefully, I admit — if he was feeling the effects yet.

“No,” he said smugly. Again and again.

And then he disappeared into the bathroom for hours.

“Why is Daddy still in the bathroom?” little E-man asked.

“Well, he has to go to the doctor tomorrow,” I said evasively.

“Because he can’t stop pooping?” the E-man inquired.

I found this so hilarious that I insisted on telling Hubs about his son’s conclusion through the bathroom door.

Hubs wasn’t nearly as amused.

The next morning, I sat in a waiting room, flipping through magazines while Hubs underwent his procedure.

Just as I finished my third People, a nurse summoned me to the recovery area. I found Hubs curled up peacefully on a gurney.  Only curtains separated him from the neighboring patients.

“He needs to pass gas before we can let him go,” the nurse informed me.

I felt an evil grin spread across my face.

“Really?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said. “When he wakes up, I’ll bring him some Coke.”

Important fact: Hubs’ horror of emitting bodily noises rivals my horror of pooping in delivery rooms.

I leaned over my sedated husband.

“Guess what?” I whispered huskily. “You have to toot before they’ll discharge you.”

I giggled manically. Hubs didn’t stir.

I opened the novel I’d brought along. When the nurse returned with the Coke, we finally roused Hubs.

“You still haven’t tooted!” I cackled.

The nurse looked at me oddly. Perhaps my enthusiasm unnerved her.

When she left, I resumed torturing my spouse.

“Did you hear what she said? You have to toot before we can get out of here. So get busy. I promise, I won’t laugh at you.”

Of course, when he ripped the first one I promptly collapsed into hysterics.

As he continued to make a joyful noise, a patient in the next cubicle asked the nurse what was going on.

“There’s a colonoscopy patient next to you,” she explained.

“Sorry!” Hubs called out groggily.

I snorted and snickered and carried on like a junior high boy until the doctor walked in and shot me a puzzled look.

“Everything looks fine,” he said.

I pulled myself together long enough to listen to the doctor. Then I drove my sleepy husband home.

Hubs doesn’t remember any of my juvenile recovery-room antics.

But now, at last, I consider us even in the Arena of Indignities.