Spit and Polish.

My Mom has chickens. And as such, I know way too much about chickens. I know that the rooster shows his love by plucking a ring of feathers off of his favorite hen’s backs while he’s also…on their back. I know that you can buy aprons for favorite hens to protect their poor feathers from being brutally pulled while they are en flagrante. And I know that washing poop off of eggs is the wrong way to go about cleaning eggs – you do not wash poop off of eggs, because that also washes off the bloom which keeps bacteria from entering the porous egg shell – the bloom for which that poor, featherless hen put her life and soul into creating. The way you get rid of chicken poop is by sanding it. You go after those eggs with the same sander that you might use on your kid’s matchbox derby car.

Now let me clarify – if you are the owner of such chickens and well used to chicken poop and the avoiding therefore, you don’t bother sanding it at all – you just artfully crack the eggs, making a seam where there is no poop, and don’t let the inside of the eggs touch the outside. But if you’re giving your eggs to others, who may not be so intimately acquainted of the excrement of egg-laying fowl, you get your sander out and you sand that deuce right off.

(My mom would like me to clarify here that she only sands / gives away the cleanest eggs that have a tiny spot or two. All regularly pooped-upon eggs are used in her own kitchen.)

(And let me add that she makes a seriously fantastic breakfast. Never once has it tasted like crap.)

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent a lot of time at my parent’s house in 2018, hanging out with my Grandmother. My Dad was undergoing a cancer study that required he and mom to stay downtown near UAB for days at a time, and then later in the summer, my parents were in a battle against his failing liver, doing everything and going everywhere they could (including driving to Pennsylvania to see a renowned specialist before they even had an appointment) to try and preserve his life.

Mammaw and I talked about so many things I’ve always wondered – we talked about how she met my Grandfather (who passed away when my mom was 10 years old), we talked about why she never even dated, much less married again in the more than 50 years since then, we discussed her real-life memories of what I was watching on The Crown (my Grandmother and Queen Elizabeth are the same age, so it’s fascinating to hear memories of Queen Elizabeth’s younger days from Mammaw’s point of view), and we talked about the doll that she always wanted for Christmas but never got. (I looked it up on eBay for her – a 1920’s Shirley Temple doll – but I did not, sadly, buy her one for Christmas, as it was $500.)

But Mammaw also napped a lot, and so I found myself wandering around my parent’s house, reading or editing photos or helping the kids with school or staring at the patina of my parent’s lives. And one day, during the especially dark days after my Dad had gotten terrible news and things were looking very bleak and desperate for all of us, I noticed a picturesque sight – a sight that spoke to me at a primal, ridiculous, find-humor-in-the-darkest-days kind of way.

It was this.


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Immediately I pictured it as the front of a poetry book. If I wrote poetry, it would sum up my worldview perfectly: Cynical. Sarcastic. Yet desperately optimistic.

This is my poetry book that will never exist.

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As an added bonus, a friend pointed out that it sings perfectly to the tune of “Standing on the Promises of God.”

Go ahead.

Take a second.

Sing it.

Sing it aloud – it really lifts the spirits.

Don’t forget to go high for the refrain at the end.

So the second half of 2018 was marked by pain I’d never experienced before. My Dad passed away in September. It’s something I still struggle with daily, and I’ve come to recognize my coping mechanisms well: when I feel sad and don’t realize it yet, I love to obsessively online shop for deals. I immerse myself into a book. I crave sugar. I want to watch a mind-numbing television show (preferably British Dramas – we’ve made it through The Crown, Victoria, and are now working through Poldark.) I sometimes do all of these things at once. I’ve tried replacing my shopping with selling now, and have found that it is just as therapeutic to sell things on eBay and Poshmark as it is to buy them, and way more healthy for the budget. I’ve explained to Chris that I’m not exactly selling things to make money – I’m selling things to feel better. How bad can that be?

But I’d like to take a moment, and sand off the free-range chicken shit of the year, and talk about the good things that happened.

…The kids and I started a Hiking Club. It grew to 50 families by the end of the year, and we hosted 174 hikes and covered 657 miles. My kid’s love of the outdoors, along with their endurance, increased dramatically. And, in those hundreds of hours in the woods, we all grew stronger friendships and made new friends.

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…The kids and Chris set state running records for their ages (pro tip: find a running length that doesn’t have a record yet for your age.) In October, we took part in the Endless Mile race with our friends Christen, Luke, and Levi. The race was beyond fun – I highly recommend joining us next year. Chris ran the 48 hour race, and ran a total of 101 miles, snagging the 100 mile record for his age. Ali and Noah, along with Luke, Levi, and Christen, ran the 6 hour race. Ali ran 18 miles – but only 17 counted in her 6 Hour state record because she finished the 18th mile 10 seconds too late. Noah and Levi tied for 6 Hour the state record and ran 14 miles. Luke also got a 6 Hour state record for his age at 17 miles. Christen ran 23 miles. I had signed up for the 6 hour race, but ended up bumping up to the 24 hour race to help Chris finish – I ran for 15 of those hours, and did a total of 42 miles (no records for me, alas – except for a personal distance record which I don’t plan on besting anytime soon.)

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…I found a near-miraculous solution to my back pain and improved my running abilities.

Picture Birmingham grew incredibly, being able to donate three times what I’ve donated every other year. God brought about many fantastic opportunities to design art for corporate spaces and to be able to do much bigger projects with my photography. By the end of the year, over $33,000 total had been donated to The WellHouse, and $14,000 of that happened in 2018.

…I got to spend all of the aforementioned wonderful time with my Grandmother, and was able to get to know her better. And through that opportunity, she blessed me greatly by allowing me a reason to regularly be with my Dad in his final months.

So was 2018 a bad year? Yes. It was a bad year. It was a terrible year. It was a year I never would want to experience again, and still brutally marks my every day. But was it a good year? Yes. It was a great year. It was a year I’ll never forget and a year I’m thankful for.

Because I’m cynical. Sarcastic. Yet desperately optimistic.

That Time That Butterflies Explained it All.

I was walking along, minding my own business, enjoying the sweltering humidity that is a June-Day-Between-Thunderstorms, when I all of a sudden found myself in a deeply philosophical place.

There was a flutter of activity, and I looked about. Butterflies. Blue butterflies. Green Butterflies. Orange Butterflies. Busily flapping about and clearly engaged in an important task.

Then I noticed that two landed on the ground near each other. I needed to get my camera ready!

Then a third!!

Oh, this was a regular butterfly convention happening. Thank goodness I was present to record the moment for posterity.

I got down on my knees and held the camera to my eye, which is when I realized what exactly they were all so excited about.

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They had all landed on a nice, fresh pile of dog poo and were busily sucking away at it.

This was more than I wanted to know about the dietary habits of butterflies. About the origins of their bold colors and their graceful flying abilities. About the tastiness of dog poo.

Yet, this moment seemed to offer so much wisdom. I found myself involuntarily creating new Southern Colloquialisms – an unavoidable past-time in Alabama, because we do love a memorable saying…

For when that annoying person is really getting on your last nerve…

“Three butterflies could land on that turd and he’d still stink.”

For when your kid has had an exceptionally whiny day…

“He’s three butterflies short of a turd party.”

When there’s that perfect Mom with the perfect hair and perfect nails and perfect outfit and perfect makeup and perfect kids and perfect house…

“She may look shiny and bright, but I guarantee you she’s sitting on a pile of dung somewhere in her life.”

When you’ve had a spectacularly pleasing day…

“I’m as happy as the first butterfly to a fresh dog log.”

For that person who always seems to make the worst choices…

“She could’ve had every flower in the forest but she chose to slurp on a turd.”

 For when you’re trying to look at the bright side of a bad situation…

“They say you can’t polish a turd, but you sure can land three pretty butterflies on it.”

To remind yourself that the fifteen dollars worth of Taco Bell you’re about to eat is totally normal….

“No matter how pretty and tiny you are, sometimes you just wanna eat like crap.”

When things are going too well…

“There’s dookie somewhere under all these butterflies.”

So go forth out into the world. Bolder and more confident. Having gained the wisdom of butterflies who make poor nutritional choices.

Boom. A Decade.

Last week was my ten year anniversary of writing on this blog.

As in, a decade of my life has been lived, and is recorded, on this website.

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It’s really quite mind-blowing – to me, and probably only to me. My first feeling about all that is that I am so much older than I was a decade ago.

I started on a complete whim. With way too little thought put into the commitment I was signing up for. It was as if I was purchasing a baby parrot and nobody happened to mention that parrots live 60 years and hey I might wanna take a minute to consider how my next 60 years look and if I have room in my schedule for a talking bird and all the poop it’ll make.

But the friends I’ve made from blogging have outweighed the crap I’ve had to clean up due to blogging, so, totally worth it.

Because I do adore numbers as well as friends, let’s talk numbers.

In ten years, I have written 2,353 posts. I started out writing more than seven times a week (It was before you could have a Facebook status, so I had a lot to say), and now write one, maybe two times a week. And I’m actually finally cool with that.

Of the 2,353 posts, I am most likely now embarrassed by 600 or so. I have only deleted 2. Oh – and I have 6 secret posts. You’ll have to ask about those.

I have had over 11 million visitors, with the completely random day of January 10, 2014 being my most heavily visited day – with a total of 126,847 visitors. Currently, a normal amount of daily visitors is around 1,300. Because, as we all know, blogging is extinct. It’s the Dodo Bird of the internet. The Pterodactyl of Social Media. But as I am the worst at quitting while I’m ahead, here I still am.

But back to the numbers.

My most popular post, at over 5 million views, featured photos of my butt a few dozen times. Its various prequels and sequels fill out my top 5 posts, because denim wisdom is, apparently, my most valuable contribution to society. Too bad it’s all outdated and I have no motivation to spend my days photographing my hind quarters in a dressing room.

After the jeans posts, Ali’s debut into Geography at 2 1/2 years old is next most popular. For the record I’d like to say that Noah is seven and doesn’t know all his states. This was one of those weird first child freak accidents. But her voice is fantastically adorable so it makes up for my cluelessness about how education works.

Oddly, the most therapeutic posts for me were the ones about what would have been tragedies, except that I was able to share them with you, in all their ridiculous how-did-this-happen-to-me glory. Such as when I went to get Noah up from a nap and discovered a bat flying around his room. AND HE CLAIMED IT BIT HIM. And the time I picked up my kid’s giant turd out of the bathtub and “accidentally” threw it at my husband. When I lived out the worst nightmare Chuck E Cheese can deliver a mom. And multiple sleepwalking injuries (some requiring ER visits), such as the time I jumped out of bed and ran into a wall – twice in one night. And also the time that my children were chased by an angry cottonmouth – and also we found a misplaced boob.

And of course medical posts. What is a blog without stories on colonoscopies, vasectomies, tonsillectomies, hysterectomies, stress tests, swallowing a camera on purpose, and illegal lactation medications.

In random news, breast pumps talk.

And I’ve had some fun with Essential Oils. Maybe a little too much fun. Is there an oil for that?

I got to interview a graffiti artist named Moist.

I met and befriended a family of bunnies.

I was able to track down and crack the case of Uncle Joe, owner of Uncle Joe’s Tot Locker. I stalked down my mysterious celebrity twin. I stalked my hacker and found the street view of their house. (I might have a stalking problem.)

I found, and watched, the movie I was in as a kid – the one where the gangster dies of syphilis.

I was able to prove that children aren’t, and perhaps shouldn’t, be bathed as often as our Mommy Guilt tells us.

I struck up a relationship with a spammer.

And it took me nine years, but I finally dipped my toes into political commentary – but only with lots of .gifs and because Alabama is so cray.

Noah starred in memes and fashion videos and was, to be quite honest, the best blogger’s toddler ever. And also the butt of all my jokes for years.

I made an entire blogging series out of my favorite neighbor ever (who has now left me and is therefore my ex-neighbor, much to my daily tragic loneliness), Not-Crazy-Renee.

My husband and I did, and blogged about, stupid insane things like making a meat bouquet. And, although we did this before our blogging days, there needed to be a record of the time we fibbed (stretched-the-truthed) ourselves out to the roof of an Atlanta skyscraper – then got locked out. Oh – and we took our wedding cake topper on our thirteenth anniversary trip?! Because blog.

These are just a few of the posts that I remember. I often click on a link to an old post and have absolutely zero recollection of ever writing it. Which is why, for my tenth anniversary of recording our family’s history, I am rewarding myself with getting my entire blog printed out into an Encyclopedia-Brittanica-Sized set of hardback books. For me to read, for Ali to read (she loves reading the first 500 posts, which I printed out many years ago), For Noah to browse and read one day, and for there to be an actual, physical product to represent the thousands of semi-pointless hours that I’ve put into this endeavor.

But the absolute best product to come out of this blog have been friendships. I have met up in real life with more blog friends than I can count, and have had those meetings in at least six states. I have dozens of friends that I would have never met were it not for me sharing my endless meanderings here. I have learned with you, laughed with you, and lived life with you. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

How long have you been hanging around here?