Beachcombing and Bemoaning

By Andrea Hagan

 

I love shelling.  It combines some of my favorite things – the beach, physical activity, solitude and attention to detail.  Planning for one of my family’s upcoming Florida trips, I (naively) thought that it was time to introduce my daughter to my beloved pastime.

I envisioned us as a great mother-daughter beachcombing duo.  What fun we would have on our hunt and even better, getting our treasure back home where we would eagerly sort and proudly display our fighting conchs, kitten paws, shark’s eyes, maybe even a prized alphabet cone or two!

 

Then there was the reality of shelling with a toddler.  One of the best shelling spots in Southwest Florida takes some effort to reach.  We set off on bikes for the first stretch, my husband pulling our daughter and her baby brother in the bike trailer.  The second leg requires a one-mile walk along the beach.  My husband pushes our son in the bike trailer and our daughter gets out and takes my hand.  It’s the perfect day for shelling and I smile, excited to create this new tradition with my daughter.

That is until I spot the first fighting conch.  l let go of my toddler’s hand to pick it up and put it in my bag and she whines, “Mom, hold my hand.”  This is my daughter’s latest annoying toddler behavior.  In public, she demands I hold her hand, regardless if I’m holding her brother and a diaper bag plus a bag of groceries, she goes into complete hysterics if I let go of her hand for a split second.  I’m not sure if this is a power struggle, jealousy of her brother, or if she’s becoming Howard Hughes, afraid of people and being in public in general.  So I explain to her that we are shelling and that when we see a pretty shell, we stop and pick it up and I need my other hand to do that.  Two steps later and I spot another shell, and again, “Mom, hold my hand.”  “Mom, hold my hand.”  “Mom, hold my hand.”  “MOM, HOLD MY HAND!”

Now, some of you might be thinking, what a terrible mom complaining that her daughter wants to hold her hand.  I implore you to listen to “Mom, hold my hand” for 150 times, each whine becoming higher in octave and louder than the Gulf of Mexico crashing against the shoreline before you lose your (sea glass) marbles!  My husband tried to help, but he’s pushing baby brother in a bike trailer, not an easy feat on baby powder fine sand. Eventually, my daughter has a complete meltdown and we are forced to put her in the trailer too, which makes strolling on the beach difficult and shelling less than enjoyable.

One mile in means one mile out.  We try to let our daughter walk on the return trip, and it’s still the broken record of “Mom, hold my hand,” but now sprinkled in is, “Mom, hold me” with “Mom, this is too much walking, Can you hold me?”  The hallmark picture perfect mother-daughter shelling tradition that I envisioned sinks right to the bottom of the Gulf and is carried over to Keewaydin Island, probably with the alphabet cone.

I did add a few shells to my collection on that trip.  Just don’t hold the fighting conch up to your ear because all you’ll hear is whine.

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No shoes allowed…inside the house!

At my house, we have a shoeless policy.  Everyone takes off their shoes before they come inside.

Prior to having children, this is something that would have never even crossed my mind.  “Sex and the City” (anyone remember “Sex and the City”???) did an episode about Carrie attending a baby shower at a friend’s apartment with such a policy, only to have her Molonano Balanics stolen.  Legal Disclaimer – if you own a pair of Manolo Blahniks, please do not wear them over to my house.  I cannot be held responsible for the safety of your insanely expensive shoes.  Years ago when I watched that episode, I completely related with Carrie.  What lunatic makes you take off your shoes?

Flash forward 2013 when my daughter was born, and that lunatic is now me.  Once your little one becomes mobile, with those sweet little hands on the floor, and subsequently, in their mouth, it makes you think twice about wearing those old gym shoes in the kitchen.  I would never let my kids crawl around on the grocery store floor, for example, so why would I wear shoes in the house that just walked in said grocery store?  I’m by no means a germaphobe.  Kids should eat a little dirt now and then, just not off my hardwood floors!

Sans shoes really wasn’t too difficult to implement.  We just put a shoe rack at the top of our garage steps, easy peasy.  I have a pair of flip-flops handy in case I need to go out in the garage for something.  And who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?  My husband has no problem with taking his shoes off.  He agrees with my logic and appreciates the end result of cleaner floors.

For guests that don’t know the shoe rule, I have prominently displayed an Etsy hand-painted sign that reads “Because little hands touch our floor, please leave your shoes at the door.”  Cute, right?  Apparently not.

After recently moving to our new house, we threw our first party.  I prominently displayed the shoe sign on the front door for those that had never been to my house before.  Guests politely complied, as a pile of shoes lay by the door.  One individual came inside with their shoes on.  I explained that we have a shoes free house but apparently this offended this individual’s dignity and honor.  I might as well have insulted their mama!  I thought I was going to have to forcefully remove their shoes.  The shoes were finally taken off with an audible huff, but it was a weird exchange that I thought was unnecessary.  And for the record, the shoes in question were definitely not Manolo Blahniks!

Am I militant about the shoe thing?  Yes.  But that’s just my personality.  Once I commit to something, I’m all in.  So, you’ve all been warned.  Please leave your shoes and attitude at the door!

Until next time, I’d love to hear what you think about my barefoot brouhaha.  Does anyone out there have a shoe-free home?  Any Carrie’s out there that think being asked to remove your shoes is offensive and borderline OCD?

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Bird Eggs in One Basket

After making the decision this year to actively pursue a writing career (more about that
in my blog Mommy Moments “When Life Gives You Lemons and Lyme Complex” for
Wilson Living online), I began writing a little bit every day.

I finished the draft on a different children’s story about a bird and read it to the toughest
critic I know: my now four-year-old daughter. I asked her what she thought. Her hesitant
reply was, “Well, I like it, but I wish I had a blue jay story because the blue jay is my
favorite bird.”

And so I sat down while my kids were taking a nap and wrote “The Blue Jay Blues.” I
had some feathery inspiration, seemingly having birds on the brain. My husband
recently put up a hummingbird feeder and a songbird feeder in our backyard, little things
that have brought big entertainment to myself and my children.

We all have our favorite birds, my son the hummingbird, myself the cardinal and my
daughter, of course, the blue jay. Fitting that my daughter picked the notoriously mean
bird as her favorite, as she delights in terrorizing her little brother.

But then I got to thinking about it. Was the blue jay really a bad bird, or was he just
misunderstood? This sparked the story for “The Blue Jay Blues,” with more inspiration
flowing from my time living in Memphis where both my husband Ensley and I attended
law school. You think Memphis, and you can hear B.B. King’s electric guitar. You can
visualize a lyrical, neon trail of heartbreak dancing down Beale Street.

“The Blue Jay Blues” is a story about a blues playing Blue Jay who just wants to play
with the other birds, but they’ve all heard that Blue Jay is bad news. Overcoming his
bad reputation, all the birds perform in the Blue Jay Blues Band. It’s a rocking good time
with an educational bent, throwing in some facts about Blues music and blue jays.

While I’ve sent out many of my other stories to find a home at a big publishing house, I
decided that I wasn’t going to wait until an elite in New York decided to give my blue jay
story a chance. I had my marching orders from my daughter, after all.

I asked for divine wisdom on how to proceed. It just so happens that my daughter
received an angel book by a publisher whose name included the word “wisdom.” Seeing
that as a sign, I did an online search trying to find the book’s publisher, thinking that was
where I should send my story. Well, I couldn’t find the angel book publisher, but landed
instead on Wisdom House Press, an independent publishing house in North Carolina. I
decided to take a leap of faith, or a flight of faith as it were, since birds apparently are
my muse.

So about all those eggs in one basket. During “The Blue Jay Blues” production, I had
the idea for a Southern poetry journal. Much of my writing begins in a journal, so I
thought why not put my pen to paper on paper already containing my words?
I began thinking of all the sayins' of my late grandma from Crossville and began turning
those expressions into poems. My list keeps growing every day, with “new” old material
supplied by my Lebanon grandmother-in-law Madeline Hagan, and the current tally is at
more than 600.

I decided to split the sassy sayins' into multiple books. The first I’m sharing is called “A
Big Helping of Southern with a Pinch of Poetry: A Sassy Southern Journal.” From
canning to a can-do attitude, from big hair to big dreams, with A Big Helping of Southern
I hope to leave you hungry for seconds! Of course, I want you to buy my journal, but I’ll
give you a taste (just don’t ruin your supper!):

“Life is like a potluck, what others make you can’t dictate. But you create your own
menu, so make something delicious to adorn your plate!”

“All your eggs in one basket is said to be foolhardy. Unless you’re making omelets, you
need a few broken eggs for a brunch party!”

Come out to hear a reading of “The Blue Jay Blues” during Wilson Living’s
Breakfast with Santa Nov. 16 at 8 and 10 a.m. The event will be at the Wilson
County Fairgrounds’ James E. Ward Ag Center.

Andrea Hagan is a mom full time, a lawyer part-time and a wordsmith on the weekends.
Check out her blog Mommy Moments for Wilson Living Magazine online. Andrea and
her family live in Lebanon where her husband, Ensley, was born and raised. Andrea is
an interloper from Sparta, but we won’t hold that against her. Be sure to check out
Andrea’s website Andreahaganbooks.com for more information about her upcoming
projects and to purchase her books.

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Lemons & Lyme Complex

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.  When life gives you Lyme complex, you make…?

After a few years of rapidly declining health with fuzzy labels such as chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia, I was finally diagnosed with Lyme complex. And I couldn’t have been more excited. Wait, what? If you’ve ever struggled with an unnamed illness, you know what I’m talking about. A diagnosis at least is confirmation that yes, you’ve been really sick and here’s why. 

Lyme disease is a big old political firestorm for reasons longer than I’ll delve into right now. Life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. Life gives you Lyme, you’d better make a sizable annual income because treatment is going to be expensive. 

To compound the issue, no one agrees on the treatment plan.  Take long-term antibiotics, but how long? No, take IV antibiotics. No, antibiotics will wreck your already wrecked system, take herbs. No, detox from heavy metals and co-infections first before you even think about addressing Lyme.

So what to make with Lyme? Stephen Buhner, Lyme expert, herbalist and author of “Healing Lyme,” opines that one of the many functions of illness is to “teach us how to alter the fabric of our lives in order to become whole again…and how to remain that way.” Of course Mr. Buhner looks exactly how you’d imagine an herbalist would look like, with long hair spilling out of his beret, neck adorned by various necklaces and scarves. You can practically smell the patchouli wafting off him from his website picture. 

While I’m not about to don a beret any time soon (sorry, I don’t care that they are called fascinators across the pond and that Duchess Kate wears them), what am I going to make with Lyme? 

I started honestly examining my life and asking myself what I want to do with the precious time that I have on this planet. And my books popped back into my mind. I had written a couple of children’s books several years ago, sent them to a few big publishers and never hearing anything, so I easily gave up and moved on. So I’ll put my writer’s hat back on, OK maybe I will wear a beret after all, and pursue my passion, which is to see my children’s books published.    

Till next time. Make lots of lemonade between now and then!

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A Valentine’s Day Regift

Think regifting is limited to December 25th and bad Christmas sweaters? Think again!  Valentine’s Day is the perfect time to regift.  Valentine’s Day is all about giving your heart to someone else.  I am being literal here.  I am taking about becoming an organ donor.

Organ donation is dubbed the gift of life, but I think it’s really a regift.   We are blessed with these original gifts in our bodies.  Take the human liver, for example, it is so amazing, it can regenerate itself even if part of its own tissue dies.  On a side note, let’s all take a collective moment to apologize to our liver for our past transgressions – spring break; college; your best friend’s wedding; cheap beer; you fill in the blank.  My mother was an organ donor and her organs helped save three people.  One recipient now has my mother’s liver; she was a teetotaler to boot so talk about a top of the line regift!

Only around 37 percent of eligible Tennesseans are registered organ donors, well below the national average of around 50 percent.  (FYI, New York state has the fewest donors, coming in at an abysmal 33 percent).  Why are Tennesseans, known for our volunteer spirit, failing to volunteer our hearts?  There’s certainly a lot of “bless your heart” being dished out, but not a lot of actual bestowing of the heart.  On this Valentine’s Day, let us all commit to regifting our hearts (and other organs that aren’t quite as Valentine’s theme related).

Please go to donatelifetn.org to become an organ donor.  It only takes a few minutes to fill out the online form.

 

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Happiness on hold and other DIY mommy projects

 

By Andrea Hagan

My kids and I love visiting the library.  As an adult, you get to relive those great childhood memories of your library, excited to pick a few new books to take home.  I allow my daughter to check out two books at a time; otherwise, we’d wind up losing them.  She went through a stage where it was great fun to place items in various locations throughout the house (Mom’s hairbrush shoved in the onion bin in the pantry, check!  Mom’s bra tied around lion’s neck, check!  Mom’s wedding ring under the trampoline, check!)

I like to check out a few books too, usually cookbooks.  While perusing the cooking section, I stumbled up “The Happiness Project,” a book that had obviously been mishelved (Can’t blame my daughter, she was in the stroller at the time…).  This is an older book I vaguely remember hearing about back when I had the time to read one book a week, ie before children.  I decide to check it out.  Why not?  What mom couldn’t use a little more happiness?

Fast forward three months later.  I am exactly on page three, having renewed this book a total of four times.  I’m almost embarrassed to attempt a fifth renewal, afraid the librarian will see this in the computer system and say, “Lady, you’re delusional!  You and I both know that you are not going to make the time to read this book!  Extension denied!  With a big thud of the stamper on the card in the back of the book (Well, there are no more stampers or cards in the back of the book as everything is now electronic, but it would certainly make for a more dramatic effect).  A hush would fall over the library, everyone would turn from their board backed periodicals (okay, their Facebook pages on the library computers) to stare at the woman who simply could not find the time to be happy.  Shamefully, I would exit the library with nothing to show for the humiliation except for my daughter’s two Clifford books that I could dramatically reenact if called upon, having painfully read and reread.

There were all sorts of projects and plans that simply never happened.  For example, I was going to organize all my daughter’s pictures and make several collage canvases and baby books by her first birthday Never happened as we are now at age three.  The shadow boxes of newborn keepsakes still adorn my dining room table, a project that at least got started.

I’m not going to say that happiness is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, because that is too cliché.  Maybe the lesson here is that the very essence of happiness cannot be turned into a project or captured in a DIY book.  That my happiness today was my daughter snuggling in my lap for a few minutes or my son looking up at me from his crib, smiling and holding up his arms, waiting for me to pick him up from his nap.  At least that’s what I’ll tell that judgmental librarian when I return the unread Happiness Project book next week….

Till next month!

 

 

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Happiness on hold and other DIY mommy projects

By Andrea Hagan

 

My kids and I love visiting the library.  As an adult, you get to relive those great childhood memories of your library, excited to pick a few new books to take home.  I allow my daughter to check out two books at a time; otherwise, we’d wind up losing them.  She went through a stage where it was great fun to place items in various locations throughout the house (Mom’s hairbrush shoved in the onion bin in the pantry, check!  Mom’s bra tied around lion’s neck, check!  Mom’s wedding ring under the trampoline, check!)

I like to check out a few books too, usually cookbooks.  While perusing the cooking section, I stumbled up “The Happiness Project,” a book that had obviously been mishelved (Can’t blame my daughter, she was in the stroller at the time…).  This is an older book I vaguely remember hearing about back when I had the time to read one book a week, ie before children.  I decide to check it out.  Why not?  What mom couldn’t use a little more happiness? 

Fast forward three months later.  I am exactly on page three, having renewed this book a total of four times.  I’m almost embarrassed to attempt a fifth renewal, afraid the librarian will see this in the computer system and say, “Lady, you’re delusional!  You and I both know that you are not going to make the time to read this book!  Extension denied!  With a big thud of the stamper on the card in the back of the book (Well, there are no more stampers or cards in the back of the book as everything is now electronic, but it would certainly make for a more dramatic effect).  A hush would fall over the library, everyone would turn from their board backed periodicals (okay, their Facebook pages on the library computers) to stare at the woman who simply could not find the time to be happy.  Shamefully, I would exit the library with nothing to show for the humiliation except for my daughter’s two Clifford books that I could dramatically reenact if called upon, having painfully read and reread. 

There were all sorts of projects and plans that simply never happened.  For example, I was going to organize all my daughter’s pictures and make several collage canvases and baby books by her first birthday Never happened as we are now at age three.  The shadow boxes of newborn keepsakes still adorn my dining room table, a project that at least got started.

I’m not going to say that happiness is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, because that is too cliché.  Maybe the lesson here is that the very essence of happiness cannot be turned into a project or captured in a DIY book.  That my happiness today was my daughter snuggling in my lap for a few minutes or my son looking up at me from his crib, smiling and holding up his arms, waiting for me to pick him up from his nap.  At least that’s what I’ll tell that judgmental librarian when I return the unread Happiness Project book next week….

 

Till next month!

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