T is for the Tomlinsons

Kody and I have been together since 1986. I was sixteen. He was seventeen. His little brother Thomas and little sister Gianna were three and four. Kody was so good with them. It was one of the things I liked about him. Thanks to Kody, Thomas and Gianna both can still sing the Beastie Boys to this day:

“Now here’s a little story I’ve got to tell
About three bad brothers you know so well…”
 
Thomas and Gianna are all grown up.
 

Kody’s mom Dana treated me like family before I ever was. I remember going to their beautiful home my junior year before Kody and I ever went on a date. As a cheerleader, I went into a few of the senior football players’ homes and decorated their rooms with signs before the game with Coweta. I coordinated with Dana to surprise Kody. No one was home that evening, but Dana just left the front door open for me. I made Kody a poster in Guymon Tiger black-and-orange that said, “Eat a pita, Coweta!” I think he liked me for that. (By the way, the game with Coweta was tied, and Kody kicked the winning field goal. The Tigers went to state that year).

When I was a senior in high school, I taught a beginning tumbling class for kids. Gianna was four and took my class. One day, she face planted while attempting a dive roll. Tears streamed down her precious face, and I promised to take her for a Mr. Burger Coke. And I did. She’s been my little buddy ever since, and we still laugh about that time when she smashed her face. Gianna has the best laugh.

And then there’s Kody’s dad Tommy Tomlinson, Grandpa to our kids. Kind and funny, an amazing golfer and a gifted joke-teller. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard Tommy tell the same joke twice, and Kody, Thomas, and Gianna all learned the skill. My jokes are all pretty bad, but here’s one just for Tommy:

Times New Roman and Helvetica walk into a bar.

“Get out of here!” shouts the bartender. “We don’t serve your type.”

 

Bah-dum-dum. I’ll be here six more days.

A to Z Challenge

 

How many times have I found myself singing the alphabet during my A-Z blogging challenge? Q R S T U. Looks like tomorrow I will be expressing gratitude for U, or is it gratitude for you? Either way, I’m so happy you dropped by, I hope you’re well, and I would love to see you here tomorrow. Past posts are linked below 😊:

A is for Apple and B is for Boozer and C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5 and D is for Dad and E is for Epiphany and F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope and G is for Great _______ and H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle and I for an I and J is for Jesus and K is for Kody and L is for the Lovely Lauren and M is for the Marvelous Misti and a Dirty Martini and N is for the Numbers and O is for the Oversized Owl and P—Prayer and My Grandmother’s Pearls and R is for Ripples Colliding and S is for Siblings

S is for Siblings

I’m the baby of three. Liz is the first child. Scott is middle. Sometimes they call me the baby princess. That title was in a birth-order book my sister once read, and it stuck.

Ellis Island 1976

Liz left home for college after my fifth grade year, but she always made me feel missed and special with little gifts. She had a gift for monogramming things, like acrylic storage containers and plastic cups. She would say, “It’s just a little sussy.” Like, it’s just a little something. Not much. When I married Kody, Liz cross-stitched 2 Corinthians 5:7 for me and framed it, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” How many times have I walked by faith?

In her forties, Liz started a blog, and I thought, “How cool!” Liz went to law school at age fifty, and I said to myself, “I want to go back to school like Liz!” One of my favorite things about my sister these days is how she interacts with my Mom. Every time I see them together, I think, “Maybe one day, I’ll be like Liz!” Did you know that firstborns tend to be more achievement oriented and responsible?

I love the Mom photobomb, Christmas 2012.

Scott and I used to fight, and I fought dirty. Scott, I was defending myself, and I’m sorry. He left home for college after my seventh grade year. But I remember him being home one weekend and pulling me out of a boy’s car on Main Street. I was fourteen. The boy was sixteen. My big brother kept my secret, and I straightened up some. Scott, you defended my honor, and thank you! Did you know the middle child tends to be the loyal, family-peace keeper and that the baby tends to be more creative, rebellious, and attention-seeking?

These days my brother is self-less. In 2015, his community faced tragedy. Scott raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for victims and wrote an inspirational book to tell their stories. He donated all of the proceeds to a memorial built for those who lost their lives. For more information about Scott’s book Stillwater Strong and purchasing options, click here.

5 Things I Know:

  1. I was a spoiled hot mess.
  2. There is truth in birth order
  3. My siblings set the bar.
  4. They inspire me to be a better person.
  5. We all turned out okay after all.

A to Z Challenge

Splendid of you to stop by during my A-Z blogging challenge! I have seven more upcoming posts, and then I plan to re-focus on school. If you liked Liz and Scott, perhaps you would enjoy my other posts. It’s all about gratitude this April, and I’m thankful for much:

A is for Apple and B is for Boozer and C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5 and D is for Dad and E is for Epiphany and F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope and G is for Great _______ and H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle and I for an I and J is for Jesus and K is for Kody and L is for the Lovely Lauren and M is for the Marvelous Misti and a Dirty Martini and N is for the Numbers and O is for the Oversized Owl and P—Prayer and My Grandmother’s Pearls and R is for Ripples Colliding

Q is for Queen of the Quarantine

My chihuahua-terrier Rain reigns over my house. Princess from the day I brought her home, prancing as if on parade with delicate feet and ballerina legs. These days she has ascended to the throne, and by throne, I mean, wherever she damn well pleases. Our king-sized bed. The top of our couch cushions. Kody and I, loyal subjects, cater to her whims. We adore her.

And to think what might have happened if I had not been in the right place at the right time. Thankfully fate intervened.

As I stepped off the plane in Mobile, Alabama, with my friend Martha, dark clouds covered the blue sky, and raindrops fell. It was summer 2007. Our friend Mona stood next to the baggage carousel waving and waiting while Martha and I descended the escalator and grabbed our suitcases. The three of us dashed from the airport to the car, the rain drenching us, yet our spirits remained un-dampened. And the rain continued full-force throughout our five-day trip. The three of us, Martha, Mona, and I, went out to eat in the rain, we shopped in the rain, and we drove by the beach in the rain, hoping it would stop. The sky would clear, temporarily, and then rain some more.

After a shopping expedition one day in picturesque downtown Fairhope, Mona said, “I want to take ya’ll to this great little country store. The two girls who opened it are about your age and too cute! You have to see their store.”

We pulled up to the store located in a two-story, Southern-styled, clap-board house with a wrap-around porch. It was nestled among oak trees and backed up to Mobile Bay. As we browsed, one of the young owners said, “We were thinkin’ about havin’ a wine-tastin’. Would ya’ll like a glass of wine?” In no hurry, we accepted the wine and moved outside to sit on the front porch and watch the rain. About that time, a gentleman walked up with a precious, tiny black dog on a leash. She pranced like a princess and wagged her sweet, little, flipped-up tail.

The store owners knew the man, who had been fostering the dog until he found her a permanent home. One of the ladies took a Polaroid picture for the bulletin board inside, and the man with the tiny black dog struck up a conversation with my friends and me. I picked up the dog named Rain. She had been found wandering in the rain, and she licked my face.

Martha said, “Crystal, I think you need that dog.” I held the dog close and stroked her ears. Martha continued, “I think you need to fly that dog back to Dallas.” Rain felt very comfortable in my arms. “I’ll dog-sit whenever you need me,” Martha said.

I had been thinking about adopting a dog, and this one did need a home, and no doubt, she was precious and sweet. So I took the man’s phone number, thinking, If I wake up tomorrow, thinking about that dog, I’m going to take her home.

Well, not only did I wake up the next morning thinking about the dog, I couldn’t sleep at all that night. That’s when I knew—that little dog belonged to me. And I brought her home to Texas, just like Martha said, on the plane from Alabama.

Thirteen years later, Rain’s once-black face and throat have become a sophisticated white, she takes advantage of her beauty rest, and she still loves unconditionally. And Martha? Well, I owe her for the arm-twisting, she has been a dog-sitter for me, and we’re overdue for another girls’ trip.    

A to Z Challenge

Ummm, so I realize that I could’ve categorized this post under R for Rain during this A-Z blogging challenge, but I needed a Q. Ummm, now I need an R post. 😊 And this is why it’s called a challenge and why I’m happy for another day. If you liked reading about Rain, perhaps you would enjoy my other posts. It’s all about gratitude this April, and I’m thankful for Rain and Martha and Mona and much:

A is for Apple and B is for Boozer and C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5 and D is for Dad and E is for Epiphany and F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope and G is for Great _______ and H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle and I for an I and J is for Jesus and K is for Kody and L is for the Lovely Lauren and M is for the Marvelous Misti and a Dirty Martini and N is for the Numbers and O is for the Oversized Owl and P—Prayer and My Grandmother’s Pearls

P—Prayer and My Grandmother’s Pearls

How many times have I put myself together to mask my falling apart? I have a classic move. When circumstances call, I dress to impress, say a prayer, and wear my grandmother’s pearls.

Grandma passed on December 11, 1991, almost nine years after Grandpa. She had been living in a nursing home after having a stroke a few years earlier, but that’s not how I remember her. I never heard a single ugly word pass through her lips. I remember the classiest of ladies who dressed to impress and loved the Lord. I remember her picture perfect two-bedroom home with the masters on the walls. All of it on a shoestring budget. She shopped at consignment stores, possessed an eye for elegance, and lived within her means. I inherited her pearls and her Van Gogh and hopefully her attitude.

And for those times that I need to conjure strength and normalcy and class, I stand up straight and choose my clothes with care. I say a prayer and wear my grandmother’s pearls.

A to Z Challenge

Do you find yourself being extra reflective during this time? These days (and the A-Z blogging challenge) have given me pause to give thanks for so many people and things in my life. I hope you have your own little collection:

A is for Apple and B is for Boozer and C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5 and D is for Dad and E is for Epiphany and F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope and G is for Great _______ and H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle and I for an I and J is for Jesus and K is for Kody and L is for the Lovely Lauren and M is for the Marvelous Misti and a Dirty Martini and N is for the Numbers and O is for the Oversized Owl

O is for the Oversized Owl

A week or so ago when I pulled the hatbox from the top shelf of the hallway closet, I found a photo inside of Dad with my 4’11” Granny. It was the early 90s. She was 80ish. My dad 50ish. Granny wore a necklace, a long gold-plated rope chain with an oversized owl pendant. The owl’s eyes suspended, dangling rhinestones. My Granny’s eyes sparkle, too. Her smile warm and true.

When my Granny passed in January of 1999, I inherited her owl necklace, and I didn’t need anything else. She was born in November of 1911 (11/11), and she was 87. I’ll always remember her love of books and her seemingly endless collection of Louis L’Amour, her love of animals and her tiny Chihuahua Chip, her talking cockatiel Bird and her calico cat Calileo. I’ll always remember how she asked about my grades in school and after my report how she would say, “That’s my girl!” I’ll always remember her ability to stand on her head into her 60s and the way she took a stand when it came to other people’s shit. The owl symbolizes wisdom, in the Greek tradition the owl was also a protector, and mine will forever stand for my Granny.

brown owl perched on brown wooden post under white clouds
Photo by Victor Miyata on Pexels.com

I appreciate you for taking time to share my memory of Granny and for supporting my first A-Z blogging challenge! One more favorite Granny story is that time she sprayed the neighbor boys with a water hose when they were all dressed up and going somewhere, church, I think. I’m sure my Dad could supply the missing details. From what I remember, the boys started it. Granny ended it.

“Though she be but little, she is fierce.”

My other posts are clickable below:

A is for Apple and B is for Boozer and C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5 and D is for Dad and E is for Epiphany and F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope and G is for Great _______ and H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle and I for an I and J is for Jesus and K is for Kody and L is for the Lovely Lauren and M is for the Marvelous Misti and a Dirty Martini and N is for the Numbers

 

L is for the Lovely Lauren

Lauren is my Baby Girl. Born 7 ½ weeks premature with the tiniest fingers and toes and the face of an angel that matched her brother’s. She came home from the hospital still too small to cry. I would set my alarm to wake her up every few hours each night for a two-ounce bottle. She was a fighter from the beginning.

She fought her way through six years of competitive soccer and the quest for the national championship. She fought her way through four years toward a BBA with a degree in finance. 

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Now she’s twenty-eight, living six miles away, and fighting the daily battle of sheltering in place and alone. I wonder how I would have handled a pandemic at her age by myself, and I can only imagine, not well. And so we talk on the phone and FaceTime. And I’ve driven over to see her a few times to mix it up for both of us.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to be a mother and witness the transformation of my tiny baby girl into a strong independent woman who can do hard things. I’m thankful for her job and her ability to work from home. I’m thankful for our health and proximity. And I’m thankful to know—this too shall pass.

A to Z Challenge

Hello, Dear Reader! I’m thankful for you for reading my A-Z blogging challenge! This April I’ve committed to a daily theme of gratitude because somehow that always carries me through.

A is for Apple and B is for Boozer and C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5 and D is for Dad and E is for Epiphany and F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope and G is for Great _______ and H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle and I for an I and J is for Jesus and K is for Kody

 

 

K is for Kody

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Post-graduation homecoming 1988. Oh, and letter jackets.

I’m not exactly sure when Kody realized that I existed. For me, it’s like I have always known him. In small towns like Guymon, everybody knows everybody. We grew up together in the middle of the Oklahoma panhandle where fields of corn and wheat meet endless clear blue skies.

I remember the day in July of 1984 when our friendship started. Kody remembers an earlier episode during the winter of the same year involving a high school basketball game, my pink snow boots that looked like high-top tennis shoes, a detonated firecracker inside the gym, and our junior high principal Mr. Wolgamott throwing him out of the game, but that’s his story to tell. In my version of our beginning, I was fourteen, hanging out with a group of junior high friends at the Olympic-sized Guymon municipal pool. At the deep end stood the high dive, flanked by two low diving boards, with a deck off to the side where we slathered on baby oil and baked in the sun. Kody’s tan was sexy, and his muscles rippled as he flipped and cannon-balled off the high board that day. His laugh made me laugh, and I said to him, “Could you give me a ride home?”

Kody drove a 1977 white Chevy Silverado pick-up even though he was barely fifteen. Looking back I’m betting my mom would have been available to pick me up, and I’m pretty sure she would have disapproved of her fourteen-year-old daughter riding around with any boy, not to mention one without a license. I most likely asked Kody for a ride for the sheer summer thrill.

When Kody pulled into the circle drive at my house and slowed to a stop, I opened the passenger door to let myself out and said, “Thanks for the ride.” But Kody never parked, instead accelerating again, completing the circle while I held on to the open truck door and cracked up. A moment later and once more outside my front door, he stopped for another mock drop-off, and like a record, we rotated through the drive, the scene repeating, the Silverado pausing, and we rolled on, Kody’s arms flexing as he held onto the steering wheel, his laugh infectious. Finally, he let me go. We were kids, being kids, and I found myself giggling about that ride for days.

November 25, 1989

Flash forward a couple of years to our first date and a few more years to our first marriage and thirty more through our journey of ups and downs, human mistakes and equally human reactions, break ups and makeups, a divorce and a second marriage. 

Believe it or not, we’re divorced here. June 2010.
11-11-11 Do you believe in 11:11?
Christmas 2019. “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne ceaselessly into the past.”

Thanks for reading my A-Z blogging challenge! I’m sticking to a theme of gratitude because somehow that always carries me through.

A to Z Challenge

A is for Apple and B is for Boozer and C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5 and D is for Dad and E is for Epiphany and F is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope and G is for Great _______ and H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle and I for an I and J is for Jesus

 

 

H is for Hatbox and Honeysuckle

In the top of the hallway closet, there’s a faded hatbox, covered with Raphael’s Cherubs from the Sistine Madonna. If I remember correctly, I purchased it at Hobby Lobby about twenty-five years ago. Inside are cherubs of my own, photographs of Drew and Lauren before the era of digital cameras. They have matching brown eyes, chubby cheeks, and full-mouthed smiles, the ones that say, Every day is the best day ever!

Here they are ages four and two, inside their Playskool playhouse, on the covered back patio of our first north Texas home. Honeysuckle grows on the chain link fence in the background. Drew with a smug, closed-mouth grin, his arm wrapped around Lauren’s neck, her mouth open wide and tongue sticking out, sort of like she’s choking, but there’s a smile behind the joke, and their eyes sparkle with mischief.

Here is Drew’s five-year-old birthday. His Chuck E. Cheese hat covers his soft brown curls, and he holds up a Power Ranger sheet, the matching pillow case in Lauren’s hand, and more of everything Power Ranger litters the living room floor—posters and coloring books, placemats and dishes and cups.

In a Halloween photo from the same year, Drew wears an eye patch and a red paisley doo-rag, a bushy, black pirate mustache and beard. A butterfly mask covers Lauren’s eyes. She’s two and three-quarters, and she wears a headband with sparkly antennae atop her still-blonde hair and wings the colors of Halloween, black, yellow, and orange.

If only I had appreciated these moments more at the time. They slipped away too soon. Thank God for the hatbox and happy memories! And you know what? Honeysuckle covers a section of fence here in our backyard, too. And the fragrance is heavenly.

During April, I’m reflecting on life, feeling grateful, and taking on the A-Z blogging challenge. I appreciate you for reading today! If you liked this one, click the links to the others below.

A is for AppleB is for BoozerC is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5D is for DadE is for EpiphanyF is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + HopeG is for Great _______

G is for Great _______

You know what I LOVE? My GREAT nieces. AND being a GREAT aunt. It’s just—well—GREAT! And to think I don’t have to do anything to be GREAT, and neither do they. How GREAT is that!

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Meet Olivia Grace (R) and Allyson Kate (L), almost six and three.
Just look at her face, and those curls!
Pure joy!
My braiding needs practice, but what about those perfect highlights?
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And this little snuggler!
Girls
We have a bond.

Everything about these girls reminds me of where I’m from—the wide open spaces, endless horizons, and Oklahoma skies. And they’re growing up before my very eyes.

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When I see these girls next, we have some catching up to do, Lego building and coloring sprees and playing Memory cards. There will be braiding of the hair and swimming in the pool. It looks like we may have some wide open spaces to explore, and I can’t wait. It will all be GREAT. 

So I’m curious, what is great in your life just because it is? This month I’ve committed to the A-Z blogging challenge. Each day I’m reflecting on what is GREAT and what I love and what carries me through this crazy life. I hope these posts inspire more of the same:

A is for AppleB is for BoozerC is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5D is for DadE is for EpiphanyF is for Faith + Gratitude = Peace + Hope

A to Z Challenge

 

D is for Dad

My dad is David. He’s a cool dude.

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1976 USA Bicentennial and family vacation to NYC

Even though my dad lives a twelve-hour drive away, he is actually with me every day. So many years ago, let’s just go with 1984, my dad said, “Crystal, you can choose your attitude.” I was fourteen in 1984, and I’m not sure when my perspective shifted, but one day I chose to believe him. His philosophy forever shaped my life.

***

On the day my dad asked my mom to marry him, he bought a box of Cracker Jacks, opened it up, excavated the prize, and re-inserted a lovely solitaire diamond on a simple white gold band. Later on their date, my mom and dad shared their Cracker Jacks, and my mother found her prize.

“This looks real,” she said.

“It is real,” he said.

***

My parents celebrate their 59th anniversary in May. My dad will celebrate anyway. My mom has Alzheimer’s. They’re both 80. However, my dad still lawyers during the work week, and during the summers he still takes running dives into his swimming pool, and he still travels with my siblings and me.

Siblings and Dad
Dad’s 80th Birthday in Napa, October 2019

Mid-March Dad texted me to say that my mom’s nursing home implemented a no-visitor policy. So now Dad calls the front desk and asks them to open the blinds of my mom’s window, and he visits from outside. I can only imagine him waving his arms like a mad man and making the craziest faces to capture her attention. Then he will send me and my sister and brother a group text with his success. I mean, what can I say? My dad is a cool dude. Obviously, my mom thinks so, too.

Mom
Isn’t she precious?

Thanks so much for spending time with me at my first ever A-Z blogging challenge. As I hover at home this April, I’ll be seeking the good in every day and reflecting on it here. I count you as part of the good.

A is for Apple

B is for Boozer

C is for Champagne and Chanel No. 5