A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

Better late than never… September 5, 2012

I have put this particular post off for right around twenty-five pounds.  That’s how much weight I’ve put on since last year at this time.  I’m not one to focus on the numbers – I’m just at a point now where I’m not comfortable with myself.  My clothes are too tight, my energy level is too low, and I feel unhealthy.

So, now that the kids are back in school and we’re all on a routine, I’m going to buckle down and drop these unhealthy pounds.  Blogging about it will be my virtual accountability partner.

I actually love exercising.  Ronnie and I (and my sister!) completed Insanity last year.  If you haven’t seen the infomercial, check it out.  I’m a sucker for exercise infomercials in general.  I’ve done Slim in Six, several of the Firms, a crazy version of Tae Bo, the Ten-Minute Trainer, and I bought one called Yoga Booty Ballet, but I never really could get into that one.

We have a Total Gym in the garage that would make Chuck Norris proud.  I also have a punching bag, a bicycle, a vertical knee raise machine, a jump rope, and some free weights.

I guess the point is that I’m well-equipped to go in the garage and get an intense work-out.

So, I just need to start.

And eat right.

Right now I’m a little hooked on bad food.  Okay, to be perfectly honest, my diet is just downright bad right now.  I read a book once that said that Americans are addicted to the combination of sodium, sugar, and fat that is in most of our restaurant food.  I’m guilty right now.  Time to cut the junk and detoxify my body.  I know the first couple of days will be hard, but after that I’ll feel instantly healthier.

Along with that, I need to drink water.  Yesterday, I didn’t even have a single drop of water until dinner.  That’s embarrassing since I know the consequences of not drinking water.  I know better.

I’m not going to bore everyone by writing constantly about my progress.  But, I’m going to be working on it.  Every once in a while, I’ll update you on my progress.  Twenty-five pounds took me a year to put on, and I expect it to take a little while to take back off.

Wish me luck!


Who you gonna call? August 12, 2012

Superstitious Mario

Superstitious Mario (Photo credit: david_a_lea)

“When you feel a cold spot on a hot day, that’s a ghost,” Max declared as we drove home from dinner.

“Who told you that?” I asked.


“Do you really think that?”

“Yes,” he answered emphatically.

“Well, I don’t believe in ghosts.”

He gasped.  “I’ve seen one.  And if you say you don’t believe in them, you will see one too.”

“No I won’t.”

“Yes you will.”

“I don’t believe in ghosts.  Anyway, when have you seen one?”

“Well, one night in my room when it was dark and I was in my bed, I saw one floating through my room and it went out the window.”

“How did it go out the window?  Your window is always closed.”

He gave an exasperated sigh. “Mom, ghosts can go through windows.  Of course.”

“Oh.  Well, was it a friendly ghost?”

“There are no friendly ghosts.”

“What about Casper the Friendly Ghost?”

“He’s the only one.”

“Well, how do you know the ghost in your room wasn’t friendly?”

“Because when he came through, he made a face at me and he whispered, ‘I’m going to get you!’.”

“Wow.  I bet that was scary.”

“It was!  At night, all the mean ghosts party in our back yard when we go to bed.”

“How do they know when you’re in bed?”

“They have brains!”

“Oh really?”

“Yes.  Brains like mad scientists on the outside of their bodies.  But not all of them have brains.  But the ones that have brains tell all the other ghosts when we go to bed.”

“How big are their brains?”

“As big as my head!  And I have a big head.  A bigger head than anyone you know.”


“Well, don’t I have a big head?”

“I guess so.”

My phone rang, so I interrupted our debate to answer it.  It was my sister informing me that all of our chickens appeared to be dead.

I hung up the phone and wondered if the ghosts of five chickens would dance through Max’s room that night, and if they did if they’d be friendly.


2012 Summer Vacation July 29, 2012


Our vacation was wonderful!  We went to the beach in South Carolina, and we camped in our camper.  We did so many fun things – it would take too long to write about them all.  So, instead, here are my favorite things from our vacation:


1.  Kendra and Max rode the highest water slides at Myrtle Waves.  Max wanted to ride it so badly, but he was terrified to go up the stairs.  Ronnie held one hand, and I held the other, and he cried the entire way up out of sheer terror.  But, he kept going.  When he got to the top, he rode that slide, which is an intense water slide – he barely even met the height requirement to ride.  He loved it!  They both did.  As soon as it was over, they both pranced right back up the stairs to do it again.


Those were some high slides! I would have never gone up there if the kids didn’t want to!


2. One night we were there, the pools were closed because of lightning.  We went down to the beach and watched an incredible storm over the ocean.  The kids played in the sand while Ronnie and I watched the lightning show.  It was amazing.  The kids were so funny.  They were “doing the ocean dance” – Kendra’s consisted of spinning in circles and high-stepping at the edge of the water, and Max’s was his usual monkey dance while chanting “doing the ocean dance” over and over.  It was great.  Ronnie and I even joined in so all four of us just totally let loose at the edge of the ocean over which was a massive storm.  I felt so little and insignificant yet free at the same time.





3. The last morning we were there, Kendra wanted to watch the sunrise and she hoped to see dolphins.  I set an alarm and we went down to the beach before most other people were awake.  We sat side by side and watched the sun come up.  Then, we saw dolphins.  They were so close to the shore that Kendra really got a good look at them.  I think we saw about twenty of them for a period of about ten minutes.  Just as the last of the dolphins were leaving, the boys joined us, so our whole little family enjoyed the quiet of the beach at sunrise.  It was really fun.


myrtle beach sunrise

myrtle beach sunrise (Photo credit: rainbreaw)


4. Ronnie held Kendra in the ocean, and I was holding Max.  We were jumping the waves and laughing and playing.  All of a sudden, Max pulled his foot out of the water, and shrieked.  His foot was covered in wet toilet paper.  It was so disgusting, but we all started laughing.  I laughed so hard that I was completely helpless when the next wave came.  It hit Max and me and we both tumbled all the way to shore.  We were still laughing when we finally got back above water.


5. There was a bath house across from our campsite.  When we came in from the ocean, I told the kids to go shower the sand off before I gave them real showers in the camper.  I waited outside.  Kendra came out fully dressed like a person should be after a shower and went inside the camper.  When Max came out, he had the goofiest proud look on his face.  He was holding his trunks, and he had a beach towel wrapped around himself.  Unfortunately, the towel was twisted into more of a belt than a towel, and he was holding it right around his waist.  So, there came my proud naked son marching across the campground with a towel for a belt.  I was laughing so hard that all I could do was scoot him along before anyone else noticed.


6. One night, we let the kids swim until the pool closed, and Ronnie and I just sat on the edge with our feet in the water to watch them.  Almost all the kids in the pool were playing with a giant beach ball, hitting it back and forth.  Ronnie asked one of the boys if he could hold the ball for a second.  The confused boy handed it to Ronnie, and Ronnie grabbed it and took off running.  All the kids in the pool were obviously confused as to why a grown man would steal their ball.  I thought Ronnie would bring it right back, but he didn’t.  Several uncomfortable minutes passed with the kids kind of aimlessly wandering around not quite sure what to do before Ronnie brought it back and threw it back in the pool.  He’s so silly!


7.  We took a nap every day.  It was luxurious!



8. We rode the Sky Wheel in downtown Myrtle Beach.  Once again, Max was scared at first, but he ended up really loving it.  The views were amazing!





9. We let the kids eat ice cream for breakfast.  I know they’ll remember that forever.  When else can you eat junk food first thing in the morning?  They were so excited to be allowed to do something that is so off-limits at home.



10. Kendra and Ronnie did the “Space Walk” at Wonderworks.  Max tried, but he was too scared, so I took him back down.  He and I watched Kendra and Ronnie do the high obstacle course.  Kendra was barely big enough to reach some of the hand holds, and she was clearly scared at first, but she trusted her daddy and they did that course together.  I was so proud of her!


English: WonderWorks at Broadway at the Beach ...

English: WonderWorks at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was sure a great vacation!  But I’m glad to be home.



Don’t prop me up beside the jukebox when I die July 8, 2012

I’m not one to dwell on death much.  But it happens to everyone, so there’s no point in never considering it.  I know everyone has unique wishes for their final departure from this world, and most cultures have traditions that preside over funerals or ceremonies.

That’s nice and all, but I don’t want anything extravagant.  In fact, if I could have what I really want, here’s what it would be:

1.  I want to stay home.  Don’t whisk my body away as soon as I croak to some stuffy funeral home.  Just leave me home for a day or two.  Let the people who love me come and say goodbye in my home.  Let my family get used to the idea that I’m gone on their own terms.  This may sound creepy nowadays, but in the old days, this is how they did it.  Granted, I don’t think it’s necessary to lay me out on the kitchen table as was commonly done in old Appalachia, but it wouldn’t hurt to put me on a cot or something in the living room.

2.  I want Ronnie to build my coffin.  And I want my coffin to be a simple pine box.  No cushions, satin, pillows, brass fixtures, varnish or anything else.  I live a simple life.  I enjoy simple things.  My middle name is Jane, for crying out loud!  Plus, building my box will give Ronnie something productive to do instead of sitting around and looking at me lying on the cot in the living room.  It’s better for him to stay busy.

3.  I do not want to be cremated or embalmed.  I want me – plain old me – chemical-free me – to be wrapped in a comfy quilt and put in my plain box and buried.  This is very environmentally responsible.  I will return to the earth and not pollute the ground with toxic carcinogens used in embalming.  Even better, plant a tree right over me.  I’d love to be part of a tree.  Maybe not a fruit tree, though.  That might be kind of weird for whoever eats from it.

English: Oak Tree

English: Oak Tree (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4.  I don’t want a funeral.  Have a party.  I like cook-outs, not that it matters because I won’t be there either way.  Don’t have a slide show about my life.  Just eat good food, laugh, tell stories about me, and listen to good music.  It would be cool if you played my favorite songs.  Pick the playlist on my iPod that says Spirituals and the one that says Some Favorites.  Trust me, it will be the best non-funeral music ever.

5.  Don’t leave all my stuff just how I left it.  Especially since I never really have things how I want them anyway.  Feel free to clean up the things I didn’t quite get to, to finish the projects that I have started, and to organize those things that clearly need help.  And if I have something you need, you’re welcome to it – as long as it’s okay with my family.


Why we went out to eat tonight after 19 days of eating at home… July 3, 2012

…some days are just terrible.  I had one of those today.  I got home and sat on the couch and cried.  At least nothing could make such an awful day worse…

…then I looked out back and saw this…

…we still hadn’t cleaned up from the last storm (which included a significant lightning strike on one of our trees)…

…and I just needed to get away…

…so after 19 days of planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning, we slipped into a booth at Papa’s and Beer and tried to unwind…

…we also took the kids to the playground and strategically timed our arrival back home to be after dark so we wouldn’t be confronted by the mess again…

…at least tomorrow is a holiday!


We’ll end up sittin’ on a rainbow – 11 years and counting! May 16, 2012

This month marks eleven years that Ronnie and I have been married.  Nowadays, that’s quite the accomplishment for a couple our age.  Lots of marriages don’t make it, and many people are on their second or third at this point.

We are still going strong.

I thought I’d share some keys to our successful marriage, since statistically speaking, we’re practically experts in the area.  So, without further ado, here are the Holbert tips to a happy, long-term marriage:

1.  Remember when all your married friends and family gave you that great advice when you were about to tie the knot? – “Never go to bed mad at each other.”  Well, forget that.  Sometimes, all you need to work things out is to get a good night’s rest.  You can always re-evaluate in the morning.  Maybe you’ll still be mad.  Maybe not.  Just sleep when you’re supposed to sleep.  There’s no sense in arguing all night just to avoid going to sleep before working things out.

2. “Play fighting leads to real fighting.”  My mom used to have to tell us this all the time when we would bicker, poke fun, push buttons, and inevitably get carried away and hurt each other’s feelings.  These are wise words.  What starts out as fun teasing about something like the fact that Ronnie could not be on time if he wore seven watches can too quickly turn into something hurtful like Mandy, when was the last time you plucked your eyebrows they’re looking kind of bushy and unibrow-ish?

3. Take interest in the same things.  That’s not to say that you can’t have your own interests, but you should make an effort to enjoy the things that your spouse enjoys.  We camp together – I had never camped before I met Ronnie.  We garden.  We spend time together doing things that we both find enjoyable.  Maybe that’s the main thing – spending time together.

4. Build something together.  Ronnie and I always have some sort of project going.  Working together to accomplish a task has many benefits.  It forces you to adapt to each other’s capabilities, to develop teamwork, to hone your communication skills, to recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  There is absolutely nothing that compares to the feeling of working together to build something then sitting back and looking together at the tangible evidence of what you can achieve together.  That’s not to say the whole process will be peaches and cream.  There will be arguments (trust me), like when I laugh uncontrollably when the tape measure somehow falls off the top of the ladder and hits Ronnie square on the forehead and that little trickle of blood strikes me as the funniest thing I’ve ever seen, but the fact that you work through it makes it that much better.

5. Be real.  I used to think that there were certain things I was supposed to do as a wife, certain things he should do as a husband, certain things we were supposed to have, a certain kind of house in which we were supposed to live…you get the idea.  But, you know what?  I was wrong.  When we first got married, we tried to model our lives by what we thought was expected.  We bought a house, had nice cars, got a dog – we never quite did keep up with the Jones, but we could have been their slightly less accomplished next door neighbors.  And you know what?  We weren’t happy.  By the time we figured out that we don’t need a big house or lots of stuff, we were in debt and barely able to escape.  Maybe people don’t understand now why we live in the country in a little house, but it’s suits us.  We are living the life that makes us happy, and we don’t care what anyone thinks.  If only someone would have told us that before we racked up the debt!

6. Be each other’s best friend.  I tell Ronnie my secrets.  I laugh with him.  He is the person I go to when I feel happy, sad, mad, betrayed, annoyed, disappointed, frustrated, anxious, or any other feeling I may experience.  Why?  Because I know he cares.  I know he wants what’s best for me.  I know he’ll tell me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it.  I know he has my back.  He loves me.  What more could anyone ask for in a best friend?  And I strive to be that friend for him.  We’re buds.

7. Keep the romance alive (and by romance, I mean, well…you know…*clears throat* romance).  Do I really need to elaborate?

8. Trust each other.

9. Be stubborn.  We like to joke that the only reason that we’re still together is that we were both too stubborn to leave in those early years of marriage.  I can remember arguments so bad that one of us would try to throw the other out of the house.  That never worked – it went something like this: “I’m not leaving!  You leave!”  “No!  I’m not leaving!  You leave!”  Maybe it went on all night, but you know what?  Neither one of us ever left.  There’s a place for some good old-fashioned stubbornness sometimes.  At those especially immature moments in our marriage, it often ended up being our own immaturity that kept us together.

10. Pray.  I believe wholeheartedly that God brought Ronnie into my life.  I am so thankful for that.  I always pray that God will bless our marriage and that I will be the wife that He wants me to be.  We are devoted not only to each other, but also to God, and that spiritual commonality makes our union that much stronger.  We are both keenly aware that we wouldn’t be where we are today without God’s blessing, protection, and guidance in our lives.

11. Be respectful.  There’s absolutely no excuse to belittle or disrespect your spouse in front of anyone, including your children.  Some disagreements need to wait until you can discuss them privately.  Never tell jokes at your spouse’s expense.  Build them up!

12. Be thankful.  Never take what you have for granted.  Tell each other you love each other every day.  Multiple times a day.

Happy Anniversary, Ronnie!

John Prine – “In Spite of Ourselves”

In Spite of Ourselves