Monthly Archives: February 2010

Sticks and Stones

“Sticks and stones may break my bones,

 but words will never hurt me”

Unfortunately, this little ditty has relevance to my week:

1. Words will never hurt me……and the doctors, nurses and surrounding patients at Lexington Medical Center would also disagree. I know this because my grandmother, Rebecca, is being “released” this morning from the hospital. It turns out that renal failure is a condition that can be treated at home with a couple of six packs of Mountain Dew. Who knew?!? It’s either a medical breakthrough or Rebecca has worn the doctors down past the point of caring. From personal experience, I would choose the latter as a more likely option, but you never know….there may be some medicinal effects of Mountain Dew worth investigating?!?  About a year ago, Rebecca switched from a diet of Boost and Ensure to one solely consisting of a six-pack of Mountain Dew per day. She has rallied ever since. I’m just saying….?!?

2. Sticks and stones may break your bones…Now, this part is true. Yesterday while carrying a load of laundry, I tripped over the corner hearth of our fireplace and broke 2 bones in my pinky toe. I heard the crack and saw the bone pop out. My first reaction was to use some of Rebecca’s vocabulary and then I simply popped the bone back in place and grabbed my pocketbook to go drive car pool.  I guess it’s true what they say about shock. You don’t exactly think clearly in moments of stress. When my foot started to swell to the size of a watermelon, I rethought car pool and called my father-in-law for backup. Then I loaded Tuck in the car and drove myself to Doctor’s Care. After 45 minutes in the waiting room and Tuck stepping on my hurt foot for the 2nd or 3rd time, the staff at Doctors Care kindly informed me that my husband was now on “active duty” with the military (really…I hadn’t noticed?!?) and they could not offer me any services; any medical attention for our family would need to take place a Moncrief Army Hospital on Ft. Jackson… Lovely… (Actually, more of Rebecca’s vocabulary popped up in my head)…remember….it was pouring down rain yesterday afternoon… Ft. Jackson is a good 45 minute drive away from Lexington…Tuck was under my legs and managed to step on my foot one more time…life is good!

I won’t retell the story of my drive to Ft. Jackson, but when I pulled into the gate for an I.D. check the guard took one look at me and gave directions to the hospital. Apparently, the remnants of my “ugly” cry on the drive over was smeared across my face in mascara…I was one hot mess!!! He also noticed the size of my foot propped up on he dashboard. The sympathetic look he shot me was worth a thousand words.

When we entered the hospital, Tuck was thrilled. He loves Ft. Jackson. It’s his Eden on planet earth. He was also happy to notice that some very stern looking drill instructors were in the waiting area. He kept saluting them and mentioning very loudly that his Daddy was a soldier in the war. No worries…Tuck had plenty of time to make conversation with his soldier friends, we were in the waiting room for what seemed like eternity. He also managed to step on my foot a few more times, to which he would sweetly say, “OOPs, was that your hurt foot?” I couldn’t answer…I was too busy writhing in pain.

When I was finally sent to x-ray, I learned that Tuck (my constant companion) would not be able to accompany me; children under the age of 12 would not be allowed near that department. I was desperate. So I grabbed a somewhat sweet looking soldier woman and asked her if she liked five-year olds…she kind of nodded so I gave her Tuck (again, no worries….anyone interested in kidnapping would return Tuck after an hour). I went to x-ray and hoped this ordeal would be over soon. When I returned to the waiting area to fetch Tucker, his reluctant babysitter said, “Gee lady, I know almost everything about you except your social security number. I’m real sorry about your husband and your foot. I’ll be praying for you.”…see she was nice after all. Thank you, Jesus.

After what seemed like another interminable time, I saw a doctor. He commended me on popping the bone back in place and resetting my toe. He also thought it was “real cool” how I managed to break a pinky toe in 2 places. Then he dropped the hammer, one of the breaks is right next to a joint which will most likely require a pin…. WHAT?!?…. I’ve been training for a 10K on March 27th. It was my goal when Chris left. I was going to run the Cooper River Bridge with a t-shirt that had Chris’ big bald head on the front…”chariots of fire” was going to be playing as I crossed the finish line…I was going to send Chris a picture of me and the Kenyans smiling broadly at the end!!!

Doogie Houser was not going to steal my dream!!!

“Cut it off”….excuse me?!? ….”You heard me, amputate the thing…who needs a pinky toe?!?” (dramatic pause)

Then I came back to my senses and thought about some new sandals I wanted for the summer. They just wouldn’t look the same with a missing toe…. Damn.

Things like this just keep happening.

The devil keeps pushing my face in the dirt, just hoping I will holler “uncle” and give up.

I guess he didn’t get the memo. I’m a direct descendant of Rebecca Baines. She’s my namesake for goodness sake. Hell hath no fury like a woman with renal failure and/or a broken pinky toe. Not to mention, I’ve got a little Mountain Dew and a whole lot of Jesus on my side.

Satan better hide for a while…that’s all I’m sayin’!



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She has issues…

A couple of posts back, I mentioned that I come from a long line of tough and determined women. While the pitchfork story was a relevant example, I failed to include anything about my grandmother, Rebecca, my namesake (i.e. Janie Rebecca).  The nurses at Oak Leaf Retirement Home will attest that she is one tough cookie. In fact, she makes Patton look like a wimp with a better vocabulary.

My phone rang this morning as I was sitting in the orthodontist’s office waiting on Jordan. The moment I heard it, I knew. Something was wrong. It was my mom. Rebecca was being transported to Lexington Medical Center.

While most people would be worrying about their grandparent, my thoughts trailed off into sympathy for the ambulance driver.

I wasn’t far off the mark. When we arrived, the EMS worker looked at us, wiped her brow and said, “She has issues…(dramatic pause)” and it was clear that this was not a reference to my grandmother’s medical condition. Apparently, they had “difficulty” removing her many cocktail rings to offer her critical care. She also gave the ambulance driver distinct directives on where, when and how fast to drive. Rebecca is in a league of her own. No one has ever emerged from a Rebecca encounter with an inflated ego….of that I am certain.

While I have had my own “issues” with her, I can never escape the fact that she is my namesake. For years, I was eternally flustered at the fact that I could not find a pencil with my name on it….there was always a Jane, Jan,  Janet and even a Janice, but never a Janie. It left me feeling odd most of my life. I just wasn’t ordinary or common. Difference is a terrible thing to a child. We really hunger for acceptance. This used to be of monumental importance to me, but as I age… I learn how little I care about “fitting in.”

Looking at my grandmother today, I finally acknowledged that I wasn’t suppose to be a pencil or in a box. While I’m hoping for a “sweeter”  version of myself in the 90’s, I cannot deny that our family has always done it differently. I don’t agree with Rebecca more than half of the time, but I have to thank her for some strength passed down in the genes. Gift without grit is a terrible waste.

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A Glimpse of Joy

Sometimes God pulls back the curtain long enough for us to peek at what’s on the other side.

I caught a glimpse on Friday night.

It was when I took Jordan to her first rock concert, Winter Jam 2010. It was also my first experience attending one of these Christian rock events. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I learned quickly that Jordan was “made” for rock concerts. Watching her swing, sway, sing and swoon for close to 4 hours I was given a glimpse of pure joy. She was completely uninhibited and free. I couldn’t help but giggle at her wild abandon. She was in the spirit and praising God at the top of her voice. She was the definition of joy as God intended.

I know when things get tough, I can hold that picture of Jordan in my mind. You cannot help but smile at the image. It’s a good thing, especially since the day/night we attended this concert Chris was flying across the ocean to a war zone. I know that seems crazy.  I guess we should have been huddled at home, but we made a radical decision to reject the sadness.  It’s a choice we will continually have to make this year, but I feel it is the right one. I will not cheat our family from the creativity and goodness that God offers, even when it comes in the form of a “very loud” concert. On Friday night, the moment and mood was right for us to let go and open ourselves to something better, joy. 

Mary Caroline and Jordan before entering the WinterJam 2010 concert

One final note to self: Jordan will only be allowed to attend Christian rock concerts in the future. Her “wild abandon” might inspire her to throw something on the stage … in that crowd, a prayer card is the appropriate item.

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There Goes My Hero

There are a lot of definitions out there and the term is often thrown around too lightly, but a hero is not a celebrity or a politician. 

It’s a common person.  

An ordinary someone who no matter the personal cost, does the right and extraordinary thing.

He’s boarding a plane to Afghanistan this week.

I am uncertain of many things in this world, but I will never doubt his courage nor his loyalty. 

Watching him go is painful, but I know that we must begin the begin.

God has ordained  and he must go for such a time as this.


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Chris Neeley Turns 42

In honor of his 42nd birthday…I thought it would be appropriate to roast the fellow and list 42 things about him that are of interest, notable and downright loveable:

1.  He’s 42 today, but declares that a doctor once told him that his bone structure was at least 3-5 years behind resulting in a lower “actual” age. …Nice try…Chris Neeley!… Tuck seems to be taking the same but opposite liberties with his birthday…it runs in the family.

2. Our children have learned that “Let’s go out to dinner” could mean crossing state lines for some hole in the wall barbeque joint. We now refer to these excursions as Neeley Family Meal Field Trips.

3. When Chris talks about NC or SC, he refers to the regions by the barbeque style (mustard, vinegar, tomato-based etc…) This was extremely confusing to Jordan when she was actually learning NC and SC history in school. She thought the war between the states had something to do with barbeque.

4. When I met Chris, the steering wheel of his car had remnants of dried boiled peanut juice and fried chicken crumbs stuck to it. He really knew how to impress a southern girl!

5. Chris can multi-task…I’ve watched him drive a car, eat a boiled peanut, and take a phone call all at the same time without using his hands…it’s amazing!

6. He can put a chicken wing in one side of his mouth and pull a bone out the other…the Green girls are still amazed!

7. He once ran a campaign with the slogan, “Pop a wheelie, vote for Neeley!”

8. His political career began working in the mailroom of the Chamber of Commerce. He’s an example to follow.

9. Everywhere  we go… no matter how far, Chris Neeley always bumps into someone he knows.

10. He follows his heart and his passion. He takes risks worth taking!

11. He was an Eagle Scout.

12. He lives by the boy scout law…he is a man of incredible integrity.

13. On our first date, he asked permission to call me sometime. When I agreed he said, “Okay, I’ll call you tomorrow.”…and he did! Chris Neeley keeps his word.

14.  Every weekend, after a fabulous meal…Chris announces….”The diet starts Monday!”

15. Every Monday, the gym bag is packed for a ride around in the car for a week.

16. Sweet sixteen donuts mean it’s been a bad day.

17. Cream horns mean it’s been a good day

18. On bad days, he wants to sell everything and open a hot dog stand named “Hot Weiners”

19. He knows how to cook some hot weiners and doggone good chili. I just want the t-shirt rights

20.  Chris could invent the next snuggie. He is always chock full of interesting ideas and inventions. Ask him about the crumb catcher…

21. He invented the triple dipple.

22. He’s not gay and will still listen to Duran Duran with me.

23. His hair used to resemble a member of the band Duran Duran (Alan Green has the proof).

24. One of his favorite songs is the “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” from Gordo’s Gold…wine anyone?!? Our children know the tragic tale. It kind of puts a damper on the night

25. He used to think the lyrics to  “Message in the Bottle” was about a woman named… Mrs. Jennabotta

26. He loves Duke’s mayonnaise and will defend it and discuss it at length.

27. He cannot order effectively at a drive-thru…he has special needs.

28. The woman at #1 China can never take his order over the phone. His dialect and Chinese clash…we end up with a bag full of appetizers and a bowl of soup.

29. He orders appetizers!

30. He loves giving gifts and cannot wait for us to open his presents.

31. Right before Tuck was born, Wachovia called and asked if we were in possession of our debit card. Chris had just returned from Pottery Barn Kids at SouthPark mall. He really likes to shop for his family.

32. Chris is the consummate “Family Man”

33. He is an incredible father, husband, and friend.

34. He loves Jesus and speaks easily about him with others.

35. He sets a godly example for our children.

36. He talked me (a former Lutheran) into attending the contemporary service at church.

37.  He thought about going to seminary…I don’t think God is finished with him yet.

38. He will be a light in the darkness. The Afghan people have not met someone like Chris Neeley

39. He may convince some of them to eat pork when it’s barbequed SC style.

40. He still thinks the Gamecocks can win a national championship.

41. He is an eternal optimist…see #40.

42.  He is the butter to our bread and the breath to our life. We cannot wait until he returns home.

WE MISS YOU BIG BOY!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! …When you get home….there will be cake!!!


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Sad Snow

You never know when it’s going to hit you. I wasn’t expecting to be so sad about a bunch of snow.

Watching the snow fall, I cried thinking about Chris.

He would really love to be here today with the kids. These opportunities are so few and far between in SC.  I am really hating that he is missing this moment. The kids are at an age where snow seems like a complete miracle. I remember that feeling.

The irony of this… Chris’ birthday is next week. It snowed the day he came home from the hospital. We all know this because in South Carolina you remember the year when it snowed….that’s just how special it is.

Chris is my special fella, just like the snow. I can’t help being sad. I miss him more than words can say.


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Benjamin Button

This morning while I was fixing Tuck’s breakfast he asked….”Mom, do you remember when I turned 65?”

I’m not much for morning conversation, but this question woke me up.

Tuck didn’t wait for a reponse …(I guess it was a rhetorical question)….he proceeded to describe the birthday cake and the decorations on it…you know, the one from his 65th birthday?!?….well, of course…who wasn’t there?!?… and everyone remembers that event…it’s in the Neeley archives for goodness sake!

I know this year will age me, but I wasn’t really expecting to be 98 this morning!

Tuck has always been what people refer to as an “old soul”…maybe he is aging backwards like Benjamin Button?!? There are some clues that maybe Chris and I should have given more attention:

1. He likes to wear cologne, Old Spice…which he refers to as “Hot Spice”

2. “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash has been in his top ten since the age of 18 months.

3.  He says that Thomas Jefferson was a good president…as if he voted in the election.

4. He asked for a blimp this year for Christmas…not the Goodyear one….more like the Hindenburg.

5. He likes to start his days with coffee, a newspaper, and he wishes…a smoke (I’ve hidden the cigars).

Tucker is an interesting little fellow.

We love him dearly…and in honor of his 65th birthday…I thought I would end this post with one of my favorite photos from his childhood…

He loves his Daddy and wants to be just like him…his Daddy is his hero!


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