Tuesday, July 12, 2011



By Allison Adams 07-10-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 07-11-11

My firstborn child left the hospital in the arms of a mother who was petrified, but perky. We wore matching outfits home.

My “baby fat” fell off of me and I was back at my pre-pregnancy weight by the next day.

I was prudent and resolved to raise my daughter by the expert-authored, dog-eared, how-to-raise-a-perfect-child books, which were kept at my fingertips at all times.

Everything my firstborn did was an event – carefully chronicled in calligraphy on the linen pages of a leather bound Baby Book.

The camera was always ready to point and shoot, and photo albums were stuffed with candid prints.

Expensive studio portraits of my firstborn were displayed in expensive picture frames that sat upon every surface inside a house that was childproofed like Fort Knox and sanitized like a hospital operating room.

My small world came to a screeching halt when her naptime rolled around, which was at precisely the same time everyday. No. Matter. What.

My firstborn slept in a new crib, rocked in a new chair, started school in a new dress, and learned to ride on a new bike.

Her outfits were always clean and pressed and perfect, and a matching bow-that-ate-Tokyo was always affixed upon her head.

At one time or another she took lessons in ballet, tap, karate, gymnastics, piano, guitar, pottery, and I even bought her a harmonica … because it was important that she be well rounded.

My second born child left the hospital in the arms of a mother who panic-struck and begged to anyone who would listen to be allowed to stay for a few more days.

Once back home I bathed irregularly, dressed only in soft, elastic-laced clothing (accented with a burp rag) and lived in my house shoes.

I had misplaced my how-to-be-a-perfect-mother books, so I winged it.

Everything my second-born baby did was met with a smile and a clap of my hands. I occasionally wrote stuff down on the back of a grocery receipt, or a napkin, with the intentions of transferring it into a baby book that I’d buy next time I went out.

I took a few candid photos of her whenever I could find my camera, but we rarely visited the expensive portrait studio.

My house was still childproofed, but more like a 7-Eleven. And it was still clean … but more like a 7-Eleven.

My second-born baby slept in a hand-me-down crib in a shared room. She wore hand-me-down clothes, played with hand-me-down toys, and learned to ride on a hand-me-down bike.

When my naptime rolled around I closed us all up in the same room and we played the “Quiet Game”.

Her play clothes were clean but never saw a hanger.

Her precious, but unruly hair stuck straight up or hung in her face, and it always smelled like fresh flowers or peanut butter and jelly.

She went to playgroup and learned to swim at an early age … because it was important that she be well rounded.

My third baby was born 45 minutes after I arrived at the hospital. I dressed him in a Onesie and carried him home 23 hours later because I had things to do.

I've never lost another pound.

He doesn’t have a baby book, but I think I have his shot records.

I taught his older sisters how to use disposable cameras to take his picture, and if I ever put my hands on those I’m going to get them developed.

Truth be told, I occasionally dressed him in his sister’s primary colored hand-me-downs. Nothing he wore remotely resembled a matching outfit. Footwear was optional.

The floor of my house was a minefield of matchbox cars and Legos.

He napped sometimes.

He played in the dirt, ate paste, taught himself how to ride the next-door neighbor’s bicycle, and I made sure he had his own house key by the time he was in the first grade … because it was important that he be well rounded.

Well. This explains so much.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hurrah! Hurrah!

Hurrah! Hurrah!

By Allison Adams 06-26-11 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 06-26-11

I was raised in Texas where people (ALL people) live shoulder-to-shoulder with la cucaracha.

High society people call it a Palmetto bug.

You can sugarcoat it any way you want to, but the fact of the matter is if it walks like a cockroach, and talks like a cockroach – it’s a cockroach.

They say if somebody dropped an A-bomb on the State of Texas, there would be only one survivor: the cockroach.

Of that – and also death and taxes – you can be certain.

The cockroaches in Texas are so big (“How big are they?”) they rearrange your furniture at night while you sleep.

In Texas the cockroaches travel in herds and that’s one of the reasons the household pest exterminator is considered the modern day cowboy.

He is revered regardless of whether he wears a 10-gallon hat or a baseball cap.

As was the case with most “bug men” and their clients, mine was so important to me that his phone number occupied the top spot on my speed dial, and his name was on my Christmas card list.

All Texas bug men had job security. Against la cucaracha, they occasionally won the battle, but never the war.

I’m telling you all of this just to let you know that I am no stranger in the world of household pests and the extermination thereof … but I had no idea what I would be up against last Monday, when, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted one little black ant on my kitchen floor.

I watched it closely.

It appeared to be on a reconnaissance mission.

I continued to keep my eye on it and casually crept my clodhopper in its direction.

I don’t think it ever saw my cowboy boot comin’.

I rocked my foot back and forth just to be sure the deed was done. (Unlike the underfoot eradication of the cockroach, which is signaled by a distinctive crunch, the itty-bitty black ant squashes silently.)

Shortly thereafter I realized that when that ant didn’t return back to its platoon to report its findings they would send out a search party.

I had barely completed that thought when I spied a thin black line emerging from the cabinet below the kitchen sink.

Good grief, they work quickly … but so do I, my friends – so do I!

I wiped-out the whole brigade with one swift step of my size-9 squisher!

Victory was short-lived, however, and they kept coming.

They marched two-by-two, and the little one stopped to tie its shoe.

Then there were more; shutting the door, picking up sticks, closing the gate, etc., etc. Hurrah! Hurrah!

It turned out they were being nourished by my teenaged son and his buddies, who inadvertently littered the kitchen counter with morsels of their sugar-and-preservative diet, despite my orders to the contrary.

That turned the battle into an all-out war.

For the next several days the General of the itty-bitty black ants – whose Command Central appeared to be somewhere beneath my kitchen sink (or behind my refrigerator, or within the very wood grain of the baseboards along the bottom of my kitchen island) – deployed thousands teeny-tiny troops to terrorize me.

I drew from my experience and went into Full Exterminator Mode.

Determined to make their undersized existence unbearable I launched a comprehensive attack consisting of an arsenal of natural sprays and toxic traps.

It. Was. Epic.

I waited for the ants to retreat once they realized they were up against a formidable force.

But. They. Didn’t.

So naturally, I went on vacation.

(At least they’re not Palmetto bugs.)