64 years ago today**

 

Mama & Daddy...December 9, 1978

Betty & Buster…December 9, 1978

…the good-looking, silver-haired couple in the photograph above went to the preacher’s house at 8am and got hitched. Then, after making sure she would be excused from school that day, drove to Nashville for their weekend honeymoon. He was 19, she was 16, and they are my parents.

As the story goes, Daddy saw Mama crossing the street uptown, some 8 months earlier, turned to his friend and said…“You see her? I’m gonna marry that girl.” Standing at about 5’5″, sporting body measurements rumored to have been 36-24-36, along with blue eyes and blonde hair, she was the new girl in town. Although he hadn’t met her yet, it didn’t take long. He actually asked her out on the spot, for later that night, and she accepted. The only catch was, she was to be his buddy’s companion…on a double date, and he didn’t tell her that until after she agreed. Yes, you read that right. He tricked her! Turns out, Daddy already had a date lined up for the evening, but didn’t want Mama out of his sight, so he set her up, and I’m sure threatened the poor schmuck who was to be her date if he so much as THOUGHT about putting the moves on her). Buster Romine was a smoothe operator, yes he was! Anyway, after that night, he marked his territory by peeing in her front yard or something (not really, but it sounds like something he might do, right?) and diligently courted her. Picked her up and drove her to school in the mornings and back home in the afternoons, in addition to spending the between hours with her as well. Being in a small Southern town back in 1949, my Papa thought folks might start to talk, tarnishing Mama’s reputation, so he told Daddy they better go on and get married. So they did.

And the rest is history.

Romine History. 

You see, they went on to build a life together and stage a marvelous, somewhat locally famous–or infamous, depending on whom you ask–giant family circus. Not Duggar-sized huge, mind you, but one shy of Jon & Kate Plus 8. You can even read about some of the family shenanigans here, on my sister’s blog. Daddy was a plumber-electrician with a genius level IQ who complimented Mama’s homemaker/gifted seamstress roles very well. Out of that early morning matrimonial union, sprung….3 sons and 4 daughters. All the sons have good cooking and sewing skills, while the girls know how to fix a toilet and wire an outlet; the products of practical, common-sense raising. As a band of siblings, we would kick some serious ass on “Survivor: Brothers and Sisters”…lol. Among us, a Navy Seal who served our country in Vietnam, a well-known calligrapher/artist (who also has a nursing degree), another registered nurse, a kick-ass event planner & caterer, a retired prison guard (and damned good plumber-electrician), an EMS dispatcher/ writer/ blogger/ baker/ forensic photographer  (what can I say? she wears a lot of hats) and me–lucky number 7. You can dig through the archives to find out what I do, besides write. Go on, it’ll be fun!

To date, they have…

22 grandchildren

25 great-grandchildren already…..with 4 more on the way 🙂

The love they shared was deep and lasting. Passionate and messy….flawed yet flawless…wildly playful but seriously tamed…focused and distracted…whole yet fractured. In other words…real.

By example, my daddy set the bar high for all the men who showed serious intent while crossing paths with his daughters. He worshipped my mama, and no doubt would have sipped her bath water as if it were the finest champagne of the rarest vintage. And likewise, Mama sent her boys into the world as Southern gentlemen, raised to appreciate, admire, provide for and protect their wives. I’d say we are a damn lucky brood, we Romines, wouldn’t you?

Buster and Betty’s legacy is far-reaching, and sure to continue thriving well-beyond my destined time on Mother Earth. I hold such fond memories of Daddy singing “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to Mama as they danced around the kitchen, or on the back porch on a summer evening. Oh, what a glorious voice he had! Mama’s eyes lit up like Roman candles whenever she heard it. Fitting, as the eyes are the windows to the soul, and he certainly spoke to hers. True soul mates. They embodied the meaning of love and respect for each other, stuck to their vows and REALLY took to heart the phrase:

for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health…

until death do us part

They died just as in love, as they lived. Daddy first on February 20th, 1994, followed by Mama on September 6, 1995. On this Valentine’s Day, I wish to dedicate this post to their memory as shining examples of true sweethearts. I love and miss them every single day!

**Okay…to be fair, it was actually 64 years ago on Monday, February 4th. But due to the fact that it’s about the sweet love affair between my parents, I wanted to feature it on Valentine’s Day. So… I waited 10 days to publish it instead of doing it on their anniversary. I know, I suck… lol.  It’s the thought that counts though, right?  

 

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a year-end wrap up…in 47 minutes or less (because that’s all that is left of 2012)

resolution2013

I’ll try to make this short and sweet, by simply making a list of the good and bad moments of 2012 up in my Calibama State of Mind. Mostly because lists are easy to follow, and I wasted time creating the ecard image, and now only have 17  no minutes left. Procrastination at it’s finest. Classic me. Some things never change, and I work better under pressure, so no judging….got it?

Let’s start with THE BAD, shall we?

1. We moved. Not much more needs to be said other than the process of it sucked the life right out of me for a good 3 weeks. Unless I win the lottery, I am not leaving this house. EVER. 

2. The Man was between film projects for much of the year, and home a lot, which drove me bat-shit crazy. He needs hobbies that do not involve chasing me around trying to undress me while I have 8000+ things to do. Hoping that developing a few is on the top of HIS resolution list.

3. The Beans had to quit gymnastics. You can read about that here. I’m still heart-broken and don’t like to talk about it. Hopeful that training resumes in 2013.

4. Lester, our beloved 13 year old, Chihuaua had to be put down 🙁 That story is here.

5.  The Beans got head-lice. Twice. Pissed doesn’t even begin to describe my mood on those occasions. Yes, I blogged about it…here. 

This is the shit I’m running from, once I get my new sneakers. Tomorrow.

But onto…

THE GOOD. Which I will be expanding on, in MAGNANIMOUS PROPORTIONS.

1. ON JANUARY 9, 2012…MY 40TH BIRTHDAY…THE ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE WON THE BCS NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP. Best. Present. Ever. ROLL TIDE ROLL….and onto the National Championship game we go once again this year!!! 

2. I started this blog, along with a FB fan page and a Twitter feed dedicated to it. It speaks for itself, I believe. And I plan on paying A LOT more attention to it.

3. I got a real writing gig, that actually pays a little. I need to maintain a bit of anonymity where this is concerned, but trust me….IT’S AWESOME. And literally fell in my lap at a much needed time. As the saying goes, “When life shuts a door, God opens a window somewhere” 🙂 

4. We moved.  Even with the colossal headache the execution of it was, it’s a good thing too. We down-sized, into a cozy place that is more affordable and closer to The Beans’ schools. Less to clean for me, smaller monthly nut….win-win, right?

5. One of my besties had a baby boy, and I am his Godmother. So now I have a son in addition to The Beans 🙂 Oh, what fun we are going to have!!!

6. I made some really great new friends, in the blogging world, and in real-life. Also reconnected with some old friends. You know who you are 🙂

7. My whole family filmed a book trailer for a zombie novel titled “100 Days of Death”. The novel will be out this year, and you can watch the trailer here. We had a BLAST!!

8. I was invited to be a contributor for MomsLA, a phenomenal group of bloggers. I’m still shaking my head at this one. Honored does not even scratch the surface of how this made me feel.

9. My niece, Meaghan, got married, and I got to attend the wedding in Alabama and serve as a bridesmaid. Hadn’t been home to Bama in over 2 years, so this was PRICELESS.

10. I was gifted a ‘We Can Do Hard Things Sign’ by Momastery and Barn Owl Primitives, on the eve of the 17th anniversary of my mama’s passing. The women responsible for this will NEVER know how much it meant.

So, clearly, the good outweighed the bad, at least on this list. There are, of course, several catastrophic things that happened that must remain unwritten. But those have either been kicked to the curb already, or are well on their way to being eradicated.

2013 is going to be divinely kick-ass. HUGE things are on the horizon for me, The Man and The Beans. There simply is no other option.

Who’s with me?

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Their Safe Place.

 

Of course I envisioned my first post following our family move as a long, profanity laden rant describing all the crap that went wrong during the relocation and what complete hell I’ve been through over the last few weeks. Then, this past Friday morning, on December 14, 2012, as I was just waking The Beans, urging them to roll out of bed and get ready for school, tragedy struck at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.

And the lives of 20 mamas exactly like me…..who had, just a few hours earlier, done precisely what I was doing at that moment…became an unimaginable Hell.

All of a sudden, my reality paled in comparison, and turned into an idyllic picnic in the park stacked up against what they were experiencing. A cowardly monster armed himself with several guns and walked into the one place we as parents trust, without question, to be safest for our children when they cannot be in our arms. Then he opened fire in 2 classrooms full of 6 and 7 year-olds. In a flash, those mamas lost their innocent, precious angels as Heaven gained them. Thinking about it takes my breath and replaces it with tears all over again. You see, my Sweet Pea is a bright-eyed, 6 year-old First Grader this year. If not for geography, it could have been her classroom. Two years ago, it could have been my Butter Bean, and although it’s been 6 years since Sugar Bean started her school journey, I still shudder at the thought of how little she was, and how naive I was, as a young mother, to the evils threatening this world.  Excuse me while my mind races, and I throw up, rethinking every decision I’ve ever made as a parent.

As a Christian, I have been told that God has a plan, and I shouldn’t question it. However, as a mother, I am screaming to the top of my lungs “WHY, GOD, WHY??!!” No matter the answer, it will not satisfy the question. There is no acceptable response, no silver lining, no lesson that needed to be taught by such a horrific example.

Or is there?

Honestly, until Friday, I firmly believed in the Second Amendment of Our Constitution, which states that we as citizens have the right to keep and bear arms, and therefore was on the fence with regards to gun control. Well, I’m here to say, I am no longer a fence-rider. The first time a school/mall/theatre shooting happened was one too many. Something must be done to make it impossible for this to ever happen again. Period.

Ironically, this amendment was adopted on December 15, 1791, which means this deadly attack on the students and faculty of Sandy Hook Elementary School took place just one day shy of the 221st birthday of the Amendment. A glaring coincidence? Probably not, if you are looking for some rhyme or reason to the incident. What more could this be, than a loud wake-up call for America to take a long, harsh look at our gun control laws….or better yet, the apparent lack of them. It’s obvious the weapon wielding asshole whose name I refuse to write reveled in his Second Amendment rights. His mother staunchly believed in hers too, for that matter. Although she was his first victim of the day, I can’t ignore that the four guns he carried with him to execute the massacre were purchased by, and registered to her. Or that, reportedly, she took her son to the shooting range at least once in his lifetime. This begs the question:

WHAT PRIVATE CITIZEN NEEDS FOUR WEAPONS TO PROTECT THEM? 

The answer, is none. That’s why we have policemen. To serve and protect us. Yes, I am aware of a thing called ‘response time’. Fine. If you must own a gun in order to feel like an American, then you can have ONE…a double-barrel shotgun. It’s intimidating enough to defend your property and family without allowing the power of semi-automatic and automatic weapons representative of a military presence into the hands of individuals who likely shouldn’t have it. Plus, you can hunt with it, so you won’t starve if it comes to that. There must be rules though. Let’s start by only allowing you to purchase one after an extensive background check and psychological evaluation, accompanied by mandatory classes on gun safety and proper handling/storage of weapons. Oh, and you may only buy enough ammunition as is reasonable. No need for a stockpile. The police will be on their way to protect you from harm before you could aim, shoot, fire and reload more than once. I believe this is more than fair. You can own your gun, thereby preserving your Constitutional right to bear arms, while I feel confident knowing it’s okay to send my babies to their safe place day after day and know they will return home, as alive, full of energy and excited as they were when I dropped them off that morning. Deal?

Because let’s face it…there is nothing more precious than the life of a child, and no Constitutional right worth the loss of it. 

If you are beyond livid about gun control or mental health care, please contact your state or local representatives and elected officials, who may have the influence to make a difference and prevent further tragedies from happening.

 

 

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Cold turkey.

 

Yeah, pretty much. I bend, but I don’t break.

“Well hello again, blogosphere….and loyal followers (if I have any left). It’s really nice to be here again. I’ve missed you terribly, and almost went bat-shit crazy several times during my absence.” 

That is what happens when you are forced to quit seeing your therapist (aka..this blog) cold turkey because life just gets in the fucking way. Right along with chronic insomnia,  hair falling out, and clothes becoming too big, because eating ranks even lower on the totem pole than updating your online journal. At least that’s how it happens for me. And I’m here to tell you, it’s really not an option for me from here on out, as I enjoy this gig. THAT I know for sure!

So. What’s been going on that dragged me away? Let me make a list…

1. I got a job. To be fair, I work from home, on the computer and set my own hours (which technically are from 6pm til my eyes close). Therefore, it really shouldn’t interfere with my main gigs of mommy, wife, writer (which, ironically got me the job in the first place), sister-friend, volunteer, etc….BUT I actually LOVE what I do, and I’m an over-achiever. What can I say? I suppose I get in my own way, and despite my best efforts to go without it, I do need to sleep sometimes. Whatever.

2.  We…as in The Girls and I…were invited to a couple of events (also because of this blog) and those took up a little time, but were well worth the investment. The first was on August 4th… the launch party for Universal Studios Home Entertainment‘s  “Twinkle Toes: The Movie” on DVDThose of you familiar with Skechers’ line of shoes known as Twinkle Toes probably know all about this, especially if you have daughters. The event was tons of fun!! The Girls bedazzled tote bags, enjoyed coloring pages at an art station, and watched outstanding dance performances by the students of the Academy of Dance Westlake Village. Oh, and we were gifted with a Universal Studios Home Entertainment Kids Summer DVD Package that included the Blu-ray Combo Packs for An American Girl: McKenna Shoots for the Stars, Hop and Big MiracleAll great movies, btw, and The Man actually mixed the post-sound for Big Miracle, so it was very cool to get that one 🙂 Anyway, thanks so much to Jacqueline Cavanagh at Click Communications for inviting us, and Nancy Walters and Michelle Slavich for making sure we had a great time. You ladies ROCK!!

Our second outing was to attend the opening night performance of Mary Poppins at the Ahmanson Theatre on August 10th. Honestly, when I got the invite from Jason Martin at Center Theatre Group, I almost died!! Seriously. Not only am I a big ole theatre geek, but to be given the opportunity to take The Girls, who have seen the movie 87,000 times,  to this…of all plays…as their very first trip to the theatre was, let’s just say …. supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!! And if just attending wasn’t enough, our complimentary seats were in the FRONT FREAKING ROW!! How does that happen? Are we that cool? Maybe it was because of my use of “that word” in this post. I don’t know. To say that we were wowed from the moment we arrived is a massive understatement. I’ve never seen my daughters so engaged and excited by something. At one point, they were on their feet, ‘oooohhing and aahhhing’, while witnessing Mary Poppins fly overhead from the stage to the top of the house, and it truly warmed my heart to see the sparkle in their eyes as they enjoyed the outstanding performance.  A kick-ass, special ‘Mommy n Me’ outing. I can’t thank Jason, who made it possible, enough. I don’t know him, but he’s a hero in my book now 🙂 Here’s a photo of us in the lobby just before the show. Can you feel the excitement???!!!

In the lobby, before the show!!!

Last but not least, the other outing I attended…without The Girls….was the 6th Annual Community Gala and Fundraiser for The Boyle Heights Technology Youth Center on August 16th. My dear sister-friend Kim Poirier invited me as her ‘plus one’, and we had a glorious time. It’s not often that I get invited to events for such fantastic causes, so I jumped at the chance to attend. There were vendors of all kinds, yummy food, and spectacular musical performances by students from the Center as well as well known celebrities. If you don’t know about this center and what it does for kids….do some research and donate to them if you can. They are doing great things with the youth in this city, who will no doubt go on to be some of the leaders of tomorrow. Here is a fun pic of Kim and I with “waxy jazz hands” after we were treated to chocolate parafin hand dips from one of the vendors. As you can see, we are total cheese balls….

“Waxy Jazz Hands”…LOVE IT!!!

And here is our post-event, red carpet photo. She got to actually walk the carpet and be snapped by the paparazzi before the event, as she is a big deal here in the world of Hollywood! I’m just lucky she thinks I’m cool enough to bring along 🙂

We were wearing the same color scheme…navy and red, but didn’t plan it…lol. Great minds think alike, right?

3. Dang…I didn’t ever think I would make it to number 3!! THE KIDS WENT BACK TO SCHOOL on August 20th. Two in elementary, and one in….gulp.…7th grade. Holy crap, I have a middle-schooler! Where did the time go? But I digress. Most mamas have MORE time once their kids go back to school, right? But the preparation that goes into getting them prepared to go back is an energy draining, time consuming, pain in the effing ass. Not to mention is expensive. The school supplies times 3 left me with a buckshot bank account and thus, a stress level that needs Xanax. Daily. But I am happy to report that everyone has done marvelously in their first few weeks back, loves their teachers, and is adjusting to homework again. Oh, and The Oldest Girl landed in Advanced English (wonder who she takes after…lol:-) and her science teacher has HOT PINK HAIR!! How great is that?

4. Now here is where it gets tricky up in here…and sad….then happy again. My niece, Meaghan, got married last weekend. You may remember me talking about her in this post. She is more like a sister than my niece, as I was only 14 when she was born, and we have spent A LOT of time together over the years. She even came to LA to live with The Man, The Girls and me for a summer while she shot a movie. Good times, I tell ya. Anyway, she asked me to be a bridesmaid back in May and I was elated! Ordered my dress right away, and was anticipated it to be smoothe sailing. God laughs when I make plans, remember? As I have mentioned several times before on this here blog, times have been, um…challenging for us, financially speaking, over the past few years. It’s been an endless roller coaster. So, as the wedding date approached, it became clear I would need to make a devastating call, and decline the honor to serve as a bridesmaid, because I couldn’t afford a plane ticket, nor the payment for my dress. That was one of the hardest calls I’ve ever had to make. I was in tears for days, depressed beyond belief, because the trip would have meant I would be able to see my whole family, whom I haven’t seen in 2 full years. Knowing how much I wanted to go, my very precious Oldest Girl put her brain into action and conspired with my sweet MIL, who surprised me with a plane ticket and the funds to pay off my dress, just 1 month before the wedding date. Obviously, I broke down in tears and finally knew what those families on Extreme Home Makeover must feel. To me, it was that special.…like winning the lottery. I will NEVER be able to thank her enough for that gift. EVER. Needless to say, it was a beautiful occasion that went off without a hitch. A traditional Southern plantation wedding, complete with shrimp and tomato grits, and sweet tea served in Mason jars with striped straws. Every detail was perfect. Oh, and the first University of Alabama Football game of the season was happening that day too, so there was a big screen tv set up at the reception, because in the South….football is a religion….and nothing gets in the way of it. Plus, both Bride and Groom are alums of UA….they even had ‘Yeah, Alabama” played instead of the standard Wedding March, as they floated back down the aisle as husband and wife. I, of course, was singing right along and yelled out a quite audible “Roll Tide” as I was the last to walk down after them, and my exit happened to coincide with the lyrics of our Fight Song…lol. The icing on the cake was that our Bama boys smeared Michigan State into the field, 41-14. Roll Tide Roll, baby!!!! And of course here are a few pictures…..

The stunning bride and her very proud aunt!

Our wedding “Mookie” faces. It’s a family thing…lol.

Might be my fave. Megz had a bug under her dress, so I had to lend some extermination skills. RFLMAO…..only me.

And finally…..THE ENTIRE WEDDING PARTY being, well…ourselves. How great is this picture????

BEST. GROUP. PHOTO. EVER.

So that’s what has been happening with me, and why I had to take a break. There’s actually more, but I’m going to save that for tomorrow’s post, because I’m sure y’all are like…”OMG. This is soooo long”. But I do promise to write again tomorrow, because I need to talk about what just happened on September 5th….that made September 6th much more bearable than it ever would have been.

Be sure and come back. I’m going to bed, as it’s 1:30 where I live, and my eyes are trying to take a nap 🙂

xo,

N