Alabama, The Hunger Games Arena.

For the first time in my life, it has recently been pointed out to me that Alabama is an unsafe place to live. And also for the second time in my life, less than a month later.

I really had no idea. I was in denial. It’s so beautiful…It has to be perfect! All places have these things…right??

The first time it was pointed out, it was by a brand new Alabama resident who grabbed my arm and said with a horrified voice, “Someone told me there were VENOMOUS SNAKES here. That’s not true, is it??”

“Well yeah, sure. We mostly have Copperheads and Rattlesnakes and Cottonmouths, all of which I’ve seen in the last year. There are some others too, I think. But it’s not a big deal.”

She gasped in horror and said, “THEN DOES THAT MEAN THAT THE SCORPIONS ARE TRUE, TOO??”

“Sure, I mean, I’ve seen two in my life, but yeah – we have scorpions.”

I was confused. Didn’t all of America have the same basic set of “Nature to Avoid”?

I moved on. Until I wrote my boob/Cottonmouth post a couple of weeks ago and one of my blog readers came ALL UNDONE.

(Bethany. You know you did.)

She went on and on about how in her state, they don’t deal with wildlife, and this is just BIZARRE, and how is it that everyone in the Horror-Filled State of Alabama doesn’t band together to fight against the treachery of our nature??

Again. I was stumped. I don’t find my state treacherous. I’ve lived here all my life and have never thought any of it was unusual.

But then I began making a list.

We have venomous snakes and spiders (some even like to bite the nether regions of toddlers.) Mosquitoes. Horse flies and the angry Yellow Fly down south. Chiggers (okay they’re the worst.) Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac, plants that regularly tried to ruin my summers as an awkward middle schooler. Lots of fire ants. The dreaded Cow Ant. Bees. Wasps. Hornets. Yellowjackets. Dirt Daubers. Ticks. Snapping Turtles. Flying cockroaches. Stinging Ladybugs. Poisonous Caterpillars that send the strongest of grandmothers to the ER. Bats that cause confusion and delay. Tornadoes. Hurricanes down south. Triple digit heat. Alligators down south but slowly encroaching north. Coyotes. Armadillos that can do a NUMBER to a car tire if you hit one.

(I actually have no factual evidence regarding that last statement but their armor does seem intense.)

Alabama even had a bear run out in front of a car recently, totaling the car and killing the bear.

(My kids were fascinated by this story and said “ARE THERE PICTURES??” I responded with “Y’all don’t need to see a picture of a dead bear.” Ali’s face clouded over with disappointment and said, “Oh. So there’s not a picture of the bear actually getting whacked by the car?”)

(Clearly they’re as deranged as their mother.)

But I digress. After I made The Alabama Danger List, it did seem like a lot.

Maybe Bethany was right.

Maybe Alabama was The Hunger Games.

And maybe, just maybe, I was Katniss. I mean I do hike around with a giant (camera) backpack and a side braid, all the while with sweat dripping off of me from the inhumane heat.

IMG_0999

And aside from the occasional tick and regular mosquito bite, I do a good job of winding my way through the perils of my surroundings, despite my constant outdoorsiness.

(Okay but I did suffer an impressive allergic reaction while I was in Mexico – to a wasp sting that I had received the week before near home. I thought surely I had contracted the Zika Virus. But nope. Just the results of Alabama Wildlife following me out of the country.)

But overall, I am a pretty DANG GOOD Tribute.

However. As soon as I began making this list of vile dangers that I so expertly avoid, The Gamemakers at the Capitol felt it best to throw me a few unexpected challenges.

First there was runch on Thursday with my friend Tanya. We run, then we get a smoothie. It’s what we do.

IMG_8127(I promise I eat way more lunch later. And so does Tanya.)

On last week’s particular run, we each ordered the Strawberry-Peach Smoothie from our favorite local smoothie maker. And then, two hours later, were both simultaneously and violently overcome with food poisoning.

Oh, the gut pain. It reached all the way up to my boobs. And lasted. And lasted. And lasted.

Clearly we must have been slipped Nightlock in our smoothies. It’s the only explanation.

But I am an AMAZING Tribute. And I recovered. Just in time to go away, out into nature, for my annual small group girl’s retreat.

IMG_1063 2

We left 30 out of 32 of our children at home with the daddies. So of course, it seemed only right that on Saturday, I should lead a hike on a trail I had never taken. There would be no whining! No “I need to potty”s! No “I’m tooo hooooooot”s!!

160604_MG_6838

The State Park office warned us that it would be treacherous, but we knew we could handle it. And handle it we did.

IMG_1038 2

We climbed that boulderous trail with grace and Woman Power, all while having deep and completely unladylike conversations.

IMG_0986

We. Were. Amazing.

160604_MG_6901

After our hike, three of us wanted to go on a trail run. We took the trail that the State Park rep had suggested as the “better choice” for running.

IMG_1015

It was lovely, but not easy. The trail was not smooth, and had generous amounts of curves and hills and roots and branches and boulders and low trees.

A mile into our run and just a few minutes after telling my friends about Tanya’s very true blog post that runners can’t just become trail runners because trail running is freaking hard, an angry root caught my shoe, tore a hole through it, curled its tentacles around the inside of my shoe, and turned me into an involuntary missile.

I propelled forward, nearly caught myself, but then a boulder said nope.

I flailed forward again, this time headed straight for a broken face against three more boulders who were itching for a human sacrifice, but I threw out my left hand just in time.

I saved face, but not elbow.

I landed, in a wash of pain, knowing I had just ended our delightful trail run with some sort of wretched injury.

And then I began to pass out.

Nurse friend Lydia took my dropping pulse and made me sit, then tried to lift my feet up over my head as I screamed at her as to why she thought this was a good idea.

She’s a pretty DANG GOOD Tribute as well, because she crafted me a sling out of the long-sleeved(?!?!) shirt she had been wearing around her waist to cover the backside of her leggings-as-pants. I might’ve thought her modesty was silly, but I did appreciate the sling. So tip: always have a modest friend in the Arena with you.

I stood up again, then went right back to passing out.

After a minute of sitting, I decided. it was only a mile back. I could power through this.

I stood up again, began to walk, and Lydia decided from my paling face that she’d leave me with Ashley to go “get help.” I wasn’t sure what that meant but didn’t care because I was passing out again. I reasoned that the only way through this was through it and kept walking, and I am here to testify – that is sound medical decision making. The passing out faded, and I slowly made the mile trek back, trying desperately to ignore the pain of every wiggle in my arm.

The hurt began fading as we marched on, taking orange then red then blue then boardwalk trails, carefully retracing our steps.

IMG_1018 b

As we approached the last trail, Lydia met us with water, an apple, a blood pressure cuff, more of our friends, and a state park official, who was pleasantly surprised that I’d done the hard work of removing myself from a mile of woods without his help.

He filed an “incident report”, taking my name and address and driver’s license number, while I nervously asked if I was getting banned from state parks and begged him not to prohibit trail running because half my friends would hate me. He told me to go to the ER and I nodded promisingly.

He left, and Lydia asked, “What’s the plan?”

I said, “Let’s go back to the house and chill.”

After all, it’s just an arm. There are way worse things to be without. It is my left arm and I’m left-handed, but still. Just an arm.

(I did get a phone consult from my Miracle Max Physical Therapist and a text consult from our shared Pediatrician, and they agreed that I’d probably live without an ER visit.)

(I did indeed live but also totally got stuck in my sports bra for about 20 minutes, but because I’m a DANG GOOD TRIBUTE, I fought that sports bra and I WON.)

We came home on Sunday, so I made a stop by Urgent Care. Turns out, my elbow, although swollen and oddly shaped, was not broken. But my index finger, which I didn’t even realize was hurt until hours after the fall, was indeed broken.

IMG_1088 2

(Luckily I typed most of this post the night before. Broken fingers are WAY easier to type with than metal splints.)

(Apparently my high threshold for pain is detrimental to my health.)

But I can now add two new treacheries to the long list of Alabama Hunger Games Hazards.

Venomous snakes and spiders. Mosquitoes. Horse flies and Yellow Flies. Chiggers. Poison Ivy, Oak, and Sumac. Lots of fire ants. The dreaded Cow Ant. Bees. Wasps. Hornets. Yellowjackets. Dirt Daubers. Ticks. Snapping Turtles. Flying cockroaches. Stinging Ladybugs. Poisonous Caterpillars. Bats. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Alligators. Coyotes. Armadillos. Post-Running Smoothies. And Shoe-Trapping Roots.

How many of these things do you have in your area? Surely we all equally live in The Hunger Games. Right?

The Road to Purple Hair.

Since I’m having a rare introspective + selfie posting week…..

So I finally got the purple highlights that I always wanted. Okay maybe not always because there was that one time I attempted to get pink hair but that was just a misguided desire for purple I’M SURE OF IT.

purple highlights

But OF COURSE, Prince had to die and make everyone think I got it in honor of him.

It’s my purple hair, Prince! Back off!

(But sorry for the disrespect, sir Prince. Also sorry that I don’t know any of your songs.)

purple-highlights-braid

The process was definitely a process, and one that I documented by text for my husband, as he was somewhat taken aback when I mentioned that it would take over four hours.

“How could any haircut take four hours? The only haircuts I’ve ever gotten were walk-ins. I don’t understand these things.”

“I’m not even getting my hair cut, honey.”

Luckily, though, the man loves long hair and constantly reassures me to spend whatever I like on and do whatever I like to my hair – just please keep it long.

So. Lest you want to know the steps to purple highlights, here you go.

1. You absolutely MUST have a coloring wizard. My delightful and talented stylist, Wendy Stuckey at Morgan Ashley Salon, adores color and was willing to take on the challenge and fun of turning my hair purple. DO NOT ATTEMPT PURPLE ON YOUR OWN, people. It will look like you attempted it on your own. I’ve seen it. It’s scary.

2. Work through your fears of being too old for purple hair. You might be, but who cares. Right? Right. And anyway if you don’t know any Prince songs then you’re DEFINITELY young enough for purple hair. Right? Right.

3. Bleach comes first. She left it on extra long in hopes that next time, we can just touch up the purple and not have to do bleach, which would greatly cut down on the time involvement. Although the bleach did have the lovely side effect of making my hair thicker. And of looking like a tin-head conspiracy theorist gone mad, according to my husband.

IMG_8984

4. Rinse bleach after significant bleaching has been accomplished, apply gloss (fancy word for toner) and allow to sit. Forever. With a super sexy hairnet.

IMG_8989

5. Rinse and dry hair, show off blond highlights to husband to make up for previous photo of sexy hairnet.

IMG_9003

(He said I looked like a ghost. With good hair.)

6. Have a team of hairdressers (okay two) begin purpling your hair, all while clipping parts of your hair up to make you look like as much like Donald Trump as possible. They enjoyed this phase the most.

IMG_9006

7. Once all purple is applied, sit under a team of hair heaters. And wait some more.

IMG_9008

8. Finally, dry and style and gaze at the fabulousness of purple highlights. And know that all that sitting and waiting and Donald Trumping – it was totally worth it.

purple highlights front side back

Yup. Totally.

purple hair with curls

Rachel, Mommy Matchmaker.

160415q-Oak-Mountain

One of my good friends is moving away.

I’m not happy.

Her moving date is over a year away, granted, but I’m still not happy.

However, luckily for her, and thanks to all of you random people who befriend me in other cities, I happen to know someone in the city/state she’s moving to. A blog reader – one of the ones that I’ve actually met in real life while passing through said other city. Because I genuinely do love getting to know all of you – even if I don’t always have time to chat as much as I used to.

(So much angst and guilt about my inability to do so. SO MUCH.)

Anyway. Blog-reader-in-other-city who is now future friends with my friend who is leaving me for other city (are you following so far?) suggested that I become an entrepreneur. That I should open up internet shop – mommyfriendsonly(dot)com.

I mean there’s Farmers Only and Christian Mingle and 420 Singles (because it’s SO hard for pot smokers to find fellow pot smokers, apparently) and even Ugly Schmucks (for people who feel unattractive and/or those who value personality first.)

And, since we’re making a list, here are some other specialty dating sites you can join:

Trek Passions – so that you can find that unique someone that prefers Star Trek: Voyager over ST:TNG. There’s gotta be one out there.

Mullet Passions – Because two Mullets make a right.

Meet an Inmate – In case you’ve always wanted to find yourself an incarcerated boyfriend or girlfriend. According to the website description,

Even though these men and women are in prison, it doesn’t mean that they are bad individuals. The majority of these inmates are loving, clever, reliable, sexy and very passionate. They enjoy sports, music, arts, etc., just as you do. However, they are convicted felons and caution should be used.

Opposite of the earlier mentioned Ugly Schmucks, there’s Darwin Dating. Described as,

Darwin Dating was created exclusively for beautiful, desirable people. Our strict rules and natural selection process ensures all our members have winning looks. Those strict rules ban, among other things, saggy boobs, sweat patches, nerdy glasses and cackly laughs.

I mean, who has sweat patches on their Match profile pics? And no saggy boobs – I guess post-breastfeeding moms are no longer natural-selection-appropriate. EVEN THOUGH WE’RE THE ONES PROPAGATING THE SPECIES.

But I digress.

Salad Match – to help you find a date that likes the same salad toppings you do!

…which is ridiculously inefficient, since Chris and I are perfectly salad matched because of our opposite tastes. He gets all the croutons, bacon, and peppers, and I get all the tomatoes, olives, and onions. Salad Match would have never let us find each other!

So why shouldn’t Moms have a website where they can find compatible Mom Friends? And also girlfriends in general, for those who aren’t Moms?

There is no good reason. I am not going to be making this website, but there is still no good reason.

But here’s the thing. By the fact that all of you are reading my blog, you are, already, matched up by your twisted and kooky sense of humor. And you’re a little dark, too, as you apparently don’t mind all of my train wreck stories. I mean, how could you not be compatible with one another when you enjoy reading about someone else’s colonoscopy and multiple poo disasters?? Not to mention roadkill photography

Anyway. Between your already identified darkly entertained side and the fact that I’ve gotten to know so many of you over the years, I could totally match-make many of you – especially since some of you live in the same cities.

So I created a group.

I’ve been meaning to make a group for other reasons for a while, now – and actually I did make it last August and just never used it – and now I kind of feel like giving it a whirl. Both because I think that many of you would like each other very much, and because I have some stories I want to share that I don’t necessarily want sitting on the front page of my blog for all the crazy commenters out there to find. Or my Dad.

(Sorry, Dad – there are just some things you don’t want to read about.)

So here it is. A Facebook Group. (I know, I know…Facebook is the worst. But it’s kind of the best for groups.) So if you’d like to join, just click and request. I’ll approve you all (after I stalk you thoroughly to assure the group that you’re not an ax murderer or if you are that you only chop up non-bloggers or non-friends of bloggers,) and within the group we can discuss all sorts of fascinating subjects. I can answer questions easily, I can share stories I can’t share otherwise, and you can get to know each other. And maybe, I’ll even match a few of you up to your new best friends.

I can’t wait to get to know you all better! Click here to join…

Disclaimer: Due to the nature of the posts I plan on sharing, I highly recommend this group only for women. If any three of you loyal male readers want to sue me or just blast me in the comment section for sexist-group-creation, I get it. I’m an awful human. As a sincere apology gift, allow me to send you my very detailed 3,000 word post about the new way I’m dealing with my menstrual cycle, and after reading, you can decide whether or not you still care about being in the group. If so, come on in.