A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Near Death Experience Of A Stranger

Imagine I am driving on the highway above. It's dark because it's after 6:30pm. It's also drizzly and cold and the traffic is a lot worse because it's rush hour leaving the Atlanta Metro.
I'm listening to the station that is playing Christmas tunes and singing along. In front of me is a big old tractor trailer that keeps sort of trailing over that right lane on the right. Just a foot or two over. Then he corrects. This goes on for a couple of miles so I am kind of keeping my eye on him.
The rain picks up a bit and the semi again slips to the right, the entire rig crossing the white line onto the shoulder and then suddenly makes a swerve so hard to the left that the trailer bounces.

Walking along the road is a hitchhiker. Exactly in the path along the shoulder where that semi was.


For a split second I saw the cab plow into him and throw him under the wheels/to the side of the road/back at my van and then I realized he was fine. The truck driver had missed him. By what had to be inches.

He didn't even turn around. He kept his thumb up, his jacket blew as the trailer rushed past him and then me.

I nearly watched you die dude. I wonder if you even care.

Monday, November 28, 2011

A Day For Trains

Several years of my childhood were spent in a house that was as legally close to a railroad track as could be.  The house shook and windows rattled every time the engines went blowing past the back of our house. I've often said that my brother's love of trains, and the reason he is an engineer now, is that his prenatal lullaby was the shaking and grumbling of Conrail.
My own boys love them though, so maybe it's just little boys who love trains. We went to the local rail museum to wander through cars in the middle of refurb and enjoy the blasts from the past, from days when rail travel was normal and not some exotic adventure.
The best part of this trip was probably when we walked into the shed and were surprised by who was working on the desk.
And some of our party were EXTREMELY excited to see him.
Trains are cool. Trains + Santa = UBER COOL.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

There Are Feasts And There Are Feasts

My oldest son and I have been talking a lot about Thanksgiving this year. Probably because he's nine and because he never, ever stops talking. One of the things we've talked about is how much he likes our family traditions. We start out our day with a special breakfast that always includes a fun treat, like this year it was monkey bread.
And then while the big meal is cooking, during the day we have a lunch snack that is more like a feast of appetizer foods, cheese, sausages, sausage stars, treats of various sorts that are designed to snack and munch rather than be a formal meal. We eat this about the time most other people eat their "meal".
During most of the rest of the day, we just hang out. We watch movies, sometimes we play a game or two, but we spend the time TOGETHER. We watch the parades (Macy's and McDonald's) and spend our hours snuggling on the sofas and playing.
The boy asked me yesterday, as we were tooling around doing things, why would MOVIES come on out Thanksgiving and Christmas? Those are holidays, he informed me, why would people go to the movies on HOLIDAYS?
I told him that people get worn out being stuck with their families so they go out to the movies for something to do.
He was pretty puzzled by this but went on about his day. But he came back around later and said "I think we're lucky, because we like to spend time together, so we don't have to go to the movies we can be happy just being with our family. I think that's weird that people don't like their family."
Yeah, we are lucky.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

I Was Denied Both Indians AND Pilgrims

So we went to the oldest boy's school for the traditional Thanksgiving lunch (served properly one week BEFORE Thanksgiving on Thursday). I kind of like this, because, we go and eat in the cafeteria with the kids and we get to go through the line with all the kids and get food.
It's cool to see how they do it now - different from when we were in school. These new fangled educators do a thing called "OFFERED" vs. "SERVE". They put food out on a cafeteria style line and the kids select what they want. One entree, two sides, etc etc.
Back in my day, they slopped food on your plate AND YOU WERE GRATEFUL.
Ok that's totally a lie you weren't, you just simply threw away that crap you didn't want. So that makes this way much better.
I love that part of it, and I love seeing the kids performing on the piano, all the artwork in the hallways, and especially all the kindergartners and first graders dressed up like Indians and Pilgrums. Little paper hats and headresses, paying homage to the first Thanksgiving where we told the American Indians THANK YOU FOR HELPING US STAY ALIVE OH HEY WE'RE GOING TO NEED ALL THIS LAND.
Except for THIS year.

This annoyed the crap out of me. Where were my Indians? Where were my Pilgrims?
Have we gotten so PC we can't be American Indians who really WERE at the Thanksgiving and we really WERE glad for them to be at that meal? If that's the case - THEN WHERE WERE MY PILGRMS??
Surely there is no white guilt in dressing up like Pilgrims? Or maybe were the Pilgrims t0o religious? I'd say it's separation of church and state run amok but I live in the bible belt and so that's not it.
I'm chalking it up to lazy teachers and or no budget for glue and construction paper. Which is a crime because it's epic cute and ridiculously fun.

However, the very best part of the entire lunch is the part the big boy looks forward to the most.
Showing off his baby.

He wheels her around, up and down the aisles, making sure all the kids get to see her. He skipped ICE CREAM to make sure he had enough time.

Watching him push her around, I'm pretty sure I know what he's thankful for.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The End - For Now

It was a weird thing for me as a Mom, having my oldest boy play football this year.
I wasn't ready for it, the worry and the heartache of seeing my baby suit up in pads and a helmet.

But as the season wore on, it was exciting. He did so well, and suddenly before my eyes he started to grow up. He started to toughen up. My son became stronger, and less fearful, more confidant. He started to become a bigger boy.

The boy has been sheltered his whole life. I think that's a good thing really. But eventually every mama bird has to let them fly, even if it's just a bit.

He got hurt, just a bit, and he cried. He wanted to quit. But then he didn't. And he felt the joy of victory. He learned that hard work pays off.

He learned that sometimes, just sometimes, things aren't easy.

And I learned that 8 year old boys can play football. Real football. It was amazing to behold.

At the end of the season they stood undefeated as they headed into the playoffs. Our second game the boy had to learn to lose, but he handled it pretty gracefully. His dad sent him down to remove the playoffs yard sign after the game, a small mourning ceremony but he took it well.

I am so proud of him. Not for "playing football". Rather, I'm proud of him for doing something hard and not quitting. I'm proud of him for learning lessons on being tough while still being the kind, gentle boy he is.

I think he'll play next year. But it doesn't matter if he does or does not. Because this year he learned something and flew a little bit further away, then returned. Next year it will be the next thing and then the next. As along as we keep going, we're doing it right.

Friday, November 11, 2011

She Is The Best Thing I Ever Gave Him

He wanted a baby for years. We had her just in time.

Everything Changes

That is a seven year old severely autistic boy, writing words.

Last night I taught him to spell his little sister's name, and he smiled and laughed. Then, he looked at her, erased her name and wrote a new word.

He wrote BABY.

I think everything just changed.

Friday, November 04, 2011

Halloween Traditions Old And New

As long as there have been twins in this house, there have been Twins Club holiday parties. I joined when I was pregnant (it's where I met the awesome Sarah) and ever since joining, we've drug our entire crew out for every holiday party we could. The Halloween/Fall parties have always so much fun.
The usually include bounce houses, and crafts and a picnic which is ridiculously fun. I don't know why, it just is. I think I'll be really sad when my kids are finally too big to do this stuff.
Yeah he's facing the wrong way. He's autistic leave him alone!
The new thing we do for Halloween time is that for the past two years we've gone to Six Flags for FRIGHT FEST which is spoooooky fun. SEE....
The put up graveyards and cobwebs and flood the park with fog at night. Plus there are spooky characters roaming around to make it extra Halloweeny.
The most "nervous about spooky stuff kid in the world" wanted to get his picture taken with these guys who did this zombie old west show. This slays me.
It also slays me to write "zombie old west show".
They also do trick or treating with ladies dressed up in dresses that I THINK are supposed to be southern belles, but I am fairly sure Miss Scarlet would call this look Poor White Trash. We all know how bad and tacky that is.

The girl didn't get to ride too much but I think at 18 months she's doing just fine in the stroller ride.

I like going to Fright Fest. It's a huge undertaking to take six people to an amusement park all day but it's a lot of fun when the day is themed like this. I hope we keep doing this one.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Pumpkin Ritual

Murdering pumpkins is a long standing family tradition. I like to blame IT'S THE GREAT PUMPKIN CHARLIE BROWN for this. In my family it's just not Halloween if we don't murder some pumpkins and watch the Great Pumpkin.
I let my children participate in the carnage because you know, it's fun to gut stuff together. In fact, the oldest boy does it exactly long enough to say he participated and then he's kind of icked out by the process. I swear I'm going to make him do it all next year.
We also like to paint their faces to mock their demise. Bwaaahaaahaaa pumpkins your fate lies in our hands! BEHOLD THE SILLY FACES WE WILL MAKE YOU WEAR!
It's sort of sad really, these pumpkins go to their end manhandled and mocked. But I didn't tell them to be plants. I learned, on the TV, so you know it's true, that the only place on Earth that pumpkins won't grow is Antarctica. This makes Antarctica a lesser place in my mind. I'm not sure I'd want to live in a place with no pumpkins.

How could a place exist without these amazing orbs of joy that exist only to make wee ones smile?
Well, and frighten off demons. They're good for that too.

I'm thinking the demon population in Antarctica must be running rampant. That's another good reason to avoid that place.

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

I'm Not Sure I Understand...

I realize I've never claimed to be a cool mom but as my son keeps telling me that he's a space matador in Lego Universe I have to confess, all I can think of is something like this.


Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Halloween Logistics

At my house Halloween begins with the trip to the mountains for pumpkins. Going to the pumpkin patch has always been a family tradition for us. We took the first boy when he was weeks old, strapped on to my chest with a baby carrier, and listened to the old farmer tell us about brown fat which we thought was an old wives tale but is apparently true.
When I lived in Indiana, the pumpkin patch was a trip to a big flat open place under more sky than I can properly verbalize. I miss the big flat land and all that sky, but it wasn't that pretty. It was functional, as most things in Indiana are. In Kentucky it was a folksy farm, sort of similar to the farms of Indiana.  In Florida it was really just an imitation pumpkin patch I'm not even sure you can grow pumpkins in that soil. The boy scouts would lay out pumpkins like a field and we'd go run around them and pick out our winners.
But in Georgia, in Georgia it's magical.
There is a hayride with inclines so steep you feel like you're gonna fall out. You go through a stream and there are talking pumpkins that tell you about how God gave us pumpkins. I SWEAR I LOVE THAT PART.
There are huge swaths of pumpkins to run and play and to choose exactly what you want. No reason to choose just a plain old orange pumpkin when they have red and blue and white too!
A friend on plurk asked me the other day how I find the energy to do all the stuff we do with our kids. I've thought about that a lot. It's not about energy. I don't have ANY of that.  It's about willpower. You have to have the willpower, despite being tired and having the cranky, go get four kids dressed and get out of the house.
Because they won't ever be 9, 7, 7 and 18 months old again. When I'm long dead, I want them to tell their grandkids about how their Mom and Dad used to take them to the mountains to get pumpkins. And how we ate fried pies and went on hay rides and everyone got their own pumpkin.

My children are my immortality. I'm making sure mine is a good one.