A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's Kind Of A Big Deal

We decided to check out the Holiday in the Park event at Six Flags vs doing Stone Mountain Christmas this year. It was an experiment to see if an amusement park could bring us that old fashioned family Christmas experience that we get at Stone Mountain every year, and love so much.

It was also a big day, as Miles and Charlie got to ride a big boy ride - THE SWINGS for the first time.
It might not seem like a big deal but if you have a child (or two) that you aren't sure whether they will unbuckle or not, it is. But they LOVE swings, and we held our breath and let them give it a shot. They LOVED it.
They're too big for the little boy rides, and mostly too immature for the bigger ones. They don't have a good sense of danger so we have to be cautious what they get to ride.
How was it? Eh, it was just alright. We had some fun. I learned that despite having lost weight I'm too fat for a roller coaster that I could ride when I was fatter than I am now (why? Don't know).
It was more like just going to an amusement park and riding rides rather than a big holiday fiesta, which was what we were hoping for.
It was really beautiful, the decorations and lights were lovely and they obviously worked hard to make it a winter fun time but still when it was all said and done, it was just Six Flags. Which is OK but not quite what we do this time of year.
My favorite part of anything is always the carousel, if there is one. My mom has been known to say that Louis' childhood can be chronicled in the carousels he rode. Well, that's on me, because I just LOVE them.
We had a great time, even if it wasn't the time we had planned to have. And I got to ride a carousel, so you know in my book - that's an A+ day.
I hope your New Year's Eve is safe and wonderful. See you in 2015.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A BS Way to Start The Day

There are a lot of really crappy ways to start the day, but I feel like outside of death & dismemberment sort of events, having a massive leg cramp AS your alarm goes up is top of my list.

I set the alarm early for a couple of reasons, yesterday was a family time festival and I love them BUT I NEED SOME TIME BY MYSELF, and I wanted a nice long slow shower that I wasn't busting a move to get ready. I'm going in late to work because Charlie has a dentist appt so this entire scenario was set up as a perfect Mom morning.

You already see the flaw in my plan don't you?

BEEP BEEP BEEP and as I reach across the four year old who got into my bed because she was scared from the Monster Mansion I apparently extended my leg in some magical fashion to cause me to cry out "OH FUCK".

This wakes no one in my house. Not the husband beside me, not the four year old on the other side of me. Not the three boys asleep in the next room. NO ONE STIRS when Mom yells an expletive at 630 am. This is probably more of a statement about me than them, isn't it?

I get up and hobble to the bathroom, because having had four kids plus one massive charlie horse in your leg is a recipe for wetting your pants if you aren't swift, and I make it so crisis averted there. The cramp is moving around to the front of my leg to add a shin splint sort of effect which I don't quite appreciate, honestly I'd rather it didn't bother.

I slather on some icy hot generic product and as I sit here now, the fire of 1000 suns is ordering my muscles to relax and CHILL OUT FOOL. I can now flex my foot and stretch my leg without screaming for mercy. I still need that shower so apparently can look forward to a steamy Mentholatum scented event which should be lovely, right?

 I had to take this picture because, Foghorn Leghorn. Seriously. Now if only my kid had not MOVED while shooting. Little nerd. Lol.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Where Is Fancy Bred?

It's interesting how passions and interests pop up in individuals outside of the "norm" of the family. We are not a bike riding family. I wish we were but it's complicated. I remember getting my own bike, and the amazing freedom it afforded. Of course, I lived in a small town where you could ride anywhere and we did, all summer long.
The girl fell in love with what she dubs "A huffy bike" and has since begged for it for months now. Why? I don't know. The basket on the front? Possible.
So for three days she rode it up and down the hall practicing learning to pedal. She woke up on the 26th and sat on her bike while I made breakfast.
We took it out for a night ride, just some practicing up and down the road for a bit last night, she did a pretty good job.
It's her independence I think that attracts her to this bike. She tells me she can have adventures on it, and she and Tigger are going for a picnic. She says her basket will also hold Hershey bars which are going on said picnic with them. I'm invited, I'm told - but I need a bike.

She reminds me of my brother, longing for fishing and being outdoors while growing up in a condo. I remember when he got a tackle box and a fishing pole and suddenly his world was complete.
I kind of love her passion for her bike. It's infectious.
I can't wait to go on this Hershey Bar picnic.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

With A Compass In The Stock And This Thing Which Tells Time

Childhood traditions are weird things. They all make sense to me, having been a child myself, but for a long time I wondered why they are what they are. Then I became an adult and realized I'm the one who makes up what the traditions are in my house (well the husband and I do). At our house one thing that seems like it's becoming a tradition is going to Bass Pro Shops Christmas event. They move all of the boats out of the showroom and turn it into a Christmas wonderland for kids, and everything is free.
We sat down for a long time at the craft table, coloring furiously and saving our crafts for home (maybe today!) and Louis was put in charge of writing to Santa for the little ones. Miles had already come to this event with this class and written his letter to Santa - he would like a xylophone. I believe Santa got this message a bit late, so we'll have to see about that.
I presume that Miles already having written his letter is why he's picking his nose so calmly.
This is one of my favorite things I have to admit, I love the writing of letters to Santa. This is when they divulge their heart's desires - stuff they don't even tell to Mom and dad. Louis asked for a back pack with roller wheels because his is so heavy. Julia wants all the things we told her she can't have. I'm not sure where we are with the Santa lore and Louis. I "think" he knows but I can't decide. I'm a firm believer that if you don't believe he doesn't come, so I haven't broached it. 
Louis reminded us he wants a cross bow, at which time we realized that would've been good information PRIOR to us doing all our holiday shopping  as cross bows aren't inexpensive on a good day. I'm guessing the toy one he and Julia shot at targets isn't what he had in mind. 
So while we won't ever be a hunting and shooting family (probably), I love the family tradition of going to Bass Pro and having a Christmas afternoon with all of their toys and games.
We're probably at the end of Louis being interested in some of the stuff. I've got 12 solid years of photos of Louis riding carousels. That seems like it might be a lot. But in our house carousels have got to be ridden, it's a moral imperative! So we all piled onto the one for another year. I'm guessing that by next year we'll get the eye roll and groan if we suggest it.
This is my attempt at a photo of the kids. It's easier to herd cats than it is to get them to all stand still AND look at me. Well I got half of it done. Miles is actually SAYING cheese. 

At least vanity compels the girl to cooperate! 

Merry Christmas from us to you and yours. I hope yours is full of love, if nothing else. 

Monday, December 22, 2014


Five months and 22 days ago five people got a text from someone we all loved very much. It was to say goodbye to us, as he had decided he was done with this particular existence. It was probably the most horrible message I've ever received. I know he didn't mean it that way, but it was.

I haven't known what to do with it for all of these months. Sometimes I go back and read it, reading through it again and again. I end up back in the heat and pain of that day when I do this. I feel the helplessness of waiting and the dark clouds gather while I wait for the inevitable conclusion. Sometimes I ignore it, pretending it isn't there, silently willing it to go away.

I couldn't bring myself to delete it all of these months. It felt wrong, someone loved me enough to say goodbye and the only real and true final goodbye I hope to ever get. I didn't want to cut that communication. In reality though, that was already cut and I knew it. Just having it in my phone felt both like a connection and a curse though.

Yesterday while I was dumping bad photos and text messages etc to clear space in my phone, I suddenly realized all of my text messages were gone. Chuck's message was gone. I had deleted Chuck's last message. I sat there stunned. How did I just do that? What just happened?

He had written us to say goodbye, and wrote briefly to us about what we meant to him. He told us where to find him. He told us the backdoor would be unlocked. I remember that part because when I saw it that was when I realized we weren't going back from this situation, even as I said it aloud so the police could be told I remember how it felt hearing those words. It seemed more final to me than him saying where his body was. He told us a lot of things in the short space of a text message, hit send, turned off his phone and pulled the trigger. He left the back door unlocked so they wouldn't damage the door getting in. He was thoughtful like that.

All those words are now gone from my life and I realized I was grateful. I was relieved. Then I felt guilty for even feeling like that for a moment. I texted another recipient of the same message:
I just accidentally deleted Chuck's goodbye text. I don't know how I feel about that. 

His response: Consider it Merry Christmas to yourself. 

I'm going to do that. Chuck would say "You gotta let that go, you can't dwell on that stuff." I can hear him say it. So I'm going to do that. I'm going to let that go. I'm not going to feel guilty for finally closing the door on that day.

He also left us all a song. It was three months before I could listen to it. I finally did listen to it one day while stuck in traffic on i85. When I listen to it I know we carried out his wishes and that's the best friends we could possibly have been to him. That's going to have to be good enough.

This is the song. You don't have to listen. I'm putting here like a marker.
He's resting high on his mountain, as requested. That's the best we could do.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Less Stressed Mommying

My Mom will tell you that Matt had a better Mom that I did. I would disagree with that a lot, because I think my Mom was an AWESOME Mom. But I think now that I have kids with a big span between them (8 years in my case, 10 in hers) I realize she means that she FELT more confident and comfortable in her mommying. 

The little stuff that you sweat and cry about with #1 - we all do it so it's ok, by #4 you don't bother so much, you realize how much it matters or doesn't and don't lose sleep. You never worry that the baby will hate you if you don't breastfeed X weeks by the time you get to #4.  

Exhibit A is above. I am pretty sure I never once let Louis ride like this at the store. It would've been accompanied by "We do NOT act like that at the store." First child hears a lot about what we should act like, or do not act like in this instance. Julia says "Wait a moment, I need to steer." I watch her mount the top of the cart, have the thought then let it go and start through the store. She was my navigator and said hello to all the people. She's declared to me once at the store "Mom, think of all the people I will get to say HELLO to in my life!" I can hardly be the one to ever discourage such enthusiasm for the human race, can I?
Another example is games. She LOVES to play games, constantly begging to play games with us. I give myself a B here. Sometimes I just want to play a video game by myself and if I won't play a board game with her she comes to sit by me and we talk about what I'm playing. So I do have my own personal cheering section while questing in Azeroth which is awesome. But I quit being selfish from time to time and we play various board games. This weekend OPERATION is hot.

I was always raised to believe that you don't let kids win. I learned to play most games by playing with two girls who were a LOT older than me and kind of jerks about beating the crap out of me at games. I had to learn to be good enough to beat THEM. So I did. However, I've rethought this strategy. I definitely don't let LOUIS win. He's 12 and he needs to get it for himself. But she's 4. And so yeah I'll let her dig the pieces out of OPERATION with her fingers when her hand eye coordination fails her. 
The difference is, I DO make her try but I don't sweat it when she fails. Sometimes I try to force the rules gently and if we get off track from the rules I guide us back, even if just a bit. But the most important thing is that we're taking turns, and we're spending TIME together. That's what she actually WANTS anyway. She wants my attention and to do this thing she thinks is fun. I don't have to make her a game rule fanatic at the age of four. We can just play and have fun. 

So I get what she means. It's not about having less rules or being more or less structured, it's just about being comfortable in your own skin in this most important role. It's about knowing what actually matters vs. what a book said mattered, or what your friends said mattered, or what ANYONE said. It's what matters to you and your family that should drive the bus. 

It's nice to be in that spot.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Not So Wintry Days

Years ago, when I still lived in Kentucky even, my friend Christa shared that if you signed up to be a Makers Mark ambassador they'd send you free cute address labels. As someone who sends Christmas cards and appreciates free address labels I said HEY that works and signed up. I've been a member now forever. They send newsletters, and notices & invites to events which actually look pretty cool. If I were local I would probably even attend some of them.

Since I'm not, however, what I have experienced is their annual Christmas gift which is pretty awesome most years. Usually it's something to decorate your favorite bottle of Makers. A hat once, a sweater once, and this year it was a scarf. It turns out that at my house these items also perfectly fit a wee tiger named Tigger who is now perfectly geared for outdoor activities since adding his new scarf this year. Julia is convinced that they send them just for Tigger.
It doesn't feel remotely like Christmas to me this year. I don't know why. The kids are excited, the tree is up. I've decided which cookies we'll make for Mr. Claus (Sour Cream Cookies). I have most of the husband's gifts bought. But it's not so cold, it's kind of rainy and I don't have the holiday fever yet. I don't know why. The atmosphere is gloomy, my house isn't happy it seems like someone is always screaming or crying or yelling,despite the decorations and cheer we put up.

Five days. I need some Christmas spirit to hit me. I'm hopeful it gets here. It's my favorite holiday - so why I'm not feeling it I don't know.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

When Mom Gets It Worse

On Friday night Charlie didn't eat. That only means one thing, Charlie is very sick.  He further proved that theory true by puking all over the white sofa, and his bed. However, after two episodes he fell into a restful sleep and that was the end of it.

Then Mom got it.

I felt weird and not great when I woke up. I realized something, the past few times I've woken up and my coffee tastes like poison chemicals I've thrown up that same day. But I didn't see it coming yesterday. I had plans for aerobics, and I ate healthy and felt pretty good. Until about 3.

At 3 it was a wave of nausea and I felt like, if I JUST SLEPT I'd feel better. I realized that I had Charlie's bug, but I felt that I was mentally strong enough to fight of a couple of pukes and that if I just laid down a bit I would get better. Two and a half hours later, in the grips of unbelievable nausea and terrible pain I realized I was going to lose.

Charlie threw up twice. I experienced what I'm going to refer to as THE PURGE. While hummus was such a great choice when planning my lunch wrap it was a horror show the second time. Everything was. 


For over six hours my body rid itself of every bit of fluid it could find - the food was gone in the first 20 minutes. My thirst got unreal but all drinks of water just came right back. I tried taking some medicine, it came right back up. I couldn't think. Dehydration is a bitch. 

By about 1130 everything just stopped, leaving me a sweaty, gross mess who wasn't even tired but was so weak and exhausted sleep wasn't a problem. 

This morning I've got my green gatorade making me think I might live. I'd love a coffee but somehow it seems ill advised. Maybe in an hour or two I will try a cup. I dropped four pounds in six hours. I figure the plus side of yesterday is that I get to remove all my caloric intake from MY FITNESS PAL for yesterday, amirite?

Me and my electrolytes and are going to sit here and be coherent and hope I'm well enough to go get Louis from his Boy Scout campout. His father was up most of the night doing much needed shopping so I need to go and let him sleep. 

Come on gatorade, don't fail me now.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

An Homage to My Middle School Home Ec Teachers

My mom majored in Home Economics Education. That means that despite the fact that I'm lazy and don't cook, she did teach me a lot of the basics of baking and the kitchen. (Make note, I can bake - I don't cook).
When I was in middle school, we had home economics teachers who seemed to think that all foods kids needed to learn to make could be made out of those biscuits in a can. You can make pretzels, or pizzas, or apple turnovers, or beef wellington (with a hamburger patty inside), you can make cinnamon sugar donuts, you can make - BISCUITS.
I feel like it was the worst sort of phoning it in, and they weren't actually teaching anyone anything except all the things you can make with canned biscuits which isn't really all that helpful as biscuits every meal doesn't seem like a good idea.
Personally I do think, though, that letting kids bake stuff is a good idea as my facebook can attest to. But it keeps them busy and they love to do it.
We made cookies on Sunday and even the twins can get in on the action when it's cut out cookies. Charlie just wanted to eat the dough mostly, but we got him to cut out a couple.
There was a lot of variation in our gingerbread men, we also had a house, and an M and an N. We also had the fabled NINJABREAD MEN. Julia made a big circle for her Daddy. Daddy needs a big cookie she declared.
Miles felt certain that he should taste test them.

For our evening meal Louis wanted to make something together so I called upon my impressive arsenal of Home Economics formal education and we made these.
BBQ Chicken that's shredded, and cheese, stuffed inside crescent rolls. Oh Home Ec teachers of Perry Township - I did you proud !

Sunday, December 07, 2014

We Love Terrible Things

If you don't know by now, we love terrible things. Good grief we sat through ALL of Peter Pan LIVE! if that doesn't prove it. (Seriously quit making these live terrible musicals, please). So, when we went to the Georgia Aquarium we were excited to see that they were having the Mermaids of Weekiwachi as part of their holiday events.
Have you ever seen the Mermaids? It's like watching someone with a tail swim, and then also smoke from a hookah. She's actually breathing with that tube I know, but the image got stuck in my mind. I can see why this was huge in the 50s. Oh wait, no I can't. But Julia LOVED it and so now I can cross this off my EVERYTHING list.
They also had Victorian carolers and dancers, and while I think it's nice to let folks from the cafeteria and gift shop participate in your holiday event, seriously - maybe you should invest in people who could carry a tune next year? It was both lovely and hilariously terrible. But still, kids were having fun and these carolers brought in the big man himself ! Since we were positioned perfectly - we got to go see Santa first and tell him what we wanted for Christmas and get our photo taken! Julia told Santa all the things she wants, which include all the things we told her she can't have right now, a bike, a scooter, etc. She said "Don't worry I'll ask Santa." She's gaming the system folks.
When we looked up on our way into the Ocean Voyager tank - we realized there were divers over our head, and one of them was the mom of one of the families next to us. They were waving like crazy and she was waving at them too. I want to do this, I mean I REALLY want to do this. Can you imagine how breathtaking it would be to get into that big tank with the whale sharks? We're going to find out what it costs and all the details. I'm going to do this.
Despite my critique of bad singers and silly mermaids, it was a lovely time. We saw the Dolphin show (ok also that would go on my list of terrible things except for the dolphins - they are amazing). I love seeing all the fishies and just soaking up how amazing they are. It's unreal that such big creatures exist - yet they do and aren't the biggest. I can't wrap my mind around that.
We also revisited the exhibit that is like BODIES but it's for fish and sea life - see all the gross insides and guts of fish and various things. It was interesting. There is a flayed Emperor Penguin that was bleh - I should've taken a pic but I don't want to remember it that closely.
There was an interactive game there so Miles was the king of that. He was making sea monsters arise while Julia made the mermaids sing. It was an interesting collaboration.
When we left and walked outside to Pemberton place the whole plaza was alive with Christmas. I love living in Atlanta, the city is so beautiful and at Christmas it's just lovely. We walked over to the World of Coke decorations to have a look. They always do such a lovely job at the holidays.
The city is just magical this time of year. I'm so glad we came downtown at least once for the Christmas season. It was beautiful.
My husband took this next pic - I'm stealing it.
Now, I'm officially ready for Christmas.

Friday, December 05, 2014

When You Stop and Think About How Lucky You Are

My husband and I randomly started thinking last night about all of the amazing random things we've done and seen last night. In 46 years, we've had quite the adventure. It makes me feel really good to think about this list. It's amazing when you consider MOST of the Earth won't get to do all of these things, or even some of them. It's when you stop and consider how much you've had already that you can appreciate your life sometimes, and how fortunate you are. Some of our list from last night and more:

  • We've seen The Persistence of Memory
  • We've seen Warhol's Soup Cans - all of them
  • We've seen The Girl with the Pearl Earring
  • We've seen a large collection of the Dutch Masters
  • We've seen more than on Pollock
  • We've been to Disney World ( a ridiculous number of times)
  • We've been on airplanes and trains, I've been on a cruise ship
  • I've been at elevation 14,110 feet - Pikes Peak
  • I've been inside a real castle (more than one)
  • I've been to Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Italy and France
  • I've been to the Bahamas
  • We've both been to Canada
  • We've gambled in Casinos
  • We've been to Vegas (but never together)
  • We've been to Graceland
  • We had children when they said we could not
  • He's been deep sea fishing
  • We had twins
  • We've seen a whale shark
  • We've seen beluga whales
  • I've been inside large caves
  • I've been to where Abraham Lincoln was born
  • I've been to where Mozart was born (I opted to go shoe shopping rather than go inside though)
  • We've seen a large collection of Dali and also Warhol
  • We've been to an Opera (La Boheme - the paper warned it would be sung in Italian)
  • We've been to plays
  • We've been to a wine tasting (a fancy Valentine's one)
  • We've seen every corny Christmas Lights display we could every where we've lived (seriously we love them)
  • We've seen pandas
This isn't even close to a full list. This is just me with a cup of coffee full of creamer and raw sugar trying to remember what we said last night and thinking up a few more.  Thinking about what you've done, what you've been privileged enough to experience, the art, the music, the beauty of the world - it's a breathtaking thing to reflect upon.

We're not even close to done. I want to see everything and do everything.

My bucket list?


And now, a random pic of Darth Julia enjoying Room on the Broom. Because that's part of everything too.