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Memory Lane

Memory Lane

Yesterday we road tripped to my childhood summer camp  to take advantage of their open house.  My husband has been wanting to visit since he didn’t go there and we wanted to give the kids a visual feast that would amp up their excitement levels about future attendance.  It was a beautiful day for it – sunny, low 60’s, chilly in the shade and definitely the first time I’ve been there wearing a jacket.  I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as the open house layout and itinerary.  There wasn’t a strict schedule for anyone, more like pairing a couple families together with a guide and taking a leisurely walking tour.

I loved seeing what’s been upgraded, what’s the same.  I had a few hardcore dejavu moments and the memory floodgates opened wide.  It made me wish I had attended longer – I stopped going when I started babysitting during the summer.  It made me wish I had been a counselor.  Can they have a grown-up camp session?  Please?  I call top bunk!

We were touring with a family that lived much closer to camp and our guide was a former camper/counselor and has now been working there for 11 years.  The other family’s 10-year old son was interested in the day camp, but his parents wanted him to see all the cool bonuses to living there for two weeks.  His mom was thrilled with me and my stories and memories of being a camper.  My two boys really enjoyed seeing the cabins, riflery range, ropes course and water activity area.  The camp is parked on 100(ish) acres with over a mile of lakefront shoreline.  The wide range of land AND water sports is a huge draw and my oldest definitely got the twinkle in his eye while we explored and asked questions.

I need to look at our summer schedule and see what weeks we would be free for him to attend and see if we can make it happen.  I think the freedom from parents, the access to the sports and activities the camp offers, and being able to learn about social cues from peers and mentor counselors is a huge plus for kids both on the social and educational scale.  Plus, if he loves it he can probably talk little brother into it next summer and continue attending until he is eligible counselor age.

We parlayed our road trip into an afternoon play date and dinner with some dear friends who live in that area.  It was a perfect family Sunday, and I’m so happy the weather cooperated!

Happy First Day of Spring, y’all!

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Daylight Savings Smackdown

Daylight Savings Smackdown

Oh my heavens, y’all.  The twice yearly time shift has never been much of an issue for me or for our kiddos in their brief history on the planet.  But something about this year perhaps – the spring shift forward and loss of an hour has us all kinds of jacked up but in opposite times of day.  We never make a big deal about the shift, we keep the kids’ same bedtime & wakeup routine, and tough they might yawn a lot that first morning we carry on as normal.

But Sunday evening…ohhhhh Sunday evening was a battle.  We had dinner at our regular 6:00 time frame and happened to finish quickly, which gave us plenty of wind down playroom minutes before bedtime (that routine starts at 7:00 and we wrap up stories at 8:00).  Our free time was up and we began to usher the boys towards their bathrooms for toothbrushing, but they both seemed shocked and insisted it was too early for bed.  The sun is still out, it’s too early, we aren’t tired yet.   As their daddy and I attempted to explain “Daylight Savings” they argued about the concept and then changed to “whyyyy did you make us eat dinner so early?”


We resorted to kid friendly YouTube videos to help us out and try to show them that we aren’t lying and making it all up as a scam to get them in bed earlier than normal.  And after 20 minutes of various videos we had eaten up a large chunk of story time and it was getting dark as we left their rooms and there was no further struggle.  But geeeeeeez.

On the flip side, I am normally able to pop out of bed at my first 5:00am alarm and get my booty down on the treadmill for my daily date.  It’s not fun, I don’t enjoy it but it’s not difficult to do.  I have been dragging so bad the last few mornings.  My sis-in-law calls it a “life hangover”.  I have hit SNOOZE 36 times and gotten up in time to get the kids up and get everyone out the door on time and found my stride around 9:00am in the middle of my barre class.  And yes, I have made up my missing mileage later in the morning but then it takes time from my “get sh*t done while the kids are at school” time.  So I need to quit griping tomorrow and just GET UP.  I’m a grown woman and I can doooooo eeeeet!

Has anyone else been smacked in the face with this time change more than usual?What are some things you do to get back on track quickly?

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I haven’t been a kind person recently

I have been increasingly disgruntled with one tiny, fairly insignificant thing in my life and I started hardcore yapping about it to anyone who would listen in a rather bitchy gossip-y way instead of immediately taking it to the appropriate persons to look into.

I generally try to be a spreader of cheer and positivity and I have utterly failed in my resolution regarding this item.  It has made me feel like a yucky person inside and I am working to correct my actions.  I hate that several people’s view of me may have been affected by my smack talk and I’m learning a grown up lesson right now.  Once the words are out, they can’t be put back.

While I’m less than proud of myself, I’m also glad to share this part of me with y’all so you can learn from it as well.  It’s going to take much longer to recover from this blunder than it did to actually commit it and darn sure I’ll think twice and act differently if I ever find myself in a similar situation.

I don’t want to lend negative thoughts to the universe, I don’t want to impose them on other people and I don’t want to waste space in my mind or my heart with them either.  Life is too short to be anything less than happy, and that includes being happy within myself and with how I treat others.

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Well, hello again!

Hello my darlings!

It has been way too long and I have no excuses.  Two and a half years gone by.  My sons are six and eight now *holy cow* and I’m…well, two and a half years older than I was at my last post.

Since the beginning of 2017 I have been involved in a project with a childhood friend – details will be discussed more in a coming post.  However, this project has reinvigorated my desire to be creative on canvas, on my blog, with my kids, and in my sketchbook to name a few mediums.  It has also reinvigorated my desire to be purposefully joyful, compassionate and loving to fellow humans.  My blog brings me joy, the written word makes me happy as a method of correspondence and story sharing so here I sit.  I’m at my boys’ Taekwondo studio listening to them count in Korean after it took me 20+ minutes to decode my login user name and password.  Y’all, I’m getting ollllld and my remaining brain cells are tired!  I’m shocked it didn’t take me longer to log in considering my rather lengthy siesta.

I won’t promise a regular schedule yet, though my starting goal is twice a week.  And I hope to make this more interactive.  If you have questions for me or topics you want to read my take on, please ask me and I t can be a “Dear Dotty” type of segment.  I will not discuss religion or politics – my blog is my happy place and I’d dearly like to keep it that way.

But, hello again friends!  Some old friends might forgive me and come back to read and I hope new friends will join us as we laugh our way through life, friendship, parenthood and gallons of coffee.

Thanks for having me back, interweb family.  I missed y’all.

Photo by Mark Perry

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September 5th…remembering a lifetime of laughter.

September 5th…remembering a lifetime of laughter.

With my mama at a beautiful beach outside Melbourne, Australia.  July 2006

I always knew I’d laugh about the times I cried, but never knew I’d cry about the times I laughed.  ~ Anonymous

It is softly drizzling outside, gradually soaking our parched lawn and I’m sitting in the kitchen with my two sons.  My oldest is a replica of his daddy, my youngest more closely resembles my daddy.  Tomorrow, September 5th, is my dad’s birthday.  He would have been 62 tomorrow.  I suppose you never “get over” the death of a parent or loved one, but I am learning (for me, anyway) that it has gotten easier to be at peace with.  I still tear up (or full out sob) from time to time, but not as regularly as I did during his illness and immediately after his death.  I am reminded of him very often, but it brings back happy memories…snippets of love and laughter nestled in every fiber of my body.

I want to share a few things with you about him.  Things we laughed about then and things I laugh about now.

He had what my siblings and I dubbed a “dad chuckle” that you would only hear when he was trying not to laugh at something that my mom did not find as amusing as her children did…inappropriate jokes, asinine tv shows and the like.  He was watching a South Park episode with me late one night when I was in high school.  We weren’t snuggled on the couch together or anything, but we were both in the kitchen at the same time and there was a small tv in there.  I was at the table close to the television, while he was playing solitaire at the built in computer desk area about 10 feet behind me.  It was the episode when they tried to say the “shit” word as much as possible in the allotted run time and there was a counter/ticker thing in one of the lower corners of the screen (come on y’all….you 90’s teenagers know which one I’m referring to).  The higher the number on the ticker got, the more he “dad chuckled”.  I could tell he was trying to pretend not to be paying attention to the show as my mom was meandering in and out of the kitchen.  She was not fond of my then infatuation with South Park.  I finally looked over my shoulder near the end of the show and daddy was laughing so hard he wasn’t making any noise (sounds weird, but it’s a thing I swear).

He did the same thing when I made him watch the first Ace Venture movie with me.  We guffawed through the whole thing, but in the scenes where Jim Carrey is dressed in the Hawaiian shirt, combat boots and pink tutu trying to scope out the mental institution we were crying rivers of tears and leaning on each other for support as our laughter worked our abs to the max.

He used to laugh with us at restaurants when we would blow our straw wrappers off the straws like paper missiles…until one of them would cross the border into another patron’s booth and land in their salad plate…then we would get “the look” and he would say either:

“Daggummit, (insert appropriate child’s name here)!”  or “Bless a Cow!”

We started most road trips with an annoying round of “the song that never ends” a la Sherry Lewis and Lambchop.  Or we would wait till we were about thirty minutes down the road to start asking if we “were there yet” or begging sarcastically for a bathroom break.

I have 28 years of fantastical memories of my dad and I am so lucky to have those.  These cover one small  lily-pad in the whole pond…

He loved the Eagles and Derek and the Dominoes (original version of Layla all the way, none of that slow, mopey crap!!!)

He loved Blazing Saddles & True Lies & James Bond

He loved Saturday morning breakfasts with his crew at Cloverdale Kitchen.

He loved trips to Disney World

Pecan pie a la mode

Being at the beach with my mom

His cowboy boots

The Cowboys

and the Tarheels for anyone who was wondering

His Subaru

His business

His community

His church

His family

I have one more quote for you from the book The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian.

Integrity is not what you appear to be when all eyes are on you.  It’s who you are when no one is looking.  It’s a level of morality below which you never fall, no matter what’s happening around you.  It’s a high standard of honesty, truthfulness, decency, and honor that is never breached.  It’s doing for others the way you would want them to do for you.

He certainly treated me with love and respect.  Teamed up with my mom, he was a gentle and logical guide through adolescence and into adulthood and mom mom was and continues to be my creative inspiration and maternal role model.

Sharing a few things about him keeps the memories of him alive.  They shine out of my heart and I love sharing him with my boys.

Zeb, my four year old, asked me about my wrist tattoo yesterday morning.  I read it to him as he softly touched the words and told him my daddy died before he was born, but that part of my daddy was inside him.  Zeb replied, “Mama, I’ll put the pieces of your daddy back together for you and it would make you so happy.”  Oh how my heart wept and sang at the same time.  A little man of integrity, just like his granddaddy.

The closing sentiment from a letter my dad wrote me just after I told him I was getting married.  In his own script.

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Sweet memories…

Sweet Memories…

My mother’s mother went by “Gran”.  I didn’t have as much time with her as I would have liked…she passed away in spring of 1994 after a battle with cancer.  That is not part of this story.  I want to tell you about a happy memory of her.

We grew up a couple states away from my mom’s folks and time with them was much anticipated and highly coveted.  No matter what time of day or night we arrived at their front door, Gran would be ready for us.  She would have homemade macaroni and cheese made for me, a special sprite/jell-o concoction in the fridge that my brother adored and some of those southern style green beans that have spent two days on the stove that were a favorite of my mom and dad.  It was a home away from home.  She let us make blanket forts underneath the pool table in their playroom.  She organized and helped us follow through with birthday parties for our stuffed animals (complete with balloons, cake and streamers).  She let us run amok in their multi-acre back yard.  She took us to the park and the post office and the drug store and the pool.  She took me to the fabric store and let me pick a pattern and the fabric and I’d have a new outfit waiting for me the next morning.  She took my brother to visit her fireman friends at all the different fire stations around town.  She took me to her jazzercize class and let me borrow one of her leotards and set of leg warmers…

And she took me to visit her friend, Frances Stone.  An interior decorator with a beautiful showroom, which to me seemed like a life-sized doll house.  Every time I visited the rooms were different and I was allowed to wander freely (carefully) through each scene.  It was during one of our decorative adventures that Gran was going to buy me a bottle of room spray that I had smelled throughout the building and admired.  Frances was sweet enough to gift the bottle of fragrance to my grandmother to give to me.  I had many of these bottles given to me in the years I visited my Gran.  I treasured them, used them, loved them and loved the feelings the smell evoked.  I was almost 14 when she died and somehow, even after using this room spray for years, I lost track of that kind it was…what the name of the scent or company was…and I never had another bottle of it after I used the last of it up.

In late 2002/early 2003 when I was newly employed at a precious little boutique and I was un-boxing a spring shipment…I remember stopping cold as I lifted the cardboard flaps and the smell I associated with my Gran wafted over me.  I nearly cried as I pawed through the packaging to get my hands on the source…and I rediscovered what has become (again) one of my favorite smells of home.  It is the Aromatique “Smell of Spring” potpourri.  I prefer the potpourri now and buy a couple bags every spring that I divvy up into several crystal bowls throughout the house.  It is soft and sweet and makes me happy every single time I walk by.  I just bought my two bags today from the same boutique, though I no longer work there.  I also love Aromatique’s fall fragrance, “Cinnamon Cider” and use that from October-February (ish).

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Woah, Nelly!

Woah, Nelly!

LOOOOONG time, no see!  This is because my laptop decided to get Alzheimers and thought my website was a Trojan horse or something and blocked me entirely….I could see my site on my phone and on the ipad, but I could not see or access it from my Lappy 3000….weird, annoying, and happened in September ‘13 – so forgive my nearly 4 month hiatus, it was not by choice!  I love you, my dear readers…all seven of you.

The fall was full for our family, Christmas and all the activities and excitement leading up to it was delightful and winter is off to an interesting start weather-wise here in NC.  I will try to update and fill in as I am able, but this is just a “hello, I have not forgotten about you!” post.

Happy New Year, y’all!  I’m looking forward to sharing with you again!

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Our summer in photos…

Our summer in photos…

A few of these may not quite be in order, but here ya go! We have had fun.  We have been busy.  We’ve tackled swim lessons for both boys and been triumphant (though far from done).  We have had lazy weekends, many many play dates and more rain than I remember in my lifetime of summers in NC.  I don’t even think we hit triple digits once here!  Not that we live in Arizona but the mild, wet summer has been challenging in ways I did not anticipate (cabin fever, pleasant pool temp vs. pleasant (not crazy hot & humid as hell like it usually is) air temp makes a rather cold swim experience…).

We started the summer with a trip to NJ to visit my childhood bestest friend and her handsome hubby & son (our godson), we playground & park-hopped to change it up here, we went to Discovery Place Kids, the local Children’s Museum (I broke down and got a family membership in mid-June when the rainy days at home were driving me nuts), made our trek to the beach with Auntie & Uncle Calen, ran our sidewalk chalk down to nubs on the driveway (repeatedly….mama LOVES sidewalk doodling), I had a child-free weekend away with the hubbs for a tropical wedding, we spent numerous afternoons and evenings at the pool, the boys had preschool summer camp with their cousins, I chopped half my hair off (the other half is going in early September!), we ate ice cream sandwiches while playing outside, scouted for rolly pollies/ants/worms etc., took the boys for their first movie theater experience (Monsters University)…I might add more as I think of it, but it has all been lovely.  And I can’t believe it’s almost time for school again.  I’m still enjoying our summer as we have two full weeks left until preschool starts up again and I still have a few surprises and activities planned, but this mama is pooped and ready for our “regular” routine again!

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Changes of scenery

Changes of scenery.

Henceforth this is what I shall call an out of town trip with the kids.  I am sure at some point down the road, say 15 + years from now it will revert back into a “vacation”, but for the foreseeable future they shall not be called vacations.  Because, let’s be honest, they really aren’t.  Not with toddlers.

Now.  Please don’t read this as me saying I hate traveling with my children and I don’t enjoy where we go, what we see, the time we spend together because that is far from the truth!  I followed this train of thought to my blog tonight as I have been packing and making travel preparations to head to the beach with my two little boys tomorrow.  My sister and new brother-in-law are meeting us there and generously donating their time and energy being super awesome real-life toys before they do a switch off with my husband next Friday and we round out our nice and lengthy beach stay with a few daddy days.

As I have been puttering and checking off lists, I am already tired.  We have been at the pool almost every single afternoon that it has been sunny out.  Our summer days have been full and happy and mama is tired.  I am so giddy that the kids are genuinely excited about the beach trip this year and know to expect seashell hunts, seagull feedings, fireworks, glow sticks after dark, picnics on the balcony while watching the ocean, pizza at one of their favorite places, afternoons at the “big park with the ducks and swans”, baths in their grandma’s big tub with the brass dolphin faucet and mermaid mural on the wall, tide pools, ice cream, counting all the motorcycles we see…all the little things we do and some we kind of only do at the beach.  Since my boys are still so little (thisclose to three, and nearly five), if I did not have an extra set of hands helping me all week, I probably would not be going.  Or I would sweet talk my husband into coming down on the flanking weekends to help me unload/unpack and then pack/load it all up again.  Up to this point I have been able to wrangle my mom or my sister to accompany me/us.  Probably another year or two and I’ll be more comfortable handling the whole process on my own.  Or I’ll be more confident in my toddlers’ ability to listen to mama and retain the information or instruction that was just talked about.  HA!

But I take it for what it seems to me to be right now, a lovely week with the little ones I adore and a much appreciated change of scenery.  The daily routine is similar, the amount of work and energy needed to get ready for the beach, stick it out for a couple hours and get cleaned up afterwords is massive, you still have to feed the kids/prep the food/clean up the kitchen/wash the dishes, etc…, you still have the bedtime routine, you still have the baths…the amount of work is the same, if not a bit more.  This is why I smile and think to myself – this is really not a vacation, it’s just a change of scenery.  I’m gonna need a 15-hour nap when we get back home.

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That is the number staring back at me from my answering machine of 7+ years.  From mid-2009 until yesterday afternoon, that number has been at least two.  Maybe five or ten or twelve, but at least two.  Always two.  I kept the last two answering machine messages my dad left us before he passed away on June 26, 2009, and how I wish I had kept more.  In the last two messages he doesn’t sound like his usual upbeat self because he wasn’t.  But it was his voice.  Weaker, softer, more tired and worn down.  But it was his voice.  I haven’t listened to the messages but once or twice since he left them, and I cannot honestly tell you what the subject matter was.  But I had his voice.  Recorded.  In my house.  And had I wanted to, I could have pushed the button to hear him any time.  And my clumsy fingers accidentally deleted them yesterday.

We have been out of town for a long weekend and I was going through our missed calls.  The kids were babbling in the kitchen while they had their afternoon snack and there was one message I could not get down fully.  I had the guys name and number but I could not, after four listens, figure out where he said he was calling from.  Of course this guy was the last message on the machine and I missed the two second time span I had to repeat him before the message ended, so I had to play all messages and skip through them all to get back to his.  My stupid right index finger punched “delete” through all the messages instead of the “forward skip”, which is the button directly next to the delete.  I realized it as I deleted the random guy’s messages and my voicemail man said “you have no more messages” and then popped that little red zero onto the screen.  I swear I felt my heart stop and lurch around in my chest at that moment when I realized what I had done.  I couldn’t breathe.  It was no one’s fault but my own, even though I mentally cursed the placement of the delete and skip buttons.  I cried a bit and called my husband to tell him what I did.  He, too, was accustomed to the little red number two.  Sort of checking to make sure it was still there whenever we passed my the machine in the kitchen.

I will tell you that we have a videotaped interview of my dad.  My brother, sister and I decided to conduct an interview of dad before he got too sick.  The year he was diagnosed and treated my sister-in-law and I were both pregnant with and gave birth to the first three of his grandsons.  We wanted to remember him, we wanted our children and future children to see him, hear his jokes and voice, see his smile and listen as my brother conducted what turned into a multi-hour interview.  I have not watched it.  I’m not there yet, but it makes me happy that we thought to do that and that he was such a good sport about it, while knowing our reasons behind the unusual request.

I had 10, 530 days with daddy.  Another number that will never get any bigger, but each of those 10, 530 days were a treasure.  And the number of memories I have from those days surpasses the highest number I can count to!

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