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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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Zero

Zero

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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Well, fancy meeting you here!

Well, fancy meeting you here!

Geez, y’all, I am a bad bad bad girl.  I have been away from my poor little blog for what…5 months?!  But I slacked off when “THE Wedding” shenanigannery picked up pace.  “THE Wedding” I am referring to was my little sister’s and her new hubby’s over Mother’s Day weekend and my house was one of the HQ’s for all invitation addressing/stuffing/favor making/gift receiving as well as a makeshift B&B for my sister and a bridesmaid.

My already limited free time during naps and after the kids go to bed (when I would normally play with blog entries or putter around the house) was filled with anything and everything I could help my mom or sister with.  Preschool mornings had wedding appointments scheduled, my email inbox was so filled with correspondence from so many vendors I made a separate folder for it all so I could stay organized.  And beginning in early April, every single weekend was booked until wedding time!  It has been madness!  Sparkly, satin-y, lace-y, monogram-y madness!  And it was all oh so fun!

I will seriously have to go back through my day planner to see what events occurred between January and May so I can fill you in, but I’ve been so swamped, I can’t pick anything off the top of my head.  My boys’ preschool ended just over a week ago and we took a long Memorial Day weekend in New Jersey with my childhood bestie and her family, so we are just settling into the easier summer schedule.  Gym time for mommy in the mornings, playing outside (in the backyard, in my sis-in-law’s killer backyard, at one of many playgrounds we frequent), pool time in the afternoons, baths almost nightly to remove the sunscreen and bug spray from the day.

I am shaking my head in amazement as our summer calendar is filling up already with gymnastics camps, preschool camps, swim lessons (gotta get rid of the floaties!!), birthdays, a tropical wedding getaway for the hubbs & myself, beach time, mountain time…our travel schedule is made up for the rest of 2013 I think and I have two known events in 2014 and one in 2015…Seriously, I’m such an OCD planner…please don’t abandon me – I admit my problem!  But it’s good to plan and be organized, right?  I just ordered our youngest son’s party invitations tonight and I confirmed date/time/locations for both boys’ parties in the past few days – one in August, one in October.  I repeat – I.  Love.  To.  Plan.

I hope to get back on track and keep up with all the special little things that make up our summertime as a family.  For now, happy end of spring friends!  Hope to see you back here again soon!

Me, my sister and my sister-in-law.  Little sister wore our mom’s wedding dress for the rehearsal =D

My brother was asked to walk little sis down the aisle, and also instead of dancing with her for the father/daughter dance he surprised her with a serenade of a favorite song.

The gorgeous, happy couple

The “E & C” initials and monogram were a running theme from the invitation design, the personalized Herend cake topper, the napkins, the gown detailing, the dance floor lighting…

Me and my sis-in-law/bestie.  Someone dubbed us “the sparkly watermelons”.

The stunning (and freaking delicious) cake!  I can give you pastry chef info if you message or email me!

Me and the woman I hope to become more and more as I grow up – my mommy!

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Holy crotch sweat, Batman!

Holy crotch sweat, Batman!

I spent a good hour at the gym this afternoon being particularly aggressive on the elliptical as A) I have some kick ass new Skechers that make my feet obscenely happy and 2) I have a few new happy songs in my iPod rotation that make me realllly dance-y on this machine.  It is possible to kinda dance on the elliptical.  It’s hard, but it can be done.

These are my new kicks ~ pretty darn sweet, right?  Who wants to choose between green, orange, blue, pink or yellow when you can have ALL OF THE ABOVE on one shoe?!  Anyway – this is not a shoe post, this is a embarrassing sweat post.

After my sweat session I sanitize my handlebars and stretch out before heading to the locker room.  As I approach the sink in the bathroom I glance in the mirror to assess my matted hair and before I can even get to the hair I see “it”.  The ultimate sweat stain.  I don’t generally worry about my under boob sweat.  Don’t care about the back sweat that soaks through my tank tops.  Heck, if I’m in a shirt shirt I will even proudly flaunt my armpit sweat.  But this was none of those areas.  No no.  This was a giant, obvious sweaty crotch outline.  I usually wear my black yoga pants to the gym, but today I grabbed my grey ones as all the others are in the laundry.  I will now assume, that though my sweat levels are roughly the same for this activity, the black fabric hides most of the moisture.  Not so with the grey.

I gape for a second and think a few things in rapid succession:

Well, at least I was in the front row of ellipticals and treadmills so no one behind me could see this….until I stretched.

Oh crap – I was in the front row so everyone else in the entire gym could see this.

I guess I confirmed to everyone that I am indeed a girl.

Will my tank top pull low enough to cover this so I can grab the kids and get home?

I was the v-shape you might imagine, but with the addition of a vertical line in the center.  TMI, I know, but good grief!

It was like this, but worse…..

This is truly the way I felt about it.

So – what do I take away from this little um….incidence?  Lesson is: the grey yoga pants are for yoga ONLY.  Black for everything else.

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Feeling like a worn out broken record…

Feeling like a worn out broken record…

Parenting is a challenge.  Whether you have one, two or ten I know there are days when you feel like you are just saying the same things over and over.  Disciplining repeatedly for the same actions.  To an extent I try to always remember that our two boys are just little boys, one is four and one is two.  They are little and simply don’t get sometimes that the result of their repeated actions can hurt one of them or someone else.  To another extent I want to pluck my eyelashes out in frustration because it is the same thing every. single. freaking. day.  They know our house rules, they “forget” them every day (multiple times a day), and are disciplined for these actions.  I am sooooo tired of it.  How many times should mommy have to say any of the following:

We don’t run in the kitchen.

We don’t run in the living room.

We don’t run in the playroom.

We don’t throw things.  Unless we are playing ball outside, we DO NOT throw things.

Don’t headbutt your brother.

Don’t tackle/wrestle/pin your brother.

Don’t sit on his head.

Get your feet away from his face.

We do not hit anyone.  It is not nice and it does not feel good.

We do not stand on the furniture.

We do not jump on the furniture.

We do not stand on the kitchen table.

You do not always get to be first.

Do not shove past your brother.

Why are we screaming in the house?

Everything in the playroom gets shared.

And so on and so on.  It’s not as noticeable to me when it’s warm out and we can spend our afternoons outside at a playground or park or the pool or in the backyard…but it has been cold and rainy for the better part of forever now and I am going nuts!

My little one was, up until his second birthday, a mellow and chill guy who just went with the flow for every occasion on any given day.  He is now a menopausal drama mama and just seems to act out to get any kind of attention he can.  He antagonizes his big brother at every opportunity and instigates most of their little show downs.  It is seriously annoying.  I don’t feel like my oldest was nearly this challenging, but that is understandable as at two and a half years old  his little brother was just 6 months old.  My big boy was a sweet and loving little man.  He was very patient with mommy while baby nursed, very good with transitions into booster seats at the kitchen table and a big boy bed in his room.  He still had a lot of individual attention from mama and daddy because baby bro was not mobile,verbal or truly demanding in any way (dream child!).  The behavior changes in both of them with this new-found sibling dynamic has me thanking my gynecologist for the Mirena he inserted just over two years ago!

I will face each new day with a clear mind, putting the previous days’ challenges behind us all.  That’s the only sane way.  A blank slate and fresh start for all of us.  And I will whine and commiserate with my girlfriends when I need to.  And I will occasionally say yes to a glass of wine in the evening.  And I will feel no guilt about hiring a sitter once in a while simply to pawn off dinner and bedtime on someone else!  And I will blog about certain things to amuse and entertain others.

Hoping everyone’s winter is going smoothly.  Let’s look forward to the sunshine together!

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First 2013 Jenny Craig Update

Jenny Craig Update!

January 15, 2013

WOWZA!  New Year, new me for sure!  I am maintaining within three pounds of my goal weight of 150.  With the exception of the first week of November when my husband was in the hospital having & recovering from open heart surgery…I had an affair with some Snickers bars…kind of every night…But I corrected that as soon as we were home and got back on track.  (Emotional eater right here!)  I am still careful with my food choices while out and the preparations at home, I still splurge on my favorite barbeque joint for lunch once a week and I am still hitting the gym as often as I can.  Even on days when I really really rrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeaaaaaallllllllllllllllllllly DO NOT want to.  Like today. But my sis-in-law/bestie made me go.  We had a gym date and I got my sweat on.  It was horrible, but we did it!

I am ridiculously excited and immersed in helping my sister plan and carry out the details for her wedding (which is just under four months away!).  The boys are back in their preschool/gymnastics/play date routine and we are marching towards spring (please please show up, spring!  Mama needs time outside with the tots!)  Our 2013 travel itinerary is filling up quickly and lots of exciting things are happening.

Here are a few quick recap pictures I did with a nifty little (FREE) phone app:

(1)  August 2009 &   (2) December 2012

(1)  Honeymoon picture from October 2004, (2)  May 2011,  (3)  December 2012

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