Monday, December 15, 2014

The HALFWAY Point



I woke up this morning the mother to a 9 year old. I was thinking it wasn’t so bad. At least it wasn’t DOUBLE digits yet. I can handle 9. It’s not so different from 8 if you think about it. Then steps in my mother. She might not have known what she was doing but she uttered the words that will forever change my thoughts on the tender age of NINE. It wasn’t intended to be so soul crushing but I expect it was coming from a place of (her own) experience. Some things might be better left discovered all on your own.

 Oh, what she said? Right.
 I’m finding it even hard to type it.
 Ok, here goes.
 She said, “Jackson’s going to be nine! That’s like HALFWAY TO COLLEGE!”
 Que the sounds of my shattering heart.
 What came to mind is all the things she didn’t say but this implied. She didn’t have to. They were all already playing in fast play thought my mind. The NEXT half of the time he lives in my house will include drivers licenses, cars, girls and friends that I don’t choose! It’s certainly not to say that the best years are behind us but the part that I played the greatest influence in may lie in our past. While the next 9 years will certainly require more mentoring and shaping, the years of physically serving and mothering this child are constantly becoming less. As I sit here in a pool of tears I can only hope that all that we have done as parents to this point laid a foundation of love, confidence and morality. You’ll always wonder if you did enough, gave enough, were patient enough. You’ll always think of ways you could do better, be better, try harder.

 The young and innocent years are closing in on me. I know that the “magic of Christmas” and whole hardheartedly believing are coming to an end. I think he’ll probably let me hang on a little longer, he has siblings that he is mindful of. I know that the days of him walking up and grabbing my hand as we walk probably wont last much longer. I want to cry each time he does it wondering…will this be the last? I cherish every over the top goodbye on the way to school. There will come a time he will want me to drop him off around the corner and it probably isn’t that far away. As much as all of this hurts to admit, I have to remember what a great kid he's grown into also!

 Jackson was our first born. He had us as brand new inexperienced parents (not that we are all that great now either!). He got us fresh but also totally green. We were young! We took what we had learned from our parents and put our own twist on it and gave it a spin. Jackson got to experience lots of LIFE in his first few years. He was born in Alabama but before he could crawl, we moved back to North Carolina. Not long after his first birthday his Daddy deployed for a year. We spent lots of time with our extended family in Alabama and lots of time with other military families from all over the US in our situation. Before Jackson started school, we moved him to Tennessee for Dad to start a whole new career and get a masters degree. Before second grade we moved again, this time to Texas for his Dad’s new job. Jackson learned early in life that friends come and friends go. He learned that making them is as easy as “Hi, my name is Jackson!” He still makes friends that easy. I hope he carries that on with him.

 Jackson NEVER loses his sense of direction. He always knows exactly where he is. If he watches where he goes once, he’ll never forget it. I hope he ALWAYS remembers his way HOME! And as much as we move, I hope he knows HOME is where the people that love you are!

 Jackson wants everyone to be happy. If he knew I was crying in a puddle over him turning nine, he’d be down here with his arm around me…even for a fleeting moment…saying, “Mom, are you ok?”

 As maddening as these pre-teen years a can be with their “playing dumb” and slight laziness, I have to remember there is still plenty of childhood left to live. There are still legos to be played with, and still basketballs to shoot. There are still parks to play at and made up obstacle courses to complete. There IS still time to enjoy the years we have. The point is to ENJOY THEM! So today as he reaches this milestone (and I continue to morn the loss of years gone by), we embark on the next nine years. Whatever they may be filled with, I hope they are every bit as special as the last nine years have been raising and loving Jacskson.

ONE!

TWO!

THREE!


FOUR!


FIVE!


SIX!


SEVEN!


EIGHT!


NINE!




Monday, December 8, 2014

IAH to HSV to IAH to LA to UA vs AU



The equation in the title is how I spent the last week of Thanksgiving holiday.  It’s been a whirlwind tour of the greater southeast and sleep has been deeply sacrificed for the sake of family and football but all was worth it.  I’ll sleep tomorrow. (aka: tomorrow never comes)
The kids and I flew last Wednesday to Alabama to spend a few days and meet my new nephew. He was a month old and I hadn't seen him yet!  We had a direct flight into Huntsville Alabama and Dad met us there.   They have a (super nice!) new car but it lacks the third row so when I pile in with my crew, it’s at capacity with just the driver.  With 3 kids in tow, traveling light is a thing of the past. Let’s be honest, I’ve never known much about traveling light to begin with!  We spent the next few days taking over moms house and destroying it.  Me and my 3 kids, including 2 unruly boys and my crawling infant and throw in my sisters newborn and her high maintenance diva (my niece Allie Gray!) and it was…FUN!  Even the sleeping arrangements were a logistical nightmare because while the boys have gotten great at sleeping anywhere, infants and toddlers require their own sleeping space and newborns wake up several times a night.  Nine people in a 3 bedroom house can get a little crowded!  It was so fun to have all the cousins together.  They boys adore Allie Gray and baby Wyatt was a cute little thing.  Lillian just hung around on someone’s hip with her tongue stuck out!  She is the happiest baby!  We went to the nature trail, had a shower for baby Wyatt and Tracie and I dropped the kids every chance we got and went shopping.  We are really great at shopping together!   










On Sunday we had lofty plans!  We took the whole motley crew to Nashville because we got tickets to see The Radio City Rockettes at the Grand Ole Opry!  We have been before but this would  be dad and the boys first time to go!   It took 3 cars to drive us there (Miss Marie was with us also!) and it was also Christmas season at the largest Mall in Nashville.  It was pretty hectic and it was raining to boot!  Mom would be sitting this one out and she was tasked with babysitter extraordinaire!  She kept baby Wyatt (4 weeks), Lady Lillian (9 months) and Allie Gray (2) while we went to the show.   She “borrowed” a hotel room from a friend that was staying at the Opryland Hotel and we got back to her just before she went crazy!  Not many Nana’s could have handled that kind of chaos in a foreign place but she rocked it!  We took the quick tour of the Opryland Hotel and soon realized it’s impossible to move around with that many people in tow!  We shut it down and headed home for a late arrival!  It was really fun, and yes, probably crazy! 









On Monday, we planned or Christmas Card photos to be taken in the afternoon.  We started getting the kids ready and somehow time got away from us and we left an hour later than we should have.  The lighting is crucial to photos so we were rushed to get to our perfect picture spot.  We loaded up the props, the kids and hit the high road.  Mom may have used her speedy new vehicle to pass a car or two along the way!  We got to the spot and parked seconds before a train comes through in the back yard of our spot.  It’s loud horn scares poor Lillian to death!   She cries and has to be coddled.  I then have to spend time threatening the boys with their blow pop (the reward) to do as we ask in positioning.  Only 5 photos have been snapped in succession when Jackson proclaims “she smells funny!?”  Yep, you guessed it.  Lillian has a dirty diaper of the WORST kind.  It’s already escaped her diaper and soaked her ruffle leggings.  We go to the car only to discover we failed to bring a diaper in our rush out the door!  We have to get creative and use tissue to clean her up and  used a Walmart bag as a makeshift diaper apparatus to protect the car seat while we make a mad dash back home.  Needless to say, we assumed this photo session was  a BUST and planned to try again the next morning. 


Fast forward to the next morning and I drag all the kids back out and quickly realize that the boys are not as willing to participate in photos round 2.  Its also COLD so Lillian isn’t happy to begin with.  I make threats and blow horns and carry on in an attempt to distract everyone and make her smile.  Photographing 3 kids is NO JOKE!  It’s a wonder the police weren’t called.  We torture everyone for a short time longer.  Forcing the boys to smile and me dropping Lillian in the middle of them only to have her loose it when her feet touch down.  We all leave cold and tired.



Tuesday was our family Thanksgiving and the last time I will see them all this year.  We did what most families do at holidays (minus the Turkey and stuffing).  We went with BBQ this year and you won’t hear me complaining! 
Wednesday was our return trip to Houston.  Lillian was less than perfect on this flight.  She has a cold and I think it caused the pressure to build in her ears.  She cried starting about halfway through the 1.5 hour flight.  I was sitting in the two seats right in front of the boys at the VERY back of the plane.  I was struggling with her trying everything in my power to satisfy her and the boys were acting up a little.  They have a way of getting louder and louder just to test the limits.  At some point they were aggravating each other and got too loud and I turned around and firmly told them to “SHUT UP!”  No, it wasn’t my proudest parenting moment but sometimes, when your two boys are too loud on an airplane you just do what you gotta do.  I got to the point and it worked (for about 5 minutes).  Soon after that, the nice lady from in front of me came and sat beside me.  She asked if there was any way she could help me with Lillian.  I was happy to give her a go at it and the presence of a stranger did distract her for a few moments.  As we continued to talk she expressed her condolences about how it’s tough to travel alone with kids.  I told her, no kidding!  I’ve got those two back there too.  She seemed surprised and laughed and said “Oh, so who’s back there with them?”  I chuckled and said “nobody, that’s why I had to tell them to shut up a minute ago!”  She then told me she heard that and she just assumed I was talking to the baby!!    GREAAAT!  Now I’m the mom with loud kids on the plane AND I tell my baby to shut up!  I was ever so grateful to land deep in the heart of Texas! 

We were picked up and had to immediately go home and repack.  We were heading to New Iberia, LA that same night!  Going on week 2 of traveling with kids, I had to repack the things the kids needed, drop off the dog at the boarders and prep the house for another 4 days away.  We knew it would be late but we hit the road to Louisiana and arrived at the Ramada Inn just before midnight.  Thanksgiving was by far the most peaceful and restful day we had over the holiday.  We ate and sat and ate again.  It was perfect weather on the LA bayou where Jason’s parents just bought a house.  The boys loved fishing and tossing things into the bayou water.  On Friday, Jason and I headed to Alabama.  We were gifted with tickets to the Iron Bowl game by his Aunt and Uncle.  We tried to think of reasons and excuses not to go.  It wasn’t our smartest adult decision but neither of us could find it in us to turn those tickets down.  So what if it meant a 10+ hour drive on Sunday before heading back into work, THIS GAME is worth it.  Saturday is game day and while we didn’t have to leave early we had another couple of hours drive before we get to Tuscaloosa.  The game was a nail bitter as usual.  You can never ever tell who may or may not win that game.  It could (and HAS) come down to the last second!  Hahah.  Yall, that joke will never EVER get old!  It wasn’t the outcome I had wanted but Jason was happy and I was just glad to see Auburn show up!  At least we got home early.  As in 2am early.  We had less than 5 hours to sleep.



Sunday started the reverse marathon.  We left Montgomery at 8am headed for Birmingham with a quick stop.  We passed Tuscaloosa before most of the folks that went to the game had slept off their hangover.  We spent ALL day trudging through Mississippi and just after sun down we got back to the kids. I had never left Lillian and I had missed her BAD!  She was just happy to be as usual and stuck her tounge out the whole time.  We made haste getting out of LA and hit the long road back to Houston. We arrived home just before midnight and happily declared no more travel this year!  It took me a week just to recover enough to write the blog! 


Monday, November 10, 2014

Fall (otherwise known as "extended summer") in Texas


   

Ever since we scored Lady Lillian this perfect fall dress I've been wanting pictures of her in it.  I also have wanted to pictures of all three of my children together and smiling.  THAT is a miracle feat.  Dad was here visiting and we took him to the arboretum.  It was still HOT here in Texas. Big surprise.  We don't get "fall".  We only have summer, extended summer, and almost summer.  It takes an army to go anywhere with the three of them and to have them perform on command is laughable.  It took me jumping and making crazy faces while dad snapped away and then we swapped places.  The real entertainment would be if someone had a camera on US!  We managed to squeeze out a couple of photos where everyone was looking the same direction!

These kids, they are pretty cute if I do say so myself!  


My two youngest.  Pure sweetness. 

Jackson is a pretty big help when it comes to her.  He likes her I think!


What's been going on?



Halloween Happened.  We had Ankin from Star Wars, Jake the Neverland Pirate and baby Pocohontas (minus her moccasins, she would not leave them on)  We just walked around our circle and came home to hand out candy.  It was PLENTY!  It is so vastly different from my childhood trick or treating where we had to get into the car and drive to different relatives houses.  We also couldn't walk to school, or the grocery store for that matter which leads me to my next point...

We have a new HEB.  As if the one that is 3 miles away wasn't close enough, they've built one that we can easily walk to.  I mean, I only have to drive maybe a half mile.  I used to shop at Kroger but now that they've put this in our back yard, I don't know if I'll ever go anywhere else!  We went the first day it opened to see the spectacle.  The boys loved all the free samples and it was crowded but not unbelievably so for the grand opening.  Its SUCH a nice store too!  It has the best seafood, fresh made guacamole and a great little cafe to boot!  We might should consider having Jason's paycheck direct deposited there.

When you live with boys, you find snakes everywhere and they scare you EVERY SINGLE TIME.  This time, he was inside the dryer of fresh clean clothes.  Apparently scaring mom never gets old.


When I'm home during the day, this little guy has been visiting me.  He lives outside the kitchen window.  It makes me think of Lincoln every single time because if he was home he'd be out trying to catch him.  


Back to trick or treating, Jackson got a "trick".  When we got home Jason had the boys dump their candy, you know so he could "check it" (read: snag a few of the good pieces!)  Jackson noticed he had gotten a packet of mayonnaise.  It was a little confusing and funny.  We're still not sure if it was a mistake, a trick or what.  Lincoln also received some Mexican taffy.  He was tearing into it when his eyes got big and he teared up and said "THIS is SPICY!"  


That's right, Lady Lillian got her first fancy pedicure.  I was doing my nails and I'm certain she wanted me to do hers too!  Isn't this the cutest piggy toes you've ever seen?

And while we are on Lillian, I was feeding her breakfast recently.  It was some leftover yogurt and oatmeal.  I was spooning it in and she had a funny look on her face but she just kept eating it.  As it grazed my nose, I realized it didn't smell quite like the yogurt from the previous day.  That's because it wasn't.  This was potato soup.  It was 7am and I was feeding my baby cold potato soup.  And she was eating it up.

Lincoln urged me to go into the guest bathroom.  So I went even though I didn't have to go.  This is what I found.  He had put paper over the seat and written a note.  It said "Dear Mom, Happy Friday"  I'm not sure why but he thought this was hilariously  funny.  He ran off tickled with himself.  I'm still debating what this says about me.


I'll be the first to admit I might be a little crazy.  Or a lot.  depending on who you ask.  I was ready to leave for bible study recently and I went back in because I had forgotten my phone.  I had it moments earlier.  I searched the whole house for it.  I had to go back and check on the baby in the car and keep looking. A whole 25 minutes passed with me calling and calling my phone.  I then found it.  UNDERNEATH the cat.  Lying on the bed.  Right where I had placed it except I didn't put the cat on top of it.  That cat laid there with my phone vibrating under him and never moved.  Lazy cat!  
Another day I lost my phone again.  Imagine that.  I call it over and over and I can hear it but can't find where it is coming from.  I walk around the kitchen with my ear honed in to the vibrations when I realize its coming from the fridge.  That's when I open the door and find my phone lying there on a shelf.  Who does that?!!  This girl!


Jackson found these.  He says, "Hey Mom, what's this?"  I had to explain the idea of film and negatives.  He couldn't believe that there was a time 
when you wouldn't see the photo right away, couldn't delete it and had to just hope you got the right shot.  Come to think of it, it's almost hard for me to believe also.  My, how times have changed.  

He also said this evening, "wow, that ornament is really old.  It's from 2003."  Yeah, old.  

Look what I got recently!  I have a brand new nephew!  He's adorable and LOVES his Aunt Jamie.  I get to see him in a little over a week and I CAN NOT wait!  This is Wyatt IV, or as we call him "baby Wyatt".

She's moving. And someone she always finds herself stuck under the table.  It's like a little baby magnet.  No matter how many times she bumps her head, she still goes back for more.  


My mom of the year trophy was recently confiscated.  It was Jacksons last baseball game.  I had him there JUST in time and I had to get Lillian out, put her in the stroller and get her food beacause she was hungry.  I am halfway done feeding her when I look around and asked another parent, "Where's Lincoln?"  She said she hadn't seen him so I go to look for him in his usual playing places.  He wasn't there.  It didn't take long for me to realize... Lincoln never got out of the car.  Now don't stone me yet.  It's the END of October and it's pretty cool here now.  He wasn't too hot but he WAS totally asleep in the back of the car.  I assumed he'd gotten out to go climb the tree like he usually does.  He was slumped over and never even woke up when I got out.  




Brace yourselves.  Jason and I took the kids to the Texas Renaissance Festival last weekend.  We had NO idea what to expect and probably should have planned it a little better.  Now we know.  We got "discount" tickets from Walgreens (far cheaper at Costco I now know!) but it was a mere 25 miles away and took nearly 2 hours to get there.  Traffic was pretty terrible to this epic event.  We spent around $75 and let me tell you the people watching that money provided was TOTALLY worth it!  I'd do it all over again.  Actually, we plan on it!  Think things from a sci-fi movie.  All in one place for your viewing pleasure!  It was really fun, even the kids enjoyed it.  These photos are just a taste!  Come visit next year, we'll take you too!