Friday, June 29, 2012

How I Met Your Father

Of course, I'm way overdue on those Cali blogs but they require more work and photoshopping than I've had time to do lately.  Coming soon to a blog near you.  Promise.  

As I prepare to leave and visit Jason in Houston, it brings me back to another time I flew to see Jason.  It was, oh, about 12 years ago.  This is one of those stories that defines "us".  I think it's worth at least the boys knowing it.  
Jason and I had been dating for about 5 months.  I was in college at Auburn and he was at West Point.  We had decided after flirting over the last year or so that we should try out this long distance relationship stuff.  What did we have to loose?  
I had actually met him about a year earlier.  I was introduced to him by our mutual friend Jack.  Yes, Jack as in the namesake of our first child.  Jack was his best friend from high school. He was also a great friend of mine in the shoals before my move to Auburn.  He told me once, "I wish you could meet my best friend Jason, I think you guys would be perfect together!"  I said I was totally game and then he said, "well, he's in New York."  Yeah, right.  This girl has hardly ever left Alabama, much less ever seen New York!  But after a few phone calls and a chance meeting on Spring Break in PCB we were an exclusive couple.  

Jason had booked (and paid for on cadet salary of $300 a month) me a flight to visit him in New York.  I was flying from Atlanta to Newark and he would pick me up there.    I was aware that there would be a delay in him picking me up; he had to rent a car to get me. 
I could hardly contain my excitement at the thought of seeing him again.  I was also feeling pretty important to be getting on a flight alone.  Previous to this, I had never traveled anywhere alone in my whole life.  I had never even touched foot outside of the 4 states that border Alabama.  True story. My parents were also unaware of my travel plans.  My roommates knew but I had a good feeling that my parents would have prevented me from flying to another state ALONE to meet a guy that they had yet to meet due to his location.  Its funny now, knowing how much they love him but then, I’m not so sure they were his biggest fans.  I can’t blame them.  It was our understanding that he was going to meet me at the food court nearest my gate.  This was pre-9/11 flying when your party could come straight to the gate to meet you!  My flight was uneventful and I got my baggage and headed back upstairs dragging it behind me.  I sat and waited for a while, studied some A&P from my summer classes and waited more.  I fully understood that he had to attend the USMA graduation ceremony, get out of post, rent a car then drive 45 minutes to the airport.  After a while, I got a little bit worried so I pulled out the calling card and used the payphone to dial up his cadet room phone.  Much to my dismay, all the cadet phones had been discontinued because it was cadet summer.  So, I had no way to get in touch with him.  I waited patiently for another few hours before I really began to get worried. 
I dared to wonder if he’d changed his mind and didn’t want to pick up that girl he’d been dating from Alabama and decided to stand me up in the airport.  I began to think I’d flown to New York for nothing.  As I wandered around the airport, I must have looked worried.  I had several concerned Middle Eastern taxi drivers offer, “where he live?  I take you there.”  To which I had to politely decline because other that at West Point, I had no idea where he lived.  I had resigned myself to the ultimate stand up of all times.  I broke down and called my roommates in AU.  I requested they get online and find out how to book me a flight home.  I would call them back when they could figure it out.  Obviously, this was a pre-“everyone has a cell phone” age.  I was in college and had an emergency only phone provided by the parents that didn’t know I was there.  I waited much longer than I had told my roommates in hopes that something would change, that he would show up for me after all.  As I wandered around dragging 2 weeks worth of wardrobe, I began to cry at my stupidity.  How could I fly somewhere and never even leave the airport? 
My despair caught the eye of many but one guy in particular was short but had a very crew cut hairstyle.  I knew it wasn’t Jason but maybe he knew Jason, knew how I could find him.  I soon realized he was walking toward me and as he approached he asked “Are you Jamie?”  He knew me?!  I said yes and before I could say another word, he said Jason has been looking for you everywhere! 
He was?  He was here?  He didn’t stand me up?  About that time, I see him round the corner and a knowing smile spread across his face.  He knew I was upset but I’m pretty sure the discontent disappeared with one hug and kiss.  It turns out, he had left graduation but with traffic, a ride to the rental car place and difficulty renting a car to a kid under age 25, he’d been longer than he expected.  My frustration faded as I finally made the call to my roommates and told them that I had in fact been picked up.  I think they were still a bit skeptical of him but knew I was in love. 
We spent the rest of the evening at Palisades Mall outside NYC.  Our first stop?  To get Jason his first cell phone so there would never again be any miscommunications to that effect. 

Here’s to the happily ever after!

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Best Kind of Father

It's father's day and I've spent the day contemplating all the fathers in my life.  It seems that they all carry a similar theme.  The BEST kind of Father displays a willingness to SACRIFICE.

Of course there's my own Daddy.  A man that daily displays the gospel for our family and deserves the utmost respect.  His advice is invaluable to me.  His stories are told and retold and then told again and I love them every single one.  There is nothing he wouldn't do for me and I know that because he's had to live it out a few times.  While living the deployment life he's taken a call from a sick daughter at 10am and booked a flight to NC and landed by 6pm to help tend to children while I recovered.  He's moved me and my kids AND my dog and cat across the southeast more than once.  He's on a 2 hour recall now that we live closer for ANYTHING I might need him for.  And it might sound like he only sacrifices in the name of grandchildren and I too have questioned that but quite the contrary.  My Dad knows a thing or two about Nashville.  He spent 18 years commuting, yes 2 hours ONE WAY, to the Ford plant here in Nashville to secure a retirement and help pay for my living through college. His sacrifice for our family has never seemed as significant as it does to me now.  He never questioned his choices, he never complained.  He sacrificed for his children and he did so with a smile.

Another Father I know has made a few sacrifices for his family.  Jason has made more sacrifices than many folks will make in a lifetime.  I know I've recalled this blog before but if you haven't read it, it's still one of my absolute favorites ever and it was my first.  Jason left his family not just once but 3 times in the name of Duty, Honor, Country.  He was committed and he lived out his commitment for his family and YOURS!  He is now choosing a change and a better life for us.  Going back to Grad school at Vanderbilt isn't for everyone.  It isn't ideal for a father with kids.  It's hard work, long hours and time away that could be spent here but he's making sacrifices that promise a better life for us and our future.  He's showing these kids of ours that hard work pays off and education is important.  He's spending the summer laying the building blocks of our future.  Sure, he'd rather be spending the summer here with us in Nashville but when he was called to sacrifice for our future, he didn't hesitate.  He ALWAYS makes the right choices for this family and I respect him so much for that.  .
I'm lucky God called him to be my husband.  I'm lucky I get to walk the minutes of this life as his wife.  I'm lucky he is willing to make sacrifices for me and for our children and of course, he does so with a smile.
(This isn't the first father's day wish over the computer, thanks technology!)

There is not enough breath or tears to describe the gratitude I feel for the ultimate sacrifice my heavenly Father made for me.  I have sons.  I KNOW what it would feel like and I don't think I could do it.  It hurts to even consider it.  What joy I have knowing I have a heavenly Father that loves me that much!  I am far from perfect, I sin, I fail and I'm a total disappointment but he loves me still.  To sacrifice his only Son on a cross for ME.   To choose ME as a daughter to spend eternity with.  He loves me, oh, he loves me!

Happy Father's Day to everyone who has been given the honor of being a Father!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Lincoln Lately

First of all, isn’t technology great?  I’m blogging at around 40,000 feet over the middle of the United States somewhere between TN and CA.  Yes, CA.  The clampets are headed out west and that’s a whole other blog in itself.  Probably 2. 

Lincoln is no less of a pistol than the day he was born.  I wish I could say he cries less but instead, I at least know what he’s crying about now.  He, like his brother, is very articulate for a 3 year old.  He pretty much never stops talking.  Sometimes whining but always a motor mouth.  Some of the things he’s said lately have really made us laugh.  All things I never want to forget so they are provided here for my memory and your reading pleasure.

While spending some time with my parents, he had a little runny nose.  He kept asking my mom for a tennis shoe.  She asked him why he needed shoes, he was already wearing some.  He bluntly said  “to wipe my NOSE!”  I believe he was asking for a tissue.

He and Jackson have been pretending lately and he’s claiming he’s a “vampirate.”  Without asking, I assumed this was a cross between a vampire and a pirate. 

In the car recently, I asked “Lincoln, are you a little boy or a big boy?”  He answered me, “I’m NOT, I’m a good boy!”  Sure.  Matter of opinion.

We spend a lot of time at Y play and when I mentioned him going there to play with his friends, he told me “they are not my friends, they are KIDS.”  Well, I wonder what in the world he thinks he is?

Just to prove the point of how serious my dad is about church attendance, Lincoln regularly gets dressed in the morning and pretends to “go to church with Paw Paw.”  It’s the cutest thing, until I check on him and he’s rounded the neighborhood corner.

I go upstairs to shower and a few minutes later I yell down and ask Lincoln what he’s doing.  He answers, “I’m watching ‘wifetimes’.”  I translate this to he’s watching Lifetime.  I’m not sure why but I don’t put it past him so I go downstairs to check and make sure he wasn’t getting big ideas from “The hand that rocks the cradle” or some other classy lifetime movie.  I soon discover he’s watching “Little Einsteins” and not “wifetimes” or lifetime after all. 

We pass by a driving range that we pass very frequently and Lincoln asks “Mom, are they playin’ boss?”  Well, kinda.  I laughed.  No Lincoln, they are playing GOLF!

Leaving church one Sunday, I get goosebumps on my arms and Lincoln rubs my arm and says, “Mom, you have sprinkles!”

Jackson recently lost his first tooth.  It was not on my accord.  I was out and they were under the care or their father.  Jackson convinced Jason that EVERYONE in his class had already lost a tooth (not true) except him.  So they took the slightly loose tooth and attempted pulling it with a variety of methods.  The tooth was finally extracted using fishing pliers.  Yes, that’s right, fishing pliers.  After a happy visit from the tooth fairy, loosing teeth was all the buzz in our house.  I was getting ready in the bathroom one day when Lincoln begins to use my tweezers in his mouth.  I asked him what he was doing and he tells me “I’m tryin’ to get my teeth out!” 

Hold your judgments, I’m raising BOYS.  Dirty, nasty, raw, rough BOYS.  Playing with guns is just in their nature, along with aggravating each other pure crazy.  Besides, their daddy was in the army and deployed for years at a time.  He was “off shooting bad guys” so it’s kinda hard to tell them not to be like their role model.  Anyway, Lincoln is obsessed with his guns.  He has a fancy pistol that he wakes up looking for (after “breakpast”, of course).  While I was catching up on email and nursing my extra large cup of coffee Lincoln comes up and shoots me.  I pretend not to notice so he does it again.  Again, I choose to not notice when he starts whining, “Mom, please die Mom!  You neber Die!”
Wow, I didn’t expect to hear that from my 2 year old.  So out of obligation, I have a delayed reaction to the final shot and fall to the ground clutching my chest for dramatic effect.  It was well received.  He felt accomplished.  He then helped me up off the floor, handed me his gun and said, “Please shoot me, Mom.”  How do you say no to that?  And the whole dramatic scene replayed over and over again.

A recent bath held a little comic relief when he asked me for the “sand poop”.  Excuse me?  You want what?  “Mom, I weally need the sand poop.”  Ohoooooooo, you need the shampoo?!

The good news is Jackson and Lincoln can both get up and go downstairs alone and turn on the TV in the morning. We have removed the side from Lincoln’s crib since he was just climbing over everyday anyway.  The bad news is you never know what you’re going to walk down to when it’s just Lincoln.  I recently heard him up talking one morning.  I went downstairs to see what he could be talking about and to whom.  I arrive downstairs to find him naked(?) and singing to our dog Roxy.  I didn’t catch the song because Roxy bolted when she saw me.  She may have been slightly disturbed by the naked serenade as well. 

I recently started a load of clothes only to realize too late that there was a stow away motorcycle in the wash.  It’s not every day you get to see a toy motorcycle do tricks in your sudsy laundry.  I wanted to get a pic of it but I was too busy checking the oven for foreign objects.

Lincoln has began storytelling.  He loves to tell you a story.
 He’ll say “Let me tell you a story.”
He starts out low and dramatic…
-One day, there was a Monster upstairs and I took my gun (pause)
And I  just KILL it! (yelling)
He’s got the dialect down for sure.  Every story he tells has the same plot.  Occasionally there are different locations (such as downstairs) or different characters (such as a ghost) or different weapons but every time it’s the same out come. 

Another day, another brotherly fight.  Jackson is aggravating Lincoln about something in the car and I tell Jackson “Don’t argue with him, he’s little.” to which Lincoln replies “I’m NOT wittle, I’m just….small.”  Seriously, where does he come up with this stuff.

Nashville has a newspaper, The Contributor, that is for distribution sold by formerly homeless individuals to give them a better chance at living on their own.  It’s like a shared business where they buy the papers and sell them for a higher amount.  It’s a great idea and we have been supporting it after Jason did a research paper on it for school.  Our local guy stands at our corner and sells most days of the week for hours a day.  He writes thank you on the bottom of each of our papers and signs his name.  His name is Luther.  At Christmas, Luther wears a Rudolph nose, at Easter, he wears bunny ears.  He’s entertaining to the kids and they LOVE to hand him the dollar we give him for the paper.  They always yell “LUTHER” when they see him and we pass by.  Now, whenever Jackson is not with us, Lincoln has picked up and started yelling “LUFER!” to our friendly neighborhood Contributor distributor. 

Lincoln has become more than a little obsessed with “gumball money.”  He’ll take every quarter you own and claim it as his “gumball money”.  The things he will do for gumball money might surprise you.  He’ll obey orders, hold his tongue or act appropriately in a store, all for the hope of gumball money.  I’ll be honest, it’s the best 25 cents I spend.  I’m just hoping he doesn’t catch on soon and up the ante. 

Watching TV again ( he doesn’t just do it all the time!) I walked by and asked Lincoln what he was watching.  He told me he was watching “the muffins.”  I thought it was cute.  We had borrowed “The Muppets” from friends and he didn’t know any difference. 

This boy bounces out of bed and immediately demands to put his clothes on.  He has some favorite outfits too and he strongly prefers them.  He took one set out of dirty clothes recently and came to the top of the stairs naked and demanded to wear them.  I told him they were dirty and we couldn’t wear them today.  He said (yelled) “Well….you need to take them to the DRY CLEANERS then.” 
So, what exactly does he know about the dry cleaners? 

And just a couple of Jacksonisms to note:
He recently made a friend at the pool and I asked him “What was your friends name?”  He said, “I dunno, we just called each other Dude!”  Well, I guess that works too.

On the subject of loosing teeth, he tells me Mr. Eddie doesn’t have any teeth.  I ask who Mr. Eddie is and he tells me he’s the man that cleans the school.  I was going to teach a life lesson by asking “Why do you think Mr. Eddie doesn’t have his teeth?”  He answers, “He probably pulled all of them out because he wanted more money from the tooth fairy!”  I’m laughing but I want to see where this is going so I ask why he needed so much money that he pulled his teeth out.  He told me, “To buy our school, Mom!” 

So there you have it.  

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Treehouses of Summer at Cheekwood!

What better way to spend the last day of May than checking out treehouses at Cheekwood.  We had been waiting for this exhibit and I can tell you it didn't disappoint and we will be back!  The treehouses are all literay based.  The first we visited was called "The Giver".  It was abstract and multi colored.  It was vibrant and had a fun slide to go down.
Next up was "The Walden".  It was an adorable wooden crafted house with lots of nostalgic toys inside.  It also had a loft you could climb up to and a perfect swing underneath.  This would have most definitely been the playhouse of my childhood dreams.  It possible still is.

The "Jolly Roger" was a pretty big hit with the kiddos.  It had a flag to wave, a wheel to steer and what boy doesn't dream of being a pirate at some point.  It was really well done, I liked the apple basket they had cut and secured to the tree like it was the bucket on the mast.  Clever folks built these treehouses, no doubt about that!

After the pirates came down from the high seas, we decided to eat our lunch.  We looked around intently to find the perfect picnic spot.  It's been a thing for Jackson and I to find the perfect picnic spot after reading "The Bernstein Bears Picnic" many times over.  That was always one of my favorite books as a child.  We did actually find the perfect picnic spot, right along the creek, under a tree with a waterfall nearby.  It couldn't get much more perfect if you'd had truffle cheese on your ham sandwich (and I did!).
Next the boys took off running down the hill to this masterpiece.  The ropes for this were tied high up in the surrounding trees and were made of beautiful pastels.  Much thought went into this design to have children safely suspended over the water!

And now for our FAVORITE treehouse.  I think this was an overall favorite for almost everyone.  It was breathtaking.  Shinning from the reflection of thousands of CD's, "Rainbow Fish" made a big impact on everyone!  It just glimmered in the sunlight and the colors shone like a real rainbow.  Inside, you could walk around for hours perusing the recycled CD's used in making this majestic creature come to life.  The boys loved playing inside this one.  It was the only one we visited twice.

This was inside the rainbow fish.  I may or may not have threatened to leave to get this adorable pic of them.  It's not that uncommon to use threats though and apparently it works so power on!
The fish had plastic bubble eyes perfect for checking the outside from within.

Next, we visited "The Hobbit".  I have never read this book.  I was intimidated by it's length when I was younger and now it's probably just not my genre but I'd read it to the kids.  Jackson likes long books.  This treehouse had a long, fast slide but it was pretty warm in the 1pm sun!
Lastly, we visitied the Conch.  It was in a part of the gardens we'd never explored.  It was a newly renovated area since we were last there.  The Conch was a neat treehouse.  We were getting a little tired since it was our last one so we didn't stay too long here.
Silly Lincoln stopped for a rest.  He flashed his best smile for me (and the promise of water).

 This is one of our favorite parts of the permanent gardens.  It's the Japanese Garden.  You walk down a trail and through a bamboo forest until you come upon a large overhang where you can see the trees and rocks.  A sign tells you about the garden and how it is only supposed to be viewed from this one vantage point and it's suggests that the rocks are the water and the trees are clouds.  Jackson loved imagining what the elements really were and the mystery in that it was only visible from this one point.  Determined to prove them wrong (he's a literal kid) he wandered out onto the hill and proclaimed that he could see the zen garden from here too.  He's all right brain, all the time.
After a long HOT stroll around the back side of the garden and past some creepy man/rabbit statue that Lincoln was terrified of, we finally got to the glass bridge.  While visiting the restroom, Jackson saw the flyer for the glass bridge that we'd never seen before.  He's a conquer also and we just HAD to see the bridge.  We had to walk a pretty long way and all of us were beginning to question the decision when we finally arrived!  It was a really cool bridge.  

The boys and I had a great time at Cheekwood Gardens.  It was a great way to kick off the summer of FUN!  We've got to get it in while we can with Jackson beginning back August 1.  Botanical Gardens and picnics...that's what summers are made of!  
I hope these are the days they remember, the ones I'll never forget!