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Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Best Things in Life are Simple...

Do you ever think what it would be like to have a time machine and go back about a hundred or a couple of hundred years to experience how our ancestors lived?  Or about what a time traveler from the distant past would think of our world today if they suddenly found themselves in the year 2011?  

We are living with and depending on things...machines... they would have found unimaginable, much less possible, a hundred years ago.  Heck, we are living in a world I couldn't have imagined just 20 years ago!  

I can't remember the last time I actually picked up the phone to call a friend to make plans.  Several years ago we started emailing instead of calling and now instead of emailing we facebook or text.  And many times we seem to be perfectly content to allow our relationships to go on existing solely in the virtual world.  

Yes, it's convenient to be able to pop in and out of facebook, check to see what everyone is up to, take a quick look at pictures from their recent family vacation, give them the ol' thumbs up and then go on about our business which consists of pressing buttons, nuking food, and catching up on our favorite shows that our good friend, the DVR, was so nice to record for us while kicked back on our comfy sofa with a blanket because our good friend, the AC, is keeping our house a nice cool 73 degrees although it's a humid 93 outside.  

It seems that in the process of simplifying our lives, making them easier, we have somehow lost simple altogether.  

We are spoiled.  

And while I'm not saying that I want to or am about to give up my air conditioned car for a donkey or my washer and dryer for a washboard and a line, or certainly not my blackberry, laptop,  microwave, central vacuum, and dishwasher to go live off the land in a cabin in the faraway woods, I do sometimes miss or long for a simpler time.  

When I think of the moments throughout my life in which I have felt the most joy, happiness, and contentment, I don't see or hear any of my high efficiency appliances working for me while I'm kicked back watching Netflix on my laptop...

I see smiles on faces I have known and loved...

I hear katydids at dusk and smell fresh cut grass and the sweet honeysuckle that grew at the edge of the woods behind my childhood home and the laughter of my very best friend as we ran and twirled and caught lightning bugs and put them in a mayonnaise jar with holes we'd poked in the lid so they could breathe...

I smell my freshly bathed boys when they were babies, hear their sweet voices when they spoke their first words and see their chubby little legs and gap-toothed grins as they took their first steps... 

I hear ocean waves crashing against the shore and smell the salty air and feel my toes in the sand and the warm sun on my face...

I feel the warmth and strength of the arms who have held, hugged and loved me...

I see the loving, trusting brown eyes and the excited, wagging tails and elated "welcome home" barks of all the dogs in my life, past and present...

and feel the silky softness of their fur beneath my hands and against my face...

I remember the surprised joy of going to the mailbox and finding an unexpected card or letter from a friend or family member with precious words written by their very own hands... 

I hear the scratchy sound of a 45 playing on the record player and my little girl voice, along with my sister's or my friend's, as we belted out the words to Rod Stewart's You're In My Heart or Elton John's Crocodile Rock into our hairbrush or bedpost finial microphones...

I smell wild onions and remember pretending to bake a pie out of them on the back patio and feel the wind on my face and in my hair as I rode my big yellow bike down the big hill behind my house...

I taste the many homecooked meals and desserts prepared for me with loving hands and see and hear the happy faces and voices coming together around the dinner table...

I feel laughter so deep it hurts my belly and leaves streaks of tears on my cheeks...

I recall the sights, tastes, sounds, smells and feelings of little everyday things that make life worth living and I know that no matter how big this world gets or how much easier our lives are made by technology, it will forever and always be these simple things our souls crave the most, even when we are absolutely convinced it's going to be that new iPhone or trip to the wonderful world of Disney that will satisfy us most...

So go ahead and respond to that text, send that tweet out, and press that button but don't forget to pause, appreciate, and thank God for all those priceless little moments and simple little things that can never be bought yet somehow never fail to make your whole heart smile.

Be content with what you have, rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.  ~Lao Tzu

This post was written for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, Prompt 1.) The Simple Things...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Ties That Bind...

This Sunday we are heading to the coast for our annual family beach trip that never fails to be a wonderful time for all.  And to see us out on the beach together, one would never guess how our family as it is came to be.  

Because I'm not talking about my biological family or Charlie's although we certainly love and appreciate them too.  But I'm talking about Darin's family...

When I married Darin in April of 1997 I never, in my wildest dreams, imagined that just a few years down the road I would find myself a widow with two little boys four and under.  And certainly not that just a few years after that I'd be married to another man who I'd take to Darin's parents' house for Sunday dinners and along on their family beach trips.  

Yet here I am.  Here we are.  And it works. It fits. Perfectly.  

There have been times when my mother-in-law Pat, father-in-law Bob or brother-in-law Karry have called the house and asked to speak to Charlie about something.  They all helped us move into our new house in the Spring of last year, we sit with them at church on Sundays and they were all right there up front on the day of our wedding that my sister-in-law Debbie and her twin sister Denise did the food and flowers for. And Darin's cousin, Kelly, blessed our day with his exceptional singing voice and guitar playing. 

Darin's best friend Dave still takes the boys, and sometimes even their friends too, to do fun stuff on Saturdays and how he has the patience to sit at the family fun place while they play arcade games all day, I will never know!  But he does it.  

Someone once said to Charlie (I think before we were married) that he didn't think he could deal with all that...that it would just be weird.  And I suppose to some it would be which is why I am so grateful that God sent me/us a man who could not only deal with it but embrace it, wholeheartedly.  

So while things don't always turn out anything at all like we thought they should and our hearts are often so broken that we can't imagine ever experiencing true happiness again or even how we are going to manage carrying on with our lives, we are living proof that with a lot of love, faith, acceptance and prayer anything is possible and life always goes on...

August 2010 (Pay no attention whatsoever to the sour puss looks on my boys' faces)

Monday, July 18, 2011

Another Boy in July...

Yesterday I told the birth story of my firstborn in which I proclaimed at one point during a very long labor that I would not EVER be having any more children. 

Well, turns out I lied because exactly four years later I found myself expecting son number two who I swore was going to be a daughter right up until that ultrasound that told me otherwise.  Once it sank in that I was going to be a mom of two boys and not a mom of a boy and a girl like I always thought, we began the process of trying to think of and agree on another boy name.  

Devin was always agreed upon.  Somehow I knew he was going to be a boy, we had both always loved that name and well, Lee, his daddy's and popaw's middle name, just seemed to be the perfect one for him as well.  

And since both our names began with D and then we had Devin, it seemed that only a D name would do for baby number 2.  And somehow it had never occurred to me to come up with another boy name.  Devin was my boy name and Darcy, my girl name.  

But as He so often does, God had other plans about what was best for our family...

So what do we name him?  I poured through the D section of that great big book of baby names but nothing seemed right to both of us.  

Then I saw it...Drason...Draysen....Drayson.  Yes, I liked it and to my surprise, Darin liked it too.  

But although it sounded right, those spellings in the book just didn't look right to me.  Eli was going to be his middle name, after his great-great grandfather, Robert Eli.  And after writing down various spellings of his full name, I settled on Dracen.....Dracen Eli.  Yes, that was it!  

Then came the decision of whether or not to have another c-section or try for a natural birth.  And although the pain after a c-section is no walk in the park, I didn't want to go through another labor like that first one, and now with an added risk, so c-section it would be.  

His due date was July 24th and when it came time to schedule the surgery my doctor looked at the calendar and said one week before (which is when they normally schedule a c-section) would be July 17th.  "How does that date sound for you?"  

"Umm...I don't know.  That will be Devin's 4th birthday and I'd really hate to check into the hospital on my little man's birthday.  Can we maybe do it on the 18th?"  

And so it was scheduled... He would come into the world on July 18th.   

I don't think I slept a wink the night before.  My nerves were off the charts. We showed up in the hospital parking lot bright and early on the 18th and paused as Darin said a prayer that all would go well.  

And it did.  At 11:27 a.m. they held up that little 6 pound 10.5 ounce  feisty, screaming baby boy and I think I blurted out, "He's so small!" And then, "He looks just like YOUR baby picture!" to Darin.  

And then just like the first time, they brought that little bundle over to meet his mama and I fell in love all over again...

Happy 8th Birthday, Dracen Eli!

Every child begins the world again.... ~Henry David Thoreau

Sometimes being a brother is even better than being a superhero.  ~Marc Brown

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Birth Story...

Twelve years ago today I was in a hospital bed hooked to various monitors with an iv in my hand and an epidural in my back. And I had been there since the previous night when I showed up in the ER carrying on like I was the first woman to ever go into labor and thinking that I would surely die before I ever saw the light of day.  

I didn't die. But oh, how I wanted to before that baby boy took his first breath of fresh air at 10:39pm that following Saturday night.  Yes. I labored for over 24 hours before I finally threw up my white flag and agreed to let them wheel my hard-headed self into that operating room and go in and get that child of mine, who I proclaimed loudly between moans and shrieks of excruciating pain was going to be grounded until he was 18 for putting his mama through this!  

I also looked at his daddy at one point and told him that I hope he never wanted any more children because HE WOULD NOT EVER BE GETTING ANY MORE!!!!  

Deliriousness had pretty well set in and I think I was close to passing out from pain when they wheeled me toward the OR, past my loyal fans and supporters in the waiting area because I barely recall seeing their faces.  But I do remember them and don't think I'll ever forget the looks of worry and concern on their faces or the tears in their eyes.  

I felt loved. And supported.  Maybe more in that moment than I ever had before in my life.  

So I knew, that although I was in the most horrific pain I'd ever known and completely terrified and disappointed to be having a c-section, that everything was going to be just fine.

Minutes later, I heard the sweetest sound my ears had ever heard when that 8 pound, 6 ounce baby boy let out his first little cry.  I couldn't see him yet because of the c-section curtain but Darin said, with happy tears in his eyes, "He looks just like your baby picture!"

And then I saw him and touched his sweet little baby face and my heart hasn't been the same since...

Happy Birthday, Devin Lee!

Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.  ~Elizabeth Stone
The moment a child is born, the mother is also born.  She never existed before.  The woman existed, but the mother, never.  A mother is something absolutely new.  ~Rajneesh


Friday, July 15, 2011

Doggone Days of Summer...

Monday: The boys fought, bickered and argued until I nearly fell off the cliff of sanity I was dangling by a thread on.  Banned them from the t.v., the XBox, the computer and phone indefinitely and sent them to their rooms for a really long time.  

Tuesday: Absolutely had to get out of the house so although it was 98 degrees outside and they had acted like tyrants just the day before, I loaded those two up in the car and headed to the nearest  HomeGoods which is a good 45 minutes away.

And the whole way there I kept telling myself that either the heat was getting to me bad or that I had finally lost my mind completely. But to know me is to know that once I get my mind set on something I get a little obsessive about it and cannot rest until I get it done.  And that thing is currently a new mirror to hang over a dresser in our bedroom that I just recently painted that lovely shade of aqua smoke.    

I didn't find the mirror but I have to say behaviors were greatly improved.  All I had to do was look at them and say something like, "You don't ever want that XBox back do you?" and they'd straighten right up!   We even went to Wally World to buy groceries afterwards.  I must have been feeling especially brave and powerful.
Wednesday: Due to the extreme heat index outside and the loss of all things electronic, and much to my great delight and astonishment, they began to play a civil game of Yahtzee at the kitchen table and nobody threw a single punch. 
Ahhh....things were looking up.  So I allowed them use of the big t.v. as long as they were able to continue to agree on what to watch which mostly turned out to be American Pickers and that Pawn Shop show. Whatever happened to Looney Tunes?    

Thursday: Due to boredom Dracen dumped out my basket of doggie  clothes and proceeded to have a fashion show with the Darling Wieners.  He'd disappear into the sunroom with the confiscated wiener dog, shut both sets of french doors in an overly dramatic fashion and reappear with a donned out Dachsie.   

It was cute but due to lack of enthusiasm and several looks of mortification and disgust from the Darlings, I had to put a halt to the wiener dog runway.  
I asked them to go outside and check for ripe blackberries behind the fence.  They came back within five minutes to inform me that we have no ripe and luscious berries to speak of. 

Devin then tried to talk Dracen into going outside to throw some baseballs but he said he was much too relaxed in the house to go out into the heat.  And when he pointed out that I wasn't going outside, I informed him that I played outside all day most every day when I was growing up.  

So they went outside for all of 15 minutes and came back inside with the mail that they'd apparently been fighting over who was going to get out of the mailbox.  There was much debate and whining over who did and said what so I put them in their rooms until further notice and turned off Pawn Stars.  

Morales were greatly improved upon their return to the living room and they actually played nicely outside for awhile last night without any encouragment or force.  

Friday:  Just got a call from my dad aka Pawpaw Paul informing me that he is on his way up from Georgia for their birthdays which are this Sunday and Monday. 

The Darlings will be thrilled to have someone new in the house to avert the Dracenator's attention...  

Ah, a day in the life...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fancy Friday...Lazy Days of Summer

I just slept til 10:00 a.m. and the boys are still snoozing.  We're going to need therapy over here by the time school starts back next month, especially since Dracen is going to have to be there by 7:30 this year.  I don't even want to think about it right now.  

What I do want to think about and talk about are the fashion finds I found around the wordwide web this week.  And just as I typed that sentence I remembered a dream I had last night.  A nightmare, really.  My laptop, the one I've only had for about a month, broke completely in half. Oh, the horror! 

But thank heavens it was only a dream because I've got some really cute things to show y'all this week....

Honey & Hive Two Tone Link Statement Necklace
I spotted this over at Piperlime and immediately fell for it... hook, line and sinker!
Expanding Universe Tank
Someone had pinned this top in navy and white over at Pinterest so I clicked on over to Anthro to discover, to my great delight and gratitude, that it also comes in red!  Love me some red.  

Akela Belt
I love the look of a belt around the waist on someone else but have always had some mental hang up about it looking somehow wrong on myself.  I think I would give it another go with this one from Shabby Apple though...

Hazel Crochet Poncho
I can never seem to turn away from anything involving crochet and the word 'poncho'  though I have no idea where Hazel comes into play.  Maybe she crocheted it...

Cross-front Jersey Dress 
Gotta love Old Navy.  This sweet little cotton dress comes in five different colors and can be yours for a mere 24 dollars and  94 tax...

Rio Chandelier Earrings 
Stella & Dot has the cutest jewelry.  Loving these chandelier earrings in gold.  They also come in silver...

Beaded crushable hat
I have been wanting a sun hat that won't look like an elephant sat on it by the time I arrive at the beach and this one from Coldwater Creek is in the running and on sale for $19.99...

Lotus A-line Skirt

Organic cotton and a lotus flower.  I wonder if it calms your state of mind when  you put it on?  Hmm....
How much cuter could a straw tote get?

Am I just weird or is this adorable? I think it would make an awesome swimsuit coverup...

Another Shabby Apple find.  Lovely.  They are having a 20% off sale right now too...


Happy Friday, Y'all!

For more fashion links, click on over to girlymama!


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Ten T.V. Shows I Miss...

Just about every time I turn on the t.v. lately, I end up flipping through the couple hundred channels, past the numerous infomericals trying to sell me everything from steam cleaners to wonder bras, past the reality shows about teen moms, privileged housewives and over-tanned, over-accessorized 20 somethings from Jersey and usually end up settling on a train wreck of a show about a person who is hoarding chickens up in the house or hiding their habit of eating nothing but chalk and cigarette ashes.  

I miss the good ole days of t.v....back when we only had 3 or 4 channels but could always find a show worth spending 30 minutes or an hour of our time watching and coming away feeling like we'd learned a good lesson, gotten a good laugh or fully believing that we too could one day be dancing on the t.v. in our gold leotard.  
Which, of course, brings me to the first show from my childhood that I am still filled with nostalgia each time I think of because as I have mentioned a time or twenty on this blog, I wanted more than anything in this world to be a dancer on this show when I grew up...

1. Solid Gold...I have fond memories of dancing around the living room in my shiny disco pajamas with my best friend, Jennifer, and my sister, Stephanye, shaking and perfecting my groove thang. 

2. Little House on the Prairie...I never missed this show.  For the one hour a week that I was entranced by this show I truly was, in my mind, Laura Ingalls living back in the 1800's loving my Pa and my sister Mary and hating on that little spoiled brat, Nellie Olsen.  

3. Family Feud...And I'm not talking about the newest version hosted by Toolman Tim Taylor's assistant from Home Improvement.  No.  I'm talking about the original with that slightly sleezy but still lovable Richard Dawson who somehow got away with hugging and kissing up on all the women right in front of their husbands and all the rest of their family.  I have fond memories of sitting in the floor at my babysitter Mrs. White's house and laughing so hard when she'd say with disgust in her voice, "Ohh myy Gossh!  Look at him smoochin' up on all those women like he's somebody!"   Oh what would she think of the t.v. shows if she was still alive today?!  

4. Gilligan's Island... Yeah sure, it was completely and totally unrealistic but oh how I loved that show with the Skipper, his little buddy and all the rest of them.  I idolized and was awed by Ginger with her beauty and her fancy evening dresses and I wanted to be best friends with that sweet girl next door Mary Ann.  

5. The Facts of Life... This show made me want to be a rich girl so I could go away to a prestigious boarding school and meet the likes of Mrs. Garrett, Tootie, Jo, Natalie and Blair.  And later on the show brought us George Clooney though to be honest, I didn't find him all that studly back then what with his sorta mullet and caterpillar eyebrows.   

6. ER...But ER came along a few years later and brought with it a whole new George. Hello, Dr. Ross!  He was Dr. McDreamy long before Dr. Derek Shepherd and Seattle Grace were ever thought of!

 7. Roseanne...At the time this show was in a league of its own.  Roseanne was funny and snarky but best of all, she was a believable mom with a dysfunctional family just like all the rest of us.  I think this show made a lot of people realize that that whole thing called "normal" was mostly a load of malarkey and way overrated anyway!
8. Party of Five...This was one of my all time favorite shows.  I never missed an episode even if it meant popping in the old vhs tape and recording it.  I was awed by these kids swinging it on their own after losing their parents so suddenly and tragically.  Charlie (Matthew Fox) was my number one celebrity crush and fictional hero at the time.  

Which brings me to number...

9. Lost... I know this show has not been off the air all that long but I am still bummed about it being cancelled.  I miss Matthew Fox as Dr. Jack Shephard along with Kate, Sawyer, Locke, Hurley, and all the other survivors of Oceanic flight 815.  Although I was always frustrated and still as lost as I ever was when the hour ended, I just could not get enough of that mysterious island drama. 

10. Bewitched...Maybe, possibly, even more than I wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer, I wanted to be Samantha Stephens.  Or at least one of her kind.  And I practiced my nose twitch over and over again but alas, to no avail.  But it was good to have good wholesome  role models, no matter how far fetched and unrealistic they might have been....

She darn sure had a truckload more class than Snooki and the vast majority of all the other reality "stars" of today's t.v.!  

This post was written for Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Adventures in the Hundred Acre Wood...

We are not big planners around here.  Last Wednesday night we were sitting on the couch and I got the notion to maybe go somewhere for the holiday weekend.  So I looked at Charlie and said, "So do we want to try to go somewhere this weekend or what?"  And since usually all you have to do with him is say the word GO and he's in, I began my online search for a quiet little weekend vacation rental with a view in the mountains.  

BwaHaHaa!  Turns out I was not the only one who had the idea to head to the mountains for the Fourth of July weekend and all those planners had already reserved everything within a 50 mile radius of Asheville and Blowing Rock.  But I am not easily defeated.  I finally found an available house Thursday night and got a call from the rental company Friday morning to confirm and to make darn sure I had a four wheel drive because "you're gonna need it to get to this property" she said.  

Luckily, Charlie has a four wheel drive truck with a backseat so we were good.  

And she did not lie.  

This place was way up atop a winding mountain one lane gravel road and each time we made the trek back up to that house, my nerves kicked in and made me feel a little like I'd just eaten a greasy cheeseburger. 

But the view was worth it...

And no, we don't normally let Dracen drink wine but it was a holiday weekend.   

Kidding.  Just kidding!  He just likes to steal my seat.  

We had a quiet relaxing night on Saturday and were enjoying our sleeping in on Sunday when I awoke about 9 am to a noise outside our bedroom window.  And since we were on top of a mountain surrounded by the great big woods, my first thought was bear.  Then I thought maybe I was just imagining things so I closed my eyes back when I swore I heard voices.  

I peeked in on the boys to make sure they weren't up and into some crazy shenanigans outside but they were both still sound asleep.

So I peeked through our bedroom blinds and there was Billy Bob sharpening what looked like a big ole knife on the back of his old blue pickup truck in the middle of the driveway while Bobbie Sue walked around puffing on a Marlboro and when I glanced into the woods on top of the hill I saw what I thought was a shirtless man but as my eyes began to focus more clearly, I realized it was a very in shape and muscled up woman in a brown tank top.!?

I had all kinds of crazy thoughts start zipping around in my mind as I tried to make sense of this and most of them were based on Deliverance and serial killers.  

"There's somebody out here!" I shouted to Charlie.  He leapt outta bed and came over to the blinds with me and that's when we saw that what I thought was a blade was a chainsaw and Billy Bob and muscle man Marla proceeded to cut wood LOUDLY while Bobbie Sue supervised with her cell phone and Marlboro.  I just wanted to know one in the bajeebies did she have cell phone service up here?!  

"What should we do?!" I asked.  "Where's the number for the rental place?" Charlie wanted to know.  I got it for him and he got in touch with the person on call who happened to be the owner of the rental company and he had no inkling as to who these people were or why they were here and said that the owners of this house are a three hour time difference away so he would just come up there and talk to them.  

But I guess Charlie's manly man protectiveness kicked in because he started putting on his clothes and shoes and said he was going out to talk to them.  Ohhh No!  I thought, as I began to chew on my fingers...This could go bad...This could go very, very bad!    

The boys and I hunched up at the windows and as soon as he walked out on the porch I saw Bobbie Sue put her hand in the air and wave and smile with a WTH? look on her face.  Oh good, she's smiling and waving.  They come in peace...They come in peace.  

But I was still nervous and couldn't watch anymore so I walked away from the window until he came back in and informed us that "Mac" (the owner, I guess) had asked Billy Bob and his assistant, Manly Marla, to cut some firewood and put it under the porch and when he saw Charlie's truck with the orange toolbox on the back he assumed he was somebody there working.  He said Manly Marla seemed the most uncomfortable about the situation as she threw up her hand and said, "Aww man, I understand, you're on vacation." 

But Billy Bob apparently just had dollar signs in his eyes because he wanted to at least get one load done so he asked Charlie if he'd just let him do one load before they left.  He told him that was fine since we were all awake now anyway but they were gone within 10 minutes after he came back inside.  I suspect Manly Marla made that call. 

Yesterday before we came home we headed to Mount Mitchell State Park, the highest elevation this side of the Mississippi, and our GPS lady decided to take us down an unmarked gravel road through the hundred acre wood to get there.  And she didn't even know we had a four wheel drive.  

I have to admit that although it was a little nerve-wrenching at times, it was all kinds of exciting, especially when we had a wild turkey and her babies run across the road trail in front of us. I just kept saying, "Are you sure she's (the GPS lady voice...we have conversations with her regularly) taking us to the right place? What address did you put in there?"  

We finally made it to the top of Mount Mitchell... 6,684 feet up in the clouds...

Then we got real adventurous and decided to hit the hiking trail and although I thought I was going to keel over before we made it back up, it was breathtakingly beautiful and somewhat magical and I kept having thoughts of Pooh Bear, Piglet, Eeyore and Christopher Robin  dancing around in my mind because it felt exactly like we were in the same hundred acre wood....

I was having me a jolly good time with the camera...

 ...Right up until I saw this sign...

"Bear Sanctuary.  BEAR SANCTUARY?!!"   And then I forgot all about Pooh Bear and started thinking of real life bears who may or may not want to eat one of my wiener dogs for a snack and I was suddenly all about making our way back out of the hundred acre wood!