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Monday, April 30, 2012

10 Things I'm Good At

I have given both my boys, one especially...ahem.., many a little talk on the definition and importance of humility and how one absolutely must possess that quality in order to be a respectable person because nobody likes to be around a bragger and a know-it-all. I think that most of us develop a healthy dose of it as we get older but many times we take it to the other extreme by becoming our very own worst critics.  I'm definitely guilty of that one.  

Not many a day goes by that I don't mentally beat myself up over something I deem a shortcoming.  So when I first saw Stasha's Listicles topic for today, inspired by Mommy Padawan, my first thought was there's no way I can list ten things I'm good at. But then I reminded myself of the fact that I have also given my boys many a talk on the importance of owning a healthy faith and respect in oneself during the times when they are beating themselves up over something they deem a personal failure of their own, which is why I have decided to take this challenge on.  Here goes...

10 Things I'm Good At

1. Winging it.  I've never been a big planner or organizer of details and although I often panic a little when I'm asked to do something on the fly, I can usually pull it off successfully, as long as you're not asking me to do something absurd like speak in front of a large group of people! 

2. Remembering important dates and numbers.  It is a rarity for me to forget someone's birthday or phone number.  Once I file it away in my memory, it's likely going to stay there.  Forever.  

3. Gift giving/thoughtfulness.  I take this very seriously and have been known to spend hours choosing the perfect gift and/or card for someone's special occasion.  There's no better feeling to me than seeing a face light up and knowing that I got it right.

4. Decorating a room.  I'm a very visual person so my eyes are always scanning the room for improvements.  I only actually change things around at my own house though.  Unless someone asks me of course and then I'm happy to pounce right on that.    

5. Recalling conversations word for word.  I'm an introvert married to an extrovert who is a good storyteller of moments past. But since he can't always remember the exact details or words that were actually used, I'm handy to have around.  Or possibly annoying, depending on how you look at it.  

6. Spelling and grammar.  Don't ask me to help you understand the laws of logarithms or to determine the area of your parallelogram, but if you need to know how to spell a word or determine whether to use their, there, or they're, I'm your woman.  

7. Reading people. I can usually tell when something is weighing heavy on someone's mind or just not sitting right with them, even when they won't admit it and have everyone else fooled.  

8. Listening. I'm very good at listening without talking over someone and offering up words of compassion or encouragement without judgement. 
9. Seeing all sides. We've all heard that saying, There are three sides to every story...his, hers, and the truth.   I pride myself on my open mindedness and the ability to see and understand why someone may feel the way that they do even when my own opinion differs.  

10. Adapting/Carrying on. I've weathered some storms in my life that could have shut me down but I possess a quiet inner strength and faith that has always been able to push me back to the surface and fill me with life again. 

And there ya have it, ten things I like to think I'm pretty darn good at.  It was easier than I thought it'd be.

Now it's your turn! I know you want to tell me.  

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Why I'm gonna miss Dick Clark

I saw that on Pinterest the other day and laughed out loud.  I was a Dick Clark fan, some of my fondest memories of him coming from American Bandstand where I watched and danced along in front of the big floor model television that sat in our den many a Saturday morning of my childhood throughout the seventies and early eighties. I was a closet diva and a star in my own mind so that show was right up my alley.

And I have, of course, rang in just about every new year with him since...well, since as far back as I can remember, missing only a handful for going out.  I'm not a big New Year's Eve party-er.  I'd much rather sit on the couch in my pajamas and ring in the new year with an orange juice or sparkling grape juice toast. 

So this December 31st and each one after will just not be the same for me.  Ryan Seacrest is alright but he's no Dick Clark. It pained me a bit to see Mr. Clark after his stroke, struggling to speak clearly and then getting a little off on the countdown, but by gosh, he wasn't going to miss it and I was grateful for his continued appearance each year and the fact that he seemed to be making a remarkable recovery.  

I can't say I knew that much about his personal life or his beliefs.  He was just this ever-present person in my t.v. who evoked all sorts of memories for me each time I saw his cheerful face appear on my screen so I was saddened when I opened my homepage on my birthday last week and read that he'd passed the day before.

Then yesterday a Dachshund blog I like to read wrote a post about how much he loved Dachshunds and had ever since he was a boy and his uncle gave him a ceramic one.  He had a few of them over the years, including one named Bernardo he rescued as a stray off the streets of San Bernardino. 

I knew there was a reason I was so fond of him.  He was a fellow wiener dog lover! And I like to imagine him surrounded by not just the wieners but all the four-legged friends (he apparently had quite a few) he loved and cared for throughout his life. 

You'll be greatly missed, Mr. Clark.  Hope you enjoyed the ride...


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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

It is what it is...

I think winter finally decided to show up around here.  In late April.  Not cool, Jack Frost.  Not cool at all.  I've spent the last two days shivering and feeling a little like death warmed over because something (probably the obnoxiously cold wind...ya think?) has really stirred up the pollen and kicked my allergies into overdrive.  

When my allergies get crazy, they tend to make my mind a little foggy which is why I found it impossible to compose a post yesterday but I did manage to make it to the gym in order to have my butt kicked by Pilates and then to our local Food Lion to buy food for our survival. They are remodeling it and finally bringing it into the twenty first century.  

They actually had some veggie Smart Dogs in the produce department that I nuked and fed the boys on whole wheat buns for supper since the spinach lasagna I planned to make was clearly not going to happen seeing as how all I wanted to do was crash head first into the couch cushions.  Devin took one bite and said, "I can't even tell the difference."  Score!  

In other news, I am reading yet another parenting book on my Kindle (which I am still feeling the love for, by the way).  This one is about how to set limits with your strong-willed child.  I haven't gotten very far into it yet but the author started out describing the differences in his strong-willed child and his compliant child and I am now one hundred percent convinced, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the good Lord did not give me one of those.  

No siree. Nothing but strong-willed children all the way for me.  And while I have no doubts that strength and determination will serve them well in life someday, it sure doesn't make it any easier to parent them today, bless my heart.  Awhile back I adopted the slogan, It is what it is, but I am still convinced there has to be an easier way of dealing with that which it is which is why I keep reading every promising article and book I can get my hands on about the matter. 

The two of them actually got into a little argument the night before last about the possibility of things. All things.  Dracen walked into the living room and said, "Devin said that some things are impossible but that's not true, is it?  Because ALL things are possible with God, aren't they?"  

Oh boy! While this did make my heart smile, I was in no kind of mental state to get into that discussion.  I think Charlie stepped in and offered up some wise and philosophical words that Dracen seemed content with since he went on about his business and we didn't hear anything further about it.  Devin never even stepped away from or missed a beat on the XBox in order to weigh in.  

Speaking of the XBox, it generates quite a bit of heat in his room.  There have been times I've walked in there when they were playing it and felt like I'd just stepped into a sauna.  So Devin, who is just about as hot-natured as they come, talked Charlie into taking him to Wal-Mart and buying him one of those old school fans yesterday evening.  

Talk about a blast from the past.  I didn't even know they still made them like that.  

When we went to bed last night we heard the sound of its blades whirring as we walked past his room since he was sleeping with it  blowing on him.  Charlie said he used to sleep with one like that and while I did not have one at home (I had an a/c window unit in my room), I do remember playing with one at my babysitter, Mrs. White's house.  We used to tuck the sheet around it so that it blew it up into a bubble that we'd sit under, like those parachute things we used to play with in p.e. class in elementary school. 

It's just a matter of time before they discover that trick or how it  makes your voice sound just like Darth Vader if you talk up close into it.   I just hope Dracen doesn't get some crazy idea to prove his point about all things being possible by attempting something like using it to propel his paper airplanes out the upstairs window...  

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Friday, April 20, 2012

Friday Fragments...

~Tonight will be my birthday dinner since last night was consumed by baseball. I'm thinking Red Lobster.  I know it's a chain and all but I'm never disappointed there. I know what I like.

~Devin's game went on FOREVER last night and we didn't get home until a little after 10.  I was baseballed out. But he pitched for the first time ever in his life though he really didn't want to and he has a big cut on the tip of his finger that was wrapped in about four band-aids.  I was proud of him for getting up there and doing it although he was extremely critical of himself.  That apple sure didn't fall far from its mama's tree!

~I fell off the vegetarian wagon last week while we were on spring break.  I ate a little chicken and turkey.  I'm still trying to stay mostly vegetarian but it is not a vegetarian friendly world out there, y'all! At least not around here in these parts.  Or in Pennsylvania parts either, for that matter.

~I went to Target yesterday.  They are right smack dab in the middle of remodeling it which really rained on my Target birthday parade.  I was looking for a fondue pot so we could make some fondue with the rest of that five found Hershey bar Dracen came back with but there was no fondue pot to speak of in the Target.  I just knew Target would have my back on that one but looks like I'll have to turn to my other good friend aka Amazon for help on this one. 

~I forgot to record American Idol last night and was a little shocked when I saw the results on facebook since he seemed like a fan favorite.  Sooo much talent on that show this year though. It's anybody's game.  

~Speaking of facebook, it's a great place to be on your birthday, isn't it?  I've heard so many people criticize the fact that all these people would have no clue it was your birthday if fb didn't tell them so they view the wishes as insincere. I don't understand that logic at all. It's still kind and thoughtful that they paused for a moment to wish you a happy one.  Always makes me feel appreciative. And a little like a rock star!  

~That furniture we ordered for the bonus room that was supposed to arrive in four to six weeks?  They LIED through their stinkin' teeth because it was six weeks over two weeks ago at which time I called to find out where the heck it was.  The lady on the phone said she'd have to look up my order and call me back.  She called me back about an hour later and said that it was delayed because the fabric I picked had not been in stock and it would therefore not be ready until the week of the 18th.  Never got a phone call advising me of this to see if I'd like a different fabric, one in stock, perhaps(which I would have)!  And no apology for the delay.  It's the 20th and still no call and no flippin' furniture.  I'm about to take rare form and go ape sh*t on somebody's arse. Stand back, y'all!  
Mommy's Idea

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

A promise for my birthday

I'm a little bit older and a lot less bolder than I used to be. I used to shake 'em down but now I stop and think about my dignity.  And now sweet sixteen's turned forty-one...  Yeah yeah, I know Mr. Seger's song actually says thirty-one but that doesn't work for me, seeing as how I'm turning forty-one today and all. 

I have the same big plans this year as last...back to back baseball games.  Little League games here take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays and since this is a leap year, I'm leaping right over a baseball-free birthday.  But it is all good because while I'd rather have a fork stuck in my hand than watch a pro game on t.v., I actually really do enjoy watching my babies boys play ball. 
I even occasionally give little shout outs like, good play!, good hit!, or good catch! even when it was not my child who made the play.  And to know me is to know how uncharacteristic such behavior is for me, the die hard introvert. I mean, I'm never going to be one of those moms who hoots, hollers, or grabs hold of the fence in order to yell insults at the umpires or coaches (because yes, I have seen it happen y'all, and it ain't pretty) but a supportive baseball mom, I am.

I haven't really given much thought to turning forty-one.  I mean, it seems like a pretty insignificant birthday when I think about last year's forty, the BIG 4-0.  But no birthday that grants us another year of life is ever really insignificant, is it?  I read a quote once that really struck a chord with me...Do not regret growing older. It is a privilege denied to many. I don't know who said it but oh how true it is.  

Each birthday we are blessed with, every age and page we turn, is a gift from God and a reminder that our mission on earth is not yet complete, that life has not yet molded us into the person we are meant to become, the one we came here to be.  

So on this day, the same one God saw fit to grant me life on forty-one years ago...

I promise to pause for a moment,

inhale the clean, fresh air he has given me to breathe,

hug the beautiful souls he has so carefully and purposefully placed in my life,

stroke the soft fur of the beloved four-legged, tail wagging friends he has entrusted me with,

drive down the road with my windows down, my hair in the wind and my radio up, while belting out the words to my favorite songs with the imperfect voice he has given only to me,

smile and encourage as I watch those ever-growing, ever-changing, ever-challenging, hard-headed boys he so graciously allowed to be my sons as they swing their bats, run the bases, and dirty up their ball pants, whether they strike out or hit a home run,

and just be grateful, be happy...content, yet open for his usefulness,

because today I have once again been blessed with a privilege denied to many...

Sweet sixteen has turned forty-one.  

Mama’s Losin’ It

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Spring Break...Chocolate, Battlefields and Farm Country

 Aside from the arguing and fighting between the boys, our trip did have its good moments and I learned some things I did not know, like what a good-hearted and generous man Milton Hershey was.  I had no idea that he had left his entire fortune to the school/home he and his late wife, Kitty, had started for orphaned and underprivileged kids since they could not have any of their own.  

During our little trolley ride tour of the area and the school, I was almost brought to tears a few times hearing our tour guide (who was a teacher at the school for years) speak about Mr. Hershey's life and all the good he did with his success.  He was the real deal and after hearing his story, it almost makes me not want to buy any other brand of chocolate since that school for underprivileged kids still owns 80 percent stock in the company.  Pretty amazing.  

And speaking of the chocolate, they were not stingy with it at Chocolate World.  Every time we turned around someone was handing us another chocolate bar, Hershey kiss, or Reese's cup.  It was my kind of place.  And the store?  I had visions of diving headfirst into the endless rows of milk chocolate and 
mountains of Twizzlers.

I could not, however, as much as I love me some chocolate and some Twizzlers, wrap my mind around the idea of chocolate Twizzlers.  I had to say no to those...
But the boys and I did buy this bag of extra long Twizzlers that were long gone before we ever got back to North Carolina.
How this child of mine is not smiling while holding up a super sized bag of extra long Twizzlers while standing in the middle of Hershey's Chocolate World is completely beyond me.  I guess he's smiling on the inside.  

When we arrived there, we had to decide what things we wanted to do.  We all agreed on the trolley ride tour and the chocolate tasting but Dracen was the only one set and determined to design his own chocolate bar creation.  I thought we'd all be able to go with him and watch but no such luck.  You had to have a ticket to go in.  I asked him if he wanted me to go buy myself a ticket but Mr. Independent was completely fine to fly it solo and have us wait outside in the store for 45 minutes.  

And here he is after he came out holding up his very own chocolate creation complete with its special tin box sporting his name and everything.  But still...the smile remains on the inside.  

Oh, and just when I thought we were going to make it out of there without one of those five pound chocolate bars, Mr. Independent aka Money Bags reminded us that was the whole very reason he wanted to make this trip so against my better judgement, I got out of his way and watched him make his way to the counter with it. 
Later that night, without my knowledge, he and his brother took all the packaging and wrapper off that thing and now it sits in big chunks in a plastic bag on my kitchen counter and believe me, it takes every ounce of willpower in my body not to inhale it through a straw.  

I don't think I could ever possibly grow tired or sick of chocolate.  

Charlie though, it turns out, is a bit of a lightweight when it comes to chocolate consumption because while I didn't think we ate all that much (just some small samples) that day, he went into some sort of chocolate hangover later and had a headache for hours.  And there I was still trying to resist the urge to eat another chocolate bar or two. Or three.

I did begin to run out of steam about halfway through the Hershey Museum later that day, however. Here is Dracen and I after we first arrived searching for the answers to his scavenger hunt they gave him at the front desk. This was not too long before Devin drove him into the fitful rage of breaking his pencil tip off on his chest in the middle of the museum while I was taking a breather on a bench somewhere in a quiet corner. Oh, how I wish that were an exaggeration.

While Hershey was probably my favorite part of the trip, what with me being a chocoholic and then learning of the goodness of Mr. Milton Hershey, Gettysburg, although cold and windy, was pretty amazing to see as well.  I had hoped to get more photos but I am a straight up wuss when it comes to cold wind, especially while under-clothed. 

Some of the stories our tour guide told us about what the troops went through and about all the lives lost, were just heartbreaking and just like the Hershey tour, I found myself with tears in my eyes a few times.  I was surprised to learn, however, that with all that fighting that took place there, only one civilian life was lost. I thought that was phenomenal.

And Amish farm country?  Was absolutely beautiful but I really could have done without the reek of manure in the air.  I guess you get used to it after awhile.  

Here are a few random shots from those areas...
on the tour bus
There is fire coming out of the top of this monument though it didn't show up in this photo.

Devin's photography... he caught me blinking
typical Dracen

He's almost smiling!
Nike, the goddess of victory

Mr. Lincoln, himself

We climbed to the very top of this thing though I decided at the last minute to go after they were already nearly to the top.  So I practically ran all the way up, as if I was some sort of G.I. Jane type and my poor leg muscles trembled for a good two hours afterward.  

The horse and buggies on the highway with all that traffic tripped me out.  No way would I have the courage.  I, the champion worry wart, could not stop worrying about these Amish people and their horses out there amidst all that traffic.  Out of respect for them, I refrained from taking a photo of any persons though we did see a man pulled over on the highway and standing beside his car taking photos of them straight on with no shame in his game whatsoever. Dude, how rude.

Oh, and so as not to leave out the Darlings (Y'all didn't think I left them at home, did you?), here they are crashed in the hotel room in Hershey and taking in the sights in Harpers Ferry, WV...

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Monday, April 16, 2012

I need a vacation in order to recover from my vacation

What is it that makes me think an eight hour road trip followed by tight quarters in a hotel room for four nights is going to be a good idea with the likes of those two strong-willed boys of mine? You'd think we would have learned our lesson last year over Spring Break but nope, we did it again.  Only this year the fighting was worse.

How many hours until we're there?!  

Tell him to give me my ipod back!


How many hours until we're there?!

I'm hungry!

I've got to pee!


Can we stop at the fireworks store?  Mom-Mom-Mom? Can we stop at the fireworks store?  Please, pu-leeez!..I have 10 dollars left! 

How much longer?

Can I have some quarters for the game room?  

I'm going to get a drink.  Can I have some more quarters?  How 'bout a dollar?  A five?  I can cash that in at the change machine.  

Will you take us swimming in the indoor pool?  

Get off me!  



He just BROKE his pencil off on my skin!!!  I'm gonna KILL him!!!!

Will you take us swimming again?  Please?!  After while?  Please!  I swear we won't fight anymore.  We won't.  We promise to be good!

How much longer until we're home?  

I'm starving to death!  

I'm about to pee in my pants!  

And trust me, that's the short, watered down version.  We spent two nights in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania followed by two nights in Hershey and then decided to stop off in the old historic town of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia on our way home Friday which put us getting home close to midnight Friday night and let me tell you, I was pretty much past my wit's end because they had grated my very last nerve down until I had zero patience left and their little tails went straight to bed without passing GO or collecting a flippin' dime of their two hundred dollars.  

We then had to get up Saturday morning because they each had a baseball game at the same time, on neighboring fields.  I managed to catch most of both games by standing on the hill in between the fields and craning my neck like an ostrich. 

And as a reward for being such a good baseball mom, they broke out into a massive fight in the car on the way home because Dracen was playing catch in the backseat with a small souvenir block puzzle he got in Amish Country when he accidentally busted Devin's lip, drawing blood, which prompted him to kindly pay him back when we got home by kicking him in the hand while still wearing his baseball cleats.

But the good news is, everyone is still in one piece and without (as far as I can tell) any permanent injuries or emotional scars.  And this morning?  The house is quiet because they are back at school, only after a good fight over the bathroom sink before they left, of course.

I did manage to get a few good pictures, aside from the fighting and the fact that is was extremely windy and only in the 50s most of the time we were there.  I will share more later, after I've had time to properly reassemble my nervous system, but I think this one (taken on one of the battlefields during our tour) is a pretty accurate depiction of the trip...

You have Dracen climbed up on the cannon, while appearing to stare off into the wild blue yonder but is really, no doubt, concocting his next big action plan while Devin stands off in the back clearly peeved that he is being forced into the harsh act of posing for a photo and then you have me pretending not to be freezing my arse off and longing to get back on the tour bus asap.  This was day one so I've still got a few nerves left yet.  

More Later,

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