Snow Day Every Day

As the sun began to set, and the cooler weather blew in bringing forth the end of another day, I had a pain in my heart.   One could suppose, in light of all of this winter weather (we measured just over 8 inches at our house), my pain could be the sign of a heart attack.   Fortunately, we don’t own a snow shovel, nor do we bother with shoveling snow.   We just stay home and take full advantage of our once a year snow heaven from God.

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Last night; however, for the first time ever, I was actually saddened by the thought of warmer weather.   I had an ache for a continuation of our weekend, easily one of the best we’ve had as a family in a while.   It’s not that we aren’t family focused.    The majority of what we do, my husband and I, revolves our family and what we can do together.   We hike, we bike, we do puzzles, watch movies, and read.

This past weekend, though, was a whole different scene.

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When I was a child, we were given one chance per day to play in the snow.   My mother was of the cleanliness variety and preferred to NOT clean up after her kids all the time.   I can recall begging to go out, and while she would let us, we knew that it was a one shot deal.   I had a wonderful childhood, so please don’t read into this as me complaining, but like every parent, I want my children to have more.

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Friday, my husband worked from home, which meant I needed to keep our boys away from him.   I did so by taking them out in the two inches of snow we had at that point.   Snow down South is a novelty.   It’s a once a year phenomenon that’s usually here today and gone tomorrow, so you have to take advantage of it when it’s here.   Even if that means, playing in the two inches while it is also sleeting.   Yep.   Did that.   Did my boys have fun?  You betcha they did.

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Saturday morning found us back outside after a night of over six inches of heavy snowfall.   It was a winter wonderland to say the least.    Two years ago, we received a few inches of snow.   Henry was a mere 2 months old, unable to really understand what was going on.   Davey was three and loved it.   Last year we had another snowfall with a few inches.   Once again Davey was in heaven.   Henry?  Not so much.   This year was a whole different story.

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My boys ran, they made snow angels, built a snowman, went sledding (even with mom here, who had never been sledding a day), made snow balls, and crawled around.   Speaking of crawling around, my dear sweet Henry seemed to fashion himself as a WWII Allied soldier, as he belly crawled through the snow covered Ardennes.   Seriously, he belly crawled a LOT.

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My husband came out with us, so daddy joined in on the fun.   We would spend a couple of hours outside, come in for hot chocolate and a snack, then go back out for another round.   Nothing much we could do other than sit inside and watch tv, and we could do that any old day of the week.   We can’t always enjoy this stuff and I guess that’s what makes me a bit sad.

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I’m sad that this little piece of paradise will be gone soon.   I’m sad that the boys won’t have it anymore.   I want them to soak it all in (and they’ve done that both literally and figuratively).   I loved seeing their faces, eyes wide with shock at the sight of all this white stuff.   I laughed along with them as they belly laughed while sledding down the hill.   I didn’t think about the next day or the day after (which I do a LOT since I’m a planner).   I didn’t think about what we were going to eat or how much longer we were going to be outside.   I couldn’t think about anything except that moment, each moment, when we were making memories.

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For me, there never seems to be enough hours in the day.   There is laundry to be done, a house to be cleaned, exercises, a dog, dishes, dinners to prepare, school work, you name it.   There is always something in a day that doesn’t get done because there’s not enough time, and a lot of times I let those trivial things interfere with our moments, but not this weekend.

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We’ll head back into reality tomorrow, as the boys must go back to school, but for right now I want them to relish this time.   I want to hear their laughs, watch their adventures (they are snow warriors), and I want to time stamp and remember these very moments.   I suppose that’s my pain I’m feeling.   I suppose it’s the realization that another day, or days in this case, is in the history books, that my boys are days older, that one day this snow won’t hold the same level of excitement for them as it did this weekend.  I’m hoping I still have a couple of years, but one never knows.

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As I write this blog, I’ve decided to take a break and let them play by themselves in the backyard.   They’ve piled up snow two feet high at the foot of their slide and are now sliding into it.   They laugh and I can’t help but laugh and literally there is nothing else more important for me than this moment.

So, yeah, I’ll take a snow day every day.   I’m probably one of the few stay at home moms who feels this way.

I am a Cooker Man

 

For some reason when my son refers to himself by using this sentence, I can’t help but think of the Beatles, “I am the Walrus”.

It has taken me becoming a mom to actually become a somewhat decent cook.   The kitchen was never my favorite place to be, the work was just too overwhelming, one slight screw up with a recipe and the meal was a loss, the pressure was just too much.   My husband; however, loves the kitchen.  He’s a mechanical engineer, but would love to be a chef in his own restaurant.

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On our second date, he cooked for me.   It was wonderful and he’d used no recipe.   He’s the type to open a fridge, throw a bunch of stuff together and then make the most magnificent meal you’ve ever tasted.   A few weeks later, with my room mate out of town, I decided to make a romantic dinner at home for my boyfriend (soon to be husband).  I went easy…spaghetti, but decided to make my mother’s homemade sauce which required an all day cooking.

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My husband ate the entire dinner.  It wasn’t until after, as I was cleaning the kitchen, when he asked me about the sauce.   I walked him through the entire recipe, and then he asked about the grease from the meat.   What did I do with it?   I stared at him a bit dumbfounded.   Grease?  The recipe never mentioned grease.   What was he talking about?   Basically those are the exact words I used with him.  It was then that he grabbed the pot of sauce and showed me the film over the top of it.   Oops.   From that point forward in our relationship, I stayed out of the kitchen.

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Flash forward a few years.  I’ve left my corporate America job to stay home with our son, Davey.   Whether it be out of necessity, guilt, or a desire to be better mom and wife, I learned how to cook.   I’m no Rachel Ray or Bobby Flay.   I can’t just whip things up.  I do have to follow a recipe, but I’ve actually become somewhat decent at cooking, actually I’m probably a step above decent.

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The great thing about me learning to cook is that Davey has always been very hands on with me in the kitchen.   This year for Christmas, he received his own personal set of cooking utensils, and he knew exactly what each was to be used for.  He doesn’t like the term chef, but instead prefers to call himself Cooker Man.

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Over our past couple of years in the kitchen, I’ve observed a few things with Davey.   This is probably the one activity he focuses on the most.   It’s the one activity where he awaits instructions, doesn’t trudge ahead.   It’s the one activity where he’s very intent on the task at hand.   He follows the rules and order of the ingredients.   He’s cautious, walking through his checklist when operating the stove.   He doesn’t try to touch a knife, instead just leaving it alone.  And he has such pride in his work.   At 4 years old, he’s attempting to beautifully plate the food.   “It’s in the presentation, mom,” he once said to me.   I didn’t know that he knew what the sentence meant.

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He questions different ingredients, asking about their tastes and then determining if they would go well together.   I literally watch as he looks off into space and contemplates the combinations of different ingredients.  I can see the wheels turning inside his brain.   Days when he becomes so inquisitive and contemplative, I find myself forgetting that he’s only 4 years old.

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A few days ago, I commented to him that I didn’t know how to make my own eggs until I was in college.   He’s already learning how to properly make an omelet, which is good because it means I’m also learning how to properly make one as well.   Our time in the kitchen has been invaluable.   We learn together, we encourage each other, and at times he manages to show me a thing or two.   I learn more about him when we’re in the kitchen.   He loves to tell stories of the day, what he did at school, who is friends are, and so forth.

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My little Cooker Man is becoming quite the pro and I’m proud of him.   Who knows?   He may be the Doser to open his own restaurant and be the head chef.

Happy 2016

2015 is in the history books, roaring it’s way out of the Doser household, quite more vehemently than that of a lion.   It’s the dawn of a new day, a new year, and a whole new world of possibilities.

I’m like everyone else, well most everyone else, in that I do create some sort of resolution.   And why not?   It’s a new year, time for a fresh new start, and perhaps the opportunity to not just become a better person, but also to live my life as a better person.   I tried to be a bit more realistic this year.   I’m not setting some lofty weight loss goal or quitting some vice (I don’t really have any unless you consider eating peanut butter straight out of the jar a vice).  No, instead I’m taking the opportunity to use the new year as a sort of strategizing session.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve sat back and pondered what was wrong with my life.   Why did it seem that I was constantly spinning my wheels daily and not feeling any sense of accomplishment.   I have a self worth, after all, and in order to feed that dreaded devil, I have to feel as if I’ve been productive.   The Christmas holidays nearly wiped me out, but I continued to trudge forward, and in doing so I decided that once and for all I needed to treat my stay at home lifestyle as a “job”, a career per se.

When I worked in the corporate world, I maintained a daily list of items that needed to be accomplished in order for me to move on to the next day with a clean slate.   Lately, I’ve felt as if I haven’t had any sort of clean slate with my life and that not only have I been spinning my wheels, but also sinking into mud.

Last week, I decided to go back to 4 years ago, when I was still a working mom, and do what I did then.   I’ve made a schedule beginning at 5a with the boys (don’t worry, they get to sleep until 6:30).   It allows for everything from personal writing time, which I’m doing now, to 2 hour work outs at the Y, lessons with the boys (reading, writing, arithmetic, science, history and Bible verses), lunch, nap time for Henry, my personal time with God, and even chores before collapsing at the end of the day with a good book or movie with my husband.

I’ve written out my schedule, what it will be daily, and have even allowed for Friday to be a free day for all of us!   I hope this has become a more realistic resolution and that it is something from which we’ll all benefit.  I hope this allows for me to start breathing again, to not feel so overwhelmed and to feel beneficial.   And of course, I hope this also allows for me to maintain this blog a bit better as I continue to share with you our daily adventures.

I hope you all rang in the New Year in the happiest and best ways possible, and that the Lord will continue to guide you, be merciful, and most of all that you will find Him this year, if you haven’t.   Happy 2016!

I Did NOT Put This on My List

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of exhaustion, for those elves who’ve stayed up well past their near geriatric bedtimes to put together all of Santa’s toys.   It’s a morning of anticipation for little ones as they try to contain themselves inside their rooms until the appropriate hour to awaken mom and dad, aka the elves.   For our house, appropriate time is when the digital clock in the bedroom reads 7:00.

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of overwhelming excitement as children tear into their gifts, eager to see if the Santa at the mall, or the Elf on the Shelf, really does communicate with the “real” bearded fat man.

Christmas morning.  It’s a morning of reflection on our lives, who we are, what we’ve been, and Who was born on this day to save us all.

Christmas morning for me?   Well, that’s a whole different story, at least for this year.   This Christmas, I spent it wrapped up under four blankets, while everyone else walked around in shorts and flip flops with the A/C blaring.  It was 70 degrees and humid.   And as the sweat dripped down my forehead, over my arms and down my chest, I shivered and ached away.   For Christmas this year, the old fat man brought me a 102 degree fever and a case of strep throat.

My boys opened their gifts.   Did I get to play with them?  No.   My family opened their gifts.  I opened my gifts, although my fever had me a bit on the dopey side so I didn’t realize how wonderful my gifts were until Sunday.   My husband made a fabulous French toast and sausage breakfast.   It smelled good at least.   My family (parents, aunt, cousins) came to enjoy Christmas dinner at my house.   Me?  I was quarantined upstairs.   There was no fine China this year, no drinking from my grandmother’s crystal, no eating in the dining room, while listening to Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole croon.   Instead they crowded around the kitchen table, but still enjoyed themselves all the same.

Today as I began taking down my Christmas decorations, an overwhelming sadness washed over me.   I missed Christmas.   In my 40 years on this earth, I’ve never missed Christmas.   It saddened me, almost as much as it saddened me when we realized we would no longer have Christmases with my brother nearly 10 years ago.

The days flew by, the weeks were inundated with parties, gatherings, socializations, but I still felt empty and I was hoping for that Christmas magic on Christmas morning.   I’m saddened over not enjoying a dinner with my family, it’s not every day when we’re able to get together like this.   I’m saddened over no family pictures in front of the Christmas tree.  We’re not guaranteed another day.   Which one of us may not be here next year?

My boys were clueless to mommy’s absence, thanks to Santa and my family.   I’m grateful for that.   Truly, I am.   I’m grateful for a family who gets along together so well that there was harmony between them and my husband in the kitchen.   They were apparently like a well-oiled machine.   “We just seemed to fit together,” my husband said.  “Least amount of stress I’ve ever had in the kitchen.”

I suppose I should look at this bout of strep throat in a different light.   At least it happened when my husband was home and didn’t have to work the next day.  He was up every 3 hours trying to get my fever to break.   At least I was able to actually get some rest while being sick, an anomaly in itself.   In the end; however, I keep going back to one thought over this horrible Christmas…what did I do so wrong this past year for Santa to feel like I deserved strep throat as a present?   How about just keeping me off your list altogether, Santa, if this is how it’s to be.

I hope you all had a wonderful, family-filled, waistline bulging, ugly sweater wearing, Christmas Story watching, action packed, and most of all BLESSED Christmas.

My Greatest Christmas Gift

From the very moment I’d found out that I was pregnant with Henry, I knew this pregnancy would be 100% different from my first.   I was terrified, selfishly, and it impacted how I went about my days with Davey.   I was sick, tired, and moody.   For the longest time, I was convinced Henry would be a girl.

His actual birthday was to be December 20th, but thanks in part to my previous C-section and my desire to not have his birthday so close to Christmas, Henry Bruce Doser was born on Friday the 13th in 2013.

Yesterday, we celebrated the 2nd birthday of my second and final biological child.   And much like with his big brother, I put him to sleep last night with the story of his birth, which went a little something like this.

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Prince Henry’s first official picture.

Once upon a time, the king and queen decided to add another prince to their family.   Their oldest was just a little over two years in age, when the second prince made his entrance.   He was scheduled to arrive at 1:30 on Friday the 13th, but by 8 am that morning he started making his imminent arrival known.   The queen dealt with cramps and lower back pain, those that nearly mirrored her kidney stones from 14 years prior (at this Henry looked at me and laughed).   She gripped tightly to the king’s arms as he walked her into the hospital.

The queen was placed in a room with machines hooked up to her and wrapped around her belly.   The king sat alongside of her, occasionally stroking her arm, but mostly watching a Chuck Norris movie on television.  The incessant beeping of the machines, coupled with the contractions and the king’s inability to empathize, forced the queen to make a decision…The king was to be banished and the Queen Mother was to arrive.

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As the hours went by, the Queen and her mother discussed upcoming Christmas plans, what it was like for the Queen Mother to give birth so many years ago, and what sort of crazy family member was doing the unthinkable.   Finally the time arrived when the queen was to go into surgery and so the king joined her.

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A half hour later and Prince Doser II was born.   He wailed and he squirmed, making his entrance known.   He was just an ounce heavier than his older brother and the same height.   What a fine looking young prince he would be.   And in royal fashion it was decreed he would be named Prince Henry Bruce Doser.

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Prince Davey meeting Prince Henry.

 

A short time later, Prince Davey, the older prince, entered the glass tower (as he called it) to meet his younger brother.   Prince Davey held tightly to the newborn prince, cradling him lovingly in his arms, even leaning over to kiss him.   The queen sat in her bed, staring at her beautiful boys and thanked the Lord for the blessings He bestowed upon her.   And from that moment forward they lived happily ever after.

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Prince Davey giving Prince Henry his first brotherly kiss.

Every parent has a tradition, be it big or small when it comes to celebrating their children’s birthdays.   This is mine.

Henry laid in his bed, listening intently to my words, his thumb in his mouth.   Occasionally he smiled, but mostly he listened and stroked my hair.   At the end of my story, he kissed my cheek and said, “hap birthday me, mommy.”

My days become inundated with the grind of raising two boys, the stress, the guilt, and the pain, but I wouldn’t trade one second of any of it.   And people tell me I’ll miss these days.  I laugh in their faces, but I know the days are coming when hearing their birth stories will no longer be wanted, that the hugs will diminish, and the cuddles will become obsolete.   It saddens me and I realize these are some of the best days of my life and I WILL miss this.

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Eating his birthday cake. Happy 2nd birthday, Prince Henry.

As I kissed him goodnight, he whispered, “love you, mommy” and I melted.   He was, and still is, my greatest Christmas gift.

I’m Sorry, I Love You, Thank You

Those were the three words I said to my parents Wednesday night when they answered the phone.  I’d just spent the better part of my evening experiencing one of the most overwhelming, intimidating, mentally and physically exhausting excursions since giving birth to my two boys.   What did I do?  I went to Toys R Us to buy their presents from Santa.   Yep, my husband and I accomplished it in one fell swoop and if we hadn’t been beaten up so badly, we’d likely have done a jig, followed by a high five.

As with most things I encounter on a day-to-day basis, I find that I was completely oblivious to level of work my parents put into me and my brother.   As a child, I thought they were so mean, self centered, and slave drivers.  Yes, I did think the last thing especially when I had to mow the lawn on the weekends.   With each new day of me raising our boys, I develop a different level of respect for my parents, for their hard work, their resilience, their strength (both mentally and physically), their heart, and their intelligence.   It doesn’t seem to get easier as the boys are growing, just more complicated.

Wednesday, my husband and I walked into the doors of our local Toys R Us.  I stopped for a moment and looked around.  Skylander toys seemed to be yelling down at me from banners.   Queen Elsa and Princess Anna smiled devilishly at me, their backs against each other.  I could hear them laughing at me while saying under their breath, “oh, here’s a new one.   Let’s see what we can put them through.”

There were Paw Patrol toys, FAO Schwartz, Disney, Thomas the Train, Legos, Avengers, Star Wars, Barbies, bikes, balls, pretend clothing, books and games.   There were so many levels and dimensions of each toy and each brand that I slowly felt my anxiety start wrapping around my heart and lungs, constricting my airways and veins.   This experience was going to be the death of me.  I knew it.  I knew it, even though my husband and I had a plan and a list.  I knew it as I was entering the realm of medieval torture.

My husband grabbed a cart and we immediately went to the Paw Patrol toys and Transformers.   Henry loves Paw Patrol.   You name it and he wants it.   Davey is all about his Transformers and Avengers.   He’s a super hero kind of kid (both literally and figuratively).  And of course, we’re smacked with a double whammy, as Henry’s birthday is 12 days before Christmas.  Yes, I know, we planned poorly.

We looked at our watches, determining that we had exactly 45 minutes to accomplish our task and set out to get it done.   This proved to be a bit too ambitious on our part.   45 minutes is ample time to discuss the absolute atrocity of pricing a chintzy plastic toy $56.   45 minutes is not ample time to get presents for our boys.   It was ludicrous on our part.

After completing our purchases, which nearly required two carts, we set out to collect the boys from church and quickly whisk them away to bed.   While my husband separated out our purchases, making sure that we had both boys taken care of, I placed the phone call to my parents, and what my dad told me made me love them both even more.  Not so much for the gift, but for the fact that they were willing to sacrifice for both me and my brother.   What he told me made me proud, and made me want to be as great as the two of them, although I can only hope to be half as good.

In the early 80s, there was a huge toy phenomenon known as Cabbage Patch Kids.   They were everywhere and yet nowhere.   Every child in the country wanted one, but they flew off the shelves faster than a North American X15 Thunderbird.  I was one of those children desperate for a Cabbage Patch Kid.   On the Thursday before Christmas in 1982, my dad cashed his paycheck and then set out to find a doll.   For those of you unaware, Christmas Day was on Saturday of that year, so he admitted he was a bit delusional, but also desperate as he and my mom had spent the better part of 3 months attempting to get one for Christmas.  He told me that he didn’t care what color, shape, size, or gender my Cabbage Patch Kid was, he just knew that he HAD to get one.  It’s the only thing I’d asked for and he couldn’t bear to face his child without one.   He made his way to Service Merchandise and there were two on the shelf.  He grabbed one as another person was grabbing the other.

As he told me this story, especially the part of not being able to face his child without her gift, I started to tear up.   I get it.  I really do.   Every parent wants their child to be happy.   No parent wants to see their child sad.   Until I had children of my own; however, I had no clue how stressful and yet heartbreaking shopping for them can be.

So as he finished his story and I thought back to my experience only hours before, I could only say these words, “I’m sorry.  I love you.  Thank you.”  I’m sure I’ll be repeating these words to my parents for years to come, especially during this time of year.

A Travelling We Go

Travelling with children is loathsome for me, be it plane, train, or automobile.   I spend a solid month preparing myself for it, mentally and physically.   I go through a checklist with things I may need for every possible scenario and for each child.   The boys have their own back packs now, so I do my best to load them down (without tipping them over) with every book, movie, colored pencil, and stuffed animal they may need.   Still, I’m not as fully prepared as I’d like to be.

When we go to Rochester to visit family, we fly, ALWAYS fly.   Being cooped up in a car with my two boys for 12 hours or more is not my cup of tea.   With flying, it’s usually five hours total, with a two hour layover built in so the boys can at least walk around, in their cases run, and expend some energy.   Of course, at times there are delays at the airports, thereby extending my time of misery as I find myself sprinting to catch up with Henry as he’s climbed onto the moving sidewalk and is strategically trying to look into other passengers’ bags.   Fortunately, most people just smile at the boys, while giving me an “I’ve been there before” pity look.

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This past Thanksgiving’s travel started out cumbersome and was a bit foreboding.   We arrived at the airport early, about an hour and a half before our flight was to leave, only to find out that it was delayed an additional two hours.   Unfortunately, we didn’t find out about this delay until AFTER we’ve already gone through security, meaning we were stuck in the terminal with two overly excited and rowdy boys.   I was at my wit’s end and needed a drink.   Actually, I was tempted to have my flight, and ONLY my flight, moved so that my husband could experience the joy of flying solo with the boys.  I’ve been there and done that.

Henry didn’t sleep during that flight.   He cried a lot, wanted to roam around the plane, kicked the seats in front of us.   Davey watched his movie on my iPad before finally laying his head on my lap and falling asleep.   Thank goodness!

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So, Saturday morning, as we were busy packing, I went back through my mental checklist, bringing back everything bothersome that had occurred on the flight up, and a solution for those problems.

Unlike the flight up, I was not given a pre TSA boarding pass for having an infant in my lap.   Side note…Rochester, NY is HORRIBLE with their security.   HORRIBLE!!!!!!   So, I had to practically undress myself, including my vest, which the TSA agent called a coat and I nearly lost my cool as I wanted to yell, “it’s not a coat”, and encourage Henry to walk through the metal detectors and wait on me.   After we made it through and were fully clothed and loaded back down with our carry ons, I needed  a coffee, and here’s where the adventures began.

hello Baltimore

While getting my coffee, the boys sat at a table howling like dogs, their howls reverberating and bouncing off the walls in the terminal.   Both sat with their heads towards the ceiling literally howling.   I pretended not to know them for as long as humanly possible.   Once we were in the lobby area waiting for our plane, I gave the boys my iPad so they could watch “Land Before Time”  (I love that they love what my husband and I watched as kids), along with their own personal headphones we’d just bought.   It went off swimmingly for about 15 minutes, before Henry wanted to shove Davey and take the iPad from him.   Of course, once Davey fought back for his fair share, Henry took off the headphones and went for his normal sprint through the airport.

Once we were on the flight, Davey watched another movie, Henry and my husband napped, and I was actually able to read a book!   Can you believe it?  I certainly can’t.   The last time I was able to read a book on a plane, that wasn’t about dinosaurs and knights, was on our last cruise in 2010.   It was nice, so nice.

on the plane

When we landed in Baltimore for our standard two hour layover, we found a restaurant carrying the Clemson/Carolina game.   Naturally, we had to stop there, but the downside was that all the tables were high top, and there were no booster seats or high chairs for Henry.   We weren’t going to be enjoying our lunch and game in peace.   Nope.   It’s quite exhausting trying to eat with one hand while using the other to keep a busy toddler in place.

trying to catch the game

During our layover; however, Davey did what he does best…he made new friends.   This time they were fellow Clemson Tiger fans, decked out in their orange, much like my entire family was.   Davey did his C-L-E-M cadence cheer, and the sweet lady gave him her Tiger Rag!

Davey and tiger rag

We killed a bit of time before boarding the final leg of our journey by walking the boys back and forth on the moving sidewalk.   Finally, when boarding the plane, the flight attendant did something that I despised her for the entire flight.   She asked Davey if he’d like to sit in the cockpit and get his picture made when we landed.   Why oh why, would you ask a child, MY CHILD, this and expect him to not want to do it?   So, for the hour and 15 minutes we were in the air, Davey whined off and on about wanting to go into the cockpit right now.   Couldn’t she have asked this as we were exiting?

Davey in cockpit 2

We were the last ones off the plane, which is usually the case, and as we were exiting, the same flight attendant said to have a great weekend, while looking at us and not registering who we were.    Seriously?   I’m the tallest female on the plane, you looked at me when you asked Davey about the cockpit, and now you act as if you don’t recognize me?   Naturally, I reminded her and she happily got the pilot and Davey was allowed the chance to see in the pilot’s seat.   The pilot let him grab the yoke and even told him what buttons to push, as I cringed the entire 3-4 minutes.   Please don’t tell my 4 year old he can push the buttons on a multi-million dollar plane.

Davey in cockpit

So, for now this adventure and the travels that go along with it are over, and not a minute too soon for me!

Christmas Tree Hunt

On the second day in Rochester, Grammy said to us, “let’s go cut down a Christmas tree.”

Kunz's Christmas Tree Farm.
Kunz’s Christmas Tree Farm.

We awoke to a cold and blustery morning, but no snow, much to Davey’s dismay.   By mid morning, we trekked through Kunz’s Christmas Tree Farm near Penfield, NY in search of a tree for Grammy’s house.  It’s been quite some time since I’ve actually sought out a live Christmas tree and on a farm no less.   Live trees are cumbersome, they’re messy, they require regular maintenance, and you’re cleaning up their needles for the next year, but they’re also fresh, aromatic, and even romantic.

Row upon row of uncut trees.
Row upon row of uncut trees.

The last time I had a live Christmas tree, I was in Charleston, SC in 2001.  The last time I hiked through the woods of a tree farm, my brother was five years old, I was 11, and my mother was miserable.   29 years later, and I’m searching for a tree.

The boys perusing the pre cut trees.
The boys perusing the pre cut trees.

What did we want?   We listened to the owner discuss when he’d planted trees, how many he’d already cut, the fact that we were early or perhaps he was late, and which tree would be best to meet the criteria we had.   There was blue spruce, douglas fir, fraser fir, pine, and a few others.   We were given a cart and a hack saw, we were definitely getting back to the adventure and reality of getting a Christmas tree.

Henry helping Daddy and Grammy.
Henry helping Daddy and Grammy.

My husband led the group, my father-in-law complained about the fact that my mother-in-law had two perfectly good fake trees in storage, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law chaperoned the boys who were nearly bundled up beyond recognition.

Davey helping Daddy with bring the tree around.
Davey helping Daddy with bring the tree around.

We walked a few hundred yards, inhaling the crisp western NY cold air.   Mother Nature was definitely playing her role in the whole “Doser Family Searches for Tree” scene.

Henry off for the hunt.
Henry off for the hunt.

There was every tree imaginable…full ones; short ones; tall ones; fat, tubby ones; and even ones that resembled the pitiful tree from a Charlie Brown Christmas.   After very little debate we landed on a tree.  What kind?  I couldn’t possibly tell you and I was quickly losing faith in the young lad who attempted to tell us.   He looked over the tree, stroked its needles with his gloved hand, before taking off his glove and rubbing the needles.   He closed his eyes for a moment, as if willing the tree to speak to him through osmosis of the needles.   I chuckled and had to walk away, no offense to any of you “tree whisperers” out there.

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My husband gallantly and a bit exhaustingly, I might add, cut down the tree, loaded it onto the cart, and trucked it off.   The entire event took a mere 30 minutes of our time, but was truly an enjoyable experience.   Davey created a song to the tune of “Going on a Bear Hunt”, while Henry did his best to keep up on the walk.

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Day two of Thanksgiving in Rochester is in the history books.   Day two of the excitement and adventure that surrounds the worlds of Grammy and Aunt Dee Dee.   Day two of my boys truly being the most well behaved little angels I never thought I had.  :)

 

On The First Day in Rochester

Aunt Dee Dee did for me…a fun-filled crafting spree.

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Our night was short and sleepless.   After the previous evening’s flight, we were all exhausted and Henry had given cry a couple of times during the night having woken in a strange place and in a strange bed, but we all made it, safe and sound, to Grammy’s house, and now we were heading out for an exciting morning of Pancakes and Pajamas at Aunt Dee Dee’s house.

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Rochester, during the winter, is known for its gray days, downtrodden weather, and temperatures much colder than this Southern ga’ls blood is accustomed to.   Today, Rochester did not disappoint…she held true to all of her “winterly” traits.

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So, we dressed the boys in their winter pajamas, put on their insulated snow boots, jackets and hats then trekked off.   When we arrived at Aunt Dee Dee’s, the aromas from the kitchen beckoned us in like the teasing finger of a wicked witch.     She had eggs on the stove, sausage and ham placed on plates, and was finishing off with silver dollar pancakes.   Homemade hot chocolate enticed us at the bar, and fresh fruit, which should be unheard of in these parts at this time of the year.   Did she pay high dollar to specially ship them in?

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The boys were excited and indulged in almost a dozen pancakes between the two of them, two slices of ham and a half dozen sausage links.   I suppose travel can famish the souls of toddlers.   And what a treat, to have their own special Santa “milk” jugs complete with straws, with which to put their hot cocoa in.   My boys are spoiled, but never as much as when they see Aunt Dee Dee.

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After our wonderfully fulfilling breakfast, we jumped onto the craft train that Aunt Dee Dee had scheduled.   The boys painted ornaments and decorated cookies.   And we even followed this up with a special surprise guest…SANTA!   That’s right, Ole Saint Nick decided to stop by Irondeqouit, NY to see the two little Doser boys.   Davey jumped ecstatically, eager to see Santa and fill his ear with all the goodies he desires. Henry? Well, let’s just say Santa is a little on the scary side for him.   We all, including Grammy, had to thaw the ice of fear that seemed to paralyze Henry, and after a few minutes he shuffled over to Santa, if only to give him a high five before scurrying off behind the safety of Grammy’s legs.

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I was told we’d have a special guest and I suppose I should have known it would be Santa, but my in-laws are great at planning surprises.   Santa was definitely the whipped cream on top of the Pajamas and Pancake breakfast. Unfortunately, he couldn’t stay long, so the boys stood at the door and waved goodbye to Santa before we completed our day of decorating Aunt Dee Dee’s tree.

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Our trips are always exhausting, especially the travel, but there’s always one guarantee when visiting Rochester…my boys are never disappointed, and today was no exception.

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Going On a Bear Hunt

I’ve blogged before about all of these romantic, Norman Rockwell-esque visions I’ve had of raising my children.   I’ve always imagined our adventures to be like something you would see in an old Saturday Evening Post.   The boys would be dressed handsomely, the adventures would go off flawlessly, and we’d all have a grand laugh and sheer enjoyment.   Then I became a mother to two boys, and I realized that any sort of notion I’d had about having this type of family could immediately be shooed out the door like today’s annoying fly.

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When Davey was still a baby, we bought a hiking backpack that has a nice little compartment for him to sit in.   My husband and I thought that since we lived in one of the more beautiful place of South Carolina, with mountains literally right in our backyard, that we could go on hikes.   It never happened.   Davey never once got to sit in said backpack and experience the fresh air, the exciting wildlife, or the exhilaration of hiking through the woods.

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When Henry came along, we used the backpack while flying, finding it easier as he’s become older to put him in it as opposed to bringing along a labor intensive stroller.   For weeks I’ve considered remedying this, to take my boys out into the woods, to experience nature, like I did as a kid.   Unfortunately, the incessant rain and cumbersome flooding we’ve received have dampened (all puns intended) my desire to go for a hike, not to mention that I’ve been super worried about going alone with the boys, only because they can be a handful at times.   Yesterday, we made that dream into a reality.

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For the first time in weeks, my husband came home early on a Friday.   He had no meetings, no golf games, or clay shooting events.   He wasn’t going deer hunting on a Saturday morning, so no need to go out on the land to check out his blind or his feeder.  Nope.   The stars officially aligned for our hiking trip, so we took it.

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As I stated earlier, we live in the most perfect of places.   We have Paris Mountain literally in our backyard.   It’s a beautiful mountain, not extremely high, but gorgeous to look at while sitting on our back porch in the evenings.   Since it was after 2 when my husband got home, we decided our best bet was to just go to Paris Mountain to hike as opposed to driving to one of the many other splendid places.

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I laced up my hiking boots, the wonderfully comfortable North Face boots my husband bought me 5 years ago and which I’ve only worn a handful of times.   I dressed the boys warmly, had them all prepared, so that as soon as my husband walked into the door we could go, and off we went.

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This is a great time of year for a hike, especially in South Carolina.   The days are still enjoyably warm, but not too hot.   The mountain air was fresh and invigorating.   We started out on the small trail, before taking on one just a little bit harder.   My husband took the lead, Henry strapped to his back, while Davey and I followed along.

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The entire hike, Davey periodically broke into song, singing, “Going on a bear hunt,” while other times asking about the creeks, the fallen trees, the fallen leaves, the rocks he had to climb over, or some of the massive roots.   We used the opportunity to talk to him about if he’s ever lost in the woods and is thirsty where best to drink water…from a flowing creek or stream.   We talked about the huge roots, why some of them can be seen above ground, and what their purpose is.   We stepped over small breaks in the trail where trickles of water were flowing.   We even repurposed some of the fallen branches into our own personal walking sticks.

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About a mile into the hike, Henry decided he’d had enough of being lugged around on his daddy’s back, especially as he saw Davey able to enjoy the physical exploration of the trail, so we took him out and let him walk.  I cringed for a split second as I wondered if he’d actually stay with us on the trail or if he’d wander off and try to climb the mountain.   He quickly proved me wrong, but after only a half mile of walking, he tripped and fell, thereby skinning up his hands and forcing us to put him back into the backpack.

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We had a wonderful time, an hour and a half of nothing but us and God’s beautiful creations.   It took us literally an hour and a half to hike 3 miles, which I’m hoping will improve once we get the boys going more regularly.   Davey even enjoyed himself so much, that he wanted to get up and go again this morning.   Unfortunately, our Saturday is already booked solid.

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What a great day of hiking, “bear hunting”, and family time.   I can’t wait for more.