Fan Fest Has Arrived

Y’all know me and most of you know me well.   My blood isn’t your typical red, my blood runneth orange.   If you’ve read my blog in the past, then you should know this.   I’ve even had a couple of nurses tell me my blood has an orange tint to it!  Ok, perhaps, I’m pushing it just a bit, but for most people who’ve met me, it’s pretty obvious I’m a diehard Clemson fan.

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The Clemson Occulus.

Yesterday, my husband and I took our boys to Clemson, SC to visit the illustrious and intimidating Memorial Stadium, better known as Death Valley where the Tigers play.   It was Fan Day, an opportunity that allowed for the chance to meet the football team and to get their autographs.  It was also a time for mama here to reminisce about her so-called “glory days” and to get my boys drawn into that wonderful culture with seas of orange and purple.

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They loved seeing all of the huge tiger paws everywhere.

We’ve been to Clemson before with the boys, even taking them to a couple of football games last year.   Davey and I have been to see the Homecoming floats on Bowman Field well before the days of Henry.   Davey’s even been to a basketball game in Littlejohn, all be it, still in the womb.   It’s something I’ve dreamt about since I first became pregnant, getting my boys inundated with Clemson early, and getting them to love it as much as I do.   Yesterday was just the key to that!

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Davey in front of the Tiger at Gate 1.

When we arrived in Clemson, I giddily navigated my husband around town, pointing out various structures, in total awe at the number of new buildings being constructed and even shedding a tear for Clemson House, which will soon be demolished for more student housing.   My boys were anxious to get out of the car, to be on that sacred Clemson ground to explore, so we had to find a parking space quickly.   We managed to arrive three hours early, but that didn’t seem to be good enough as most people had been there two or three hours more!   We walked around the stadium, pulling out our map before making our way to the West End zone, where we’d hoped to get in line and get an autograph from Deshaun Watson, our star quarterback and I’m convinced Heisman winner for this season.   Unfortunately for us, it was apparent that you needed to arrive by 5 AM if you wanted to get Deshaun’s autograph.   The line snaked from the gate at the top of the hill, winding is way down the hill, beneath the occulus, towards the police station, before looping back up the hill and towards the cemetery.   My husband and I dutifully waited in line, in the ravaging heat, while our boys made friends and played soccer.    A little side note, it makes me extremely happy and proud to see my boys able to go up to children who they don’t even know and start playing.   It makes me feel as if I’ve done something right.

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The line for Deshaun.
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Davey making friends.

Checking out Howard’s Rock and Death Valley.

Asweat drenched hour later, a member of the football staff began walking the line and at a cutoff, literally five people in front of us, he informed us that it was highly unlikely we’d get Deshaun’s autograph.   My husband, appearing a bit dejected as he had hoped for that signature on the boys’ footballs most of all, began to reevaluate our situation.   We walked around the stadium again, enjoying for the first time what felt like a nice Fall breeze, and surveyed the lines at the other gates before deciding to stay in the shade and wait to meet the linebackers.   So for an hour and a half, while our kids ran up and down the steps of Gate 9, and played Angry Birds, we waited.

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Checking out Howard’s Rock and Death Valley.

Finally, at 2:30 precisely, the gates swung up and the wave of fan crashed and spilled through, like water rushing through broken levees.   Dave took Davey and immediately got in line, while I threw Henry on my shoulders and surged forward towards the free autograph books and the posters.   A few moments later, after finding Dave we got in line and waited once more to finally meet some of the players.

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Getting autographs.

Dave give each of our boys their footballs and we explained what they needed to do.   Henry took to the task at hand, quickly placing his football in front of each player before moving on.   He made me smile.  He had been given a job and he was doing it with much perseverance, even at times trying to usher those in front of us along, my efficient little boy.   Davey; however, was a bit more meticulous and careful with his job, gently placing his football in front of the players and at times showing where he wanted each signature.  He’s a bit OCD like his mother.

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A future NFLer, Christian Wilkins.

We only had the opportunity to make it through one line, as the lines were atrociously long.   The sky has also begun clouding up, with dark gray clouds coming in off of the lake.   We knew our time was limited and I’d promised my boys they could do something.

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More autographs.

Since the first days of Davey watching Clemson play, he’s been enamored with the hill.   For those of you who are unaware, there is something called The 25 Most Exciting Seconds in College Football.   Our players get off a bus at the top of the hill in the East Endzone.   They then rub Howard’s Rock, a rock given to Coach Frank Howard from Death Valley, California by one of his former players.  It’s a bit of a good luck piece and a reminder from Coach Howard, “If you’re going to give 110 percent, you can rub that rock.  If you’re not,keep your filthy hands off of it.”  After rubbing the rock, the players then run down the hill into Death Valley to the Tiger’s fight song, Tiger Rag, the song that shakes the southland.  Any and every time, Davey gets the opportunity to see this, he stops and watches.   At two, he told me, “mama, I run down that hill one day.”   I’m not going to lie, it brought a tear to my eye.

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I’ve waited to have a picture like this for a long time. Me in my happy place, with one of my favorites.

So, yesterday, with the breeze kicking up and the thunder rumbling in the back ground, I took the boys to the top of the hill and let them run down it, not once, but twice.   For Davey, I think it was truly the greatest.   For Henry?   Well,right now, whatever big brother does, he feels he must do as well.

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Henry waiting his turn.

With that little treat out of the way, we began to leave the stadium just as the announcer came on and told people to get inside the stadium concourses, lightning had been detected only a few miles away.   We made it to our car just as the rain started coming down.   Not eager to leave this place I love so much, I told my husband I would take over the driving, and I used the opportunity to drive us through portions of campus, allowing waves of nostalgia to crash upon my heart’s shore.

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Carlos Watkins was a favorite of both boys.

As we drove by various buildings, I would call them out to the kids.   “Look that is Fernow Street Café.  Mommy used to eat lunch there, and that building over there, well it was my favorite, it’s Cooper Library.  And that building, why it’s Hardin Hall, where mommy had all of her history classes and the one right next to it?  That’s Brackett Hall, where I took all of my political science classes.   And look at that big clock tower, that’s Tillman’s Hall.   Do you know they have something like a huge piano inside where you can play Tiger Rag for all of Clemson to hear?   We then made our way downtown, where I pointed out Judge Kellar’s General Merchandise store, that’s been around way longer than I have, and Tiger Town Tavern where I spent most Friday afternoons.  I showed them where I used to live and how you could get a pizza and PBR at Backstreets on Monday nights for a $1.   There was the old movie theater, where I first saw U571 for $1.   While I enjoyed Fan Fest, this was truly more exciting for me, showing all 3 of my boys about the few years of my life, that rank as some of the greatest.

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Our task complete.

Our day in Tiger Town complete, we decided to make our way back home, the giddiness starting to wear down and wear on me.   Truth be told, I was like a kid at Christmas all morning, much like I am every time we are going to Clemson.   It’s a magical place, full of wonder and excitement, adventures and memories to be made.  Joe Sherman was right when he penned “There’s Something in These Hills.”

Toxic Foods

Weight!  What an evil word.  Weight gain, those two words are even more dreadful to speak and hear especially for those of us who are desperate to kick the gain away.  For me, my disdain for the little devil has fluctuated back and forth, much like my weight has since having children.  In my younger years, I was loathe to lose weight.   I was picked on for being too skinny, and my six feet frame only seemed to exacerbate my low weight.   Back then metabolism was also my enemy.  I could easily devour a large supreme pizza, a bag of Doritos and a 2 liter Pepsi and my weight would actually DROP!   Huh!?!?!?  Imagine that.  Growing up in the South, with some of the best cooking in the country, I didn’t exactly eat healthy.   We were a meat and potatoes family, with the occasional green beans (my favorite) and corn thrown in for good measure.   The food was fried and super delectable, and, boy, could my mama cook!

As the years went by, metabolism continued to remain my enemy just in an adverse way.  I found myself having to eat less, although I didn’t necessarily eat healthier, and I started running.   Mind you, none of this happened until I was in college.   Damn you, Freshman 15!  Fortunately for me, since I was already super skinny, the Freshman 15 actually made me look good!  I went from 135 pounds, at 6 feet, to 150 at 6 feet!  I started to look like a buxom broad.    Well, maybe I’m going to far with that statement, but I started developing the appearance of a female, with the curves instead of the toothpick I was always compared to.

After college, I stayed in pretty decent shape, but of course metabolism started to unfriend me.   I suppose since I had treated him so poorly for so many years, then this was naturally payback.   Is it too late to make up and become friends again?  It seems so.

When I became pregnant with Davey, I was probably at the healthiest weight I’ve ever been, 175.  I was toned and capable of running a 5k race in 26 minutes.  I worked a lot, didn’t exactly eat well, and I was also a smoker.  Yes, yes, I picked up that terrible habit to impress a boy nearly 20 years ago, gave it up for another boy, and then picked it back up again just to have something to do.  Ridiculous, I know!  Don’t worry, I gave up smoking well before I became pregnant with Davey.

At the peak of my pregnancy with Davey, I weighed 200 pounds.  I gained 25 pounds.   I had girlfriends asking me if that was healthy and shouldn’t I weigh more.   My doctor assured me that there wasn’t a problem with my weight.   After Davey, the weight fell off pretty quickly.  I didn’t get back to 175, but I got close, fluctuating between 180 & 185.   Two years later, I became pregnant with Henry and at that point I weighed exactly 185.   At my peak with Henry, I weighed 206, that’s just a mere 21 pounds of weight gain and both of my boys were pushing the 9 pound mark when I gave birth to them.

After having the boys, I had a period of eating healthier since I was breast feeding.  I didn’t want whatever I was eating to osmosis its way some how into my milk and upset the boys, so I cut out some of the fried foods and starches, but not my beloved mayonnaise sandwiches (which by the way can only be made with the best – Dukes Mayonnaise).   I immediately began working out after both boys, but unfortunately all of that stubborn weight from Henry seemed to hug every square inch of my body like a leech.   I resorted to taking laxatives, increasing my fiber intake, and even starving myself.   I relished the days I had the stomach flu, because it was a guaranteed 5 pound weight loss, but it didn’t stay around for long.

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Rocco DiSpirito’s Negative Calorie Diet

This summer, I’ve been miserable.  I started the summer weighing the exact same weight I did when I gave birth to Henry.   I cried myself to sleep at night.  I apologized to my husband for the fact that his beautiful wife was now resembling Jabba the Hutt.    I took more laxatives, exercised twice as much, and degraded myself in front of anyone who was around.   On top of that, I became Cruella DeVille to my two boys.   So, what was I going to do about this?

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A sampling of the smoothies…cucumber strawberry.

I read an article about Mediterranean diets one day, which led me to Rocco DiSpirito, which in turn led me to his Negative Calorie Diet book.   Not eager to waste any money on the purchase of a book that I may not stick with, I checked out a copy at the library.   I read through it, shared it with my husband, and determined that we could both do this, especially if we considered it a lifestyle change and not a diet.

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This was the kale, red onion, and sundried tomato frittata made with egg whites. We actually had this for dinner one night. We’re big fans of breakfast for dinner at our house.

The first 10 days had us on a cleanse, which consisted of 3 smoothies a day and soup or salad from Rocco’s book for dinner.   We had to cut out coffee, dairy, breads, starches, and refined sugar.   And, oh yeah, those evening cocktails we had on the back porch after the boys went to bed, those had to go as well, at least for the first 10 days.   I thought, 10 days, why not?  I could do this.   Easier said than done.

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This has easily been my favorite dinner, by far. Flank steak, with sautéed collard greens, onions, and mushrooms with horseradish.

The first two days were sheer misery for me.   I have spent the better part of my adult life thriving off of my coffee every morning.  It has always been the first thing I’ve started my day with, not to mention the fact that I’m a huge fan of Starbucks, and there’s just something about those mocha lattes that hit the spot.  I suffered debilitating headaches for two days, brought on by my caffeine cleanse.   It was as if caffeine had become my drug, and now I was detoxing.   Miserable is an understatement.  I was tired, cranky, and my kids drove me bonkers just by breathing.   The first two days were not for the faint of heart.

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Chef salad is phenomenal. I will be making his cranberry vinaigrette dressing for ALL of my salads moving forward. No more store bought dressing!

Of course, there was also the fact that I felt like I was starving because I’m not a huge fan of green veggies and all of the smoothies were calling for greens of some sort.  I wanted a bowl of pasta.  I wanted my mayonnaise sandwich.  I wanted those chocolate chip cookies, and while will power has always deserted me when I needed her most, she hung tight this time around.   By day three, I was feeling pretty good.

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Another favorite has been the meatballs with the kale and mushroom “gravy”.

In the first week, I lost 8.6 pounds, and that had me really reviewing my past food intake and what was going on with my body.  Until this, I never really knew just how toxic certain foods are to the body, mind, and spirit.   I always thought as long as I kept my portions down, then I could eat anything I wanted.  Not true.   I found that once I was eating the whole fruits and veggies and cutting out the sugars and processed foods, I legitimately had more energy throughout the day.  I enjoyed doing things with my boys.  I wanted to go hiking with them, to go blackberry picking, to go to the pool.  I wanted to get out in the backyard with them, and I was able to focus more.   I was able to keep my patience more in check and I was able to sleep more fully at night.   So, all of this time, it wasn’t the quantity of food, but the QUALITY of what I was eating.

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This was last night’s dinner. Chicken with mustard greens, quinoa, and oranges.

We’re two and a half weeks into this lifestyle change and I’m down 13.5 pounds, my husband is down 18.6.   I’m happier, less hungry, and more focused.   We make our dinners at night, and while the boys are required to try everything, I always have a standby for the two of them.   We have; however, found that Henry is a huge fan of collard greens and mushrooms!   Another perk to this lifestyle change.

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And finally, I know how to make spinach pesto pasta. We didn’t follow Rocco’s tomato sauce recipe, but instead used my husband’s. We substituted Monk Fruit in the Raw for sugar.

Do yourselves a favor, my friends, and look at what you’re consuming every day.    Ask yourself is it really worth it?

Davey, The Tender Hearted

It’s hard to not step in and stand up for your children especially when they are around their peers.   It’s hard to see your child fight his own battles, not just physically, but also emotionally and not want to fix it.   It’s hard to see him hurting and knowing that it won’t be the last time that he hurts and he WILL have to work through it.

Davey is a very social child.   He talks to people in the store, at the bank, the zoo, doctor’s office, you name it.   He sticks his right hand out and shakes hands, he is eager to get to know people.   He’s also quite the affectionate child and loves to hug people, even if they are random strangers.   We’ve had discussions about the whole stranger danger as well as trying to be aware of people’s personal spaces, and how it’s best to not invade those spaces until you’ve been invited.   Unfortunately, not every child is wired like mine and they’re not eager to get to know Davey in his way.

I first noticed this right around the 6 month mark when he would crawl up to random babies at our local library, and try to hug them.  Most would start crying, others would freeze, but most just seemed to try to crawl away.   I don’t think we ever cuddled Davey more than the average child.   I do know I liked (and still do) to kiss him a lot.   I know the day will come when he won’t let me do that, so I have to get in those hugs and kisses now while he still enjoys them.

When he would tell people bye, he would hug them, as a matter of fact he still does that.   When he would see his friends, the first thing he would do was hug them, and yes he still does that, but as he’s getting older, as are his peers, it’s becoming more and more uncomfortable for him, me, and everyone else for him to do this.

A few summers ago, he made me quite the proud mama (this wasn’t the first or only time, let me note).   During an outdoor concert, he took an affection to a little girl a couple of years older than him, who was clearly deaf.   Her father was protective her, but stood back on the sidelines, much like me and let the two of them interact.   Davey knew something was different about the little girl, but he didn’t care.   He accepted her and embraced her, even after coming to me and asking what was wrong with her.   When I told him she couldn’t hear anything, he just smiled then went back out to her and hugged her, then continued along with his dancing until time to go.

That same summer we went to a birthday party for a friend of ours child, and by “ours” I mean mine and my husband’s.   Davey hadn’t had much interaction with this child in the past and this child had their own set of friends already, all of whom were alien to Davey, and already seemed to have their own little clique at 2 years of age.   I watched in pain as he tried to integrate himself into their group, but they would wander off from him, at times turning their back, or closing him off from the group.  Yes!  Two year olds were doing this.   It didn’t seem to bother him, he just started playing on his own.   Me?  I went home and cried about it.  I suppose he gets his tender heart from me.

Playing sports is difficult for him because of his soft hearted demeanor with people, soccer being extremely difficult.   He doesn’t want to steal the ball from someone because, “mommy, you’ve told me to share and not to take,” but then he would walk off of the field upset at his inability to score a goal.   Even when we told him it was ok to steal the ball in soccer, his heart just wouldn’t let him do it, and when he was responsible for a child falling or getting hurt, he would give up the ball and take care of that child.

A couple of weeks ago, during soccer camp, we had an incident that had my blood boiling.  Some little boy came up to me and said that Davey had hit him.  Davey swore he didn’t, that the little boy had shoved him.   I believed my child because I’ve become quite adept at knowing when he’s lying.  That same little boy, I noticed, was shoving a lot of other kids later.  The next morning that little boy took a ball from another kid and when Davey came to the child’s aide, the “shover” pushed him away and said, “no one likes you over here.”  My child?  He just shrugged his shoulders and walked back over to me.  Maybe I was more hurt than he was.

It’s a fact of life, that my child will get his feelings hurt in some form or fashion, and I can’t always be there to protect him.  I know that there are mean kids, bullies, and arrogant snots, and a part of me wants to encourage some wit on his part, but instead I take the high road and do my best to protect and encourage his tender heart by telling him, “if no one wants a hug or they say nasty things to you, just walk away, baby.   You continue to give that love.”

Some people consider this a detriment, to be soft hearted.   They like to tell me that I’m setting him up to constantly be hurt, to be pushed around, but when he sees a baby crying and goes up to them, breaking into his own personal rendition of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, I have a hard time trying to stifle that heart.   I have a hard time encouraging him to have more of a stiff upper lip.

Devilish Duo

I’m quite literally at my wits end.   I’m took the point of reading parenting books.   I’m scouring websites, blogs, videos and magazine articles to look for something, anything to put in my arsenal.   I’m game for trying anything, new age, hobo, old school, hard core, you name it, I’ll try it, well to a certain degree.

For two days this week, I have taken my children out in public.   I have subjected the world to my bratty, unruly kids and I’ve dealt with the shame, the disappointment and the sheer exhaustion of having two strong-willed, independent little boys who seem to suffer from a hearing problem.

On Tuesday, we decided to meet one of Davey’s friends from school at our zoo.   As with every excursion, we have a sit down, come to Jesus discussion about what you can and can’t do, how it’s important to listen to mommy, how it is MANDATORY to do what mommy says, and how we need to be all around good children.   I was promised by Davey that he would be good.   His promises are empty and after today, apparently so are my threats and discipline.

I decided to throw caution to the wind and go to the Children’s Museum today with the boys.   Once again, we had our same discussion and once again I was promised good boys.  I heard it all before we left.  “We’ll be good boys, mom.”  “I’ll do what you say, mom.”  “I promise not to run off, mom.”  All of this and then some came from their mouths, but they lied to me.

I understand they are 4 & 2 (almost 5 &3).   I am well aware that they are little boys.   I also understand that they received a double dose of the independence and strong-willed genes, as both my husband and I have these very dominant traits, but something has to give.  I can’t keep going around in circles with these two and I need your help.   I’m open for any sort of suggestions, advice, criticism, you name it.   Throw it at me, even if it hurts.  I’ll take it.

As of this very moment, both boys are upstairs in their bedrooms where they will spend the rest of the afternoon.  Henry will likely nap.   Davey?  I don’t know, but he has no toys in his room, only books.   Their punishment today is also considered a reward for me…a few minutes of not feeling like I am the crappiest mom ever.   I mean where did I go wrong?    Neither one of them listens to me when I speak.   They both run away from me unwilling to think about the fact that I’ve said don’t run in the street.   I’ve even explained to them the importance of NOT doing it!  You don’t want to get hit by a car!  Henry throws tantrums and melt downs faster than Michael Phelps can swim 25 meters.   And he’s become quite the pro at the meltdown, taking it to levels I never experienced with Davey.   Davey never squealed.  Davey never threw himself down on the floor.  I’m smacked, kicked, told “no”, and flat out disrespected.   So where have I gone wrong?

I discipline my children.   They get spankings, they get time outs, they get toys taken away.  And I consider myself to be firm with my punishments.   When I say it, then I do it.   There are no 2nd, 3rd, or 4th chances.   When I tell you something the first time, THAT is your only chance.

I’ve even tried the approach of one of my girlfriends who reasons with her daughter.   I’ve gone to explaining why I tell them they can’t do certain things, or why they need to obey me.   I’ve tried to step past what always worked with me when I was growing up, the old, “because I said so, that’s why” modus operandi.  While that may have worked with my mom, it does not seem to work with my children.   Tuesday night, as I tucked Davey into bed, I had a discussion with him on why I don’t like for him to run away from me.  I told him that someone could take him and he wouldn’t have a bed or any food, that they could hurt him, and wouldn’t let him have any toys.  I told him he wouldn’t get to see us anymore, that daddy wouldn’t be able to play with him if someone took him from us.   I don’t want to scare the kid, but perhaps scaring him will shock him back into the reality that you just need to listen to mom and dad.   I know you’re asking how that conversation went, so here is the response I got:

“That would be fun to live with someone else, what if they had a tree house for me to sleep in, and I’m sure they would have food for me, mom, no one wants to starve and no one wants to starve a little kid.”

What about the person being a monster?

“You’ve told me monsters aren’t real, so I’ll be ok,” he says to me while flicking his hand, then pulling the covers up over his shoulders and saying goodnight.  So what do I do?   You tell me!

I’ve even talked about how God calls for children to be respectful of their mom and dad.   How it makes God happy when little boys are good, and sad when they are bad.   I get the deer in the headlight look from Davey.

Back when I was growing up, children were to be seen and not heard.   In this day and time, people consider that stifling a child’s ability to express himself.   At 4 & 2, I’m not interested in my children expressing themselves.  I’m interested in my children not behaving like wild banshees and uncontrollable brats.  They can find other ways to express themselves.

So, as I close out this blog, still reliving today’s nightmare, I have a reminder that just popped up…two of the parenting books I have requested are now at the library.   Perhaps I can find something somewhere in one of these, or a suggestion from one of you, to help me with controlling my two children.

I’m already cringing at what the parents of Davey’s friend are thinking about my boys.  Oh, the conversations to be had at their dinner table about the Devilish Duo, otherwise known as The Doser boys.

Down By The Creek

Summer is going by quickly.  It didn’t seem that way a month ago.  At that point, I purchased a white board so that we could do a countdown to the first day of school.  It seemed eons away, but now we’re almost at the 20 day mark, and I’m about to eat crow.  I’m a little sad that I technically only have 3 weeks total of summer vacation left.   I’m hearing you all say, “I told you so”.   Especially those of you who have told me to savor the days as they will be gone soon.

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Campbell’s Covered Bridge.

In my effort to soak up the last few days of summer, I’ve taken my boys on some adventures over the past week.   We tried a new hiking group, picked blackberries, and most recently spent a cooler morning at Campbell’s Covered Bridge in Northeastern Greenville County.

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The kiddos love to run and scream through the bridge.

My original intent was to snap some pics of my kiddos, being the amateur photographer that I am.   The bridge is gorgeous and the scenery surrounding it just breathtaking especially in the fall months.   It offers a serenity that’s becoming nearly impossible to find in this day and time and even gives me a sense of nostalgia as I grew up playing in the woods and creeks.   Speaking of creeks, Beaverdam Creek which runs directly under the bridge was easily the best part of the journey for both of my boys.   Thankfully I thought ahead for that scenario and came prepared with towels and a change of clothing.

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It’s amazing the things that seem to catch their attention.

There’s something peaceful about a creek, the sounds, the rhythm of the water as it stumbles over all of the rocks in its path.   I love a good creek.   They’re refreshing , cool and in most cases sparkling.   They offer a great way for a quick cool off without a complete soaking unless you’re my two children.

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A little exploring before taking off of the shoes.

What started out as throwing sticks and stones into the babbling waters, soon turned into no socks and shoes and a trek through the creek.   Davey immediately took off after discarding his socks and shoes, and slipped on the first rock and went right into the water.   My heart skipped a beat.   Was he hurt?  Was he going to start crying?   Would he want to leave this beautiful place to go back home to his toys and television?   I held my breath as he stood up from the water, his clothes dripping wet, arms stretched out as if was going to take flight, and then he laughed.   He threw his head back and laughed a laugh I haven’t heard from him.   Henry, usually the more daring of my two children, stayed back and yelled, “be careful, D.”

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And there is Davey, sans socks and shoes, enjoying Beaverdam Creek.

Davey kicked and splashed water.  He pulled up pebbles and caught some leaves, and even tried to sneak up on a couple of dragonflies cooling themselves in the stiller section of the water.   Henry, after slipping once, didn’t seem to want much to do with the water anymore, which disappointed me tremendously.   So we found a nice dry rock in the middle of the creek and Henry and I took up residence on it, him sliding over occasionally to sit in the flowing water while Davey went up and down the creek bed.

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At home, you can’t get these two to be peaceful with each other. In nature? Well, that’s a different story.

I sat peacefully, a smile upon my face as I watched my two boys, one sitting in the running waters, the other inspecting every inch of the creek, from the various rocks, washed smooth of their jagged edges thanks to years and years of the creek flow, to the flowers that were smiling back at us from alongside the creek.   Davey would walk over to the water in one section, as it danced back and forth over rocks while rolling towards him, and with his hands cupped at the bottom, he would fill his hands with water and then throw it into the air.   I loved his laughter.  I loved his excitement and inquisitive nature.    To see the creek through his eyes?   Now that would be sight.

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Look at those baby feet and that beautiful water.

It became apparent, shortly thereafter that Henry would be best without his clothing and just a diaper which of coursed meant Davey wanted to be free of his clothing as well and run around in his underwear.   So, there we were, my two little redneck children and I, skipping around in the waters of Beaverdam Creek in their underwear, reminding me easily of the little things in life that seem to matter most.

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Henry throwing a few rocks.

We only stayed an hour as a few thunderclouds rolled in, forcing an early evacuation of a place that my boys want to visit every single day now.   Yeah, going there added extra effort on to me.   We could have gone home, where the boys would have been dry and clean, watched some television and just hung out of for the day OR we could just get ourselves covered in some silt, mud, and wet leaves and a treasury of memories moving forward.   I vote for the extra work, especially since it made me feel like a kid again.  When was the last time I stuck my toes in a creek?

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Not the best lighting as I wasn’t totally prepared for this shot, but still a keeper all the same.

 

Country Folks Can Survive

I grew up a country girl, more so than the way my boys are growing up.   My parents built their house in Powdersville back in 1977.  Back then Powdersville was nothing more than the Winn Dixie, an awesome hot dog stand and a dairy farm on a two lane stretch of highway.   Our back yard butted up to a horse pasture and our front yard looked out at a cow pasture.   My parents lived (and still do) on one acre in what was then a very desolate area.

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My boys picking blackberries.

I grew up without the suburban neighborhood feel that my kids have now.   We shucked corn in our backyard, as we fed the horses.   We had cows randomly walk into our front yard, pot bellied pigs, chickens, and even deer.   We didn’t own any of the livestock, it was just part of the scenery of our home.

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Davey did more picking than I thought he would.

We also had a garden, small by normal farm standards, but more than large enough to feed our family for an entire year.  My mama canned 52 quart jars of green beans a year, over a hundred quarts of tomatoes, not to mention the okra, squash, tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers we had.   In the fall, my daddy would turn the land and we’d plant rows of turnips, and once again my mama would can and freeze turnip greens like it was no one’s business.   My Saturday mornings during the Spring and Summer consisted of rising well before all the cool rich kids who lived in the burbs, and harvesting the garden before the heat of the day took over.   The afternoons were spent in mama’s kitchen popping beans and helping her can.  This was my childhood, and as a child, I didn’t particularly enjoy it, but now?   Well, life was simple back then.

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Blackberries!

Dave and I chose to build a house in a subdivision, something he somewhat had and something I NEVER had as a child, but now I’m wishing we had land with the ability to plant and harvest and even raise chickens and goats.   I wish my boys had the childhood I had and so when the occasion allows, I try to encourage that with my kids.

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Davey was a bit unsure if he wanted to taste them or not.

Today, I decided to take them on an adventure so they could at least experience the wonderfully cool outdoor air and even a little bit of work.  Today we decided to ride up to Justus Orchard and pick blackberries.

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Henry was our basket carrier!

I would love to see things through a child’s eyes.  Davey does a good job of at least offering up a description for me.   As we rode north into North Carolina, the clouds were hanging low over the mountains.   Davey was fascinated.   He described how he was sure if he were on those mountains, he’d be able to touch those clouds and “don’t you think they would feel like marshmallows, mom?”  He was fascinated with the mountains, spying something different on each one even through the driving rain.   Every one of them, he wanted to hike up, “to the very top, mom, where I can almost touch God’s hand.”   See?  How great does this sound?   The drive alone was worth it.

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The first time they found the ducks!

When me made it to the orchard, the boys jumped out, rain boots already on (how are we going to jump in mud puddles without rain boots?), and an eagerness to just run between the rows and rows of blackberry bushes.

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Henry had a mishap.

They both helped pick for a while until suddenly a duck bill popped its way between two of the bushes.   There were ducks!  All sorts of ducks, just roaming freely through the orchard.   The boys took chase and quickly left the blackberry picking to me.  Naturally, I stopped periodically to take pictures (I never leave home without my camera).   The boys didn’t put in any hard work, but how wonderful it was just to have them all muddy and covered in blackberry stains.   They were having fun!   It was the kind of fun I had as a kid.

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I just love the view of the rows and rows of orchards and my little Davey running through them.

 

When we were ready to leave, Davey said, “mom, I’d like to live here.”   Yeah me too.   You see, I may not be the smartest lass in the land, but I know what hard work is and I know that there’s nothing like country life…living it, breathing it, and just soaking it in.   On the drive back home, I thought about all those poor kids who are sitting inside, iPads and computers in front of them.   Yeah, they might be geniuses and they might be the next great inventor, but what happens one day should those computers and electronics go away?

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One more chase before we had to leave.

Country folks can survive, to quote Bocephus himself.

Global Warming and It’s Threat to Me

Let me preface this blog post with the following statement.   This is meant to be a satire.  Very few scientific or factual theories will be covered under this post.  It is not meant to be an attack against any group or to be offensive, so for you eco-friendly, tree hugging, mother earth loving individuals…relax.   Go chew on some wood bark but only from a tree that was not destroyed by capitalist pigs in their ongoing effort to stifle our environment.

Global warming.  What is?  Well, let me give you a basic definition.  It is a gradual increase in temperature of the earth’s atmosphere attributed to the greenhouse effects caused by increased levels of pollutants in our air.   A lot of scientific mumbo jumbo, with a lot of credible experiments to back it up.   Me?  Being the Christian I am, I think it’s all part of God’s plan, and this plan is causing serious problems for me, especially in the arena of being a stay at home mom to two boys, with an overly hot summer thereby limiting them to outside usage and increasing my downward spiral into a state of insanity.

This summer has by far been the worst.   A few summers ago we dealt with so much rain that we had our own personal riverview in our back yard, an anomaly for someone with no rivers within a five mile radius.   Last summer I thought it was hot, but at least we had some rain from time to time to cool us off.   This year, as many of you who live in the South are aware, we are desperately lagging in the rain gauge, couple that with days in the upper 90s, a heat index in the 100s, and this mama is about to go code red bonkers.

When I was growing up, my mom just kicked us outside.   We played all day long, sometimes at our neighbors’ houses, but mostly in our own backyard.   We drank from the spigot or the hose, ran around in our bare feet, and caught lightning bugs well past our bedtime.   That was the summer of my youth, but the summer of my boys’ youth?  We’re burning gas (damn us for contributing to the greenhouse effect) as we’re on the road to various museums, water parks, and pools.   We’re inside because by 9 am it’s already so hot and humid that my children are crying about the heat.   Heck, I’m crying about it too.  It’s keeping me from having an enjoyable summer.

I can’t just kick my kids outside, thank you very much, global warming,  because you have made it nearly impossible for my children to be the same outside kids I was.   Some days I feel like we’re living on Mercury, unable to walk outside otherwise we literally melt from the suns radioactive heat.   Global warming is literally ruining my children’s summer and my romantic version of being a stay at home mom.   I loathe it almost as much as I loathe Hillary Clinton, sometimes I see it as just as dangerous to my livelihood as Hillary.   Global warming is forcing my children to be pasty white, much unlike me at their age…golden tanned.  Global warming is also turning my boys into pansies.  They whine at the least little amount of heat.

I do; however, feel genuinely bad for my boys, or maybe it’s just my mom guilt disguised as empathy.   I don’t want to be outside during the day.  I get up at 5:30 to run just so I can beat the heat.   The pool water isn’t refreshing.  We feel like we’re in an oversized communal bath tub, and there’s zero shade.   There’s nothing refreshing.  I feel bad leaving them in front of a television or with an iPad, but hey, there’s only so much entertainment a mom with a business degree and no original desire to have kids, can offer.

Another threat with global warming…we’re all gaining weight.  Why is that?  Because once again it’s just too damned hot to be outside.  We instead veg out inside watching movies and of course eating snacks.   Personally, I don’t need the weight gain.

Global warming is an epidemic of huge proportion.   It must be stopped, it must be reversed.   Me?  I’m too lazy, and it’s much too hot ouside, to really do anything about it other than write this blog post to complain about how much it’s ruining my summer.   Global warming has quickly moved up on my list of enemies, Hillary Clinton still being number one.

Oh, global warming, how I would love to slay thee.

 

New Adventures

I’m game for trying almost anything, especially if it’s an activity for my kids.   This past week, I read an article in Parents Magazine about this nationwide group called Hike it Baby.  It’s basically a group of parents who get together on different days and go hiking.  At the end of the article, I was given a website where I could go and find local groups.   I went there, found one, joined the Facebook page, introduced myself and agreed to go on our first hike with the group today.

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Starting our hike.

My boys love being outdoors and I love finding a way to mix in exercise with our day-to-day routines since I’m having a terrible time losing weight.   We’ve hiked on numerous occasions at Paris Mountain, and the boys are constantly asking me to go again.   Thanks to this overbearing heat, we haven’t been able to make it out to hike during the summer.  Well, I won’t blame it just on the heat…I do worry about snakes as well.  YUCK!

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I packed us up this morning and we headed out to Lake Conestee Nature Park in Southern Greenville County.   We were told to meet at the playground, but when we arrived I must say my stomach began to turn.  Perhaps it was the smoothie I made this morning (my husband and I are on a cleanse.  Stay tuned for a blog on that), or just the oppressive humidity, but really it was the immense number of moms who were already there.

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Checking out the river.

When I was younger, I enjoyed talking.   I enjoy talking now, but just with people I know.  I’m not very good at meeting new people, nor am I very good at chit chat, also known as small talk.   For the sake of my children, I try very hard in this arena, but alas I’m just a colossal failure and I knew today would be a tough one.

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Henry was hoping to climb over and that I wouldn’t catch him. Little stinker!

We quickly gave a round robin, welcome where we introduced ourselves and our kids.   First thing I noticed was all the moms and their baby packs.  Davey was the oldest one there, and I’m pretty sure Henry was the second oldest.   I know the group is called Hike it Baby, but I thought that also included toddlers and preschoolers.   This should have been my sign to pack it up or go off on our own, but since I’d already introduced us, I knew it would look shamefully bad for me to leave.

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They liked being the leaders of the pack.

The leader of the group took us down the path and yet another sign that this was not to be a good event seemed to flash in front of me.  My children were not interested in staying with the group.  Nope.  My little rays of sunshine (sarcasm for those of you who DON’T know my children) decided to run.   I wasn’t going to have any casual conversation with any of the other moms.  Nope.  I turned around to catch a glance of the moms and they all seemed to be paired off talking about the latest organic diaper or homemade food little junior was eating.  I was the odd mom out.  I’m pretty used to that.

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Some of the wetlands in the park.

Even with all of this, I decided to stick it out, but to say that we proceeded at an excruciatingly slow pace is an understatement.  We walked a mile in 41 minutes, 27 seconds.   That’s my pace for a 4 mile run and the pace for my kids to hike 3 miles.   Then again, we don’t stroll and talk.  We take our hiking a bit more seriously.   I had hoped for this to be my opportunity to get in some exercise, but I don’t even think I burned 30 calories, much less got my heart rate up.

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Henry decided he could go it alone.

We finished up the hike, with me meeting ZERO parents, and climbed back in our car.   The boys had fun and they want to do it again.  Me?  I’m game for that.  The preserve was beautiful, the hike not too strenuous, and there’s 400 acres to explore.   I just think we’ll go it alone the next time or perhaps with just one other friend.

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I’m sure the group is wonderful, especially for those who are more outgoing than me and have children who don’t run around like wild banshees.   They’re offering up the opportunity to hike a portion of Table Rock on Thursday and I think we may still do that and if it comes down to it, we’ll just go off on our own.

DSC_0219Davey is learning how to pose for photos from Aunt Erin.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about a Hike it Baby group near you, then google the name and find your closest location.

Davey Doser At the Bat

The sun was baking, the bugs were flying, and the breeze was all but existent.  We knew it would be tough, we knew it would be long, but we hoped he would make it through, with the resilience of the Doser he is.

Being in the heat for an adult can be brutal, but playing tee ball as a 4 year old, takes exhaustion as well as stamina to whole new levels.

Saturday was our first tee ball game of the season, and it was a double header at that, on quite literally the hottest day of the year.   Should I have been surprised, nearly 41 years old and a lifetime living in the South?   I wasn’t.   As a matter of fact, I thought back to my grueling summer days of band camp, and knew that if I could survive eight hours of that torture, then my flesh and blood, my first born, would be able to survive 2 hours of tee ball.

As the kids slowly trickled in, their parents in tow with chairs, sunscreen, bug spray, cameras, and coolers of drinks (wait maybe that was just me), a little pre game practice began.   Just as the game was to start, the water seemed to break, or maybe the kids were just looking for an excuse to avoid the inevitable game, and the entire team trekked inside to the bathroom.   Quite the crew they were, and more entertaining for me was seeing my husband as the leader of the group.

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Davey Doser at bat.

Bathroom breaks were over, all teammates were present, and it was time to start some tee ball.   As my husband gathered around the teams, he quickly reminded me of one of the many reasons I love him so.   Removing his cap, and encouraging the kids to do the same, he went down on bended knee, head lowered and thanked our Lord for the day, the children, and the opportunity to play.  And then with an “Amen” he stood up and proclaimed, “let’s play ball.”

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Coach Doser praying before the game.

So, the thing with tee ball and 4 &5 year olds is that they don’t have much patience for being in the outfield.   Waiting on a ball to come their way is excruciating.   It’s akin to waiting for that boy or girl who you really have the hots for, to call you.   You wait and wait and wait.   You hope and pray for that ball to come your way, and much like when the phone rings, when that elusive ball is hit, you immediately jump and run for it.   All of the kids run, not just the one who it was hit towards.   I watched in amusement as the first ball was hit towards first base and the poor kid in left field nearly ran over all his teammates just to get the ball.   They reminded of the seagulls from Finding Nemo, with their shouts of “mine, mine, mine” as they scrambled to be the one to get the ball.

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Davey caught the ball!

When they’re at bat, it’s a whole other world.   Their excitement is intoxicating.  Their eagerness to hit the ball as hard as possible and as far as possible inspires even the laziest of us to want to do more.   Davey looks like such a big boy until he puts on a batting helmet, and then he’s immediately reduced back to my little baby boy, but he chokes up on the bat, offers himself as a switch hitter (yes he hits left and right), steps into the swing and hits the ball.   At times it’s a foul, but he still makes contact.

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Running home!

Tee ball is exciting for me, more so than soccer, maybe not as much as football, but we haven’t gotten there yet.   Tee ball represents America.  It’s the beginning stages of baseball, America’s pastime, and reminds me of all things warm and like home.   I love that Davey wanted to take it back up again this season.   I love that he’s learning to hit a ball that’s thrown at him.  I love that he gets into his catcher’s stance and has even asked for a big wad of gum to chew.

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Throwing to the cut off man.

For the next six weeks, our lives will be inundated with hot summer nights on the baseball field, steamy Saturday mornings at the same place, an overabundance of Gatorade, batting practice, catching stances, and we might even throw in some hotdogs and ice cream.   When my little Davey Doser is at the bat or in the field, this mama, as always, is his biggest fan.

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Celebrating another catch.

With his daddy as coach, he seems to have taken to the game a bit more, or maybe it’s just because he’s a year older with a bit more focus.  Who knows!

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Getting a high five from Daddy, er Coach Doser.

Hey batter, batter, batter!

Quicker Than We Know It

For the past few days, it’s been agony in our house.   We’re back home from our two week vacation to Rochester and trying to get back into the swing of things.  I’m not sure what our problem has been, and by “our” I really mean my children, but to say they’re not getting along is an understatement.   The past few days I’ve found myself contemplating Baileys in my morning coffee, job searching, and even just running away from the house, leaving the boys to fend for themselves.

Yesterday I counted the days (including weekends) until school starts back for my children.  It was 46 days, so 45 today.   I’ve played around with the idea of creating a countdown board, one to help me through the days, but I thought it might depress the boys.  Apparently I don’t know my children as well as I thought.   When I told both of them how much longer they had until school started, I was met with cries of “that’s way far off” and “I don’t know if I can wait that long.”  Huh?  My kids are actually looking forward to school.  Imagine that!  Perhaps I will create that countdown board after all.

It’s as if the school seemed to know that I was desperate for the summer to be over as I received packets for both boys in the mail yesterday.  It’s your standard “welcome” packet complete with photography waiver, PTA dues, calendars, and volunteer opportunities.  Excitedly, I tore into the packets and perused through the calendar.   So much will be going on this year and I can’t wait for the adventures in learning to start.

This afternoon, I decided to begin work on the packets, first thing being to take the calendar and log in all essential days onto my personal calendar.   For the things I felt my husband needed to be a part of, I emailed a calendar invite to him so he could add it to his schedule.   I was feeling accomplished and for the first time all week, I’ve felt normal again, and able to breathe, but then things started to unravel as I continued adding events.

In September, there are two separate Donuts with Dad days that my husband will need to attend with BOTH boys.   As I entered those events and hit “ENTER” the next event popped up on my screen…Davey’s 5th Birthday.  My first born will be 5 this year.   5!!!!   Thanks, Google!   Way to give my heart a true smack for being so ungrateful.

I continued on into December, with another shouting from my calendar of “Henry’s 3rd Birthday”.  How is this possible?   How are my children going to be 5 &3?  How are these days going by so quickly and yet so painfully slow as well?

Fast forward a few months on my calendar and we’re into April when Davey begins testing for kindergarten readiness.   TESTING!!!!!  Gah!  I don’t know whether to be excited, happy, nervous, scared crapless, or worried.  Actually, I know what I am…I’m sad.   My first baby is growing up and will no longer be in preschool.  He’ll be in school, all day, every day.   He’ll have lunch without me.   He’ll spend six hours of every day without me.   He’ll have a life away from me, and as much as I’m exhausted with the two of them this summer, I’m saddened by how quickly life is moving for my little family.   Even when I’m so overwhelmed with the two of them and all I can think about is how quickly the day will be over, deep down I’m hurting.

Lately Facebook has been inundating me with memories of Davey.  There have been pictures of his first steps, the first days we were together as I became a stay at home mom.   There are memories of his silly faces, his dances, his “no pants Tuesday”, imitating daddy, cuddling with Dixie, eating breakfast on the back porch, learning to write, Facetime with Daddy for breakfast, dinner and bedtime (since daddy used to travel so much) and “reading” silently in his room.    It’s as if Facebook is insync with my moods and knows that I need these reminders even when I’m desperate for some peace, for some time away from my children.

People tell me I’ll miss these days all the time.   They’ve been telling me that for years, but I’ve chosen not to listen, to tune out their “all knowing” voices.   I’ve put my head down and found a way to plow through each day with my boys and just hope for the end of the day.   I tell these people they’re nuts, that I’ll “never miss these days,” but I will.  We all know I will.   Heck, I’m already missing the days when Davey had his little baby voice as he was learning to speak.   I already miss the days when I could pick him up and cuddle up with him.   I already miss the days of his chubby little munchkin legs (he’s begun to take after me and is getting tall and skinny).   There is so much my heart already hurts over, things that have long since gone.

It’s a shame it takes things like Facebook memories and school welcome packets to zap me out of my summer blues with the boys.