Cole Stoudt is MY Son and MY Son is Cole Stoudt

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. I watch him struggle. I see his frustration, his anger and impatience when he’s pushing himself so hard to achieve his goals, but still falls short. I know he’s his own worst critic and I know his self-deprecating personality. I know it all, because I’ve experienced it all. It comes from me, a nasty little gene he inherited from his mother. He doesn’t need anyone else to say they’re disappointed in him, he’s already disappointed in himself.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. These are my thoughts as I sat surrounded by my fellow Clemson Tiger fans on Saturday afternoon to watch our heated rivalry with the USC Gamecocks. We’ve lost 5 straight to the boys from the midlands, our season hasn’t panned out the way we’ve hoped, and the one who was to be our starting QB disappointed us on game 1 of what we had hoped would be a championship season. We needed this win yesterday to maintain our bragging rights and to be able to stomach another year.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. Talk ran rampant all week long about who would be our QB. I listened to some of my own family members laugh at our back up, who at times had become our starter. He’s a good quarterback. He’s smart, he’s athletic, but he’s not as good as the one who was chosen to be our starter. This doesn’t make him bad, it doesn’t make him subpar. It makes him HIM. And for every football fan and critic out there, the ones who questioned his masculinity, called him names, and degraded his athleticism, I implore you to go out on that field and try to do what he does.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. I can’t abide the way adults tear apart children. It angers me how so many will push another person’s child around, destroying what little bit of confidence they may have. If this were your child, listening to the incessant boos when he walked out onto the field, the horrendous name calling and foul language, how would you feel? As a parent, tell me, how would you feel? No one deserves to be treated the way Cole Stoudt is treated. NO ONE.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. I see this already day in and day out with Davey. He’s an overachiever. He pushes himself, strives to not disappointment, to make us proud. I watch his anger and lack of patience when he can’t accomplish something that a 5 year old should be able. He’s three! Why should he ever, or anyone for that matter, expect himself to do something that an older child can do? Why should he be compared to other children? Why should he compare himself?

Cole Stoudt is my son and my is Cole Stoudt. I spent an entire football season watching a young man struggle to seek the acceptance from fans who couldn’t possibly do one ounce of what he does. I watched him beat himself up. I watched as with each jeer and each boo, his confidence slowly was stripped away. I watched as drunken fans high-fived and toasted each other on their clever words of ineptitude. I listened with disgust as some threatened his life. The life of another person’s child, an innocent, over a football game. A game, something so trivial, something that no one has enough stake in that would encourage the happiness of ending another person’s life.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt.
I bow my head in shame and disgust as I type this out. Why? Because in my younger years, full of drunken follies, I actually resorted to the low level name calling of some of the same people I write about today. I treated another human being like he was less than me, not worthy of sharing the same air as myself, not worthy of experiencing the same happiness. I was once that fan, but now I’m a mother. I am a mother of two boys, one of which I can see feeling like Cole Stoudt at some point in his life, and it pushes me to be a better person.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt. He is a human being, folks. He bleeds the same as you and I. He breathes the same air, walks the same wonderfully green earth. He is not more and he is not less. He is a child, a person, who chose to play a sport. He is someone who found something he loved, football, and decided to play. We, as a society, have perhaps robbed him of not only his self esteem, his confidence, his wit, but also that passion. We, as a society, have helped to tear him apart piece by piece and for that I say, “SHAME ON ALL OF US.”

Being a mother has forced me to look at things through a different set of spectacles. It’s no longer about me, but more about my children and what makes them happy and what I can do to encourage them. I like to think about Cole Stoudt’s mother. I wonder what she’s experiencing as she listens in the stadium and then is forced to endure replay upon replay on television. How must she feel as she watches her son being stoned to death with the vile words of others?

I implore all of you to just STOP IT! Stop it all! It’s football! You’re not out on the field. If you think you can do a better job, then please step into the shoes of one of our children. Not many adults can withstand that pressure. Most I know would crumble. Think of how you’d feel if this were child. Think of how you would feel if this were you. Don’t do this anymore. Don’t demean our children just because he or she may not help us win a game.

Cole Stoudt is my son and my son is Cole Stoudt.


Musings From a Rivalry Football Game

My husband and I awoke this morning a little earlier than normal. For me, I couldn’t sleep. Today was the day of the Palmetto Bowl, the biggest rivalry game in the state of South Carolina. My beloved Clemson Tigers were home and squaring off against our rival, the Carolina Gamecocks. We’ve lost to the Cocks for the past five years and I told my husband that this couldn’t go on forever. So, I refrained from my normal trash talking, as I was a little nervous about rocking the boat.

As we got on the road this morning, I noticed how much things have changed for us when it comes to tailgating and going to a football game. Before our boys, we’d eagerly go to Clemson just to tailgate even if we didn’t have tickets to the game. We’d prepare food the night before, get the coolers packed with beer, and head out at 6 am for a 12 noon game. Today? We got on the road at 9 am.

On our way to see the Tigers play!
On our way to see the Tigers play!

The first real thing to change for me is the choice of breakfast and breakfast drinks. Back in the olden days, it was a mimosa or bloody mary. These days it’s Starbucks and one of their breakfast sandwiches. My oh my how times have changed. Don’t get in the way of me and my coffee, or more specifically my venti mocha latte light!

Don't get in the way of me and my Starbucks!
Don’t get in the way of me and my Starbucks!

We slowly crawled through Easley before finally being able to hit the open road of Hwy 123. About 5 miles out from campus, we hit a dead standstill in traffic. Eventually, the inside lane began to move faster than us and my husband and I watched as an SUV passed by with a grill on the back trailer. Were they nuts? Why would you wait this late in the morning to come to Clemson for a 12 noon game with a grill? My husband commented that they may just be tailgating and didn’t have tickets for the game, which is even crazier to me.

5 miles from campus.  Horrendous.
5 miles from campus. Horrendous.

Look, there was a time in my life, pre kids, when I would gladly tailgate for a game I had no intention of going into. These days, it’s going to take a lot to tear me away from my boys. I’m not wasting my energy or time to tailgate at a game of which I’m not going in.

We met our crew at their tailgating spot 45 minutes prior to kick off. It took us 2 hours from the time we left our house until the time we got to Clemson. We live 45 minutes away. I know. Ridiculous. And once we arrived at the tailgating spot, I wanted one beer, nothing more. So very strange. I was once able to chug beers like it was my job. I could actually beat the majority of the boys. Why do I seem proud about this? I’m not.

We entered the game just in time to see my Tigers run down the hill, otherwise known as the 25 most exciting seconds in college football. We stayed until halftime, when we then left and I had another beer. Again, so very odd. Before kids and when I wasn’t quite so mature, I would have snuck in my liquor or even bypassed the rest of the game just to have beer and party. Not so much these days. I anxiously paced back and forth while looking at my watch, in the hopes my husband would see how eager I was to return to the game.

25 Most Exciting Seconds in College Football
25 Most Exciting Seconds in College Football

I found that this time around I down swear while watching the game. I don’t call the refs evil names, and I can actually stomach some of the fans from the bad team. I legitimately watched the game. Again, my oh my how times have changed.

Going to the Esso Club afterwards no longer holds the same appeal as it did 5 years ago. Getting drunk and dancing isn’t exactly my forte, but stopping at Dunkin Donuts on the way out and getting another large coffee is the way to go.

I had a wonderful time today and I’m so thankful my husband and I had this opportunity. I’m just amazed at how much I’ve changed or the experience for me has changed.

Any oh, by the way…my Tigers broke their losing streak with USC. We won 35-17. Next to the birth of my two boys, this is probably the greatest thing in the past 6 years.

It’s The Holiday Season

Just a quick reminder…with the holiday season upon us, please take the opportunity to be thankful for the people you have in your lives. Pray for those who may be ailing, or for those who are experiencing this first holiday season without a loved one. And for those less fortunate that you, especially the children, please take this time to donate to one of my favorite charities.

The Salvation Army’s Toys for Tots

GHS Children’s Hospital Virtual Toy Drive

When you’re out on Black Friday and over the weekend, fighting another parent for that coveted toy your little one “MUST” have, think about the children who won’t have anything and if nothing else, please PLEASE take the opportunity to pick up a toy for another child. It will do your heart and soul good.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time to Poopy

I gotta tell ya, one of the hardest parts of being a parent is potty training your child. I loathe this part of my life. I’m eager to fast forward to the next stage and be done!

For the most part Davey is potty trained. He pee pees in the potty quite regularly, can make it through nap time and even bedtime without an accident, and actually seems to enjoy the peeing part. The pooping part? Well, that’s a whole other demon and when I’m neck deep in trying to help him poop all I can think is, “I gave up a paying job for this?” At least in the corporate world, when I was neck deep in crap I was getting compensated for it. Here? This doesn’t even help with a down payment on a nice new pair of shoes.

Davey hates, with a capital H, pooping in the potty. I’ve tried begging him, bribing him, guilt tripping him, and even scaring the poop right out of him. Nothing works! This kid will hold it in for days until he just can’t hold it anymore and then we just pray he makes it to the bathroom in time. It’s madness!

Monday, a week after his last poop, I became determined to make sure that one way or another he got out a poop so I called the doctor. It can’t possibly be healthy having all of that backed up inside of you. I was nervous the doctor would want me to bring him in, would tell me horror stories, or berate me for being a mother incapable of getting a poop out of her kid. After all, what sort of mother am I?

I was told it was still a bit too early to panic, but that action needed to be taken immediately. I’m to limit his dairy intake to 2-3 servings per day, increase the fiber in his diet (almost impossible with the world’s pickiest eater), and to give him a capful of Miralax. Fortunately, I didn’t have to do any of that as he literally hit his pooping point and almost didn’t make it to the potty in time.

I sat down with my mother and told her of my problems. As usual, I asked what sort of advice she could give me. She sat back and chuckled quietly before mumbling something along the lines of, “what goes around, comes around.”

Apparently, Davey has inherited his “not pooping” stance from me. When I ask him why he doesn’t want to poop in the potty he says he doesn’t have time. Doesn’t have time? Are you kidding me? What could possibly be more important? Oh! Perhaps it’s terrorizing the dog or his little brother, or maybe it’s demolishing my house. I get it! (not really) And when he finally does poopy,it hurts leaving him with that horrible feeling that encourages him not to poop again.

My mother reminds me of the fact that I once used those same words with her around this age. For years, she gave me prune juice (barf), castor oil, and Metamucil. She claims I didn’t start pooping again until she was graphic about what the doctor would need to do to me. YIKES! I’m not sharing that on this blog.

So, I’m a bit behind the eight ball here. I’m finding myself wondering how I’m going to win the battle with a mini-me, hard-headed, stubborn, independent, and strong-willed. Someone, somehow, is going to have to find time to poop. To aid in this effort, as usual, I’ve bought Davey a book, entitled “It Hurts When I Poop”. Usually, books are the key in this house.

Pooping book

Into The Woods We Go

I gotta tell you, I love this time of the year down South. The temperature is perfect. The leaves have changed and are nearly falling. It’s just a wonderful season.

This past weekend, the hubs, kids, and I toured yet another piece of property in our effort to vacate suburbia and move out to create our own little haven. The suburban lifestyle isn’t exactly settling with us like we thought it would. We feel cramped, like we can’t breathe. At times, thanks to our HOA, I feel like we’re constantly under the microscope, being spied upon. And while we don’t have a lot of yard to maintain, I’m stressed about making sure it’s perfectly manicured so as to avoid the unwanted letters and comments. The best way to eliminate all of that is to just buy a bunch of land, build a house, and make a cozy home.

I know a lot of people think we’re nuts. “Why would you want to move further away from work?” and “We won’t be visiting you as often if you move that far away,” are the comments I’ve heard most. My husband’s content with driving a little farther to work, especially if he gets to appreciate the rolling hills and beautiful farmland of God’s country. As for the second comment, I usually respond with, “you don’t exactly come visit us now.”

I grew up in a small neighborhood, in a part of town that wasn’t fully developed yet, of course that’s changed. We had pastures and woods around us, lakes and streams. My brother and I would spend our summers outside until it was literally too dark to see anything. Davey’s the opposite. He tells me it’s boring outside. Well, that could be because there’s nothing to explore in our backyard or in our surroundings.

I have this dream for my boys of having so much land to explore that I don’t see them for hours! I have this romantic idea of them being able to camp whenever they want and far enough away from mom and dad, but still in our backyard. I dream about the boys hunting with their dad and doing so in our backyard! We’d have our own garden. There’d be no 45 year old drunk neighbors driving home at 3 in the morning, or a neighbor’s home improvements commencing at 6 on a Saturday morning. There’d be no snide comments about our garage not being clean and therefore making the rest of the neighborhood look bad. There would only be us and the great outdoors filled with the sounds of God’s many delights.

I can’t wait for this day to come. I’m so intoxicated with the idea that I can’t seem to function. I’m up at night looking at land for sale, contemplating how we can afford it, trying to make lists on what we need to do to our current house, looking at floor plans for potential houses, and pinning ideas on Pinterest.

Saturday’s land tour was magnificent and I really wish we could just write a check and say, “we’ve found our new home”. Davey loved it. There were mud puddles, sticks, leaves, deer tracks, a running stream, the sounds of birds, and the occasional lizard. It was a little boy’s dream (and the dream of mom with little boys)

Could it be our new home?
Could it be our new home?
Could it be our new home?
Could it be our new home?

The Proper Speech

I spend a good portion of my time with both of my boys discussing the importance of speaking appropriately. I correct my three year old on a daily basis, but I do so in a learning and encouraging way. I wouldn’t dare degrade either one of my boys.

Specifically with Davey, I’ve discussed the use of double negatives and subject/verb agreement. I encounter a lot of parents and non-parents who question the fact that I’m already attempting to teach this to my boys at such a young age. I joke around about it and will shrug it off with the usual answer, “I have an English degree”, but really it’s more than that. It’s important to speak properly.

Currently, Davey is having an issue with stuttering. It’s not really an issue, but at times when he gets excited, it takes him quite a while to get things out. I tell him to take a deep breath, slow down, and let his words flow. In most cases, that works.

The reason I’m writing this blog is because for a while I worried about Davey and his speech. I worried that he wouldn’t speak at all for a while, or that his speech would be incomprehensible. I read books on helping your child speak correctly, but for the most part it was just investment of my time with him.

I read to him a lot, always have. I speak to him, not at him, and I’ve never used baby talk with him. Now that he’s gotten older, I engage him in conversations about his day. I ask him what he’s doing. Yesterday, I specifically told him to NOT dump all of his blocks out of the bin, but to instead get them out one at a time. While I was upstairs, I heard the sound of hundreds of blocks hitting the hardwood floor and I knew he’d dumped them all out. I wasn’t upset, but I did want a reason for this. This was our conversation:

Me: Davey, didn’t I tell you to not dump out all of your blocks?
Davey: Yes, you did, Mommy.
Me: So, why did you dump them all out?
Davey: Because the blocks on the bottom were lonely. They missed their friends on top.

It’s a creative answer, but also a very well spoken answer. He didn’t stutter and he used the correct grammar.

I remind myself daily to make sure that I’m spending the same amount of time with Henry. Being a 2nd time mom with him, means I don’t stress the small stuff quite so much. He’s 11 months old. He’s making all of the appropriate sounds, saying “mama”, “dada”, “no”, “go”, and “bye”. He’s doing well.

For those of you; however, who may worry about your child’s speech, Parents Magazine, offers up an insightful article. The link is below.

An Impossible Feat?

Last Friday, I posted a blog discussing the horrible effects of the added sugar in your diet. I promised a blog starting Monday where I would discuss my travels down sugar free lane, and unfortunately I’ve broken the cardinal rule of blogging…NOT FOLLOWING THROUGH!

I could spend this blog offering up excuses, but that’s a waste of space and time. What I should and will do is start blogging about my journey right now, and let me start by saying that the beast is proving a bit hard to tame.

The path to a sugar free world is paved with good intentions, intentions that I find to be blissfully beautiful in theory, but in reality they’re a bit tarnished. I thought I could go into this much like I do a lot of things…just get started. I didn’t plan. I didn’t count on obstacles. And I definitely didn’t count on an agent working against me.

One of the first rules of thumb with any goal that you set is to make a plan on how to achieve that goal. I should have gone grocery shopping, planned out our meals, and prepared myself. I did none of the above. Secondly, I didn’t count on obstacles, of which would be a sick 11 month old who needed my full attention thereby not allowing me to devote any energy on said goal. And finally, I didn’t expect my husband to work against me on this.

I consumed less sugar on Monday and even less than that on Tuesday, but I haven’t made the healthiest of meals. I cut out all sodas, consumed more water, and even added more fiber into my diet. I did all of this, but it’s still not what I was completely hoping for. And I definitely didn’t hope for my husband to bring home a box of knock off Girl Scout cookies in my favorite flavor! Yes, he did that! Way to help your wife!

Like any good person who has a goal and little will-power, I did the best thing I could do. I ate the entire box of cookies in one sitting. That’s right. I figured that since I didn’t exactly start out the correct way, then I should just scratch day one completely off the calendar as a massive failure and remove all temptation from the house, and that’s what I did. I ate all the cookies, all the chocolate, and anything else that had sugar in it, all in an effort to completely remove temptation.

Now, I’m starting over from scratch again. This time I’m developing a plan to remove the sugar and creating new meals. And as I said before, I could use your ideas, recipes, and encouragement. I may have suffered a setback, but I will persevere. Stay tuned as I share my efforts.

Be Gone, You Terrible Beast

I’ve been awake since 5 this morning. I’m a stay at home mom, who doesn’t have to punch a time clock in the corporate world, so you’re asking me, “why, oh why, are you awake at 5 am?” Well, it’s because of this blog which has started growing profusely and I find myself excited and worried about what I’ll post next. So, this morning I tip-toed downstairs, made my cup of coffee, and high-tailed it straight to my computer where I began to peruse Twitter, my email, and Flipboard for anything of substance I could post this morning. What did I find? Well, quite the interesting article on sugar intake and its effect on your waist line.

photo courtesy of IStock/ThinkStock
photo courtesy of IStock/ThinkStock

I type this as I’m eating my fat free brownie (but not sugar free) and drinking my sweetened coffee. And I’m the type of person who complains about my baby bump (no I’m not pregnant, but I have a pooch I will never be free from), degrades myself for not being able to slim my hips back down to my pre-pregnancy form, and just all around feels bad about my physical appearance. And yet, I’m eating sugar.

In this article I read from Women’s Health Magazine, it throws out some statistics about sugar intake, along with the effects, and some ways to possibly beat down this terrible sugar beast! So, here are a couple of statistical facts you may or may not have been aware of.

The American Heart Association suggests that a woman should intake no more than 25 grams of a sugar a day, but that the average American takes in 92 grams per day! What!?!?!? 25 grams seems like a lot to me, so I’m sure that I’m staying within those boundaries, but let me check just in case. I bake my own bread, so that lowers the amount of sugar, but not down as low as I need. I do love my pastas and while I choose the hidden veggie pastas by Muellers, they still contain 32 grams in one box! Are you kidding me? And that doesn’t count the processed pasta sauces I buy in the can for convenience. And like I said when I started this post, there’s also the multiple cups of coffee which I sweeten with Splenda and French Vanilla creamer, or the occasional mocha latte I treat myself to at Starbucks. On the plus side, I don’t consume sodas or energy drinks.

I suppose; however, the most interesting part of this article is that I can indeed beat down this dreaded beast and actually “train” my brain to not crave sugar. According to the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse, sugar can affect the brain much the same way as cocaine and alcohol. It is seen as an addiction, and like with most addictions you can find a way to not crave it. How do you train your brain to not crave the sugary foods, you ask.

Stop the cravings before they hit is the key. You need to maintain your hunger level to a near minimal existence by keeping your belly full of proteins and fibers and free of the refined carbs we all seem to love. Eat good tasting foods that digest more slowly and keep that steady stream of healthy foods coming. Sounds simple enough, right, but can it truly be done? So in an effort to try out this theory of preventing my brain from going gaga for the bad stuff and trimming down those final few inches, I’m going to blog about my progress. And as with anything, I’m going to go out with a bang and in a blaze of glory. This weekend I will allow myself one final swan song in the sugar treats ballet, before going strong on Monday.

Follow my progress and help keep me accountable. I’d love suggestions on foods, things I can make for my family, but things that also won’t break the bank. We’re operating off of one salary in this household, so we don’t have the luxury of spending hundreds of dollars a week on groceries. Our monthly budget is $300. Share ways that have helped you.

And with that, let me enjoy my brownie and coffee breakfast!

Enjoying my three splenda, two French vanilla coffee.
Enjoying my three splenda, two French vanilla coffee.
Fat free brownie.  Yum!
Fat free brownie. Yum!