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.

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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

One more chase before we had to leave.

Country folks can survive, to quote Bocephus himself.


Flying the Friendly Skies

Travel day comes along much too early.   Regardless of how early you may get in the bed, eager to rest your weary bones before a day of travel, the time to arise and begin the excursion comes much too early.   For me, travel day is the most exhausting day in the world, beating out the days when my children were born.   I typically set 3 alarms; my ancient clock radio, my cell phone, and either a battery operated clock or one that you wind up.   I have this immense fear of missing a flight, so I always have a back up and a back up for my back up, but even then I don’t sleep well.   I’m still too nervous that all of my alarms will fail.

So, needless to say, Wednesday, June 22nd, I was wide awake at 3 am, 45 minutes prior to my alarm clocks going off.   My children and I had a 6 am flight to make our annual two week summer vacation in Rochester with my in-laws.   Instead of dilly dallying, I got up, made an extra strong cup of coffee, and began getting dressed.   Our plan was to leave at 4:30 so as to get to the airport by 5 am, we actually ended up leaving at 4:15, with the bright moonlight illuminating the road ahead and a 5 Hour Energy in my system.

This is my second time flying solo with my boys.   This year also marks the first time in which we have to pay for Henry to fly, meaning he gets his own seat.   It’s also the first time we haven’t flown Southwest (since they’ve decided to cancel their flights from Greenville to Rochester).  United won out on the bidding wars of flying.  So, we were navigating new territories, or perhaps some just a bit unfamiliar.

I’d quizzed all my Facebook friends (my measly 300) and inquired about the wait times for TSA which I’d seen on the news over the past couple of months.   People were missing flights, lines were atrocious.   While I’ve never had a problem with security in Greenville/Spartanburg, I still asked if anyone else had experienced long delays.   With a 6 am flight on Wednesday, on a non-holiday, I was told by everyone it should be pretty easy.   So, we arrive at the airport to check in at 5 and I’m told we had just made the cut off.  What?  Surely this woman was jesting.  Nope! The boys and I stood in an almost 45 minute line at TSA security and we were one of the last ones to board our flight.   This should have been an omen.   I should have heeded the signs that this was not going to be as I had hoped it would be.

Flight 1
All prepared for take off.

We were not the last ones to  get on the plane, about 8 more people followed, and as I’m getting the boys seated and ready to go, iPads queued up with movies, coloring books and crayons at the ready, my darling oldest, the one who made me a mother, the apple of my eye, sees a rather well endowed woman in the physical weight arena and shouts out, “Mom, have you ever seen a lady so BIG?”

My mouth dropped open.  I could feel the stares of all of my fellow passengers, some I know were chuckling, others were mentally scolding me for not enforcing that age old rule from my parent’s generation, “children are to be seen and not heard.”   As the lady got closer, I felt the sharp knives of her contempt stabbing my body.   I did my best to diffuse the situation by explaining to my son that everyone seems large to him because he’s a little guy.  You know, the whole relativity/perception thing.   That didn’t work.   “Everyone’s not THAT big, mom.”  I smiled at the faces around me and buckled in for what I was sure was to be a torturous ride.   There would be no escape, but if this were the least of my problems, then I would survive.  Problem was, it wasn’t the least of my problems.

flight 2

As we taxied down the runway to take flight, I caught a distinct whiff of poop, and since I was pretty certain that no one would have crapped themselves, I knew it had to be my sweet little Henry who had chosen NOW as the time to have a movement.   At least it was in his diaper and once we were in the air, I could go to the bathroom and change him, or so I thought.

The engines on the plane opened up to full throttle and we began speeding down the runway as Henry decided to reach his hand in his pants, and pull it back out, covered in pooped!   I frantically looked around me, eager to find something to wipe his hand with, but the only thing I could find was a vomit bag and before I could use it, my sweet little angel, decided to wipe his hand on the seat back in front of him!

flight 3

The seconds ticked by slowly as I kept trying to bide my time for when I could unbuckle and haul my child into the bathroom to change him.  After what felt like an eternity, we were at a safe cruising altitude and the seat belt sign went off.  In one swoop, I grabbed the diaper bag and my child, tried to divert my eyes from the offended large lady as she humpfed at me, and went to the lavatory that is smaller than the size of our coat closet (which can hold about 10 coats).   Imagine being inside a Pringles can and attempting to change the diaper of a 35 pound 2 year old.   And what’s worse, the poop had leaked out onto his shorts.   So, from that point forward, for the rest of our travel experience, my son would be walking around in his diaper.

So, three things had happened…the long delay at TSA, my vocally observant 4 year old, and my pooping 2 year old.   They say everything happens in threes.   Surely, I was out of the woods, right?   One would think!

flight 4

After arriving in Newark, and just as we were attempting to board the last leg of our journey, I was stopped by the ticketing agent at the gate who inquired as to if Henry was a lap child.  I pointed out the ticket she was holding in his name and at that point she asked if he didn’t have any pants because United requires ALL passengers with a seat to wear pants.   Excuse me?   No! He didn’t have pants, he had soiled them.   To this she asked, “well, aren’t you prepared for instances like this?”  No I was not prepared because the last time Henry had done something to this magnitude, he was 6 months old!   She held the tickets for a minute, looked down at my boys, smiled at them, then looked back at me and frowned as if to shame me for being unprepared, and finally let me on board.

I see people flying with children all the time.  It seems to be flawless, but it never is with me.   Why is that?   The only good side to our flight was that we made it into Rochester a half an hour early.   That’s 30 minutes less of being inside a tin tube with my children and no escape.

Next week, we fly the friendly skies back home.   This time daddy will be along for the journey, whose patience is quite a few levels lower than mine.

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.


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!

pre flight

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!

Spreading Our Wings

And we’re off! This marks Davey’s 8th trip to Rochester. He’s been on a total of 30 plane rides in his 3 years on this earth. I think I hit 30 plane rides when I was 30 years old. This is Henry’s 2nd trip to Rochester, with a total of 10 plane rides and he’ll be a year old a week from today! Where has the time flown?

When we first began flying with Davey, I had much trepidation. I worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle it. I worried that I would be surrounded by travellers much like myself pre-baby. I was all prepared for the evil stares when we boarded the plane. We didn’t have any of that and we didn’t have a fussy baby either. Davey was a pro and has been ever since that first flight.

Henry did well his first time around, but I worried this time since he’s sick and just because he’s a lot more active and not exactly eager to sit still. Thankfully, the plane rides were not packed and we had empty seats in front of us. Davey chose his seat alongside the window and spent the better part of the flight staring out it. Henry? Well, he fought sleep and coughed and sneezed all over everyone. I’m sure people were panicking that my child would give them some sort of dreaded flu. But as we flew, I found myself reflecting on life before babies and what flying was like.

Ready for the first flight.
Ready for the first flight.

I’m envious of those people who get the luxury of putting earbuds into the ears and listening to music. I loathe those who get to sit back and read a book on their flights, and I absolutely abhor the ones who are able to recline back and sleep. It’s an Olympic sport just trying to maintain two children while flying. Once Davey was bored with looking out the window, he moved on to pretending that every barf bag was a bad guy and began to punch them profusely. When the seatbelt light when off, he thought it would be wonderful to try to crawl under every seat like it was a tunnel.

Really the flight is a piece of cake compared to the layover especially when you have a 3 HOUR layover and it’s from 6:30-9:30 in the evening. That’s prime playtime and bedtime for the boys. They’ve been cooped up on a plane for over an hour and then we’re going to continue to quarantine them when the moving sidewalks and escalators are beckoning them? What could we possibly be thinking and how horrible we are as parents to even consider keeping them constrained.

Fortunately for us, I brought Henry’s pajamas so he was able to get comfortable and snooze. Davey was able to watch Despicable Me on the iPad and basically all was well with the world. And with every flight, you’re unsure as to who or what you’ll encounter. Last night before boarding the last leg of our journey, Davey was able to meet two extremely selfless and brave young men. Our flight was fortunate to have two Marines on board, one of which had just graduated from Parris Island, SC.

Daddy's make the best pillows especially in an airport.
Daddy’s make the best pillows especially in an airport.

My only regret was that I did not get a picture of Davey as he walked over to both Marines, shook their hands, fist bumped them and then thanked them for their service. Of course I explained to my son who these young men were and what they did.

“Mommy, they’re heroes?” he asked me.

“Yes, Davey. They are heroes.”

“They beat the bad guys really bad,” Davey said with inflection on the words “bad”.

“Yes, buddy, they do.”

“I like them, Mommy. They are my best friends.”

Once we boarded the flight, all it took was a matter of minutes with the cabin lights dimmed, and both boys were fast asleep. Too bad the hubs and I couldn’t sleep or read a book or relax like all of our other flight mates. So goes the joy of flying with kids.

Like Mother, Like Son

That just doesn’t sound right. It doesn’t flow off the tongue as smoothly as the old adage, “Like father, like son”, but alas my sweet boy is growing up to be more like his mother everyday. I’m not too terribly happy about this especially considering the fact that he’s really only picking up on my bad habits and traits. I was hoping he would avoid this side of me.

I’ve said this before, I’m not a patient person. Shortly after Davey was born I started to think I was turning the corner, that perhaps this patience virtue that had avoided me for nearly my entire life had finally come home to nest within my personality. I found that I could be patient with him, that I could guide him, teach him, encourage him and do it without a single point raise in blood pressure. I was actually doing quite well with it until the Terrible Twos hit BEFORE he was actually two.

Lately, I’ve noticed a lot of behavior in Davey that really seems to mirror my own behavior, or at least the behavior I know I had when I was a child. Davey is very competitive and in a lot of cases eager to please. He wants to win the races. He wants to beat the timer. He wants to answer the questions correctly, but when he doesn’t he seems to throw a bit of a tantrum. And unfortunately, when he doesn’t do what I want him to do, I’ve noticed that my patience seems to hit a boiling point with me. I’m quick to try not to let him see this behavior in me, but I know I’ve slipped.

I try to not let him have my iPad, but instead encourage him to play with traditional toys. He he only gets my iPad when I’m nursing Henry and need some quiet time, but that time doesn’t really seem to be quite so quiet.

He has a few apps he enjoys playing, one of which is to put together a puzzle while trying to beat the timer. If he can’t do it, then he hits the iPad and starts screaming. I’ve been told this is a normal reaction, but I’m not so happy with it especially since it seems to be a part of my worse side. When he plays basketball, if he doesn’t make the basket, then he stomps his feet and screams at the goal. If he’s playing with his trains and one goes off the track, then he has on occasion picked it up and thrown it. This whole behavior is not something I was hoping to see in my little boy.

If he’s losing a game, then he screams and knocks the pieces off the board. If he can’t get a puzzle piece to fit, then he starts screaming and crying before tearing apart whatever part of the puzzle he’s already completed. This is all me, or at least it was me, or maybe it still is me. Yikes!

I try to reason with him, but it’s like trying to reason with a terrorist…you can’t, which only makes my patience run low and I have to find a way to contain my screams! I’m sure I’ve let a scream or two slip with Davey especially when he’s doing something I don’t want him to do. I’ve gotten better at really taking a step back and counting to 10, but truthfully I feel Davey’s pain. It just feels so much better to let it all out.

I guess I should try to find other ways for he and I to both express ourselves and our frustrations. I don’t want people to avoid him because they fear he’s too emotional and flies into a rage (which has happened to me in my adult life, but in my defense I was in my final month of pregnancy with him during a very hot and humid summer down South). Is this just a phase or something much more deep seeded? I’m going to go with Option A and think positively that he will grow out this horrible trait I have. And hopefully, he’ll do it soon because there’s really only one room for a Drama Queen in this family…and I’ve owned that crown for much too long.

Words with Daddy

I think I just fell more in love with my husband tonight.

My husband is a different man since he’s become a father.   He’s always had a good heart, very intelligent, and just an all around awesome guy.   Becoming a father seems to have magnified all of that with me and nights like tonight just make me love him more (if that was possible).

My husband’s job has him traveling a lot.    He left early this morning well before Davey was even up.   The only time he’s had with his son was last night when he put him to bed.   I spoke with him briefly this morning on his drive and put Davey on speaker phone so he could share some words with his daddy.   They were brief and to the point, but the love between my son and his father is evident.   My boy worships the ground Daddy walks on and I’m proud of that.

Tonight, my husband decided to Facetime me on my iPad which is perfect for Davey.   We sat in the recliner as my husband’s face popped up on the screen.

“Daddeeee!” Davey screamed (he’s moved past the da-da portion).

“Hi, Buddy,” my husband said back to him.

Davey looked up at me and then back at the screen as he saw his Daddy’s face in front of him.   He pointed at Daddy, waved at him, blew him kisses and even laughed.   It made me smile, but I suppose what made my night and made me fall more in love with my husband was the fact that he sat in a lonely hotel room and sang nursery rhymes to our son.  He read him a Dr. Seuss book, one that my husband knows by heart since he’s read it so many times to Davey.   He played “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes” with Davey.   They did their ABC’s and even sang the song about two little red birds sitting on a hill.  It was the greatest ten minutes of my night and I know it was the same for Davey.

My husband talked about his day.   He asked Davey about his lunch and his dinner and inquired about the homemade strawberry muffins I’d made.   Davey did his best to communicate with the occasional nodding of the head, and his gobbledy gook of baby talk he has.   It was awesome and at one point my son tried to hug the iPad before waving good night to his daddy.   It melted my heart and made me smile as my husband did the same thing for our son.   They blew each other a kiss before we signed off, then I got a hug that I’m sure was meant for Daddy as Davey squeezed me tightly and then said silently and almost sadly into my ear, “Dadddeee.”