Going On a Bear Hunt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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“Fall”ing in the South

This is my favorite time of the year.  I love the beautiful colors of the trees, their constant metamorphosis into the rainbow of warm canopies.   I love the cooler weather, the ability to roast marshmallows in the backyard without sweating off 20 pounds (however, if that were true, I think I could enjoy that).  I love the smell of pumpkins and apples, cinnamon and cider.   I love fall, but I love it more in the South.

The great thing about the South during the fall is that you can get up in the morning, layer on a coat over short sleeves, and by the afternoon shed the coat and walk around in warm comforting sunlight.   Fall in the South is wonderful.  My boys want to be outside ALL. THE. TIME.   They’re not crying about it being too hot or too cold.   It’s quite literally perfect.   The only problem is that Fall doesn’t seem to last long.

One of the bridges at Falls Park.
One of the bridges at Falls Park.

So, knowing that the days will soon be getting shorter and our window of opportunity to enjoy the cooler weather closing, I’ve decided to start taking advantage of every free moment.   Over the course of the past week, we’ve had bike rides, picnics, and planes.

Since we live so close to the Swamp Rabbit Trail in Northern Greenville County, I try to get the boys out at least once a week.   Davey hops on his bike and Henry and I tag along behind him.   I love how the trail, which is old railroad tracks, looks at times to be carved into a mountain, the rocky terrain shadowing us on either side.   With the changing of the season, the trail is filled to the brim with leaves.   It’s a great sight to see.

Biking on the trail.
Biking on the trail.

Last week, after enjoying a run on the trail as it winds through Falls Park in Downtown Greenville, I decided that I would treat the boys to a picnic.   My original intent was to hand make a lunch, but then reality sunk in and I remembered quickly that I’m not a Martha Stewart, but more of a Savannah Guthrie, so I shouldn’t push my luck and just be grateful I have the wherewithal to actually do a picnic.   Instead of the hand made lunch, which I had romantically envisioned in my mind thanks to my binge viewing of Madmen episodes, I stopped at Chick-Fil-A.

Hamming it up in front of the Falls.
Hamming it up in front of the Falls.

I packed a blanket, some snacks, some books, and loaded up the wagon.   We parked near the Governor’s School, and strolled through the park, over rock bridges and onto some of the softest grass I’ve experienced this side of the Mason-Dixon line.  The boys grabbed chicken nuggets and playfully ran about the park, picking up sticks and leaves along the way.   We even had an opportunity to feed the ducks, an excitement beyond measurable proportions for Henry.

Run, Henry, Run!
Run, Henry, Run!

That day was quickly followed up by a day out at our favorite café and park, The Runway Café and Park at the Downtown airport.   Three WWII era planes were scheduled to fly in around 1:30, so once again we took in the beautiful Fall day, sat outside on the patio, ate our lunch and watched some pretty awesome planes land.  And while mommy was super interested in the planes, my boys really just wanted to run around on the playground, soaking in every last little ounce of Fall they could before it’s gone for another season.

WWII planes.
WWII planes.

Unfortunately for us, rainy weather has moved in yet again, cutting into our fun outside.   Stay tuned for all latest indoor adventures in Dreaming of Mommyhood.

Family Day in Death Valley…Why Not!?!?!

First off, I’m talking about Death Valley, SC, otherwise known as Frank Howard Memorial Stadium, home of the Clemson Tigers.   Of course, taking both boys to the real Death Valley may have been just as painful and definitely not painless.

At the last minute, very last minute to be exact, my husband’s boss called him up to see if we would like tickets for this past Saturday’s Clemson vs. Georgia Tech game.  If we were single, no kids in tow, we would have immediately jumped on the tickets.  Our situation being as it is, we hemmed and hawed before finally deciding we would go IF his boss had tickets for the boys as well.   Turns out he did, much to our overwhelming dismay, I mean, er, excitement!  Yes, EXCITEMENT!

So I’m being a bit dramatic.  Truthfully, I was excited.   I was going to do something I’ve always dreamt about since my days of matriculating at that beautiful University.   I can recall the days when I was student, tailgating in the free spots (these don’t exist anymore) and seeing all the little kids dressed up in their Tiger uniforms, be it football jerseys or cheerleading outfits.  I used to think to myself, “I’m going to do this with my kids one day.”

On his way to his first Tiger's game.
On his way to his first Tiger’s game.

After having my boys, and experiencing first hand, the overly exhausting work of not just raising them but also keeping them AND me alive, I decided that the ole dream of spending a day at a Clemson game with my family would have to be shelved for later years.   I don’t know what it says about mine and my husband’s parenting skills or perhaps the demeanor of our two boys that we CAN’T go to a game and tailgate like all the other families.   Surely, something somewhere must be amiss, right?

Davey's face should have forewarned us of the storms ahead.  He didn't want Henry to go along.
Davey’s face should have forewarned us of the storms ahead. He didn’t want Henry to go along.

At the start of the season, we were given four tickets to a Clemson game.   After much debate, my husband and I decided we would take Davey and leave Henry with my parents.   Surprisingly, the day went spectacular and I suppose it provided us with a false sense of security where sporting events are concerned.   So, when the opportunity presented itself this past Saturday, and us without a babysitter since my parents were out of town, we decided, what the heck!  Let’s take both boys.    Apparently, my husband and I are a glutton for misery.

Why on earth would someone want to bring their kids, especially two boys aged 4 and 22 months, to a Clemson football game on a rainy Saturday for possibly one of the biggest games of the season?   Why?  I wish I had that answer.   I wish I had the answer as to why we didn’t hesitate to say “yes”.  I wish I had the answer to “where were our heads?”   But really, I want to know the answer to is why does it seem that everyone else can bring their kids to tailgate and a game and still enjoy themselves?   Why can’t we?

50 yard line seats.   Would have been even better if we could have enjoyed them.
50 yard line seats. Would have been even better if we could have enjoyed them.

One minute and five seconds into the game, Clemson drew blood, and I was already to the point of wanting to slit my own wrists.   I can’t even recall how Clemson managed to score because I was much too busy trying to keep Henry from picking up random pieces of food on the ground and eating them.   By Clemson’s next scoring drive, I really just wanted to get drunk, just to numb the pain of Davey punching Henry, Henry slapping Davey, and both boys wanting to run around like a pack of wild banshees.  My husband and I spent the better portions of the game holding the boys and trying to serve as referees between the two of them.  It was quite literally the worst experience I’ve ever had in my beloved Death Valley, worse than any of the losing games I’ve sat through.

Moving forward, when my husband and I are offered tickets to a Clemson game, and we don’t have a sitter for the boys, we won’t be asking the question, “why not?” but instead “WHY?”  To all of you parents who are able to go these games with your children I secretly despise you and loathe the ground you walk on, but I’m also envious of your magical abilities to get your children to cooperate.   Please, tell me your secret.

And while we left knowing Clemson had won the game, we put the boys to bed early last night and watched an entire replay of the game just so we could really see how well Clemson played because that’s how my husband and I roll with college football.

Our first family game at Clemson!
Our first family game at Clemson!

Go Tigers!

Being Thankful

As many of you are aware, South Carolina midlands and coastal areas experienced flooding unlike anything that’s ever been seen in our state.   The Upstate, where I live with my family, was originally predicted to see more flooding than what it received.  Fortunately for us, but not so fortunate for the rest of the state, we dodged a bullet.

For days our television has been inundated with images of flood waters, cars submerged, people attempting to drive through the floods, rescuers saving people by boat and air, and total devastation of major roadways.   While we don’t let our boys watch much along the lines of normal television (they get PBS and kids movies), it’s been near impossible for us to keep them away from the news, and truthfully I haven’t wanted to hide it.   I’ve actually encouraged it.

This morning, I sat Davey down alongside me as we watched news reports of the devastation.   I suppose I expected him to ask more questions, but mostly he just thought it was “cool”.   I suppose that’s the normal response for a four year old, and I don’t fault him too much for it.  He’s a kid, but he’s also a fortunate kid, one who is blessed beyond measure.

I should have just let it go.  I should have allowed him to just say, “that’s cool, mom.” but I didn’t.   I wanted him to see what was going on in our state, in some places less than an hour away.   I wanted him to know that there are people who are suffering.  I wanted him to know that there are people who’ve lost everything.   I wanted him to be thankful for what he had.   I guess that’s asking a little too much, but I didn’t just let it go.  I took the opportunity, as heart breaking as it is, to teach my son.

We talked about the weather and how the flood waters came about.   He asked if it was like with Noah, and I said “no”, although some people may have felt differently.   We talked about how it’s our responsibility not just as Christians, but as South Carolinians, to help our neighbors.   I encouraged him to look around and tell me what he should be thankful for.  He said his toys, naturally, but then I implored him to look further.   I asked him if he’s blessed to have a house.  His response, doesn’t everyone have a house?   No, sweetheart, everyone does NOT have a house.   I told him we have food, and once again he was confused, because doesn’t everyone have food?

I’m not ashamed of what we have.   I don’t feel guilty for our blessings, I’m thankful for them.   I’m grateful that the Lord has provided for us, but now it’s our turn to help provide for others.   So, I told Davey that we were going to do a donation drive in our neighborhood.   He didn’t understand, so once again I got down to the level of a four year old and explained that we’re going to collect bottled water, diapers, formula, and individually packaged snacks for the Red Cross.

We posted our donation drive on our neighborhood Facebook page and what a blessing to already have neighbors respond, less than six hours after we posted it.   When our first donation came in, the excitement in Davey’s eyes was wonderfully magical.  He’s genuinely excited to help and while he may not understand completely the ramifications of this horrible storm, he knows he, like so many of us, plays a crucial role in helping our state to rebuild.

If you’re interested in helping out those hit by the floods in South Carolina, then please visit the Red Cross and make a donation.   If you’re interested in contributing to our neighborhood donation drive, then contact me.

We are all God’s children and we all have a responsibility to come to the aid of our neighbors.   Be thankful for what you have in life and give to those who may have lost it all.

We are #scstrong.

The Time of Our Lives

Sunday we took a leap of faith.   Sunday we, my husband and I, took our oldest son Davey to his first ever Major League Baseball game.

The New York Yankees made their way down to the hot South to play the Atlanta Braves.    My husband, being the lifelong die hard Yankees fan that he is, was over the moon with excitement from the moment the tickets were given to us, which was approximately three months ago.   It’s unusual for him to get the opportunity to watch the Yankees play on t.v., much less see them live and in person, and three rows behind home plate at that!

We live approximately two hours north of Atlanta, so making the trip isn’t much of an effort, but we still worried about Davey and just how he would be with the trip and the actual game itself.

Saturday found my husband already bounding through the house with the anticipation of the following day’s events.  Any concerns, worries, or doubts he had in the weeks prior about taking Davey had been completely obliterated.   He was going to do something that he’d dreamt about for a while, something he’d envisioned in his head well before we ever had kids.   He was going to take his boy to a New York Yankees game.

Of course, my husband seemed to change roles with me as he debated over just what jersey he should wear to the game.   It was quite humorous for me to see the roles reversed.   Me?  While I have my share of Yankees shirts in my effort to show a level of support for my husband, I am a Braves fan at heart.   Having been born and raised in SC, the Braves were and pretty much still are the closest MLB team around.   I was a fan back in the days of Dale Murphy, even naming one of my Cabbage Kids after the Hall of Famer.   So, there wasn’t much to mull over in regards to what I would wear.   Although I knew that the Braves wouldn’t win, I still wore my Bravos gear!

On our way to see the Yankees and Braves play!
On our way to see the Yankees and Braves play!

I think the fact that we could possibly be seen on national t.v. also encouraged my husband to put much thought into what he would wear.   Unfortunately, Davey doesn’t have too much in the way of Braves paraphernalia.   He’s a true Yankee through and through, Mariano Rivera having been his favorite Yankee.   So, he wore his navy blue Yankees t-shirt and baseball cap.   I promised him, though, that he would at least walk away with a foam tomahawk. I had to get in my colors somehow.

We made it!  A house divided.
We made it! A house divided.

When we arrived at the park, the excitement in Davey’s, and my husband’s, eyes was evident.   We immediately had to have a family picture made, a house divided and exhilarated at what we were embarking upon.    We found our seats, literally three rows behind home plate on the Atlanta Braves side of the plate.   The first batter I was able to see up close and personal was Nick Swisher, a former Yankee, who has now become a Braves.   As a side note, he’s waaayyyy better looking in person.

Hello, Nick!
Hello, Nick!

We were only able to enjoy our seats for a few moments when Davey made his daddy make good on a promise…a big soft pretzel and a Sprite.   Davey had a blast.   He sat between my husband and me, chomping down on his pretzel, flinching when a foul ball would head our way only to be stopped by the netting.   He clapped when his daddy clapped, but he also clapped when I did, eager to pull for either team and please both parents at once.

Gotta love a good pretzel.
Gotta love a good pretzel.

We had a spirited day of dancing between each inning, eating hot dogs and popcorn, cheering for teams, and laughing at the mascots running around on the field.   Davey had ice cream in hat, a novelty which was the greatest thing in the world to him.   He was a mess, but a wonderful mess.

Chocolate ice cream in a baseball cap?  Yes please!
Chocolate ice cream in a baseball cap? Yes please!

He didn’t ask much about the game and as the 8th inning began to wane, so did Davey’s attention which was fine since the game was practically over.  The Yankees had a 20-6 lead.   Highly unlikely my Bravos would mount a comeback, but at one point they did threaten.   When that happened, Davey found that he enjoyed the chanting and the Tomahawk chop with his hand.

Doing the Tomahawk chop!
Doing the Tomahawk chop!

We sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”.  Davey pumped his fist into the air to “root, root, root for the home team,” and counted on his fingers to, “one, two, three strikes you’re out at the old ball game.”   I suppose; however, the most entertaining portion of our day was when my mother in law called to tell us we were on t.v. and to wave.   When I told Davey to wave because Grammy sees us, he waved frantically, but also looked all over the ball field for his Grammy, exclaiming, “I don’t see her, mommy.   Are you sure she’s there?”

That's us on t.v.!
That’s us on t.v.!

It was truly the greatest day ever for all of us.   We were sad that Henry wasn’t with us, but also knew that he wouldn’t last as long as Davey and Davey really needed some one on one time without his little brother.   We were very thankful to my parents for keeping him.

What really warmed my heart were the occasions when I caught moments of happiness between father and son.    The moments when Davey would smile at his daddy, which took me back to that morning when Davey asked, “Daddy, are you staying with me all day?”

Family photo op!
Family photo op!

My husband was happier that a blue jay singing in the Spring.   He chuckled at Davey eating his ice cream, put him on his shoulders for the 7th inning stretch, explained who the players were and even tried to get Davey to explain the superiority of American League over National League (a debate my husband and I love to have).   My husband was fulfilling a dream he’d had before he ever became a dad and to say that made me happy is an understatement.

When we climbed into bed Sunday night, my husband said, “That was the best day ever.   I’m so glad we took Davey.   I had so much fun.”

My silly boy after the game!
My silly boy after the game!

As did we all.

Summer Break, Give Me a Break!

We are only two weeks into summer vacation, and this mama is absolutely exhausted. It’s nearly mind-numbing to me, not to mention physically taxing to come up with ways to not only keep my boys entertained during summer, but to also keep those brain cells pumping. And of course, there’s also the normal day to day activities involved with the upkeep of our house.

I swore to myself, more so than to my children, that I would keep them going during the summer. The television tuning would be and has been limited, that the educational experiences would abound, and not once would I hear the dreaded words, “I’m bored.” Well, truth be told, I’m not too ashamed to say that I wish I hadn’t made that oath to myself. I’m not that mom who seems to be able to function at full speed on the half charged “d” cell battery. I’m not the crafty mom, either. Forget finding acorns and painting and stringing them together into a beautiful key chain. That’s not me. Pinterest is really not my friend.

In my nearly two weeks, I’ve found only a smidgen of things to do to keep the boys occupied that will not break the bank. One of which included an air show last week. The downside to the air show was that it was brutally hot, something I should be used to being a native South Carolinian, and the almost 45 minute drive to get to it. It didn’t cost me anything except for the gas, and if I’m going to be honest, my mom and dad came along and they drove, so it really cost them gas. This is what I’m looking for, free things that are fun and educational. I know they exist, we’ve done them before. I’m just tired of searching them out and planning our weeks based upon these.

Once the air show started, it became a success with both boys. I’ll gladly take them to another one of those this summer, of course within a reasonable driving distance. I’m grateful for my stay at home mom status so that I was able to take the boys to the show since it was going on during working hours of a Wednesday afternoon. However, if I were a working mom, I wouldn’t be fretting with ways to keep my boys entertained during the summer. Someone else could handle that for me. Oh the insanity of it all!

Another thing I’m grateful for is our current location, nestled witin the rolling hills of upstate South Carolina. There are a ton of options for us, some of which cost money, while others are free. The one exciting item for Davey that I plan to continue on a weekly basis, a few days a week, is to take advantage of our Swamp Rabbit Trail.

Davey has really taken to his bike lately, and I’ve used the opportunities to add in some additional cardio for me. He’s started biking three miles, while I run/walk alongside of him as I push Henry in the stroller. It’s great for some fresh air and we’ve even managed to turn the excursions into learning exercises as I’m pelted with questions like, “why is that tree trunk falling apart?” or “look at that lizard, what is it doing?” And then I also get the opportunity to tell the story of the trail and it’s origins making for some funny antics as Davey tells his own version of events. At the rate we appear to be going, he should be without training wheels before his 4th birthday. Guess that means a new bike is around the corner.

We plan to hike, since Paris Mountain is right in our backyard, and learn about the different trees, their leaves, and how they grow. I hope we encounter a few animals, minus the snakes, and even get the opportunity to swim in the lake.

We have a neighborhood pool and a playground in our backyard, along with the one at the Runway Cafe not too far down the road. There are waterparks, $1 movies, and trips to NY planned for the summer. My only problem in all of this is trying to find some way to fit everything into the 24 hours allotted to me each day. Why oh why couldn’t the Lord make us to NOT need sleep. It is a waste of my time.

As I write this blog, Davey and I have practiced writing his upper and lower case letters. He’s drawn pictures, and is working a 48 piece puzzle, something he seems to be a pro at. Henry? Well, he’s napping, thank God for that.

Perhaps I’m the only stay at home mom who focuses and frets over summer breaks. Maybe I’m putting too much focus into their days and I should just throw them out into the backyard every day, but I can’t seem to let go. While I may be complaining about what feels like the added work of summer vacation, I’m also eternally grateful to have the days where I can do all these wonderfully time consuming and exhausting trips.

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.

There’s Something in These Hills…Welcome Home

Thomas Green Clemson said it best when he said, “there’s something in these hills.” “These hills” being at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, in Northwestern South Carolina, where lakes meet rivers and hills meet mountains. It’s an absolutely gorgeous place to be anytime of the year, but it doesn’t get much better than being in Clemson, SC for Homecoming weekend.

Tillman Hall tower
Tillman Hall tower

Friday I took the boys back to my old stomping grounds, my second home, and one of my most favorite places on this earth. My blood runneth orange. Always has and always will. I have a huge sense of pride in my alma mater, the place that not only allowed me to attain an education, but also a place dug deep with memories. I had some of the best years of my life at Clemson University and I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to spend a day in Clemson with my boys.

Davey at the reflecting pond.
Davey at the reflecting pond.

A lot of the pomp and circumstance is lost in the eyes of my boys. They don’t understand how when I hear the bells of Tillman Hall ring the hour, my heart skips a beat and my mind takes me back to my days of sitting on Bowman Field in the sun, increasing my tan while increasing my knowledge. They don’t know what it means to see Daniel Hall, Brackett Hall, Hardin Hall, and Strode Tower. The only thing these boys appreciate is the abundance of floats, the beautiful gardens, the reflecting pond and the tiger statue at Death Valley.

The tiger statue at Death Valley.
The tiger statue at Death Valley.

As we walked the campus, stopping periodically to allow Henry to vacate the stroller and stretch his legs, I told stories of my life on God’s Country. I spoke of the nights of staying up late in Cooper Library, studying hard, while tucked away on the first floor, in a far back corner that gave me privacy, but also had the wonderful aroma of old books, books from decades past, brimming with stories. I explained that I had to get a few Frisbees out of the reflecting pond on nights of playing Frisbee golf. Davey looked into the pond, with it’s splashing fountains, and tossed a few acorns in while also looking for my Frisbee from nearly 15 years ago.

Henry playing in the Carillion Gardens, with the Cooper Library in the background.
Henry playing in the Carillion Gardens, with the Cooper Library in the background.

I talked about the walks to class, the rushing to class in my pajamas, and the excitement of Friday night before home games and the luster of the Saturday games. I didn’t miss a game, not one, even if I had to work, I still made it to a game. As we looked through the gates of Frank Howard field, I thought about the one and only snowfall I experienced while at Clemson and how we had come to the stadium to slide down the “hill”.

Davey amidst one of the floats.
Davey amidst one of the floats.

I watched as the new crop of coeds shuffled back and forth to class, many of them smiling at me and my boys, some even taking the time to talk to Davey as he introduced himself to the “old people”, a phrase for anyone over the age of 10. My boys spent a good portion of their day running along the same Bowman Field that I walked across to get to class. They studied the floats, touched all the tigers, and Davey even broke into the Clemson Cadence, shouting at the top of his lungs, “1,2,3,4. 1,2,3,4. C-L-E-M-S-O-N T-I-G-E-R-S. Fight tigers, fight tigers, fight fight fight.” And before we left he even told me that one day he’s going to run down that hill in Death Valley as a football player. I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.

Standing in front of the many floats with my boys.
Standing in front of the many floats with my boys.

Yes, indeed, there is something in these hills.

And With That Flyover….

Any doubts, guilts, or feelings of inadequacy became vapor.

I spend a decent portion of my time as a mother questioning if I’m doing a good job. I often ask myself if I’m doing more harm than good by being a stay-at-home mom? Would it be better to be in the working world making money? Would Davey be better off in a daycare facility? All of these questions and many more roam through my mind on a daily basis, but never moreso than on the days when I’m confronted with people who question the fact that I have a Master’s Degree and choose to stay home.

Today I was able to put a big black “X” on all those questions. Today, I was able to create one of the coolest memories to date with my son. Today, I did something that I likely wouldn’t have been able to do if I were still a working mom. And, today, I made a memory that’s more valuable than money.

Our local downtown airport has recently opened up a new aviation themed park and playground. It sits right on the runway and right outside one of the greatest little cafes around. ***Quick Plug for said cafe: The Runway Cafe in Greenville, SC**** Davey and I have been numerous times to enjoy the food as well as the little planes that come in and take off from the airport. The experience is always fun and we’re always looking for an excuse to go there, que the new park. It’s wonderful, with a miniature runway and playground equipment in the shapes of various planes.

Today marked the grand opening of the park and to make the opening even grander, it was scheduled with the same time a Boeing 727 from FedEx’s Express fleet was to make a landing. Quick side note…FedEx donated the 727 to USAeroTech’s school, as they are replacing their fleets with 787s. Plus there was free Kona Ice snowcones as well, what kid wouldn’t like that?

So, I decided last week I would load Davey up and take him out to see this huge plane up close and personal. What I didn’t expect was for me to be just as overwhelmed and excited by it as he was. Within 10 minutes of our arrival, the crowd was notified that 727 was 7 miles out and that the Tower had just cleared a low flyover. Minutes later, we were all turned around facing the direction of the plane. I tried to zero in Davey’s attention in the faroff distance above the tree tops. I could see the lights and the exhuast fumes coming out, but he wasn’t able to see it just yet. As it got closer and became more visible, I threw Davey on top of my shoulders. He pointed and tried numerous times to say “plane”.

Coming in Low and Slow
Coming in Low and Slow

The plane drew closer and you could hear the loud engines. Davey began bouncing on my shoulders with excitement and some how I managed to click away with my camera and take pictures as the plane flew past us, a mere 20 yards away. Its engines vibrated the ground and all of us. You could see the pilots as they waved, and you could feel the exhaust as it gained altitude and climbed back into the sky.

Touchdown!
Touchdown!

We watched as it circled back around the airport and were notified that this was the official landing. Once again, I braced Davey on my shoulders, painfully feeling his kicks of excitment on my clavicle (note to self, take his shoes off next time I’m going to do this). I got my camera ready and began clicking away as the plane came in for its official landing. We watched it taxi down the runway and I eventually took Davey off of my shoulders. In the minutes that I put him down and we watched the plane pull into its new home, I was overwhelmed with a level of happiness, excitement, and exhilaration. It wasn’t much, but seeing something like this was pretty spectacular or to quote the words of my son, “Cool, Mama!” And yes that’s all he kept saying.

Davey checking out the plane.
Davey checking out the plane.

As we walked back to the car, Davey once again looked up at me and with his free hand, he pointed back at the plane and said, “Cool, Mama” and then offered me up a high five. So, for me, this experience definitely washed away any of the doubts I may have had. If I were a working mother, it’s highly unlikely I would have been able to take my son to this. Money comes and goes, but memories last a lifetime. And I’m thankful to have made one of the coolest ones to date with my son.

Cool Mama!
Cool Mama!