Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's time to chill

It's almost over! Can you hear the giddy in my voice? I almost feel a bit two-faced for saying that I'm GLAD it's almost over. Because, frankly, I'm glad when it starts, and I love it while we're in the thick of it but by the end doggoneit -- I'm ready for it to just be over!

What do I speak of? Why, fall sports, of course!

Can I get an amen?!?

This year Drew played fall baseball and Josh played football.

Drew's team, games, organization and practices were local. Josh was practicing at his school but the games were an hour away and they had to be there an hour early. Yuck.

Josh had Monday, Tuesday, Thursday practices and then Saturday games. Drew had sporadic practices but it seemed that they were always on Josh's "off" days which means that we never had a day to just chill the heck out!

Mama needs to have some chill time.

Drew's team's last game was 10/22. We were camping.

Josh's potential last game is this Tuesday. It also happens to be the first playoff game. If they win, they play on Saturday. If they lose, they're done. They nearly beat this team before (the game ended in a tie) so they're certainly capable of winning this game. However, I'd really like this season to just be done. (Shhhh... don't tell anyone, okay?) It'd be awesome to be the team that goes to the "superbowl" and PLAY at Dallas Cowboy's Stadium. That'd be pretty awesome (seeing that I've never been there -- I have this thing with paying $40 plus dollars to park my car somewhere for a matter of a couple of hours).

So, I hope they win but I won't be disappointed if they lose. Does that make sense?

Besides, I got giddy today. This evening.... seriously giddy! You see, I keep a calendar on the side of the refrigerator with the big events of the days written in so that we don't just flat out forget something... you know, in case I get hit by a bus.

Currently, I see days on there that have NOTHING ON THEM! Nothing AT ALL.

It made me smile.

We're getting into the season when it's more about us, and family and spending time together than it is being a mad dashed crazy woman who feels like a taxi service, a short order cook and literally doing laundry to keep game shirts clean.

This winter off will be time to focus on calm, on Scouts, on family and on the upcoming holidays -- all without any added pressures.

And, frankly, I really am looking forward to it.

I mean, I'm like the next typical Type-A personality that works well under pressure. I really do pull off some great work in the steamer. However, while working under the added stress of we have to be at Point A by such-and-such time and Point B by such-and-such time and then dinner in between while trying to get Benji's nap in... Right now, I'm done with the pressure-cooker-style mama.

It's.Time.To.Chill. For BOTH the weather and the woman!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Camping We Will Go

The alarm went off and I was up at 6:30 a.m. I made breakfast for the family and then finished packing Drew and I. It was a big day. This was the day we leave for his first camping trip.

It's been at least a month that he's know about it and every week or so I could see his excitement grow. This last week I saw the anticipation peak. It made me smile. I'm so happy to be able to share this experience with him. Scouting is such a great program for young men.

I would catch Drew telling all his friends proudly about how he won't be here this weekend -- that he was going camping.

He knew we had a new tent just for us (since he lost the tent poles for my good one, but we won't talk bout that!). He tried to help think of all the things he though we may need.

I went through our packing list once and then twice starting with the ground and working our way up: footprint, tent, bedding, pillows, liners, head-lamps, lantern, first-aid, water source, water container, toiletries, clothing, extra shoes...

There were only a couple of things I forgot that would have been nice to have but weren't needed.

We said our goodbyes and headed out. Sid Richardson -- HERE WE COME! We were on the road and he was so excited. I set the destination in the nav system so he could watch the mileage decrease and therefore wouldn't have to ask me repeatedly when we would be there. The nav system estimated our time of arrival and showed it on the screen. I think that little thing is a JEWEL for that feature alone!

We reached our destination and found another kiddo from our Den already set up.

The boys were so excited to be out and run and play and explore.

Getting kids out in nature, under the stars, learning to be independent -- yes, even at seven -- is so important!

Drew was such a trooper! He helped set up the footprint, the tent, the rain fly and helped finish out the inside. He got our chairs all ready, decided where to put this and that and we were all ready for the day.

Tent sweet tent.

After getting base camp set up, it was time to explore. We were at a great campsite. Not ONCE did I see poison ivy! That's rare!

So if there's nothing like poison ivy to find, just what did they find?


There's one in this mess of dried grass. See if you can see it.


I think in all they saw five scorpions, two snakes (in the wild) and a couple big spiders.

As soon as we arrived, Drew was asking for lunch so soon after setting up the tent, we ate our picnic lunch (Subway -- eat fresh). Then, at 1 o'clock we headed with the rest of our Pack to the day's activities at the Fall Festival.

First, we went to the area where they had more seasonal activities and it looked like a lot of fun -- see how happy he looks?

Happy camper

But, ultimately, we decided to go wait it out at the bb gun range. After he was instructed, he was able to enter the range and take aim. I let him wear my oh-so-very-stylish sunglasses because the shooting range's safety glasses were WAY scratched. I didn't think he'd be able to see worth a dern.

Hard to look tough in Kenneth Cole shades, but hey, it's a cute mug anyway!

Tough guy

He did pretty good for his first time out on the bb range and the important thing is that he had a great time.


Aiming his gun

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Stopped to pose for a picture by the archery range. His buddy, Philip, went there instead of the bb gun range. By attending this event, they both earned their respective belt-loops.

Tiger buds

Next, we headed back to the activity area where the Den carved pumpkins

Den 9's pumpkins

This is Drew's zombie vampire pumpkin

Zombie vampire
They held some of the snakes that they had out on display. Isn't the coloration of that snake beautiful? No, mama didn't hold it. I was there just to take pictures. Not that I wouldn't have, but it was really there for the boys.



The boys shot some spoon catapults (that's Drew and Evan)

Spoon catapulting

They also did some rock throwing target practice, bounced in a bounce house, played with a HUUUUUGE sling shot, a potato rocket, played ultimate Frisbee and just hung out. After a while, Drew was ready to go back to the campsite to just hang out for a bit. So we did...until suppertime -- or so we thought.

We were supposed to be on the first rotation for meals. Unfortunately, the truck bringing us dinner got a flat and was over an hour late. Cold chili dogs for dinner -- um, YUCK. What we've decided is NEVER AGAIN. We have capable and willing participants. In the future, we will cook for ourselves without a problem. We will eat well.

After dinner, we headed back to clean up a bit, explore some and grab some water and wait until the real festivities began -- the haunted hayride!

I could tell that Drew was a little apprehensive about the whole idea of something "haunted". He would pep talk himself in that he knew it was just pretend but then wanted to know what kinds of things he would see. I told him it wouldn't be scary, just sometimes creepy. It was for kids of all ages and so just to have fun with it.

While we waited in line, the boys took to the little area set up for photos before the hayride. And so, you know me... I followed with camera in hand.

The huge mess of a spiderweb!

This is his "scared" face.
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This is THEIR "scared" faces. I STINKY love this picture!
Den 9 antics

Drew kept acting up so we gave him THE CHAIR!
The Electric Chair

This is Drew, Evan and Evan's dad, Greg, on the hayride
On the hay ride

And here is me and my little man. Nice to see my face looking so much more thin.
Me and my Drew!

My happy haunted hayride hunnie!
Before the hayride

The hay ride DID have one part that was scary to me -- and YES -- I screamed! As we approached there was a huge shape of an over-sized figure that appeared to be too big to be a person. Its back was toward us. As we kept approaching, I realized there was NO WAY this could be a real person it had to be a decoy to something ELSE waiting in the wings to jump out at us. Why would I think that? This figure had to be at least seven feet tall and HUUUUUGE like muscular huge. We came upon it and as it was right in front of Drew and me, it turned and lunged at us and screamed. I grabbed Drew and pulled him back and screamed my head off in the process. I'm sure it was absolutely hilarious to the jerk in the costume! But, that's what his job was, right? Grrrrrrr...

I checked the Rangers score, the weather and realized that my phone was going dead and we had bad weather heading our way -- BAD. I was hoping for the best but we were prepared for the worst.

We circled our little chairs around a fire ring and roasted marshmallows and made smores. We all just chilled around for a bit and then extinguished the fire and made our way into the tent about 10:45 p.m. (entirely too late for this old broad!)

Oh, and the bad weather -- we wound up with a great lightning show off in the distance but not a single drop of rain.

Drew slept like a rock!

He woke up the next morning and whispered, "Mooooooom." (I was already awake.)

"Yes, Drew?"

"I think it's morning."

"Did the sun give it away?"

He laughed.

I asked, "Would you like to get up?"


"Ok, lets get dressed."

Breakfast was in an hour so the boys got dressed before Sunday service to just run around while the big folk started breaking down the easy parts of their campsites.

Here are Philip and Drew the morning after. The previous night he, Antonio, Philip and Evan were all in this tree with headlamps on turned to red. The strangest bunch of owls we ever did see.
The morning after

I couldn't have asked for a better weekend camping trip for Drew.

We started back out that morning for home only to discover a dead battery on the car and my telephone. Not the way I intended to begin the day...especially because I was hoping to see a friend of mine that lived in Bridgeport before we made our way home. However, the car with a tired Drew and a dead phone made it an easy decision to just make a b-line for the driveway back in Keller, Texas.

And now, I can't wait to go back! I LOVES ME SOME WILDERNESS!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Being There

On the way home from taking the Christmas presents purchased thus far up to the office to hide in the storage room, a song came on that moved me.

It's not that this doesn't happen often. Music is a huge part of my life. It can alter moods. It can make you remember. It can make you happy. It can make you sad. It can make you angry. It can make you want to drive really, really, REALLY fast. It's fun to listen to in your ear pieces as you jog... it's motivational, it'e emotional, it's just something that I'd die without (okay, not really, well, ok, pretty close to maybe.)

Anyway, it wasn't a song I'd typically listen to because, well, the artist's voice kinda grates on my nerves (it's like Reba... I can listen to ONE of her songs and by the end I'm ready to claw my ears off because her voice gets on my nerves). But, as soon as I saw the title come up, I remembered hearing it years ago. And frankly, when you're from the south, classic country is just part of your life. I hesitated with my finger on the button but then thought, "You know, I'd like to hear the story in the song." I really like knowing the stories behind the songs.... and sometimes, it's amazing to see the parallel in my own life.

So I drove... and he sang. And I drove some more.... and he kept singing... and then my eyes filled up with tears as it just hit me. The most important thing you can do... as a parent is to BE THERE. To be present both in mind and body.

When they want your attention, put your phone down, get off the computer, turn off the television. GIVE THEM YOUR ATTENTION. I mean, YOU want THEIR attention when you talk to them? Why don't they get the same respect?

(and while this is my confessional, I will say, forgive me readers, for I have sinned.... it's been a long time since my last confessional. I'm just as guilty as the next person with my screen time. Please forgive me. Amen)

I started thinking how (and this is totally cliche) isn't it great when you realize that the little things in life really ARE the big things?

Like, last weekend for instance, I was there. I got to be THE ONE to see my son score his first touchdown run. I was there. I got to celebrate and scream and jump and be proud. I wasn't just having to hear about it -- I was there! I lived it!

When Drew made his first live hit during this, his first season of coach-pitch, I was there.

I am BLESSED to be there to live the moments with them.

I am BLESSED to see them not only be proud of themselves for accomplishing something they always wanted to or always hoped for, but also to see people celebrate their accomplishments alongside.

I am BLESSED to be there. Because, after all being there, is so important.

My aspirations when I was growing into adulthood were narcissistic (as are anyone's) because it's all about ME and what I want and what I'm going to do and how much money I'm going to make and... we dream and we grow and hopefully we do grow enough to understand that it really isn't all about us after all... ESPECIALLY when you have kids.

You have dreams still...but you also have dreams for them. I'm not going to say that I dream for my son to be a doctor or an attorney or a rocket scientist (though, that'd be pretty darn cool), but I dream more for them to be fulfilled and happy... obedient... loving... sociable... generous... compassionate humans... who are present in their OWN lives.

I'm so sad for Josh's biological dad who lives in another state, a 2-hour plane ride away. He doesn't get to be there. I realize that it was his choice to move away, but I wonder if he ever realized all the little things that he was choosing to miss. How sad for him... because I can see a parallel in the song lyrics to his/Josh's life, too.

As a mom, I have an EXTREMELY thankless job... it's harder than anything I've ever done. IT's stressful. It's 24/7. It's demanding. But, I will continue to do whatever I have to do... to just be there. Because as Aerosmith says, "I don't wanna miss a thing."

Oh, and the song. It was called "I Wish I Could Have Been There" by John Anderson.

When our baby Kate was born it was the biggest day of my life
Lying there, little bows in her hair
In the loving arms of my wife
I was the proudest papa in the USA
Makin' a living on the road somewhere a thousand miles away

It was a happy day, but kinda' sad
And I wish I coulda' been there
Yea I wish I coulda' been there
I wish I coulda been there for that

Little Bobby hit his first home run
He was the hero of the home town crowd
Two to one, it was a winning run
Everybody was cheering loud
And mommy she was smilin' saying he's a chip off of the old block
But I was on the road somewhere between Memphis and Little Rock

It was a happy day but kinda' sad
And I wish I coulda' been there
Yea I wish I coulda' been there
I wish I coulda' been there for that

Now Bobby and Kate are all grown up
And moved away
They stay in touch
We're proud of the two good kids we raised
And it's hard to believe we are celebrating our twenty fifth year today
This party's nice but the kids aren't here
At least they called to say
Congratulations mom and dad

I wish we could have been there
I wish we could have been there
I wish we could have been there for that
It was a happy day, but kinda' sad
And I wish they could have been there
Yea I wish they could have been there
I wish they could have been there, for that

Take a listen.