Friday, December 17, 2010

Well That Didn't Last Long

Yesterday I was on such a Christmas high. After Brady's performance I felt the Christmas Spirit and decided to keep that Spirit up through the season.

Jacob's school Christmas Party was today. He has been looking forward to this day for weeks. His class has been planning and parents have been sending in goodies for today's celebration. His teacher sent and email a couple of weeks ago telling each parent that they were doing a Secret Santa gift exchange and they would only do it if 100% agreed. A couple of days later Jacob came home with his Secret Santa he was supposed to buy for. It was a GIRL!! He was so nervous buying a gift for a girl! Too cute. He got her a pretty purple Christmas ornament. A perfect gift because he said, "Purple is her favorite color".

Today he came home from school VERY upset. He was the only kid in class who didn't get a Secret Santa gift. My heart totally sunk. We both cried for such a long time. I couldn't find the words to comfort him. We were both a total mess. He said, "I can't understand why." I can't either. I hope that his Secret Santa just forgot. I hope it was just an accidental oversight. To an 8 year old...this is HUGE! He said he just had to sit there and watch the other kids open their presents. He felt awful. At this point we are both inconsolable.

Jacob's best friend at school is Jack. Well, Jack couldn't stand Jacob being so sad so he gave Jacob his Secret Santa gift - a Hot Wheels Monster Truck. Jacob told me that he couldn't tell Jack that he didn't want it - that gift was for Jack not for him. He said that Jack didn't want him to be sad so he took the gift. I am touched that Jack would do this. Jacob gave the truck to Brady. He said that he didn't want it. He is still just so upset. He feels forgotten. He is such a sad little boy today. Which makes a very sad Mommy.

I am having trouble with the "better to give than to receive" translation to my 8 year old. I sent and email to his teacher expressing our sadness. I hate seeing my son so sad. I hate seeing his Christmas Spirit crushed. We will have to work extra hard this week to find our Christmas Spirit again.

What a Cheese Ball!!

Brady had his final preschool Christmas program yesterday. I was a little worried for him. In the years past he never really participated in any program. He usually just stood there and stared out at the auidence like a deer in headlights. This year was a little different.

He came out holding his ears because the clapping was too loud. Then he just bloomed into this little performer. He sang every song. He did all of the motions. He just shined!!

After their class was finished singing they allowed the parents to get up and take pictures of their child. Brady spotted me and this is the reaction I got...

He totally filled my heart with JOY.

He was so proud of himself. I love it!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tis the Season

I have been very hopeful this Holiday season. Hopeful in a sense that this season remains light, happy, and fun.

Jacob, who is 8, has many questions about Santa. He is still very wary. Very wary! "How does he come down the chimney when we don't even have one?" "Is it magic? If it is magic then I don't believe in it because I don't believe in magic!" "How does Santa know what I want?" "I just don't know." I have told him just to believe in the Spirit of Christmas. Magical things do happen over the Holiday season. He always shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head.

Last year my sister sent us the Elf on the Shelf. Jacob named him Bob. Ever since Thanksgiving I have been looking for Bob. He was missing! We unpacked all of our Christmas decorations and still no Bob. I was getting very nervous. The four of us were putting up the tree when Tod tapped on my shoulder. He pointed to the kitchen where I saw Bob sitting on top of the fridge. Whew! He showed up.

Bob sat there for about 15 minutes before Jacob went to the kitchen to get a drink. He shouted, "He's here! He's really here!" The look on his face was pure elation. We all ran to the kitchen to see Bob smiling down on us. At that moment Jacob believed. He truly believed. It was so wonderful to see the innocence back in his face.

I am still very hopeful that this season will be fun, merry, and joyful. Miracles do happen.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Climbing at Whitewater

A couple of weeks ago we went to the U.S. National Whitewater center in Charlotte. If you haven't been...GO! It is the perfect place to go with a family. It isn't jut a whitewater rafting place. It was a little to cold for us to go rafting, but we were able to watch a team practice kyaking. Very fun.

The boys loved climbing on all of the rocks.

Jacob made it to the top!

Brady climbed this rock and watched the kyakers for about two hours. Glad I brought my book!

Tod took Jacob on one of the mountain biking trails. He loved it! I was a little worried that he wouldn't make it, but he and his el-cheap-o bike made it out in one piece!! I rode the trail around the white water route. So beautiful. The fire department was doing rescue training at the center and it was fun to watch while on my bike ride.

After our biking and climbing adventures Tod and I sat and had a couple of cold beers and the boys enjoyed a Sunkist and a Sprite. We watched some kids do the free fall jump and decided to come back when the Zip line was open.

I think we wore Brady out!!! He sounds like a cat purring!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Today I chaperoned Brady's field trip to Black's Farm. This is a local pumpkin/apple farm. The kids love it. They have a corn maze, hayride, a house made out of straw, farm animals, and there is always free ice cream at the end. To me, a trip to Black's Farm marks the beginning of Fall. We have done this trip annually since Jacob was 3 years old.

Today is also the coldest it has been in a very long time. I didn't dress appropriately. Brady had on two shirts and a jacket. I had on a short sleeved shirt with a fleece. Burrrr.

As we gathered around to listen to Mrs. Black explain about the farm and what all we are going to do this started to rain. Not a downpour, but that annoying rain when you are not sure if you need an umbrella or not.

Our group was the first to do the hayride. I must say that the hayride was the warmest place on the farm. We were all sitting so close I'm sure we generated enough heat to power the tractor. Brady LOVED the hayride. He squealed when we dipped and swayed from side to side. He didn't even care it was cold and rainy. Unlike his mother.

The morning was actually fun. Watching Brady with his love of farming equipment was so much fun. While all the kids were watching the pigs, Brady was admiring the combine harvester. I may have a future farmer on my hands.

One of our last stops was the barn. On one side the kids got to jump on a hay "trampoline", and on the other side of the barn were horses, goats, chickens, and a giant white turkey. In the middle they had hay bales set up for us to watch a puppet show about being a good friend. While we sat to watch the puppet show we all ate our free ice cream. Brady had his favorite - chocolate, and I had mine - vanilla. This was going to be the highlight of my morning. Nothing beats dessert BEFORE lunch! On about my third delicious bite of ice cream....the smell from the animal side of the barn waifed through the rest of the barn. Gag! Cough! Blech! The overwhelming stench of farm animals does not blend well with my vanilla ice cream. This may destroy my love of vanilla ice cream. The next time I eat my much desired vanilla ice cream...I may not be able to devour it because I will recall the powerful smell of poo.

Brady had a fabulous time at Black's Farm. On the way home he said, "Maybe next time we can ride in the combine harvester!!" My thoughts were, "Next time?! Next time?! I'm cold, wet, and cannot get the taste of vanilla poo out of my mouth! Next time?!" I said, "I hope so! That sure would be fun!"

Monday, October 25, 2010

An O'Donnell Wedding

This past weekend we drove up to Northern Kentucky for an O'Donnell Family Wedding. Most family events are a perfect reason for a family to reunite, to see how much the kids have grown, and to just catch up. Well, an O'Donnell Family Wedding is not one of these times.

An O'Donnell Family Wedding is an event. It is something that will be talked about for years to come. It is simply... a party. (A really fun party!)

Tod's cousin, Jill O'Donnell married Ian Sheckel this weekend.
Jill was 15 years old when Tod and I got married. She walked into our reception and said, "This is where I'm going to have my reception one day!" Well, that day came and she kept her word. We took over the hotel. An O'Donnell Invasion.
The reception starts out like every other reception with announcing the wedding party, dinner, first dances, cutting the cake. Once the music starts the party begins.
I am not one for dancing. I am usually the girl sitting at the table in the corner with every one's purses and coats drinking a beer tapping my foot to the beat. Well, at an O'Donnell Family Wedding...not participating is NOT an option.
I actually danced. The entire night! I am using the word "dance" very lightly. I kind of move around in the same spot occasionally keeping the beat to the music. But still. I danced.
Tod's brother, Pat is the family dancer. (Does every family have one?) Several times that night the dance floor was cleared to make room for Pat to move. Just amazing. It is hard to share the floor with Pat, but we were all out there.
The best part of the night was seeing Tod's Dad out on the dance floor with his sister and brothers singing and ....dancing. For those of you who don't know, Tod's Dad is in a wheelchair. Has been for four years now. I remember when he was in the hospital and had to get a blood transfusion. He said, "I hope it is the blood of a tap dancer!" Well Tom, you didn't need it. You definitely still have the same moves!
As the night was wrapping up we sat in the lobby and talked and laughed and laughed some more. I think we were all feeling a little blue that the night was almost over. Then another one of Tod's cousins announced that they were getting married in June!! Yes! Another O'Donnell Family Wedding!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Everyone Has a Story

Have you ever driven by a house and instantly know its story? That little farm house with an elderly couple sitting on rocking chairs. We all know that story. Married young, had many children, fought in a war, farmed the land, kids moved away, sold some of the land where a new neighborhood sits, retired and just waiting until Wheel of Fortune comes on the TV then time for bed. Yes, we all know their story. They have made a million "made for TV" movies about their story.

Today I saw a very young Mother at Wal-Mart Pharmacy and her obviously sick baby girl. She paid for the prescription with change. Nickles, dimes and pennies. You could feel her stress. I wondered if she had enough money for them to eat tonight. What was her story?

At the park there was a family having a picnic. The whole family looked very preppy. They even had the classic Eddie Bauer picnic basket and blanket. The kids were all very good looking and played nicely with the other kids at the park. I overheard the dad say, "I think Trevor is going to be a politician when he grows up." Then the mom said, "Either that or a criminal!" I thought...."What's the difference?" But there must be quite a story there for her to say that.

I wonder what people think when they see my family, when they look at my house. Do they see the couple married for almost 13 years who are still very much in love? Do they see this couple stress out over bills? kids? cars? money? family? Do they see the kids who don't want to brush their teeth? clean their rooms? drink their milk? Do they see happiness? Do they see love? Do they see who we really are?

I wonder if my image of others stories is correct.

That old couple could have millions of dollars in the bank and not a care in the world. They love their house and have no desire to move on up. They might hate Wheel of Fortune and go to bed late.

That stressed mother could have lost her wallet. She could have walked out of Wal-Mart and into a BMW for all I knew.

That happy preppy couple could have been just that. Happy.

I wonder if my image of others is just as off as others image of me. What is the story that I want others to look at me and see? We all have a story. Maybe we have more than one story. The actual story and the story people see.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Thoughts on Things I Saw This Week....

This week I have seen some interesting/strange things and I thought I would share.

*I saw a man dressed in a blue striped seersucker suit coming out of the courthouse. He even wore a flat brimmed hat. He looked like the fourth member of a barbershop quartet looking for a small town street corner to sing "Goodnight Ladies". Where did he come from? Where was he going?

*At my In-laws house I saw a new bottle of Breck Shampoo. Yes a new bottle. I didn't know they even made Breck Shampoo anymore. I do remember the first time I saw Brooke Shields was a magazine print add and she was the Breck Girl. (Kind of like today's Cover Girl.) After turning over the bottle I discovered that Breck is now made by Dial Soap. Strangely enough Breck Shampoo looks and smells an awful lot like Dial Anti-Bacterial Hand Soap. Hmmm....

*Yesterday I was behind a beautifully polished hearse with Arkansas plates. What are they doing in the Carolinas? Was the deceased so afraid of flying that even posthumously they drove half way across the country to rest in peace? Maybe this vehicle isn't being used for its intended purpose. A family wagon? A delivery (so to speak) vehicle? I'm still wondering about this one.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Rodrigo y Gabriela - 'Tamacun'

This is Rodrigo y Gabriela and they are AMAZING! Tamacun is my new favorite song... Enjoy!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Stepping Out of My Box

Do you know that feeling when you finally book your vacation and it is months and months away? You feel like that moment is so far away. You feel like it will just never get here. Well, that is exactly how I felt this past January. My sister, Ellen, called me and asked if I wanted to participate in the Outdoor Divas Triathlon with her. What?! Me?! A Triathlon?! Then the words just flew out of my mouth..."Sure! I'll do it with you!" What?! Me?! A Triathlon?! Oh no!

I looked down at my overweight body and let out a deep depressing sigh. How in the world am I going to get ready for this? Well, the event really isn't until August. I have plenty of time to get ready for it. So, I signed up for Weight Watchers and started training. At first I was just trying to get the weight off. Trying to get my body ready for the abuse of a tri.

As August neared I started to get anxious. I started to doubt myself. What was I thinking? August was still so far away. I have plenty of time.

Ellen would call me about once a month to see where my progress was. Neither of us had gotten in the pool yet to train. Ellen was a lifeguard as a teenager and we have always been good swimmers. She has done lots of cycling trips and living in Denver, CO they can bike just about anywhere. I've participated in many 5k races and feel good about my level of training there. Again, August is so far away. We have plenty of time.

As July 4th rolls around I realize that I only have about 6 weeks left to train. Yikes! I start my swim and bike training. I'm surprised how much fun I have swimming laps and riding on the greenway in Charlotte. Ok...August is approaching and I think I am getting close to ready.

As my parents come to my house to watch the boys while Tod and I head to Colorado for the Triathlon, I realize that the moment is here. The panic sets in. Am I truly ready for this?

Ellen and Jim had a fun Friday night planned for us. We head to Red Rocks to see Rodrigo y Gabriela in concert. Tod and I have been wanting to see a show here and it was such a bonus to be able to see Rodrigo y Gabriela!!

Here we all are during the show. Tod, Me, Ellen and Jim

We pick up our race packets at the Outdoor Divas store. It is now official. We have all of our goodies and our race numbers.

The morning of the event I wake having slept maybe 3 or 4 hours. Ellen and I quietly get ready while Jim loads our bikes in the car. I cannot tell you how many times I have packed and repacked my bag for the tri. I've mentally checked and double checked everything in the bag. What if I forgot something?

The 45 minute drive up to Longmont, CO was full of nervous laughter between Ellen and I. We watched a beautiful purple sunrise rise over the plains to our right and shine on the Rockies to our left. We approached the reservoir where the event took place and the truly fearful nervousness sunk in. We are actually doing this. We parked....immediately found the porta-potties...then unloaded the car.

The first order of business was to get inked. Volunteers wrote our number and our age at the end of the year on our arms and leg. I don't think I will ever forget the number 1154.

We set up our bikes in the transition area. There were 500 participants. All women. All nervous.

Each participant got a little piece of real estate the size of a towel next to your bike. I laid everything out in order of when I would need it. Questioned my organization and rearranged it several times. This was the final layout.

The announcement came that we all needed to go to the START area for an event meeting to explain the course and get hyped up for the race. We slowly herded ourselves to the waterfront where 500 women stood with nervous smiles. There were obvious seasoned veterans and obvious first timers. Women of all shapes and sizes.
As they explained the course it was so quiet. All of us paid close attention to what was expected of us and what we expected of them. Then they said..."5 minutes until the first wave!" Oh geesh. Here we go. We were in the 4th wave to start out of 8 waves. Right in the middle. The horn sounds for the first wave to go.....cheers follow.
Our turn. We enter the water and get ourselves used to the chilly water. It is a waist deep start for a 750 meter swim. "One minute!" My heart starts to pound. I can feel it in my ears. I cannot even catch my breath. "HHHHOOOONNNKKKKK!" we go! Ellen and I start in the back of the pack on purpose. We want to stick together. I got a good kick in the side followed by a very friendly, "I'm so ok?" Every participant was so sweet and supportive. But, I couldn't find Ellen. I yell her name and she is struggling. I talk to her and encourage her to keep moving. It is hard to swim when all you see is open water and the shore is behind you. We stay together and make it through in under 24 minutes. A record for me.
We have an easy transition to the bikes and start our 12.4 mile ride. It took me about 1/2 mile to get used to my bike. I rented it out there and it is very different than my little Target bike that I trained on. This bike is lighter and faster. We are able to stick together on this portion of the race as well. The route was very flat and fast. We finished in under an hour!
Now for the run portion. At this point I feel good. I feel like I can run 10 miles. I'm surprised at how good I actually feel. Then before we hit the one mile marker I start to fade. I just cannot get enough oxygen into my system. I tell Ellen that I have to walk for a few feet. She says that it is the altitude that is getting to me. This is the most strenuous portion of the tri and I need to make sure I can finish. After we pass the one mile marker we run again. Ellen encouraged me all the way. She kept saying.."we will run to that rock, we will run to that white truck, we will run to that orange cone...." I needed that support just to get me to the finish.

Here we are just before the finish line. And yes...those are smiles!!!

I am still in a bit of disbelief that I actually participated in a triathlon. Yes! Me! A Triathlon! And we were able to celebrate!!

I must thank Ellen for all of her encouragement and support throughout the event. She kept saying, "It's not a race! It's an EVENT!!" and "Just going for a swim in the lake!" and "Just gonna go for a quick bike ride!" and "Just going for a little run through a corn field!" I needed that kind of casualness to calm my nerves. Thank you to my parents for helping us with the boys. It was exactly what I needed to have Tod there at the finish line rooting me on. Thank you to all of my family and dear friends who supported me. I had all of your encouraging words with me the entire event. I also want to say a big thank you to my doubters. Yes, there are always doubters. After losing 30 pounds and completing a triathlon, all I want to say is... HA! In your face! Ahhh...that sure felt good.
I have stepped way out of my box. I mean WAY out of my box! As a reward to myself for completing the Triathlon....I got my nose pierced! Yay me!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Second Grader!!!

It's official! Jacob is a second grader!! He looked so different going off to school this morning. He looked so much older. He wasn't nervous, scared...just excited. I have to admit....I kinda miss him already!!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Last week I went blueberry picking with my Mother. We drove up into the mountains off a little country road and up a dirt driveway to find a little brick house and two small pups to welcome us. There was a little old man with coveralls walking toward us from the back part of his property. My Mom shouted, "We are here to pick blueberries!" He shouted back, "Well, help yourself!" We started walking back toward the street. I finally noticed the dozens of blueberry bushes. They were huge! Probably 8 feet tall and just as big around. These bushes were loaded! Loaded with bright purple-blue berries.

My Mom started picking right away. I decided to get right in the middle. It was an amazing experience to be surrounded by blueberries. All you had to do is put your bucket under a branch and run your hand along the berries and they would just fall into the bucket. The unripe ones left on the bush for later picking. I only found one inch worm and a couple of spiders. No snakes - thankfully. It was perfectly peaceful.

After picking 3 gallons worth we walked up to the carport and paid the nice man. My Mother asked him how old his blueberry bushes were. He said he planted them in 1975. Holy cow! I am two years older then those plants!

I now have all of these blueberries. I will need to learn to bake a pie! For now we are enjoying blueberry smoothies.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Not to worry....

Not to worry....I will be back to writing soon. I know all of you have been waiting on the edge of your computer chairs for another post. Soon. Very soon!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

An End To My Automated Life

There are certain 'things' that I can't live without. My dryer, a microwave, TV, the Internet, air-conditioning!!! Well there is one thing that I love.... automatic doors on my minivan! The ease if opening and closing the doors with the press of a button has made my life so comfortable. It is great to be able to open the doors and the tailgate from my little key ring when I have a cart full of groceries and two boys hanging from it. is good.

Until today. I took the van into the shop because it was having trouble with opening and closing its doors. I just assumed it needed a little WD-40 and some TLC. Well, I was wrong. The door tracks are cracked and both motors are blown. Ouch. AND it will cost over two grand to fix. Double ouch! Now I will have to manually open and close both doors. Triple ouch!

It has been nice having this automated life. Good-bye doors opening at the touch of a button. Good-bye my beloved closing of doors without having to take off my seat belt. Good-bye. (tear, sniff, sniff)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

It's My Lucky Day

I was in out back yard weeding and was looking around at all the weeds I had left to pull when my eyes just locked in on one spot. I couldn't believe it. Three four-leafed clovers were just sitting there!! I have never found even one before. Three! I still can't believe it. I guess today is my lucky day!

Monday, April 19, 2010


Living one mile from Carowinds Amusement Park has it's benefits! We can hear the thrilling screams from our front porch. We drive past it every day. Last year was our first year to get season passes. The boys and I went on a weekly basis. We would head on over about when the park opened and stay until lunchtime. Go home, nap, then head back to the water park for the afternoon.

This year is no different. With our season passes burning a hole in our pockets, we headed over to Carowinds on Sunday. Well, it is a little different. Ok...a lot different. Carowinds has introduced a new ride. A new roller coaster. The Intimidator. Trust me. It is intimidating!!! It has a 211 foot drop at 74 degrees and reaches 75 miles per hour. Terrifying. You could hear the screams from all over the park.

We went with our neighbors. We would watch each others kids while taking turns riding the rides. I passed on riding The Intimidator. I am a big chicken. Always have been. Never been a thrill seeker. Tod rode it and said it was the best roller coaster ride he has ever been on. I said, "Ok. I'll do it!" As we slowly walked over to the ride I was devising a plan to weasel out of riding this crazy ride. I opened my mouth to tell Tod that I just couldn't do it......then wham...we literally ran into another neighbor, Jake and his 8 year old daughter, Maddie. They just got off of the Intimidator. What?!?! She said that it was really cool! Tod had this smirk on his face that had, "See, even an 8 year old loved the ride!" written all over it. I have never cursed a child before...until now. Great. There was no way out of it.

Approaching the ride my heart was beating out of my chest. My knees were shaking. I could barely walk up the steps to the rides platform. Tod kept reassuring me. It is fun! You will be fine! There is nothing to be afraid of! Oh, geesh! I cannot remember ever being that scared. As I watched little boys and girls get strapped in for their ride, I saw a woman that had to be 20 years older than me getting strapped in. Well, crap! There is no backing out now.

I was in a complete panic. This in not like any other ride. You creep slowly up to the top of the first hill that towers over the park. Then plummet straight down at rocketing speeds. Then right back up again to plummet back down into uncertain doom. I had tears coming out of the corners of my eyes. From fear? From anxiety? From knowing I will never see my children again!!!! When the ride was over I couldn't let go of my safety bar. My hands were gripped so tight Tod had to pry them open. I was very giggly when it was all over. My knees shook for a while after the ride. Tod said, "I am so proud of you for riding this!!! I have never heard you make any of those sounds before too!!! " So not only did I ride the scariest roller coaster ever...I completely embarrassed myself! Curse you Maddie!!!!!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


It seems like letter names are a big deal in our house. I never really noticed it until Brady came along. Let me explain...

When I met Tod everyone called him OD for O'Donnell. Honestly I thought his name was "Odie" at first and thought that was just strange! Anyway, the OD letter name stuck all through college.

Tod is actually his initials. My sister calls him T-O-D. Yep, spells it out. Yet another Letter name for him.

About 18 months after Jacob was born we realized that every other male child has the name Jacob. He needed a nickname! He didn't really look like a Jake. We even thought of him going by his initials.... J.T., but that didn't stick. So he is known by J. Not Jay. Just the letter J.

I thought having an OD and a J would be enough. Nope. Brady just kind of evolved into B. We have always called him B. He loves it. He loves having a letter name. He even lovingly named his blanket B also. Our B has a B.

The other day I was sitting in the Kitchen with B and his B. I asked him if he loved his B. He said, "Yes! Mommy, you are a "B" too!" At first I was shocked. We all know what being a B really is. TOD, wiping away tears, said, "I think he means it as a compliment!!" I sure hope so. It would be nice to have a letter name. Just not sure if I want to be called a "B"!!!

Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Bedtime is always a source of stress for me. Getting the boys bathed, dressed, read to, and calmed down is quite a chore. Now with the sun staying out longer it is even harder to drag them inside for bedtime.

We made a decision to have the boys share a bedroom. We bought bunk beds that are two double beds so they have plenty of room to grow into their beds. Do they use all of this room? Well, yes and no. Both boys either sleep in the bottom bunk or the top bunk...together. After tucking them in I turn off the light and walk down the hallway. I can hear little giggles and lots of shuffling. They are changing beds. This happens several times each night. The boys will start off in the bottom bunk then shift to the top bunk. One of them will have to go potty so then they will move on down to the bottom bunk. It goes on like this for a while. We also hear lots of "Stop it's! and Get off me's!, but mostly it is giggling.

Some nights it is frustrating to get them to settle down with several trips to their room to quiet them down. I keep reminding myself that these noises are good. They like each other. They are sharing with each other. They want to spend time together. I just need to remind myself of this at 10pm when they are still awake giggling!!!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wilson Creek

Over the weekend we went to my parents house to celebrate my Mother's birthday. We had a wonderful weekend. Tod actually broke the son-in-law rule and beat my Dad at golf. Big no-no! After all was forgiven we continued to celebrate with a juicy steak and great wine.

On Sunday we headed up into the mountains to a place called Wilson Creek. On the way up we actually saw a beat up pickup truck with a bumper sticker that said, "I'd Rather Be At Wilson Creek!" Hmmm..must be an interesting place! Well, it was an amazing place. As we headed off the paved road and creeped along the creekside dirt road the scenery changed. A wild area of rapids, waterfalls, and big boulders jutting out over the creek. A perfect place for little boys to climb and mothers to worry!

Jacob and Brady loved climbing on the rocks and throwing sticks into the creek. My Dad took lots of pictures.

A group of four kayakers unloaded their gear and launched into the creek from where we were sitting. My Mom chatted with them and found out they were from Canada and just came down to kayak down Wilson Creek! The boys were fascinated. One man allowed Jacob and Brady to sit in his boat. As you can tell by the look on their faces...they loved it.

The kayakers went down the first little waterfall and chatted with the boys. Made them feel like a part of their adventure.

And...drumroll please... here is a very rare family photo!! Brady wasn't too happy because he wasn't quite finished with his sandwich and it was starting to rain.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Snow Bunnies!

Well, it's been about eight years since I have been skiing. It's about time! My very dear friend, Tracy and I decided to take a trip into the North Carolina mountains and see if we could conquer the slopes. Neither of us had skied in a very long time so there were no expectations of "swooshing" down the mountain.

Tracy failed to inform me that she is a MUCH better skier than me! The first run was pretty easy. We stayed on the easiest slope for a while. Then we ventured to the midway point. I tumbled down the mountain until we reached the easy slope. Then it was smooth sailing.

Here we are on the ski lift.

You can't tell, but it was really crowded. What a beautiful day!

After about two hours of skiing we were so hot! We went back to our locker and took off most of our layers. On the way out we passed the bar and had to have a little liquid courage to go to the top of the mountain!!

We skied for the rest of the afternoon and had such a good time. Tracy gracefully skiing down the mountain and me creating the snowball effect behind her! It has been three days since our trip and I am still sore with a huge bruise on my knee. Whenever I feel the soreness I just remember how much fun it was to spend the day with my friend!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Such Posers!

I promised my Mother-in-law that I would post some pictures of the boys. Here are a couple of pics of them totally posing for the camera. Ususally they make silly faces or stick their tounges out!! Enjoy, Connie!

Friday, February 19, 2010

What do you want to be?

I always ask the boys what they want to be when they grow up. Brady is pretty consistant. He just figured out what he wants to be. I do wonder if it will change like Jacob's has. It seems like each year Jacob's dream job changes.

Brady (Age 4) - I want to be a Garbage Truck Driver!

Jacob (Age 4) - A Superhero!

Jacob (Age 5) -A Pet Store Owner!

Jacob (Age 6) -A Rock Star!

Jacob (Age 7) - A Banker! Like Dad.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Negative Nelly

We all have that person in our life. We have that Negative Nelly or Negative Nelson that keeps our feet firmly planted on the ground. It seems like when I want to try something new or accomplish something for myself I receive lots of "Really?"'s and "Are you sure you can do that?"'s from this person. It gets very frustrating. I would much rather hear, "Great!", "I know you can do it", or even a "Wow! You will do great with that!"

When you hear something negative does it discourage you or let it fuel your fire? Do you stop and say, "they are right, I can't do it." or do you have that "Ha! In your face!" moment. I wish I could be that "in your face!" person. Even if I do prove someone wrong I don't rub it in. I just take a moment and sit and bask in my own private glory.

I have to admit having this Negative Nelly friend sure makes me a better friend. I know what it feels like to be shot down and want to make sure I don't make others feel the same way. It is easy to be discouraging, but it is hard to break someones SPIRIT!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Climbing Mountains

After accomplishing one achievement, my brother-in-law, Jim, decided to award himself with yet another achievement. In December Jim completed his MBA! After three years of going to school in the evenings, class trips to Costa Rica and China to help understand their business models, and many papers, exams and sleepless nights, he certainly deserved an award. Jim, who is not a sit-still kind of guy, didn't want a party. Didn't want to just sit back and relax. He hopped on a plane the day after Christmas and headed to Africa. The climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. I cannot wait to hear all about his adventure. As you can see by the picture he made it to the top! We are all so proud of you, Jim! It's obvious...there is no limit to what you can do!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Center Of My Universe

The boys and I traveled to Louisiana to spend Thanksgiving with my Grandmother. My sister and brother-in-law joined us from Denver. Tod had to work so he spent Thanksgiving with our neighbors. Jacob, Brady and I flew into Jackson, MS then drove the two hours to North Louisiana. It is a different world there.

Each summer my sister and I spent a couple of weeks with my Grandparents. (I'm sure my folks needed a break!) This small town in Northeast Louisiana seems to be forgotten in time, but still remains the center of the universe. My family has moved around a lot and each place we lived my Grandmother would say...."I know someone who lives there. Y'all call them." This person could be a distant cousin, a niece of a friend, or a grandson of her bridge partner. It didn't matter. We always called them.

When we moved to Cincinnati my Grandmother said, "Oh, we have cousins that live in Morrow, OH. Y'all call them." Well, we did and we visited each other many times while we lived up there. Whenever my Grandparents came to town we would take a trip up to Morrow for a visit. And it was the first time I ever saw a horse drink beer. A person doesn't forget a thing like that!

My sister and brother-in-law moved to Denver about ten years ago. My Grandmother said, "You know Fannie's granddaughter,Nan, lives there too. Y'all call her." My sister did and found herself a very best friend.

It is amazing how this small town seems to be the center of the universe. I believe there may be some connection in every town across the country back to Northeast Louisiana!!

Whenever we went to Louisiana there was a sense of freedom. My Grandparents didn't live out in the country, but they didn't live in town either. I also made some instant friends. Sarah Calvert and Mary Ellen Cochran were my very best friends when I would visit. I think I spent more time with them then I did my own family during those two weeks. Even as we grew into our teens, college, marriage, and parenthood we seem to know what is going on in each others lives. Either through our families or now through the wonders of facebook.

Well I was able to show Jacob the joys, freedoms, and wonders of this small town. I was glad Jacob was old enough to appreciate how different it is there. We played countless games of hide-and-go-seek using the entire yard. There were so many places to hide. Once Jacob hid close to the road (not to traffic) behind a tree. When I found him he asked me, "Hey Mom! What's all this white stuff?" It was cotton. Lots and lots of cotton. There is a cotton gin a few miles down the road. Some of the big trucks had lost a bit of their "white gold" and it had blown down to my Grandmothers yard. It was the first time Jacob had seen cotton.

I remember Sarah, MaryEllen and I climbing my Grandmothers giant magnolia tree. When I was little I thought this tree was huge. Well, as an is still pretty huge! We would climb as high as we could, until the branches became too small to hold us. We could see the roof of Sarah's house from up there. I was able to watch Jacob climb this tree.

Here he is getting started...

A little bit higher.

Can you see Jacob? He got REALLY high up there! I'm sure I have sat on many of those same branches.

Jacob and Brady are bouncing on the lower branches.

That's about as high as Brady got.

Brady was more interested in swinging than climbing.

In the back yard my Grandmother has a beautiful pecan tree. We spent a long time collecting pecans that had fallen to the ground. I shook some of the lower branches and Jacob raced to grab the pecans. I remember my Grandfather siting in a folding chair in the carport shelling pecans. He taught me how to hold two pecans in your hand and squeeze them together until they cracked open. I was amazed that I was strong enough to crack the shell myself. Well, I was able to show Jacob this same trick to shelling pecans. He thought it was the coolest thing. We sat in two folding chairs in the carport shelling pecans and eating all of our little treasures.
My Grandfather passed away in August 2008. There were many moments during this Thanksgiving trip that my eyes stung with tears. I wasn't sad. I was playing hide-and-go-seek down memory lane. I was reliving my childhood. I was able to show Jacob the sweetness of spending time in a small town.
And...if you ever move, I'm sure my Grandmother knows someone there. Y'all call them.