Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rewind 2011

In 2011 we: turned 36, 36, 5, and 1. moved into a new space that fits our family perfectly and made someone 1st time home buyers, met up with old high school and college friends for reunion weekends (Heather), started kindergarten and daycare successfully even after a rocky start (Ben), decided uttering some first words and walking rocked (Ian), read 21 books, wrote 134 blog posts, (re)started a Freeze Ahead Blog then ignored it (again), enjoyed the beach twice, dressed up as Captain America (Ben) and a Monkey (Ian) for Halloween, ran a 5k race + a Warrior Dash (Heather), a half-marathon (Bill), cleared over 1000 miles together in a fitness competition, maintained a healthy lifestyle, and took a giant Mondo step with a planned surgery.

When I looked back at my 2011 goals, I shockingly had met almost all the major 2011 contenders. Wow.

I feel like I have shortchanged some end of year posts in the last week of laying low online. I am total sucker for Year in Wrap Up editions. I think I may have collected almost every Year in Pictures when I was a kid. Opiate-infused post surgery blogging seems to be a plethora of misspellings and grammar errors waiting to happen folks so its been a quiet week.

Back next week with some thoughts about 2012.

2011 Best in Show time....

Best Books- The Kissing Hand (Ben), Little Bee, The Immortal Life of Henrita Lacks, The Theory of Light and Matter.

Currently reading Divergent and Zeitoun. Both are some of the best books I've read this year. Major 2012 resolution to beef up my bedside reading list on Goodreads.

Biggest Guilty pleasure/Time Sucker- Logging into Pinterest. Spent a good evening here the other night repining Christmas ideas as setting up a new board: #1 80s Superfan. You know I am totally on some Hypercolor shirts and Sassy Magazine homage.

Best Movies- Bridesmaids for bringing the funny. Runner-up for Super 8, The Help, Black Swan, Blue Valentine (Warning: the WORST date night movie)

Best TV- Hard as I didn't watch a ton of TV this year. Modern Family, True Blood, and most recently Weeds are marathon worthy. Mad Men... you better be on in 2012. I need a Don Draper fix stat.

New Restaurant Tried- Anywhere we can pack it up in 5 mins and exit with a shrieking toddler.

New Family Outing Location- The ongoing new places we've tried for Ben date nights, some repeats, some new places but always worth the time and energy for one on one time.

Best Children's Toy/Book Purchase- Hexbugs, Legos, Legos, Legos and oh yeah we are a a duel parent/child ipad family. Did I just say that outloud? What a 1st world statement.

Biggest Surprise- Finding a church I want to return and be part of. Six Flags over Jesus? Not here. Seriously I am on time for nothing but will fight you if you make me late. I'm committing to 9 days in Kenya next summer as part of a team of building a clean water project with this church, that's how much this means to me.

Moment of total sobbing like a baby in public- I hate crying. Public crying is even worse but sitting in the Messiah earlier in the month I missed my mom more than at any other moment of the year.

Moment of total lack of parenting skills- Being paged in the grocery to claim Ben in the manager's office.

Moment most proud of: buying and selling a house in this economy, finally being content with both boys schools, giving up my other job, actually asking for help repeatedly in 2011. Not easy, still a massive-ass character flaw but getting there

Most memorable moment of 2011: around 10:30 am on August 8th. I have worked hard these last 5 months to not disappear post being on the other side of my mom's death. I'm hoping the woulda, shoulda, coulda feelings about this one single calendar day in August doesn't have to mean my arrested development as we move into a new year.

Even though I know I was put forth the effort to approach every trip down in the last years with a good attitude and patience, in the end I only continued to see her through one lens. A do-over magnified as a litany of conversations that now only exist in my head.

Best decisions of 2011: the extra time to be a SAHM leading to the decision to go back full time, moving ahead with surgery, kept going back (to church), posting entries I sat on and really debated putting out wound up being the ones that really defined my year.

Lesson I'm taking forward into 2012- Just your gut, you know the answer already.

For all of the times sadness for my family, for dear friends, for our country that feels like faltering hope is the last man standing among economic negativity I'm ready for a fresh start tomorrow.

There were also so many moments of unbridled joy with the kids, standing on the porch for the 1st time of our dream home, a strong year in our marriage as we celebrated 15 years of mutual support. For these I have no regrets that we have weathered the hard among the happiness.

2012-so much hope, so much promise, so much ahead that we have no idea what is to unfold in the 52 weeks ahead.

While I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I wanted in 2011, I love these that I captured of the boys. I look at my mini-Bill x2 and part of me wants to to freeze every moment of sweet loving goodness before another year slips by into growing boyhoods.

Happy New Year, New Dreams, New Adventures in 2012

Final thought- Tonight marks 10 years since my dad's passing from this life to another. With sadness I morn grandchildren he never knew and a life cut short due to illness. I know that so many decisions made in the last decade I have wished to honor his short 55 years by living on what he couldn't.

Jack Bennett Hendricks 12/9/46-12/31/01

I hope you are eating Skins Hot dogs while listening to a never-ending Earth, Wind, and Fire concert with mom.


Friday, December 30, 2011

Post Surgery (Not Large) Livin'

Been on the lam or more like laying on anything horizontal for most of the last 1 1/2 weeks. Finally. I mean FINALLY on DAY 10 folks got my two drains out. I'll spare you the nasty but I've had two drains post surgery to help cut down on infection. Going into the surgery it was expected to get them out around day 5.



Un-showered nastiness

Let's not go there

Ask me if you want to watch me sob like a baby to the point I could (aka laughing, coughing, crying all still hurt like a Mofo) upon hearing I was not getting them out on Days 5, 6, 7, 8, 9....

Ok so what do you really want to know? What do I look like? How much did they take off? Are you in unbearable pain? Was this a major mistake? Are on you on the Joan Rivers Plastic surgery train to stack the next two procedures for 2012.

No pics yet but I have been living in the only three pairs of pjs that I can cinch up for the last 10 days. My surgeon took 20 lbs. Yes 20 lbs of my body. Even he commented that he was thinking a lot was going to be pushing 10 lbs. I will take some pride that he also commented that it's because of all the exercise that I'm lean muscle under all that skin.

Thanks and you bet my butt is back to whatever I can once cleared to exercise.

Looking at my elliptical and my shower from the vantage point of my bed has made me so, so, so sad this last week.

I seriously need to make a Target run for something to wear in a smaller size from what I'm measuring somewhere around an 8/10 so I can leave the house in something other than pjs. I'm a little hesitant to buy much until my swelling goes down and I regain some feeling as my stomach is still almost completely numb.

Pain. Yes like nothing I could have imagined and I lived in a mega opiate haze for most of these last days. The first days I thought I was doing ok, was even moving more and more each day. I even made it to Christmas eve service. But moving down to the lower level pain meds and still moving around lead to some real pain for most of the early part of the week.

I stayed put, have not left the house and taken it really easy. My MIL as well as Bill have been amazing in taking care of the boys, the house, and me. I've been watching lots of tv, reading a couple of good books, getting caught up on several small house paperwork related projects. I promise I'm not painting, raking the leaves, or doing anything remotely effort exerting. The extent of my energies are spent on the boys playing and spending some extra time with them while they are both home.

I'm down to Extra Strength Tylenol during the day with pain meds at night to sleep through. I also think I may have caught up on my eternal sleep deficit to the point that I've taken more naps and gotten more double digit hours at night than I can ever remember.

So where am I at now? I'm still really, really sore and while I have abandoned my walker I'm still housebound, not driving, and borderline feeling like my house may be a stand-in for the Overlook hotel in the Shining. I'm still planning on taking the additional week off to ensure when I do go back I don't have a relapse. I cannot even imagine all the walking and moving I need to be able to do to be back full time. I may go back next Friday so that I have the weekend to recover for making the full 5 day workweek dive in on Jan 9th. Online teaching starts back Monday, which I can do from home.

As far as moving forward with the other two surgeries? I am almost for sure planning to stack into another (and final) surgery. I'm weighing the possibility of looking at spring break giving me time to heal up before summer. I want to investigate one of the procedures further as far as recovery time and the potential for what to expect for return to work.

After this first round I want to take the next month to two make sure I want to move ahead, continue healing up, and make sure this is a good decision for both me and our family.

Good decision. Yes!!! After the shower I get to finally take tomorrow I will be ready to tackle whatever 2012 has waiting. At this point it may just be putting up decorations or maybe just moving a little easier in a new body.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Through the Looking Glass

Yes, it's late but like sleep was going to happen. WAAAY nervous to sleep. My house is quiet, the boys and Bill have long gone to bed and I am about to finish up my Christmas cards.

After all I am going to be napping the day away tomorrow and likely the rest of the week in a drug induced haze in traction.

When I wrote about a state of liminality earlier in the year, I can tell you that the past 7 years have felt as if I've been suspended between physically loosing weight but yet in my head not feeling like I look different.

It's not like after tomorrow I'll never have to diet, or exercise, or keep choosing a healthier lifestyle, but after 7 years of making what was a life changing and extending decision getting to this day feels unbelievably cathartic.

Whether you have 10 pounds or need to loose 1/2 your body weigh, the struggle is the same. The feeling that others only see your weight and not you becomes your constant. You judge yourself as you think everyone else sees you. Your weight becomes your worth.

While I can show you a picture of me at my heaviest, words cannot even begin to describe the shell of life that I led. If you ask why today I'm intense often to an extreme, driven, and have boundless energy (most of the time), it's because for years I literally lived hoping to fade into the background.

For all the reasons I moved forward to change my life, to give myself time with Bill and later our boys I have not one single regret. I don't think I will after tomorrow either, even knowing the physically painful recovery ahead.

I happen to find all my old work IDs during the house move. Evidence of a really long road behind me, more still ahead, but never a day I want to re-live a former life.


2 months out

1 year out

Today 7 1/2 years later. By far my favorite pic. I look as happy as I feel day after day to be at 1/2 my original weight.

Back maybe next week with some end of the year wrap up posts. Thanks for good thoughts, prayers, anything you got and want to send my way today.

A big thanks already to Bill and his sense of calm these past days and for his caretaking in the days ahead.

See you on the other side of 7 hours of surgery and a celebration of being on the other side of the looking glass.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Old School Panic

Another post when I should be attacking the mound of stuff still left to do for work. I will be at school over the weekend, making copies, leaving lesson plans, basically thinking of any "govern-menty" movie out there to show while out.

Think John Q about teaching healthcare reform-showing it, The Patriot- yes, please. I may even pull out Pauly Shore in Jury Duty if I'm desperate. Not really as I do (or should) have standards.

Friday is my last day at either job for the next 3 weeks. As God as my witness, no work email will be checked, anything graded, even thoughts about work. Totally honoring that I need to focus all attention on recovery. Seriously on the pain meds I'm about to be on I don't need to be trying to be all professional or writing anything high as a kite. Bad, bad plan.

A common question asked has been, why not just wait until summer break?

1. Post surgery limitations on being in a pool due to infection/sun exposure on scaring = 2 boys needing daily pool time
2. Post surgery abdominal garment wearing mega hot/no showering
2. Plans for the Aug 2012 Kenya trip
3. My own personal goal that once down to my pre-pregnancy weight, surgery a go

So what is going on this weekend:

trade time for Bill since he's about to be solo parentin' it all next week until his mom gets here on the 24th.
taking Ben to see the Nutcracker at my school (10 bucks says we go a bit early and he runs the halls, literally, while I prep sub plans)
birthday party for a friend's kid
Catching up with Eileen for a pre-surgery taco party
Pick up library books before they are re-shelved.. hello Divergent is up....
At least one more Target and Grocery run, get Christmas food ordered, last minute prep to get the house in livable order for the week

Not loose my cool about being seriously stressed that something is going to go wrong

Bill and I were talking over logistics plans again yesterday and this is the part that I'm panicking about outside of the whole 7 hours of surgery and going home same day part. Yes, I'm really going home the same day, hopefully very medicated up the stairs to my bed for the next week. For someone who cannot be idle this is going to be really hard. My guess is my pain level is going to force me to rest.

Last surgery there were no kids involved, I like told less than 5 people, not even my family about a 90 min laproscopic procedure. This seems so much more on are you nuts scale, no one can possibly get it.

Monday I'm totally taking off to do things I want to do: early am mother of all last chance workouts with the trainer, volunteer in Ben's class followed by lunch (ok for him, not me as I'm doing the icky day before surgery diet.. this could be a good thing NOT to eat school lunch) then doing a spa for some last minute stress reduction for the old school panic that is seriously settling in.

I'm jumpy, not focused, and am likely to punch you if you piss me off. Note that I have been boxing weekly for the last 3 months.

The thing that I can't seem to get my head around is how much of whole piece of my identity is about to change. For all the planning and prepping I think this is truly a part that is super scary. How do you see yourself moving forward when for so, so, so long you only had one perception?

This is old school panic that needs to find resolution. Before Tuesday, not likely, but a major goal for the new year.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Making a List and Checking it over and over and over

Another short post. Nice weekend filled time with the boys, anniversary dinner, lots of holiday themed fun, as well as a chance to get caught up on lots of household chores.

On the holiday front we attended a holiday party and we went Pullen Park Holiday Express. Pullen is hands down one of favorite parks in the area for the train, boats, boxcar, and oh yeah.. a super updated playground. We were bummed last year when they were remodeling. The changes were awesome and we can't wait to be back on a warmer day to play.

On the list making front over our anniversary dinner when we had more than 5 child-free mins when one of us was not working we drafted a master to-do lists (actually for me there are three more each for one of my jobs and a general house chore list.)

I'm in the process of putting everything in a Google Doc as a calendar with tabs for each of the relevant needs of the next few weeks: kids, house, food/groceries, and one for just Christmas related. Bill and I have a bad miscommunication issue of phones being off or being unreachable.

Attempting to control the uncontrollable brings some measure of what over the weekend is some nervousness about recovery as well as feeling like everything needs to be in some semblance of order.

Sadly getting as much sleep and rest and trying to stay well even made it on the list.

Down to a single digit countdown.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Vinson Family Tackified Tradition

Growing up Christmas in my house meant a couple of long standing traditions.

1. Eating a pre-dinner before going to my grandmothers where you would wonder just who would put raisins in that dish? Is she secretly Lane's mother from Better Off Dead? Thank God Christmas doesn't have a french theme.

2. Holiday tacky light competition. Ground rules: pit the worst house you can find in our neighborhood against any other found during the holiday season. Commense with a battle of all out tacky tackiness.

Winner got bragging rights for the whole next year plus first dibs at not having to help my dad put up the lights in the attic.

We had favorite neighborhoods, the trailer park near Tiny Town (which got it's own award being a entire yard covered in miniatures vignettes like baby dolls dressed like cow girls standing next to Baby Jesus. Bizarre? Yes-o-Yes.

In our own neighborhood, we lived across the street from a church (not one I attended may I add). The parsonage looked like a scene from the Crucifixion, with a cross outlined onerously in bright red lights next a teddy bear jumping out of a present.

Also bizarre and a mixed message on the meaning of Christmas.

But hands down the best and almost the winner year after year was a neighborhood on the way to Pelzer and Belton-Honea Path, SC that my dad frequented as a Bellsouth lineman.

The neighborhood was near a family favorite place to eat, Black's fish camp if that tells you the calibre of addresses. The neighborhood hosted a street in which the homeowners blocked off the entrance with their cars and then walked up and down the street covered in those big, nasty bright colored bulb lights. Yes, not only were the houses covered, the people were too. I still to the day wondered how they kept the lights lit? I'm thinking this had to be the catalyst for Corey Hart's "I wear my sunglasses at night."

Again. bizarre.

As for our own house, while we didn't decorate the outside, but my mom had tons of Christmas decorations, usually with some stuffed animal decked out in some Dickensian outfit standing among a sea of fake plastic greenery. Brian and I almost destroyed her Nativity scene making the wise men square off with Mary in a fight to the death over who was going home with the myrrh. Every singe piece was chipped or broken, including a one-armed Baby Jesus

We would cut down our own tree each year at a nearby tree farm and every single year my dad would then have to tie the tree to the wall to keep it upright due to a crooked stump. The best year was when we unwittingly picked a tree with a live nest of hornets.

So it is with great joy that on the way home each night we take an extra bit of time looking at lights, driving around judging the best. We have a tie in the annual tackiest neighborhood light competition. This year's neighborhood winner is the tie between the battling homes with 17 inflatables including Santa in an outhouse vs the house with the schizophrenic lights covering every square inch timed to music. Ben has already asked to move to their street.

As I write this I am smiling remembering how much my Dad would have loved to know that Ben and Ian are carrying on his tradition. My dad would have been 65 today and I can't help but think that he will somehow lead us to the craziest house yet in the Triangle area before the season is over smiling the whole way.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Keeping it short thursday

Keeping it short (as possible) and sweet today. The mound of work is growing, and growing and growing. Someone asked me yesterday if I was mentally ready for this surgery and I had to honestly respond, "uh, no... I can't even focus on getting to the end of this week, all I can see is a massive to-do list."

I haven't mentioned to many people at work or really publically about this surgery. I really don't know how to expalin what/why without some longer way too personal story. I'm leaving it "I'm having surgery and will be out for a couple of weeks, thanks for your good thoughts."

Given in this crappy economy that I am selfishly spending money out of pocket for plastic surgery just seems un justified to mention around to anyone who doesn't really know me or what taking this step means to a life-long struggle with weight.

I'm hoping this weekend or maybe over our anniversary dinner Friday night (as unappealing of a time it is) that Bill and I can get our game face on about what needs to get done pre surgery for meal prep/groceries, child arrangements/transportation since both boys are home before and after my MIL arrives on the 24th, get all the meds/supplies/even some crappy Wal Mart old lady gowns to wear around the house for my week of un-showered nastiness.

I'm excited but after the pre op visit on Tuesday, the reality that this is about to happen is settling in. Good thoughts needed to keep my eyes on the prize and put the next month of ick recovery behind me.

Before my appointment I was able to volunteer in Ben's classroom for holiday workshop. It sounds like most kindergartens are doing a version of elves working on holiday crafts. Ben had to make a bank as homework and after each craft they earn money to spend on the final day to buy items. His teacher mentioned that he has really focused this week and seemed enthralled with everything and anything holiday related.

Sound like any other five year olds?

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Difference between 1st Child and 2nd Child- Christmas Ornament Edition

While unpacking the tree ornaments I found no less than 10 "Baby 1st Christmas" ornaments for Ben.

Ian's total- 2 One of while still has the stock photo the other looks to be written on with a sharpie likely at a craft fair as an impulse buy.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Wanna See It or Do It (Holiday 2011 Edition)

I'm finally getting our holiday fun list off my phone into a post. I cannot echo enough that this month is CRAZ-EE between normal life and standing commitments like getting Ben on the bus on time.

I'm also getting both myself as well as our family ready for mom to be out of commission for a good 2-3 weeks post surgery. Throw in Christmas and this has the potential to be a December endurance test.

Not my plan for Holiday 2011.

Back in November, Bill and I did a date night where the sole focus was planning our December calendar (that and me dropping the whole, Hey what do you think about me going to Africa conversation on him). I figured if we were in a public place the cursing would be minimal.

We started by making 3 columns: Must do, Want to do if time (doubtful), and Drop it like it's not gonna happen in '11.

What got dropped were activities that either: way too labor intensive i.e. big holiday trays of cookies for work, polishing silver, making door wreaths by hand, or anywhere we would need control Ian more than about 10 mins i.e a Christmas parade .

Lots of other items have made the if not in December then in during the doldrums of January or February list.

Proudly we managed to plan no more than 2 activities on any given weekend and have said no to any activity during the school week. So far we in for 5 of the following fun items below.

1. Pullen Park Santa Train!!! Finally open again!!!
2. Vinson Annual Craziest-Outside Light Competition
3. Make a Jesse Tree
4. Nighttime neighborhood walk looking at decorations (note no one in our neighborhood is a finish except the dueling inflatable display folks.
5. Make a single batch of Christmas cookies and deliver small bags to our neighbors
6. Read a Christmas book a night under the tree
7. Go to the Nutcracker (free at my school, so bolting early is no loss)
8. Picture with Santa
9. Buy items for our Durham Rescue Family
10. Pack 4 Operation Christmas Child Boxes
11. Make a package to mail of artwork and small presents for Uncle Brian
12. Decorate the house and put up all trees
13. Lego Star Wars Advent calendar
14. Cary Holiday Workshop for Kids and lunch at Ashworths soda fountain
15. Separate date nights with mom and dad to buy a parent,dog and Ian gifts.
16. Write a letter to Santa and mail.
17. Watch some classic old school holiday TV shows
18. Sing Silly Christmas songs in the car

I want the focus to be on the time together, not how much can we cram into our days/weekends. I want the kids (Ben especially) to recognize that our family values of kindness, friendship, and patience are carried out the other 11 months of the year, but especially during the holiday season.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Totally (Un) Shower-Worthy: Kenya 2012

So publicly I am saying today that I am giving up my online 2nd job at the end of fall semester.

((((applause)))) from the masses.

Maybe a longer post at some point, maybe just that as I think about 2012 I've been re-evaluating where I want to spend my time, my energy, my heart.

Part of the reason I am giving it up was:
1. A spring semester move to a new platform to host the online school = more work than ever.
2. I have basic level classes of freshman next semester in my real world school. I will need to dedicate more time for parent contact/conferencing to help them pass
3. Potential for 2nd staged surgeries over spring break
4. Our other house is sold.
5. I am just plain tired and want my evenings back.

But one of the biggest reasons is this: I have committed to join a team of folks from my church for an 11 day mission trip to Kenya next summer. As part of the team the next 9 months will be filled with planning, fundraising, training. I want to put my whole self into what I know will be a life changing experience.

Last night I met our team 1/2 of which is made up of high school students and their parents. Come again Vinson, you WANT to go thousands of miles from home with teenagers you spend you entire day with? I'm saying yes to a trip to help build a clean water project in a small village 4 hours out of Nairobi. Since many on the team are also teachers we are also hoping to work with their local schools. Excited=you bet.

I cannot even begin to tell you how much this fills my heart. When I wrote back in Six Flags over Jesus, I talked about how much I had connected with a church near our new home. I like the fact that every week I have gone I find myself thinking about something in the message long after it's over. I like that on some random Friday night you will find me mopping my kitchen floor and listening to their online archives of past messages.

Yeah, I'm beyond surprised too.

To know that the universe has aligned the last months to invite me to be part of something so much bigger than myself, the timing of this trip to coincide with August 8th, 2012, the reality that instead of what I feared most processing my mom's death over the last months has been replaced with a sense of true optimism and the ability to move on is much in part to this church. Can we just say that even if I have to drag my 4 days out from surgery self wearing yoga pants I will be at Christmas eve services.

If there was ever a reason NOT to get up and live my 1st world luxury of daily showering before I do most anything,(seriously I don't do anything, including boot camp with my trainer tomorrow early am only after taking a shower) THIS is it.

This experience, this commitment of planning, this commitment to families/children/fellow teachers half a world away that I don't even know (yet).

2012 is going to be an awesome year for so many reasons, starting with a sense of gratitude for being part of something so amazing. I hope in this often personal space you will follow this transformative opportunity for all it holds.


Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Since Staple-Gunning Porkrinds Was Not an Option

Hello dream come true to build and display a traditional Williamsburg style apple board for my front door.

Never seen such a Christmas decoration?

My entire (Christmas) wedding reception which was held in a antebellum home in SC was the inspiration. Think rooms filled with Della Robbia citrus wreaths, natural swags of greenery everywhere, sterling silver bowls filled with berries and fruit. Think over the top southern-ness on every flat surface imagined.

Think the dinner party scene from Midnight in the Garden where I nearly am giddy at the sight of a beautifully dressed table in this traditional style.

So as you can imagine standing on the front porch of my house this summer I saw my dream decorations.

Overheard during the construction during Thanksgiving weekend.

"did you think through how heavy this was going to be"

"nothing says welcome, than rotting fruit with the potential to fall on the heads of guests entering or exiting"

"I hope you like it, as I stripped the screws getting it up there" What can you put up there for other seasons. It's staying up permanently.

"Nice, from the inside you can tell we forgot to paint the backside and can see raw plywood."

"for building this you have a choice: I get the inflatable of my choice for the front yard, OR you get to finish the leaves.

Going for the leaves. Note I am resisting every urge to move that pineapple an inch to the left and straighten it up. Maybe once I have to start replacing fruit I'll re stake it with another. Total cost for this project is ongoing.

For now I'm in love, love, love that this piece of southern goodness is making my Christmas cards this year. Big thanks to LauraC for family pictures this past weekend and for capturing my Prince of Tides House at it's holiday best.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

With a Full Table and a Full Heart

I never got around to posting a well meaning Thanksgiving post. One of the things I am most thankful is my brother, Brian. I feel like we are a unifed front to what has happened in our family this year, each of moving on in our own ways but still very aware that this holiday season is going to be hard.

The highlight of the holiday weekend was his visit on Friday night until late Saturday afternoon. Brian had offered to work Thanksgiving and luckily was cut from the surgical rotation early on Friday allowing him to drive up a bit earlier.

As of Friday morning, our leisurely planned Saturday lunch had turned into including my paternal aunt/uncle, their son and wife and three sweet little girls for a post Thanksgiving meal since they were traveling through. I pulled out my grandmother's silver, my mom's china, and set my dining room table to welcome them into our home. With 5 kids under five I opted to covering the breakfast table with butcher paper for the kids to color for the proverbial kids table. Good plan to have waited to have recovered the breakfast chairs given there was crayon on the seats and walls.

As much as I wanted Brian to stay on until Sunday, he had a early am Monday shift at the hospital and left Saturday shorty after our extended family. A huge thanks to Bill for taking the boys Saturday morning while we cooked to Brian's ever faithful play-list of music.

When I wrote about my relationship with Brian last winter it was hard to imagine how we would connect with each other after my mom was gone. Three months into the other side, we talk/text more than ever, in part due to ongoing probate of my mom's estate, but also just to check in on each other. Before he left we took a short walk and talked about how much it has hit us in our own ways that starting this holiday season brings with it many emotions. We are John and Wendy Savage made over once again.

In this season of thankfulness and entering into a time to celebrate with family, I'm so very glad that Brian wants to be an active part of the boys lives. He graciously had cleaned out and brought with him the remainder of gifts my mom had put away for the boys. Many will go on to make their way under our tree or be donated. He also had cleaned out my bedroom of anything left of a life long since past. So far I haven't even opened the bags and may just take the to the attic to processed sometime in the future.

When I was at Church yesterday one statement really stuck with me, "a heart filled with gratitude is not a result of your circumstances, but rather a way of approaching life even on the hardest of days."

My hope for my ongoing relationship with Brian to be one of gratitude for what he did for our family during the really tough times. It's also one of hope that our relationship will continue to thrive in new ways as adult siblings.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baskets, Boxes, Brownies and a thought on Thanksgiving

Day before Thanksgiving break and doing everything to minimize what gets brought home over the looong weekend. I made brownies for my students who are participating in a debate. Ask me if this plan is going down in flames. I should have instead planned for them to watch my perennial 1987 favorite "How I Got into College" with Booger from the Revenge of the Nerds movies. That my friends, is education at it's best on the day before a holiday. Go me for being all educational and stuff.

Plans to get our Christmas decorations up, build an apple board to hang over my front door, host my brother who will be driving up on Friday, even paint the secret room created in the dormer for Ben over the break.

I really love Thanksgiving, mainly because the sole focus for my family has always been being together and sharing a meal. None of us have ever been big football or insane black Friday shoppers. The main memory I have of this holiday is just being with family, grandparents, cousins from out of state, and really good food.

I'm farming out most of the meal that my brother Brian and I are planning. Our aunt and uncle from VA are driving through to see their son in Greensboro and are going to stop and have lunch with us. Plans for mashed potatoes, green bean bundles, ham, mac and cheese, Pioneer Women apple pie, chocolate fudge pie, and as of last night the addition of dressing when I realized that I still had 2pans from the last batch my mom made.

I've been thinking a lot about being the first time ever to celebrate without parents, without trips to SC, without there being a hospital involved. Definitely too many thoughts to even begin to post today.

I leave you with:

the 4 Operation Christmas Child Boxes we put together over the weekend. Count on mom to have included underwear and new toothbrushes and Ben to included toys.

I also put together Thank you baskets for Ian's teachers and Ben's. Included were Moravian spice cookies, English Toffee cheese ball mix, loaves of homemade apple bread. I also had Ben include a handwritten card. I am very thankful for both of the boys teachers who spend more time with them awake than I do. They love them, work with them, are helping the be the best 18 month and 5 year old possible.

I really love this holiday, the symbolic meaning of being thankful and happy with what you have now. The adult realization that it is enough and that all you ever wanted is right in front of you.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Got Two Matching Windsuits? Sizes 18 month and 5T?

Date: A week ago at Ian's 18 month check up

Time: last appointment of a recent Friday with our pediatrician after a reschedule for me being so late, sitting 45 mins waiting to get worked in only to be told by the practice manager I would just have to come back. Proud mom, you bet.

Overheard during the wait:

"Ian don't take off your diaper. Really? you pooped now, pleeeese don't take that off as I scavenge for wipes and wish for air freshener"

"Ben, when the the doctor comes in you will have to stop rolling around the room on the stool as a crashing car"

"boys, get out from underneath the exam table, repeat x912 times"

"can we please not lay on the floor, hepatitis for Thanksgiving sounds un-fun"

"to myself... why did I stay at school and deal with discipline for someone else's kid making me miss my original appointment and now having to bring both of them to a reschedule"

Once the doctor arrives it takes both of us holding a thrashing Ian down to examine him. Quickest. Exam. Ever. Is is eating, pooping, walking/running normally? Uh.. look at him as he broke free,ran, and hid behind the trashcan.

Words? Yes many more since we were last here. He says Momma, Dadda, Ball, dog, baby, duck, night night, bye bye, hi, uh-o.

Doctor- Good, while he's still a little behind this is a improvement for which I credit being in daycare.

Somewhere during this super quick visit Ben is bouncing off the walls. I look at him and say, "push-ups" He drops to the floor and starts doing the kind where he slaps his shoulders between each set. Then runs through at set of mountain climbers, jumping jacks, and attempts sit-ups.

All this to the hysterical laughing of our doctor who proclaims, "I've lots of parents with bouncing off the walls kids come through this exam room, but never can I remember a parent actually encouraging more activity to distract."

It works beautifully, Ben one step away from a a 1983 Jane Fonda-esque VCR fitness contract allowed us to finish the exam as well as talk over the speech issues.

Stats: 25 lbs (32%), 32 inches (47%), 18 1/2 inches (25%) All healthy and no concerns

As we left she asked what I taught as I still had on my school ID. "freshman and sophomore history".

Doctor who has a dry wit just like her husband who is my OB, "really? Have you considered being heavily medicated to deal with this amount of insanity daily"

Me.. bahahahah... yes, does it show?

Thinking matching red wind suits circa the Royal Tenenbaums would make a killer Christmas gift for the boys.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

So How About a December Repeat

Super awesome call for Monday. I got so much and yet nothing at all done.

On the check list: refilled all my prescription pill counters (really this is an issue as I haven't taken the time to do it and spend precious time in the am in a blurried-eyed state looking for pill bottles). Did the whole rest of the month. Just call me Medicare.

Talked to my brother about him coming for Thanksgiving. Yay. Cannot even begin to tell you how excited I am for him to spend part of the holiday with us. We have some probate stuff to deal with but mainly just hanging out for the weekend and showing him the area for the 1st time. Love me some Brian Hendricks dry wit as well as kick ass cooking.

Did a bunch of errands, phone calls, mail sans kids screaming or being hauled into places.

I bailed on getting the farmers market. Thinking of taking the family out over the weekend and pair it with a trip the State Farmers Market Restraunt. Super yum biscuits, meat and threes, and did I mention the hushpuppies covered in molasses.

I also discovered a part of the Cary Greenway that leads from from our neighborhood to Ben's school. Original plan was to run to the school and walk back with Ben. But given the time, I just ran it alone and then drove over to pick up to avoid 5 pm traffic.

Organized my freezer and made a list of if I have time freezer stuff to make pre surgery.

Worked on our big holiday list and what was priority, not worth the time, and needed ticket purchse now.

I washed the dog, made a vet appointment for my old girl. Major mistake to take her on a 2 mile weekend walk, she's still hobbling around.

Cleaned all the bathrooms as to not have to preface any vistors to never mind the smell of 5 year old boy or lack of toilet paper.

Graded a bag of work while sitting on the porch drinking an insanely big glass of iced tea and loving some 70 degree weather and falling leaves.

As much as I came back to tons o work on Tuesday, it was worth every.single.minute to have day without kids. I honestly cannot recall the last day I had this many hours without them.

I love them dearly, but man was I in heaven. So much so that I'm planning on taking my pre-op appointment day off to voluneer in Ben's class for holiday craft week as well as the day before my surgery to volunteer again, have lunch with Ben and then have booked a massage, facial, and pedicure.

Guilty? Not a bit.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Monday Morning and Not the Norm

Hello from my kitchen table where I'm watching leaves fall. Come again Vinson, don't you like have like surgery next month and need to save every single sick day.

yeah..I do but about 7 pm last night I just called it and said I'm staying home and getting some some stuff I want to do today.

I'm already coming off a 3 day weekend since school was closed and I spent all Friday day with the boys as well as a good portion of the weekend. Busy with this church thingy, lots of errands, a playdate, a family meeting, and in general a sense that not a whole lot got accomplished. Maybe it has something to do that Thursday night I fell asleep in Ben's bed as I was reading him a book, the migrated to Bill's office in my attempt to watch a Daily Show backlog with him, then onto the the living room couch as I tried to get caught up Good Wife (yes a backlog, heavens you are too busy) and finally awoke at 3 am still wearing my name badge for school and the tv still on. Tired you think?

So why today?

Saturday I had this crazy epiphany that that whole "how you live your days is how you live your life" mantra I so want to do right by has been falling by the wayside this fall. As much as I'm doing the more sleep thing so much better, I feel perpetually behind in everything. So I'm just taking today to get a punch list of stuff done.

So some randomness for today:

- I'm still in my pajamas drinking coffee after staying up to almost 2 last night. I love me some late night quiet around the house. I'm listening to the recent middle school episode of TAL. Oh my. It's like 1989 around here today and frankly teaching freshmen all day gives you an insane perspective about how high school plays out from the adult perspective and why I seriously cannot watch Glee. Instead I've been making overdue phone calls and catching up on bills, mopping and trying to clean some serious nasty off the wall via Ian. Earlier I worked on our December calendar after Bill and I did the sit down discussion of the level of holiday insanity we want/don't want.

- I might start to grade the two shopping bags of work that have not moved since Thursday night from the back door. Maybe. Likely since I took this day under the pretense of getting caught up I think I'm going to divide and conquer and do a bag today and then break the other into small bits each night this week. At least online work is done. Did I mention that I've already decided not to work next summer and am most likely not in the spring. I think I'm about to be voted off the island if I keep even a single section by my family, a friend who when I mentioned it to her I thought she would smack me. Even my own therapist the last time I didn't cancel on her mentioned it was a bad idea.

-I'm heading out to get some errand run without kids including a trip over to the state farmers market for apples and veggies and new flowers. My beloved giant porch ferns need to go. Goodbye Prince of Tides wanna-be front porch. You're about to see the likes of traditional Williamsburge style that's been a brewin' in head since I first set foot in this house.

Note that giant inflatable Santa in an outhouse as seen this weekend at Lowes will not be purchased. Some random man was just about cracking up at the Christmas decoration showdown going down over rights to the front of the house.

I think the words, "I gave you Halloween for decorations, Santa emerging from an giant outhouse with elf holding his nose, nor giant colored flashing lights that can be orchestrated to music does not jazz with an Apple Board on magnolia leaves or Della Robbia wreaths" may have come out of my mouth. Likely repeatedly as I pried the Santa out of Bill's hands. No crying, no cursing, but I'm standing my ground that I'm at least getting some topiaries at the front door. Bill I think may have told me I'm Fun-Less and this side shy of a Disney villain prototype.

Throw in a much needed workout and some general house pick up and by 4:30 I hope that I made the most of this day.

First up, a shower. Gotta get on that about now before I smell worst than the dog that also really needs a bath.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Food on a Stick was Only the Beginning

Good weekend all around: date night, time with the kids, family walk, church with an ongoing series of messages I'm really connecting with, a friend came and did cooking with Ben as an incentive for behavior, we finally got the Halloween decorations stored, gym workout.

Throw in heading downtown to the annual Jr League Christmas Shopping Spree and I did absolutely nothing for work until late Sunday night. SWEET!

Our weekend paled in comparison to our trip a couple of Sundays ago to the NC State Fair. Can I just say that we spent 7 hours with an 18 month old in tow. Sadly the only picture I have of Ian that he is not moving, he looks like he's being lead to his execution. Take my word that under his tough, 18 month old typically throwing a fit exterior, he had a good time.

Crazy? Yeah I guess, but believe it or not but the kids were well behaved for the bulk of the trip. Our plan was to get to the fair when they opened to hit the kids rides before the crowds. We had prebought tickets, ride coupon books, and tickets to the demolition derby ahead of time.

We ran into our neighbors and did the kids area with them allowing Ben and their 5 year old to ride together. We opted to take Ian and their toddler daughter on several rides, which they loved.

After hot dogs, biscuits, roasted corn, and mini doughnuts we headed over the the arena for the demolition derby. I kid you not, I would pay good money again next year just to people watch before the show.

I give you the trifecta of awesomeness within 10 feet of our seats:

-Man with waist length hair, ZZ top beard, Scooby Doo Shirt, Camo shorts, and a trucker hat covered in mud

-Man with a walker, I HEART Jesus hat, bright safety yellow t shirt with fringed sleeves that was a good 3 sizes too small

-Teen boy sitting next to me with a white 10 gallon hat, shirt unbuttoned to the mid-nipple, and Smoky and the Bandit glasses.

Classy. I tried taking pictures but decided the odds of potential ass-kicking divided by opportunity to preserve via photo was just too high.

I did take the boys over the Dixie Outfitters t-shirt display and seriously thought about buying Ben one of the many inappropriate South will Rise Again shirts for sale. Had I not thought that the proceeds would go to fund Confederate Reenactments I was all in.

The demolition derby was a scream-fest of car crashing good time. Even Ian was clapping and smiling and until Bill took him out when the V8 15 car showdown, he held out and didn't melt down.

Both boys had a great time, loved the rides, animals, food, and yes the Demolition Derby.

Oh NC State Fair, goodness grows in NC. Indeed it does!

Friday, November 4, 2011

There is no crying in parent/teacher conferences

Earlier this week we met with Ben's teacher for a scheduled 1st quarter conference. Bill and I have both had the chance to meet his teacher, volunteer both in the classroom and on a recent field trip. We both really like her classroom methods and feel she's a good fit with Ben's personality. In particular she seems to have a never ending bag of tricks.

In the past weeks a month long streak of overall better behavior was broken by first hitting someone at recess last Friday and then on Tuesday, hitting in PE. Everyday has felt like a return to the daily pick-up walk of shame. Needless to say we have been in lockdown mode for a large part of this week with early bedtime, no Halloween candy, no tv, and several serious meetings. I felt as small as possible watching him sign his name to an incident report.

I'm needing the longest child-free weekend ever about now. Instead I'm going to settle that I'm not traveling to SC this weekend to deal with on going issues with Estate Probate, I'm caught up with all grading, I'm going to the Raleigh Jr. League Christmas Show, and the weather looks great to be outside.

Overall the majority of the conference covered that Ben is testing and working on average. His teacher gave us some ideas on additional things we can work on at home to help with penmanship, reading, and counting. Most of his homework is completed as part of his Friday take home bag and she wants us to add 10-15 mins if possible nightly.

Her take on Ben is that he is very capable, interested in learning, but also very quick to give up when challenged with new situations or ones that he comes bored with easily. Part of me knows that Ben is a typical, very active 5 year old boy with the attention span of a gnat. Bill and I often see the same attitude of giving up when challenged at home. We also are in the middle of whole new level defiance played out in multiple ways.

At this point due to the hitting and Ben's apathetic attitude afterwards we agreed that we needed to try a behavior contract. I am all too familiar with behavior contracts on the high school level. I have spent a large part of this week making those before the report card arrival calls. I also know that when you can create buy-in that you can change the outcome. We are talking over some new strategies at home and a new reward system that will parallel a daily check in with the behavior contract.

My biggest concern is the growing feeling that Ben identifies himself as a bad kid. His first words most days at pick up is if he had or didn't have time out. I try to meet him with a big hug and immediately tell him I'm really happy to see him and that's let talk in the car about all the good and also better choices we could have made. Just hearing how he talks about himself, it's completely in terms of being bad vs good.

I have no real words of wisdom or even that I feel I need to be doing anything differently that we already are. As much as I wish I could write a rosy,
Ben is doing fabulous and one step away from permanent accolades as a start student to be bumperstickered to my car, I'm also going to be totally honest that too many days than not, we are struggling to give it our parenting best and it has to be enough.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween- the wrap up

Only a day late on the Halloween update but alas a new post. Despite the icky weather we had a great holiday weekend. We opted for Bill to only take Ben who joined up with our neighbors and their kids to hit the 20-30 houses within a 5 min walk of our house.

I stayed on the porch, put Ian in his costume (a Monkey, complete with banana in the pocket) and handed out candy. Ian couldn't have been happier stomping on the porch, dumping out the candy bowl, looking confused as I hit the fog machine each time new kids walked up. He got the best of Halloween without having to be out in the rain. Kudos to Bill for volunteering to do all of the trick o treating duty.

By 7:30 Ian was wiped out, was melting down, and the smell of poop forced us inside to get him in the bath and into bed. Ben followed shortly after and after a warm bath and inspection of the candy haul he too was also in bed.

One of the best aspects of the weekend was the block party Sunday night on our street. The kids of our newest neighbors have been planning this for over a month and they delivered a fun party for around 30 surrounding kids complete with planed games, a scavenger hunt, tons of food, music.

I know this is getting old, but I am so very glad that we took the leap of faith to buy this house when we did. We have loved getting to know this neighborhood through daily dog walks, becoming friends with our neighbors in a way we never did in our old neighborhood, and in general be reminded daily how much everything has fallen into place as we have fully moved in.

Bill as expected came home yesterday with bags upon bags of discounted Halloween decorations to be stowed away. Plans are already forming for Christmas decorating and what will be I'm sure another holiday to remember in our dream home.

Friday, October 28, 2011

and another year :)

passes by on my favorite day of the year. Last year come October 28th, I was on a one month media hiatus with no posts on this day. I looked back and this is what I wrote as a pregnant 34 year old in 2009. I have to agree I feel the same today.

"....a date that matters to no one but me. No big fanfare or sharing the day with family or friends. You know, those little dates in time that are not celebrated with cake or flowers but that you know the significance."

I had hoped in 2009 for a normal day to detail baby kicks and a then pooping in underwear Ben who cried when his balloon floated away. Today I was a typical Friday filled with a 18 month squealing at his first school party as well as his daily accident report to sign, a 5 year old with a discipline report and resulting early bedtime, dinner that was ordered while I walk the dog, and a mound of end of the quarter late work to grade before Monday.

For this normal, even boring day, I'll even throw in removal of a staple embedded in my thumb and even a consult appointment made today (for me) for a Cardiologist to rule out what I already know is not an issue. No worries today, I tell you.

Exactly what I want. A normal, nothing significant day and the chance to do it all again tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One of our favorite fall activities

One of our favorite things to do as a family during the fall is a pumpkin patch visit. Like everyone else, we will carve pumpkins for Halloween. We also have two fake pumpkins that we use every year until the real ones are cut. Our house has been decorated for Halloween for the entire month of October.

Sadly Bill has been outdone by our neighbors who put up a giant, inflatable moving black cat over the weekend. As you can imagine we are already in pre-Christmas decoration planning mode. This weekend we have our neighborhood fall festival as well as a block party on our street. We are again dressing up as Woody and Jessie with the boys going as Captain America and a Monkey.

Hill Ridge Farms is hands down one of our favorite places to go during the fall. This year they offered free admission to not only teachers but their ENTIRE families opening weekend. YAY!

We met up with friends and drove out to the boondocks outside Raleigh for a fun afternoon. One of the reasons I love this pumpkin farm more than other, closer locations is simply all the things to do besides just a pumpkin patch.

From spring to late fall the farm is open for birthday parties and school groups. There is a train, giant slide, petting zoo, feeding fish, bounce house, 2 mazes, separate hay and corn jumps, a tee-pee (very smelly inside), and a fort. We were here around 5 hours and finished our visit with a haywagon ride to pick out pumpkins (also free for teachers!)

We've been to other pumpkin patches in the area but Hill Ridge is worth the drive for all the extra things to keep two very active boys busy. The added bonus that we went for free and walked away with four pumpkins was even sweeter.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Field Trip!!!

20 kindergartners on their 1st field trip of the year = wrangling cats just might be easier.

Bill and I are both trying to be as involved as possible by each chaperoning a trip as well as volunteering in Ben's classroom once a month this school year. Being part of this trip was actually Ben's teacher's suggestion back in the first weeks of school as a way to see Ben interacting in the class as well as to see how she and the teacher assistant run the class.

Plus as a county employee I was already cleared and didn't have to go through the volunteer process.

This was a WIN-WIN situation as Ben's behavior was some of the best teacher reported she had seen since the start of the year, plus who doesn't love getting to feel like they are back in elementary school among 20 energetic five year olds.

I had a small group of all boys, including Ben as well as several of his friends. This too was helpful to see Ben interact with kids whose names (and misbehavior) have become dinner conversation.

Part of the morning was spent at the State Farmers market where the kids had specific items to find and buy with chaperon help. Later we traveled to a local park for a picnic. Sadly the final part didn't happen due to the weather, but you have never known they were missing any planned activity. They had a blast from start to finish.

I decided not to mention that I was a school employee. We've just come off a contested school board election as well as a very controversial vote about student assignment. Good call, as the conversation among the moms was about the politics of the board.

Instead I focused on making the most of the day away from work and spending it with Ben. At bedtime we talked about our favorite parts of the day, the scavenger hunt to find our group mystery object, yellow mums, eating lunch together, the nasty bathroom, and recounting that his teacher commented on his good choices all day.

Super Score on all levels.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

take two

Apologies for the negativity yesterday. When you start the day sliding across the floor in cold dog pee before 6 am, there's really only one way to go. Lots of ick yesterday including issues with my mom's probate court case and behavior from everyone. By 8 pm I called uncle and got out of the house once the kids were in bed. I did a bunch of work, came home and watched mindless tv (ok, it was really nerdy Frontline)

I'm taking a day off to chaperone Ben's field trip today. Later I'm going to work with the trainer and sadly I'm looking forward to whatever she has in store. It's totally worth an unpaid day to spend the day with Ben and take a much needed day off from school. I might be tempted to just stay home again soon and do something wild like fold laundry, alone.

Here's the deal, things are going well even if I can't shake the feeling like I started the school year running to catch up before day 1. I'm really trying to make life work this fall and approach everything with a positive do what is most important and let the rest go attitude. Really, no repeats of past work mistakes.

So, can you remind me of perspective when I'm sliding in dog pee as my wake up call?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Calling All Cars

This post has been intended for the last good two weeks, but then life happens and somehow keeping everyone in clean underwear takes priority. As much as I wish I could make time everyday to journal the banal of my thirtysomething life, I just don't have or better yet take the time.

So what's been going on in the last couple of weeks.

1. Seriously considering giving up the online part time job. Even with just one class the amount of work is taking up a good 2 + hours a night and a block of time on the weekend. I usually start as soon as I get the kids in bed,kitchen cleaned up and lunches packed, so from around 9-11on a good night I'm still "at work". Kid you not that I fell asleep talking to students and parents on the phone the other night. I think that might be a sign?!?

If I give it up I most likely will not get summer work as with a lack of a state test there is less demand for the class = less sections of the class to be taught. The question here is "why am I keeping this is I don't intend to go back to only part time work in the near future."

2. A colleague in my department was diagnosed with cancer days before school started. We have all been teaching his classes, planning, copying, grading, ect. While any of us would step up even if it wasn't the expectation it's more work. When I say I have been bringing home a shopping bag of work, it's no exaggeration.

3. While on the work issue, permit me to say that not having a classroom sucks like something fierce. I'm a super organized person to begin with, but being all over a school making my way through 2,000 students with no home base is hard. Period. The plus is I've lost weight as I have no time to eat most days, unless I can do it one- handed. Maybe I'll get some good "food on a stick" ideas at the state fair this weekend.

4. On the whole weight loss issue, I'm down thanks to the roaming mobile home, being too tired to eat once I cook dinner, trying to still get 15 miles in a week, working with a personal trainer who has me running 1 mile sprints interspersed with 20 mins of boxing. Can I just say I LOVE being able to punch something. This might be the best form of therapy ever.

5. On the personal training, once we got the house under contract I gave myself an early Christmas present of 12 weeks of training before the surgery. This is the mother of all Last Chance workouts.

6. Surgery is on like Donkey Kong. 7 am on Dec 20th to be specific. I just recently got the days approved to be out the week of the surgery and if needed an additional week if needed in January. My MIL will be here the 24t-28th to help with the boys as both are out of school/daycare.

While I haven't been super public on this for a bunch of reasons. The reality of the surgery itself and a multi week recovery is starting to settle in. When I mentioned to someone last week I was having surgery and tried to explain a surface, sanitized version I really cannot explain what this surgery is/need for/desire to put myself through this. For the first time I am a bit speechless.

Given that I'm closing in on 70 lbs lost since Ian was born and really I haven't gotten more than, "is that new as I am wearing Pre-Ben pregnancy clothes compliment" I'm secretly hoping that I look drastically different. First to admit vanity is not my best attribute and that I live slave to some crazy idealized version of myself.

So the plus side to what seems a super negative spin on the last few weeks of being really MIA. Things really have been good, rolling along. Just insanely busy.

1. My mom's house clean out went well and faster than expected. We gleaned an entire truckload to be donated/tossed. Hard yes, but did I expect it to be a cakewalk?
2. I'm routinely getting about 6 hours of sleep without meds.
3. I'm spending as much possible time when home with the boys.
4. I really love this church I've been lurking around at Sundays. The thought of being involved to some degree has crossed my mind (time commitment is key here)
5. I've just read two really wonderful books
6. I'm chaperoning Ben's field trip tomorrow.
7. For the most part behavior by Ben has been better, esp at home and at school. He even helped me carry in the groceries.
8. Having only one house is awesome.
9. Plans to have my brother come for Thanksgiving and if possible join us at the beach for a long weekend
10. Ian while full on active at 18 months finally has a couple more words and is trying animal sounds.

So this is now. I'm trying very hard to Work 6, Play/Rest 1 a major priority, even if it feels like my life is ending one min at a time and I'm scrambling to make it all work.

Thursday, October 13, 2011


Yesterday we sold our house. Yes it's been crazy hard to sit on this news as we have been super mum as not to jinx this awesomeness.

We sold it in exactly 90 days. In this economy we listed on June 14th and went under contract on Sept 14th. CRAZY good luck.

We happily made someone first time home buyers yesterday as we signed over 204 Blooming Meadows to a new family.

The academy would like thank our agent, David Henry Johnson. Remember when I interviewed like a Christmas pageant of agents back in April?

The only agent not to lavish us with hollow accolades (or to quote Tommy Boy, remember that?) He was honest about the work to be done to get it market ready and then got people in the house all summer long. I would recommend him to anyone in the Triangle area buying or selling as someone super professional and also super funny (always a plus in my book.)

Ok, true confession time.

I went over on Tuesday to grab the last of the stuff. I couldn't stop crying going room to room. It was even worse when Bill and I made one last run with the kids on Tuesday night. Hot mess = borderline embarrassing.


How many times did I drive into the driveway, prepare meals in the kitchen, swing and play with the boys in the backyard, walk the dog to the nearby park, remember birthday parties with a giant waterslide, live the daily grind first as newly married folk to ones bringing home two babies across the threshold.

All good wishes to the new family with two young kids with hopes they will create their home in the same space.

I give you a view from a new window. One that brings a smile to my face. The one of an ongoing baseball game in the front yard. The current site of so many Halloween decorations we look like a Target post decoration fire sale. ***Note*** that Bill is still not finished and has been banned from displaying anything detailing arterial spray.

102 is the house where the boys play everyday with our neighbors, the house of my dream fantasy of front and back porches calling for relaxing, the future site of a game room for all male Vinsons, the house where Ben mooned our neighbor's husband yesterday resulting in a public apology. The house of many memories in the making.

I'm looking forward to awkwardly posed prom pictures in front of the mantle, growth charts detailing Ben and Ian outgrowing me by a good half a foot by age eighteen, the one where they will literally eat us out of house and home in the next decade.

AWESOME NEWS INDEED. Goodbye (finally) 204.

102 was a trade up but you will always be our first love.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

October is:

Pumpkin patch visits, cool nights that beg for the first fire of the season, fleeting warm afternoons reminiscent of summer days, butternut squash soup with parmesan crisps, my fall/winter uniform of my favorite jeans, a black turtleneck, and clogs, cute toddler overalls for Ian and jeans with double knees for sliding for Ben, sleeping curled up with my favorite blanket, returning inside on cold mornings for a needed fuzzy jacket, crisp apples in lunch bags, the NC State Fair in all it's deep-fried goodness, decked out front porches a glow in Halloween decorations thanks to my 3 kids at heart, warm fall spiced lattes, steakhouse chili in triplicate batches, costume shopping with the boys for the perfect ensemble, trick or treating in new places, fall walks for leaves and other outdoor treasures a plenty, time to celebrate my favorite day and also season of the year once again.

Another month of limited to-do lists other than to enjoy all 31 days with my two favorite pumpkin pickers.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Six Flags over Jesus

One of the most unlikely phrases to come out of my mouth lately has been, "I'm getting up early on Sunday to make the first service at church." Even stranger, "I'm going to church for this thing this coming Saturday night." Yes, come again the words CHURCH and SATURDAY night in the same sentence.

Back last fall I put on my Mondo list that finding a church was important. As much as I would like to find somewhere that Bill is also comfortable, I know that if I feel at home the boys and Bill (maybe) will follow. In the past couple of months I've been regularly attending a church near our new home.

A super short history of my feelings about religion:

Raised in a fairly strict Southern Baptist home. Went to church on Sunday morning for Sunday school and again in the afternoon for choir followed by Sunday night services. I went on Wednesdays for handbells and Bible Drill (in elementary school), and later youth group on Wednesday nights. I also was involved in a bible study in friends' homes on Tuesday night. Needless to say I spend a lot of time at church.

While I wouldn't say that I lived in a Footloose-esque, "dancing will get you into Hell" household, my parents (mom especially) expected that I conform to what they felt was living a moral life influence by church attendance and also participation. My mom at one point even paid me to go to week long church camp.

I'll be honest, being involved with a church anchored me, my friends were also members, at times it was something I fell back on as a safety net. I don't regret that it was as big as part of my life as it was at the time. But, I also had a growing mistrust and openly disagreed with some of what I saw then and also now as hypocrisy of what I was being taught and my life outside the church.

My parents wanted me to go to a southern Baptist college and insisted that if they were helping pay any portion, that I would "consider" at least a handful of schools affiliated with the church. My mom, grandmother, and aunts had all attended Furman University in Greenville, SC.

At the time around Sophomore year I was looking at pre-med programs and began to look at what med schools were even the slightest bit attainable. Big ol' pipe dream in hindsight. I looked at the University of Texas with Baylor University as undergrad and also Samford University with University of Alabama as a possibility. I got into both undergrad schools and in the end not only got out of premed when I couldn't pass organic chemistry after 3 times and had also met my now husband. The crazy thing is Bill and never really fit at Samford. I often say that within 12 months I managed to find the biggest sinner (or fellow sinner) on campus and then moved in with him (a serious values violation at a school with closed dorms).

You have to understand that the campus was completely dry, you could be issued values violations, had to attend convocation weekly, and did I mention that many people dated by attending the area mega Churches (aka...Six Flags over Jesus) on a Friday night. I met some wonderful, very spiritual people who I know that the school was a perfect fit, but I also know that it wasn't for either of us. Only after going to UNC-Chapel Hill for grade school did I feel like I got an authentic college experience, not a sanitized, artificial college experience.

We attended churches as a married couple and have in the 10 years that we have lived here. We even joined a church and Ben was baptized at a church that we frequently attended Sunday services. But it always felt as an adult that I am doing this because I think I am suppose to. I'm not really getting anything out of it, in fact it's been a really long time since I felt like faith and spiritually really ment anything to me.

With the move I made it a priority to start church shopping and have found a church that I actually want to go to, make it on my weekend to-do, like the format of the service, like the fact that every week I have gone I find myself thinking about something in the message long after it's over.

I like the informality, the kids like the childcare, I like that they have a strong teenage program. I like that there are no hymns or ceremony to the service. I like that these are some of the friendliest people I have ever met without feeling like they are one step away from drinking some Jonestown Kool-aid. I like that there is no pressure to participate.

I like that one of the co-ministers look like he might moonlight as tattoo artist. It's been a really long time since I felt like I was being invited to be a part of something bigger than myself instead of being preached at by a punitive parental figure.

Maybe it's because in the weeks after my mom's death I'm looking for a still, quiet place to be alone with the ick is still very much just under the surface.


It's really ironic that the first time I visited here was the day before she died. In my final phone conversation, I almost mentioned to her that I was had been visiting churches but then didn't. My going to church as well as why the boys didn't go regularly was a continual source of contention. It was just easier not to say anything, so I stayed mum.

Regardless, it's something that I'm making time for right now. It's something that I'm making a priority. It's something that helps center and start the week in a positive place.

ps... traveling to SC this weekend for a meeting with the estate probate attorney and to start on the house clean out. I could use some good thoughts, support, whatever you want to throw my way. While I haven't been super public in the weeks after either publically or in writing, I'm still very much working through some really hard stuff gradually.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Happy to report...

a good report from Ben's teacher at pick up. "He's trying, and while he does backslide during points of the day, I'm seeing him making an effort consistently every day."

I asked her to say it again in front of him with Ben repeating what he heard. He was beaming. We high-fived and did the Ben cheer in the parking lot.

At home we have been rewarding good behavior with extra books at bedtime, getting his one 30 min show back after dinner, extra time alone with a parent on the weekend. Last weekend Bill took him to the Lowes kid's clinic. This was the first time he had signed up for the make it/take it craft (a firetruck.)

A friend has offered to come do some special cooking with him if he keeps up the good behavior. Tonight he was demonstrating his karate moves and I asked him if he would like to maybe take some classes. Maybe, let's see how the next month goes.

Since poor Ian seems to be barely mentioned, he is thriving at daycare. He has made the transition well, loves his teachers and seems to be his normal happy self everyday. Being the miracle workers they are, he is taking a consistent 2 hour nap each day. He seems thoroughly worn out and ready to crash once we put him down.

I called today to make flu shot appointments and also asked if we should go ahead and been seen about ongoing concerns with his few words (still only 3 on a good day) from the summer 15 month appointment. So now we are waiting to hear if we need to go ahead with a referral, so we can discuss results at his upcoming 18 month appointment, or just need to wait until the normal appointment.

In my heart I'm not concerned, he babbles continually, points, hears normally and seems to be hitting his targets for everything else. I think this is more a case of male, 2nd kid, gross motor over linguistic ability. Still it was worth the call and in an age of early interventions if we need to investigate speech intervention therapy for him then we will.

Even though we are in the throws of 18 months toddler antics, Ian also greets us everyday with laughing, smiles, and lots and lots of squealing. He eats blueberries, really any fruit you put in front of him, like candy. He loves playing outside and almost always can be seen in his cozy coupe or pushing his play lawn mower along side the bike riding in the cul de sac. He is a bundle of sweetness (and energy) and is looking more and more like a little boy over any signs of a baby with each passing day.

I feel like a poster child for suburban life. A good life, indeed.

Monday, September 26, 2011

My Friday Post on Monday

I had planned to update my ongoing house (ok, like I post one picture then stopped) of the different rooms in our new(er) house.

Friday turned into Saturday and then well, you know.

Here was the planned post but with some editing since the weekend was a quiet, much needed weekend to get some stuff done.

I've loving looking out the back door to see double parking on tap almost every night by 6:30. For our entire married life we have always lived a minimum 30 mins from work, friends, Target.

Target alone was grounds for moving.

We now are under 15 mins for Bill, 20 mins for me, 5 mins for school, 10 for daycare and most importantly: 5 for Target.

For the first time ever as a family we are able to eat dinner as a family, split bedtime and next day prep, and in general just be able to see the boys for a longer part of each day.

While not the most attractive picture but we also for the first time have room for both cars, all the bikes under the stairs, a growing collection of sports equipment, and best of all an extra fridge and my beloved freezer.

We are investigating putting storage shelving along the walls to get stuff up off the floor.

Not the most exciting weekends on tap but plans for time alone with each kid, time to get caught up for a busy week ahead and planned SC run next weekend.

*** Weekend Update***
Nice and quiet weekend. While not completely finished with grading, I did make a dent and should have an easier week, sorted and washed fall clothes for the boys, usual shopping and errands, Sat am spin class + core work, dog walking, church, plans for my MIL to come up in Dec finalized, big freeze ahead session to split between us and my brother, successful meal out with both boys, dinner meet up with a friend resulting in us both determined to be more involved with the Obama 2012 campaign than just monetarily, and then GOOD WIFE premiere last night.

Not watching Good Wife? Shame on you.

So, So, good and a 20 year crush on Josh Charles doesn't hurt :)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

New Fall Line Up

We have been working over the last month to figure out how to make the AM rush work. So far Bill and I are partnering to divide and conquer. As two chronically late people this has been challenging, and yes Ben has been introduced to the dreaded tardy slip already.

School Days look something like this:

5:30/45- Heather up
6:00- Bill up
6:20- Kids up

We try to have lunches, clothes, backpacks ready to go the night before. Bill gets the boys ready while I take care of the dog, deal with last minute stuff, and lay out everything to go out the door.

6:30- Heather (should be) leaving
6:50- Bill takes Ben to the bus then Ian into daycare.

By 7:30 everyone is at school or work. Pick up is by 5pm if at all possible earlier everyday.

From 5- 6pm Ben rides his bike or plays hockey/baseball/football in our front yard. We have 3 families with young kids within a couple of houses so there is usually a masse of testerone outside.

I get dinner going and then take Ian out and let him play while I help supervise the kids. With the super early wake up, bedtime/bath starts at 7pm.

Most notable in this new fall schedule is my ability to say No.

My new phrase for all concerned is, "Sorry but NO"

Want to sponsor a club-No
Want to take on a leadership roll within your department-No
Want to serve on this committee/meeting/chance to better yourself-NO
Want to fix this copier using only a ball point pin and your wits- NO

I am super protective of any and all things that suck time away from getting home, getting the boys, spending time with them, taking care of the house, getting online work finished at a reasonable hour and going to bed.

We are intentionally not doing a fall extracurricular activity with Ben but rather are swapping Saturday mornings for a breakfast date to do something alone with him. It's too busy to keep up a date night during the school week and the kids need the extra sleep. This also gives Ian some much needed curse of the forgotten 2nd child time with one parent. We may consider karate later this winter as a posssible good behavior reward.

Being so much closer to life was a major selling point for us. So far while there are still kinks to work out, the new fall line up is working most days.