Saturday, November 30, 2013

November Wrap Up

November, you came and went like no one's business.  My attempt to get 10 posts out in a month was not met for the first time this year.  So what was keeping me so busy?

- Annual Mom and Ben trip to Washington DC for museum hopping
- Road trip to Atlanta for family wedding
- Finished two books (one audio, one print that was over 600 pages long)
- Double visit with Uncle Brian (on the way to Atlanta, and a short overnight visit this weekend)
- Replenishing freeze ahead stock to make it to the end of the year
- Floral arranging class.  Can I just say I have kept a cornucopia of fall flowers alive for nearly 3 weeks by daily trimming and a couple of single flower freshening up.  It doesn't match my now up Holiday decorations, but it is staying until the last rust colored mum has bitten the dust.
- Christmas cards ordered and arrived today!
- House decorated for the holiday season and double party hosting.
- Almost all holiday shopping for the kids done (Bill can claim total credit for this accomplishment).  I have bought those always fun gifts of new pajamas.  Recall that Bill is the fun parent, I am the one that makes sure the boys have on clean underwear.
- Big holiday fun list planned, tickets ordered, reservations made for a busy December

Bring it 31 days of holiday fun, that will not include anything made of real gingerbread!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Harvest Table 2013

Thanksgiving has always been a big holiday in my family.  Usually we went to my dad's parents, Tom and Mary Hendricks where the definition of a down home Southern meal was invented.

I came across a recipe for her mac and cheese in her handwriting yesterday while I was looking for my mom's recipe for cornbread dressing.  Being in the freeze ahead cooking mood I made a triple batch of dressing resulting in 8 pans to stow away for busy school nights.

I love that I still have some of my favorite holiday dishes in now deceased family's handwriting.  It's like a little piece of them is still with me as I make the same recipes as part of our holiday meal.  Later today we will be celebrating with our neighbors whom our kids spent many an hour playing together. Tomorrow, Brian will be here for a part of the weekend and a chance to visit with the boys.  We have plans for a family movie night, heading over to Durham Science and Life, and the opportunity to get up our holiday decorations.

In a season of thankfulness I am grateful for my family, friends that are surrogate family, my health and that of my boys, a positive year for both Ben and Ian at school, their growing independence and finding their own talents and passions, faith that sustains the trials and joys of life, and work that is challenging but also deeply meaningful.

Back in 2008 I wrote a post called Turkey in the Rec Room in which I told the story of the last holiday my immediate family was together was spent at Greenville Memorial Hospital.  It was a meal of a forgotten turkey (as well as most of the rest of the meal) and  substitutions of crackers and ice cream from the nurses station.  It was a story of how despite difficult circumstances the only thing we really needed was each other to celebrate.

Happy Thanksgiving, may it be time with those that mean the most to you.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A very small token of thanks

In a season of thankfulness, I am beyond thankful that for the 10+ hours I am away from my boys I know they are in good hands. I appreciate open communication and the knowledge that the people that see them more waking hours of the day than I do have patience beyond mine, are loving as well as compassionate about their work.

I sent Ben in with a card and a small Target gift card to say thanks for working with our family this year tucked into his homework folder.  I did the same for Ian's two teachers as well.  This is a lean season when I personally know teachers making hard decisions about pay, if they can stay in this profession, or if they can somehow manage 2nd and even 3rd jobs to make ends meet. It is a difficult time to consider this profession for any type of long term income security.

I wanted Ben and Ian's teachers to know that I appreciate the time and effort they put into my boys each day.  A good teacher can bridge the gap for lacking equipment, fewer supplies, an overcrowded classroom where kids get little one on one attention.  While not all miracle workers, many are the teachers you want your kids to have.  We have been very fortunate to feel that we are in supportive schools and that part of the boys' success lies in the abilities of good teachers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Checking in after a few weeks of treading water fitting life into 24 hours.

We are looking forward to the holiday week to be celebrated with friends on Thanksgiving and my brother over the weekend.  This weekend was much like the the others filled with errands not completed during the week among piles of laundry, cleaning, and grading.

Bill took Ben to a birthday party on Saturday while Ian and I hit up Target aka the $100.00 store after going nearly three weeks without hitting the grocery.  Yes, I'm one of those people who succumbed to buying milk at the gas station not to have to make a full run.

Add 10+ bags of leaves raked, making and dropping dinner to our neighbor with a sweet newborn son, holiday cards ordered, and you have another average weekend at Casa Vinson.

Ben and I finished up a Saturday parent/child clay class with one of our favorite instructors.  If local, please consider a class at the Cary Art Center with instructor Linda Simpson.  She is patient with kids on a whole new level, plus she has that great "art is everywhere" vibe that is infectious.

This time Ben and I worked together to create a Christmas tree village complete with snowman Vinson family.  I can't wait to see the finished product to add to what he made last year with Ms. Linda.  I'm totally one of those suckers that loved that my mom kept and passed on tacky child-made ornaments made from some 1982 suntan pantyhose and felt.

Sunday I did a date day with the boys first up church, then on to Marbles Children's museum, late lunch and then the library for new books. As we head into a week where the focus is thankfulness, I'll start with my boys.  I cannot imagine a life without their sweetness, laughing, fighting, antics that are becoming more more them vs me, and did I mention fighting?

I am thankful for my V boys, Ben and Ian. You make our lives fun, exciting, and very, very LOUD!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What happens when Riverdance meets Superhero Squad

Bill's aunt Lynn sent more pictures from the wedding to share.  Pardon me while I swoon just a little.

Ian was in no mood to open his eyes for most pictures.  He looks like he spent most of the day looking into the sun in 99% of the pictures taken. 

Get ready, I'm planning on acting like a total tool at your wedding.  I've been prepping all day. By the way these Spiderman themed Vans are so 1983 Jeff Spicoli. 

Really mom, I thought I was going to get to wear swishy pants at this gig.  This tie sucks.  In addition your ability to dress (little) men sucks.  

PS... Dad sucks too, most likely because he wears a screen printed t-shirt of some type of geekdom every waking day. 

Must better, although I look kinda look like if Riverdance hooked up with a Superhero.  Bonus points for the call to ditch the capes until the reception.  

It's GO time.  Super bonus points that a dog is not also in this picture.  

Despite Ian's antics, mom was proud of us.  She also promised us all you could eat ice cream at the reception.  *Note, Ian had to leave before the ice cream bar was wheeled out at the reception so Ben ate three bowls in his honor.  

Ben to mom, "so will I be in Ian's wedding?"  
Mom, "Yes, just don't give him a quarter to loose and you'll be all good."

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Mozelle and Roy would have been proud

When I met Bill in the fall of 1994 I knew the following things about him:

1.  He was the overnight computer lab manager and would put a sign on his face that said,"wake if having issues, if not, let me sleep."
2.  He was in my 8am French class, and seemed like a nice guy when I saw him in the foreign language lab and asked for help once Freshmen year.  Note it was not overnight and I did not have to wake him.
3.  He already knew several of my sorority sisters and had taken one to the Spring formal Freshmen year when I went out with him for my Sophomore year sorority pledge bash.

What I didn't know was that over the course of just a few months after we had our first date, that he would take me to meet his grandmother, Mozelle Evans.  Mrs. Evans was in the hospital the first time I met her. On the same day I also met his grandfather, Roy, and his mom.  His grandmother would later say she thought I must be from a good family to come and see her in the hospital.  I remember thinking anyone who would take me to meet their grandmother within a month of dating must HAVE a good family.

Over the past 19 years of knowing his family I can say that they are kind and welcoming.  Mozelle and Roy were salt of the Earth folk that knew the importance of family.  Such was theme over the weekend when Bill's younger brother James married Katie.  I knew that I would like Katie when I met her at our annual summer trip to Florida and she offered to take Ben and Ian (along with James) to a water park.  After making sure she did indeed understand that Ian liked to wander and Ben was fearless, she still consented to taking the boys and returned with both un-phased but also very tired.

Ben and Ian love her.  My mother in law loves her and most importantly James loves her.  At Bill's toast at the reception he remarked that they bring out the best in each other, which is what I remember best about Bill's grandparents.  They complemented each other like no other couple I ever met.  Much more than either my sets of grandparents.  I often thought of them as my own grandparents in the ways they welcomed me into their family.
Everyone wore matching Superhero themed Chuck Taylors

I am sad that neither lived to see their youngest grandchild marry in a beautiful sunset ceremony under a blanket of fall color marry.  Am I glad that the bride and groom nixed a decision to have the boys walk their 90 lb dog down the aisle with the rings on an attached pillow, uh yes.  Do I wish that Ian hadn't started jumping up an down showing his Spiderman underwear during the ceremony?  Uh, yes again.  How about when he ran towards me crying when he lost the quarter he was suppose to stand on during the ceremony prompting me to exit stage left with him sobbing as not drown out the recessional music? Why yes, I think you can pick up on the theme of the night of mom in full-on damage control mode as not to ruin a wedding.

Do I wish that of all days of not napping that being utterly crazy at the reception resulted in me taking Ian back to the hotel early, missing out on a large part of the party?  Of course.  I can say Ben was at an all time high of mature, helpful behavior.  I whispered into Ben's ear that if I were his girlfriend Mary, of shoes being thrown over the fence fame, I would marry him as he looked so handsome.  He blushed and I smiled.

While I didn't take any pictures I hope that the family shots will reveal how cute the boys looked, and one that the photographer got his his pants falling off on the dance floor. No one would have laughed harder than Bill's grandparents.  

A wedding is but a day; a marriage is a lifetime.  Happiest of marriages to James and Katie.  I wish you a lifetime of happiness.

Monday, November 4, 2013

One day he will get it

Ben and I traveled to Washington DC Friday afternoon for what I hope will continue as an annual tradition for an overnight trip for just the two of us.  This year I gave him the option of either going to Smithsonian Natural History or the the Air and Space Annex near one of the DC airports.  Beth H. graciously offered for us to stay with her family like last year.

He opted for Natural History as he is in a dinosaur and fossil phase.  Luckily we drove out of the rain near the NC/VA border and after a quick dinner arrived in time to say good night to Seth and William.  One of the things I loved best about this visit was that Beth and I got time to chat, eating Sugar Mama cupcakes by her fireplace.  Yes, the boys were crazy and adding a pre-planned friend spending the night Saturday night added to the insanity.

We found all of them shirtless, eating (again) and laughing at Home Alone 2. Beth told them they were not to be up before 7 am on Sunday.   All were up at 5 am on Sunday and we found a map of how they would sneak downstairs. I LOVE the seven year oldness of it all.

On the museum front, we took the Metro into the city after bombing out on street parking due to the Autism Speaks walk on the Mall.  I mentioned that we should check out the transportation exhibit in American History on our way to Natural History.  I had the crazy idea for my WWII graphic- novel loving child to stop by the Price of Freedom exhibit before we left thinking he would want to see the WWII items and move on.
Nope, we were in that one exhibit for a good hour and a half.  What may seem like a parenting fail to take him through an intense at times exhibit dedicated to American warfare, became one of the best experiences I've ever had with him.  Ben checks out books each week about War from the children's nonfiction section of our local library.  We talk about what happened in the war, the bad and good guys, and the weapons before he returns each week.  How many 7 year olds can you you about Guadalcanal?

At one point we were looking at the information about the decision to use the atomic bomb and Ben asked a particularly mature question.  A man who had been touring the exhibit nearby mentioned to me that he was very knowledgeable about the war. Ben told him about his books and  I mentioned that I teach American History.  I also mentioned that I share a similar love of our military history but that more importantly I want him to have the correct information explained on his level instead of just wondering aimlessly through the books.

We headed on Smithsonian Natural history seeing the dinosaur, gems/minerals, oceans, fossil lab, and mammals exhibits. We wrapped up our day, bought a tshirt for him and for Ian.  Ben opted to pick a book about dinosaurs over a toy and we headed home for the sleep over.

On the way out we stopped to take our picture near a bank of beautiful fall trees on our way to the Metro.  Ben reached over and planted a big kiss on my cheek.  From the same boy that told me he was too old to hold by hand earlier in the day, a moment of utter sweetness.

I know that one day he will be too old and cool to hang out with mom, but for now I will take that sweet kiss and tuck it away. I hope when he is raising his own children that he will carve out alone time to try to know and love his kids, their interests, who they are becoming as they grow up.

Thank you Ben for a wonderful trip and for sharing a part of your interests with me.  My heart is so, so full.

xoxox- Mom