Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Rewind

Looking back at my January Magic 8 ball predictions I'm ending 2013 in a pensive state.  I desperately wanted some to happen including:

- there will have been Kenyan soil on my shoes

- I would have had a reason to wash an entire load of smelly, sweaty gym clothes each week

- I would have run a 5k with Ben

- Realizing that I am nearing 40, consciously made the best choices for myself physically and psychologically

- I would have thought before I spoke in anger

Others did happen

- thought seriously about if and how I want to exit teaching

- quietly walked away from commitments as well as relationships that I no longer want to invest time

- done what I could to ensure Ben was getting the best care and then didn't guilt myself that I didn't do more

- broke my own goal of 30 books on Goodreads by summer and as of today am starting book 50

-  worked to meet up with my brother more often

- showed appreciation to those that make my life full in small ways.  Sometimes signed, other anonymously

In 2013 we turned 38, 38, 7, and 3. Over the year, 130 blog posts were written and 49 books read. Many miles put on the car with roadtrips a plenty to FL twice, and DC three times.  We returned to the happiest place on Earth (whole family.) We had the chance in lifetime to be in the Supreme Court and the National Archives over the summer of teacher institutes (Heather). We went to DragonCon (Bill), HeroesCon (Bill and Ben) and have already started making our 2014 convention plans (Bill.) We had a bounce house 3rd birthday and 7th giant waterslide party.  We went to therapy and stopped therapy when the time was right (Ben and Mom).  We spent our first sleepover party and had a friend to porch-camp out for the 1st time (Ben). We were caught playing hot tub with our girlfriend during a summer playdate (Ben.)  We rode bikes/trikes through the 2nd floor on Sunday mornings while mom worked at school (Ben, Ian, Mom.) After originally planning to pass, we went to our 20th high school reunion for a memorable high school girls night (Heather.)

We went to Y Camp (Ben), Wee Camp (Ian), did Jr. Jazzercise (Ben) and Tumblin' Tots (Ian).  We took three trips to the beach for long weekend trips (Ben, Ian, Mom.) We lost first teeth (Ben) and transitioned to full on underwear (Ian).  We did parent/child art classes and used our studio pass to continue clay creations (Ben and Mom). We were in a family wedding (Bill, Ben, and Ian.) We crashed a wedding by sobbing about a lost quarter in the bushes (Ian.) We went to lots of repeat places like the NC Zoo, Durham Science and Life, Pullen Park, Scrap Exchange, and Marbles.  We ventured out to new places for Camp Mommy field and weekend trips.

As 2013 closes, many dreams were realized, others deferred, even more took a different course than planned. It was a year in which there were times of extreme joy but also of dire sadness and crushing loneliness. Routines became a surrogate companion.

As 52 weeks unfolded I can say that I am thankful for my health, the health of my family, the ability to work, and the gift of time spent with Ben and Ian.  I have few regrets that I didn't say yes to the important opportunities when presented.

As tradition my Best in Show:

Best books read:  The Dovekeepers, Five Days at Memorial, NightFilm, Where Did You Go Bernadette, Beautiful Ruins, We Live in Water

Author I want to meet at Starbucks for coffee- Jess Walters.  I read three very different books in style and substance in 2013 and loved them all.

Best TV- House of Cards.  I just  re-watched season one and loved it all over.  Inside the Beltline drama that would make Shakespeare proud. Addition to Breaking Bad and Good Wife and it's desk clearing betrayal tie for 2nd.  Honorable mentions for Portlandia, Homeland, and Arrested Development binge watching.

Best movies- I saw few movies in a theater or even at home this year. I loved going to the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham in April as well as the AFI Documentary Festival while in DC in June. In particular I loved films The Stories We Tell, Frances Ha, and the chilling, and intense true story After Tiller.  My 2014 list of to see includes:  American Hustle, Inside Llewyn Davis, Dallas Buyers Club, Blue is the Warmest Color, Kill Your Darlings, West of Memphis, and All is Lost.

Best new cooking related item- Skinnytaste for great recipes with Weight Watcher points already calculated.  The Shrimp Salsa was a summer staple at Casa Vinson.

Best local Camp Mommy location-  Three Bears Acres- Can we say ask a kid to dream up everything they could ever want to do outside and then grant their wish? 2nd place- Durham Science and Life.  I have already earned back the cost of a membership in Sunday afternoon visits with the boys to burn off energy.

Best new Camp Mommy location- The NC Transportation Museum and Dan Nichols Park in Spencer, NC.  Who would have thought on a 100 degree August day we would have spent almost 8 hours?

I'm excited to try out The Carolinas Aviation Museum as a meet up with Uncle Brian soon.

What kept me going on the long days filled with many moments of brotherly love fighting.  

Moment of right timing- The decision to end counseling for Ben this fall.  At this point last year, Ben had lost a great deal of weight and was in counseling after a difficult fall.  We found the right medication, his appetite returned, he ended the year on grade level for reading, and outside of normal 7 year old fears, he his happy and content.  At his final session, his counselor had me sit in on his time and it was all I could do not to sob at how much in a year can change.

Parenting Fail of 2013- A tie, between Ian walking out completely naked after going to "wash his hands" at a T ball game as recounted in Gettin' Busy in a Burger King Bathroom or my picking up and exiting stage left with a sobbing Ian during Bill's brother's wedding. Both defied reason or logic other than the mind of a 3 year old.  I won't even mention 8 stitches in one week, including five as a Mother's Day present spent in an ER.

Best way to spend an adult evening- Cards Against Humanity.  If I ever needed a reason to mention Oprah crying into a Lean Cuisine, I found it.  This card game is a must for parties sans kids with a required two drink minimum.

Thanks Internet, but no thanks. In cutting chatter and time wasting, in 2013 I abandoned Twitter outside of flagging news articles to read and Pintrest for unattainable Martha-like lifestyles.  I never was on Instagram and I don't play any online games.  I feel so 1988, but the payoff is more time = more sleep = more happy

Thank you Internet... So worth reading and/or listening-
33 Rules for Not Being a Crummy Human Being- Single Dad Laughing
Giving it Away- TED Radio Hour
Harper High School Series- This American Life

Moment for 2013- 10:00 am on June 24th at the US Supreme Court.  Few people hear the smooth voice of NPR legal correspondent Nina Totenburg and get excited. I never in a million years would have believed that in the most important week of the Supreme Court's term that I would be sitting in front of the robed nine. Being part of the DC energy of those awaiting a monumental decision on gay rights was amazing. Seeing Justice O'Connor and meeting Justice Ginsburg was a once in a lifetime experience.  I am so lucky to have been part of the teachers chosen for the 2013 Supreme Court Institute.

We have again weathered the hard among the many, many moments of unbridled happiness throughout the year. We live our lives at maximum volume with loud, crazy days.  I am reminded that checking the enough box is ok, and perfection is an illusion of unattainable status.  I take into a new year confidence that with patience comes answers. I have the knowledge what is to come in 2014 will happen regardless of anything I attempt to do to control.   I'm leaving 2013 behind and hoping for a 39th year around the sun filled with goodness and light.

Happy new year, happy new dreams to you and yours in 2014.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Capturing 2013

I finally got around making a 2014 calendar yesterday.  Today, I'm wrapping up 2013 with favorite pictures I took throughout the year.

January- 38th birthday beach trip with the boys to an indoor water park resort.  I am the water-slide parent, hear me roar.

February- From one of my favorite posts of the year A Different Kind of Love Story

March- From "Touch A Truck"  How can such a poorly worded event bring such utter joy.  In this case, running the length of an empty tractor trailer truck.

April- From Y Guides Spring Outing with Dad.  I'm so very glad Bill shares a love of camping with Ben so I don't have to go.  I'm also very thankful for a very happy and healthy 2013 for Ben.  

May- Flowers abound and warm weather returns to my Prince of Tides house for primo porch sittin'


June- There are many ways to celebrate a birthday.  I'll take water-sliding with some of my favorite people. 

July- Trips, Trips, Trips.... Two to Florida in One Month

August- Back to school and the end of a summer of Camp Mommy field trips

September-  Very thankful for friends that don't think twice about letting her 3 join my 2 for a 
barrel of boy-tastic fun.  

October- What do I want to be when I grow up? A career that gives me a daily opportunity to remind someone that they are loved. The weekly $15.00 flower budget is continuing into 2014.  

November- Roadtrip to DC for a Ben and Mom weekend.  Yes please, for as long as he will think it's cool to hang with mom.    

December- Why not a picture taken in December, one that sums up how 2013 was spent so many days and weekends.  No regrets.   

Friday, December 27, 2013

Christmas Week Unwrapped

It has been a very quiet holiday week.  In part because we did not travel to Atlanta given the family wedding last month.  Also in part as the kids have both had colds they cannot seem to kick. Luckily both Bill and I are well so everyone is not down for the count.  We've spent most of our week at home minus trips to the playground, a bounce house, and lots of walks with the dog with bikes and trikes in tow.

We decided to pass on some events planned that would have us outside in the cold at night.  The good thing is that the boys are young enough that seeing a big light display on a hayride will be just as fun next year.

I've gotten much needed tasks around the house done, plus lots of sleeping and binge tv watching. The boys have been enamoured with their gifts to the point of now going on day three of playing in one of the three rooms set up with a Lego train, a Disney World monorail, or Hot Wheels loop of death.  I think our family personally is keeping Hot Wheels and Lego in business in 2013.

Some pictures to wrap up what has been a relaxing week at home

Letters to Santa from Ian with help from mom

Letter from Ben that is practically illegible.
Can we sat working on handwriting needs to be one of his 2014 resolutions.

A big hit were headlights to use at night in our rooms.  Thanks Beth H. for introducing to this fab idea.

 Pile of presents?  I got this.

Ben was super excited to get a graphic novel about dogs that have served in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam.

Mom was as happy to get a signed copy with the personal note, "Good luck with your History lessons" from Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Over seven hundred pages of the rivalry between Roosevelt and Taft set in the Progressive age.  Score one for fellow history nerds.

Ian was equally excited to get Bear in Underwear.  The touching tale of a bear in the woods that finds a bag of underwear for all his woodland friends.  Can we say a love of reading has to start somewhere.  Actually this book is super cute for the preschool crowd.

Wishing you a continued relaxing holiday with family and friends.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from the family

Wishing you time surrounded by those you love.  

From our home to yours, 

Merry Christmas

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday happenings

I thought I had posted a holiday list to-do with the boys, only to realize that much of 2014, I had good intentions to post and then life happened.  Our main theme of this holiday is to be selective on how we spend time.  I forwent making holiday goodies tray for Bill's work.  I phoned it in for my co-workers and bagged up chocolate covered peanuts, caramel corn, and chocolate drizzled kettle corn.  No less that two teachers ate it for lunch when I parceled out bags at a meeting earlier in the week.

I also drastically cut back on holiday cards and only sent 1/2 of what I normally do in the past.  I've said no to a neighborhood party because frankly I was just really tired and since I didn't plan to drink, thought it was a moot point to go when I knew few people.

So what have we been doing?

Ben and I did a holiday clay class in November and created this tree and snowman village for our kitchen table.

I took the boys to the Pullen Park Holiday Express.  This year I bought three wristbands and took the boys right when they opened on a weekday night.  We were able to ride the train without a wait.  New this year was a giant snowman and pile of snow to have a snowball fight.  Ben is desperate to have a real snow this year and upended some other family's fun when he and another dad got into a pelting war.

Obligatory Santa photo, and yes I thought the one with Ian and tongue out SO captured him at age 3.5

Sunday I took Ben to the Nutcracker at the Durham Performing Arts Center (DPAC).  Normally I would never pay the crazy high prices to see a real performance, but Groupon had a rush sale and the tickets were affordable.  We dinned on hotdogs before the performance, ate smuggled M&Ms during intermission, and checked out a Festival of Trees afterwards.  Ben made it through must of the performance but was really tired in the last 20 or so minutes.  If local, this was a beautifully staged and performed version and I would return at a reduced ticket price.

Yesterday I surprised Ian at school to see his 3 year old class holiday sing a long.  "Sing-along" is a subjective term as 80% of the kids had the deer in the headlights look and simply shook their jingle bells and shouted out specific words to the songs.  Still, it was a treat that I was able to get permission to reschedule student lunch tutorials and attend during the middle of the day.  Ian's face lit up when I saw him in all his 3 year old cuteness.

The only event left we haven't done is head out to Hillridge Farms, location of where we normally do a hayride.  Our friends told us about a great light display, hayride, and photos with Santa.  I'm thinking I may take the boys early on Christmas Eve night and make it a scavenger hunt to guess our final location.

Last year I made a grave mistake of driving out to the middle of nowhere (really just a rural county 45 mins away) to see a light display with a train.  I should have heeded my friend's advice that it was a "different" take on Christmas.  No lie, lit up teddy bears jumping out of presents staged next to a Jesus on a cross was a bit much.

So far, Ben and Ian are in the thick of excitement for Santa and I love that a nightly tradition from growing up with Brian was to read our family collection of Christmas books by the tree.  Also in the ongoing Vinson family carrying on the Hendricks family tradition is the "tackiest Christmas holiday decorations contest."  We already have the two houses in our own neighborhood that are must drive-bys each night on the way home from pick up.

I am again on planning on driving the boys out to Happyland lights and while not tacky, they certainly win a prize for highest light bill in January.  It is the little things, the gift of time together, that I hope the boys will want to pass on to their own kids.  I remember very few presents actually received for any Christmas minus a crappy Snoopy Cone machine, but what I do remember is the holiday through the lens of special, once a year activities that my mom made sure was part of each season.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Parenting Fail?

Last night Ben and I were working on homework when I realized he needed notebook paper.  Believe it or not but I'm not a fan of notebook paper, especially that of the spiral bound kind with the "nasty edge" that gets all over the floor.  I actually forbid assignments on it in my own class and takes off points if students turn in work with nasty edge.  I'm a killjoy in the realm of office supplies.

I remembered that on my shelf of school supplies I had a one subject notebook with a cover from the movie Tommy Boy.  The same Tommy Boy of "Fat man little coat" song fame or "it doesn't hurt here or here, but my face hurts here".  Stop me, as I can go one on one with lines.  I saw this movie three times in an actual theater when it came out.  Once with friends, once with Bill and once with my brother.  What does that say about me?

I digress.

Part of Ben's nightly homework includes math and a reading journal.  Earlier in the year he had to fill in a sheet giving the title of the book and a summery of the book read.  His teacher is moving to open-ended questions that students must include the question in the answer and then answer in complete sentences.  Ben had three questions to complete last night and when I looked over his work I could not read a single answer. Ben rushes through everything to be done and move on to something else.  A perfectionist he is not.

I told him he had to redo all of it until it was legible.  I sat with him and wrote out a template showing how to record each day with title, date, and then which questions he was answering.

Here was the before:

And the after:
Overall he is having a good 2nd grade year.  I am surprised at the amount of work they complete in a given day based on what is coming home on the weekend.  We take a few minutes each weekend and clean out his backpack and go through his weekly folder of work.  We have built rewards into the bear buck box for overall work effort during the week.  Ben is at least upfront in telling me what he likes to do (most math and science that involves what sounds like a 2nd grade version of a lab) and what he hates, any type of writing unless it is on a computer.

Over the weekend I helped him study for a math test.  It was a first helping one of my OWN kids study for a test.  We spent time working back through problems from homework, watching the online links that his teacher had sent of how to do this "new" math of math "mountains" and writing subtraction in expanded form. I wrote out problems for him to complete and then then had him check his work.  He reported Monday that he thought he had done ok and that one of the problems I wrote was similar to one on his test.  *Note, if you can teach it back to me, you have cleared the gate.

As we round into the last 2 1/2 days before the holiday break Ben is counting down the days of school and told me he is planning on leaving his backpack in my car the entire break.    I hear you, Ben.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Seventeen years in and we spent it with the Chickenman

Saturday was our 17th wedding anniversary.  How did we celebrate?

In the most romantic of ways, at a cold, wet Christmas parade as Ben Jr. Jazzercised his way down the streets of Downtown Cary.  Given the forecast was for heavy rain starting near the time of the parade, we told Ben that we would decide if the weather was ok for him to march if it only misting, not a deluge of rain.

While not ideal, as it was a balmy 44 degrees it was just tolerable as for the hour we were outside it didn't really rain until the very end of the parade.  We parked ourselves near the end so I could quickly grab Ben and we could bolt if the rain became heavy.  I dressed Ian in layers, including too cute froggy boots.  Bill picked up hot chocolate and we settled in waiting for entry 14, Cary Jazzercise.  Ian was beside himself catching candy being thrown from the floats and groups.  Because we were at the end of the route, several of literally dumping bags of candy on the street.

A one point I yelled to a woman about to dump an entire basket of jolly ranchers at Ian's feet, please don't give him all that! She dumped it all anyway, much to Ian's delight.

Ben had a smile ear to ear as he made his way past.  He had been practicing in the kitchen nightly and I whispered in his ear when I dropped him off that he would do great and I was proud of him for performing in front of so many people.  Given the bad weather, only a 1/3 of the kids in his class were in the parade, so the kids joined the other Jazzercise ladies.  My friend mentioned to me the other day that she hoped Ben one day would appreciate that I openly encouraged him to explore interests, even if it involves jazz hands.

Bill and I had a hay day laughing at some of the parade entries.  Being from small town America, I was totally waiting for high school bands, a gazillion schools of dance with 9 year old girls with enough makeup to to make hookers blush, and all the churches trying to outdo each other with who can put up the best Baby Jesus.

What I wasn't expecting was "the Chickenman".  A two bit shill belting out Christmas tunes from the platform of a Jazzy wheelchair lift, attracted lovingly to the front of a Ford 150 pick up.  Or Puppypalooza, complete with two dogs.  Does "palooza" not denote like at least 10?  Or the church short bus that stopped in front of us for a good 5 minutes on a continuous loop of sing-songy music with puppets hanging out of the windows. Bill and I were punching each other laughing so, so hard.

We had dinner out, watched Polar Express with the kids by the fireplace.  Was it crazy romantic?  Nope, but after 17 years it more about taking one for the team, at a rainy Christmas parade watching our kid in a bright red Jazzercise shirt and keeping one from eating candy by the handful off the street. Best of all, we did it together.

Friday, December 13, 2013

A year out, and I feel the same

Yesterday I was standing at the window during class and suddenly noticed a line of elementary kids coming towards my school on the way to see a performance of the Nutcracker.  They looked so sweet, so innocent bundled up in brightly colored coats and hats.  As I looked at them I couldn't help but think of the families in Newtown, CT that will be mourning the loss of their kids tomorrow on the one year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting. Last year I wrote an untitled post more for myself than for anyone who might read this blog. When I reread what I wrote a year ago, I feel much the same.

I've continued to try to be media silent in what I watched or read about the story.  I did watch a haunting 60 Minutes interview with the parents on the eve of the now failed Federal gun control legislation this past March.  It was an interview I wish I had walked away from hearing. One particular parent's nightly ritual to honor her son is forever stuck in my head.

It was everything demonstrated in unconditional love for a child. Even when I am ready to at my limit with Ben and Ian, I can still physically hug and kiss them every night. They get a 2nd, 3rd and so on chance each day to mature into the men they are becoming each year.

I've been very conscious not to look at the 20 first graders names listed.  Thinking of their parent's naming them as babies never imagining they would not live to see their children's names in print of a graduation program, wedding annoucement or other life milestone is just too unbelievably tragic of potention cut short.

The only other program I watched in the last year was a Frontline piece in which the relationship between Adam Lanza and his mother was the subject.  It told a very normal story or a parent doing what they thought was in the best interest of her child. Knowing that his first victim was his own mother or that no extended family stepped in to claim Adam's body for almost a month after the shooting is tragic in his own way.

A year out from this story I am very sad to say that tougher gun control laws failed federally and that elected officials have taken heat or even been recalled for standing up for what seems common sense tougher gun rights.

The Harper High School series from TAL asked a loaded question about the relationship race and guns. Sadly that school was faced with another shooting death this fall..  This American Life very boldly asked why a inner city high school didn't receive the same media appeal as Sandy Hook Elementary given a similar number of lives lost.

Later today my AP Gov't class will have a final Friday public policy debate.  It was not intentional when we drew dates for topics that gun control would be final debate and come on the eve of the one year anniversary of Newtown's tragic loss. I will stay neutral, like I have for all other debates, and watch student's moderate the two positions.

I will be looking at a note left in my lunchbox by Ben, now taped to my work laptop and thinking that starting a dialogue, even with high school seniors is worth the time. It is one of the paths in my realm of impact and potential change to honor the memory of those forever frozen as 1st graders, their teachers and administrators, and the mother of a badly broken child.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Thoughts on a year of personal training

Last year for a combined anniversary and Christmas gift I bought (and wrapped up and put Bill's name as giver) 10 sessions of personal training at our local Y.  I moved our very expensive membership as an all inclusive gym after figuring that the at most one time a month I was going was one very expensive visit.

I figured the one thing I needed more was the motivation to try to fit exercise back into my week.  The idea was buy 10 sessions of perosnal training, spread them out over the year and by the end of 2013 I would have gone to the gym 2-3 times a week, reintroducing the habit of weekly exercise.

So, how did I do?

On the try to loose the 20 lbs I've put on in the last two years since my surgeries, not well.  While I didn't put on more weight, I also didn't loose the weight.  I could lament how ticked I am at myself for a major backslide.  Is it all related to less exercise? No, an erratic schedule of meals, not eating due to the lack of time, and nighttime snacking are also to blame.  A major goal in the year before I turn 40 is to loose the weight.

On the try to add exercise back into my week?  So-so.  I was able most weeks to make it once a week, but often it has been on the weekend.  The week itself has just gotten busier.  It is a trade off to leave before 5pm that I will have an additional hour on top of the standard 2 hours I have each night grading, planning, contacting parents.

Without lamenting the number of hours worked in a given week, but it averages 60-70 hours when you include actually being at school, work at home after the kids are in bed, and most weekends including trips to school on Sunday morning when the building is open.  Frankly, I am slap exhausted and when I try to figure out short cuts or combining tasks, I'm already maximizing every minute I have during the day.  You just cannot have classes of 35-40 students each, many of them with IEPs, learning issues, and repeating the class without these pulling these kind of hours.  Having my AP Gov't class is great, but the grading is a continual game of never catching up, just degrees of being buried.  

On the positive most of the summer, if I was home and not traveling then I went 4-5 times each week.  I restarted a Couch to 5k and made it to week 6 before the school year started.

One of my major goals for 2014 is to figure out anywhere I can find time to try to exercise. Yesterday at my final session I had my trainer go through all 9 of the 30 minute workouts she planned for me, again.

I would like to say that after I met with her I diligently did each workout just as she instructed.  I didn't. What I did do was use new equipment like the TRX bands, different ideas for cardio like Tabata interval training.  I printed off all 9 workouts, laminated  them and keep them on a D ring with pictures of the TRX band set up.

This is progress from someone who a year ago had gone almost 6 months since setting foot into a gym.  My goal for 2014 is to find 1 additional hour 2-3 times a week to trade work for exercise.  I will feel better physically and emotionally.  It seems like I have set myself up for sucess.  I hope I will not sabotize my 39th year in 2014.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Want to See it, Read it, Eat it- Holiday Edition

The boys and I are working through a family fun list that is manageable without feeling like every minute is packed with holiday cheer stress.  I have my own wish list for activities that don't involve Santa..

I am on the final countdown of the semester and other than writing a final exam and a final research project to roll on January 2nd for AP Gov students, come December 20 it is all about some slower paced days.

1.. See a movie. In a movie theater. By myself or with other adults.  Two movies would be dandy. Three would be more than I 've seen all year in a theater.  Contenders:  Anchorman 2, American Hustle, The Book Thief, or Catching Fire.

2. Go to the Messiah. Thinking next year I am going back to Duke.  While listening to a 3 hour performance feels almost like giving birth, I hate that some of my favorite pieces are cut with the scaled down version I've seen at an area Cary church the last few years.  

3.  Hit up some end of the year clothes sales.  Add Southern Season's end of year sale as well.

4.  Attempt to finish up a 2013 goal of 50 books read. I'm close to finishing my 45th book, The Shining Girls.  I currently have the following downloaded or checked out.  The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls, The Burgess Boys, Life After Life, Home.

5. See the Nutcracker ballet by the Carolina Ballet.  I've taken Ben the last two  years to the one put on my school dance department.  After seeing dancers perform selections at Marbles kids museum, Ben has agreed to be my date, provided we get ice cream afterwards at the Parlor's streetfront store.

6.  Try out somewhere new for dinner or appetizers in the area.  I feel like I am trapped in a Groundhog Day-esqe trapping of kid friendly restaurants.  I want to put on nice earrings and go somewhere without a kid's menu.

7. Sunday brunch at the Carolina Inn and see the 12 Days of Christmas display and giant sand sculpture.

8. Marathon tv watching.  Homeland Season 2, Orange is the New Black, finish this season of Mad Men and possibly give Scandal a 2nd chance.

9. Get a pedicure.  I may not be wearing flip flops and sandals, but it has been months.  Plans next year to maybe do a spa day at a resort in Pinhurst that also has a big Gingerbread house competition.  That sounds every bit of my pushing 40-self fantasy to consider a cake competition as enjoyment.

10. Napping on the couch in front of a fire, with or without children.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Of mint chocolate chip ice cream and telling funny jokes

I had intended to post what Jingle, our Elf on the Shelf, has been up to this first week of December. Instead after going through a folder of papers Ben was to return for his 2nd grade portfolio last night, I had to change.

One of his assignment was to conduct an interview with a family member.  Ben and I frequently talk of the ways we are alike and different, so it was fun to see this assignment.

When we were finishing homework I asked him about some of the items he had listed:

Mom: You like school
Ben: Do not like school.

When I asked, "it is hard sometimes, I don't like to write. I do like recess, PE, going to the library, and art."

This opened the door to talk about how sometimes we have to struggle and work hard but the result is worth the effort.  I told him about how all the times he sees me grading work at home us part of my job.  We talked about going to school as his job.  His comment, "when can I get paid money to go to school?"

Ben: "I like music"
Mom: "you do not like music"

WHAAT???? I've been playing Christmas music in the car all week!

Ben: "Yeah mom, but you are always listening to the news in the car, so you must not like music. Plus you told me the other day your most un-favorite special was music."  What I hadn't told him was my elementary music teacher was horrible.  All I remember doing is singing some James Taylor song and playing with rhythm sticks every single week.  Plus, I grew up with my mom teaching piano on the other side of my bedroom room until 8 pm 4 nights a week.  At some point I need quiet.

Note that Ben and I both like mint chocolate chip ice cream and we both like to tell funny jokes.

Well said.

Happiest of weekends.  Ben is at a sleepover birthday party tonight, Bill is doing a movie night with Ian, and I am am meeting up with a friend for dinner and holiday shopping at an area vendor show.

Saturday we are heading to Town of Cary Santa's Workshop event and to to the new Dave and Busters for dinner and games. Sunday, I am going to the Messiah and attempting to get out holiday cards.   Sunday, expecting a cold rain, will most likely involve a movie, popcorn,  planned holiday kid crafts, and my music--hating self has promised to play Christmas songs on the piano for the boys.

Monday, December 2, 2013

He cut down a tree, so I made him a pecan pie

Know what was the absolute BEST part of the long holiday weekend?

What is a great Thanksgiving day dinner when the key word was PIE?

Did it include hanging out in pjs until mid morning eating pancakes?

Perhaps beautiful weather that was almost warm by mid day to include lots of playing outside?

Was it family movie night to watch Home Alone complete with popcorn, bad 80s fashions, and lots of 7 year old humor?

Nope.  All of those were swell, but the best part was hanging out with Brian. He drove up for a short overnight stay on Friday.

Once he arrived we headed over to Durham Science and Life for the afternoon.  While the kids played, we chatted and had a picnic lunch. The boys loved showing him their favorite parts of the museum.  Not surprisingly it included the dino dig, tunnels, outdoor music area, and the sailboats. Ian especially liked the paper airplane shooter.

 Ben was totally not into making a normal face.  For what it's worth, neither was Brian.

Friday night we picked up sushi and Brian and I watched a marathon of the new season of Arrested Development into WAY too late for adults to be up.  I might have to disown Brian if he didn't howl out loud at the insanity of the Bluth family.

Ben wanted to test out some newly learned chess skills, and my brother was happy to oblige.

Saturday am, I looked out the window to see this,

I mentioned I needed to finish off cutting up a small tree that fell during the summer and well, he showed up with an axe.  Do I even need to wonder while he owns an axe?  I repaid him in pecan pie and filling his cooler full from my freezer stash.

I hope, hope, hope to see him again over Christmas.  Thanks Brian for making the trip up.  Love you!