Sunshine State of Mind

Family is pretty stinkin’ precious. We feel that in full measure tonight. We spent a blessed 2 weeks with The Nana and Captain Ahab and oodles of time with the cousin, too.  Our fourth of July celebration was subdued, but with family and close friends, so altogether lovely.  As we closed our vacation time out in  sunny Florida with the grandparentals, we started realizing that there would be a few things that we would be missing somethin’ fierce. These things put us all into a sunshine state of mind, and here they are, in no particular order:

1)  I’ll miss being able to go out into the yard and just grab a mango off of a tree.  Back to grocery store mangoes for me…

We had delicious mangoes almost every single morning or afternoon.

2) That Sweetgirl – she does NOT nap.  I mean… ever!  The motion of the ocean finally got to her, though.  Praise The Lord! And Amen.

Naps don’t get better than this. Right?

3) I get great pleasure out of seeing my Sweetboy do this; and he did a boatload of it:

The child – he surely does love his snorkel and mask.

And lastly,

4)  I realized two things after I planned and executed the following picture.

It’s been a great vacation when you’ve got a ring tan!

The first is that it makes me all kinds of happy to see a ring tan on my finger there.  (Hopefully, that’s obvious by my… you know, ‘planning and executing’ a picture of my tan-lined ring finger. And now that I’ve written that down, I do believe I might just need an intervention.)  And the second thing is that Sweet Moses! I have some unsightly man-looking hands.

I can’t win em’ all.  Indeed.

I sure hope y’all are  enjoying your summer so far!  Whatcha doin’?

Heading For the Hills (Or As the Case May Be, The Ocean)

I should be sleeping in preparation for our flight outta Dodge tomorrow morning; but instead, I’m here.  Here are the top 5 things that have gone down around here this week.  A few of them even caused a giggle or three.

1) Sweetgirl started packing her own carry on all by herself.  On Monday.  Unfortunately, she’s realized each day that something she packed she’s just “gotsa have now, Mama!”. We’ve spent today rounding up each and every one of those said items and corralling them back into her carry on.

2)  I do solemnly believe that Sweetdog now knows how to spell. I’m 99.9% positive that her ears perked up when she heard me mention packing her bag up for the kennel yesterday.  It may also be why she left us a “parting present” early this morning.

3) Benadryl just may have been created in Heaven, because the sleep we’ve been able to get around here, despite 4 of the 4 of us having colds,  has been divine.

4) The pending trip has an amazing behavior modification effect.  And I like it.  A lot.  Forget about the ol’ Stink Eye.  Go with “Oh My! Whatever will The Nana and Captain Ahab say when they hear/see that next week?”.  Pure gold in verbal form.

5) The thought of being with my peeps down in Florida and letting my hair go all “roller coaster” on me is just fine and dandy with me.  Or, in other news, I’m getting old enough that I just don’t give a hoot.

I’ll be posting some enthralling pictures, I’m sure.  In the meantime, what sorts of things do y’all do to prepare for big trips?

To Talk Or To Breathe

“Asking you to stop talking is like asking you to stop breathing.  It just doesn’t work out that well for you.”

Sweetman. To me.  When he wanted me to button it up.  Which I rarely do.  If you can even imagine…

We’ve been talking a lot over here.  Sweetman and I always seem to slip more easily into “talk to each other” mode after dinner during the summertime.  What is it about that?  And those kidlets of mine? Sweet Moses, they can be chatty.  I have to admit, though, I secretly love it.  We don’t get to talk much all day during the school year and I just like to hear what’s percolating in those little heads of theirs.  This week, anyway.  I’ll let you know if I still feel that way come July.

It should come as no surprise to anyone then, that today, during our attempt to watch “Madagascar 3” on the big screen, Sweetgirl talked in my ear the Whole Derned Time.  Seriously.  And I had to wonder if I was this chatty when I was her age.  Because, if I was?  I owe my parents a heck of a lot more than some nice Hillshire Farms sausage and cheese baskets.  Word of mercy.

But, and here’s the beauty in this bounty of talking that’s going on around here, I’ve noticed something.  It would seem that much like when we write without censoring for a time, important thoughts, and even coherent ones, begin to emerge.  My ears have been privy to some very interesting inner workings going on inside the heads of Sweetboy and Sweetgirl this week.  I love getting the inside scoop on the thought process behind the myriad choices my children make throughout their day; whether it be the choice of snack, playtime toy, game or book. Here’s what I’m learning:

  1. Children seem to make far better choices when you limit their choices.  Clear as mud?
  2. When given the opportunity to practice imaginary play without any direction, some very interesting conversations take place.
  3. Questions are sometimes asked more to know that mama is near than to know the answer.
  4. An atta-girl or atta-boy is sometimes all it takes to keep the good choices rolling.
  5. And, hugs still rule the day at the end of the, you know… day.

I don’t always get this parenting thing right and sometimes I don’t understand these children that I’ve been given to parent.  But, I am so stinkin’ grateful that I get the chance to try it all over again tomorrow. Especially with these kids. I don’t ever want them to stop The Talking.  Even Sweetman enjoys all the chatter.  Well… I’m fairly certain he’d admit that he’d gladly take a small break from some of mine.  As long as I continue to breathe. Indeed!

What about you?  What interesting things have you had the opportunity to observe about your kidlets now that school’s out?

That Kid Has Some Awfully Funny Ideas

And by funny, I mean ridiculous. As in, “If you don’t knock it off with all of this funny business, there is going to be Big Trouble.”. I do not know what is going on around here with that Sweetboy lately, but shoo-ee!  You’d think a holy horde of hooligans have taken up residence.  But no. It’s just one quirky 9 year ol’ boy.

I give you… Exhibit A:

The defendant’s response was, and I quote, “It looked like the bar at gymnastics. I was practicing.”


I’d also like to present Exhibit B:

The defendant was adamant that, and I quote, “It seemed like a fun place to sit.”


And finally, Sweetboy has blonde hair and blue eyes. Armed with that pertinent information,  I present our final exhibit of the evening. To this, I can only ask, “What The What?”  I give you… his self-portrait from school:



Captain Ahab’s Daughter: Part 2

Growing up, my family would caravan with a couple of other families, by boat, to the Bahamas for about three weeks every summer. I wrote about this a bit over here.  Along the way, we met with some Very High Seas, indeed.  Captain Ahab liked to call it “a little boat chop”.  Right, Nana?  And now, as an adult, I find myself understanding his comic use of understatement in those moments.  The following are some of the things I remember most from those boat trips on the way over to the islands.

It started the same way every single year. We all rolled out of bed bleary eyed bright eyed and bushy-tailed at 5:00 a.m.  Captain Ahab would head over to the beach and check the horizon;“Red sky at dawn, sailors warn. Red sky at night, sailors delight.”, and all that business.  If it was a go, he’d call the other families and say, “It’s a go.”

We almost always had chocolate milk and either frosted or chocolate “donettes” before loading up on the boats.  Sometimes, the Captain would make an early run to the donut shop and we’d get fresh-baked, far healthier donuts.

I believe our three or four families single-handedly kept Coppertone in business.

We drank a lot of Coca-Colas and ate a lot of Cheezits.

Anytime someone spotted a Dolphin (the “Flipper” variety), they’d get on the “horn” (radio) and announce to the entire marine community that, “There’s a dolphin! Right over there! Look!!”; because, surely, wherever in the great Atlantic ocean any other boaters were, they, too, could see our dolphin.

Keeping count of how many Flying Fish you saw was akin to the licence plate game on road trips.

We drank a lot of Dr. Peppers and ate a lot of Oreos.

Once we were old enough to do so, the adults and smallest kids would caravan in the first two or three boats (read that, the bigger boats), and they’d let us three or four oldest kids take the “dingy”. Now, this dingy was a 13′ Boston Whaler.  It wasn’t a canoe.  But when you are facing 2-4 foot seas, for three hours, it’s a bit daunting.  There were moments where we would be cresting a wave and that little boat would dip down into a crevice and I would almost swear that The Parents were all watching, a little too intently, to see if the next wave was going to slam the oblivion out of us, or if we’d make it out.  Alive. My Sweetbrother would yell “YEEHAW!” at the top of his lungs and just forge ahead through those waves like they were so many flowers in a field and he was a lawn mower.  But some of us, (me), would be holding on for dear life and wondering what in the Sam Hill we (I) did to deserve this torture?

As we became older and more stupid adventurous, we took some risks that make me shudder as a parent.  If it was a flat calm ride over, we would stop in the middle of the inky-blue 1,000-plus foot deep seas and water ski for a bit.  Yes,  water ski.  Halfway between South Florida and the Bahamas.  In the midst of the Bermuda Triangle. There.  With water skis.  And Stupidity. And, just for the record, guess what movie was number one at the box office back then?  Yup… Jaws.

One year, one of Ahab’s oldest friends, (who happened to be one of the country’s top Navy Underwater Research Diver’s at the time), and his wife, accompanied us on our yearly trip.  This poor guy’s wife was so seasick the entire trip over. The adults gave him such a hard time, cracking jokes about how “Aqua-Man” ended up with a seasick wife; only, as it turned out, the poor thing was pregnant.  So, in an act of mercy, the adults flew her back on a Chalk’s Seaplane.  So she’d be comfortable.  Because Lord knows, there’s nothing more comfortable, for a first-trimester pregnancy, than a ride on a seaplane.

When we finally arrived, the kids waited while the adults cleared everyone through customs.  And, it’s a miracle that the Bahamian authorities kept letting us come back every year.  I’m fairly certain they hurried us through customs just to stop all the caterwauling.  Or broke out the Rum as soon as they spied our boats entering their waters.  I know the parents did.

And here we are twenty-some-odd years later, and I get it.  Once again, I see the wisdom in letting kids have an “adventure” once in a while, to break up the monotony.  I now understand that teaching children games to play while on boat trips car-rides is just good parent sense.  And knowing that what lies at the end of the journey will trump even a horrible journey is a gift we give to our kids. Yes indeedy!

A Rose By Any Other Name (Is Missindeedy)

Everyone in the house is getting excited that it’s finally June!  The end of the school year is in plain sight; and, more importantly, only a few more weeks until we get to go visit The Nana and Captain Ahab in Florida. We’ve coined a tag phrase to indicate just how excited we all are: “Soon in June”.  We’ve clung to that little phrase for all it’s worth in moments of near-meltdown madness around here.  All of us.  Mostly me.

The Nana and I were talking the other morning.  She was asking for ideas for “something little” for Sweetboy upon our arrival in a few weeks.  Sweetgirl, you see, is “just so easy to buy for”.  Oh, how I love that Nana.  And, oh, how thankful I am to God for providing her (and me) with a sweet little girly girl, because I was not, growing up.  And it grieved The Nana so. But now, she has a pink, bejeweled, little spit-fire of a girl to buy pink, bejeweled, girly things for and with. It makes her oh-so-happy.  And that makes me oh-so-happy.

Anyhoo, I began to tell her about Sweetboy’s latest obsession with Maps.  All things map-related thrill him to no end, I said.  He now has a gargantuan map of the United States affixed to the wall above his bed, I told her.  He stares at it with glee.  He’s memorized every state, state capitol, region, and is working on deciphering the exact differences between each of the state flags now.  Did you know that this map has some other cities noted within each state, Nana?  I asked.  In fact, it has your city noted.  And, oh, how that tickles him, Nana.  I’m going somewhere with all of this, Nana, I promise, I said.

“Well, Get On With It, for crying out loud!”, she said.  “I only asked for an idea here!”

“Maps, Nana.  Anything to do with maps.” I mercifully spit out.

“Thank goodness!”, she exclaimed.  “My ear was going numb.”

Oh. My. Word. See how I do that?  I lose all track of my thought process.  I now understand full-well why everyone insists I am Rose from “The Golden Girls”, reincarnated…  Indeed!

Migraine For Mother

A great time was had by all.  All weekend long, while visiting a couple of states south with my brother and sister-in-law, and their children (the cousins), and The Gammy and The Grampa, I kept marveling at the fact that I am blessed beyond measure to be married into this family.  Like all families, we do indeed have our “moments” here and there (C’mon, who doesn’t?!?); but it all seems to be blatantly covered in So Much Grace.  I felt that this weekend.  It was a gift. Between the birthday celebrations, the Mother’s Day Extravaganza, and the late night talks about life and parenting, my heart was ready to burst with all of the love that God has poured into me for each of these family members!

On the 4 hour car ride home,  Sweetman and I talked about how thankful we are.  And he reminded me about the hundred and one reasons that he loves my family so much, too.  And how excited he is to see them this summer. And I started to sing ‘Can You Feel The Love Tonight’ from the “Lion King” in my head.  Because, I could!  I really could!  It was like a great big ‘pollyanna’ cloud of love just enveloped me as I sat in that car and thought about how precious each and every family member is to me. His. Mine. Ours.

And I would have stayed in that cloud, had a little voice not piped up from the back forty declaring that “I. Need. To. Go. Potty! NOW!!!”.  Moment over, Sweetman pulled over quick as spit onto the side of a very noisy interstate.  She and I hopped out to use the “special pink travel potty” stashed in the trunk of the car.  Sweet mercy, I’ve never been so thankful for one of those things.  As she was conducting business and cars are roaring by and I can barely hear myself think over the Ever So Loud Noises and the whoosh of cars whizzing by, Sweetman shouts, “LOOK BEHIND YOU!”.   So, I did.

An oh-s0-speedy Highway Service Patrol truck had pulled up (out of nowhere and quite quickly, might I add) to see if we needed help there on the side of the road.  How kind.  I waved him off with a hearty thumbs up.  And sweet girl stood up, buck nekid from the waist down, to “help” give him her own hearty thumbs up.  And I have never thrown underwear on a moving 4 year old so quickly in my life!

The harrowing experience behind us, my brain must have decided that I’d had enough thrills and love-talk, because I received another gift shortly there-after. A migraine.  I could have done without that gift. But the rest of the weekend, I couldn’t have done without.  So, if that’s what brought on the migraine for mother, bring it!  Yes indeedy.

Cussin’, Cursin’, and Swearin’ – Oh My!

Intriguing, isn’t it?  Especially for those handful of you who read this (Thank You!)  and know me well enough, in-real-life, to know that I only do any of the three under extreme circumstances.  Like, say, stubbing my toe.  Or breaking my favorite pancake batter bowl.  Or indulging in One Too Many on Girls Night Out (which happens hardly never).  Oh heck, I am Captain Ahab’s daughter, after all…

Anyhoo… My SweetBoy and I were headed home after dropping off a friend of his that had spent the last day of April vacation week with us. As a last ‘hurrah’, we’d stopped by one of our favorite ice cream establishments and picked up a little treat for ourselves.  His treat was a sad ode to the end to vacation week.  My treat was a hearty celebration for the end of vacation week.  We were happily driving along, and SweetBoy informs me that his friend told him what the “S” word and the “F” word meant.  I spat out my mouthful of mini-blizzard all over the front windshield and said “What, now?”!  (This last action upset me greatly.  It was a MINI-blizzard, for-cryin’-out-loud!  I barely had ten bites of the dern thing in the first place.  Now, I only had nine…)

All joking aside, I do my level best not to cuss, curse, or swear. Especially in front of my children. So, I found it a bit disturbing that my SweetBoy, who works so stinkin’ hard to understand the meaning behind everyday phrases and words, as it is, now knew what two of my least favorites were.

You can bet your bippy, that when SweetBoy informed me that the “S” word is for “Stupid” and “F” is for “Failure”, I was so relieved.  And, I’d never been happier to hear those two words in my entire life.  Never. I drew in a deep breath, along with a prayer of Thanks, and exhaled loudly.  SweetBoy has been picking up on some new subtleties lately.  It’s been a very exciting development!  He heard that exhale and said, “They’re really really bad, aren’t they Mama?”.  I’d like to note here that I instantly decided that I really liked this other child’s family. A lot. Those two words can be emotional weapons when used towards another human being.  And after this conversation, I’ve started being mighty careful with how often I throw those words around and under which circumstances.

I replied, “Oh, yes indeedy!  They are bad words that can make people feel sad.”

And he said, “Well, then, I’ll NEVER use them again.”  I just love how black and white his beautiful brain is.  Yes please!

Thanks for Not Eating Your Poop

File that under “Things You NEVER Thought You’d Say”.  Gross, right?  You have no idea.  Sweetdog has taken to doing some of the very things that we always beamed with pride that “our dog” didn’t do.  That’s parenthood in a nutshell, right there, folks.  Yes indeedy.  Aside from making sure that the bathroom trash cans are off the floor now, so that chewed up bits and pieces of ‘things that shouldn’t be mentioned’ aren’t found strewn across the floor, I’ve also had the new pleasure of making sure to get my keester downstairs at the crack of dawn to help Sweetdog outside to relieve herself.  Or she most certainly will. Only, all over the rug.  Or floor.  Or, in the interest of full disclosure for those Sweetfriends that visit me from time to time, also on the couch.  (Please, don’t stop visiting!  I’ll turn the cushions over just for you!)  Sigh…

It didn’t surprise me, then, not even one iota, that I awoke recently one morning to hear a chorus of “EWWWWW, Sweetdog!!!!  NOOOO!!! Don’t eat your poop! EWWWWW!!!”.  Followed very shortly by “MAMAAAAA, Sweetdog just ATE HER POOOOOOP!!!”. As if I hadn’t heard them the first time.  It’s the stuff every mama dreams of waking up to, right?  Sweet Moses…  Couple that new development with Sweetman going to sit on the couch last week and finding his keester wet from a freshly-peed-upon spot on the couch cushion, and I do believe that *Miracle Floor Cleaner* and I can formally sign a binding agreement.  Wherein, I can honestly say that I will, single-handedly, be keeping them in business for at least the foreseeable future.

Yesterday, I came down in the nick of time folks. You see, sweet dog had just “deposited” and was circling back around for the ole’ snifferooney. Because, you know, she wasn’t sure what that new, interesting looking thing could possibly be over there on the floor!  And I swooped in and picked that nasty thing up with help from our leftover stash of “diaper stink containment bags”. And as I tied that bag up as tightly as I could, I patted Sweetdog’s head and said “Thanks for not eating your poop, ole’ girl.”  Oh. Yes. I. Did.  Indeed.

*Disclaimer*  Miracle Floor Cleaner was NOT the actual name of what I used.  I have no formal agreement with any pet stain remover company. But would certainly LOVE to, if any of them felt so inclined.  Because, you know, I use a ton of the stuff. Often. I’m just putting that out there…

Fish Out Of Water (And Breathing Just Fine)

Moving to New England was a brave endeavor for a Floridian. Yes indeedy! Especially given that the pace of life is vastly different.  It’s FAST.  And I don’t mean, road-rage if you don’t keep out of the left lane, kind of fast.  I mean busy, busy, busy, kind-of-fast.  And I like it like that.  In South Florida, things move at a much slower pace. (Mostly because it’s 85 degrees in the shade.  In the dead of winter!)

With age comes wisdom. (I know, right? Even for me!)  I now see the folly in moving so far away from the people who have to help you in times of crisis simply because they share the same blood lines, (family is great that way, isn’t it?). Moving practically across the pond, as The Nana would have you know,  makes it awfully hard to find help and support.  Basically, I am the epitome of ‘Miss Independence’ because I have to be.  I’ve learned the necessity of a well-developed network.  Neighbors become lifelines, as do friends, when you need to race a dog to the ER because she’s ingested 5 red grapes and needs to have her stomach pumped immediately just to survive.  Just, you  know, for example…

And so it is that I get by with a little help from my friends. And neighbors. And church family. And, truth be told, I’ve done more than get by; I’ve thrived!  You could even say, this fish out of water is breathing just fine! Yes indeedy!