Cooking Our Kids

Happy Birthday, My Angel Boy

My oldest son turns 21 today. Yes, I know he is now A Man in the Eyes of All (except car/truck rental companies). But he was, is and will always be my Angel Boy (and the other various AffectioNames I have for him).   ^_^

He’s far away, and I’m struggling with it. I know, I know, I’ve been parenting from afar for over a decade, get over it already! I prefer to think, Dear Reader, that you understand by now that I’ve never fully adjusted to it and spend a lot of time actively not remembering that I won’t see them until ??? days pass (2 in this case).

But this milestone is hitting me super hard. I’m in the midst of planning a fun weekend with him and His Pal (Awaiting assignment by Naughty Bear of his Public Moniker.) in Philly, which will include Philly Comic-Con. Let’s be honest, they don’t want to hang with someone twice their age while they celebrate.  I know I wouldn’t have wanted my mom tagging along, and she was exceptionally cool.

Since I won’t see him until late tomorrow night, I didn’t get to bake him his traditional birthday breakfast or surprise him with balloons at the foot of his bed when he wakes.

Instead, I’m baking something for my beloved housemate Daddy G (father of another housemate). He recently had surgery and looks more thin than usual. I’ve never thought of him as frail, and I can’t let it to go any further.  I’ve decided to bake him the healthiest thing that I can think of that will tempt him into eating more calories to strengthen his body while it heals. And, oh darn! Wouldn’t you know it’s a baked item. Specifically, The Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from the recipe on the Quaker Oats box. He says the ones I made for his birthday tasted just like the ones his mom used to bake. And who doesn’t need a bit of Mom comforting your nose holes when you’re healing, whether it’s physical or emotional?

So, to my Naughty Bear, who I love The Bluest of all of our children, please be wise in your choices. You are too magnificent to waste. This world needs you as you are meant to be, whatever you decide that to be.

And, as a surprise gift for your birthday? I will no longer again say, “I made you, therefore I’m allowed to break you.”*

Love you to infinity and back again, Tiger.

I have never used the spanking method. Ours has always been a house of time-outs. It was only ever said in jest, so you don’t have to flame me about “How Bad Spanking Is!”. KThxBai

Chooch Health Our Kids Too Long For Twitter

Mixed Bag of a Day

Day of mixed blessings – House sale has inched forward a bit; I’ve likely had RMSF for over a year; see a rheumatologist; I’m “interesting”.
~posted on Twitter

I just finished a four week course of treatment for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever (RMSF). Have I mentioned that? My future housemate and eternal soul sista Jen told me if I were a dog, she would run a tick panel on me. Since I’m not a dog, I asked my doctor to run it and she obliged. Because I have found 2 ticks within the last 2 1/2 years, she went ahead and started me on a four week course of doxycyclene. The test confirmed that I have RMSF and I went back today for a follow-up, since I have had no relief from the joint pain that started in the past few months.

The doctor said that my titer test indicated that I most likely had acquired RMSF over a year ago. She has referred me to a rheumatologist because she believes the extensive joint pain is due to something else going on in my body. I’m more than a little bummed that the joint pain apparently isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

It was during our conversation that she had to fetch my file from her desk. She said it was there so she could discuss it during a meeting with the other doctors in her practice. She thought they would find it interesting. Great, another doctor finds me interesting…

We also found out that our house sale is moving forward and we will allegedly have a date set for settlement soon. We are so excited about this that I very nearly pooped my pants upon receiving the news. Okay, not really. But I did get dizzy and had to wait for it to pass before I could get back into motion.

And after seeing Mur Lafferty tweet “ I weep for the future. Who is Paul McCartney?”, I proudly shared the post my 15 year old son made on his Facebook page while watching the Grammy’s last night: “the day Paul McCartney dies will be the saddest day of my life.” I love that my son continues to grow as a music geek, just like me. Our other sons are tremendous music fans as well, and all three have pursued musical interests. Both exes (mine and hubby’s) are also heavily into music and I think the shared obsession has impacted them. And I do, with all my heart, hope that the worst thing that ever happens to LT is that a favorite singer passes away.

Jared Axelrod said I’m amazing (buffs nails on shirt), and then I watched Chooch play hopscotch with our housemates’ 2 year old daughter, nicknamed Feral Dancer. At the end of this day, how can I do anything but smile?

Consumer Info Kids Our Kids Too Long For Twitter

A Gift-Giving Plea From This Parent

This was the best Christmas in a very long time, and I think the only Christmas that will top it will be when we can finally have all three of our sons together on Christmas morning. Other than that one shortcoming, I could not imagine a better day. It was pure heaven, from beginning end, in spite of some pain and anxiety.

My motivation for this post is not to describe the day in more detail or pontificate on what the true meaning of the holidays or tell you how you should have spent yours (hint: it’s different for everyone, so there is no right or wrong).

No, the intention of this post is to serve The Greater Good. My hope is to inform those with the kindest and most generous of intentions of a gift trap that some of us parents find ourselves in year after year, after year, after year.

It’s gift cards. The loving and thoughtful family and friends that give gift cards to my sons that they so genuinely appreciate are a bane of my existence. The day after Christmas is spent online determining the value and then buying those same gift cards off of them so that the items they are saving up for (a set of cymbals for LT’s drum kit at a mom and pop store in his home town and the necessary bits for Naughty Bear to build his own kick-ass gaming rig from various vendors) can be achieved.

Yes, indeed. It’s possible that the gift card at Target or Best Buy or WalMart will instead get buried in the wallets of the parents of the children you bought them for, after they shell out the face value so the kids can attain their saving goals sooner.

Should I do this every year? Maybe not. But when your kids are miserly in their saving for these expensive goals and being careful with every expenditure to find their way to what their hearts desire, they can think of nothing else to spend money on and it feels almost frivolous with where their minds are to extensively search for something to spend the card on.

Please, I beg of you, on behalf of other parents that may be finding themselves in the same boat as I am again this year, find out if the kids would prefer cash towards a large purchase they are planning. Especially if they are older than 10 or 11, because they will definitely be starting to set their eyes on more and more costly items at those ages.

Yes, they may spend a small portion frivolously instead at a movie theater or buying a pair of red jeans. But it *is* the holidays and if you are giving them cash value to buy something, why not just give them cash and make it easier for them? And their parents?

Happy Holidays to all that celebrate at this time of year, and Happy Monday to those that don’t. I sincerely wish each of you Dear Readers the very best health and happiness as this year comes to a close and we await the New Year.

Kids No Whining Our Kids

In the Blink of an Eye…

… LT has come and gone back to where he lives with his father and family out of state.

He was here almost six weeks, and it was a wonderfully harmonious time. We only raised our voices in laughter, and that was done with great frequency.

He’s over six inches taller than I, and his voice is as deep as my father’s. He hunkers down to hug me out of kindness, because he doesn’t want me to strain my back reaching up. He’s thoughtful, considerate and intuitive, which he demonstrates by putting things away and doing chores without being asked. Out of the blue he walks over to me with his arms stretched wide for a hug, and frequently says that he loves me.

In short, I wonder where my surly teen went. I think he either thinks I’m dying or he’s just become aware of how much I miss him. I suppose it’s possible he misses me, too. Nah, I won’t get my hopes up. *giggle*

We’ve not had much money for a grand and adventurous visit, but we did eke out money for an afternoon at King’s Dominion with his cousin, the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 midnight show, and attendance at the Van’s Warped Tour. He spent about a week at his dad’s parent’s house, and the rest of the visit he spent with me, Naughty Bear, Chooch, other family, a friend from school and hubby’s band, Ditched by Kate. All low-key stuff, nothing crazy, but he said he had a great time.

He says he loves Kaylee and seemed a bit choked up about not having her around all the time. They are so cute together. As he was sorting through his old Legos, karate pads and old toys she was happily sitting in the corner sniffing what had to be a very stinky sock (judging by the look of it).

I decided not to get maudlin, but would instead try and better document his visit by trudging through my posts in Twitter, Facebook and Google+. No one will find these interesting but me, and my feelings won’t be hurt if you close the page now as it is quite long.

Here’s what I found, oldest to newest:

  • June 18 – Awesome texts from LT, he’s as excited to get here as we are to see him! ♥ He’s counting down the hours! My cup runneth over!
  • June 20 – Aiiiiieeeeeeeee! Ten hours and 25 minutes until I get to see my baby boy’s brown eyes again. Happy!
  • June 20 – Medicating migraine and hitting the road. Glad Naughty Bear is driving!
  • June 20 – NB, Roboto Dude (14 yo nephew) & I almost at airport. They’ve made me play @ditchedbykate‘s Stumble ep & practice recording, they LOVE it!
  • June 20 – Aiiieeeeeee! Waiting on my boy! 30 minutes!
  • June 20 – Flight delayed half hour, loooosinnnnnng my miiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnd!
  • June 20 – LT’s flight just landed, about 3 minutes until I see how much taller he’s gotten and how the buzz cut looks in person! *squeak*
  • June 20 – Heading to dinner for dad’s 75th bday. Naughty Bear, LT and RD in tow. Yay!
  • June 20 – Although GK had other plans, these 3 are making enough noise for 4. They are over WoW (for now) and out renting games for PS3.
  • June 20 – Exhausted. Recurring migraines and spins due to excitement over son coming home. Crashing. Hard.
  • June 21 – Dizzy but happy. LT arrived yesterday, had a fun dinner with my dad to celebrate his milestone birthday (sweet 16), and returned home with loud men where there used to be boys. Happy that Naughty Bear and RD (nephew)  joined in the fun! Bliss is the word of the day!
  • June 21 – We were waiting for the heat to abate before running, now hoping we can get running shoes for LT before the stores close. #PlanFail
  • June 22 – First trip to grocery store since LT’s return, $300+. This incl feeding NB and nephew RD, but WOWZA.  #Locusts
  • June 24  – Crashing hard after what LT called “a great day”. Hoping for more of those. ♥
  • June 24 – Went for a run with LT yesterday and both boys ran with me today. This makes me very happy. Then they packed up and went to Mark’s place to hang out and play games, this is bittersweet. Love that they’re friends, hate that they’re not here. Oh, and I’m greedy, just in case you hadn’t noticed… 😉
  • June 28 – Migraine is back. In related news, Thomas rocks the drums on Rock Band! *thud*
  • June 28 – LT walked to next door to store for mozzarella cheese, came pack with parmesan. Now his first solo exchange! #TeachEmYoung #ShoppingLevelUp
  • June 30 – I will not be a cranky mom. I will finish my podcast production in spite of LT playing Rock Band drums 15 feet away.#LetNoMigraineHappen
  • July 1 – Happy to be chilling with my babies on our DBKation! Tonight vegan sushi followed by brownies, followed by rock and roll! 😀
  • July 1 – First night of DBKation was a wild success. Now camping in with my guys. Joy is off the charts.
  • July 7 – LT hit with nasty poison ivy. Thanks to Jennifer Lyle Taylor and Keith Taylor for natural remedies (Hyland’s and domeboro) to boost healing along with what the doctor prescribed (steroids). Tremendous change, just since he got here at 2 pm!
  • July 8 – LT’s trip to VA Beach with his best pal canceled because of his nasty case of poison ivy. Is it wrong that I’m enjoying the low-key time with him? No plans, so just chilling out. Heavenly.
  • July 8 – Viewing in the morning and realtor meeting too. Chilling out after dinner and scrub down with @choochus and LT. Great evening of convo!
  • July 9 – Waking up LT ~ Me: Your room looks great! Him: It took FOREVER to get the birds together. Me: What birds? Him: (sleepily) Huh? What birds?
  • July 10 – Leaving the party, had a great time. Saddened by how time has aged these no-longer-little ones. Adore who they’re becoming.#BlinkOfAnEye ~~ (After a BBQ thrown for BFF’s 16 year old daughter’s birthday.)
  • July 10 – Harry Potter 7 with the lads, post-homemade pizza. So easy to get lost in this world, so heart-breaking a story.
  • July 11 – Spent Mom’s birthday with hubby and LT as we took roses to her and had dinner at the restaurant she and LT began the “eat dessert first” tradition. She gave me more love during her life than I could ever use up in mine, so I’m luckier than most. Her absence still really pisses me off, so MANY thanks to my beloveds that helped me through it. ♥
  • July 11 – Took flowers to Mom, then had dessert first at the restaurant where the tradition began, Cheeseburger in Paradise. And guess what? They switched their ice cream to BLUE BELL!!!!! What power Mom wields! You would be wise to stand against none that she loves. Also, the hawt waitress fell in love with LT, but he dumped her. He’s a loner, Dot. A rebel. Just as well, I think she was a vampire.
  • July 11 – Praying that the flickering power goes out. I need a break from rock band drumming taking place 10 feet or so away.
  • July 11 – @DDog LT’s going thru drum kit withdrawals, so it’s the only release he has. We can’t bring ourselves to ask him to stop.
  • July 13 – Back at the doctor with LT, his poison ivy has spread like crazy and am worried about allergy to meds. My poor baby!
  • July 15 – I just got to play chauffeur to LT! I’ve missed that!
  • July 15 – Fantastic day in spite of all the work done/to get done for tomorrow’s yard sale. I love my boys, for they are unique and HILARIOUS! Dude. I got a random hug from a FOURTEEN YEAR OLD BOY. No one even told me this was POSSIBLE!
  • July 15 – Just got home from seeing Harry Potter 8 with my awesome family. Only disappointment is that I meant to take a pic when we were all together. The movie was masterfully done, although (no spoilers) Niece A was right with her nitpick. It’s soo worth the extreme spins and other symptoms from the 3D. Thank to J.K. Rowling, for all the tears of joy and heartbreak over the years.
  • July 16 – My kids have become fascinated with a tennis ball. Playing catch with it for the second time today. #CrazyKids
  • July 16 – Best phrase of the day: “AFK, skinny bands.” Lesson learned: Unexpected hugs are the best hugs. ♥ our fam.
  • July 17 (Twitter) – Grabbed a bunch of curbside cardboard boxes from newly moved in neighbors. LT and RD acting like they pulled off a heist and are giddy.
  • July 17  (FB) – Thanks to LT and RD (nephew)  for the late night cardboard box heist. Ninjas! I am blessed to have them in my life!
  • July 18 – … been spoiled ALL day by 14 y.o. LT. Spontaneously bought me Dove chocolate from store and unending hugs. No clue why I’m so blessed.
  • July 19 – Love my kids, mesmerized by hubby, and embracing the day with positivity. And I shall kick Tuesday square in the danglies if it balks.
  • July 19 – Only 9.5 days left with my brown-eyed boy. I refuse to get sad, but will instead have all the fun it’s possible to have. He’s so much more awesome than you’d ever imagine.
  • July 19 – Errands, haircut and chauffering skate punks in the realm of the big ball of hate in the sky has brought back migraine. Not amused.
  • July 19 – Dear Baby Jesus, please let me be migraine-free the next few days so I can get all my stuff done. I have been a very good girl and tried to help others whenever possible. I’d just like the weekend free to play with my family since we have less than 2 weeks left before my son leaves again and Christmas is very far off. Pretty please with sugar on top?
  • July 20 – My 14 year old “Liked” Sid Vicious in Facebook. Yep, the end of civilization is upon us.
  • July 20 – Spur of the moment trip to King’s Dominion with Thomas and Taylor. Hotter than Hades, but now the sun’s gone down and it’s nice. Fireworks in 30 minutes! They’re off running amok and chasing honey’s while I’m parked in a quiet spot with hubby’s Chrome netbook. No rides for me, can’t risk getting dizzy when I’m the driver! Love these boys to pieces!
  • July 20 – I’z excited! I get to see fireworks for the first time in years! 22 minutes and counting! *squeak*hop*giggle*hop* Aiiiiiiieeeeeeeee!!!!!
  • July 20 – This day was AMAZING! My heart containers are full from laughter, frolic and adventure!
  • July 21 – Last night LT told me he wants to work at the Renn Faire near where he lives with his dad. He was told he would need to take classes in order to do so, and he’s still willing. I’m… so … proud…!sniffle+Chooch Schubert don’t be surprised if he has questions for you about your experiences. Keep it clean, babe! 😉
  • July 22 – LT and @choochus off to see Captain America. I’ve got work to finish up tonight so I’m skipping it for now. #MoMoneyMoMoney
  • July 22 – Hubby and LT rolling in LoTRO style with a late night pie delivery. Yay! A wee piece as reward for my hard work! Stay away, nosy hobbits!
  • July 23 – Stellar night!!! LT chose to hang with us tonight. Watched him throw down beats on a drum kit for the first time! Such a happy Mom!
  • July 24 – Planning out the meals for the week with much sadness. @choochus leaves Mon and LT leaves on Fri . Not ready for my brown-eyed boy to go.
  • July 24 – If I don’t go to LT’s going away party, then he isn’t going to leave, right?
  • July 24 – Getting ready to head our for LT’s farewell party (he leaves on Friday) and birthday party for nephew RD. Feeling revitalized after time with family last night at band practice which had a spontaneous and amazing jam session by Ditched by Kate.
    I also got to watch my son play drums for the first time on an actual professional drum kit (thanks, Keith!) rather than just the rockband set at home. He is amazing and I’m so proud of his dedication to music at the age of 14! I can’t wait until he puts together a band so I can sign them to the label I’m creating!
    Bittersweet days, people, but I’m clinging to the sweet and ignoring the bitter for now!
  • July 25 – Kids are going to Warped Tour tomorrow, so they are gathering here for a Scott Pilgrim viewing and dinner. Got to send them off in the right frame of mind. I’m hoping they’ll get themselves off in the morning so I can sleep in for the first time in weeks.
  • July 26 (FB) – Herding cats, err kids, out the door for Warped Tour. Hope they stay hydrated!!!!
  • July 26 (Twitter) – Up and herding kids out the door for Warped Tour. Slumber party with my niece was fun. Always want to spend more time with her, must do so.
  • July 26 – Kids had a great time at Warped Tour. All of them ignored sunblock and are burned, dehydrated, exhausted and broke. I’m envious.
  • July 26 – BTW, kids will crush your soul underfoot, eat it, and then poo it onto a plate on your nightstand. (Hat tip to Mrs. @PhilRossi.) ♥ my kids!
  • July 27 – …2 days til my brown-eyed boy flies away for 5 months! Gotta make ’em count!
  • July 27 – Ughhhhh… been dreading this part. LT packing up his room for the house (cross our fingers) sale. Sad to see childhood things tossed aside.
  • July 27/28 – (Just after midnight) – #NoEmo Last full day w/LT tomorrow, but also have to get house prepped for weekend viewings. I hate juggling and want to goof off w/him.
  • July 28 – At Famous Dave’s with LT, our big splurge on his last day. Love my big man!
  • July 28 – I may explode into unicorns and pixie dust if this day with LT gets any better. Or at least have rainbows shoot out of my butt. ♥ him!
  • July 28 – … Watching Across the Universe with mah babies. ♥ them so much.
  • July 28 – Movie was awesome. Head pounding. Several more hours of work to do before bed. Getting up at 7am to take LT to the airport. Tomorrow is gonna leave a mark. Can’t wait for the hard part to be over and I can get snuggled until I’m not sad anymore.
  • July 29 – If I don’t take him to the airport, he never has to leave. Right?
  • July 29 – ♥ (LT) is safe and sound at home with his dad and family. Yay for safe travel. Miss my baby already! ♥

It’s taken me a long time to start to get my groove back, for a lot of different reasons.  Thanks to those that still check in here.

Dizzy Family Mom Movies Our Kids

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2 (No Spoilers)

I will touch only lightly on the movie itself, as it just opened today and don’t want to spoil anyone else’s experience.

It was everything I hoped for, and save for a nitpick by my niece afterward that I agree with, it was perfection. We saw it in 3-D, even though I knew it would likely bring on the spins. I was, but it was worth it. Chooch said he didn’t feel 3-D added much, and maybe it’s my condition, but I noticed constant use of it to more fully immerse the viewers in the story. In hindsight, he thought maybe that’s the difference between good and bad 3-D, it’s not in your face, so to speak, like (my example) the old SCTV “3D House of Pancakes” skit. It was subtle and masterfully done in my opinion. Yes, I was extremely dizzy afterward, with nausea and a returning migraine. But I’m glad we sprang for it. It may be the last time I’ll have the chance to see Harry in 3D on the big screen, after all.

Watching the actors grow and develop their skills along with these beloved characters over the eight movies depicting this beautifully written but very dark children’s series has been bittersweet. I was amazed at the acting chops they demonstrated, and in fact the entire cast truly brought their A-game. I hope to see it again before it leaves the theaters, at least one more time, so I can more fully enjoy each and every nuance.

I will say this is not a film for young children or those with sensitive dispositions. As in the books, terrible things happen. I won’t go into it, but will instead point you to a SPOILER FILLED review written by my favorite kid review site, Kids In Mind. The site offers reviews based on a numerical score for nudity, violence/gore, and profanity. It then lists every scene in which each of these occur with description. I’ve used it for years, and have never found error with their reviews. In a quick reading of the Deathly Hallows 2 review, I find the descriptions to be wholly accurate. I highly recommend that you spoil yourself, if you are considering taking young ones to see it. There are things that can be unseen, and if you’ve not read the books you owe it to your kid(s) to know what they’ll be seeing to make an informed decision on their behalf. /steps off soapbox/

Now for the real reason for the post, to describe the journey. Christmas of 1999, my son Naughty Bear was given the book series (up to that point , 3 books) by both grandmothers, and the first book by an aunt. We’d not heard of the series, but all three of these wonderful women sensed that NB would love it. We split the difference, keeping one book from each of the sets given. He tried reading it, but at 8 couldn’t really sink his teeth into it. That spring, his dad left me and the boys and I moved in with my parents as I was an unemployed, stay-home Mom of two. While trying to find our way in our new life, we reached for J.K. Rowling’s magical world. Instead of him reading the books alone, I read the Sorcerer’s Stone aloud to him. LT was 4 and had little to no interest other than being in the room with us and sharing this special time, and played around us or snuggled with us as his mood warranted.

We enjoyed the book, but we were hooked when Fred and George entered the story. The light-hearted shenanigans they brought to the story where the turning point for NB, and we then read with gusto as quickly as I could. I then read the next book to him, and when my voice would give out he would read sections aloud to me. This was how we finished the books available to that point, and eagerly awaited book 4. We were transfixed by this world, full of loss, new friendships and the transformative new life little Harry found.

That Halloween, my Mom hosted a Harry Potter Halloween party for the family and close friends. My dad set out the Christmas light reindeer made to look like a unicorn with a pool of blue lights at its feet as if it were in front of a lake, taking a drink. My former sister-in-law and family friend made an ornate cardboard front for the door, making it look like stonework with a Hogwart’s shield on it. We set up a wand making station, and held a scavenger hunt for the Goblet of Fire that nearly ended in disaster as the kids thought one of the clues led to my Mom’s actual cat. We served theme foods (Mad Eye Moody deviled eggs comes to mind) and had Jelly Bellies since Bernie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans were not yet available. Everyone came in costume, even the 3 month old baby in the sorting hat costume made by his mom. My Mother went as Madame Pomfrey and handed out chocolate coins to the children all night for their “restorative powers.” It was an amazing night, that I think shows a small amount of the way that my family embraced that world.

When the movies started coming out, for the first few I played hooky with Mark and my folks to go see them on opening day. Yep, if his grades were good, and they always were, I pulled him out of school to go to the movies. Judge me all you like, it was one of the few irresponsible choices I made, and I stand by them to this day.

So when this one came out, and my boys are actually here to see it with me (Thank God for the timing), we turned it into a big family event. We met at my brother’s house at 11 pm, as it’s 4 minutes from the theater. Chaos ensued, as it always does with us, and we headed off to the theater at 11:15. By the time we got there, we couldn’t get seats together. I expected that we wouldn’t all 9 have seats together, but I had expected to sit together in small groups. Nope. We had to settle for solo viewings, save LT and his cousin, who I was able to finally get seated together. It was highly stressful as they either over sold, or more likely, had people sneak in from other theaters. I finally managed to get everyone a seat, then almost lost mine as I ran to get drinks before the movie started. Luckily, my seat was next to an adorable couple, aged around 16 years old. They had wands and great excitement, and he saw what I was dealing with and guarded my seat with vigor, as did Chooch who was seated behind me.

Side note: The trailer for The Dark Knight actually has me wanting to see it now. The snippet with Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) sold me completely. That man remains one of my favorite actors. The Sherlock Holmes trailer resulted in “meh,” but the trailer for John Carter looked pretty cool. The Twilight trailer for the upcoming movie, brought immediate booing and laughter at the dramatic scenes. Apparently, Bella and Edward are fairly despised, but Jacob is adored. The only cheering that happened was when he was shown, and the rest of the trailer was mocked. I was really surprised to find that there seemed to be a rivalry between the two franchises. I’ve never had interest in that series and know only what people have told me, so was shocked at the reaction. These Rowling loyalists don’t seem to dig the sparkly vampires one bit!

Once the movie started, cheering began and I saw people raise their wands at the screen in excitement. At different points during the movie, there was heartfelt cheering, uproarious laughter, total silence, gasping and a great sense of unity. At the end of the movie, some then raised their wands saying “Mischief managed.” I get goosebumps again thinking about it.

I’m extremely grateful that I did not re-read the last book as I had intended. There were things completely forgotten, and when they happened I was as shocked as if I had never read the books. It was a total and complete roller coaster ride.  I’m happy to say that my adoration of the tale was not from blind devotion, but rather true appreciation for what I find to be a rich and beautiful world filled with joy and pain, just like our own world.

As is true with the Lord of the Rings, my favorite characters are not the “heroes” of the story. Samwyse stole my heart there, and Neville Longbottom has had his name in my heart since, hm… The third book? Maybe the fourth. He, Luna and Snape are by far my favorites, although Mrs. Weaseley is right up there as well, especially after this installment.

The family gathered after the end of the movie and we excitedly shared our favorite parts and utter amazement at what an amazing experience it had been. It was bittersweet, knowing that this part of that experience is over even as I’m happy to finally have seen the final movie. As I expressed last night in Twitter, I’m very grateful that Ms. Rowling put pen to paper to such exquisite result. The impact on my life and that of my family has been huge and unexpectedly extraordinary.

Thank you, Ms. Rowling, from the bottom of my over-flowing heart containers.

Family No Whining Our Kids


Yup. It’s true. I’m bored. But take no offense, it’s not you I’m bored with. I’m bored with me.

I can barely make it through writing a post without losing interest in it and either saving it as a draft or outright trashing it. If I can’t stay interested enough to make it through a few readings to check for errors, how the hell can I expect you to read it?

In fact, I just closed the third post of the night because I was BORED with what I was saying.

So I’ve decided that I will try and shake off the mean reds I’ve fallen into and post a minimum of three times a week. It may be something I’ve learned, an especially enjoyable experience or just my good things for the day.

My good thing for today was laughing with my oldest son, now 20. We spent the weekend together, along with my husband, and he’s an amazing man. For his birthday, instead of video or computer games, he asked for running shoes. Instead of cheesecake, he asked for the healthiest of desserts in my baking arsenal. They grow up so fast…

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Grateful, Not Bragging

I just tweeted:
“Dizzy from phone call, emails and DM’s from friends. I am so very blessed. Must find a way to pay the Universe back for what I have.”

I’m now in the grips of a dizzy spell, one of the few that I’ve gotten from positivity rather than negativity.

I happily sit, wavering in my chair, because of the overwhelming sense of love and positivity sent my way this morning via text, phone call, DMs and emails.

It’s completely overwhelming, and I feel like a decadent king with huge piles of friendship on a banquet table in front of me. I dare not indulge too much, or I might burst.

There are a lot of things that I can’t share about the trip to Arkansas, for obvious reasons. While I am over the moon for the result, having Naughty Bear local again and having time with LT, it took a huge physical, emotional and psychological toll on me. No, really. Huge.

To immediately return into the arms of my husband and beloved friends this past weekend utterly and completely soothed my ragged edges and invigorated me for more, More, MORE!

To then have a seemingly random outpouring from a variety of sources today? It’s more than any one person could possible deserve or hope for.

If this is too Happy-Unicorn-Rainbow-Lovey-Dovey for you, have no fear. I’m sure I’ll be pissed or depressed about something soon enough and will share it here. But I feel compelled to share the joy when I feel it, too.

Bliss is attainable and I recommend that you open yourself up to it if you haven’t already.

/stumbles with a drunken swagger/

“I love you, man!”

Chooch Family Friends Kaylee Mom No Whining Our Kids Our Kids Soulful Twitter/Facebook Vestibular Migraine Weight Loss

Road to Arkansas and Back ~ Final Thoughts

Note: If you haven’t read the first five installments, plus the reason for this trip, you may want to start with the links below before reading this post. Also, know that this was stream of thought and confessional, therefore very long. I intended this to serve as my memory since the trip was as chaotic as attending Dragon*Con, and I didn’t want to forget a thing because of its importance to me.
Reason for the trip
Day One

Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

Final Thoughts
It took me awhile to sort out how I was feeling after waking up on Friday. It was like a dark cloud settled over me, and I chalked it up to the migraine and extreme fatigue. But it was more than that. I realized the similarity between it and my Mom’s last Thanksgiving. Well, actually the day after her last Thanksgiving. She was near despondent, slept all day and just couldn’t be roused to do anything, including the physical therapy that she so loved and looked forward to. I was terrified, but my conversations with the staff and doctor said that they saw it with many of their patients after a holiday or celebration. They called it post-holiday letdown, where the patients would sort of pull inside themselves and grieve what their expectations had been versus what the reality and likely length of their life was.

Obviously, this was no where near as painful as that, but I did realize that after I initially bounded out of bed, planning to take on the world that I ended up back in bed with a migraine and licking my wounds, so to speak. There were many ups and downs during the trip, and a lot that I can’t say here for obvious reasons. But “let down” is definitely a key part to what I was feeling the day after my return.

The one thing that screams at me, is that I didn’t have more time with LT. Had I thought that Naughty Bear and I were capable of driving the entire way without stopping, I would have left a day later to have had more time with LT. Because reflecting back on the trip, I still just really ache for more time with him. Now, I knew this trip would be all about Naughty Bear’s move back, but I was sure that I would be able to spend one night with LT, just the two of us. The one night that would have been possible, I ended up facilitating the meeting with Roomie. My contribution there was huge and many prickly situations were soothed, so I’m glad I did it for Naughty Bear and the ex’s sake. That was followed by dinner with the ex and his family. It was a fantastically good time, so I don’t regret the trade-off. I just wish we had left a day later and planned on driving straight through the night. It’s entirely possible that we would have had to stop based on the migraine I had most of yesterday. I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have had it had we stayed in the stressful environment. Still, I want more time with my son. Call me greedy, I don’t care.

I feel so guilty even saying that, because I have so much more time with my sons than Chooch has with his, but the dynamic is very different, like it or not. I’m working hard to ensure that at least Chooch will make a visit this Spring or Summer and that we’ll all four fly to California to visit him over Christmas. But that includes airfare, rental care, and this time we will likely have to stay in a hotel. Still, even with our financial chaos right now, it has to happen.

Happily, the migraine I had for most of Friday subsided after multiple doses of medication and I was able to attend Chooch’s band practice after all. The surprising warm glow of friendship and love with this group of amazing people was exactly what my battered psyche needed, and our overnight stay with friends was just as magical as last time. We enjoyed a wonderful Saturday morning being spoiled by dear friends and then spent the rest of the day day with other friends, some old and some new. At one point, after my very first Ethiopian meal, I made an utter fool of myself by being “that guy”, feeling so joyful and at peace for the first time in weeks that I thanked them for the random luck of having this already scheduled before my last minute trip was planned and said “I love you guys!”. No, I can’t even blame excessive alcohol. I was just that happy. And dammit, if I can complain loudly, I choose to also proclaim gratitude loudly.

I’m blessed and rich in friendship, and I refuse to deny it. I think that cheapens it, and I won’t tolerate that. So for the family and friends online, the friends I haven’t seen recently but have offered me support via Twitter, email, FB, WordFeud chat and also in person, I thank you sincerely. Although I didn’t have time to respond to all the support sent my way, I read each and every one and they truly helped me through what I was facing. I humbly thank you for the gestures of friendship.

I will always treasure the trip, because of the deeply satisfying conversations with Naughty Bear. I am so honored that he shared so much with me, of his personal and private hopes, experiences and dreams. Also, the time spent with my ex’s wife and their kids ended up very positively and I’m very grateful to have found peace there, finally.

As I’ve done throughout this series, I’m ending with the health aspect of the trip, this time the results of my activities: My Friday morning weigh-in showed that I was actually down one pound from the previous Friday. I’m very proud of this, as I usually gain when off my routine, especially when traveling. I didn’t even starve or deprive myself, as I allowed a waffle from the breakfast bar during the hotel stay, ate moderately at P.F. Chiang’s, ate modestly at El Chico’s (a fave mexican restaurant from my childhood in Texas that does not exist in our local area) and two nights with Blue Bell ice cream for dessert. I even negotiated three fast food restaurants successfully. I only got in two workouts, although two of the days were fairly physical with cleaning and packing. I carried bananas with me everywhere and since I was with my kids, had no alcohol. The lesson from this loss is one I hope to never forget – I can be healthy anywhere, regardless of the stress, and feel empowered by exerting control over how I react in relation to food.

Lookit, I’m growing!

Chooch Family Health No Whining Our Kids Soulful Weight Loss

The Road to Arkansas and Back – Part 5

I fell asleep sometime after midnight, and the day is a chaotic blur to me. I’ll start with tweets to kind of set the tone. I don’t remember typing the second one, so I guess I have to add “sleep tweeter” to my resume.

“Soon passing Knoxville, going strong. Not sure where we’ll lay our heads but may make it into NC.”
~ Thursday, February 24, 2011 1:18:53 AM

“I’ve been napping. Naughty Bear is wide awake with coffee & corndog in hand. Still in TN. He wants me to go back to sleep. G’night.”
~ Thursday, February 24, 2011 2:47:49 AM

I took over driving around 5 am-ish, feeling very rested. What I Learned: Using the “White Noise” app on my Droid at a high volume with headphones made all the difference on the quality of sleep while passengering. While NB drove, he listened to music and held a lengthy phone conversation with his girlfriend and I didn’t hear a thing. Road noise was also completely blocked out and I was tremendously rested after only a few hours of quality sleep. When I took over, NB used my trick and also slept very deeply for several hours. I’m so glad I saw the icon as I was flipping through for “DoubleTwist” to start playing music. I’m going to use it for plane trips, train rides and any other time I need to sleep in less-than quiet locations.

I’m thrilled that I was driving at sunrise, because the mountain views were stunning. I was completely invigorated and inspired by the glory before me and even stupidly snapped some photos while I was driving. They are crappy, poorly focused and poorly aimed since I was more worried about steering than photo composition, but I just wanted to capture the beauty in any way I could.

Naughty Bear was awake for a few moments when I stopped at a scenic overlook near Staunton, Virginia that I was familiar with. I was shocked that he remembered our only other stop there together, which was about twelve years ago. I felt compelled to stop and take in the view. With the mountains in the distance and mists in the valley it was inexplicably beautiful. I took a few snapshots with my camera phone, once again forgetting to get my fancy camera out of the car. My heart was pounding and I had that connection to the bigger world that I so craved the night before. As I stood overlooking the valley, NB stayed in the car, talking to his girlfriend on the phone. I was completely alone for a few serene moments.

Then a car pulled up and three men quickly climbed out. I saw NB tense up through the windshield as his protectiveness of me kicked in. I couldn’t blame him after what he went through in Atlanta a few months ago, but smiled at him to soothe him. These men were dressed and had the swagger of typical street thugs, but I learned on a road trip years before never to judge people by appearances. I smiled at the first guy as he approached me, and he grinned hugely when I said “Good morning” to him. He said something along the lines of, “It’s a blessed morning to be able to see such a beautiful view, don’t you think?” I agreed whole-heartedly, and his friends finally caught up with him as he had literally bolted out of his car to stand at the edge of the overlook and take in the view. We greeted each other and shared our marvel at the hugeness and beauty of the valley and mountains, then stood in quiet awe of the view. Getting cold, we shared cheery farewells and blessings as I got back in the car to head the rest of the way home.

As I started the car, I felt utterly in awe and invigorated after what my mind and spirit absorbed from the ten minute stop. Beauty in nature and humanity, all at once. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

Naughty Bear and I started the trip with a general goal of making it to Knoxville, Tennessee but also agreed to stop whenever either of us felt the need to. Since I was so well rested, I drove until we were about two hours from home. We then realized that the GPS route had us passing within a half-hour of where he lives with his grandparents, so we detoured there and unloaded. Our original on-the-fly plan had been to go to my place first and grab some sleep and then he’d drive down and unload alone. This seemed smarter.

We called his grandparent’s and let them know we were an hour away, got there and the two of us unloaded the car quickly. The mild headache I’d been fighting since the night before turned into a migraine for obvious reasons, and by the time we left the house I was dizzy, trembly, nauseous and very weak. I was very thrilled, however, to see the dog that used to be a part of my old family. A basset hound/beagle mix that we got about 3 months before my first marriage ended. She’s pretty old now, and from the way she greeted me, I like to think she remembered that me since we were inseparable for those three months.

Naughty Bear drove the hour or so home, and I have to admit that we were finally feeling ragged. The unload was exhausting and we were a bit cranky with each other. Not excessively so, and we kept apologizing when one of us snapped fully well aware of why it was.

Naughty Bear immediately went up to nap for a few hours before heading out to see his girlfriend, and I hopped in my bed as well. Chooch snuggled up with me, and as usual I had trouble changing gears. I’ve never been able to just stop and go to sleep, I need transition time. So I worked on another blog post before I could forget anything. I finally slept, but I’m not sure for how long. I woke a few times from weird dreams, and tweeted this:

“Confused. Dozing off and on, not sure what’s real except that I’m starved. Granola bar at 5 am isn’t holding me. Did I get a polar bear cub?”
~Thursday, February 24, 2011, 5:54 pm

After my nap, I grabbed a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal, something I missed on the trip as it is a comforting daily ritual for this former carb-shunner. It ended up being dinner. We caught up on favorite TV shows that the DVR recorded while I was gone, snuggled up on the couch.

Two Minute Media Review: Big Bang Theory and Modern Family had me in stitches, as always. Castle was utterly compelling with the cliff-hangering storyline, but the repeated near-misses of Rick and Kate confessing their feelings for each other is getting old. It’s starting to resemble the overused “Ross and Rachel” plot device from “Friends” and I hope they address it quickly.

Snuggle time with Kaylee was supreme. She clearly smelled the three other dogs on me: Not My, the ex’s old and affectionate dog, and the dog that was formerly mine. Kaylee is such a loving and snuggly pup, between her periods of shadow staring and tail chasing. And I’m so grateful to have such an affection sponge with no kids living with us.

After climbing into our super awesomely comfortable bed, we talked for a long time. I didn’t have much time to call and chat while I was gone, so we had a lot to share. I knew how much I missed my man while I was gone, but as we lay there in the dark, sharing, snuggling and laughing in the dark, I began to reflect on just how much I need him. The simple touch of his hand around mine filled me with such peace, and my heart containers were once again filled. Miraculous.

Food and exercise for the day: I had a granola bar and a small bag of Smart Food white cheddar popcorn and a diet coke when I took over driving. I forgot about eating until after my long nap in bed, and then hadoatmeal and some tortilla chips. I was too tired for anything else, period.

Dizzy Dizzy Family No Whining Our Kids Soulful

The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 4

As always, I ate breakfast and brought back breakfast for Naughty Bear. We planned on hitting the road at 9 am, but we were both physically and emotionally exhausted. I ended up letting him sleep until he woke up on his own, especially since he was taking the first driving shift. My night time medication makes me extremely foggy-brained and it takes several hours to wear off, and neither of us was comfortable with me driving until that was cleared away.

After breakfast I returned to my bed with my laptop, having trouble getting into motion. In truth, I suppose we were both struggling with leaving, for similar reasons. I’m very saddened by how little real time LT and I spent together and just did not want to leave yet. Any time is a gift, but nearly everything was based around NB’s move and I really wanted some one-on-one time with LT. Sadly, it just wasn’t possible. I’m consoling myself with the fun and laughter that we had and that he’ll be home in four months. This trip was an unexpected treat and I know I shouldn’t be greedy. Still, I couldn’t help but join in on Naughty Bear’s jokey planning of kidnapping LT to take him with us to Virginia.

I think Naughty Bear was really torn because he loves his siblings and family so much, but knows he needs to return to Virginia to focus on his college education and start making a future for himself that won’t happen there. It’s very tough, but having lived very broke for five months with a less than ideal roomie was a HUGE reality check for him, and I’m grateful that he’s smart enough to learn from it.  He’s also extremely appreciative of all the help given to him by his dad and M (step-mom), and especially his grandfather. He’s had a couple of years worth of life experience crammed into this five months, with more to come as he handles some remaining issues.

We took our time loading up the SUV Tetris-style, making everything fit securely and ensuring that we had a clear line of sight out the rear-view window. We were able to fit all his clothes in the soft car top carrier and carefully packed his electronics inside. We finally hit the road, rested and ready at noon.

We chatted and listened to music for the first few hours, singing along with shared favorites. Lord, I’ve missed hearing my baby sing! And I’m always so very grateful whenever I get the special time with my sons where they open up and share little nuggets of their deep-down selves with me. I’m utterly fascinated with the man he is becoming, and the maturity that he demonstrates. He easily acknowledges the mistakes he’s made over the years, and I hope he’s wise enough to know that this costly adventure was no mistake.

As I see it, time with loved ones is precious, and should never be regretted. The time he spent was needed, especially with LT as he got to know him as a maturing young man and they seem to marvel at how much they have in common. It somewhat amuses me, because it’s as if this never occurred to them before, and they’ve almost always lived together. This is spectacularly fascinating to me and I’m so grateful that they’ve really gotten to know each other as they grow older and their lives will likely send them off in different directions.

I drove a long time since I was feeling pretty good (medicating a headache with Ibuprofen) and didn’t know how I would feel later. He eventually closed his eyes to nap for his next shift, and I got caught up on Jared Axelrod’s “Fables of the Flying City” podcast novel, all the way to the most recent Episode 28. I could call him a cliff-hangering bastard, but he’s too much of a gentleman to leave us totally on the hook. Because it was more partial than full-on, I’ll call him a cliff-hangering scoundrel. I can’t wait to see what Ash and Gatling bring us next.

After that, I continued catching up onPlus One which is a podcast by Kevin Smith and his wife Jen. I didn’t feel clear-headed enough to start another podcast novel, so went with something light and funny instead.

We stopped for gas a few times, stopped for food a couple times and just drove and drove and drove. I introduced him to “Jay and Silent Bob Get Old” because I know he enjoyed the movies and Kevin Smith’s televised Q&A’s. I also snuck a “This American Life” episode in as part of my continuing quest to hook him on podcasts. The only one he listens to currently is “The Nerdist” and I think even that is sporadically. Baby steps, y’all. Baby steps.

It’s now almost midnight, and we’re still driving. We are between Nashville and Knoxville, our anticipated stopping point for the night. We are seemingly driving through the mountains, and I’m pissed that I cannot see a damned thing. Driving through mountains is very similar to standing with my toes in the ocean. I get a sense of calmness and peace at the reality check of how very small I am in this very big world. I exhale and inhale with renewed vigor for my life, as if I hadn’t taken a breath in years. Missing out on the mountain view has me greatly disappointed, but hopefully I’ll get to see it tomorrow.

Road trip diet accountability: Cheerios w/skim milk, banana, toast w/peanut butter, 2 cups of decaff hot tea, hard boiled egg; Sonic grilled chicken sandwich, lettuce only and apple slices; Starbucks venti Chai Latte while driving; Ruby Tuesday salad bar for dinner w/ 2 Tblsp of dressing and 1 tsp of Sunflower seeds, lettuce, carrots, 1 egg. The latte pushed me over my caloric intake allowance, but it was incredibly needed caffeine and served as my sweet treat for the day. I expect there will be some weight gain from this trip, but since I fought off potato chips, burgers, fries, greasy chinese food, candy bars, pastries and fried foods, I still call this a WIN.

If you’ve missed the previous installments from this trip, they include Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3. For the reason for the trip, read the “Great” section of my blog post “The Great, The Meh, and the *So* Not Cute.

These photos are from the long drive. I didn’t take many that weren’t uber blurry, no surprise. As mentioned before, click on the slideshow to be able to read the photo descriptions or you may not know what they heck it is.

Thanks for reading!