Sunday, November 27, 2011

2011 Christmas Preview

I am slowly getting ahead of myself this year!  I might actually get my cards in the mail before Christmas.  I also am dedicating 2012 to more posts as it looks like I'll be able to upgrade our internet service - HOORAY!

Thanks Shutterfly for another easy way to get my holidays started.  I have used them for my photobooks and holiday cards now since the first year I started, and truly love their site.  I'm even working on approval from Briarwood to setup a site for our class to share photos of the kids events this year, have to get administration and all the parents to agree, but their classroom site options seem to have thought of everything...we shall see!

Let the holidays begin!

Charming Holly Wreath Christmas
Personalize your Christmas card at Shutterfly.
View the entire collection of cards.

Note: I always disclose special offers, I did get a $10 credit for posting this to my blog.   But since I love Shutterfly anyway - WIN WIN for me!

Friday, September 23, 2011

My Rant Answered

He just knows when to show me up.  Tuesday I rant about the difficult life I lead, all self pity and depressive thoughts.  And last night, He shows up with this...

I posted a pic to facebook taken with my iPhone, but it didn't truly capture the unbelievable color of the sky.  Because of the thunderheads in the distance to the west and also to the east there was a shadow that crossed completely over our house.  I should have taken a movie clip of it but by the time I realized what was happening and grabbed my camera it was darkening too quick.

Needless to say - THIS is the reason that even through the rants, I stay.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

There Is Only So Much I Can Take

I didn't intend for the next post to be a rant, but it is going to be. 

One of the main reasons that I have not kept up with this blog to be completely and utterly honest, is because I can't. 

No, not I can't because I don't have the time, but no I can't because I have a piece of crap laptop that is 6 years old with a modem that is outdated, we live in the middle of the freaking country where I can't even have the opportunity to have DSL and I just don't have an HOUR to sit and wait for the sites to load that I need to get to using the wireless PC card that is now 5 years old setup through an EVDO wireless router that only gets 2.5% of the 54 max mps speed.

That's what I've been doing for the past 45 minutes until I finally told Cory I was using his laptop to write this post, that's right, not asked, TOLD, since he was the one that we decided needed one more urgently right now.

I guess I feel the need to be a bit bitter, self absorbed and downright openly frustrated at what's been happening in my household when it comes to technology and the ability for me to indulge in purchasing some for myself.  I tend to put off purchasing things that would make my life easier - all of our lives easier, since I'm the one paying the bills, running the majority of the household and keeping up with our day to day contacts with family, friends, school and the like on email, etc. for whatever everyone else needs.  (Technically I think that's a portion of the definition of a mother isn't it?)

So, with that said, I think I'm planning to indulge soon.  No we do not have expendable cash for the purchase and I don't exactly know how I'm going to figure out where to find the money to pay for it, but something has to give.  I cannot blame my husband (entirely) for this situation, because I did not bring up the issue with him until I am so far gone angry about it that it becomes a major catastrophe - which is entirely my fault, not his.  And if he by some act of God reads this, he will read it completely wrong and assume I am ranting at him, rather than my own stubborness.  However, not aiding this is what inevitably turns into his immediate reaction when I do finally break down - that we need to sell this place and move somewhere more convenient - never small steps with him, always have to jump off the deep end of whatever we are facing.  That's not my intention, but a little help in managing a solution would be appreciated - and again, my fault for not approaching it the way it should be approached.

Needless to say, my 5 days from now I will post and will continue every week...yeah, not likely until I get this figured out.  I thought I had my ducks in a row last week.  Turns out they decided to scatter.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

I Hearby Vow

Seriously, this was the outlet, the method to my madness.  My ability to escape through words from my far too busy, 4:30am to 10pm-ish life.  And I have neglected it far too much in the past year.

So, beginning yet this week I shall commit to one thing for myself that doesn't involve making certain my 5 year old can say his memory verse without fail in front of his teacher, cooking at least 4 meals a week where we actually sit together and partake of it, having the newly done laundry folded at least within 24 hours of it coming out of the dryer, planning out our weekly grocery shopping trip (trust me, this couponing thing can be a burden) and the other myriad of other things that consume me each day that drain the living spirit from my bones.  Perhaps I will then hear more often the words dearest to my heart these days. 

"Mommy!  Look!  I did it all by myself!"

Unplugged in my life sometimes means the opposite it does for most. 

Go my children, and become.  Mommy has some becoming to do as well.

Stayed tuned.  (And if you don't see something in the next 5 days, better text me.  I may have forgotten this moment of self indulgence already).

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Kids Say the Darndest Things...

It's nearing the end of the school year at our daycare which means year end parties and collections of art projects handed over.

Yesterday was Jack's which is bittersweet because 2 weeks from today we will be off to "big school" starting our journey through education at Briarwood Chrisitan School in the 4K program. sniff.

Last night I sifted through the many glittered fish, pasted bunnies, handprint turkeys and construction paper wonders and came upon a section bound together of art pieces created by Jack with his descriptions of said pieces included. Items such as these fall into the PRICELESS ART GALLERY in my home. Here's a sampling of my two favorites.

The obsession continues.

See, even my 4 1/2 year old gets it...notice the resemblance to Yoda.

Thank you Ms. Catherine and Ms. Jodie for an amazing year and an amazing pack of memories that will be looked at many years from now with a smile!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Grandma Camp

My kids being the youngest on the Rath side and quite a few years off from Cullen, the last one born prior to them, are a bit "younger" in the mix of grandchildren, spanning from nearly 20 to 9. On my side, we have Caroline at 7 and then 4 boys 5 and under in the span of 14 months (mine being the bookends) and our (maybe) last little one of Alicia's is Jonah at 18months. We are just getting reved up there...

So it was a special treat for my two to spend four days at Grandma's house without Mom and Dad (we jetted off for a quick business trip to Vegas and flew out of Nashville to take the opportunity presented). We traveled down over the weekend and spent a few days all together, then flew out and left Grandma to fend for herself for four days. And other than a slight hiccup for her on the night we were to return just before bedtime when Jack thought I was calling and it wasn't me and he decided he had to talk to Mommy...which Mommy could not be reached being in the air on our way back and not to land until 11:30pm that night with an hour and a half drive back, imagine that juggling show for Grandma, phew!...they had an awesome time and are still talking about all they got to do. There was caramel corn, Reds baseball, swimming, kayaking, the library, soda fountain for milkshakes and even VBS to boot. I didn't get many pictures, but I did manage to record this video after we returned of the Memory Verse that they learned at VBS.

Grandma - this one is for you! Thank you for giving Cory and I that bit of time (even if it was for work) but mostly for spending time with Jack and Duke! We've been playing the Ten Commandments CD in the car every morning, Jack's favorite seems to be "Don't Bow Down to Idols". I asked today if they knew what the "Honor Your Mom and Dad" commandment meant. The response from Duke, "I don't know"...I have my work cut out for me but this tidbit makes me believe I'm headed in the right direction.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Play Ball!

The south is notorious for starting kids EARLY in organized sports. Cory and I are not so quick to jump on that bandwagon. Having played all his growing up years and pitching college baseball and being very good at it as well (damn you achilles tendons! I could be a trophy MLB wife right now!), you would think he would be more apt to push his own kids toward the sport, but truly, he's the opposite. He couldn't care less if they play or not, and for that I love him more.

He did however buy them a tee, some balls and a couple of bats and gloves recently to have something to occupy their time outside. Here is a little peak of Sunday afternoon on the ranch.

It's coming Grandma...and it does seem we have at least one possible lefty or switch hitter. (I think Daddy is a itty bitty bit ok with that)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Up For Air

Exhale.  Big Exhale.

The past two months have been a whirlwind.  April and May are always really busy in our lives.  It's the start of the spring/summer and the weather is amazing.  Cory usually has a bit of a travel break with work so we can work in our annual vacation and it's always the special time Dad visits for his annual trip for the Birmingham Botanical Garden Plant Sale where we brace the crowds and find great deals for my gardening habit.

This year we got the bonus visit from Aunt Clare - which was so awesome, for both of us.  She well deserved a weekend away and I loved having her here for the first time in 5 years to see our home and life since the kids were born.  And the bonus, some much needed sister time and SHOPPING!

We also squeezed in a visit with the Eades on a quick trip to Jekyll Island for our vacation.  The boys were all about the "swamp trees" and although the pool's heater was turned off for the year so it was a bit chilly to brave, the hot tub proved a favorite spot as did Summer Waves water park.  It was so wonderful to see the Eades home and get to visit with all of them.  And downtown Brunswick reminded me of the unique old homes of my hometown minus the swamp trees.

In between we had April 27th...forever changing the face of the state of Alabama and honestly, although I want to devote a post in itself to that day/night, I just haven't been ready.  I spent most of the rest of that week in a fog and I think I had a glimpse of what people experience with PTSD.  Now, I am not so selfish as to expect sympathy for myself given that our lives did not change one red cent with the storms and in fact my memories of our personal situation that night are quite hilarious, which is what my post will likely be when I do write it.  However, I could not tear myself away from the constant local media coverage, which is still a regular mainstay of the daily news, as it should be.  As a result, I spent a lot of time living in the "what if" scenario that is so dangerous.  To hide from my thoughts, I buried myself in work and the school annual Teacher Appreciation event and Cory graciously picked up the slack in handling the majority of the household / cooking / kid taking care of jobs.  I really spent a lot of that time in a fog, I could not get motivated as much as I usually am and found myself taking a lot of respite time to just sit back and consider life.  I have never been more thankful for the moments I have - including the last two days at home with the kids treating pinkeye and the stomach bug the boys have had- thank you Reckitt-Benckiser- and Cory has probably never been more thankful for me to get my butt in gear and get back to "normal". 

And this past Sunday we celebrated with our 4th Annual Summer Kickoff Memorial Day Party.  Again it was so wonderful to have our friends join us at our place for swimming, visiting, food and fun.  We had the most incredible weather this year, 90's no humidity, perfect to get wet and the lake was up to the task the water warming up steadily throughout the month.  And our best friends, Adam and Crystal Schober brought it up a notch, hooking us up with an awesome water slide that the kids really enjoyed.  We had new friends and old friends join us, a few regulars that sadly couldn't make it, but once again, great memories were made.  Including Jack telling everyone that we were having the party to honor the soldiers who are protecting our toys and land from "Amwar Al-Malaki" who is a bad guy and doesn't have God in his heart.  I've already told Cory - no more Fox News when the kids are within earshot.

No story is better shared than with pictures.  So here's the annual slide show.  If you missed it, put it on the calendar next year because it's a given we'll be here.  And if you made it - thanks for coming, we are so glad you did!

and if you are wondering about that day after the party...I'm still in denial.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

My Mother - by Jack Rath

Today's guest post sponsored by Odyssey Early School Mother's Day Project 2011

by Jack Rath, K4B

My mother is 15 years old.

My mother is 15 feet tall.

My mother weighs 2 pounds.  (Fist pump from Mommy!)

My mother's favorite thing to do is cook dinner.

My mother always tells me to go to Mommy's Room.*

And there we have it. 
*Mommy's Room = Where we go when we aren't listening to Mommy.

Friday, April 8, 2011

We Aren't Selling Wrapping Paper, But We'll Take Donations!

I'll say it, I HATE fundraising.  It's the one of those necessary evils when you have kids of school age.  My rules have always been not to solicit donations for goods.  I'll buy the pizzas, gift wrap, thank you cards, etc. and spend my money toward the need but I'm not into badgering friends and family to contribute.  After all - we all have this and that we have to buy for our own kids fundraising crazy schools.

I'm more of a provide the time/service - volunteer.  Ask me for my time (which is way more valuable in my opinion) and I'll give it freely.  I do however set aside funds to contribute to causes and events which will directly impact the person doing the fundraising - mission trips that a family member is going on, run/walks for a charity that someone I know is directly affected by, etc. because I feel those are growth opportunities for that person.  Just recently my niece Victoria participated in a Read-A-Thon to raise money to purchase a printer for Jubilee School in Haiti. I gladly pledged 0.05 per page because I knew their family is very involved with the Much Ministries Charity and their work with the Jubilee School; Victoria's brother Kevin has been on multiple mission trips before and after the tragic earthquake that shattered that country; but also because I knew it would challenge Victoria to read as many pages she possibly could - a child reading is a child learning!  I also just received her letter yesterday announcing her summer mission trip with her youth group - and Yes Victoria, you can count on us to contribute! :)

That said, for the past 4 years our daycare Odyssey Early School, has participated in an Easter Fundraising Event to raise money for local charities.  This year, our school is tasked with garnering donations for the Crippled Children's Foundation.  I will admit here - not a big fan of the name of the foundation.  Probably because I have been educated on what it means to have a special needs child and how certain words used to describe conditions are just not appropriate in this day and age by the fabulous blogger, Tanis Miller of Attack of the Redneck Mommy

However, that said, I am a BIG fan of the charities which are supported by CCF and have worked with several of them personally through the Children's Hospital Auxiliary here in Birmingham.  I have never asked for contributions toward Odyssey's annual fundraiser, but have always made our own toward the event.  However, this year being Jack's last at Odyssey I'm going to go out on a limb and do the deed - solicit donations on behalf of my kids and the school.  They are both old enough now to learn and understand what it means to help others less fortunate, and although it's not like we can visit all our family and friends personally to ask for your spare change, I can offer to provide an original work of art created by Jack and Duke for each and every person that donates toward the cause.  My goal - to have my children suffer writers cramp from coloring all the pictures they will neeed to color and send as thank you's for your contributions while teaching them a little lesson in appreciation and a giving heart! 

So, if you have any spare change, and I mean ANY - even $1 will do!, please click through the Donate button on the top of this page and you will be directed to our family PayPal account where you can easily and safely contribute toward this fundraiser.  We sincerely thank you in advance.  Donations will be accepted through Thursday, April 21st.

Disclosure: Although highly unlikely given the number of students that participate with mega family resources here in Birmingham, the boys will be entered into a drawing for 1 month's tuition free if we raise $500.00, but I'm not holding my breath.  They are starting out with $50.00 each from us. However, if our Inverness School raises more than the Trace Crossings location as a whole, the kids get an ice cream social on Friday, May 6th (although we will be on vacation!) but still - I'm pulling for Inverness!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

My Friend

I woke up on Friday, Cory was home and turned on the news and my stomach hit the pit. I saw the coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and could barely breathe watching the replays of the giant wave cover an entire city. And then with panic I thought immediately of Minoru.

Minoru and I began as colleagues over 7 years ago. My company accepted representation of Lucky Craft back in 2003. The lures they manufactured were incomparable in quality and the retail price showed it – 16.99 for a hard bait when others out there were at 4.99-6.99? How could they possibly sell? But the hardcore fisherman knew they caught fish, every time and was willing to pay the price. At the time, inventory was limited and Minoru had no sales manager to guide him through the nuances of selling anyone other than the grassroots independent shops. We had the contacts to help him grow and I was charged with guiding him through it.

For me, it was an opportunity to grow with my company and I took it on with gusto. In the process, we grew the business, bumps here and there, but overall we took his sales from about $2M annually to over $5M in 3 years. It was a fantastic feeling for me to sit in meetings with our customers and actively contribute to the progress of a company and its growth and impact on an industry. And in the process I gained the mutual respect of many which was professionally very satisfying.

But even more, in Minoru I gained a friend. He called me his “American sister”. In those years we traveled together all over the country and after countless layovers in airports, prep meetings for presentations, trade shows and buying shows we shared our personal lives, triumphs and tribulations. He was one of the very first people I told I was pregnant with Jack. I had found out the week before going to the Keys for training meetings with him and although we weren’t ready to tell my company (we hadn’t even told them we were trying!) he relied heavily on me and I knew I wanted to prepare him for the changes ahead in my ability to travel and be as involved in the day to day. I was nervous of his reaction but he was over the top excited for us. And even more so I was excited to be able to share this incredible journey, as I knew he was gaining another person into his “American family”.

When Jack was born, Minoru sent a beautiful care package and his amazing graphics team put together a special web pictorial of the pictures I had emailed over the years, even including a cute rendition of my niece Caroline, a trip to visit her and my sister Clare in NYC, and my other sister Ali’s new little guy Nolan that was born shortly after Jack. He knew it was so special that my two sisters and I were all pregnant at the same time (all with boys!) and was truly a part of our family through all the stories and pictures and emails I shared with him that year. I wasn’t able to be as active professionally but he continued to share in all my personal craziness, including the announcement that Jack’s brother was going to arrive just 14 months following!

And in that regard, maybe seeing my happiness at family life or maybe it was just his time, Minoru began a new family life of his own, marrying a sweetheart girl, Shiori, in September of 2009. Cory and I flew to California for the celebration and his second dance at the reception was with me, in honor of our friendship.

And now that my children are a bit older, in the past year I’ve been able to get back to a more hands on role with Minoru and Lucky Craft. It’s lifted my spirits working with him again, and renewed my professional confidence after having stepped “out” for a time and into the role of motherhood – I am now an “out of the house” working mom (since all moms work, it’s just location).  But more than that, over these years the focus has not been about me, my company, our success.  I'm renewed by the opportunity to help him succeed.  In what my agency does, we walk a fine line between working for the companies we represent and the customers which we support.  It has been my greatest joy knowing that through my work I can help someone else reach their dreams.  I would go so far as to compare our relationship as having best prepared me for motherhood and now I can turn that around use what I have learned to help elevate Minoru and Lucky Craft to the next level for their success.

And so last Friday, my first thought was of my friend, of his mother, of his home. For the life of me I couldn't place the exact location of where his family and the factory were. I was angry at my near 40’s brain capacity and immediately texted him (at 2am Pacific time I knew he was up working). For the 5 minutes I waited for him to respond I couldn't breathe because I could only think of the worst case scenario and that he had just lost his entire family and everything he had ever known. He came here to live his dreams of bringing a fantastic product he and his family makes to our country, he’s grown successful personally and professionally and I have enjoyed every bit of it like a mother watching her own child grow. He has done an incredible job given the circumstances he has faced and it was possible that everything was gone.

Even after his text “I think they should be ok, all phone line is still down…” I wasn’t completely reassured. Throughout that day I prayed and sent him notes hoping he’d heard more but didn’t want to badger him knowing he was probably worried sick himself and trying constantly to get through. I stayed away from the constant media coverage that was so tragic and so over the top “end of times”. Then at 9pm Friday night,

“I finally had a chance to talk with her. I kept calling to all last 18hr, but phone line went through only two time. Everybody trying to call, so its crazy busy. Thank you so much. I finally be little relaxed :)”

And I breathed. They are safe, his dream will continue. During our long friendship and among many wonderful traits, Minoru has exhibited (and taught me in the process) passion, hard work, patience and resilience like no one I’ve know. And I have no doubt he learned this from his mother and the people of his country. I've been honored to work with someone from the nation of Japan, I am honored to call him my friend. I have learned firsthand what amazing people the Japanese are. May they prove to the rest of us what it is like to be a nation with those traits foremost again and may the citizens of the U.S. do everything they can to help make that happen.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


I am GREAT at lists.  I love to create them, organize them, yet I somehow manage to put them aside, then pick them up and have no idea what they mean.  And I rarely manage to COMPLETE them, other than ones that are mandatory and involve deadlines that if I don't meet I will possibly be looking for employment.

One of the last lists I created that I was so psyched about was

The List of Thing of Which to Blog About.

I had ideas coming so fast I could barely get them on paper.  I look at that paper now and I have little to no idea what my two word topics even mean.

  • Husband Gone - well duh, it was a week night when I wrote this list.  He's usually gone.   
  • Running - I started running, a year and a half ago, I'm still doing it...
  • Dream Center - I participated in a great small event with my friend Mallory through church.  She blogged on it here so I won't, but read her's, it was really a great experience and I'm so glad she asked me to participate in it.
  • Duke's Pockets - they are small, he likes to put stuff in it.
  • Dressing Oneself - I'm 40 in a few months, I would hope I can still accomplish this.
  • Destin - I went, for work, overnite, without kids, it was GREAT, but I missed them.  And I can't compete with this beautifully written post on the subject by one of my favorite blog writers.  She nailed my feelings exactly, with the exception of spending the rest of the week I returned getting my life back in order because I'm a nut that way about routine.
  • Marry Avery - This I actually remember.  Duke told me one night at bathtub that he wanted to MARRY ME - so sweet, until he followed up with..."No, I just teasing...I want to marry AVERY COCO."  Ok, Fine by me kid, her mom is an ER Pediatrician at Children's Hospital, good pick in my book!  Probably not worth a whole post, but there, it's done.
  • Stay Home Day...stay tuned, I think this one may be worth a post soon.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

He Got a Sad Face, I've Never Been More Proud!

It was inevitable.  At least one of my kids would  Well, me before I knew better.

I can't help it, I'm a perfectionist who expects the same from everyone around me.  That is, until I grew wise in my old age and realized I can't change everyone around me, I can only emulate examples to those around me, which I still stink at much of the time. So now I just refuse to ever make a mistake.  Ask my colleague Bill, I think it makes him happy when I actually fail at something. At least he tells everyone about it when it happens.

So everytime Jack flips out because he didn't do something exactly perfect, or makes any tiny error of any kind I shrink back into myself cringing, wondering how in only 4 1/2 years I have managed to scar my child with the curse I lived with each and everyday of expecting so much of myself.  Or at least expecting so much of myself that I worried it will affect how others thought of me.  Approval, it was a strong, strong need in me in my younger years.  After my early thirties it turned into someone else's problem.  My mid life crisis/awakening came earlier than most but later than I wish it had, much later. 

It's not that the child never gets in trouble or never throws an all out major fit that both his father and I want to go back to our DINK days and rethink the whole "maybe our careers aren't the only thing in life".  Trust me, in this household, Jack is King of the Fit.  It's just that his fits are more in the category of discipline for self control, not discipline for outright naughty behavior.  In my opinion it's harder to discipline a child who is flipping out because he didn't get his arms in his shirt exactly right when he's trying to do it to please you, vs. a kid who's flipping out because he's smacking the living daylights out of his brother.  Both require discipline, but oh the nuances.  Let's just say the words Self Control are used often on Sterling Creek Ranch.

When I picked up Jack today I was warned that #1 he didn't nap, and #2 that he was pretty "active" all day long.  Hmm, the napping thing, no great suprise or concern as he doesn't at home on the weekend, though it is rare he wouldn't at school.  Secretly, I was ecstatic because it means he'll be asleep before 9pm tonight.  However, #3 was that he received a Sad Face on his work today because...

It was his first Sad Face.  The first time I can remember that he has ever been called out by a teacher for not following directions.  Not that he hasn't done it, but that it was worthy enough to note to me at pick up.  And it was notable that when he brought me the paper from his cubby, he just handed it over and didn't show it to me, didn't want to call it out in any way and followed it up with several other creations making sure to point out how he is "doing better at his "K"'s in his name".  I didn't acknowledge anything otherwise, no calling out of the Sad Face, no asking about the other papers he brought me.  We just went on our merry way, though he was a bit more defiant in the departure than usual, he eventually came along and off we went, to get Duke and to the car on our merry way home.

It wasn't until middle of supper he asked the question I knew was coming.  "Can we play the George game?"  We recently began allowing 30 minutes of computer time with our friends over at PBS kids and Curious George and their games.  Great for lots of reasons, and it's a really special, BIG KID activity.  I knew this was my moment to make it or break it.  Tell a child who is already over concerned with not making mistakes, that there is a consequence for the Sad Face.  I knew it was important not to focus on the Sad Face, but focus on the behavior that caused the Sad Face. 

And so when he asked I explained that today, there would be no PBSKids, no George game.  That today because we didn't listen to our teachers and follow directions during activity time, we would have to wait until another day to play the George game.  Nothing more, nothing less.

As expected, the roof came crashing down, as if I had told him he would never again in his lifetime, play the George game.   I remained calm, no explanation, waiting to see where it would lead.  And it came around on it's own to the inevitable, "I didn't mean to have a Sad Face" or something similiar and finally it was my turn to show what I have learned from all the books, magazines, blogs, friends and especially family examples before me.  

"Jack, getting a Sad Face once in a while happens.  I don't expect there never to be a Sad Face.  But I expect you to follow directions and listen to your teachers and that is the reason that you will not be able to play the George game.  I love you and I know you can do better.  Tomorrow work hard to do better and if you do, you will be able to play the George game again."

I don't know if I explained it all perfectly or in the right words or too many words, but in my heart I knew I did the two things I wanted him to be sure to know.  That there are consequences for the Sad Faces, but that it's the actions that matter to me most not the Sad Faces he gets.

And in my heart, I'm jumping with joy for the Sad Face that finally gets me the chance to discipline my kid for doing something wrong instead of trying too hard to be right.   

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

In a Galaxy Far, Far Away...

...there lived children that ate all healthy meals and snacks and never a HFCS product crossed their lips.  Yep, that's far, far, far, far, far away from our life.  But like any mom with more to do than I can possibly accomplish in say 50 years yet before they wake up tomorrow, I try. 

When they were babies I breastfed them, because I could and it felt right.  I made it about 6 months with each and pumped like a banshee to allow them to have it mixed with formula as long as possible.  I even made all their baby food from scratch.  That's right, no jars of Gerber for me.  I did it because I felt that if they tasted the real thing, they might be more apt to continue to like all the various vegetables and be less prone to adversity to textures, plus the SAVINGS!  I also love to cook, so since I already feel guilty that I don't spend time enough time with my kids, at least I was spending that time doing something good FOR them. 

That said, Jack is terribly adverse to textures, while Duke will try just about anything (some cajoling required).  Jack eats only raw carrots, Duke only cooked.  Jack loves apples, Duke can't stand them but both will devour applesauce.  Put a bratwurst in front of Duke, watch your fingers because he just keeps eating.  Jack will ask for peanut butter sandwiches every day of the week, for Duke it's yogurt.

Honestly they are both pretty balanced eaters, except over the past year you would have thought a serving of vegetables was the equivalent of a hamburger placed in front of a vegan.  I had all but given up that the only green item they would touch was edamame, simply because they like to "pop" them out of the shell until I saw a tweet about a month ago from @thatkristen

No secret, I love me some bloggers, particularly of the Mommy persuasion that are also saavy writers.  There are several I follow both on Google Reader for their blog content as well as Twitter, because they are SO.DARN.FUNNY!  I even have a twitter list I've named "4 Sanity Sake" because they are what keeps me sane on many a day surrounded by all things work, hunting, fishing,  I know none of these women personally, but we share, well, life, and that's just fine by me.

So, back to the tweet.  Somewhere in mid November I caught a flash of a tweet where she had miraculously convinced her preschooler son that Luke got his Jedi powers by eating his vegetables.  Shortly there after there was this on her blog, Motherhood Uncensored.  I've always thought she was one smart cookie but that put her at certifiably BRILLIANT.  I mean the woman gave birth to her 4th child at home, and not on purpose and then wrote about it 5 DAYS LATER.  Oh, and that 4th kid, ya, that's the 4th UNDER 6.  Seriously she is amazing and now this is starting to become an obsessive post, so back to the vegetables.

At the same time I saw the tweet we were mid supper, the kids that is, daddy was gone and it was a night they ate at the kitchen island while I nibbled on leftovers.  Again, nary a broccoli touched when I so very casually came out with, "You know guys, those powers Yoda has, with the finger fire and all, he gets that from green food."  Being that my kids are slightly obsessed with everything Star Wars and Jack believes that Yoda is IT, I figured I'd take a shot.

"REALLY"  wide eyed and so naive they are at this age.


The rest is history.  In the last month I have been ASKED to make peas for dinner.  And last Friday, LIMA BEANS, that's right every last one of them in the veggie mix, GONE.

And since that time, we've had Chewbacca food, Obi Wan food, Droid food, Darth Vader food.  You name it, we'll eat it.  As long as the guys on Star Wars do, it's good enough for them.  Even at school Jack has started back on his green beans, telling his teacher in no uncertain terms that it's Yoda food and that's YUMMY!

So, enjoy tonights image from dinner "Grandma's" Chicken Nuggets and...notice anything missing?  Yep, the peas, ate 'em first.  And the faces - oh, that's the powers that the Yoda food gives you, to SCARE Mommy.  I have to do a little ducking and weaving behind the island, but worth every vitamin these two are scarfing down these days!

Kristen, this one's for YOU!

Friday, January 14, 2011


Most everyone knows I am in the Sporting Goods Industry.  Which means for the past 15 years I've represented a wide range of products.  From the earthy, green outdoorsy stuff like kayaks and canoes and all things that give you the impression I eat Luna bars and do yoga to fishing tackle and WHOA! firearms.  That's right, I've hunted, I've harvested and I've cooked and fed my children resulting meals.  However my last name is Rath, not Palin so you can relax.  I do however have a bumper sticker that reads "God Bless Our Troops, Especially the Snipers" so take it for what you want.

I realize not everyone is ok with this, but this is my life I hope you will respect that and not innundate me with opinions of why I do not (and you do) have issue with hunting and responsible firearm ownership.  Please, I promise you I have heard it all and I do not intend to change my opinion on the subject.  Nuff said.  I do however respect yours and that's why I love all things blogging and sharing, so feel free to share here anyway, I'll just choose to disagree.

Now, point of my posting.  Yesterday on twitter came this

Alabamas13: Person shot at Shelby County pawn shop: Shelby County Sheriff's deputies are investigating a shooting at a Highway 280...

There are three pawn/easy money shops on Hwy 280, a very busy stretch of businesses linking Shelby County to Birmingham, most of which I consider very traditional and places I shop & eat - Target, Publix, several banks, great restaurants, Pier One, etc., you get it.  The surrounding subdivisions are some of the nicest in metro Birmingham, we are talking $300,000-$1,000,000+ homes people!  But two of these shops are in driving proximity of the daycare my children attend (as well as several other daycares and schools) and yep, this was one of them. 

Back in October 2009 (sorry folks already familiar with my fb posts, I thought it was last summer, I guess time really does fly) this also happened at this shop - scroll to the last report  on the page.

During that event, the kids were napping, thankfully not outside for play time.  I learned from the staff that the Sherriff's department did respond immediately and locked down the center as well as had troopers outside until the area was confirmed secure.  And although I honestly had absolutely no concerns as I love my daycare, it's a family business, family atmosphere and been around a long, long, long time to see lots of things happen over the years and that this could happen ANYWHERE, but I could not stop thinking that week about the what if's (no explanation needed).

Yesterday when I saw the tweet though, my heart dropped and all I could think of were the what if's. And I knew, the tweet could mean anything, could be another robbery, could be accidental, could be anything.  Of course, by the time the tweet came through, the news was already covering it and that meant law enforcement was already on the scene - nothing I could do immediately that would result in any change of the circumstances, but I did email the owner to make him aware of the situation. 

When I picked up last night, there was nothing to see, no tape across the door, in fact I think they were open.  But this time what went racing through my head was, I need to do something to avoid a what if from becoming, if only we had...

I watched the 10:00 news with baited breath and sure enough just a quick report, no details other than it was an accidental shooting. My mind however screamed only the shooting from that phrase.  Because in my belief as a gun owner, you DO NOT have accidents.  You have irresponsibility, but not accidents.

As an update my husband, who also works with me, was down at the Shelby County Sherriff's Dept today on something unrelated and gleaned some information for me on the incident.

The employees at (said pawn shop) were moving some display cases in the store and it seems one of them, I have heard from other sources it was the owner's son, removed his sidearm holster and pistol and set it down. Another employee picked it up to move it and discharged the weapon, accidently, killing one person - I believe it was the owner's son that was killed.

As a person in the firearms/hunting industry I have major problems with this.  Anyone that is trained and is a responsible firearm owner, especially one with a permit to carry a sidearm on person, will tell you that you do NOT leave anything in the chamber, EVER. Second, when removing the firearm from his person, the very first thing should have been to check the action prior to leaving it out of his immediate possession to be sure it was clear. I could go on but I won't.

I am saddened that a tragedy has happened to the people involved, do not misunderstand my intentions. My underlying issue here is a business which handles sales of firearms has had two separate instances of concern. One was not under their control per se (the robbery), the other was due to irresponsibility (my opinion). 

I do not take lightly irresponsible behavior, especially when it comes to businesses that should be handling things on heightened safety.  I can only hope the ATF will take a close look at the procedures and safety precautions and overall business practices at this place with due scrutiny. I've lived on 280 for nearly 14 years and have seen many transitions, just lately I've become more aware of the environment. I LOVE 280, I don't care about the traffic, it's what I identify as my home in this city even though we live in the boonies of Chelsea/Columbiana. And I am going to figure out a way to voice my concerns about this business, to our elected officials and through whatever avenues I can to make sure I feel comfortable that if only we had, never happens. 

If you wish to join me, or have any information that could help, comment or catch me at daycare. 

And please keep in mind, I am only concerned with this particular business and it's practices.  I am confident after the 50 years that my company has been around, that the businesses which we service and the majority of the industry members do follow the proper regulations and safety requirements and I support the industry and everything that is responsible gun ownership.  I will always believe in 2nd Ammendment (my license plate is 2AMNDMT). 

It's the human factor that concerns me.

Edited to add:  Perhaps I am ultra senstive to this situation today given the recent events in Tuscon.  That could entirely be it.  Or maybe I'm crying out for people to start being responsible.  Either way, today I couldn't be quiet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Dry As a Bone!

These are the first words out of Duke's mouth each morning since he started staying dry at night about 2 months ago.  I am blessed.  I am also trying to allay the concerns of a 4 year old brother who is not and will not be for a while I suspect and who notices this. 

However, things have turned a bit.  Not necessarily in my favor.  Jack is still having some daytime "leaks" as I call them and that's not so cool.  Not terribly concerned but enough to bring it up in the next visit if we are still dealing with it.

Anyway, since Duke is not used to doing anything before Jack, he now notices these things happening on the days we stay home.  The result, he now thinks he needs to change his underwear each time he goes tee tee even though he's "dry as a bone!" as he calls it and thus my laundry pile grows with each trip to the bathroom.

Why couldn't it work just work the other way?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Highlands Kids Here We Come!

Saturday while Cory was spending the late afternoon in one of the deer blinds waiting to see what might visit his newly planted apple orchard and I was cooking up one of our last family meals before the holidays ended and our daily work/daycare schedule started up again, the boys were getting their "sillies" out.  We managed nearly an entire day home without turning the TV on so far and I was stretching it out to see how long they'd go before I needed the break of 30 minutes of Curious George or The Gruffalo.

What happened next was something that made my heart leap for joy.  At least leap for hope of joy.

As a family we've been members at Church of the Highlands for going on 9 or 10 years now I think.  Those of you close to us know it was the vehicle that probably the biggest influence in changing our lives.  (And that's BIG).  From Dinks to 40 with preschoolers faster than Earnhart and Gordon race around the oval at Talladega.  And although I grew up Catholic, for me it was this place and the people we have connected through it that brought me to a relationship with God.  It's not just the awesome messages given by Pastor Chris, but the place it has taken in our everyday lives.  (Of course any of my co-workers will tell you I still have a ways to go, but improvement is better than nothing!)

While we attend Sunday services, the kids get to participate in their own activities in the Nursery-Duke's in The Fire Station and it's the PreSchool "Clubhouse" for Jack.  I used to be on the Dream Team and work video back in the early days of the church but since the move to the Grants Mill campus and having the kids, it's not been feasible for me to get back yet to helping on Sundays.  I've often wondered what really goes on for the kids, other than just playing and puzzles and the L'il K and Veggie Tales videos.

Well, apparently they sing too - at least in the Clubhouse, where there is a stage and chalkboard, and the kids sit in the "audience".  I should have picked up on it, but it took some music to make it click for me.

As I'm cooking away in the kitchen, suddenly I hear Jack telling Duke to "get in the audience" as he climbs up on the fireplace his "stage".  Then out of the mouths of babes I hear, well, you can hear it yourself...

For those of you that are wondering, it's Hillsong Kid's "One Way (Jesus)" and I knew I recognized it when Jack first started singing it but as soon as I figured it out, I was grabbing for my iTouch and iTunes and downloading it for the car. 

And the feeling I had as I listened to them ask me to play it for the 10th time was...finally, I'm doing something RIGHT!   They are ready for Worship time at Highlands!

note to viewers: The "dots" in Duke's pants are two flashlights they got for Christmas.  I apologize for the graininess from the poor lighting.  But Duke's moves near the middle are entirely worth watching the full 1:36, that kid has some flexible joints!!