Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Letter On Your 15th Birthday

Dear Sambo,

I have no idea if I'm doing any of this right. I'm sure you think I'm failing miserably most days. But I promise you, I try my best, with LOTS of God's and my village's help! And I'll always apologize to you because you had to be my guinea pig on this parenting thing! It ain't easy. 

But when I take a step back from the day to day chaos, from being a "cringy" mom, our clashing tastes in music, and all your eye-rolling, I see the unique, amazing person you're becoming. Your sweet heart and the way you love your family, the way you recognize the hurt and needs of others, your passion for music and talent on the guitar, and the handsome young man you've become, are all things that make a momma smile. But more than anything!...I love that you feel like "fitting in" is not a good option for you, because you were definitely born to stand out. 

So about all this turning 15 stuff. First of all, that went by REALLY fast. "TBH", I really do NOT want to teach you to drive. That scares me in more ways than you can imagine. Until now, I've faced the challenges head on. But dad will just have to do that, and I will just close my eyes and rock in the corner. Remember...eyes on the road, hands at 10 and 2, and mostly, that no phone call, text message, Snapchat, or anything else is more important than your safety and the safety of the people you're sharing the road with! Pull over if you need to respond immediately. 

I know you're at an age where things will be offered to you. Things that are not safe, or healthy and things you aren't ready for...even if you think you are. People who say "no" are stronger than the ones who say "yes". The "nos", they're just blending in. As Muzzy always told me, "people judge you by the company you keep." Remember your faith. Remember your goals. And remember that in the words of Boppa that "it only takes one time" and "nothing good happens after midnight". And remember that absolutely no one got anywhere good in a body bag. So pick good friends. 

Speaking of body...your body is a temple. Trash in - trash out. Make good choices. What you do today effects your tomorrow. Keep up the great work with golf and weightlifting. And remember my obsession with Marky-Mark. He did not get those abs sitting on his computer or eating a whole box of Cheez-its, and the container of cupcakes his mom bought for his brother's class. 

I'm sure that you've already realized this, but I also want you to know that girls are awesome! They might smell good, be pretty, funny, and some appear smarter than others, but all of them are STRONG. So strong that they will crush your heart. Choose one wisely! You may feel particularly entranced by a few, but they are NEVER to be taken advantage of. I don't give a rip what the circumstances are...NO, MEANS NO. You're a boy, and it will without a doubt ALWAYS be your fault. Girls are to be respected and they are never objects to be exploited. I know you've heard this a million times already, but it's worth repeating. Thankfully, you've got an excellent role model in your dad. Keep watching what he does! 

Mind your manners. You are now old enough that your manners - good or bad - are becoming more of a reflection of you, than how you've been raised. It's still pretty basic. Say please and thank you, yes ma'am/sir and no ma'am/sir to your elders and authority figures, extend your hand, look people in the eye, open and hold doors for ladies, the elderly, and the disabled, and for the love of all things...surrender the parking place - the extra steps are good for you and please let people OFF the elevator before you get on (makes me crazy). Trust me! It's appreciated. Kindness always wins, and as always, just treat others as you'd like to be treated! 

I'm gonna talk about the "S" word now. Sorry! You roll your eyes when it comes up, but school really IS important. It comes easier to some more than others. I know you'd rather eat glass than get up and go most days.  But you HAVE to go or we'll go to jail, and you'll more than likely have to dig ditches for minimum wage to support your brothers and #BadArnold if you don't. Not kidding. Just do the work. If anyone gets it, I do! I got my Masters in Procrastination. It took me 5 years to get out of high school and 6 to finish college. I don't recommend it. Brady Souder and your dad lectured me in college one night, as I sat procrastinating in the same spot for hours and hours. Their message to me was along the lines of...Your other options don't look too hot without an education. So hurry up and finish so we can go out! I hope you're pickin' up what I'm puttin' down, Sam. And always remember how your first summer job felt. That's pretty much what life would be like without school.

At any rate...Keep the faith! God WILL carry you when you feel like you can't carry yourself. If you don't know what to do, ask Him first, then us. He will never steer you wrong and cause you harm. He continues to sculpt you and so far He's doing a fine job. You are precious to all who know you, Sambo and I hope you will never doubt your greatness! So CHEERS to 15! Make the best of it and the years to come. Oh Happy Day! We love you. 


P.S. I know Fulton and Oliver probably wonder why the heck I always write to/about you. One day they'll realize that because of the gigantic learning curve parenting you that there's really not a whole lot to preach about and apologize for with them. I can focus on the frilly stuff. So technically, they've been spared in the long run. 

Friday, August 25, 2017

You I love.

Carson told Robin when she was really little that instead of saying "I love you", she would rather say "you I love". Because if it's the last time you see that person, the last word you said to them was "love." There's so much truth and goodness to that! Just like the goodness Robin brought to our lives.

So today is the day. One year. "Miss" is too weak a word. I can't quite think of a word that describes this last year of firsts without her. The last time I saw her was August 25, 2016 at 3:22 PM at the gas station. The reason I know it was 3:22 is because I looked at the clock and couldn't believe that she wasn't already in the carpool line to get Carson at 3:45. She liked to be the first one Carson would see when she would walk out. We both smiled and waved, as both of us were on our phones, per usual...and I'm sure both of us were assuming that we would see each other after carpool in the cul-de-sac in the next 20 minutes anyway. But God had another plan. Since that time I have thought of 1000 things I wished that I could have said to her, if I had only known it would be the last time I would see her.

Supposedly, as I've read, "grief is just love with no place to go." This year of firsts has been hard. But I am forever grateful for Carson, Billy, Tricia, Cheryl, and Bergen, and all the friends who knew and loved Robin who have given me a place to put that love. Especially those who have asked how everyone is and who have listened to my Robin stories. Thank you! Sharing definitely eases the pain. She loved us all so hard and so fiercely. And she would also love knowing how frequently her name comes up in our conversations.

In her absence so much has happened. So much I wish we could talk about. There have been birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and every day life…teen drama, mama drama, she would have gotten a kick out of the third-world-like illnesses at the Baker house this year, car accidents, my exercise induced panic attack that sent me to urgent care, drama in The Acres, and all sorts of stuff. I have cackled and belly laughed by myself in my car thinking about her while passersby probably thought that I was crazy. I have sat silently and mindlessly recalling some of my favorite times with her, wanting to hear her voice again. There have even been times that I have said "oh my gosh I've got to tell Robin", only to feel the blow of reality. Then there are the deep moments of grief, I feel they have aged me…a lot. She would thoroughly enjoy the new wrinkles that have popped up on my face and the ridiculous amount of gray hairs that have sprouted. And then she would encourage me to let Billy color it...because he just LOVED to do hers! 😜 But I have also felt an urge to live life to its fullest. I have found myself seizing opportunities and having confidence to do things I wouldn't have ordinarily done. It's been a gift in this ugly, dark time.

Instinctively, I still look across the street and wonder when she's going to be home. And I also miss her phone calls first thing in the morning and her walking over to sample my dinners while I was cooking...because she wasn't. I am blessed to have had her directly across the street and in my every day life for 10 years. She may be gone, but I'll never forget the pizzazz she added to my life. I said in her eulogy that I have never had a friend quite like Robin, and I doubt that I ever will again. And I still feel the same way a year later.

I would love to think that she can see this post and know how much she's missed, but I know better than that. I know that where she is is far greater than anywhere here on earth. But I'm still waiting on that cell service to Heaven, or at the very least a Facebook page! It sure would take grieving down a notch.

Any who... we made it through the "firsts" and we're on to "seconds". And I'll always be wishing she was here while celebrating her memory every single day.

"You I love", sweet friend!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Summer 2017 Edition of "Have You Ever?"

Have you ever...

left your 14 year-old son for dead in the middle of the NC mountains, in a cabin straight out of Deliverance, at an all-girls camp to work on the kitchen staff, with one of his best buddies from birth?

 Facetime with Sambo at Camp Glenn-Arden, where he spent 2 weeks on the kitchen staff. I may or may not have cried when I dropped him off. SO thank God for Facetime!

 Sam and Harper's cabin...can you hear the banjo music?

Sam-Sam the dish-washin' man.

Sam and his buddy Harper who got him into this mess. 😉  But he came out with a pretty good paycheck and a solid skill set in the kitchen.

been in awe of a God-wink straight from Heaven?

Long story, short... At Worship Week Camp, Fulton was asked to sing a verse from one of my favorite praise songs, which happened to also be Robin's favorite and was played at her funeral. I have no doubt in my mind that she had something to do with that song selection for Fulton and I was so happy to have Carson standing right there with me.

In my last post I mentioned that it had been kind of an "off" summer. I've struggled to juggle it all - working from home, entertaining the boys, and taking care of the house, all while Shan has been traveling. My prayer each day is to "be signing when the evening comes." Most nights my singing sounds more like a sigh of relief that I survived another day. But in my heart I'm singing!

10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord Oh My Soul)

And Oliver couldn't have made a more precious Blues Brother in his skit!

had a night that you didn't want to end, because it meant saying goodbye to someone you've loved a very long time?

You'll have to read it here on Facebook, because I don't want to start crying again.





reconnected with childhood friends for a wedding weekend and automatically turned back into a 12 year-old girl?

I love friends who are more like family and the fun weddings that go along with them! We had an amazing weekend in Charleston with two of my oldest friends, Christine and Dawn, and Christine's family.


had a Snapchat filter ease your pain until the meds kicked in?
Chronic Daily Headaches (it's a real thing...look it up) are not for sissies!!!

gone to an abandoned mall to ride the escalators and run the halls on a hot, rainy, summer day in Columbia, SC?


had a little red table that you purchased from the preschool where your boys went, and they have all out grown it, but you just can't get rid of it because they still like to sit there?
They literally eat breakfast and lunch here everyday.

had a little boy who brings the party be in so much pain that you will stop at nothing to find out what is wrong...even if it makes you look like the Munchausen By Proxy mom?
Another long story... basically what started out as a sinus infection, turned into a hellacious cough, that caused excruciating middle of the night headaches for this guy, and landed us in the ER and Dr.'s office a few times and then a brain MRI. We are happy to report that according to our family friend who is a neurologist that Fulton has a very healthy and "fluffy" 11 year-old brain. I am not happy to report that he still has his horrible cough 3 1/2 weeks later and that he has passed it on to me and Sam!

used your phone-a-friend to get picked up a block from your house and be taken to urgent care, during a run, in the middle of a summer day, because your heart-rate was 2,000,000 BPM, only to find out it was an exercise-induced panic attack and you were a little dehydrated?
Can't make it up. Discuss amongst yourselves.

jumped the batteries for two stranded motorists in one week - one of whom is a dear friend on a conference call for a meeting that both of you are supposed to be at, while you have bronchitis and are seeking mechanical assistance from YouTube and your "back-up husband" on the phone because your husband is out of town and her husband is in the middle of a deposition - and the other motorist is a stranger at gas station who caused you to miss your movie time?
Mandy will kill me for posting this. But it's amazing the lengths we'll go to for our fellow Junior Leaguers!

Funny tidbit...we both have the same car and neither of us knew how to open the hood. I had to watch a YouTube. 😳

had to call the FAPD because a lady with a husky on a leash comes into your yard repeatedly to "play with your dog", even though you've asked her not to, and then your dog eventually gets attacked...just as you thought he would?
#BadArnold is his nickname for fun, but he is really a great dog and I felt so sorry for him. But y'all it sounded like Call of the freakin Wild outside in my front yard. Poor buddy was pinned under the shrubs yelping. 😢

taken your children to be tested for Whooping Cough because nothing is helping this cough and it's been in your house for almost a month?
Just got the call...NO WHOOPING COUGH! Praise for small victories.

had a summer that sent you on a trip to the grocery store, that makes it look like you just broke up with your boyfriend?

But seriously. Have you...EVER?