No Men on Pinterest

Men shouldn’t be allowed to access Pinterest.  Only heartache, broken dreams, and acknowledgement of the harsh reality of life can come of it.

Let me explain:

Last year, as my son’s third birthday approached, my husband showed me a picture he found on Pinterest and emphatically declared, “THIS SHALL BE MY SON’S CAKE ON THE DAY OF CELEBRATION FOR HIS BIRTH!”  Ok, so maybe not quite that ‘shoutty’ but you get the idea.

This was the picture:

pinterest.com
pinterest.com
As you can imagine, my husband’s motto is “Go big or don’t throw a party.”

Can’t say I disagree.  But up and to this point the process for ensuring that there is a cake for either of my children’s birthday parties involved showing them the options online {publix.com} then ordering said cake and picking it up.  The hardest part was making sure I didn’t drop it on the way to the party.

For Bella’s 5th birthday she threw me a curve ball by asking for a cheerleading cake.  Apparently, Publix (our supermarket of choice for cakes) doesn’t make a cheerleading cake.  Their solution (after explaining my dilemma to the very nice lady at the bakery) was a pink and purple cake and I went to Michael’s and bought stuff to make little toppers with cheerleaders on them.  That’s when I realized I kind of wish I was able to make cakes so my kids could have what they want.

But that’s where it ended.  An internal, only-to-myself wish that I had no intention of seeing through.

Then, in an instant, my hubs changed the game.

Publix didn’t have this super hero cake as an option on their website {because most 3-year-old birthday parties don’t require a super hero themed wedding cake, I would imagine}.

To have a bakery make this cake would have easily been $200, if not more.  I refused to pay that much for something that would eventually be poo’d out by 20 three-year-olds and maybe a parent or two.

So, I did what any self-respecting stubborn perfectionist would do.  I set out to make it myself.  How hard could it be?!  I used to LOVE to bake.  Before I had kids.  That means I hadn’t baked ANYTHING for 6 years.  SIX.  YEARS.

I figured a practice run would be best.  Ever see those “Pinterest fail” websites?  You know the one with the lamb?  This was worse.  I looked for a pic just to drive the idea home but apparently I was so mortified by it that I deleted any evidence.

One thing I know about myself is that I am a HUGE procrastinator.  I have been all of my life.  So I tend to do my best work under extreme pressure.  In college I once wrote a 10 page paper in Italian on an Italian movie the night before my 8 am class.  I got an A.  So, I’m pretty much an expert in waiting til the last minute then busting out a miracle.

But this was a little different.  If I failed, I would let my hubs down, my baby down, and other people not obligated by marriage or blood to love me for better or worse would know I failed.

As such, I decided in my brain that if I didn’t have a viable cake option {i.e. my best efforts failed miserably} by the morning of the party I would be at the 24-hour Kroger picking up the best option possible for my baby.  You know, like normal people do.

I was up all night.  I think I made it to bed at 3 am.  But it was ALL worth it.  Because my little man got this:

finished super hero cake

And Roman loved it, too.

It wasn’t perfect but both my guy who requested the cake and my three-year-old were ecstatic.  #winning

What I didn’t realize going into this was that I was setting a precedent.  Once I made a cool cake for my son, I had to reciprocate for my daughter 8 months later.

I expected her to want a cheerleading cake, or a Frozen cake, or something glittery and pink.  Nope.  My sweet Bella, who doesn’t play any musical instrument, wanted a piano cake.  A piano cake.  A cake made to look like a piano.  Seriously, what?

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s back to Pinterest I go…

She picked out this one:

pinterest.com
pinterest.com
She got this one:

finished piano cake

Again, not perfect but the gist was there.

And she loved it.  Both times I said I was done.  No more.  It’s too stressful, what if I mess up, what if I let everyone down.  SHUT UP, FEAR!

But here’s what I learned:

My kids love that EYE am making their cakes.  They have input.  They get exactly what they want.  It’s collaborative and they have a hand in it.

They see the creative process and hard work that goes into something that is usually taken for granted.  You go to the store and pick up a cake.  You don’t see the blood, sweat, and tears that can be shed in the process.  My kids see the effort, even if they don’t fully appreciate it right now.

There is such a sense of pride when other adults ask me where I bought the cakes and I can say that I made them myself.

I’ve always loved baking, even during the Great Baking Hiatus of 2008-2013.  And since I can remember I’ve lived for creating.

{The “creating” part, until this cake thing came along, was usually reserved for creating new voices for the pretend conversations our animals have or imaginary characters I make up when I’m telling my babies a bedtime story about Prin the Princess who goes on a magical adventure with her troll friend CeeCee to defeat the evil Duke.} 

I’m getting better at this cake making thing.  I actually like it {dare I say, love it?}.

This year I talked my Roman into cupcakes thinking it would be quicker and easier.  Nope.  Again, up most of the night.  This is what he got:

finished super hero cupcakes

Another hit.  This time, I’m actually PROUD of how it turned out.

By the way, this really isn’t that hard.  Cake mix from a box, buttercream icing, boxed fondant, tracing of templates, and voila.  The hardest part is making these creations with a kid hanging off your leg, getting interrupted ten times, and trying to figure out how to do something you’ve never done before.  Each time it gets easier.

I think you should try it.  You may just find a new hobby!

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Roman Is 4

Roman then and now

Ugh.  It happened.  My precious, 9 pound, unifying gift from God has become a little boy.  A full-speed-ahead locomotive that plows into life no matter what is coming at him.

When I found out I was going to have another baby almost five years ago I was a little unsure of it all.  I wasn’t married.  I had been dating the hot guy in scrubs from Starbucks for several months at that point.  A rekindled romance from a year prior.

After my first marriage I was in no hurry.  Actually, I was fine to never marry again.  What’s the point… they all end badly anyway.

{I was so optimistic in my early years.}

I had a happy, healthy two-year-old and thought my life was full and complete.  It was her and me.  What else did I need?

{Don’t answer that… we’re about to find out.}

God knew.  He had great plans for this big little baby.

I began to see that not all guys leave.  Some actually stay.  Even when they discover your flaws.  And some guys will even happily raise babies they didn’t biologically help create.  This rare species of man is AMAZING.  I have one.  His name is Rick.  And he’s really cute.

Before he was even born, I saw Roman bringing Bella, the hubs, and me closer every day.  We had good days and bad while trying to come together as a family but we were, indeed, a family.

For the first 2 years of her little life, my daughter didn’t have anyone to call dad.  She didn’t have anyone to come to Daddy-Daughter day at daycare or take her on a daddy-daughter date.  When it was time for parents to come to the school for a show or a special day, it was just me.

The first time she called my hubs “Daddy” she wouldn’t stop.  She would come up with reasons to say his name so she could say “Daddy” and have someone respond.  I had no idea she needed it THAT badly.

I gained an extra 200 pounds on March 5th, 2011 when I married who turned out to be the love of my life.

Then, on June 20th we welcomed Roman into the world.

He emerged the size of a linebacker.  He was 2 weeks early and weighed 9 pounds.  I kind of expected him to stand up, throw me a peace sign, and say, “Hey Moms, I’m gonna go hang with tha guys for the night.  Be back later.  Hey, thanks for that birth thing you just did.”

{My doctor still apologizes for not giving me a C-section…}

He could hold his head up, he loved to snuggle, and (I would find out that first night) hated to sleep.  I was IN LOVE!

I look at him now and still see my little man-baby.

As soon as I saw him for the first time I instantly couldn’t remember the world without him.  We were OFFICIALLY a family of four.  Bella now had a little brother to go with her new dad.  I had a son who would forever connect me to my new husband.  She and I had family I didn’t realize we needed.  All thanks to:

scuba roman

Roman.

A strong name for a strong little man.  It fits him perfectly.

He is strong-willed and impulsive and he loves chocolate almond milk.  He is sensitive and loving and he loves his basketball shoes.  He wants to be Batman, Superman, Captain America, and Spiderman depending on the day you ask him.  But he ALWAYS wants to be Slash.

He is rough and physical and loves all things sports or Guns N Roses.

He has the most AMAZING blue eyes that melt my heart every time I see them.  His kisses taste like sugar and his hair is so soft and blonde.  When he wraps his little arms around my neck and whispers, “I love you, Mommy” he could ask me for a dinosaur and I would get one for him.

The thought of one day having to relinquish my place in his life to someone else BREAKS ME!!!!!!!!!!!  But, I also don’t want to create a “Norman Bates” so I’m working on that.

Every time I look at my widdle bubby I see all the life lessons he has taught me in his short little 4 years.

Life is unexpected.

Sometimes doing things the “right” way leaves you broken and hurt.  Conversely, sometimes doing things the “wrong” way gets you exactly what you need.

Never, ever judge a pregnant woman who is not wearing a wedding ring.  She may be loved more than the one who has a huge rock on her hand.

We don’t know what we need.  But God does.

My heart will forever belong to a tiny little man who likes to run around in his batman underwear.

Mommy loves you, Roman.  Thank you for my family.

Rick Roman and Bella

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Paper Towels Ruin Cheese Dip

Every time I go to a bathroom that is located in a public establishment I find that I end up looking like a dirty, wet, wasteful person who hates Mother Earth because I have to use 2 paper towels and about 3 pumps of soap.

Could we all agree that whoever is in charge of electing the paper towel lengths needs to do us all a solid and make them longer?  Let’s face it, size DOES matter.  Don’t kid yourself.

Sometimes I get really excited when I wave my hands over the paper towel sensor and a reeeeeeallly long paper towel comes out.  I giggle inside.  It’s so sad.

That giggle should be saved for the things in life that are actually important and good and happy.  Like finding $20 in my coat pocket at the beginning of winter.  Or finding piece of chocolate that my kids forgot about.

And whoever is in charge of designing soap dispensers needs to redesign said dispenser so that more soap comes out.  Seriously.  No one can adequately wash hands (even tiny little baby hands) with the amount of soap that comes out of one pump.

It’s inefficient because I stand there twice as long as I should pumping out soap.  By the time I make it back to the table, my cheese dip is cold and coagulated.  Very annoying.

Like a trained monkey, I automatically assume that soap dispensers will always give me an inadequate amount of soap.  So I always give it 3 pumps (that’s what she said).

Sure, the foam soap looks like a lot.  But it isn’t.

I’m just like those people who salt their tortilla chips at a restaurant without tasting them first.  Those people annoy me.  How do you know your food needs salt if you haven’t even tasted it yet!!?!?!  Now I’m annoying myself with the soap.

In conclusion:

Longer paper towels

More soap

Don’t salt your chips without tasting them first

Don’t invent anything that takes so long to use that my cheese dip coagulates.

Really, these are life lessons, people.

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Finding Summer

summer
littlehoots.com
It’s Summer!

Summer changes when kids are “School-Aged”.

For one, they are a whole year smarter now than they were last summer.  So they remember what happened last year.  “Mom, are we going to the beach again this year?”  And they have better communication skills to discuss plans with friends.  “Hey, Melissa has a baby sitter so she doesn’t have to wake up early!”  “Hey, Mia’s mom takes her to the pool every day!”  “Mom, Jaden’s mom takes him to Hair Styling camp!  It starts at 11 am and ends at 2 pm!  Can I go, too, Mom???”

Dam you, Jaden’s mom.

And they make plans on their own without consulting you. “Mom, I told Ms. Celina that I’m going to see Winter and Hope.  You know, the dolphins?  We can go tomorrow.  Also, I need you to call Care.com for when we come back from Florida.  Only baby sitters with 4 or 5 stars, OK?  I already told Ms. Celina that today is my last day at Primrose.”

care
littlehoots.com
Before kindergarten there really weren’t any summer “expectations”.  We could go on vacation whenever we wanted without having to work around the school schedule.  The kids were too young to know what was happening.  They’d go to sleep in Atlanta and wake up in Florida wondering what the white, grainy stuff was on their feet and why we were putting them in water for fun.

I got used to that.  And then it changed.

Last summer the kids still had their established bed times.  They still had to be up at their normal times to get to daycare so that my husband and I could go to work.  We made it to the beach for a week and we would go to the pool after work and on the weekends but that was really the only indicator to our kids that it was “summer”.

When I was a kid, summers meant staying up as late as we wanted.  It meant playing outside at night and catching lightening bugs in jars without adequate ventilation and sleeping until 10 am.  We didn’t have to wear anything other than a bathing suit if we didn’t want to.  We drank sugary drinks in containers shaped like a barrel.  We played in water hoses and sprinklers and ate popsicles and ice cream and pizza rolls EVERY DAY.

This summer it hit us.  Our kids need a real summer!  It’s hard when both parents work full time to take a risk that could throw off schedules and work obligations.  I’d love to have a baby sitter come to the house and stay with Bella.  But what if the baby sitter is sick or can’t make it for whatever reason?

The city has all kinds of super cool camps.  But most don’t start until 9 and end at 2 or 3.  If they offer extended hours it’s usually 8 or 8:30 until 5:30.

I am supposed to be at work by 7:30 (ok, ok, I usually get there around 8.  FINE!  8:15.  Happy now???) and sometimes I can’t leave the office until 5:30.

Or can I?

When Bella was little and I was a single mom I worked from around 7 am until about 4 pm so that I could bypass Atlanta traffic as much as possible and so that I could spend as much waking time as I could with her.  The company I worked for was VERY flexible with work schedules so it didn’t really matter.  I got used to that.  Then we had Roman and it still made sense to keep the same schedule.

{Let’s face it, I’m masochistic and love being yelled at, hit, kicked, pinched, and punched by a three-year old as much as humanly possible.  And I love being told by my seven-year old that no one gets her and that I don’t care about her when I tell her that we’re going to the park instead of watching an episode of Jessie.  Even more than that, I love waiting until they fall asleep and giving them a million kisses on their faces so they can’t wiggle away, and watching them breathe, and smelling their hair (don’t judge me). My little slice of Heaven.}

But maybe Bella’s onto something with this care.com thing.

Or maybe I could pretend to be a high school girl and infiltrate groups where I might meet someone I’d trust with my babies.  What?  Isn’t that what Drew Barrymore did in that movie that one time?

Change is so hard for me.  Even when I know it’s for the best and necessary.  But going from what is comfortable and functional for ME to what is comfortable and functional for my KIDS is something that I must do.  Bella is beyond bored at daycare summer camp and desperately needs to have FUN!

chess
littlehoots.com
Folks, in the same way that Michael Scott declared bankruptcy on The Office, I’m declaring that my kiddies will have a SUMMER!!!!!!!

Am I the only person in the world with the work/kid schedule dilemma???

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Mindless Entertainment

I don’t usually watch reality TV.  It’s appealing in a “train wreck” kind of way but I don’t seek it out.  On the rare occasion I do catch it on when I’m interrupted while flipping channels I’m struck by the fleeting moments of relatability of the characters.  Because that’s what they are, right?  Characters?

{Although, living where I do I’ve noticed that Tiphis are everywhere.  Only it appears as though no one has told them that the cameras aren’t rolling.}

There are shows and documentaries that highlight the goofy and eccentric and uber-rich lifestyles.  And maybe for a second we all see a bit of ourselves in them.  “Oh I could see myself saying that” and for a second you can see yourself in that extravagant lifestyle or absurd situation.

People living above their means, people trying to fit in with a clique, people who have nothing better to do for a living than get into trouble.

When Real World aired I remember how intriguing it was.  It was literally like being a fly on the wall.  Networks quickly realized that over-the-top behavior drives ratings.  But do the networks have to gravitate toward the negative side of over-the-top behavior?

Now that I’m a parent I think a lot about what I want my kids to watch on TV.  And what I don’t want them to watch.  Why is it so hard to find a show that portrays an intelligent, driven female who has a strong marriage and puts her family first?

Could we stop giving air time to stereotypical bimbos who don’t respect their partners or themselves enough to find a meaningful purpose in life?

I don’t want my kids to see women portrayed as “Desperate Housewives” or to think that a “real” housewife gets drunk and slaps people all the time.

I want my kids to see that some women graduate from Ivy League schools and build careers just like men.  Some women build an empire from nothing while taking care of their family full time without a nanny.

I want my kids to see that some successful, beautiful women actually… wait for it…

BUILD OTHER WOMEN UP!

Some beautiful, successful women… wait for it…

LOVE THEIR HUSBANDS AND THEIR CHILDREN!

Speaking from experience, Karma can be your best friend or worst enemy.  It isn’t any harder to build someone up than it is to tear someone down.

Life isn’t about who can throw the most expensive party or inviting someone to an event just to make fun of them or confront them about something that should take place in private.

I don’t really care what kind of car you drive or where you live or what brand your clothes are.  If that’s where your stock is you need to re-evaluate.

I’m a train wreck enough on my own without purposeful drama added in.  And I know that it’s hilarious and entertaining.  People laugh at my crazy stories all the time.  My friends laugh with me when I trip or something embarrassing happens.  We don’t take ourselves too seriously and it’s awesome.  So I know that mean-spirited drama isn’t necessary.

When you chase ratings and absurdity there will always be someone willing to sell their soul for more money.  Why do we make them?   What if we were to say, “You’re an athlete.  Stick to that.”  Or “you’re an actress.  Stick to that.”

Reality shows tend to give an outlet to those who are otherwise washed up or have no real talent.

What if we changed that.  What if we use reality shows as an outlet for those with a message worth hearing that doesn’t involve a beautiful woman dressed in an evening gown upside down in a 10-tiered cake?

Although, let’s face it, that’s hilarious.

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This Is Why I’m Cheap

Here’s a Friday Fun Fact for you:

Well, yes, Matt Dillon does look like Burt (or is it Bert?) from Sesame Street but that’s a different topic for a different day.

The fact for today is that I am CHEAP.  There.  I said it.  (Ok, I typed it but whatever.)

I hate spending full price on anything and in some cases I hate spending money at all.  I belong to rewards programs, discount websites, discount warehouses, clubs, groups, apps, and will scan barcodes or share whatever info you request to get that free drink after buying a thousand at full price.

It’s a sickness, really.

Best guess is that this all started when I was a kid.  We weren’t rich but I didn’t think that should stop me from wearing kick-ass clothes.

Furthermore, anyone in the Atlanta area ever hear of K&D Shoes?  If not, you should read this then quickly drop everything and go.  It’s my candy land.  Here’s everything you need to know:

K & D Shoe Warehouse
Located at 2240 Dogwood Dr SE
Conyers, GA 30013
Phone: (770) 285-2872
Website: kanddshoewarehouse.com

My aunt and uncle own it.  (Ask for Dede or Billy and tell them that I sent you so that they know how much I love them.  Aaaand maybe I’ll get a free pair of shoes.  Disclaimer: my uncle may hit on you if you have boobs.)

That’s right.  I have access to a WAREHOUSE full of glorious shoes that I have never paid full price for.

Anyway, that shameless plug is over.

My love of all things wonderful and cheap solidified when I discovered the Apparel Mart.  It is AMAZING.  Everything was wholesale!  I had no idea that places like that even existed!

After that it was over.  My life changed forever.  Gone was the $100 shirt.  Gone was the $400 handbag.  Not today, Gucci.  Not today.

Now, I love having nice clothes and accessories just as much as anyone else.  I love being in shape.  I love eating at restaurants and traveling and experiencing the finer things in life.  But I feel like there is a war raging on our beautiful planet.  Me vs. Those Who Want My Money.

I have a finite amount of money.  We all do.  And in order for someone to make money, money has to be taken from someone else.  So whoever I choose to give my money to better offer me something that I can’t do for myself and that I know I can’t get for less money and same or better quality somewhere else.

Here is a list of items I refuse to spend any money at all on (for the most part):

My hair

My nails

My fitness

My recipes

I may on occasion go to a blow-out bar and get my hair done but that’s only when I need to feel pampered.  Any other time I do it myself and save $50.

I will, however, spend whatever I need to in order to get a glorious haircut.  Although, as it turns out, I don’t have to spend all that much.  My stylist just opened a new salon called RUUT in Cumming, GA.  If you live within 1000 miles I highly suggest you visit Nicole.  She is AH-MAY-ZING.  And she is very reasonably priced!

My nails I prefer to do myself.  Pedicures are pretty much torture for me because I hate for my feet to be touched.  Manicures are just odd.

Do I look the person in the eye while they are rubbing my forearm with lotion?  Do I look away?  I’m confused and this is awkward.  How ‘bout I just paint my own nails and go get a massage if I feel the need to relax… I can’t give myself a back massage so I’ll spend money on that.

Personal trainers are wonderful.  They help people get fit and provide motivation and accountability.  But I can do all that on my own.  I trained to be a body builder/fitness model just long enough to learn what to do.  Doesn’t mean I’ll do it, but I KNOW what to do.

I’ve used a trainer once in the past 5 years.  The session ended up more of a partnership with me showing him some workouts that I’ve learned over the years and then we challenged each other to see how many crunches we could do.

Recipes are something I refuse to pay for.  There are so many free apps and recipes on the internet, meal plan builders that can help you plan for weeks of healthy, balanced meals.  I refuse to pay for someone to tell me what I already learned after weeks of excessive Googling when I decided to learn how to cook and get healthy.

Can I give myself a massage?  No.  Can I make myself a movie?  No.  (Well, technically I guess I could but it would take too long and wouldn’t be very good.)  I’ll spend money on things I can’t do for myself.

Here is a list of things that I will spend a discounted amount of money on:

everything else

Although, one thing I’ve noticed is that with a lot of things you do get what you pay for.  A Balenciaga handbag is typically going to last longer than one I’ve purchased for $10 at Sam Moon.  A pair of Louboutins will generally last longer than a pair of shoes I’ve purchased at Target for $25.  But here is my reasoning behind spending less on a product that may be less quality:

If my child runs at me full-speed and breaks his fall on my $10,000 handbag, I’m going to instinctively take that loss out on my child for being a kid.  I’ll be sad that I’ve wasted $10k, I’ll be sad that the bag is broken… then I’ll feel bad for getting upset that my child was being a child.

HOWEVER, if my little love nugget breaks the $10 bag, no big deal.  I can get 2 more.  I don’t bat an eye and my instinct is to pick up my clumsy little darlin’ and tickle the tears away.

If my dog chews up a pair of $200 shoes I’ll be pretty pissed.  If she chews up a pair of $25 shoes I’ll still be pissed but not as much.

I don’t ever want things to have more value than my relationships with people.  Or salsa.  I’d hate to have to give up salsa so that my $200 shirt stays clean.  Lol, that’s funny.  I’ll never give up salsa.

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Why You Should Embarrass Your Kids

I think we’ve all been there:

You try to connect with a child (maybe even your own) but the kid won’t even make eye contact with you!  Ugh.  I give up.  How am I supposed to build a relationship with someone who won’t even look at me????

Crazy kids.

This, my friends, is where I tell you why my dad is so amazing.

My cool dad and me
For those of you who have been privileged enough to know my dad, you know he’s “unique”.

To paint a picture, imagine growing up with a man who was the perfect blend of Ozzy Osborne, Lloyd Christmas from Dumb and Dumber, Kramer from Seinfeld, and Uncle Si from Duck Dynasty.

My dad’s that guy.  He is eccentric, an individual, a creative genius (believe it or not, he is an incredible writer/poet), and, although I didn’t realize it at the time, he was/is a wonderful father.

A little bit of background: until I was 5 my dad worked as a Derrickman on off-shore oil rigs mostly off the coast of Africa and Brazil.  He would be gone for a month and home for about a month.  My earliest memory of my dad is going with my mom to pick him up from the airport.

I was extremely close to my mom because she was the constant.

Dad was goofy and funny and oh- where did he go?  He was supposed to take me to McDonald’s, not go back to work!

When he started a new job that allowed him to be home every day it was strange to have him in a “father” role all the time.  He was supposed to be the fun one who brings me presents, why is he disciplining me?

{Uh, you didn’t get the memo, Dad… I’m pretty much perfect, so…}

He and I loved each other very, very much.  But we weren’t always close.  When my parents divorced he and I went through a rough patch and I shut him out.  He said I reminded him too much of my mom.  I didn’t think he knew how to care for my sister and me as a responsible adult.  I sometimes opted out of visits with him and never had overnight visits.  I didn’t see the point.

The thing about being a parent is that you don’t have the luxury of a time out to reassess and get your shat together.  That need doesn’t compute with kids.  Kids only know what they see and interpret that information as best they can.  What kids don’t have the wisdom to see is that their parents are (hopefully) doing the best they can, too.

All I knew was that my dad moved out, my mom was mad at him, so he must have done something horrible.  People who do horrible things don’t deserve to be treated with respect.

That was my faulty 11-year-old logic.

He didn’t have his own place, he always drove old clunker cars that looked like the doors (yes, all four of them) might fall off while driving down the interstate, his roommates were strange, his living areas were never picked up or clean.

He did weird things like take out the driver seat of his pickup truck and replace it with a bean bag.

{I’m preeetty sure that’s not street legal, Dad.}

He would pick us up from school by driving his car between the trailers behind the school where we had overflow classes instead of waiting in the car pool lane with ALL THE OTHER PARENTS.

Or, I would walk out of high school after the bell and see him waiting right outside the front door cleaning out his car.  No joke.

Imagine, you’re a 14-year-old freshman, you walk out of your high school to see your dad dressed in his old lime green coveralls from his drilling days, buried in the backseat of his car with all of his car doors and trunk open and all his shat laying around everywhere.

{Hey, Baby!  This is my “throw-away” pile, this is my “keep” pile, this is my “give-away” pile.

K, Dad, well, this is my puke pile.  I just puked from embarrassment.  Can we go now?} 

Ugh, why couldn’t he just be normal????

Half way through high school something changed.  I started to accept him for who he is.  I stopped wishing he would be more like the other dads who wore suits, drove normal cars, and were “socially acceptable”.  I started appreciating his quirks.

I began to notice that some of the dads weren’t around all the time.  Mine was.  Some of my classmates didn’t always have a parent watching them from the stands.  Between my mom and dad, I always did.  Some of my classmates had dads that moved far away when their parents divorced.  My dad lived right down the street and popped over ALL THE TIME.

My dad would go to work at 3 am so he could pick us up from school.  Sure, he would show up to functions disheveled and tired and sometimes he would fall asleep.  But he made it.  Sure, he would do embarrassing things and say embarrassing things (I get that from him).  But he was there.

When I was in college he drove over an hour each way twice a week to make sure I was ok, bring Joel Stringer my friends a variety of high-calorie snacks, and take me out to dinner.

When my engine blew up (yes that happened) my dad dropped everything and drove to my sorority house to help me (or see all the beautiful ladies, but whatever).

When I graduated from the University of Georgia my dad was so excited that he was at my house at 8 am.  For an afternoon graduation.

When I was going through the “I don’t respect my dad” phase as a kid, he still called.  He still came over.

It took time for us to rebuild what was lost.  But we did it.  He did it.

My dad never went away.  When I couldn’t physically see him he was still just a phone call away and I always knew that. Not once do I ever remember asking for help that he didn’t say yes.

Even when we became really close again I didn’t fully appreciate his impact on this earth until I received a phone call one day while I was at work from a Sheriff’s deputy saying he was with my dad, it wasn’t good, he was being transported by helicopter from Rockdale Medical Center to Atlanta Medical Center, and I needed to get to him as soon as possible.

I was 9 months pregnant and 3,000 miles away in Seattle.  I was completely helpless.  I had no way of dropping everything and getting to him like he’d done for me so many times before.

My dad had a stroke while he was driving after leaving the dentist office.  He wasn’t expected to survive the night.  He had just turned 54 years old.

I was “supposed” to get cleared to fly with my due date less than a month away and being high risk so it took me a day to get to him.  (Me getting “cleared” went something like this, “Doc, I’m flying so sign this.”  And he said, “I don’t recommend it.”  And I said, “I don’t remember asking for your recommendation.”   Then I lied to the ticket agent about how far along I was and boarded the plane.)

Luckily, my sister and my mom were right there with him the whole time.

{Yes, you read that right.  My saint mother took care of her ex-husband after his stroke.  He even lived with her for YEARS.  The plaque to be placed above her reserved seat in Heaven is being forged from solid gold at this very moment.}

When I finally got to him I started to realize that my dad is even more awesome than I thought.  And I thought he was pretty amazing.

There is nothing like being on your deathbed to bring your friends and family together.  And we filled up the ICU waiting room.

One thing that struck me was the hodge podge of people.  There were people who looked like they just got back from a biker gang convention, people who looked like they just came straight from church, gay, straight, black, white, older, younger.

Then people started telling “Ralph” stories (that’s my dad’s name, b.t.dubs).  There was so much laughter.

Some people where telling stories of all the dumb things they did with my dad when they were teenagers.

(No one should ever be subjected to stories about their parents that involve goats in any way.  Ever.  At all.)

My dad’s social life had always revolved around AA meetings.  I thought it was weird because he’d been sober since before I was born.  He would have lived at the meetings if he could have.

Some of his friends were telling stories about how my dad was their AA sponsor and would be there for them no matter the time of day, in any way they needed.

Then it hit me.

My dad didn’t attend AA meetings all those years just for himself.  He was there to help others who were taking a journey he had already walked.  He volunteered at group and half-way homes.  He sponsored other people who were struggling with sobriety.  He made sure that there was always coffee at the AA meetings and that whoever was having a “birthday” always had a cake.  He always made sure his phone number was written on the board for anyone who needed anything.

My dad didn’t judge anyone.  He accepted you for you, scars and all.  Not once in my life had I ever heard my dad cuss, seen him drink, or smoke.  But ALL of his friends did all of those things and he loved them.  He was the epitome of someone who led by example but didn’t preach.  He parented my sister and me the same way.

His stroke was over seven years ago and my dad is still hangin’ out.  He’s been through so much physically and mentally.  He is bedridden, his right leg has been amputated and right arm doesn’t work.  His speech is severely affected and he has horrible seizures.  He was even dead for a bit.  No big deal.

But he is happy to be alive.

Bella and Papa
My dad holding Bella after his strokes

Bella fell asleep with my dad rubbing her head
Bella fell asleep with my dad rubbing her head
And now he FaceTimes me when I’m in meetings at work.

His nurse likes to dress him up like a pimp.  Imagine sitting at work wishing you were anywhere else then looking at your phone to see your dad wearing a fedora with a feather in it and he’s waving at you.  #love

I wish I’d recognized earlier how brave my dad was to live the way he wanted.  I see that part of his personality in my daughter.

Watching my dad go through everything he’s been through has made me understand how life can change in a split second.  I’ll never see a Life Flight helicopter again without saying a prayer for a family whose life is changing.  I’ll never hear my phone ring in the middle of the day without reliving that horrible phone call from the police officer and doing a quick inventory of my family to make sure everyone is safe.

I’ll never take anyone in my life for granted.

I used to talk to my dad at least twice a day.  I miss that more than words can describe.  I still catch myself calling him when I’ve had a bad day or something exciting has happened and for a split second I expect to get advice or hear his congratulations.  I miss being able to have a full conversation with him.

Before I moved away it was normal for me to be sitting at a red light and all of a sudden hear Free Bird blaring, look over, and see my dad hanging out of his truck waving at me yelling, “Hey!  Hey!  Pull over at Zaxby’s!”.  Then he’d take me to an impromptu lunch.

I miss getting ice cream with him.  I miss him doing embarrassing things in public.

But I’m so glad that I can still see his face and hear his voice.

And I am so, so glad that he never went away and that he kept trying to connect with me even when I didn’t want him to.

Happy 34th Father’s Day to my wonderful, beautiful daddy.

My dad holding line backer baby Roman
My dad holding line backer baby Roman
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