Thursday, January 21, 2016

NashVegas Birthday

Normally, I'm all about planning birthday parties.  Since my boys were little, I would get as much enjoyment out of selecting a theme, choosing games, and coordinating decor as I did watching them experience their day.  As Austin grew older his standard request was a pool party at our house with the family.  Being a winter baby, Noah wanted adventure.  And truly, we needed something to entice people to trudge out in the snow.

Over the years we've done sundae and pizza making parties, lazer tag, surprises, excursions and numerous other themes.  One of my favorites (and most popular posts) was Minute to Win It.  The adults had as much fun as the kids.  Noah's all time fave was the hotel trip with his buddies, aka "bachelor" party, although he was only 12 at the time.

But my baby's 16th sort of snuck up on me.  Maybe I was in denial.  It doesn't help that holiday festivities, Christmas, and my birthday are stacked right before.  This year I struggled to figure out just exactly what to do to make his day special.  And he wasn't much help, as "i don't know," or a shrug were the only two answers he seemed to give on how he'd like to spend it.

Realizing we had a three day weekend with the MLK holiday, I offered him a get-away.  A mini vacation in a hotel from the city of his choice.  This idea enticed him.

He opted for Nashville so we wouldn't spend a chunk of our trip driving and because there are so many options to enjoy.  Dog/house sitter confirmed, bags packed, and we were on way.

The only concrete plan we had was where we were staying.  My aunt introduced us to Drury Inn a few years back and it has become our favorite hotel chain.  One big perk is that they serve a hot breakfast and a hot nighttime snack.  For us frugal gals, that means we only have to buy one meal a day and that is my kind of traveling.  Truthfully, with a mini frig and microwave, you could even get by with bringing your own.  At this point, I sound like a paid representative, so I'll move on to the rest of our trip!  (but seriously, if you're traveling, check them out!)

In the lobby, Noah picked up a few visitor brochures.  Between that and a Facebook plea for "fun teenage options" we were ready for wherever the wind took us.

And oh, what a whirlwind weekend it was!

Night one would see us at a glow in the dark teen club-meets-American Ninja.  Noah bounced, tight-roped, jumped, flipped and plopped his way around for a couple hours.  Just watching him exhausted us.  Once back at the hotel, I would've gladly retreated to the bed, but my birthday boy requested midnight waffles.  A tradition he's seen my cousin and her girls do while vacationing together, we bundled up and dodged traffic for craters of maple syrup.

Bellied up to the bar, midway through scrambled eggs, sausage, loaded hashbrowns and three waffles, he manages to get out, "New tradition, mom.  This is awesome."

Day two = Science. Sharks. Sauerkraut. And Statues.

Hoping he wouldn't be too old, we opted to go the Adventure Science Museum.  Noah's always been a fan of anything science and they had a planetarium, although we watched sharks instead of stars.  Three hours later we left impressed and glad to have spent the morning there.

Lunch was an adventure, more in surviving the trip than where we ended up.

Busy downtown venues are not my cup of tea.  One way streets, a delayed GPS, two men barking directions, and nobody wanting to pick a spot had my nerves frazzled to the core.  Finally pulling into the lot of a restaurant we knew and loved, we were shell-shocked to discover parking was around $25!  In the many circles and loops we took to find an empty space, I spied a German eatery and made an executive decision.  The big selling point was that parking was free; however, Noah's always up for a new culinary experience.  Also, he's recently been enamored with the culture, discovering our family tree has some roots there.

With our bellies full, we headed for our final stop, the Parthenon.
Or as I like to call it, the steps of death.

Heredity and old injuries from a wreck have my legs in terrible shape.  As such, steps are not my friend.  The picture above shows before... all smiles, since I'm currently dumb to the fact that those giant doors behind me are locked.  We walk down, around and up the other side only to find that isn't an entrance either.  Back down steep concrete monsters into the basement entrance, I'm grumbling (and hobbling in pain) about the lack of signage this place has.  My physical state at this point certainly didn't enhance the visit but I was grateful to see ramps and elevators once inside for the tour.  The only replica in the world, it was a been there, done that experience.  

By the time we made it back to the hotel, everyone crashed, though I did set an alarm for the free kickback snack.  Tim laughed at me, still full from our enormous lunch but by golly, free is free.  I told him he could eat and store it for when he became hungry later.  

Noah wanted to end the evening in the pool/hot tub but apparently so did everyone else in the hotel.  Every 15 minutes or so he'd trot down and scope out the situation, returning to the room with a frown.  At 9:20 he bounced back excited to report that only one kid was swimming and four grandfatherly figures were watching.  Tim bowed out and opted to relax on the couch bed.  

He didn't miss much.  

The pool was freezing, in my dysfunctioning thyroid opinion, as it connected to the outside.  Noah kept ducking under the wall and escaping into the frigid night air.  My common sense and claustrophobia would not join him.  As my teeth were chattering by the semi-heated flow of water I managed to find, a couple enters with a dog, just as I was about to escape to the hot tub.  Somehow, the thought of eau de wet pooch didn't appeal to me, so I didn't join them.  Yet later, said wet dog jumped in the pool with us to cool off.  Noah thought it was amazing, of course.  Upon returning to the room, I opted to lather, rinse and repeat.  Twice.

With Tim's nap, he was on his second wind so the boys stayed up late watching tv and wrestling each other.  I was thankful for the suite we splurged on and escaped to the quiet bedroom and a comfy bed all to myself.

Our final day, after lingering over our last free meal we traveled to the giant mall that is Opry Mills.  Never one to spend much of his own money, Noah treated himself to a shopping spree.  He's been such a saver since getting a job this past summer, so it was a joy watching him waste a little cash.  True to what I've taught him though, he didn't buy anything that wasn't on clearance!

Last stop was Dave & Busters for some arcade fun.  Noah and Tim enjoyed shooting at zombies and each other, competing over hoops and an aggressive game of ice hockey.  I snuck off to rest in the car, knowing they'd sleep all the way home.

Between the giant bear hug he gave us more than once and the uncharacteristic Facebook tagging of a slideshow with, "Loved today, thank you so much (mom) and (dad) for this amazing trip," I'd say Birthday 2016 was a success.

Hope it brought him a fraction of the JOY he continually brings us.

Trust me, he was laughing just moments before I snapped.  
This is his "seriously, how many pics are you taking of me today" face.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Who Turned on the Tears?

Nobody told me that upon turning 40 a never-ending faucet of tears would occur.  
At any given moment.  Often, for no apparent reason.

It's not that I've been crying about the fact that I am older but rather anything and everything else. Tears can fall for something heartfelt or ridiculous without my ability to control.

I've always been a crier but in my pre-40 days it was typically when I was angry.  This, of course, made me angrier, as it is hard to appear strong and mad when you're a blubbering mess.

The combination of tears hasn't boded well with my effort to wear more make-up in this decade either.  I splurged recently and purchased a few new things, when it dawned on me I hadn't replaced any of my cosmetics two jobs ago.  Yikes!  Remembering my cosmetologist friend's warnings and her wrinkle-free face, I decided it was time to be a grown-up and take better care of my skin.  Irony would see a giant blemish appear on my chin the week of my birthday.  Nice...

Over the past two weeks I can't quite recall all the random times I've cried; however, as I was mopping up flood after flood the thought did cross my mind to write this post.  I do remember looks of horror and disbelief from my family many times.  More than once this month, I've caught Noah glancing my way with a face that yells, "What is happening to my mom!?"

This morning was no exception.

On the way to school, it hit me that this was the last time I'd drive my baby to school.  My inner-self began braking in sync with my foot, as I pulled into the turning lane for morning drop-off.  No! Stop. This can't be so.

Monday is a holiday, Tuesday his 16th birthday.  We have a strict agenda to be at the clerk's office 8 am sharp that morning.  So this was really it.  My final daily task of dropping him off.

The last time.

Tears began streaming and it was all I could do to hold back sobs at the knowledge.  It resulted in an ugly cry.  And it was right in front of my soon-to-be-sixteen-year-old son.

"Are you ok?" he asks, placing a hand on my shoulder.

I manage to shake my head, trying to focus on the now blurry officer waving me on.  Ever the jokester, he tries to lighten the mood.  I chuckle and try to joke back but it doesn't really work, although it is long enough to distract me to get him out the door.

And then the tears continue.

Where did the time go?

Please excuse me while I grab a tissue...

Monday, January 11, 2016

Blue Jean Baby

When my boys were little, a squirm was enough of a sign for me to know they needed a tag in their shirt cut out.  Their body language told me everything without the need for words.  If I delayed in getting the scissors, the squirm would increase and sometimes a whine or two would escape.

Both always had very definite opinions about their clothing choices, once they were old enough to voice them.  No dressy or itchy shirts, no khakis, no matchy-matchy outfits.  I wonder if they were in a silent torture back in the Garanimal days.

My baby will be sixteen in a week.  For Noah, once puberty hit, the pants came off.  Part werewolf, he lives in shorts and a T-shirt 365 days a year.  And still complains he is hot.

In the beginning, I feared a visit from social services, as I was convinced every mother was shaking her head at the school drop-off each morning and mentally noting my license plate.  I would beg him to wear pants, even sweatpants would be sufficient.  At times, I offered pajama pants just for being out in the cold.  He could cram them in his backpack once inside.  Hoodies became a bargaining chip.
'My legs will get frostbite but my arms will stay warm' reasoning.

After awhile, I just gave up.  He's a big hunk of a boy and I figured if he gets cold enough, he'll wear more clothing.

Aside from wearing shorts, he also makes some very colorful choices.  Remembering my all-black phase from 7th grade, I bite my lip and let him express himself...most of the time.  Bright basketball shorts, a t-shirt that does anything but match, and knee-length boldly colored socks.  All three pieces usually opposites on the color wheel.  Add in a pair of size 15 shoes with neon orange stripes and it is impossible not to notice him.

The other night, he comes to my room and says, "Mom we need to talk."

This, of course, puts me on alert, but I play it cool.  Don't pounce, let him come to you.
I sleepily set up and nonchalantly ask what he needs.

"My boss pulled me aside policy changes...dress code...asked if I even owned pants."

At this point, I'm rolling (and also internally worrying if the question of owning pants was sincere or meant to be funny) but mostly in a fit of laughter from the way he describes their conversation.  He's moaning now, the squirm already inching up his shoulder as he thinks about having to cover his legs.
Tim and I pick on him a few more times before bed and I promise to help him look through his closet in the morning.

The next day he begins the fashion show.  Again, no words are needed as he marches, stiff-legged, out the hallway.  His entire body is tense, as if the blue jeans are physically freezing up his muscles with each step.  One after one, the parade reveals busted zippers, too tight-won't close, and ripped pants.  Two of his jeans have gaping holes in the upper right thigh.  What are you doing to flex and burst through denim fiber in exactly the same spot?!

We manage to find the one decent pair of jeans he was forced to wear to Sadie Hawkins in the fall.  (Seems his girlfriend has more persuasion than momma)  And make a plan to go shopping later that day.

Unsure of his size, as he hasn't been forced to choose a waist/length measurement for quite some time, we load up on a few possibilities and he creates a fort in the nearest dressing room.  Being that he will literally only wear these to work (and probably strip in the car on the way home), I'm going for cheap and scrounging the clearance aisles.  I manage to find a couple under $10, which for the amount of material it takes to cover his football frame, is a steal.

I'm quickly informed; however, they are in fact an impossible color choice.  Apparently, even for a uniform, style matters.  White is not acceptable.  I think about correcting him, as truly they're just a faded washout, but I calculate the irritable scale and decide it is against better judgement to push further buttons.  Under my breath, I do mention that they are a good deal and just work pants but let it go at that.  In the end, we leave an hour later with a couple choices, a few twenties missing from the wallet, and a flustered, red-faced boy.

Saturday night would see his first shift with fully covered legs.  I prayed it wouldn't be too typical of a slammed evening, considering the snowy weather.  Thankfully, he got out in record time and managed to remain fully clothed all the way into the house.

Here's hoping he can survive Tuesday's shift.

And learn to regulate his body temperature before summer arrives.  

Sunday, January 3, 2016

One Word 2016

Happy New Year!

I hope the first few days of 2016 have treated you well.  For me, it is back to reality tomorrow, as the holiday break has ended and alarm clocks return.

In all actuality, I didn't really sleep in at all this vacation.  Having a hubby who arrives home in the morning kind of changes your body clock.  Most days I found myself up to spend time with him, drinking coffee before he retired to bed.

As usual the break didn't seem long enough.  Eleven days may look like a lengthy vacation but when you add in the hustle and bustle of Christmas those days breeze by.  But I'm thankful for the break and I did squeeze some rest and relaxation in, as well as quality time with family.

With the new year approaching it gave me time to reflect, learn from mistakes made, and look ahead to the future.  The past several years, I've given up on resolutions (that would be quickly forgotten and failed) and moved toward choosing a word for the year.

Some years God has planted it, some I've just picked a word, but this year I prayerfully considered it. Searching for devotions to start the year, I found a short four day devo focused exactly on finding your one word for the year.  I entered it hopeful God would speak to me and He did, quickly.  I'm always humbled, goose-bump covered, and feel so very blessed when He does.

At first I felt the word was forget, as passages and photos started to appear with that theme.  While I get the message He was sending me (and it certainly incorporates into the chosen word), it also seemed a tad negative to approach the year promising to forget.  Memory loss is a problem in our family, though we often joke about it, and I didn't want that word hanging over my head!

In the end, the word that came to be is focused on letting go of the past and seeing what is ahead.  For me specifically, releasing past hurts and wrongs, stop dwelling on what could have been and what should've been done differently and setting my mind on the future.  For what God has in store.

My word had been chosen.  

The first day of my newly found yearly devotion would find this scripture, I still get goosebumps thinking back to all the ways God confirmed this be my focus for 2016.

The devotional I picked for my phone was random and among hundreds to choose from.  When I selected it, my One Word had already been chosen.  God is so good.

It's a great year for FORWARD to be my one word, as it is a mega milestone year.  I turn 40 in five days.  My baby turns 16 on the 19th.  He could tell you about how many seconds that is, if you ask.  And hubby turns the big 5-0 in September.  Austin, not wanting to be left out says hello, as it will be our 23 wedding anniversary, which is his special number.

I'm anticipating a year of blessings.  

I look forward to the good that God has promised.  And all that I will learn along the way.

Do you choose One Word for the year?  I'd love to hear about it!

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