We Are Not Fancy People

We had two baseball games on the schedule this weekend, but they were both cancelled. Because of that, I spent a good chunk of the weekend cleaning. My bathroom is cleaner than it’s been since we moved in here eleven years ago. And, after several hours of cleaning out closets, drawers and shelves, Stevie and Alex’s rooms are beautiful, straight, and neat. And if I had any sense, I would have taken a picture because in all likelihood, by tomorrow at this time, their rooms will not look like they do now.

On Saturday evening, my fellas and I got all gussied up and we celebrated with McDaddy’s brother, Dave who was inducted into Alderson Broaddus University Hall of Fame.

I’m always leery when we attend a fancy event because, well, WE ARE NOT FANCY PEOPLE, and because there are typically more forks than I know what to do with.

And, also because our boys are eleven and eight and the last thing eleven and eight year boys are interested in, is the fancy.

They picked out these outfits for Easter and I think they look handsome and grown up. Unfortunately, I did not oversee every detail of their pre-fancy dinner preparation, and Stevie ended up wearing one blue sock and one black sock. Alex on the other hand, was wearing white, ankle length, athletic socks.

So funny.

Only NOT.

First, there was an informal reception with hors d’oeuvres (which is a stupid word, by the way!). Several minutes before the reception was scheduled to begin, we lost track of Stevie. The room wasn’t crowded, so it only took a few seconds to spot him. He was standing, plate in hand, at the food table and he was helping himself to cheese cubes.

After a quick discussion about asking before helping ourselves, we had a good chuckle and helped him get rid of the cheese cubes quickly, which was a mistake because the pepper-jack cheese was H-O-T and he hadn’t had time to also grab a drink before we could get his attention.

It’s a good thing they are charming.

For dinner, we were served a chicken breast (with peas and a lemon slice on it), red potatoes and green beans. I was skeptical because who puts a lemon on a chicken breast? And also, because the green beans were the fancy type of long green beans and I was pretty sure they hadn’t been cooked in bacon grease like the ones I make here at home. Alex took a big bite of the green beans and within two seconds, he was dropping the green beans out of his mouth and back onto his plate.

Heaven, help me.

Thankfully, I don’t think anyone else at our table saw the green beans make their way back onto his plate, but I was still mortified.

Other than that, the fancy dinner went well (Except when a grape tomato flopped off of my salad plate and onto the table as I was cutting it up in my salad) and I’m happy to say we made it through without too much of a spectacle.

Like I said, NOT FANCY.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening and I enjoyed spending time with McDaddy’s parents, his siblings and their spouses.

Have a great week, y’all!

A Letter To My Firstborn

As he walked past me, I grabbed on to his gray Nike t-shirt and pulled him onto my lap. He is too big for me to cuddle, but I cuddle him anyway. His lanky legs hang almost to the floor. I lean down and kiss him on the forehead, noticing his ridiculously long eyelashes. He is my firstborn. My baby boy. And McDaddy’s namesake.

Dear Stevie,

I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that these past ten years have been the best years of my life. Back when I was 25, I thought I was in the prime of my life. I know now that I was so wrong about that. This motherhood thing? It is the most challenging job I will ever love. And you, my sweet boy, are the reason that Daddy and I became members of the Parents Club. We failed you in so many ways in those early years. We didn’t make you “cry it out” at night until well after you were able to speak and yell VERY PLAINLY “Daddy, buddy, daddy, buddy” and the two of us sat on the bed in utter disbelief wondering which one would beat the other to your crib side. You didn’t come with an instruction manual, so we’ve had to pick this thing up as we go. When we carried you in the house for the first time, your dad sat the bulky car seat (with you in it) down and we looked at each other and said, “Well, now what?”

We knew nothing about raising a child. Thank you for being patient with us.

The years have flown by.

And I am dreading the next ones.

These next few years will be tough for me. (Not for daddy, because he handles stress and change like a normal, sane person.) I, on the other hand, will be a basket case. I can hardly think about dropping you off for your first day of middle school without crying. It literally seems like just yesterday I was in an uproar about taking you to Kindergarten for your first day of school. Once you enter that war-zone Middle school, I know the unchartered waters could, and probably will get rough. Soon, you will start to notice girls and undoubtedly one will break your heart. And then, so help me, I will want to pull every hair from her head for hurting my baby. There will be things that happen at school that you will forget to tell me. Or refuse to tell me. I just hope you know that you can come to me and daddy with anything. I am slowly learning that I cannot blow my ever lovin’ top each and every time you are wronged. But it’s not because I don’t want to. I am your protector. And your biggest fan. And I would lay down my life for you without hesitation.

Oh sweet boy, you are so intelligent, I often wonder if you are really mine. When we joke about home-schooling you, I have to laugh because you have knowledge about things I have never even heard of. And Lord knows the only thing I could teach you about math is how to calculate 50% off of a sale item because I am a whiz at that. I am thankful that you took more than your good looks from your dad.

You are a statistical monster and you don’t forget one single thing. EVER. At four years old, you could recite the whole “If you have diabetes, and you’re on medicare, you may qualify for a free meter from Liberty Mutual” commercial. Several people suggested that we record you doing that, and sadly, I never did because it didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time. Man, I could kick myself for not doing that. While I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday, you could probably tell me what you had for lunch seven months ago. And we learned a long time ago not to discuss anything important in front of you because no matter what you are doing, you are also LISTENING (you did take something from me, after all!)

You are kind-hearted and you love to laugh. You are a good friend and a child of the King. One of my proudest moments as your momma was the night you told me you wanted to ask Jesus into your heart. Because Daddy was deployed, I wanted to wait until he called so that we could discuss it together. You prayed right over Skype and your dad and I are so thankful that you made the decision to follow Jesus. As you enter this new phase of life, keep Jesus close to your heart. Love like Jesus. Consult Him when you are unsure about things. He loves you even more than Daddy and I do, and you will never go wrong keeping your sights set on Him.

You love the game of baseball and your heart for the game is unmatched. One of my favorite things to do is watch you play ball. I love that you are such a kind-hearted teammate. And I also love that you don’t mind me being your “team mom.” It is certainly one of the things I love the most about this season of life.

You are protective over Alex and you love to teach him things. He looks up to you, and I hope you keep that in mind when making decisions. The two of you love to play together and it makes my heart smile when the stars align and you jokers are getting along and laughing together. You take your role as big brother very seriously and I am happy about that. I have a confession: I often stand at your bedroom door and listen in on the conversation between the two of you. You talk about all manner of boy stuff. Farts. Lego’s. Cars. Friends. Dreams. Mini Figures. Baseball. Superheroes. And school. I hope the two of you remain close even when you are grown.

You are growing up everyday, but I love that you still like to play. I am dreading the day when you no longer want to do these things. Soon, you will ask to attend sporting events without me. And school dances. And you will no longer play with that little bit of hair (the bit that rarely ever lays as it should because you won’t leave it be – it even shows in that picture above, and below!) as you read, or eat, or watch television. I dread the day that you trade a matchbox car for a real car. And you trade a Big Nate book for a chemistry book, or Lord have mercy on me, a college handbook. Oh my sweet baby boy (daddy says I must quit calling you that!) I can’t hardly imagine that time.

Stevie, I am so proud to be your mom. Teachers have always commented to us about what a great kid you are. I am so happy to hear that. There is a reason I tell you every single day when I drop you off at school to do the right thing even when no one is watching. Aside from loving Jesus and others, it is the most important thing you can do. I love you and I want you to know I will always be in your corner. You can count on me to be honest and supportive and loving. And you can also count on me to go nine kinds of crazy on any girl that doesn’t treat you right.

I am only kidding.

Sort of.

As I count down these final eight days before you start Middle School, I do so with a heavy heart and a great big dependence on Jesus. He will be with you when I can’t be. And that comforts me. I know these next eight years are going to fly by, and there will be a lot of changes. One thing that will never change, my boy, is my love for you.

Don’t ever forget that.

Love,

Mom

This Season Of Life

The bad news is – it was 319 degrees today with about 98% humidity.

The good news is, the visitor side of the baseball field we were playing at this evening was completely shaded.

I remember the first season the boys signed up to play baseball. The evening of our first practice was cold and muddy and I remember remarking to McDaddy that we shouldn’t have ever allowed the boys to sign up for baseball because holy crap! there was a lot of mud and I would never ever be able to get our shoes clean, and both boys would probably end up on nebulizer treatments after spending hours out in the cold, wet air because it happens EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

No, I am not exaggerating.

And yes! I am a joy to live with.

After each practice I scrubbed cleats with a toothbrush because I couldn’t stand the thought of ALL THAT MUD.

And when I found out BOTH boys would be wearing white baseball pants, I was shaking my head at the stupidity of it all.

I knew absolutely nothing about baseball except that there was an umpire and eventually we’d be singing about peanuts and cracker jacks.

We received a schedule for both boys and I almost swallowed my tongue when I realized that between the two of them they had 51 games scheduled.

IN EIGHT WEEKS.

With 51 games on our schedule, I had no idea when I’d see my next nap or even if I’d be able to catch The Bachelor. What had we gotten ourselves into?

And then it came time for our first game.

Y’all.

The first time my boy got up to bat, I screamed like a lunatic. He cracked that ball, I stood up, and before I knew what was happening, I dribbled on myself.

Not my proudest moment, for sure. But all the moms sitting around me understood my excitement. We whooped and hollered all afternoon. I was new to this whole baseball thing, and surprisingly, I thought it might be something I could eventually enjoy because there was lots of time to sit and talk!

And so began, a new season in my life.

Baseball Season.

It is precisely the reason I bought a fancy DSLR Canon Rebel.

It is the reason, my left calf is scratched and scabbed over.

And it is also the reason I am constantly behind on the laundry.

After that first season, Stevie’s coach asked if I might like to learn how to keep the baseball book. (I feel certain he asked me this because I was so loud in the stands he thought I might be quieter if I had to actually SHUT UP and PAY ATTENTION.)

I told him if he needed me, I’d give it a shot, and so I went to YouTube and taught myself the absolute basics about keeping the book. I remember being so afraid I would miss something, or screw up the batting order. I was a nervous wreck, mostly because that’s how I operate. During our first game one of the dads stood with me to help me catch and record each play. By the end of that first season, I felt pretty comfortable with keeping the book even though I was only keeping basic stats.

Stevie has been blessed to have the same three coaches throughout three (or is it six?) seasons of fall and spring ball. That means that we are a pretty tight-knit group of parents. I absolutely LOVE our baseball family. Both of our boys have been blessed with wonderful coaches who are wonderful examples on and off of the baseball field. (And for that, we are thankful!)

I’m in my third year of keeping the book, and I now e-mail stats after each game to our three coaches that includes pitch counts, batting averages, season stats, and positions played. Tonight, I sat and talked leisurely with my friend Missy as I kept the book AND the batting order rolling. I’ve come a long way since that first game.

I get a lot of flack about our book. It is neat, it is orderly, and it is often recopied if I consider it to be too messy.

These days, there’s very few places I’d rather be than the ball field. I have Baseball Mom shirts, baseball bling flip-flops, baseball jewelry, and baseball visors. I never ever dreamed in a million years I’d be a baseball mom.

Yet, here I sit tonight wearing a baseball mom t-shirt with my last name on the back of it.

When I’m watching Alex’s game, I have to keep track of the score because I can’t stand sitting in the bleachers and having no earthly idea what the score is.

Our boys don’t know it yet, but they are learning life lessons that will help them throughout life. And we are all forging friendships that will last a lifetime.

We have met some wonderful friends on the baseball field. When I look back on this journey of motherhood, I feel certain, our time spent on the baseball field will be among my fondest memories.

I Hate This Story

It is a treat having two little boys.

They are alike in some ways, but for the most part, the two of them are as different as night and day. At their well-visit a few weeks ago, their pediatrician informed me that at Stevie’s current rate of growth, he will be a 5’11” / 180 pound adult. Alex, on the other hand, at his current rate of growth will be 6’4″ and 220 pounds.

To which Stevie replied, “I better get to eatin'”.

I’ve told that story 318 times in the past two weeks and each time Stevie says, “I hate this story.”

It makes me smile because it is indicitive of the difference in these two. Alex is the little brother. He’s not supposed to be five inches taller than his BIG brother. (And yes, I do realize that often times these estimations are way off. Still, it makes me giggle.)

Some days these two push me to a ledge I want to jump off of. Other days, they crawl up on my lap and tell me how much they love me, and I know without a doubt I am the luckiest mom in the world. And lots of days I laugh hysterically because they say some of the craziest things.

Here are just a few of the things I’ve overheard from them this week.

1. STEVIE: Month, orange, silver and purple are the only English words that don’t rhyme with another English word.

ALEX: Well what about orangutan?

2. How do you think Einstein got to be so smart?

3. Don’t pee into the wind.

4. ALEX: Mom, did you know that VY Canis Majoris is one of the biggest and brightest stars there ever was.

[It is interesting to note that until that very minute, I had never even heard of VY Canis majoris.]

5. Coca-cola used to be green. Did you know that mom?

6. Mom, did you know that some sharks eat their babies?

7. If we ever get a dog we can’t feed it grapes, or it will die.

[I had to Google that one.]

8. Where does dust even come from?

[Dang, I’d love to know the answer to that.]

These boys are the light of my life. On my worst day, they can make everything seem like flowers and sunshine. I am blessed beyond measure that these two wonderful human beings call me mommy.

Taking The Hood By Storm

When I tucked the boys in last night, Alex asked me to take one last picture of him before he turned seven.

This picture makes me smile for so many reasons. These two are best friends, great playmates, and partners in crime. 

Partners in crime who will make great use of the Spider Man Deluxe Web-blaster that he has requested for his birthday.

And when I woke this sweet boy up for sleep today, he reminded me that he is, in fact, seven.

Yes, sweet boy. I remember.

Thanks to Sandy, Trick or Treat was pushed back two days which meant it fell smack-dab on Alex’s birthday.

After a busy day at school, the birthday boy picked iHop for his birthday dinner.

After scarfing down his funny-face pancake, and in the blink of an eye, the birthday boy disappeared, and Anakin Skywalker showed up to back up his friend, the Navy Seal.

And the two of them – on official business – took the hood by storm as they tricked and treated for well over an hour.

And that, as they say, is that.

Until next year, Master….

Happy Thoughts

Our little family has had a stressful weekend. I am trying to occupy my mind with happy thoughts.

Like my sweet, handsome fellas.

Happy times in the Jeep.

Beautiful sunsets on the beach.

Knowing that this man comes home to me after a long day week at work.

Happy reunions.

World travels.

Crazy, happy times.

 And remembering how proud of this guy I am for his dedication and sacrifice.

I am blessed to share his life.

And right now, that is what I am focusing on.

Happy thoughts.

 

Some Things I Love

When I read that this week’s You Capture challenge is ‘something you love’, I knew I wanted to participate, because doesn’t that sound fun?

My favorite Dr. Pepper is an ice-cold 20 ounce bottle straight out of the cooler. It doesn’t get much better than that.

I triple love this monster. It takes the best pictures, especially at the ball field.

I am forever running out on our back deck to snap a picture of the latest sunset. I love that we get to see such beautiful sunsets from our back yard.

Isn’t this chair fun? It’s one of my favorite pieces in our home.

It is fancy with a country feel.

This next one is probably a bit weird.

but I love a good plate a Mexican food, mostly because of the chips and salsa.

In fact, I’d like to have some right now.

This fella is more than just a thing. He’s my oldest child and I love him a big whole bunch.

This shot looks a tad blurry. Either my beloved iPhone camera failed me or my left eye is playing tricks on me after jabbing it with a mascara wand this morning. (My lands, that sure was painful!)

And this sweet little thing makes my heart happy. I love him!

And without a doubt he would want me to point out that his shoes match his Tiger shirt and hat.

Now this next guy – this next guy - is the love of my life.

Even though I don’t tell him often enough, I love him more everyday.

And y’all knew this was coming…

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this beautiful car.

The Saturn Sky.

Have a great Monday, y’all.

Going Bananas

If you were around here on Monday, (or if you follow FITP on the Facebook) you might remember me mentioning that Stevie and McDaddy won first place in the father/son cub-scout bake-off.

This win marks their third trophy in three years, but their FIRST first place award.

I’d say these two make a pretty good culinary pair, wouldn’t you?

And before you ask, the trophy he’s holding is not a solid gold dancer. It’s actually a chef.

I started researching recipes at the nail salon one day and narrowed my search to three cakes. When I got home I asked McDaddy if he’d like to see the choices. He simply replied, “You can just pick one.”

So, after school that day, the boys and I stopped at the grocery store to pick up the ingredients for the cake that I chose, based on the list of ingredients and the simplicity of the recipe. As we made our way up and down the aisles, Stevie mentioned that he’d “Really rather make a cake with bananas in it because you really can’t go wrong with bananas as your main ingredient”.

I can only imagine he said that because of the hundreds of banana cakes I’ve made throughout his nine years on this earth.

Or maybe because he comes up with some off-the-wall stuff sometimes.

So.

I pulled up the banana cake recipe I had looked at the day before and started reading off the ingredients.

I said to Stevie, ” Well, if you lose with this cake, it’s all on you.”

To which he replied, “But if I win, it’s all on me, too!”

Well alrighty then.

So off we went, in search of buttermilk, lemon juice and baking soda. Among other things.

(Absent on picture day: bananas)

 

Best Ever Banana Cake

Cake Ingredients

1 ½ cups bananas, mashed, ripe
2 teaspoons lemon juice (sounds nasty, but stay with me!)
3 cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup butter, softened
2 1/8 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups buttermilk

Frosting Ingredients

½ cup butter, softened
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar

Garnish: Chopped nuts

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 275 degrees
2. Grease and flour a 9×13 pan
3. In a small bowl, mix mashed banana with the lemon juice; set aside
4. In a medium bowl, mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.
5. In a large bowl, cream ¾ cup butter and 2 1/8 cup sugar until light and fluffy.
6. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then stir in 2 tsp. vanilla
7. Beat in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
8. Stir in banana mixture.
9. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake in preheated oven for one hour or until toothpick inserted in center comes ut clean.
10. Remove from oven and place directly into the freezer for 45 minutes. This will make the cake very moist.
11. For the frosting, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
12. Beat in 1 teaspoon vanilla.
13. Add confectioner’s sugar and beat on low speed until combined, then on high speed until frosting is smooth and spread on cooled cake.
14. Sprinkle chopped nuts over top of the frosting, if desired.

Slice and enjoy.

As it turns out, there are at least six other people who agree with Stevie’s opinion that you “Can’t really go wrong making a cake with bananas as the main ingredient.”

And on his dresser, there is a solid gold dancer statue to prove it.

This post is linked to Works For Me Wednesday.

You Capture – Spring

Y’all.

We had a busy weekend up in here.

We kicked off the weekend at the ball field on Friday evening. Stevie’s team, The River Bandits had to quit at the end of the fourth inning due to a time restriction because there was a game immediately after ours, which stinks because we lost by ONE stinkin’ run.

And speaking of one run… that’s exactly what Stevie got on Friday evening.

And yes, before you ask, I screamed like a c-r-a-z-y person.

After the game, I spent several hours sitting with McDaddy’s sweet grandma at the hospital. While she rested, I tidied up the baseball book (I’m the bookkeeper for Stevie’s team and a messy baseball book drives me CRAZY!), caught up on some e-mails and just about jumped out of my skin when I thought I had been shot through the 5th floor hospital window.

Luckily, the “shots” I heard were just fireworks at the WV Power baseball field, which is within a block or so of the hospital.

Have I mentioned that I love baseball season?

Stevie’s game was cancelled on Saturday, but Alex’s team (HotRods) had just enough time to get their game in before the storm hit the ball field soaking us on the way to the car.

After the game, we stopped at the grocery store, ran home, threw on a pot of green beans, prepared some potato salad, changed clothes, and rushed out the door to attend Stevie’s cub-scout blue/gold banquet… where we learned that nothing puts a SPRING in a boy’s step like winning first place in the father/son bake-off.

And just as soon as the banquet was over, we rushed into town to see Matthew West and Casting Crowns in concert.

And what a concert it was.

Alex may have been a little young, but he seemed to enjoy the concert,

until he fell asleep on my lap.

Stevie enjoyed himself. It was evident as he sang and squealed and cheered and clapped. I was moved to tears when I looked over to see his eyes closed and his hand raised in worship. And all the excitement from the weekend must have worn him out because the next time I looked over at him he was asleep on McDaddy’s lap.

Spring is an especially tough time for this little fella and his temperamental respiratory system.

Both boys are tough on these SPRINGS as you can see.

Spring has sprung around here.

The pollen is high.

The jumps are high.

And my speed would be high too, if I were driving around in this sucker today!

 

 Have a great week, y’all!

This post is linked to You Capture where this week’s challenge is SPRING.

I Spy

My boys love to play Spy Games. In fact, they call themselves The Alpha Team.

They have no idea that sometimes I spy on them.

Crouched down on the back deck, I wait and I watch. And I listen.

They laugh.

They make plans.

They talk spy stuff.

They make fart noises.

They laugh.

They talk about how to be great at math problems.

They have jumping contests.

They tell jokes.

They laugh.

They share stories from their school day.

They burp.

They compare notes on ‘drifting’.

They are best friends, these two.

I want to remember this moment forever.

The voices.

The giggles.

The love.

The fun.

I close my eyes and try hard to engrave this moment on my brain for I know there will come a day when I will miss this.