2

I might have given in, but with good reason!

Turner IpadTurner

I was always “that” mother. The one who swore that her child would never, and I mean ever ever play with a cell phone. I always said that I would never be the absent minded mom who so selfishly handed my kid my phone in public just to keep him quiet. No way. That is lazy. It is basically neglect. I was never going to do that.

I even had a house-wide ban on toy cell phones. My reasoning being that Turner just has baby brains and if I don’t want him playing with my real phone, then I shouldn’t give him a toy phone because he cannot distinguish the difference and it would be confusing for him.

Well, never say never.

By the time Turner was just a couple of months old our phones had become a toy for him. Moreso Andrew’s than mine, because I pay for my phone while Andrew’s is part of his job, so if Turner broke mine, it came out of pocket, and Andrew’s, well he had other options. It isn’t like we handed him our phones one day and told him to go to town. But he begged for it, grabbed it while we weren’t looking, and was just drawn to the screen’s light. He has the perfect finger motion too. Using the pointer finger to perfectly slide icons around. He was a pro before he could walk.

I can’t say that I didn’t try, because really, I did, honest.

Well, I did the unthinkable. You know “that” mom I talked about earlier, well if she knew what I did this weekend, she would have me thrown in jail! I bought Turner, my nearly 20 month old son, his own tablet. I had no other choice.

Before you report me to the authorities, hear me out.

The last few weeks, going out to eat with Turner has been a nightmare. While the easy solution might be, don’t go out to eat, it is really hard to give it up, because it is something Andrew and I really enjoy. Plus, I am no Martha Stewart, so I am never going to pass up a chance for someone to cook for me AND clean it up afterwards.

Turner has boycotted high chairs. I am assuming it is because we have never really used one at home, because when he was 9 months old my mom got him his own table and chair and he has eaten there ever since. Then, when we went out to dinner one night, instead of putting him in the high chair, we put him in the booth with us. It was easy, it worked, and it was way better than wrestling him in the high chair. Well, then he got used to it, and now screams bloody murder at the very sight of a high chair. So he gets free reign in a booth, or even a big boy chair. He does pretty well, except he has tons of access and room to cause trouble, which he did last week.

Before I could even process what was about to happen, Turner grabbed the bread off of the table and tossed it to the table behind us. The bread landed in the lady’s lap, she was less than amused. The couple were obviously on a date. You know, the type of date where they were sitting on the same side of the table (can you say awkward?!). So as she rolled her eyes and picked her jaw up off the table, she removed the bread from her lap and brushed me away with her hand. They were obviously not kid people, which is ok, not everyone is.

So we went through dinner, Turner letting out the average amount of screams, while Andrew and I played keep away with everything in sight. Despite being mortified that Turner decided his dinner would consist of nothing but ketchup, which he so artistically spread on the walls, it got worse.

Andrew and I had removed virtually everything from the table, the waitress has even removed our dishes, and once again, before I could even blink, Turner had jacked a red crayon from the table and tossed it to the same table behind us. Not only did the crayon land directly in the lady’s salad, Turner was so proud of himself, he threw both hands up in the air and yelled, ‘TOUCHDOWN.” Speechless, I just said I was sorry, grabbed Turner up and went to the car to let Andrew handle the check.

That is just the latest example of our restaurant battles. So, I broke down and bought Turner a tablet. One of those that are specifically built for kids, so hopefully, they don’t break easily. We have yet to try it out at dinner because we are still recovering from the most recent catastrophes, but soon we will give it a go. Turner did get to play with it at home the other night. He did well. There are TV clips pre-loaded, and I can add any android apps to it. I think it could be the greatest investment we have ever made.

Don’t worry, I don’t plan to let him have it all the time. Just when we are out and he needs something to keep him occupied. I know, I know, those tech toys will rot a kids brain… well, I guess we will see.

Don’t judge me.

7

I need some advice from the parents out there.

First off, Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, and anything else we have celebrated recently.

So I am looking for some words of wisdom.

Our family had an incredibly blessed holiday. Turner was showered with gifts and love and it was a memorable second Christmas for sure. But it was his second Christmas. And our home is officially overloaded with toys. I am incredibly thankful for all of our friends and family who wanted to spoil Turner. Admittedly, Andrew and I also went on a Toys R’ Us shopping spree for the little guy. But as I try to get my life and my house back into order, I don’t know what to do with everything.

10892030_10100470983093342_2396857631637577563_n

This is just from one of the 5 Christmas celebrations we had with family.

1) I am incredibly sentimental, so I tend to hold on to things. I have his “first” toys that his cousin, aunt, grandma, uncle, great grandma, neighbor, and anyone else has given him. I am real big on “firsts.” Then I have kept his “favorite” toys. So if he loved it for more than a day when he was 2 months old, I probably have stored it somewhere and refuse to get rid of it. Then there is the fact, that Turner legitimately still plays with most of the things he got last Christmas and at anything since. So although he got bigger and better toys this year, I don’t want to do away with the ones that still get great use, even if they are a bit older.

So you can understand why my house is overflowing. We live in a pretty fair sized house with plenty of storage space, but somehow, Turner’s 2 Christmas and 1 birthday, and my online shopping obsession, have started to overtake us.

So here is where I need advice. Turner’s 2nd birthday is in May. While we want to celebrate our pride and joy with family and friends, we can’t take much more clutter at home. At Turner’s first birthday, we were already anticipating this happening, so we asked our guests to not bring a toy for Turner, but instead make a donation to a charity. And while we plan to continue to teach Turner this value on his birthday, that effort didn’t really work out last year. Some people brought toys for Turner and a donation, some just brought toys for Turner. And don’t get me wrong, we appreciate it beyond words. We value and love everything our friends and family have done for Turner. I don’t want this to come off as ungrateful, especially to all you wonderful family members who take time out of your day to read my blog.

I have no problem picking on my mom. For one, she doesn’t read my blog, and two, this is something I am not afraid to say directly to her, and have for that matter. My mom donated to the charity last year for Turner’s birthday. Then got him the traditional big yellow and red car. That car will be used for a solid 3 more years, and Turner loves it. In fact, I am fairly certain it is in our living room right now. But you see what I mean? My own mother wouldn’t listen to the no gift rule. She said, “I am getting my grand baby something for his birthday.” She is one stubborn lady.

10356276_10100465546707902_6460991817031992368_n

So Andrew and I were talking last night, and we suggested maybe asking for a no toy, charity thing again this year. Although it wasn’t completely effective on the gift end, our family did support the charity. And it did cut down on some gifts. But then, those who listened and didn’t bring a gift, felt awkward and out of place by those who did.

Another option we discussed was not having a party at all. Turner is only 2, so while we can get him a cake and just our little family celebrate, I think that would be sufficient. But I can hear my mother’s voice in my head. She would be furious that I was depriving her of the chance to celebrate Turner. So then we could have a small party with just family… but the only problem is, we have a rather large family. And that isn’t really a problem. We are blessed to have so many people who love us and care for Turner. Turner is very fortunate and one rich little boy in that aspect. But he is only 2. Do we need to rent a building and make it a production? It is 6 months out and I am already stressed about it.  Oh, and if you think I am crazy for worrying about a party that is 6 months from now, you must understand that in our very small town, spaces to have birthday parties are very limited, and are usually already booked by the first week of the new year, so I have to get moving.

The third option we disused was asking people to donate to Turner’s college fund. At least for another year or two until Turner could really ask for gifts. Turner has his own bank account and realistically probably already has more money than I do. We want him to have a college fund so when he graduates high school, if he wants to go to college, it will already be paid for. So we started saving the very day we found out we were pregnant with him. And it isn’t just spare change, it gets routinely contributed to. So we thought, we could get a huge piggy bank and have it has a centerpiece at the party and write, “16 years until college” on it. (Can we please talk about how I will only have 16 years with my baby before he abandons me? Talk about depressing!)

Is that tacky? Is it offensive? I just don’t know.

Any and all advice would be great.

We got Turner a motorcycle. Although he loves it... what 19 month old needs a motorcycle? He doesn't even weigh enough to make it move.

We got Turner a motorcycle. Although he loves it… what 19 month old needs a motorcycle? He doesn’t even weigh enough to make it move.

0

Making literacy a priority for the children in my community

After Turner was born, I made it my mission to ensure that all children in my community had the best of everything. From sponsoring kids at Christmas, to working to start a local Safe Kids Chapter, I have made it my goal to make the world Turner lives in better.

My husband Andrew, of course is annoyed by my constant causes and efforts to take on the world, but I feel obligated. Maybe it is the new mom in me and my idea, however naive it may be, that I can make a difference. I may not change the whole world, but I am certainly going to work really hard to change mine.

My family's Christmas card this year.

My family’s Christmas card this year.

One of those efforts, which I was actually a part of long before Turner, is Read2Me. Read2Me is comprised of a group of volunteers in my community who are working to prove that Reading Matters in Macon County. We work to ensure that all children in our county, regardless of income, have access to books. Early literacy is so crucial to a child’s development and from birth, even before birth, it is so important to read to and with your children. We want to make sure that everyone knows that and have the resources to do it.

Where we live is considerably poor. Most families in our community live below the poverty line and not only is access to resources limited, but the general education and knowledge of the importance of early literacy is something that is often loss. Read2Me wants to change that, and since we started 3 years ago, we have.

When we started, 75 percent of children entering Kindergarten were testing below proficient on the reading readiness test. The test includes things like knowing you read a book left to right, and which way a book should be, upside down or right side up. Seemingly simples things, that were being ignored. With Read2Me working to provide books to all children in the county, and holding parent training sessions on how to raise a reader, those test scores have improved dramatically. If I remember correctly, the last figures we got showed that now only about 35 percent of children were testing below proficient. That number is still way too high, proving that we have a lot of work to do.

One of Read2Me’s main focuses is implementing the Dolly Parton Imagination Library. We have worked with another local literacy group to bring the program to children in Macon County. We fully fund the program, so it is free for all children, regardless of income. Through the Dolly program, all children in Macon County, birth to age 5, receive a book in the mail each month. The book is addressed to them and is age appropriate. The program is magical and so many children love it.

Dolly-Partons-Imagination-Library

In the first full year of the program we served a little more than 1,000 kids, with about 820 actively enrolled. That is incredible. It cost us about $32,000 each year to bring the program to Macon County. What that breaks down to is about $30 per child, per year. A small price to pay to support literacy.

This year, we are a couple of thousand dollars shot tot our $32,000 so we are in a fundraising crunch to ensure that the program can continue through 2015 and beyond. We fundraise all year long. We hold bake sales, car shows, yard sales, talk to local groups, and do just about anything and everything we can think of to get they money raised. It matters to us. It is important to us to make sure that reading is a priority in our community.

We have set up a Go Fund Me account in hopes of raising some additional funding for the program. It may be a stretch, but we are hoping that our mission reaches beyond our community and we can solicit support on a grander scale. If you would like to help, please visit our Go Fund Me page: http://www.gofundme.com/iy31m4. If you can’t make a small donation, please share our story. Please join us in proving that Reading Matters in Macon.

0

Elf on the Shelf and Santa… to partake or not to partake…

For as long as I can remember, I am talking early teens, I have always vowed that I was going to be the parent who didn’t go with the whole “Santa” thing. When I was younger, I would joke that it was because I wanted my future child to be the kid in kindergarten who tells all the other kids that Santa isn’t real. The thought of that always amused me.

As I got older, I realized what a jerk my younger self was, but despite the change in my reasoning, I still debate about the whole Santa thing. Not to sound righteous or pretentious or anything like that, but I think Santa is an excuse to bribe kids into being good for the last month of the year. I think it complete takes away from the spirit and meaning behind the holidays, and I am just not real cool with that.

10606214_10100455871811472_5855770906422146158_n

I get this might be the naivety of being a new mom, but I feel like I can instill in Turner the meaning of Christmas, the true meaning and purpose behind the holiday, while still showering him with gifts. I don’t feel like I need a big jolly stranger to help me get the point across. I understand that a lot of parents do the whole Santa thing because they want to experience the excitement and awestruck wander the myth brings around the holidays. That is magical and special, and I love that as well. So I am torn. Of course Andrew has different views, and he tends to be the boss, so any hesitation I have will be defeated by whatever the boss says, but still, I can’t help but think that buying into the whole Santa thing, without a healthy balance and education of Christ’s birth, is doing my child a disservice.

I am sure Santa will be a prominent name in our house as Turner grows up, I just hope that he grows up with the understanding that it is for fun, a game, and doesn’t carry any weight.

I also am confident, that as we introduce Santa, we will introduce the Elf on the Shelf. Turner actually already has one, and I am pretty excited about it. We haven’t opened it yet, Turner is only a year and half and would have no concept of what it means yet. But maybe next year. Regardless, I think it is fun. I want to introduce the little guy, but once again, I want it to be about fun and a family tradition, kind of like baking cookies or watching a Charlie Brown Christmas.

Also, I get that the Elf on the Shelf is a new thing, can we please take a second to think about how much money the creators have made?? But anyway, so the Elf is new, and Facebook is the first thing everyone thinks about… but I am not the biggest fan of parents sharing what their elf is up to every single night. Ain’t nobody got time for that. If you come up with a super cute, creative, activity for your elf… then I get it… please share so other parents can get inspiration, but each morning my newsfeed is filled with pictures of Elves taking Hersey Kiss or peppermint poops.

Maybe I am just a bad person. But I just don’t love that. Even typing this makes me feel like the Grinch.

I think my main concern with Christmas is that I am afraid that I won’t be able to teach Turner the significance of it, when there are so many other things like presents, elves, Santa, reindeer and other nonsense that dilute the real meaning. Sure I can tell him the story of Christ until I am blue in the face… but can that compete with a magically pooping elf who causes cute little trouble and a big jolly guy who magically flies around the world and brings presents to all the good little boys and girls? I really hope so, but unfortunately, I am not convinced.

0

The terrible two’s is not the right time for photos.

For my sweet sister’s 29 birthday… I gave her the best present of all. I let her take photos of Turner! Totally being sarcastic here. I am sure she wanted to enjoy a day without photos, but it was all that worked into my schedule, so we made it work. But while trying to get a photo for our Christmas card, I came to a realization, that I think everyone should know.

Every parent wants photos of their children. We want lots of photos at all times during their lives. We don’t want to miss a thing. But my plea to parents is, to consider your child before trying to get photos taken. Just because you want it, doesn’t mean you should get them. After last night’s extravaganza and attempted baby wrangling, I realized that at this point in Turner’s life, having pictures taken is just appropriate or feasible. He doesn’t sit in one place. He doesn’t like the camera, he doesn’t like wearing the outfits I want pictures in. He actually basically hates anything that is required to have photos taken.

10421214_10100445094584122_674363840026746647_n

While I think Ruby is the best photographer to ever pick up a camera, she can only do so much. She isn’t a miracle worker. So while I would have liked to have the perfect family pictures last night, it just was not possible. And it isn’t Ruby’s fault. I fully understand that I have it made when it comes to family pictures. So while Turner was screaming at the top of his lungs, quite literally, and pushing buttons on the heater, and knocking over the end table, and grabbing the pillows and tossing them from the bed, since Ruby is my sister, she has no choice but to take my photos. That is what super cool aunts do. But the thought of Turner acting that way, with someone who wasn’t my sister, and the pure terror and havoc he created during that 20 minute window we tried, mortified me.

1723479_796341013760176_5774931696986355969_n

I cannot imagine, not just Ruby, but other photographers trying their hardest to get that literal picture perfect pose when the subject he being a tyrant. Turner is almost 19 months. He is vicious. I am well aware of that. So I don’t know why I thought I was going to be able to get his photos taken. It would have taken a true act of God to get him, along with Andrew and myself looking and smiling at the camera all at once.

And while, by some freak accident and true miracle, which is a testament to Ruby’s talent and patience and awesome Aunt abilities, the photos you see of Turner and my niece are adorable and look so flawless and effortless, please realize that behind those smiles were tears, bribes, and a little loss of sleep.

I have learned my lesson. Just because I want photos, doesn’t mean Turner is at the age to where I should punish a photographer or any other professional for my own delight. It just isn’t the right time for him.

10411827_796333997094211_2748685042072126236_n

So, I beg of you parents, please know your child. Know how they behave and what they tend to do in public or in front of new people… and if it is less than ideal… wait a little while for that special professional photo. That way, you don’t waste your money and time by paying for something that may not be the vision you had in your head… and you save your photographer from a few early grey hairs. Or at the very least… understand that they don’t always cooperate with the camera. So while it would be nice to have the perfectly centered photo with a grand smile and your kid looking like the little piece of perfection you want them to… understand that it may not be possible. So if your child is kicking and screaming, that is a great memory to capture in a photo too!

1

The good, the bad, and the hilarious: 29 facts about our favorite Ruby

Today is my sister’s birthday. You know, the sister who never reads my blog because she is habitually lazy and moderately self absorbed. Since it is before 10 a.m., I am well aware that she has yet to get up for the day. So that means, that I have about 2 hours to have this posted publicly before she sees it, and if she takes the time to read it, she may ask for it to be removed. I wanted to tell some of her deeper darker secrets, but because I fear the wrath that is Ruby, I tried to keep it respectable. Enjoy.

206481_505663344882_7349_n

1) She was born on November 19. Our parents were married roughly 9 months early on February 14. So basically, she is a honeymoon baby!

2)  She was born in Newnan, Georgia. You know that little hospital on the Walking Dead where Beth has been? Yea, in that one.

3)  Her middle name is Annette, which was our grandmother’s name.

4)  Well into her early teen years, she ate animal food. Rabbit food, dog food, cat food, you name it, she ate it regularly.

5)  She is the most accident prone person I have ever met. She broke her arm jumping from a table to a bar stool, she sliced open her wrist carrying a mirror over her head, she had to have her inner thigh stapled shut after ripping it open while trying to sneak up behind me on the porch stairs, and those were just from when we were kids.

1927794_529489806462_9143_n

6)  She had a cat named Turdy Butt. I have forgotten the reason, so feel free to ask her.

7)  She used to be a gymnast. Like a really good one. They wanted her to train for the olympics. I forgot why she quit, so again, ask her.

8)  In elementary school, all the teachers loved her. In fact, one year, our PE coach, Coach Benson, called Ruby out of class, brought her to my PE class and had her demonstrate the proper way to do a push up. How ridiculous is that?!

9) She single handedly ended cheerleading at our elementary school for 2 years for flashing the basketball team. (There is more to this story too, so feel free to ask)

10) She was once slapped in the face on the school bus by a girl for being too sassy.

11) After an awful hair cut, she gained the nickname “Robbie.”

12) When I was in 6th grade, I went through a rebellious stage. I was involved in an incident to where Ruby recognized my handwriting, ratted me out and because Miss Goody-two-shoes had to be perfect, I was suspended from school. Thanks sis!

13) We moved to Georgia for a couple of months when Ruby was in 8th grade. We were in the new middle school, which was probably as large as all elementary schools in a district here, for about a month when Ruby beat out the captain of the Cheerleading Squad for Class President. Mostly, because everyone thought Ruby looked like Britney Spears?!

14) We moved back from Georgia because I wouldn’t let Ruby wear a poodle skirt for spirt day. She pitched a fit, and as a result of not getting her way, we moved back.

15) Ruby went through an incredible “gangster” phase. She wore bandanas, both around her head and her thigh, listened to rap music, which she had to sneak and buy, and made some questionable dating choices. Oh, and her hair was jet black. There are photos to prove this, and you should all want to see them.

561192_971279376622_544606771_n

16) Ruby is a really talented singer. She has always been given solos and now sings in our church band. But what you may not know, is at a soccer game, while singing the national anthem, she completely botched it and walked away. She mustard up the courage to give it another try, messed up again, said something like “screw it” and gave up. I am not sure she has sung it in public since.

17) In high school, she worked as a front desk clerk at a Best Western in Cherokee, as well as a waitress at Myrtle’s Table. In college, she worked at Ryan’s in Sylva as a waitress, after college, in addition to working pre-trial release in Asheville, she was a bartender at Hooters.

1923955_522341287152_8557_n

18) In high school, she was on the homecoming court and was crowned Prom Queen.

19) I convinced her to run track with me her senior year. I decided that I didn’t want to do the high jump so I asked her to take my place. She had never so much as even attempted it. So she took off and did what I did. Since she is left handed, she probably shouldn’t have tried to jump from the right. She tore her ACL. Despite her leg looking like jello, our coach (who now coaches football in Franklin) told her to walk it off. My parents later took her to the hospital where they found out abou the tear.

20) Refusing to miss Spring Break, before she was fully healed she decided to take a trip to Florida with her gfs. She got a Staph infection and almost lost her leg. She wore a wound vac for months. The infection got so bad, it spread to her face and resulted in a golf ball size hole in her knee. She now has a wicked scar in its place.

21) She majored in Psychology in college and minored in Criminal Justice. She even had research presented at a fancy state conference in Charlotte. She also got her first tattoo, a pathetic, flesh colored spot, or the symbol for psychology, on her wrist. Although it is virtually invisible, she screamed so terribly during it, we almost got kicked out of the tattoo parlor.

1929706_511639778062_4623_n

22) She is the worst to play any game with. She is so competitive and relentless, she lost a roommate in college over a game of Cranium.

23) We used to abuse my little sister so bad, under Ruby’s direction, we would stuff laxatives in Tj’s pickles and force her to eat them.

24) She was WLOS’ Person of the Week for her work in her job that she quit to become a photographer.

25) She has a terrible animal hoarding problem and she always has. We have been banned from animal shelters. She gets it from out mother.

26) She won a push up contest on spring break, there is video evidence here on you tube.

27) She was born with a Hiatal Hernia and isn’t supposed to consume salt as a result, so instead she puts salt on her salt. Like literally, she takes a bag of salt and vinegar chips, and adds salt.

28) She has the worst personal hygiene out of anyone I know but does an amazing job masking it.

29) She is the best friend and best big sister that I have ever had. If she actually took the time to read all of this… Happy Birthday sister!

1910327_510246210782_4863_n

0

How old is too old for trick or treating?

Last night we took Tuner to our county’s annual Halloween in the Park. About 40 businesses, organizations, and churches set up tables around the rec park on a trail where kids can get candy. It is a pretty neat event and is a great one-stop-shop for trick or treating.

Turner was a race car driver and we were his pit crew!

Turner was a race car driver and we were his pit crew!

Turner is only 17-months old, so Halloween for us is less about candy and more about making him look adorable in a costume. Our plan for last night was actually to collect a little extra candy to give out to the trick or treaters that we will get at our house tonight. (Side note, this is the first time I have ever lived anywhere that will have trick or treaters and I am so excited. We have literally spend hundreds of dollars on candy and have the house fully decorated.)

Our house has been decorated since the last week in September!

Our house has been decorated since the last week in September!

In a sea of Elsa and superhero costume, comes a teenage boy. His acne covered face and squeaky voice let me know he couldn’t be more than 15. You are never going to believe what he was dressed as… a SPERM! I kid you not. Andrew and the others I was with last night didn’t believe me, but I had seen the costume before… after all, I spent plenty of time in college. A teenage boy, dressed as sperm at a family, county sponsored function, walking around getting free candy from places, several of which were churches.

When I first spotted him, he was alone. He proudly swayed past friends in the line to enter the park, who despite being his peers, were oblivious to his costume and as he walked off all tried to figure out what he was. My first thought was, maybe his parents don’t know what he is, but if they do, they ought to be ashamed of themselves. A couple of minutes later, as the trick or treating line looped around the park, I spotted him again. This time, realizing that not only was his parents aware of his costume, there were trick or treating with him and wait I assume to be his two younger siblings. How were they not horrified? In an event where the average age should be 10, here is a teenage boy, with parental support, rummaging around dressed as a sperm. My mind was completely blown. If you are at an age, to where you dress like a sperm, you are far too old to be trick or treating.

This isn't the teen, but this is the costume he was wearing!

This isn’t the teen, but this is the costume he was wearing!

He wasn’t alone in the “too old to be trick or treating” category. As Andrew and I circled the park with Turner and my 2 1/2 year old niece, we were passed in line by grown adults. Some in costume, some not, all seeking free candy. I don’t get it. I at least don’t mind the candy for adult who dress us, but to be in your late adult years, in everyday clothes, walking around with your adult friends, with a bag, sometimes more than one, asking for candy… what is wrong with these people?

Tonight, as we pass out the very expensive candy we have been collecting for months, if adults, or a teenage boy sporting a sperm costume knock on our door, I will find myself hard pressed to give them candy and not tell them how rediculous they are.  Grow up, Peter Pan.