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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.

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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.

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Is your child in the right car seat? Probably not. Fix it now.

I am furious and heartbroken all at the same time this morning. When I logged on the Internet this morning, the first article on Yahoo.com’s main page just ruined my entire day.

This mother tragically lost her child because her child was not properly restrained in his car seat. Something so simple. Something so easy. Something so many people are not aware of could have saved this poor life. It kills me. My heart is breaking for a complete stranger this morning.

By law, at least in North Carolina, a child is required to be in a rear facing car seat until they turn one. Although that is the law in the state in which I live, other states have laws that require children to remain rear-facing for far longer because experts recommend that a child remain rear facing for as long as possible. Age does not determine if your child gets to be forward facing. A child’s weight and height does. Each car seat is different. Each car seat has different regulations on how your child should sit in the seat and if it should be rear facing or forward facing.

ONE IN FOUR CAR SEATS Are INSTALLED INCORRECTLY. Knowing that alarming statistic, that 75 percent of car seats are wrong, how could you not want to ensure yours is right?!

Please don’t assume because your child is one, or because your friend’s child is forward-facing, that your child should be too, because chances are, they shouldn’t. A child in a rear facing seat is 4 times safer than a child in a forward facing seat when it comes to a collision. FOUR TIMES SAFER. I have no idea that parents can know that fact and ignore it. I have no idea why any parent would want to risk their child’s safety.

I completely understand, that in a lot of cases, like the one of the mother in the article posted above, the problem is lack of education on the topic. Since becoming a mother I have become a car seat nazi. I guess you could say that I am kind of obsessed with it. But when I read articles like the one above… who can blame me? Today, a mother is without her son because she didn’t know the facts. It is that simple.

I have heard some parents say that their child is too big to be rear facing because their feet touch the back of the seat. My sister was one example. But that just simply isn’t true. It is perfectly safe and expected for your child’s feet to be rear facing with their feet touching the seat. It is going to happen and is totally ok. It will keep your child safe. Just do it.

Please educate yourself. Please know what is best for your child. Please don’t let an easy fix take your child’s life.  There are tons of resources, a great one is Safe Kids. Not only does their website have a ton of information, but they also have resources to find car seat technicians who will check your car seat for free. They are certified and can tell you what is best for your child and your vehicle. It doesn’t cost you anything to get it checked, but if you don’t, it could cost you your child’s life.

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So if we are Facebook friends, and you post a picture of your child in a car seat and it is incorrect. Chances are I am probably going to step up and say something, because the mother in this article wished someone would have done that for her.

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What 9/11 means for me now that I have a son of my own

Days like today I am especially thankful for being blessed with Turner. When I dropped him off at daycare, he clung to my neck. When I put him down, he turned around and grabbed my legs and tried to climb back up into my arms. I hate leaving him. It breaks my heart. But I am so extremely grateful because I know that today at 5 p.m., I will be able to go get him and everything will be perfect and sweet.

13 years ago I was sitting in my eight grade classroom. We were watching the daily kids news show that always came on the old, oversized Tvs that were fixed into the walls. The news, that usually covered healthy lunch topics and newest locker trends, cut to a serious report. A real news report. A plan had crashed into the World Trade Center. The United States was under attack. I didn’t even know what that meant.

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While watching the TV, totally confused as to what I was being told, I watched as a second plane crashed into the towers. Was this real? What was happening? My best friend was in tears. Her grandfather worked in those towers in New York. Although we were in North Carolina, that attack hit home quickly. A teacher threw open our classroom door and called out to Shannon. She got up from her desk and left. It wasn’t until later that we found out that her grandfather had retired just days before the attack, and although his family feared he was in the towers retrieving his belongs when the planes struck, he was actually home safe. He was one of the lucky ones. So many others were not.

I wasn’t even a teenager. My small, innocent world didn’t even know what the word terrorist meant. I had no clue was was unraveling around me. It wasn’t long before my mother came to get my sisters and I from school. I didn’t understand that either. I had a volleyball game that night and I was starting, I couldn’t miss it. My mother assured me the  game would be cancelled, even though I didn’t believe her. That seemed crazy. We went straight to church. People were crying. They were praying. They were grasping onto each other as if it was the end of the world. And what I didn’t understand then, but completely realize now, is that it very well could have been.

Our nation was under attack. We were living through something that was unheard of for our generation. American soil was supposed to be safe and secure, how could this happen? It was devastating. It was confusing. It was real.

The days following we were glued to the television hoping for answers. Hoping for a promise of safety and reason not to worry. While our troops were rallying and preparing for a fight that is still continuing today, my family joined families all across America clinging to each other and hoping for solitude.

So on days like today, when I now have a family of my own. When I have a real being birthed from my own breath, I now know more than ever, and believe deeper and feel greater than I ever thought I could 13 years ago. My father and mother’s frantic, even manic reaction makes complete sense. They feared for their children before they feared for anything else. Their only thought was to hold us close. To physically guard us with their own lives.

Looking back, if I were in their shoes, I would have done the same. So today, when I get to go to Turner and pick up him, I will cling tight to him. Not because of a fear that I might lose him, but because I am thankful that for today, I have no reason to worry. He is safe. We are safe. This nation, although troubled, lost, and uncertain, is safe today.

Every day since September 11, 2001, we have grown a little stronger, stood a little taller, and become a little closer. Although tragic, confusing, and forever unjust, that day taught us all something.

Now, as a parent, I continue to learn from that day. It takes on a whole new meaning and gives me an entirely new purpose. A purpose for my life as it relates to Turner.

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Getting settled into the new house is much harder than expected

We have been in the new house for a little over a week and Turner has yet to sleep through the night. I am barely functioning. His schedule is every way but right, going to bed a different times,  waking up hella early, and let’s not forget his constant middle of the night party sessions. 

Turner's new room

Turner’s new room

It used to be simple. He would wake up in the middle of the night, in a sleeping stupor I would go to his room, get him, bring him to bed and he and I would quickly fall back to sleep. All was right with the world. Well, has decided that that is no longer good enough. I can no longer just go get him and bring him to bed before slipping back off into dream land. It doesn’t work anymore. He tosses and turns and cries. My poor boy just cries all night. 

At first I thought it was teething, after all, he was cutting three teeth at the same time. But they are all grown and where they need to be, so that is out the window. Then I thought it was just the new house, and that it would take some time to get used to. Well it has been one week and two days and last night was one of the most challenging yet. 

Then I thought it could be an ear infection. We took him to the doctor Wednesday and the doc said that his ears looked like there may have been something, but it was better. So cross that one off the table. Then I thought it was itching because he got ate up with bug bites playing in the new backyard with the family on Labor Day, but I lather him up with itch cream and give him the doctor ordered Benadryl before bed… something that is supposed to make him sleepy anyway! But I got nothing. No sleep relief. 

Playing in the new yard

Playing in the new yard

Even when I put him down around 9, which has been about the time he has gone to bed pretty much his hole 15 months and 5 days of life, by 11 he is crying and awake. 

I don’t know if it is the move, growing pains, nightmares, or anything else I can possible guess, but whatever it is, I need it to stop. Andrew starts traveling for work again soon so I go into single parent mode and I am just telling you right now, I don’t know if I can manage. 

If Turner’s nighttime discomfort is related to the new house, I don’t blame him. I have had some frustrations associated with the move too. Like for instance, it never crossed my mind how difficult it would be to just function in a new house. All of our kitchen appliances and washer and dryer are new and different and fancy. The house didn’t come with an instructional manuel. So I don’t even know how to put detergent into my new washer because it is not like I went to washer school. As far as starting the dishwasher… Turner probably has better luck. There are so many buttons and settings and then how do you start it? No one ever mentioned that when going down this road. 

Turner helping get the new house organized

Turner helping get the new house organized

Oh and the worst thing so far, is what happened when we went to cook the other night. Andrew had a big nice deal planned, he was going to cook for me, it was going to be sweet and exciting. He went to turn the stove on to boil the water… and bam, nothing. We have a gas stove, and we knew that when buying the house. But what we never thought to ask, and the sellers never mentioned, is that the gas tank for the house was BONE dry. And the process to get it checked and filled and ready is not a quick and easy one. 

It is hard enough to figure out how the faucets work and which light switches turn on what and how to wiggle the key just right to get the front door open, but al this other stuff… its been tough!

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More exciting news from the Raby’s

Last night was our very first night in our brand new home! Yes, married and closed on our house all in the same week! It has been awesome. We are so in love with it. It just feels like home. It is beautiful. It is ours. 

Moving has been awesome (can you feel my sarcasm?). We hired a moving truck for all the big stuff, which was a great help. We have four days to move, and get our old house in move-in ready condition. And neither of us can take of work, so we are doing it in the evenings, while chasing Turner. It has been…. an experience. But when it is all said and done… it will all be worth it. 

Turner’s first night in the new house was not so fun. No one ever warned me about that. Just another example of how everyone has opinions for you on how to do things you already know, but the tough stuff they stay quiet on! 

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At first Turner explored with pure joy and excitement. He would peak around every corner, run from room to room, and just look so amazed. But then, he started to recognize stuff. Like the couch, or his toy box, and he genuinely looked confused. He didn’t understand why these things  were there and not at his house. 

The later it got, the worse he got. He was visibly upset. He just wanted to be held. He just wanted to go home. So of course he didn’t sleep. Although we put him to bed in his crib, it lasted a couple of hours before he was screaming bloody murder for us. He was understandably scared and confused. So we brought him to bed with us. 

It is the best feeling in the world, however, it is bittersweet. As sad as it makes me when Turner is crying in his crib, there is no better feeling than when the absolute second I touch him, he stops. He hugs on to me and instantly he is ok. There is no better feeling in the world. 

So we put him in bed with us. I never mind when he sleeps with us, even though I know it means zero sleep for me. Turner is the WORST bed hog ever. He sleeps every which way but right, but it doesn’t matter. I like it (in moderation). 

I hope he gets used to it soon. I wish I could just explain it to him. But I know there is no way to make him understand, but in time, he will.

8

We eloped!

So this weekend was big for us. 

We got married! 

Our first kiss as husband and wife!

Our first kiss as husband and wife!

So we drove 6 hours to Cincinnati, Ohio where we were married on the baseball field before the Atlanta Braves Vs. Red baseball game. If you know anything about us, you know we are huge Braves fans. So this was perfect. After a lot of thinking, we decided to elope. Several different factors played into our decision. 

1) As a lot of you know, my dad died of liver cancer a year and a half ago. So the thought of having a actual wedding without him was heartbreaking. I just didn’t want to do it without him. Although I have an incredible brother-in-law in, Will, that would happily walk me down the aisle, and I would be lucky to have him do it, it isn’t my dad. So I didn’t want a situation where I would have to walk down an aisle. It just didn’t feel right. 

After the ceremony, when we got back to the hotel room, the necklace of my dad’s ashes broke as I was taking my hair down. To me that couldn’t be more symbolic, and a special sign from my dad. That it was time I could let go of my dad, because the next most important man in my life was finally in his right place as my husband. It reminded me of when my dad was on his death bed, he turned to Andrew and asked Andrew to take care of me. Andrew promised my dad he always would. And last Friday, he made that promise official.

Selfie showing off Dad's ashes around my neck!

Selfie showing off Dad’s ashes around my neck!

2) We have very limited free weeks/weekends throughout the rest of the year, and we wanted to get married this year. Andrew travels for work, and from the third week in September all the way into the holidays, he is constantly gone. So we had little time to work with before the rush of the holiday season. 

3) Every date we threw out, someone had some prior obligation. We had originally planned for an October wedding. We started throwing around dates to family and friends… and everyone was booked up. So we knew that just wasn’t going to work. 

4) We are set to close on our new house on Tuesday. That means, we are going to put a substantial amount of money down on the house, and spend even more on all the costs associated with it. So we didn’t see the need to spend extra money on a wedding. Andrew and I aren’t really into the big ceremonial aspect of it anyway, and think it is kind of a waste. It just was not what we wanted. 

5) We felt like it. Andrew and I love each other. We want to spend our lives together and didn’t really need to go through any big ceremony to prove that or announce it to the world. And a private ceremony on a baseball field before the game was just fitting for us. Our first date was at a Braves game. We named our son Turner. Our Christmas photos were taken on the field. We celebrate every birthday/anniversary with the Braves. A wedding with them was just the perfect match. 

So wedding details. 

It was perfect. It was relaxed. It was stress free. It was special. It was just me and Andrew. We left Turner at home with my mom and sister. We got to go to a suite at the ballpark before the ceremony. Enjoyed a glass of wine, toured the park, and just talked. It was special for us. The fact that we were the only Braves fans in a sea of Reds fans (19 couples in all were wed or renewed their vows) was even more special. We were definitely a topic of conversation for everyone. 

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Before going on the field, we got to see several people associated with the Braves. Brian Jordan, who played for the Braves before becoming an announcer for Fox Sports South wished us congrats, as did Braves announce Jenn Hildreth. They were equally as excited to see Braves fans taking the plunge. The word of two Braves fans who were brave enough to take the field at an opponents ballpark quickly spread and it wasn’t long before the Atlanta Braves organization caught wind of it. 

We lined up on the field after our name was called out over the entire ballpark. Braves fans in the crowd erupted in cheers. After taking our place on the field, we were lined up directly in front of the Atlanta Braves dugout with Braves Manager Fredi Gonzalez right in front of us. The look on his face was pure joy. He was so excited to see Braves fans on the field. He and the other coaches were giving us thumbs up. 

Then in the crowd, we could see a handful of our friends. The only people we told about the elopement were a few of Andrew’s friend who lived near Cincinnati. We needed two witnesses, so we invited them. The day before the ceremony, we asked my sister. We swore her to secrecy, but we needed a photographer. Although the Reds took a couple of pictures before the ceremony, mine and Andrew’s pictures got cut short due to registration, so we were fortunate to have Ruby there to get these awesome pictures. 

I don’t remember much of the ceremony. It was a whirlwind. We repeated after the minister and promised each other forever. We were shaking as we exchanged rings. it was all a blur. I remember jumping up and down because I was so dang excited. Finally, the day was here that I got to give everything I had to the most incredible man, father, friend, person, I have ever known.  Who wouldn’t be excited about that?

As we were walking off the field, the Atlanta Braves third base coach Doug Dascenzo handed us a baseball that Fredi had signed and dated. It was totally unexpected and priceless. 

Shortly after the ceremony I got a tweet from Jenn Hildreth that said to come to the dugout after the game that she had a gift from us. It turns out, the Atlanta Braves told her to get in touch with us because they wanted to give us another wedding gift. They gave us the singed official line up cards from the game. The ballgame that the Braves ended up winning! Plus, Jenn talked about Andrew and I on TV during her coverage of the game and included a clip of the wedding. How incredible is that? How many other people can say their wedding was on TV?

Saying "I do"

Saying “I do”

Although my sister had to leave right away, we got to watch the game and celebrate with a couple of friends.

 It was perfect. It may not be everyone’s ideal story, but it is our story. And we love it. 

We do plan to have a reception with family and friends in a couple of weeks. We want to celebrate with them too! All in all, it was incredible, and the most important aspect of it, we promised each other forever. And that is one promise I intend to keep.

And to those asking us what they can get us or if we are registered anywhere, we do not need anything. But if you would like to make a donation in our honor to help get this remarkable woman’s book published, we would greatly appreciate it! 

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Tuesday morning rant on entitlement

I whole-heatedly believe that children today grow up with a disgusting sense of entitlement. I believe that everyone thinks that they are entitled to the same opportunities that others are afforded, and not because of hard work or actually earning it, but because if someone else has something, I deserve it too, even if I didn’t work for it.

It is truly disheartening.

Today, everyone gets a trophy. We are so afraid of hurting our children’s self-esteem that we praise them for a job well-attempted rather than a job well-done. In today’s society, everyone gets a trophy. Even if you failed miserably, don’t worry, you will still get a ribbon in the end.

That is not how I was raised, and I think I am better for it. That is also not how I plan to raise Turner. Although he will be awarded for his efforts, and know that even when you fail, the fact that you tried carries weight, I will also teach him that to be truly successful you must not only triumph and conquer your goals, but if you do fail, you must learn from your failures and better yourself.

I say all that to say this. The news was flooded today with report of a Yankees fan suing a whole gaggle of sports related businesses such as the Yankees themselves and ESPN, for broadcasting a 90 minute clip of him sleeping at a game.

Well first and foremost, the guy is a Yankees fan, so that is your biggest problem. (In case you didn’t know I am a die-hard Brave)

But second, he was attending a Yankees vs. Red-Sox fan, the known rivalry between the two teams is a given that the game would be on ESPN, and by attending the game, you are subjecting yourself to television time and attention that may take place regarding your attendance.

Third, the 26-year-old who is suing all of this businesses, is doing so under the premise that the commentary of the 90 second clip hurt his feelings. I mean seriously, the law suit is claiming that the commentators during the segment mocked him for being oblivious. But it was not really the TV appearance that hurt his feelings, but more so the comments that individuals who viewed the clip made, which ESPN nor MLB have any control of. But all-in-all, the guy got his little feelings hurt.

So, my complete frustration with this entire subject, is not only does the guy feel ENTITLED to something because he made the decision to attend a national publicized sporting event, and he made the decision to partake in actions that were less than status-quo for his environment, therefore he has no business objecting to the consequences of his actions, but more than that, by filing a very public law suit, he is subjecting himself to the very torment and trial of public opinion that he is so offended by.

So instead of the few fans who were watching the broadcast and whatever small media circulated after the April 13 incident, this guy is making headline news on all the big networks, broadcasting his experiences to the world. Seems a little hypocritical to me. If he was really offended and hurt by what happened, wouldn’t he want it to go away? Nah, who needs that, let’s scream from the mountain tops about the grossly unjust situation and deliver myself on a silver platter for the entire nation to ridicule. Seems legit.

I am not saying that victims should be silent. But this is not a case of a victim speaking out and seeking justice against a bully. The bullies in this case are the people who hide behind the keys of a message board, not the people named in the law suit.

And they are just words, really. When I was growing up, bullies were a part of life. I was bullied terribly. I would hide in the bathroom between classes in fear of bigger kids who didn’t like me beating me up. But it was a fact of life. Today, if you scream bully and point a finger, you basically have scenes from the Salem Witch Trails with everyone out for blood.

As a society we need to toughen our skin back up. We need to teach our children that bullies are a fact of life and hurtful things will inevitably be said. But it is not those comments that define us as people, but instead, it is how we react and prevail that makes us who we are. Those lessons need to be taught.

We also need to teach our children that you are not entitled to anything. This guy thinks because of a decision he made, he is entitled to the opportunity to sue innocent bystanders. It just blows my mind.

You shouldn’t get a trophy for just showing up. You shouldn’t be given something just because someone else has it. You shouldn’t cower to bullies or opinions of others. Instead, you should earn your accolades. You should work diligently to achieve and earn what is obtained in your life. And you should learn to disregard the opinions and actions of people who do not matter.

Ugh, thanks for tuning into my Tuesday morning rant!