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.

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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.

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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.

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2

Not all parenting stereotypes are false.

Growing up, I always heard jokes about how parents would hide treats from their kids. Then when I got older, I would see funny cartoons about mom’s hiding out on the toilet trying to savor chocolate without their children finding out, just so they didn’t have to share.

#truth

#truth

Well, this weekend, I got to experience that. It actually hit me… that I am that stereotypical parent. That all of those cartoons were actually a “thing” and were real life. Early last week I got a small bag of potato chips at the store. I love potato chips. I would eat them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, if at all possible. But since a recent doctor’s visit revealed that I was clinical obese, oh yes, obese, I no longer get to enjoy my guilty pleasure.

After a two month hiatus from the gym due to lack of time, and after begin told that I was obese (I blame it on how short I am), I have returned to the gym, restricted my already twig and berries diet, and am trying my hardest to be a better me. So when I bought this bag of chips at the gas station, it was an indulgence. It was a treat. I didn’t open them right away. Even though I wanted them that very minute, just making the purchase calmed my cravings for the time being. I tucked the chips away in the back of the cabinet. A special treat for myself for a later day.

The dynamic duo!

The dynamic duo!

Well, that later day hit me this weekend. I decided to volunteer to have a sleepover at my house with my niece Madison, as well as having Turner. I never mind it. Those two play so well together, and despite the clutter of constant toys and books littering the living room, and an occasional slap for one of them not sharing, it isn’t a tough job. But in the middle of watching those two, it hit me. The uncontrollable urge, the sensation, the burning desire to devour that bag of chips to the very last crumb.

But what was I supposed to do? There was no way I could have enjoyed even a single chip without that two scavengers clawing out my eyes to get a taste. I just was not going to let that happen. I could taste the succulence of those cheddar and sour cream slices of heaven, and I was not about to share with anyone. With my eyes glued to the kitchen cabinet protecting my treasure, I debated every possible tactic I could take to get a moment alone.

My first born!

My first born!

My efforts were hopeless. No matter what scenario I came up with, I just could not see it ending well. And despite being able to literally smell the goodness from the air tight container protecting the nectar of the gods, I left the chips high up in the cabinet.

This is what my life has come to. A hungry mother so stingy and stubborn that I would rather not get even a little taste of my addiction than have to share an ounce with my son and niece. But hey, that is motherhood right?

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.

1

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.

3

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!

0

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!