Ronald McDonald House

Posted in Family, Hoss, The Boom, Uncategorized
on January 15, 2020

For the last several years, Boom has asked for donations to the Ronald McDonald House in lieu of gifts at his birthday parties. This month, Boom decided to run in the Ronald McDonald House Run4Kids this weekend. It’s a 5k which is the equivalent of 3.1 miles. When I think of the distance to my brother’s house, it’s roughly 3.1 miles, I couldn’t run it. Heck, I couldn’t walk it! When Boom first expressed interest in running it, I was concerned that he didn’t have time to train, and he might not complete it. But he was insistent that he could do it, and I know from his watch that he walks about 7 miles a day most days, so I conceded. I signed him up and posted his fundraiser page on my Facebook page and the donations began coming in!

A few people have asked me why he is so supportive of Ronald McDonald House and it occurred to me that not everyone who knows us now, knows our story. Here’s why Boom (and the rest of us) has such a soft spot for the Ronald McDonald House.

On June 3, 2011, Hoss was born at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville. He was a very sick little buddy with lots of “mistakes” in his heavenly construction that would require surgical intervention. I use quotes because we personally believe that Hoss is made just the way God intended for him to be, and that those “mistakes” are merely part of his story that God has and will continue to use for His glory! When he was three days old, Hoss underwent his first surgery to repair his esophagus. Nine days and two lung collapses later he had his first open heart surgery. Most of that time I was in-patient, recovering from the C-section. Vince stayed with me and our family was nearby in various hotels taking care of Boom. He was three and a half.

Hoss was a very sick baby.

Once Hoss was stable after surgery, our family returned to Chattanooga, taking Boom with them. Vince and I stayed in Hoss’ room as much as possible. A couple of nights we were able to get a parent room at the hospital. We could check in at 10:00 and had to be up and out by 7:00 the next morning. Room assignments were based on the severity of your child’s illness and the distance you were from home. Fortunately, we were able to get a room at the local Ronald McDonald House. We were able to unpack our bags a bit and we had our own private twin beds and bathroom. It was quiet and we could rest. Most importantly to me, Boom could be with us. He could spend the night snuggled in his daddy’s arms (I still had a belly full of staples) and we could begin our new normal. I’ll never forget calling my mama and saying I need my baby! She and Dad loaded up again and we met halfway that night.

As a postpartum mom with a very fragile newborn, I could hardly bear to leave that room. I didn’t want to watch tv or socialize with the other parents there. I didn’t want to know their stories. I wanted to be at the hospital or in our room. It was the most depressing place I had ever been. Every chair or bookshelf or piece of artwork had a small brass plaque dedicating that item in memory of…I felt like I was in a house of death. I couldn’t bear the thought that there could some day be a piece of furniture with Hoss’ name on it.

A few days after our Ronald McDonald House stay began, I got my staples out and was released to begin driving. Vince came home to return to work and he brought Boom with him. There was no way for me to take care of a toddler and be at the hospital as much as I needed to be. It was ok. It was the right thing for everyone. My parents kept Boom during the day and he was home with his daddy at night. They came to visit on the weekends and we were a family. As Hoss continued to improve, they would come visit and they went on grand adventures around Nashville. We went to Target and took Boom to see Cars 2 in the theater. We tried hard to be as normal as possible in a strange down with half our hearts in the hospital.

This was the first time Boom got to ‘hold’ Hoss.
Boom and Vinnie got to do some really cool things on their visits. This was when the Budweiser Clydesdales paid a visit to the Children’t Hospital.
The Ronald McDonald House has a really fun playground and Boom was out there every chance he got!

When they returned home, they resumed their regular routine and I began to create my own. On our big Target excursion, I picked up some of my laundry detergent and dryer sheets. I wanted Hoss’ blankets and clothes to smell like our home. For me, doing laundry became something I could control that was productive and normal. It also required I venture out of my room at Ronald McDonald House to the laundry room. As Hoss continued to improve and the word “home” began to be mentioned, I began to improve. I noticed that, while there were many “in memory” plaques, there were more “in honor” plaques. I began to be able to imagine the hope that those walls had seen, the prayers that had been offered and answered, the miracles that families had seen as guest residents of that house.

By the time my boys came back for one last weekend, I had washed all of our room’s linens and the towels from the bathroom so every part of that room smelled like home. We went home later that week but we would stay at the Ronald McDonald House again 5 months later when Hoss had his second open heart surgery. The second time wasn’t nearly as traumatic. We knew more what to expect, but we also knew that whatever happened, we could be together.

It was several years before Boom was really able to articulate his memories of that time. He remembers the adventures he had with his Daddy and coming to the hospital to see Hoss and me, but he also remembers that during a very uncertain time in his world, the Ronald McDonald House provided him a way to be with us, to feel normal and to know that his mama was back to doing laundry and whatever else she could to see that everything was the way it should be.

In his 12 year old way, Boom wants to do what he can to ensure that other children have the opportunity to be with their mamas and daddies when their world is upside down, to find their new normal and feel secure. And that is why we will be wearing red and cheering him on whether he succeeds or fails to complete all 3 miles this Saturday.

Boom has raised $465 so far! If you’d like to make a donation, there’s still time! Just click this link to go to his fundraising page.

The Day I Lost My Mind

Posted in Family, Hoss, Laughter, Memories, Uncategorized
on June 14, 2019

This is one of those posts that happened back in May 2018. It has taken me this long to see the funny and be able to write about it. 

We celebrate the boys birthdays big at our house. After all, it’s a celebration of their life! Some years it’s a celebration that we all survived another year, but it’s always a time to reflect on their life so far and what a blessing they are to our family. 2018 was the year to celebrate the start of Hoss’ 7th year. 

Anyone who has spent more than 15 seconds around Hoss in that year knows that he is obsessed with the solar system. He will sing you a song about the planets and the order they are in or he will regale you, ad nauseum, with facts about our solar system. Not interested? Yeah, it doesn’t matter. He’s got jokes for that. Needless to say, we planned a solar system party. Now before you go getting all jealous of the dorkiness of that concept, keep reading.

We picked a Sunday afternoon in May. That time of year when Boom has baseball about 8 days a week, end of the year school projects are wrapping up and due, parent/teacher conferences must happen, everyone you’ve ever known since birth has a kid graduating from something or performing in some sort of program you really should go see…let’s squeeze in a party.

And so we planned an Out of this World Pool Party. Kids have more fun when they are wet, right?  Area 51 – check, space themed play list – check, space foods – check,  party favors – check, balloons – check, six foot alien – check, space ship in the tree – check. Cake? So Hoss wanted a 3-D scale model of the solar system made of cake. Not happening, but we did agree on a sheet cake with orbit lines for the planets and a rocket ship. It was a compromise and a combination of about 87 cakes he yelled, “that’s the one!!” as we looked for ideas on pinterest.

We planned for months. I would do the food, music, favors and planning, Mom and Dad bought a bunch of the decorations for us and Vinniehoney was in charge of executing area 51, building the alien space craft and hanging it from the tree. No problem. Bases covered. What no one planned on was that one Sunday afternoon about a month before the party, I got out in the yard and cleaned out from under a hydrangea bush. It had been neglected too long and I really went after it. I sat down with my little claw digger and pulled out weeds until it was breathing fresh air all around. About four days later, I realized I was COVERED in Poison Ivy.

Apparently I had uncovered some roots, proceeded to sit on them while I was working, scoot over them as I worked my way around the bush and then, just because I never half do anything, when I got up off the ground I had dusted off my thighs and fanny, then my arms and I even wiped the sweat from my brow. I was miserable. It was truly all over me. ALL.OVER.ME. My Dr. gave me a shot to dry it up. A week later, still covered and spreading, I got another shot. One more week later, and now just a few days until party day and I was still covered and spreading poison ivy. So the Dr. gave me a steroid dose pack. It began to work and I focused my undivided attention on the party countdown.

By Thursday before the party I had my house pretty close to company ready. On Friday I baked the cake and did as much food prep as I could do in advance. All I had to do on Saturday was put the icing on the cake and cut the rocket ship out and a few other incidentals. I was in good shape. Saturday morning, I got up and got the butter out to soften. Boom took Sassy the Wonder Dog out and got her some food. I fed Hoss and swapped out laundry loads. Vinniehoney left to go drop off the balloons to be filled with helium for the next day. While the butter was softening I thought I’d be extra productive and fold the clothes that had just come out of the dryer, so I went in my room, spread them out on the bed and folded them into neat little piles for each family member. When I walked back into the kitchen is the moment I lost my mind and pitched what we southerners refer to as a conniption fit. Beyond temper tantrum, beyond hissy fit. This was a full blown, no holds barred, look out conniption fit.

Sassy the Wonder Dog ATE.THE.CAKE.

I lost it. I started yelling things like “I don’t know why I bother to try to do anything nice for anyone in this house. Nobody cares! I’ve killed myself to get this house ready for this party and y’all can’t even watch a dog for 15 minutes! I ‘m over it! Y’all want to live in a pig pen, have at it!!” It was at this point that I decided I needed to emphasize this verbal tirade so I snatched up the lazy susan full of candy and flung every last piece across the dining room in one sweeping motion. Boom instantly started trying to calm me down. I was having no part of that. I stomped into the office and flung about three stacks of papers into the air. Then, with Boom hot on my trail, I marched through the den. Hoss was in there watching the ipad and didn’t have his hearing aids in. He saw us and thought we were up to something fun so he jumped up and followed Boom down the hall as I barreled down on their rooms. It was about now that my normal inner Carie started getting loud. She was telling me not to do this, there was not time to recover from this if I destroyed their rooms, calm down and take a deep breath, you’re going to hate yourself in just a little while. Conniption fit Carie heard her and slightly adjusted her course of destruction. Instead of the devastation I had intended to lay down on their rooms, I merely grabbed the bookcase at the end of the hallway and dumped out every last book. I then headed straight for my room, threw on some clothes, grabbed my purse and keys, told Boom I was done and he was in charge and I left. I just got in my car and drove away.

To the barn. You see as I was heaving my mad self into my car, that normal gal in my head just kept talking.” You CAN’T leave those two boys at home by themselves and with all that mess you just created in your fit of madness. You aren’t that mom. You may have lost it, and they may be slightly scarred for life, and you’re going to have to ask for forgiveness and the dog only ate a tiny edge of the cake and you can bake a whole new cake if you have to. There’s time and you majorly overreacted.” Conniption fit turned up the radio and went right on to the barn. I don’t think I have ever been that mad. I called my mom and loudly and angrily recapped the events of the morning. Y’all it wasn’t even 10:00.

Mom held back her laughter and told me to stay put and she’d be right there. She always has my back, even when I’ve lost my mind. On her way to the barn she cut through the pool where dad was pulling weeds. She gave him the Reader’s Digest version of what she knew and he started laughing so hard he had to sit down. His only comment was that he wondered why I had gone to the barn at 60 m.p.h.

Mom got me calmed down and rode back to the house with me to see how to fix the cake. “Holy Cow” was all she said as we walked in to the utter destruction. Boom was on the ground gathering candy from under the dining room table. There were lollipops in the chandelier candle bases, there were chocolate eggs on top of the china cabinet. Across the hall, there were papers dangling from various places on my embroidery machine and cabinet and down the hall, Hoss was diligently shoving as many books as he could back into the bookcase in whatever manner he could. Boom had put Sassy the Wonder Dog in her kennel for her own safety and he had tried to trim and shape up the edge of the cake. Mom pitched right in and helped us recover the house, I figured out what to do about the cake and we were quickly back on track for an Out of this World party!

So what’s the purpose of telling this story on myself.

  1. ‘Roid’ rage is real y’all. I’m not using that as an excuse so much as an explanation. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got a temper, but this was a temper on steroids. Literally.
  2. Even though I absolutely lost my cool and acted a fool, my family had my back. My mom and both boys jumped right in and Vinniehoney would have if he had been there. Surround yourself with people who’ve got your back.
  3. Asking for forgiveness is so important, especially with your kids. If you don’t take away anything else from this story, remember this. They see how you act. They learn how to act from your actions. Pitching a fit is never ideal, and I am in no way condoning violence or lack of self control. Don’t make this something that it’s not. But we all lose our cool sometimes. We all say things we don’t mean. Some of us fling candy across the house. The important part is to recognize that it was not an appropriate response. I had to stop the clean up with each boy in order to get their undivided attention and apologize and ask their forgiveness. They weren’t scarred for life. They don’t have fears about accidentally spilling the milk,  causing Mom to lose her mind again. They do understand that Mom’s reaction was not normal and it was not ok. They do know that I was very sorry that I acted that way and not just because I was sorry I made the mess. I was genuinely sorry for my conniption fit. They also know that I asked them to forgive me and I promised to do my best to not ever fling candy again. Kids learn what forgiveness looks like by being asked to give it and by receiving it. It’s a two way street folks.
  4. Keep your perspective. One of the first things Mom said when she got me calmed down was, “someday, this is going to be a funny story. Not today, but someday.” Best I can tell, it takes about 60-90 days for the funny to kick in but in the grand scheme of things, what appeared to be devastating and the end of the world, wasn’t.

When the party was over and the presents had all been unwrapped, Boom came in the kitchen to tell me goodnight. He hung around my neck for a while and just loved on me. Then he leaned back and said, “I’m really sorry that I wasn’t watching Sassy and let her eat the cake, but THAT.FIT.WAS.AWESOME!!!” So grateful that God’s love, patience and forgiveness is bigger than my failings every day! So grateful God and my kids love me in spite of my candy flinging ways.

Eight Years Ago

Posted in Family, Hoss, Memories
on June 3, 2019
Welcome Hoss!

Eight years ago today, Hoss made his grand entrance. We knew that he had a significant heart defect. We knew we had a long road ahead of us. We prayed. Our friends and family prayed and their friends and family prayed. We knew he was loved and so were we.

Welcome to the world little one.

The next 12 days brought lots of medical jargon, diagnosis, tears and surgical preparations. At three days old, his esophagus was attached to his stomach so that he could be fed through a feeding tube. Nine days later Hoss had his first open heart surgery. We didn’t know what his future would look like, we didn’t know how our lives would adjust, we didn’t know if he would live.


He did and we are ever so BLESSED to have him in our family! Eight years ago we could never have imagined the joy he would bring to everyone he meets. He has the gift of humor and we never know what is going to come out of his mouth.

I'm thinking
Did you know it was me?
Hey Mom, look!

He is brave beyond measure. Because he has always had major obstacles to overcome, he knows no different, but some days just keeping up with a classmate can be a challenge.

Learning to navigate uneven ground
EKG May 2019

Despite it all, you almost never see him without a smile on his face.

Little Monkey
Class Clown
A genetic trait?
Gimme a B

Eight years ago today, Boom became the BEST big brother. He is patient beyond belief, protective and encouraging, teaching and supportive. He is Hoss’ biggest fan, and isn’t that the way brothers should be?


And so here we are eight years later, with a crazy life made immeasurably better by Hoss. Eight years ago we couldn’t have imagined the laugh until we cry moments. Eight years ago we didn’t know if he’d ever talk. Now we wonder when he’ll take a breath! Eight years ago we didn’t know if he’d be able to go to school. He’s already packed his backpack for first grade next fall. Eight years ago we didn’t know if Hoss would have any sort of life that could be considered normal. But God! God knew! We are so grateful for every moment with him, even the really really hard ones. We are so hopeful for his future and we believe God has plans for this special little dude to do something wonderful. Maybe he’ll be a scientist, maybe he will make people laugh or maybe as he told me yesterday he will “just be a good ole family man” but whatever it is, we will lift him in prayer as long as we have breath.

Large and in charge
First Lost Tooth
Farm Hoss
Hoss plays TBall
Carrying the Cross
Thumbs up for the end of Kindergarten
Jonquils 2018
Hoss on the Ropes Course
Hoss as Batman

Happy 8th Birthday precious boy! We love you and can’t wait to watch you soar!

Hoss turns 8

Naps in the Sunshine and a Pirate War

Posted in Uncategorized
on March 6, 2018

About 2:20 this morning, just after I had finished watching an old rerun of Murder She Wrote, there was a very loud explosive sound and then absolute quiet. I sat up in the bed and listened for a minute or two. It’s not terribly unusual for the power to blip off and back on at our house. Vinniehoney snorted into his cpap machine about 4 times before I finally announced that the power was off.

He got up to investigate the noise and sure enough, there was a giant old tree down across the road in front of our house. Vinniehoney called 911 so they could dispatch some blue lights to hopefully prevent an accident. In just a couple of minutes here they came along with a couple of power trucks and a couple of fire engines. Those fire engines can light up a super dark road like it is high noon!!

Needless to say our adrenaline was rocking and rolling and there was no way we could just go back to bed. Not to mention the fact that our house was flooded with flashing lights and the sound of chain saws!!

It wasn’t long before Boom was awakened by the commotion, so the three of us perched on the front porch in the dark, watching the action! Finally about 5:00 we began to yawn. The bulk of the excitement and noise was over. The fire trucks and police cars left. Only the power crew remained and they were waiting for a different crew to get there to repair the damage to the power pole and support for the transformer.

Boom dozed off, Vinniehoney dozed off and I was close until Hoss woke up. He was bright eyed and bushy tailed from a good nights sleep. And he was hungry. I finally convinced him I wasn’t going to open the refrigerator in an attempt to preserve the cold and food, so he settled for some mini muffins.

Hours later, power was restored and there was enough hot water to take a shower. Thank goodness! Off to school and work.

On the way home from school this afternoon, the boys attitudes reflected their lack of sleep and disruption of their nightly routine. So we came home and did what we HAD to do then headed outside for some good ole Vitamin D! The Boom decided to rest instead of playing ball…most unusual for him. I would be concerned he’s coming down with something except this is how he is resting.

Hoss, on the other hand, is waging a war with a rival pirate ship. Don’t worry mateys, the back yard is safe from plunderers! He has a stick that doubles as a fire hose so he can put out canon ball fires. He’s a good little pirate!

I think an early supper and bedtime is in order for everyone tonight!


Posted in Uncategorized
on February 28, 2018

Hoss has a fantastic memory and he soaks up information like a sponge. He remembers the words to songs, lines from shows and movies and every book he ever hears.  He is definitely an audio learner. Sometimes he gets a word or two wrong.  Perhaps it’s his hearing loss. Perhaps he just inherited his mama’s gene for not being able to correctly hear the lyrics to a song. Either way, it provides some pretty funny moments. Those of you who follow me on Facebook may remember some of his Christmas Song lyric misunderstandings from this past year…Feliz LaDeDa, Scooby Doin’ Alright, Silas Night and of course the reindeer Vixen who he renamed Fix-it.

Of course he’s known his animal sounds for years, but he’s recently added more terminology.  For example he now ‘whinnies’ like a horse, ‘caws’ like a crow, ‘clucks’ like a chicken and, most recently he ‘prays’ like a donkey. Now the first time we heard him say he was going to ‘pray’ like a donkey, Boom started to correct him; to tell him donkey’s BRAY, not PRAY. However, Hoss quickly proceeded to demonstrate how a donkey prays. He in no way is being disrespectful or sacrilegious.  In his little mind, if the sound a donkey makes is called ‘praying’, then this must be what it means. I threatened Boom within an inch of his life if he corrected Hoss before I got it on video. I will miss these precious and hilarious misunderstandings!!

I present to you, especially those of you familiar with braying or praying, Hoss demonstrating a Donkey ‘praying’.

I hope you'll love to read my blog and I'd love to have you follow along!

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