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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. https://secure.qgiv.com/event/account/921157/?fbclid=IwAR3M2D71iQkrOkAhJda5B7QvbBDM_AkV-eUvJZ-tX0ZPKTnfbJ0akA-tinM

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.

Fighter

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?

Disnerds
Studs
Champs
Cowboys

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

Spring has Sprung But Not Really

Posted in Family, Hoss, Memories, The Boom
on February 27, 2018

When we first moved to the farm I was nine years old, it was the middle of the summer. It was hot. I hated the farm. I grieved our old house. Seriously, I cried for weeks. Every night. I had no friends to play with. I had no where to ride my bike. I hated my one closet room. There was no cool basement. There was no ditch to play in. The people we loved would never drive all the way out here to see us! (It was only five miles, but it seemed like 500.) I did not want to move to the farm. Fall and winter did little to change my mind. It was grey and bleak and quiet and cold and wet. Spring was never coming. Then one day in late January, little sprigs of green started popping up in the front yard. LOTS of them.

Turns out there were thousands of jonquils in our front yard. They just happened to be a flower I dearly loved. They used to grow wild on the vacant lot across from our old house. Now I lived in a house with a yard full of them. My heart began to soften towards the farm…still didn’t love it, but there was a bright spot.

Now days, if I were a betting woman there are two things I would always bet on.

  1. My Mama and Daddy’s front yard will be full of jonquils in full bloom no later than Valentine’s Day.
  2. The flowers may have bloomed, and we may have had some warm days, but winter is NOT over.

We have taken pictures in the jonquils every year since Boom was a baby.                                                                                                                                                                                  

 I love them and look forward to taking the pictures every year!!  This year is no different, so I made the boys take their annual pictures in the jonquils.  Boom has promised he will come home from college when they bloom so I can still take pictures. I’m going to hold him to it!

As our spring schedule begins to fill up with baseball games, practice, school events, Easter plans and the many activities of daily life, it is important to stop and smell the flowers. I look at these bright beauties as promises and reminders. God is still in control and His timing is perfect. I don’t always understand it, however it is perfect none the less. For now the jonquils are blooming and the temperature is dropping. Winter is not over, but spring is in the air!!

School Projects and a Robot Dance

Posted in Family, School Projects, The Boom
on February 26, 2018

Just in the last year or two has Boom been assigned school projects that he needs to do at home.  We haven’t had typical science fair type stuff. We’ve had things like ‘build a board game based on a book from this list’ and the most recent one ‘write a narrative for a robot then build the robot’. The problem with these school projects is that they do a portion of it at school and a portion of it at home.

For example, when it was board game project time, Boom chose and read the book at school.  Then he wanted some help with the board game part. I hadn’t read the book, never mind that he chose a book of poems!!! What teacher does that to a parent? I managed to download it online and we came up with a concept, but I’m honest enough to admit that the night before it was due, we called GrNanny for reinforcements.  Mostly so we wouldn’t kill each other!  Boom and I are a lot alike and that can sometimes be a challenge.

This past week the school project was the robot project.  Now I know for a fact that this project was assigned back in January. Other parents had posted pictures of their kids robots on Facebook for weeks.  Not Boom. We waited until the VERY last minute. His narrative was that the robot interacted with an app. You downloaded the app, put the robot on your car and then programmed into the app your destination.  The robot would then safely guide your car to your destination. Ya know, since not everyone can afford a self driving Tesla! Good concept, right?

Well, he wanted his robot to be kind of techy, so his idea was to go to the public library and have one 3-D printed.  So, at the very last minute on the very last day, he said it HAD to be done.  GrNanny, Boom, Hoss, and I loaded up and off we went.  Boom got the robot he wanted picked out and started.  The librarian who set it up said it would take 56 minutes to print.  It was just before 5:00 and the library closed at 6:00. Whew! Except that 45 minutes later, it was only 37% complete and it wasn’t looking like the robot he had chosen. Now let me just say, when the library closes at 6:00, what that really means is that at 6:00 the lights are out, people are out, doors are locked and employees are gone. There is no grace period or exception offered for a 10 year old who needs something for a school project the next day and is in tears and devastated as his whole vision for his school project has been obliterated because they somehow managed to screw up their process. GrNanny and I were happy campers.  Let me tell ya!

So, we left, with half of a wrong robot and a very sad Boom. After supper, we brain stormed different ideas and had a semi plan. GrNanny started pulling out different components that might work and Boom assembled them the way he wanted.  Glued together, spray painted gold, add some googly eyes and a baseball cap and this was the final result!!

The final component was to figure out a way to attach it to his remote control car so he could demonstrate his narrative and actually make it look like the robot was driving the car.  Hot glue to the rescue!

Needless to say it was past bedtime by the time all was finished.  In hindsight, I should have asked Vince to take Hoss home and put him to bed.  He was just so entertaining though.  He totally adapted his routine to an all robot themed routine. He is Boom’s very best cheerleader!!  Here’s just one of the MANY robot dances he did for us.

As creative and crafty as I am, I’ll be the first to admit I don’t love school projects so far. However, I always had parents who thought outside of the box and helped me come up with cool ideas and then actually helped me to pull them off. Boom has a fantastic imagination, so it is a pleasure to make his creations a reality to the best of our ability. I dread the days he no longer needs me to do that, and the days that he is grown and school projects are merely a few pictures in my memory. My greatest pleasure is being their mom and helping them make their dreams a reality, even if it’s not the way they envisioned. That’s just good parenting, teaching them to roll with it and look at things from a different angle. Life doesn’t always go the way we envisioned, but you know what? If the good Lord gives you another day, you gotta get up and look at it from a different angle and do the next thing.

 

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