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The Boom

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.

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.


Boy Mom; Making Memories in the Kitchen

Posted in Laughter, Memories, The Boom
on February 11, 2018

Sometimes as a Boy Mom I have to consciously remind myself that I am not raising little boys, I’m raising men.  It’s easy to do everything for them.  I want to take care of them because they are MY babies and it’s truly what I love to do. However, some day, they will need to know how to take care of themselves and hopefully they will want to pass along some of the memories made and things they learned from their mama.

They are learning to contribute to the household chores…getting clothes out of the dryer, unloading the dishwasher and putting away the clean dishes,  wiping down their bathroom vanity with Clorox wipes and taking out the garbage. In defense of my washing machine, I do not encourage their participation in that chore. Ain’t nobody got time for a flood, money to repair a washing machine or money to buy new white clothes to replace the load that had one red sock….nope. Not gonna happen.

Recently Boom has showed an interest in cooking.  Now he may be the pickiest eater on the face of the planet.  He has very few food groups: Chicken, steak, pizza, fruit, ice cream and chips. He is PICKY!! What does he know about cooking? NOTHING!  But then I remembered another crazy nut who happens to be one of the best cooks I know.

JR learned a lot from my mama, who is a wonderful cook, and from my Daddy who is wonderful on the grill.  JR has combined the heritage of good cooking he was raised with and his willingness to try new things in an effort to replicate some delicious dishes at home.  For example, he grew up eating prime rib when we were out to eat, but I only remember mama cooking it at home a handful of times. JR has taught himself how to prepare a prime rib at home and when he fixes it, well, just pray for an invitation.  I’m not lying…it’s so so good. I’d venture to say cooking has become a hobby he truly enjoys and I know it has been an honor for him to be able to prepare meals for his love in the past nine months while she has been recovering from childbirth, open heart surgery and gall bladder surgery.

I grew up in various kitchens with one grandmother or another, my aunt or my Mama making memories and learning to cook. So I decided to encourage this new interest from Boom. Someday he may need to know how to feed his family! We started to get out the ingredients and I often play music while I cook. I hit play on my Boom’s Tunes playlist and the rest is history. Anyone who’s seen Boom play ball knows what he does when there’s music playing.  Doesn’t matter if he’s on the side lines or the pitcher’s mound.  When he hears a beat he just can’t contain himself.  Guess what? He does the same thing when he’s cooking!

So yes, it takes longer when he helps and it is definitely messier, but it is also much more fun. You almost never make priceless memories when you insist on doing everything by yourself!

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Here Comes The Boom

Posted in The Boom
on January 23, 2018

I think the only thing worse than a kid waiting for Christmas is an athlete waiting for the season to start.

My kid will make a bat or a ball out of anything and while that can be terribly frustrating (please just hand me the remote control) it can also be very endearing.  Don’t get me wrong, before he fell in love with the game, I would have rather licked a hot skillet than sit through a ball game. But somehow, once he loved it, I began to also.

Then he got his nickname, The Boom. It was transforming for him.  He became The Boom, a mighty force to be reckoned with on the baseball field or the football field.  He’s had the same coach for both sports for two years now and we love Coach Earl.  He has embraced The Boom as much as anyone and he has helped him become a better athlete and team mate.

We got the text tonight for his first conditioning practice. FINALLY!!! It’s been almost TWO months since we had to be at a ball field!!  Freezing cold? Pack the snack bag, bucket of toys, blankets, jackets and hand warmers.  Hot with 100% humidity? Pack the snack bag, bucket of toys, cool cloths, battery powered fan and beach towels so the bleachers don’t singe your fanny.  Rain but no thunder? Pack the snack bag, bucket of toys, raincoats, dry clothes and shoes, beach towels and umbrellas.  If you need me on a Saturday between now and July, I’m at the ball field. Yep, I’m all in.

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