Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Always My Child

Harry 18, Hopson 20, Elizabeth 14 1/2, Henry 12 1/2
I love this time of year.  I love it for all the reasons I've said in dozens of different posts over the years, but I think today I love it because it means all my chicks are here in the nest, and my home feels complete.

The other night I was sitting at the computer writing & heard the high pitched tapping sounds of the ping pong being volleyed from one side of the table to the other from up in the playroom.  I stopped and just listened.  I heard brothers talking & laughing like they did when all four were here all the time.  It was a beautiful sound and it made me smile.  It's amazing how things change when just one is gone.  The schedule isn't quite as robust; there's one less mouth to feed; and there's a little less talking and laughter.  So, I love this time of year.

I love it that Friday we will all go see a movie like we did when the four were little.  I love it when Hop will talk books with Henry.  I love hearing the laughter of all of them together.  It makes my heart overflow with love and happiness.  This is the best Christmas present my kids can give me:  to love our family & each other.  That's all I think I ever really wanted from them and for them anyway.  I want happiness, harmony and love to abound, always.

Harry is finished with half of his senior year.  In the fall, another little bird will leave the nest.  We will have two gone and two still here.  I don't know if I'm ready.  I know I wasn't when Hop left, and I don't think I will be when Harry leaves either.  But, I have to let him go.  Come fall it will be time for my Harry to spread his wings and soar.  Oh it makes my heart hurt just to think about it.  So as Scarlet from Gone with the Wind says:  "I won't think about that today; I'll think about it tomorrow.". Or better yet, 8 months from now!

For my children, may you always have a home filled with:  compassion, happiness, stability, safety, harmony & most of all love.  Y'all have always been my greatest gifts!  I love you bunches & bunches!!!    

Celebrating Life!
~ashley

    

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

You Have Been Weighed and Found Wanting

My children consider me a commanding officer of the grammar police.  If you misuse a pronoun, a preposition, articles in front of words, a double negative or even a direct object, be prepared to be:  1st, corrected and 2nd,  judged.  Living in the deep south, we are already judged because of our accents, so if you add improper grammar on top of the accent...oy vey!  Yeah, I police mine pretty closely.    

I was subbing for Elizabeth's English class & noticed a cute book in her teacher's room titled:  I judge you when you use poor grammar.  The first thing it made me do was giggle, because, yeah, I do judge people (right, wrong or otherwise) who use poor grammar.  I realize that you may be a member of Mensa, but if you are not using correct grammar, I will assume that you are uneducated.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am not perfect, but at least I try to not sound like a country bumpkin.  And, I really want this book.  It's more like a picture book, but it's hilarious!

Here are some of the things that bother me the most:

  1. There, Their & They're:  There is a place.  Their shows possession.  They're is a contraction for They are. 
  2. To, Too, Two:  To is a preposition, it shows where you are going, but don't use it to end a sentence.  Too is another word for also.  Two is the number 2.
  3. Your & You're:  your shows possession & you're is the contraction for you are.
  4. Its & It's:  Its shows possession where It's is a contraction for it is.  The way I make sure I'm using it right is to sub 'it is' in the sentence.  Don't laugh, it works!
  5. He/She vs. Him/Her:  The way I remember it is that him/her is used as a direct object & can show possession.  Example:  Give the ball to him.  Who are you giving the ball to?  You are giving it to him.  I am taking Elizabeth to her dance lesson.  Whose dance lesson is it?  It's hers.
  6. She/Her and I/me:  The way my mom always told us the difference was to take away the she/her and see if the sentence makes sense with I/me.  You wouldn't say:  Me is going to the store, and you also wouldn't say Her is going to the store, so it has to be She & I.  (Me and her are going to get some food.  No, no you're not, because me & her are not going anywhere!)
  7. Using a pronoun after the noun it would take the place of:  my teacher, she.  Yeah, just stop.  It's either my teacher or just she, but not both.
  8. Double negatives.  These are  usually paired with the word ain't.  I ain't never...yuck.
  9. Using an adjective when you should use an adverb.  Adjectives answer:  how many, which one, what kind & how many.  Adverbs answer how, when, why & where.  If you're saying how someone did something, use an adverb.  Little hint, a lot of times you can make an adjective into an adverb by adding ly.  See the final sentence in the first paragraph.  Some would say close, but closely is the correct word to use.  :)     
  10. Good vs. Well:  good is an adjective & well is an adverb. (See #9 for what they answer.)  Something is good to eat, but you feel well.  Get it?  Got it?  Good!       
  11. Can I vs. May I:  OMG, this one drives me crazy.  When my children would use can I, I would always say:  "I don't know, can you?"  It's MAY I PLEASE!  And, if you're a loving sweet child who wants to up the odds of you getting what you want, you will finish the sentence with:  "because you're so great.".  I trained my kids to say this when they were little, how else was I ever going to hear that I was great?

So there you go.  If you misuse any of the 11 above, be ready for the grammar police to stop by.  But, now that you know, learn it, live it, love it.  It's amazing how far using proper grammar will get you in life, so until my 5 get it right, I'll keep wearing my badge.  :)

Celebrating Life!
~ashley  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

What I Really Heart

As all moms know, December is CrAzY!  Not only is there the regular schedule to keep up with, but you have added in the seasonal schedule: decorating, cooking, Christmas cards, gift buying & wrapping ~ to just name a few.  Christmas is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but instead it turns into the most dreaded & miserable time of the year.

Ask me how many people I've heard complain about their extended families & having to spend time with them.  Ask me how I felt last night at the Galleria.  You know what, I felt sad.  I saw unhappy people trying to find gifts for people they don't really like with money they probably don't have.  The whole season gets kicked off with Black Friday which has turned into something ugly & selfish.  I don't want to be that way at Christmas.  I want to feel the love of my family.  I want to laugh and make happy memories.  I want to lavish in the simplicity of the king who set aside his heavenly splendor to be born as a baby; live a mortal life; and serve as a sacrifice for all mankind.

I have several decorations that are my favorites.  I love the tea stained angels, the carolers, and the hand print angels my children made in preschool.  I love the Advent calendar my mother-in-law gave my children many years ago; and I love my nativity that Hopson and the children gave me a long time ago.  These decorations are not fancy & didn't cost an arm and a leg.  The simplicity of them really resonates what the season is to me.  Simplicity.  The little ordinary joys that communicate what the season is about.

This is the definition of simplicity in Merriam-Webster's dictionary:
  

sim·plic·i·ty

noun \sim-ˈpli-sə-tē, -ˈplis-tē\
: the quality of being easy to understand or use
: the state or quality of being plain or not fancy or complicated
: something that is simple or ordinary but enjoyable

I find so much happiness in my children putting their day's animal, star, wise man, shepherd, palm tree or purple cat on the calendar.  All the children (even the 20 & almost 18 year old) like putting their parts on the calendar, and I like to watch them.  I think it's because right now, we have one camel as a star & one in the manger, a palm tree star, a sheep where the north star goes & purple cat.  (We have the purple cat because we lost one of the trees & my sister had the purple cat handy.)  There could have been a purple cat around when Jesus was born...who's to say there wasn't.  Elizabeth has threatened to hurt anyone who moves her pieces out of the crazy places she's put them.  Oh my...those children make me giggle.  They make me remember the beautiful simplicity of the season.

So this Christmas, if you find yourself in a tizzy (INATZ) focus on those few things that bring you and your family true Christmas joy, because if you do, it will help you focus on the true simplistic beauty of the season.

Celebrating Life & wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!
~ashley

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Insert HUGE eye roll HERE

 I have noticed that over the years I've become a little cynical about some things.  I was sitting in the doctors office today (for 2 hours!  Insert frownie face here.)  and was flipping through one of the different magazines they had on the table in the waiting room.  It was a style & gossip magazine & a few questions started floating through my head.


  1. Why are certain people considered celebrities & why do we care about every aspect of their lives so much?  I find it a little ridiculous. First off, they are people.  They do a lot of the same things we all do each day.  Second, they sometimes make bad choices.  (and keep making those choices...a lot)  I'm not saying those choices make them bad people, I'm just saying they consciously put themselves in situations that are not flattering & then some of them have the audacity to be mad because they are in the press about it.
  2. Why do we care so much what the celebrities are wearing?  Why do I care that a celebrity looks gross in her yoga pants & t-shirt with her hair pulled back?  She may have gone to the gym; maybe her kids kept her up all night and sister needs some sleep; maybe she was having a day when everything in her closet was too tight & just needed to slouch for a bit.  Why does it matter?  My one piece of fashion advice for celebrities, PLEASE wear a slip when you wear a see through dress.  Ugh!
  3. I don't care what designer the celebrities are wearing.  I like to look good, but I also don't think that you have to spend a small fortune to do it.  Fashion is so fickle anyway, I think it's important to feel good in your clothes.  I think it's silly that someone would spend $520 on a green velour jacket.  Personally I could find much better ways to spend $500, but hey, whatever floats their boat.  (BTW, if you ever see me wearing a green velour jacket, you have my permission to hit me in the head with a tack hammer, just sayin'.)
  4. Why do we act surprised by celebrities world wind romances and breakups?  I have too much to worry about with my own fam to worry about a celebrity who's 2 month marriage is splitting up.  They fall in and out of love so fast, and it seems like many are always chasing greener pastures.  If you want a green pasture, take the time to water your lawn.  Marriage is work people, ask anyone who's been married for 50  years, they'll tell you it's not always smooth sailing, but it's worth the ride.
  5. Naked pictures....everyone just needs to stop, celebrities, teenagers, grown-ups...everyone.  Or just don't be surprised when a hacker (or your publicist) decides to leak them to the media.  Put your phone away, because we don't need to see your behind or any other body part.
After I thumbed through the magazine, I put it down in total disgust.  I can think of many everyday people who are much more accomplished, amazing and giving than most of the people in that magazine.  These people do their thing without adoring fans or making lots of money. They are just incredible people.  To me, they are the real celebrities, and I am blessed to know them.

Thanks for letting me rant.  :)  If you are an everyday celebrity, thank you for what you do!
Celebrating life!
~ashley

Monday, November 17, 2014

You Must Be Out Cho'Mind!

My children are pyromaniacs, but then again, aren't most children?  Mine come by it naturally.  My sister & I used to stick our fingers in candles to play with the wax & Hopson used to set rice fields on fire after they had been harvested on his family's farm growing up.  (yeah, I know, Hopson wins...)  But, playing with candles has always been a fascination of mine.  I just can't help it.

Our kitchen, which I spend most of my time in, smells like rotten pumpkins right now.  Yuck!  My centerpiece that was on my table had three pumpkins & I didn't know the bottom had become rotten until yesterday.  In case you've never smelled rotten pumpkins, it's gross.  I've scrubbed my kitchen down, but I still get whiffs of it every now & then.  Bleh!  Because of the smell, I picked up some fragrance spray that I like at the grocery store.  It has a nice fresh smell to it.

When I brought it home, Henry discovered it & started spraying it all over the house.  I was ok with that, it made the house smell nice.  Today Harry discovered it.  He really liked it.  I told him he could have my second can.  I'm trying to be nice & share.  I don't know what I was thinking today, or maybe I just wasn't.  I'm not quite sure, but the inner pyro in me came out.  I had candles lit in the kitchen; I had a can of aerosol spray; I had an impressionable 12 year old standing right beside me.  Guess what I did...

...Hey watch this.  I took the can & 1 of my candles & sprayed the thing right at the candle.  Yep, I sure did.  Now it was way cool, I mean it was a horizontal column of fire!  After I did it, I was like, (yes, I'm having an inner dialogue with myself.  I guess it would be my Id & Superego, for all you Freudian peeps out there.)  'You must be out of your cotton pickin' mind!'  And  yes, I was.  I mean really, what was I thinking showing Henry the joys of flames & aerosol cans, at 12 years old!  OMG, he's going to burn the house down.

The next thing out of my mouth was for him to NEVER do that.  It's one of those 'do as I say & not as I do' moments.  Don't get me wrong, I wanted to do it again, but really, what kind of example am I being?  I had a momentary lapse in my mommy judgement & just wanted to show said 12 year old something cool.  Ugh, fail!

We did have a good laugh together though.  Who knows what I'll show him tomorrow....  Just kidding.  ;)

Celebrating Life & temporarily losing my mind!
~ashley

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Borrowing a Line

It's a Jagged Little Pill

Yes, I know it's a song by Alanis Morrisette, but it so applies to this post.

Have you ever so totally messed up something that you relive your embarrassment and shame over and over and over again?  See, I told you the song title applied.  It's like a jagged pill that you swallow over and over.  (or at least I tend to relive mistakes in my mind...maybe I'm crazy, but that's another posting for another time.)

Henry had one of those moments yesterday.  Luckily, it wasn't life threatening, but it was something that was very public & ended the advancement of his team in a competition.  I think, as parents, we tend to want to shield our children from failure and embarrassment.  No one wants their children to fail, but can I tell you, the lesson your child learns from that failure will be one that they remember for a lifetime.

A few things that you need to know about Hen before I lay out what #4 did...

  • Henry has been my little Lego builder for as long as I can remember.  He would spend hours building and rebuilding different cities, cars, spaceships and he would build and play with them anywhere and everywhere.
  • If Hen is interested in something, he will do his very best with it.  No interest = no effort.
  • Henry does not get too emotional about things.  He's the youngest & can just about roll with any situation.  He's had to for most of his life, so not much ruffles him.  Well anything, except Harry.
Henry is on the robotics team at his school.  He loves it, no wait, he really loves it.  He loves every portion of robotics:  designing, building, programming, driving.  It's just an extension of his Legos, but he's able to compete with it.  So yesterday was a competition, if you want to see what they have to do, click HERE.  Henry's team did very well & were 15th out of 42 teams after all the prelims were completed.  I should also note that the middle school kids were competing against high school children, so 15th was pretty dog gone good.

Lining up for the alliances.
After prelims, you have what they call alliances.  The alliance teams are chosen in front of everyone & then compete against other teams to try to get into the finals.  It's single elimination, so you lose & you're out.  Here's where Henry majorly messed up.  If you were below 8th place yesterday, you had to take an alliance that was offered to you.  For what ever reason, when Henry's team was offered, (remember they're in 15th) he declined.  So basically, he put his robot team out of the competition.  No other team could pick them up.  I'm sitting in the stands wondering what 'in the you know what' just happened....

I look at him & then he realizes what he just did in front of EVERYONE.  (probably around 400 people.)  He messed up big.  His coach was not happy, which if I was the coach I wouldn't have been happy either, because this is a state qualifying meet.  His team had a great chance to make it to state with this robot.  Why would he go up there & do that?  Oh my goodness, this was not good, and the look on Henry's face said it all.  Jagged little pill.

Have you ever been shown mercy when you deserved condemnation and anger?  Do you know how humbling it is?  Everyone of Henry's team mates (5 for this robot) showed my guy mercy.  They forgave him immediately & were encouraging to him.  They told him that everyone makes mistakes & it was going to be ok.  No yelling, no raised voices, just friends talking.  They told him that they would get it in the next competition.  As mom of the child that threw the robot team out of the competition, I wanted to hug every one of his teammates.  It lets me know there are still parents who are taking the time to teach their children to speak words of life over friends.  I know the apples don't fall far from the trees, because we had several team member's parents text or email saying that it was going to be ok & mistakes happen.

There is a silver lining to this story.  We came home after Henry messed up, sometimes you need to be able to be upset in private, but last night Henry's coach called & then a sweet friend emailed me about Team C.  There are several awards given, that can qualify you for state without actually winning the final match.  There is an Excellence Award given that is based on: number of points, a notebook that quantifies everything the children have done to their robot, programming skills & diving skills.  Henry's team won it!  So the team with the little boy that eliminated said team from the semis is going to state.  His smile was huge.  I know that in the future, I don't think he will make that same mistake again.  You know what, I'm willing to guess that the entire robotics team from his school now knows the rule as well.

We do want Hen to own his mistake.  Just because it ended well does not take away what he did, and we hope he has learned a lot from it.  Both in how his team treated him, and how he needs to treat others when they make mistakes.  It's still going to be a jagged little pill, but it's a little easier going down with the sweet taste of forgiveness.

Celebrating life, hard lessons learned & the love of merciful friends,
~ashley
 

Monday, November 3, 2014

We Put the Fun in DysFUNctional

So, this past weekend the entire fam went to Oxford to visit the grandparents & go to to the Auburn/Ole Miss football game.  It was nice to spend more than 10 minutes with Hop, and it's always nice to be spoiled by my in-laws.  Tickets, check.  Very warm clothes, check.  Tailgating, check, and as far as tailgating goes, The Grove is iconic...and...a little crowded...and...a little rowdy.  We passed about 7 different Elvis impersonators.  (hilarious)  Most tents are decorated to the hilt.  (love it)  The food is second to none.  (my pants are a little tighter today.)  It's funny because when the game starts, there are about as many people in the Grove watching the game on TV as there are in the game.  It's great!

Our game plans were varied and interesting.  Hopson wanted to say in the Grove to watch the game on TV.  Hop, Harry & nephew Garner all went into the game & sat in the Auburn section.  We're trying to talk G into coming to AU, but he is a Mississippi State man & really wants to go there.  He wore his State gear to the game.  (that would be like an AU fan wearing orange & blue to a UA game when AU & UA weren't playing.)  Elizabeth, Henry & I sat in the Ole Miss corner of the far end zone by the student section.  We were 3 Tigers in a red sea, and we kept our mouths somewhat shut, for various reasons.

Now, E looked at me & asked why there was a black bear dressed up instead of a Rebel.  I giggled & then as I started to explain everything, I realized that there are a lot of teams that have dysfunctional identities.  We  have our reasons for them, but we have them none the less.  I'm going to list 4 of them below & you decide for yourself.  And since it's easier to start with pointing the finger at my team first, that's where I'll start:


  1. Auburn:  Mascot: Tigers.  Battle cry: War Eagle!  There is The legend of War Eagle, and it's the legend you will read first that is the widely accepted version of how our battle cry came about.  Since my children were little, they have been able to sing the fight song.  What can I say, we start their indoctrination early.  (ask my father-in-law who accidentally bought Alabama booties instead of Auburn ones when little Hop was born...bad, bad, bad.  He took them back and bought the correct ones, but I have loved giving him grief for the last 20 years.)  By the way, if you ever get to go to an Auburn game, make sure 1.  to look us up.  We have a tent where we tailgate & would love to feed you & 2. that you make it in before the eagle flies during pregame.  If you've never seen the eagle soar through the stadium, it is an extremely cool experience.  
  2. Alabama:  Mascot:  Elephant.  Battle cry:  Roll Tide.  Team called:  Crimson Tide.  Being an Auburn person, I'm not in the know about all their lingo & traditions.  (I can't even say Rok;j;lkj Tilskdfjl;sk, see what happens...)  I do know that someone said that they looked like a crimson tide or something like that... ;)
  3. Ole Miss:  Mascot:  Rebels/Black Bears/Landsharks  Battle Cry:  Hotty Toddy.  All the different names are actually kinda fun.  I think there is a silent majority that would like to drop the Black Bears & just go with the Landsharks.  The phrase Landsharks was started in 2008 by an Ole Miss linebacker, Toney Fein to describe the defense.  I have to tell you, I like it.  We saw a ton of people wearing shark hats; they have a 'Fin Cam' during the game; & you'll see the D do it if they make a great play.  I agree with the majority, y'all drop the bear & bring on the shark. 
  4. Mississippi State:  Mascot:  Bulldogs.  Battle Cry:  Hail State.  Official "thing":  the cowbell.  I am not Christopher Walkin & do not need more cowbell.  Not really a fan of them.  I migraines fairly easily & those things will set one off in a heartbeat.  At least they are doing better about not ringing them once the center goes over the ball, but still, someone pass the Advil.  We have family ties to State.  Hopson's brother is a graduate & niece Margaret was a student & nephew Garner wants to go there.  We like for them to do well, as long as they don't get in the way of Auburn going to the SEC Championship.
So there  you go, fun in dysfunctional.  :)  Auburn won the game Saturday night, and while I am excited about that, it's hard to get too excited when a player is seriously injured.  One of Ole Miss's best receivers, Laquon Treadwell, suffered a horrible season ending injury.  I pray for him get well wishes & a very speedy recovery.  He had a great game & it was a nail biter until the end.  Thank you to Tracy & family for allowing us to hang out in their tent!  We appreciate your hospitality & as always would love to host you next year!

Celebrating life & the dysFUNctionality of football,
~ashley

PS ~ We also had a great time visiting with family.  GiGi & Pop let us invade their house this weekend & we had a ball!!!