Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Just Consider Me High Risk

Every time & I mean every time we go visit my brother in Tampa we engage in high risk behaviors.  He for sure wants us to step out of our comfort zone.  I'm boring and safe.  If you don't believe me, just ask my children.  But, when I'm with my brother, risks abound.  :)

In the past, we have:

  • Canoed with alligators.  I was scared to death especially when one swam under our canoe & bumped the boat.  I may or may not have squealed like a little girl.  It was scary.  Um, have you seen me?  I would be a tasty snack.  I think of a juicy steak that is marbleized in all the right places.  :/   
  • Had trapeze lessons.  Swinging on a trapeze is a lot harder than it looks.  Arms and core are used a bunch.  The trapeze artists (and they are artists) make it look so easy.  They are incredibly strong, very nice and have to wear incredibly tight belts.  I mean, they squeeze the air out of you, but it was so worth it.

This year's high risk behavior was hang gliding.  We went to a place called QuestAir in Groveland, Florida.  It's about an hour from Tampa.  I want to thank first: my brother & sister-in-law, Cotton & Leah, for coming up with this crazy idea and second: Mark, Spinner & Kim for a great time.  Mark was our tow pilot; Spinner was our instructor and tandem pilot; and Kim who made sure we were all strapped in correctly, set the GoPro camera & was encouraging and bubbly the whole time.  They could not have been sweeter!  Especially when we were signing our life away.  Just kidding, we only had a few papers to fill out.

Because I'm the mom, I like to go last.  I like to make sure all my little chicks are back safely before I go to try something risky.  When we go snow skiing I'm the last one down the mountain.  How can I help them if I'm at the bottom (or in this case on the ground) and they are at the top.  Cotton talked me into going second to last.  Believe it or not, I was not nervous or scared.  I was excited.  I was going to get a great indication of what it felt like to fly.  How many times have I wanted to soar like an eagle?  More than once.

So I get in the body bag thingie, and get the talk that Spinner gives before take-off.  It was the 6th time I had heard it, so I probably could have given it to him.  We were pulled to 3600 feet.  Can I tell you that Tampa is hot.  Not just hot, but very humid.  At 3600 feet it is so nice and cool and no humidity.  It's quiet and beautiful, but not that calm.  For 3/4 of the trip I was great.  You could see 40 miles away.  Beautiful.  But then, the cool air went away & I was hit hard with the heat & we were kinda circling, and I thought I was going to barf.  On the video my family laughed because they could tell that from my face that I was not feeling well.  Yeah, I was just trying to not barf on Spinner's head.  How gross would that be?  They told us funny stories about people who did throw up midair.  Yuck.

The only real disappointment I had was that I didn't get to see a phenomenon called Pilot's Glory.  You see it when you pass over clouds.  You look down into the clouds & will see your shadow inside a rainbow ring.  My sister saw 2 & Elizabeth saw one.  Just a little jealous, but it's ok.  I guess that means I'll have to try it again...maybe.  

If  you ever get the chance, try a tandem glide.  It really is a fun and beautiful high risk activity. :)

Celebrating Life!
~ashley
Harry



Elizabeth

Henry






Thursday, June 26, 2014

And Everybody Said

Photo creds to andrewcorbett.net
AMEN!  Well, something happened today that I never thought would.  But before I tell you what child #1 did, let me preface it with the next paragraph.  Don't skip it, especially if your a momma.

You know all the years you spend training your children.  Say yes'mam and no'mam; say please and thank you; put your napkin in your lap; chew with your mouth closed; hold the door open for ladies to enter before you do; hold the door open for the people coming behind you; look people in the eye when speaking to them; speak clearly; give a good firm handshake because no one likes a dead fish grip; excellence in everything...and the list goes on, and on and on.  I'm wondering if the reminders never end, because even when they become young adults (and maybe sometimes middle aged adults) a momma never stops wanting her children to have good manners and act like a normal human being.

I witnessed a miracle today!  Hop actually said thank you to Hopson and me for teaching him manners.  (We have to thank Betty Moss also!  She teaches a manners class for children when they get into the 8th grade & she is incredible!!!)  Yes, he really did say it, and the child is only 19!  We were on our way to watch the local minor league baseball game & I about drove off the road. And yes, it did make me smile. Manners matter & a first impression is always the most important.  He said that he never appreciated all that we had taught him until he had to work with people who were not taught any better, and had no desire to change.

Can I tell you how thankful I am?  Can I tell you that for one child to understand that is HUGE!  And that he 'got it' before his 20th birthday.  I know technically we're batting 25%, which is not great, but hopefully the other three will understand it before they turn 20 as well. I'm pretty competitive so I need to be at 100% and nothing less will do.  :)  I think I need to do the dance. (remember the dance from Evan Almighty?)

Well, it's waaay past my bedtime, but I just wanted to share this victory with y'all, because I'm truly on cloud nine right now!!!

Celebrating the little things in life!
~ashley

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

...And That's Why I Make the Big Bucks

Anytime I do something that falls under the mommy job description (that means anything that the rest of them have trouble doing) and am successful, I always tell the fam that that is why I make the big bucks.  There are days I wonder if they just expect it of me or if they really appreciate it.  I mean how do you really quantify finding something that's lost?  I guess it's up to the person searching for what is missing.  Cleaning & cooking are much easier, but you get my drift.

Well tonight was a big win for me personally.  Not cooking for 8 days has spoiled me.  I have to admit, I really like someone bringing me my dinner and cleaning up.  No wondering what in the world I'm going to cook & not spending an hour cleaning it up.  Now it's back to the old grindstone.  So, this afternoon (around lunchtime) I was trying to figure out what to feed my people.  You know what I do in that situation, I go to my fridge, freezer and pantry to see what I can dig up.  Chicken, check.  I have mangoes and peaches that must be eaten today.  Ok, what can I make, what can I make?

pic taken from
recipes.sparkpeople.com
This what I decided:  Grilled chicken with a homemade mango peach salsa, roasted brussel sprouts and/or green beans (for my non sprouts eating folks) and biscuits.  I have never made a mango/peach salsa, so I need to google that.  (I really love google, can I just say that?)  Found a great easy recipe that also included a dry rub for the chicken.

Ok, for those of you who know me well, know I don't ever follow a recipe, like ever.  I'll follow the spirit of it, but this is my way to be a rebel.  It makes for a terrible baker (which I stink!) but not too bad a cook.  A little of this & a little of that.  :)  You also know I'm a somewhat lazy cook.  I'll change something up just to make it a little easier.  So, of course that is what I did tonight.

I first made the salsa.  Cut mangoes & peaches, not brain surgery.  The recipe called for fresh cilantro & 1 fresh jalapeno.  I had neither, so I used dry cilantro & 6 jalapeno slices that I diced very fine.  Last you need a dash of salt (kosher of course) & juice from one lime.  I didn't know how the lime juice would taste, but I have to say the salsa was pretty dang good.  Salsa in the fridge to let the flavors come together.

Onto the chicken.  The dry rub called for all this funky stuff & I don't do funky or packets of spices if I can make them at home.  This is what I did instead.  I first squeezed the mango pits over the chicken to coat them in the juice.  It's pretty thick and it helped the spices to go on evenly.  Now, I dumped the spices onto the chicken so if it didn't smell right, I just added what I thought would be good.  I used:  cumin, chili powder, cayenne pepper (just a smidge), cilantro, kosher salt, a little sugar and garlic powder.  I made sure all the chicken was coated by turning it over and over until it was even.  Into the fridge to marinate.

When it was time to cook dinner I grilled the chicken & put the salsa on the side.  (Harry asked for my homemade ginger sauce, which of course I made.) Veggies on the plate along with a biscuit (made from bisquick, I know it's pathetic, but I was short on time) and there you go.  Dinner is served.  They gobbled it up; licked their plates & I was very happy.

...and that is why I make the big bucks. :)  Not only did they get dinner, they received it with a smile.  I like smiling, smiling's my favorite.  (can you name the movie?)  Well, I have a few more things to clean up, so I best get to it!

I hope you had a smashingly wonderful day!!!

Celebrating life & serving the fam,
~ashley

Thursday, June 12, 2014

2nd Verse Same as the First

Let me start by saying that I am a rule follower, at least most of the time.  But there are days I just forget.  I forget that: I'm not infallible; I'm not indestructible & I'm not in my 20's anymore.

You might remember that a few years ago I popped my right calf muscle open.  I'm not going to lie, it hurt, badly.  A few years earlier I popped my left calf.  Well at least I ended up being even.  When I was 20 I tore my meniscus. It was a beautiful April day and waaay to pretty to be going to class.  Especially when I had a better offer.  I heard the lake calling my name.  So there are my big injuries in reverse order.  Fast forward to last week...

...I'm working out.  I love to workout, I feel so good when I'm done.  (and it allows me to eat without guilt.)  The ole' knee has been hurting for the last 8 months.  When I went to the doctor in August, he said I had bursitis.  An old person ailment. Insert frownie face here.  Well, I've heard it said that when you turn 40 your body starts falling apart.  I am starting to believe it.  The pain has spread to the back of my knee.  I went to the doctor again last week because I felt a little pop.  Pops in your legs are NEVER a good thing.  He said that it is my where my hamstring goes into my knee.  He said it was strained.  He said to rest it it & ice it.  

I listened, sort of.  Over the weekend I did rest.  I didn't paddle board, or swim or do anything that would irritate it.  I decided that when I went to work out I would take it easy.  If my knee started to hurt I would rest or stop.  I did great.  I made it through muscle works and Zumba.  Then my instructor told me about a great small group she was in.  It's a dancing small group.  Well, YES to that!  I am a dancer.  I hear music and I can't help it.  My body just moves.  

So I drop Elizabeth off at her pointe class & go to small group.  By the time I get there, everyone is warming up.  The class is full, so I find me a place in the back & join in.  At one point I did look around & notice how y.o.u.n.g everyone looks.  I'm the old lady in the room.  But no worries, I am a dancer.  A dancer with a bum knee, but a dancer none the less.  Well, we're doing leaps and turns across the floor.  The knee is long forgotten, I have to show these young whipper snappers that old lady still has it.  Or she did...

...Until I felt a huge pop in the same place I felt the little pop.  Bad, this is bad, this is very bad.  My whole body is shaking.  I think I'm going to barf.  I'm just going to stand here & breath nice a deeply through my nose and out through my mouth.  (like I'm trying to breath through a contraction)  Do you think it would be bad for me to lay down and cry?  I almost did.  I made it through the rest of class marking everything.  When it was time to get E from dance I limped to my car & the muscles in my knee were throbbing & I almost threw up driving.

It's Thursday now & my knee is a little better.  At least I can walk on it today.  No, I'm not going to the doctor because:  1.  there is nothing they can do for a severely pulled or torn muscle and, 2.  I can't go back and tell my orthopedist what I did.  Yes, I'm a chicken.  

So it's the second verse same as the first.  When I can do everyday stuff and not feel it pull so badly I'll be good.  I do think I'm going to muscle works tomorrow though & just do upper body.  Not working out since Monday is not good for my sanity.  So back to square one & trying to remember that I'm not 20 anymore. :)

Celebrating Life & dancing my way through it!
~ashley 

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Henry...One of a Kind

Today is that crazy Henry's 12th birthday.  No more little kids in this house, and I have to say, it's kinda nice.  Everyone has been able to wipe their own fanny, tie their own shoes, make beds, fold clothes and do chores for a few years now.  It's nice to have at least a little help from the people who make the mess.  Each baby is a miracle & I think it's important for each child to know stories about their pregnancy and birth, so I'm documenting Henry's here. But before I go any further...Happy Birthday Hen!  We love you bunches & bunches!  You are #4 & you have completed our fam.

Henry is our little surprise baby.  We had three children & were clicking along.  E was 1 1/2 and I could see a light at the end of the diaper tunnel.  Then one day I woke up, and just like with every other pregnancy, started throwing up...everything.  I was sick all the time.  (and those of you who think I needed to eat saltines & drink water when I first woke up clearly haven't violently thrown up saltine crackers.  Yuck, it tastes like salt water coming up.  It makes me want to gag today just thinking about it.)

Since I realized at that I was more than likely pregnant, I went to get a test to confirm it.  Double lines to you.   It turned positive very quickly.  The only thing I could think about was how I was going to tell Hopson.  So I didn't, for a month.  One day we were talking about people who had a ton of kids & then I blurted out:  "well, how do you feel about four children, because I'm pregnant."  :)  He looked at me & said he needed a beer.  At that point, I could have used one too.  All of our high school friends laughed & made fun of us.  Needless to say, we have had the last laugh because several of them now have four children.  :)  He who laughs last,  laughs loudest!

Since Henry's pregnancy was going to be my last, (yes, I do know how this happens & I also know how to fix it) I was hoping for smooth sailing.  No such luck.  I think I have a pretty impressive list of horrible things.  Here's the list, in case you're curious:  morning, afternoon & night sickness everyday for all nine months (since it happened with all four pregnancies, that is equal to 3 straight years of throwing up), gestational diabetes, high blood pressure (I had this with Hop too), and I tested positive for Strep B. When they called to tell me the about the strep, I cried & asked them if I had anything else that could possibly happen with this pregnancy.  It was horrible.  I had all this & was chasing 3 others, but it's life so you rock on.

I would love to tell you that Hen's birth story is better, but it is worse.  This was the swan song, I was hoping I would catch a little slack.  Henry was induced, no biggie, all my boys were.  I was a champ at inductions.  Harry's birth lasted four hours start to finish, it was incredible.  Henry's was B. A. D. 

Here it is in a nutshell:
  • Checked in & lovely gown...Check
  • Hooked up to all the monitors...Check
  • Pit drip...Check
and here's where it starts going south
  • Epidural...Check, but it only was working on one side of my body.  So imagine someone is trying to squeeze the life out of one side of your body, and that doesn't even touch how bad it really was.  OMG I thought I was dying.
  • Call for anesthesiologist to come fix it & then give me a boost.  20 minutes before he was born it started working. 
Keep in mind this is baby number 4 & he should have just fallen out of my body.
  • It took him forever to get into position for me to push.  Then I pushed & pushed & pushed, and then pushed some more.  The nurse was wondering what in the world was going on.
  • I was told to push one more time really hard.  I was then told to STOP!  He was coming too fast, the doctor wasn't even in the room & the nurse wasn't really gowned up.
  • Everybody shows up, and I give one more push.
Stop the action for just a sec.  Remember that I had given birth 3 times to pink crying babies.  What arrived was not a pink crying baby but a blue silent one with his umbilical cord wrapped twice around his neck.  Can I say scared s#*^less here?  I know that's not very nice, but I was.  I can think of one other time I have been that afraid. 

I looked at the nurse & said there was something wrong with my baby.  She immediately agreed & took him from me.  The doctor is trying to poo poo my worry & the questions I was asking.  (which by the way, you don't do.  I wasn't hysterical, but I needed information since I couldn't see anything from my vantage point.)  The next thing I hear is a wailing sound coming from my room & about 10 people are SPRINTING into the room and rushing around Henry's bed.  They coded him.  They coded MY baby.  Later they told me he decided he didn't really want to breath on his own. That was not a great way to start this fam of 6 thing.  

The whole not breathing episode bought him a few hours in the NICU.  Hopson went to see him since they wouldn't let me go.  (They wanted me to walk & I couldn't because of the epidural.)  So I was forced to stayed behind & I cried.  Hopson said he felt guilty when he came back.  We had a healthy 7 pound baby & there were babies in there that weighed 1 & 2 pounds.  They made Hen look like Gulliver next to the Lilliputians.  

We did get to go home 3 days later.  A new family of 6.  I remember going out in public those first few years with all four in tow.  People would stop to ask if they were all my children.  Yes, they are all mine.  I' may be crazy, but I'm not that crazy.  I had Hen in the carrier, I would have E by my other hand, and Hop & Harry would each have a hand in my back pockets.  We were a sight. I'm proud to say I have survived...and so have the children.  And the baby is 12.  These years have flown.  And as I look back on them, I can smile & say that so far it's been a wild and crazy ride, but I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Love you Henry!!!  Happy birthday my sweet!

Celebrating Life & the baby's birthday,
~ashley   
 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Something We NEED to Know

What I'm sharing is all over the internet today & I'm going to post the link below, because it is THAT IMPORTANT.  What I've learned is not to be shy to fight for things I think are right.  No matter who might mock you for it.  (and trust me, they will mock you behind your back)  I have so much respect for this mom because she didn't back down even when administrators tried to poo poo her for just being the mom.  In my humble opinion, (well, I'm pretty opinionated, so it's not really a humble one is it...) we have a government that is grossly overreaching into the private lives of our dependent children.  They basically have said that they can raise our children better than parents can.  (It was Melissa Harris-Perry & click HERE to see the link.)  Um, I've seen the way the government handles things (VA, Insurance, prisoner exchanges, education) so I'm just going to say a big N-O to that, thank you very much.  

They are coming after our children in multiple ways & it's time for it to stop.  Don't be like the camel with his head in the sand; this kinda stuff is going on in the schools too & we have to work together to stop it.  Someone needs to get the hospital in the blog posting (and the government for that matter) a Constitution & Bill of Rights for Dummies.  I'm not kidding.  Or maybe the people who passed this stupid law the hospital is over enforcing should be required to take a test before entering politics to make sure they understand basic government.  Yeesh!

Ok, I'm getting off my soapbox now!  You need to click HERE for the link to the posting you need to read even if you don't read anything else today.  The posting is called:  Where I Am:  I. Am. The. Mom.

Celebrating Life & strong moms & dads everywhere!
~ashley

Monday, June 2, 2014

Where is the Time Going?

The freshman, 6th grader,
senior & college sophomore
This  year has been a haze.  How is it already June???  I mean, I know May flies, but we are almost half way through 2014.  Yeah, I don't think I like it, except that means we are a little over 6 months away from my birthday.  :)  December 26th, you gotta love it.  Sorry, rabbit trail!  But seriously, do you know why I don't like time moving so quickly?  It is because my kids are growing up too fast.  I worked so hard to get them all independent & then when they get really fun they leave.  :/  Not only do they leave, they really love their independence.  Hop only came home a handful of times last year, and now we are going to be getting Harry ready for the same thing, thank goodness I have another year with him. But...

We are about to start another year of lasts.  Harry's lasts.  Not ready!  He'll be getting his senior portrait stuff in the mail soon, and that is the first last we face.  As of today though I have a college sophomore, a senior in high school, a freshman in high school & 6th grader.  I'm that mom.  No more little kids in the house.  I have one tweener & that's it.  And in August I'll be down to 2 teenagers because Hop will be 20!  I thought I was still 20...or 29.  (Well, most of my body feels 29, my right knee feels like it's 80.)  I look at all those moms with little kids & tell them the same thing moms of older kids told me so long ago.  Hold onto everyday, because you will turn around & all your children will be grown up.

So far the summer has been quiet.  Hop is working full time, Harry & Elizabeth are in summer school trying to get ahead & so Henry is the only child at home.  We've had the discussion that this is what his life will be when E goes to college in four years.  He will become the big OC.  Hopefully within the next 5-10 years our family will grow some more.  :)  And not because I'll be pregnant.  Praying for my future daughters & son.  More love to go around.

I will say the first 2 weeks of summer have been great.  I know the next two months will fly as we prepare for Harry's senior year.  Lord please help me remember everything he needs to learn & know before he leaves the nest & please help me remember to document EVERYTHING!

Celebrating life & fun with the fam,
~ashley