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Happy Father’s Day!!!

“One father is more than a one hundred schoolmasters.”  This quote from George Herbert, 17th century English poet and orator perfectly sums up the role and the importance of fathers in our children’s lives.  In modern society, we place (with good reason) a lot of emphasis on the importance of motherhood while not always paying much attention to the role a strong father plays.

 

My brothers and I were fortunate to have grown up with a father who was always here for us and instrumental in our lives.  He shared with us his love of music, military history, aviation and Dr. Who.   Give my parents a call today and you may hear his music blaring in the background.

When my mom was working second shift, I learned to cook by helping him make dinner on those days.  I cherish those memories.  My dad has always treated my mom as an equal and has always supported her, her goals and her career.  My dad’s love for my mom and for us kids was always on display.  To this day, my dad still carries the pink comb I gave him when I was in preschool.

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Now that we are older and have kids of our own, our kids get to call him Grandpa.  My oldest brother and I both have kids, who absolutely adore him.  What’s even better is that my kids have a father, who is exceptional.  My hubby is an amazing dad, who is devoted to me and our kids.  He’s volunteered as a coach on their hockey teams since they started in 2010.  Some seasons he’s been on the roster of all three of their travel teams, which is a huge investment of time.

 

He’s taken the time to show them how to fish, how to build and how to be men.  When I work late, he cooks amazing dinners, helps with the homework and takes them to hockey practice.  Our life runs at a crazy pace and without a true partnership, we’d never be able to manage our life successfully. My boys are blessed to call him dad and blessed to have three grandpas, who love them unconditionally.  They are lucky to have so many positive male role models in their lives.

Time to pop a bottle and celebrate all of the dads in our lives.  To all the fathers out gthere, who day in and day out work tirelessly to support their family, happy father’s day!

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Living Life as a Paragon of Perfection (Not!)

In a world dominated by social media and social media influencers, the use of filters and the crafting of a careful social media presence exists far from the glare of the Hollywood lights.  We use Instagram to perpetuate an image of our lives that we want the world to accept regardless if it is accurate or not.  It has a created a society that looks towards almost unattainable and unsustainable happiness based on the false pretense of everyday life the social media has created.

Think about it.  When you select your Insta or Facebook profile picture, you’re going to pick the most flattering picture.  You may even select one with one of those ridiculous and fun Snapchat filters.  We certainly don’t select a picture where we look horrible that’s for damn sure.   The picture where we’ve clearly drank too much and are making the most ridiculous face that are friend tagged us in on Facebook?  We instantaneously remove the tag.

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The thing is we can’t pretend like this didn’t exist before the socials did.  It’s not like people picked their crappiest photos and worst moments to highlight on their Christmas cards.  Just like the photos we post to our profiles now, the photos selected and the moments shared always crafted a good picture.   Was it always accurate? Probably not.

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The problem with socials is that they exacerbate the perception that many of our friends are living lives that are the total paragon of perfection.   Meanwhile, their life may be a complete disaster or completely normal.   As I looked through pictures from graduation last month, I found myself laughing at the outtakes.  We had some great pictures, but there were some completely disastrous photos, which are pretty accurate of how life sometimes feels in a house of all boys.

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For today’s blog post, I’ve interspersed some of my favorite photos of the boys and the numerous outtakes.  You’ll notice one Christmas (2007) the Mayor decided he didn’t want to cooperate at all.  At the end of the day, social media can be a great tool to keep in touch with family and friends across the globe, but we can balance putting our best foot forward with the creation of a completing fake and narcissistic social media persona.

 

My Loud Life

There used to be a time, probably about ten to twelve years ago, that if you wanted to reach me the best way was to call me.  The problem with phone calls, especially once you have children, is that it isn’t until you are on the phone that the children need you desperately.  It is one of the Murphy’s Laws of parenting.  This also applies to anytime you go to take a shower, bath, or sit down to relax.

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Without fail, even still, when I am on the phone, my boys and my puppies become the neediest and loudest creatures on the face of the planet.  No matter where in the house I hide, they will track me down.  The matter of course is always urgent in nature, like needing more gems for mobile game, hunt a lizard (Athena) or to locate the Roku remote.  Serious business that dad can’t resolve and that can’t wait for another minute.

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My boys came with three volume settings: loud, louder and loudest yet.  This comes in handy in restaurants and stores where they’ll make horrifyingly embarrassing comments that you hope and pray nobody overhears.  Then you say prayer that if by chance they did overhear the comment, they didn’t judge you too harshly.  It is also convenient for long car rides, which thanks to travel hockey we have many, where they can argue loudly for hundreds of miles as we drive across Florida.

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Life in a house full of boys is only quiet when they’re sleeping or when they’re scheming.   With the Mayor and Goalielocks, this can be a dangerous proposition.  You never know what scheme they’re cooking up or what animal they’ve captured and hid somewhere in the house.   As a boy mom, when there’s silence and they’re not sleeping, you know something is about to happen.

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The truth of the matter is when the Mayor finally graduates and life quiets down, I think I’ll be a little lost.  My days and nights are full of noise from the puppies to the mini hockey games upstairs to every interrupted phone call, but for almost eighteen years that’s all I’ve known.  Until that day comes, I’ll enjoy the madness and the brief respite my yoga mat provides.

 

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Another Milestone Moment

It seems like it was only moments ago that Zachary crossed the stage in East Boynton to graduate from VPK on a warm Saturday in May between hockey games.  Colin was in first grade and Jacob had just finished sixth grade.  Kindergarten was an approaching reality for Zachary, but where we are now (out of elementary completely and one heading to college) seemed to be in the distant future.  Only it wasn’t so distant.

Cruel and misleading, time is a mistress that pulls no punches.  It passes so quickly that none of us even notice and with the blink of our eye, our babies are no longer babies, but young men and women.  Okay, okay, the Mayor is only going into middle school so young men and women may be a bit of a leap, but to be fair his older brother graduated high school and its all happening in what seems to have been a blink of the eye.   I’m pretty sure just last Christmas, the Mayor was in his Exersaucer and Jacob was opening his favorite Goosebumps book.

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After thirteen years, three schools, three houses, three boys, two states and countless businesses (run by the Mayor,) our elementary career as a family is over.  No more awkwardly timed donuts with dads or muffins with moms on a Thursday or Friday morning.  No more recess, parents running interference or safety patrol for this family.  As the Mayor moves on to middle school, he gains independence and accountability for his studies.

It is hard to say bye to Sunset Palms since we’ve been there since it has opened and it has been great to our family.  We’ve had so many amazing teachers throughout the years at the school and Mr. Fleming is both Zachary and Colin’s favorite.  We were so lucky to be zoned for such an incredible school.

Saying goodbye to preschool was just as hard with Zachary graduated in 2011.   Each of his graduations or moving on ceremonies, signals a change of life stages for our family.   While the transitions in stage are a bit difficult and emotional, there is much beauty to be found in our life’s new stage.  I look forward to showing what life’s next stage has in store for our family and for the Mayor.

Imaginary Troubles

If you’re like me, ever since children entered the picture, sleep has been an issue.  While you may have been a deep sleeper before, you now wake up at the drop of a pin.  God forbid your dogs bark or your partner snores because then you won’t even be able to fall asleep.  The problem with this of course is that as you try to sleep and can’t, the mind starts racing.  Sadly late at night, the mind never goes to a good place.  It goes into your psyche and taps into your anxieties and fears.

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Once those ruminations start, they are hard to stop and you find yourself struggling to slow your racing mind.  These imaginary obstacles have your heart racing and your brain on overdrive.  When you do finally fall asleep, the anxiety may abate temporarily only to resurface the following day.   It is an odd facet of human nature that we are inclined to ruminate about a past that we cannot change and a future that we cannot predict.  These ruminations can become overwhelming if you allow them.

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If you find yourself obsessing over potential issues or obstacles in the future, stop.  Just as you cannot change your past, you cannot live by focusing on future problems.   To be clear, you can exist, but you cannot live.  Your life will pass you by if your time is focused on your past or on your future.   Focus on your present, the people you love and that which you can control.

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Life will hand you difficult hands, but you are much better equipped to deal with the difficulty than your worries suggest.  The struggles you worry about often seem insurmountable, but when faced with actual struggles you will overcome them.  Have faith in your strength and in the strength of your relationships, which will help carry you through the difficult times.

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Have you ever come across a person so sullen that you don’t think it is physically impossible for them to smile or laugh?  Every interaction you have with that person is tenuous at best and horribly unpleasant at worst.  Every interaction you observe between that person and another is equally poor.  No matter how well you or anyone else treats them, they are always unhappy. In their unhappiness, they try to drag you into their dystopian world, but don’t take the bait.  Don’ let their unhappiness define your happiness or lack thereof.

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In life you have a choice, you can radiate bitterness and unhappiness as characterized above or you can be the antithesis to the negative Nelly.  I’m not suggesting by any means that you become a Pollyanna, but rather that you don’t allow the negative Nellys in your life to define the way you see the world.  Dealing with people that are consistently negative is difficult and taxing by radiating positive vibes you can counter the negative.  So don’t be a Pollyana; be the anti-negative Nelly.  Be the person that takes time to compliment someone on their outfit or their hair or hold the door for someone at the coffee shop.  Be the person that chooses to radiate kindness, generosity and goodness.  Small gestures of kindness go a long way in counteracting the meanness and negativity of those who choose to be miserable.

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Long before I was reading Les Miserables, I was reading Roald Dahl and Judy Blume. What kid growing up in the 1980s didn’t read Super Fudge or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?  Roald Dahl wrote that “If you have beautiful thoughts they will shine out of your face like a sunbeam and you will always look lovely.”  Nothing makes someone uglier than a mean spirit or a negative or hateful constitution. The choice is yours. What will you radiate?

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Savings Alert!

This morning I finally had a chance to sit down and put together some on the weekend’s best sales.  The goal is to make this post weekly. Here are a few of my favorites:

Kohls:

  • Take $10 off of $25 with code: Take10
  • Save 15% off of $100 with code: EBATES15
  • 6% cash back on all purchases made through Ebates
  • Get $5 Kohl’s cash for every $25 spent

Macys:

  • Get $5 Macy’s money for every $25 spent
  • Save 20% (15% on some departments) with code: SUNNY
  • 6% cash back on all purchases made through Ebates

Petco:

  • 8% cash back on all purchases made through Ebates online and in store with linked card.
  • Save up to 50% site wide

BCBG:

  • Take extra 50% off of all factory items
  • Take 40% off of all purchases
  • 12% cash back on all purchases made through Ebates.

Lancome:

  • 20% off during Friends and family sale with code: friends
  • 4% cash back on all purchases made through Ebates online.

Finish Line:

  • $15 off of any order of $150+ with code: 15SEASONSALE150
  • Running shoes up to 50% off
  • 6% cash back on all purchases made through Ebates online.

 

Life Lessons Courtesy of Victor Hugo

There is no book or story I love more than Victor Hugo’s exquisitely written Les Miserables.  A beautiful (and long) story of redemption, love, sacrifice and life set in revolutionary France.  I first read the story in high school and absolutely fell in love with the book and then the musical.  The musical is equally extraordinarily.  I own both the 10th Anniversary and 25th Anniversary Dream Cast recordings on CD/DVD and the movie version on DVD.  I could watch it every day of the week.

When I first read Les Mis, I fell in love with the story.  As an adult, I have ready it two more times and I love it more.  Funny how a little life experience changes the reading experience.  I found this to be true in re-reading To Kill a Mockingbird as well.  The subsequent times I read Les Mis, the themes of redemption, pure selfless love, and sacrifice became really meaningful.

Victor Hugo once said, “We are all under a sentence of death, but with a sort of indefinite reprieve.”   The problem with this reprieve is that nobody knows the length of their reprieve.  In the midst of our busy lives, it is easy to get lost in craziness forgetting that our reprieve is not infinite.  All too often, it takes a gut wrenching loss or diagnosis to remind us that tomorrow is not promised.

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Jean Valjean, Hugo’s main character in Les Mis, could have chosen to live a bitter life as Javert pursued him relentlessly over stolen bread, but he chose a different path.  Rather than live an embittered life, he chose a life of selflessness, love, forgiveness and sacrifice that ultimately led to his redemption.  Much like Jean Valjean, we too have a choice.  We can choose a life embittered by our circumstances or we can choose a full life – a life that is full of love, experiences, selflessness and even forgiveness.

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Many people choose to exist and that’s all.  Before you know it, it is too late to do the things they dreamt about.  Don’t sit dreaming about your goals, places you want to see or experiences you want to have, go out and and make them your reality.  One hundred and fifty five years later, Hugo’s tale of redemption, love and life remains as timely as the day it was published.  So what are you waiting for?

Survive

This year has been an extremely difficult year full of pain and loss, which I had discussed in a previous post.  In these periods of difficulty, it is sometimes difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but it is there.  Suffering is part of the human experience.  Learning to thrive and find meaning in the suffering is to survive.   While I’ve lost a lost this year, I have also learned a lot.

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Living in S. Florida, it is easy to get caught up in material things and a hedonistic lifestyle.    In doing so, however, material goods can take the place of experiences and people.  While some people’s budget can support both, mine can’t, but that’s really not the point.  The point is that learning to appreciate experiences with the people you love will help carry you through difficult times.  The shared memories you create will never leave you and are priceless.

Life is seldom stable with changes both positive and negative coming rapid fire. In addition to coping with the suffering, you have to be adept at adapting to change.  If you cannot adapt to the changes in your life, you cannot survive and thrive.  This isn’t something that happens real time or overnight.  It can be gradual or after weeks of nothing it happens all at once.  The goal is to learn to how to roll with the punches and be nimble.   Just like Darwin’s finches, you must adapt if you are to survive.

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Surrounding yourself with people who are your champions is an absolute must. Each and every one of us needs that person that can pull us up when we’re down.  A person that can remind us how fantastically awesome we are when we’re not feeling that spectacular.   Of course, it is just as important to return the favor and be that champion for your friends and family.

Catapults, Toothpaste and a Bass

Life as a boy mom is not for the faint of heart.  As I looked over today’s prompt, I first thought about how Jake’s graduation was about to catapult him to the next stage of life. I then thought about all the crazy schemes, inventions and concoctions my younger boys have come up with over the years.

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Photo taken from the Mayor’s Drone

Before heading to bed several years ago, I remember walking upstairs to look in on them.  Their door was slightly ajar, but they didn’t hear me come up the stairs and I could not see into their room.  All I heard was Goalielocks says to the Mayor, “do it again, next time it will bounce higher!”  I never found out what “it” was, lord knows they wouldn’t tell me when I asked.  To this day, I have no idea what “it” was and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know.

During this same general period, Goalielocks and the Mayor did their best to give us a run for their money.  Somehow, again they are miracle workers of a special breed, they managed to get enough toothpaste on each of their feet to put prints from their bathroom into their bedroom and into the hallway upstairs.  My husband was so overjoyed that we ended up with a beautiful new hole in the wall.

A more recent story of their shenanigans comes from last October during Hurricane Matthew preparations.  As the storm braced down on Florida, or so we thought, we sent Colin off to Tampa with his coach so he wouldn’t miss his hockey tournament.  Jacob and I went into the backyard to start trimming the banana trees of the dead leaves that would become airborne if Matthew’s KAT 4 winds hit Florida.  I was supervising and Jacob had the saw.  We started with the plant closest to the house, so he pulled down the banana tree and naturally a large mouth bass fell out of it.   A couple of important points here.  First, we’re not directly on a lake.  Secondly, the storm had not hit yet, so it could not have been carried and dumped into the tree by said storm.

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There were only two ways the fish could have made it into the tree:  Goalielocks or the Mayor.   I asked the Mayor first since he was at home.  His dimples sucked in as he smiled as he quickly implicated Goalielocks, however, there is no doubt in my mind he was complicit in bassgate.  I texted Goaliocks, who then promptly called.  His response was that the bass had been in our small pond (we have a very small pond in our backyard) and was unhappy so it must have jumped out of it.  Perhaps the bass was hoping the banana tree would catapult it back to the much bigger lake less than 500 feet away.  I will never know…. What I do know is that I will never be bored as a boy mom.