Friday, December 27, 2013

It's a Boy's World

I grew up as the only daughter in a house full of brothers. Whether by nurture or nature, I was not a girly girl. As a child, I was dragged along through all sorts of boy-centric activities and actually loved most of it. My mother on the other hand was a bit dismayed that the girly girl she imagined never fledged. But that was a good thing after all. My life as the only girl in a boy's world trained me for my life as a mother of boys.

I am still the only girl in the house.

It was fine being a girl when the boys were babies, toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary aged as well. Then, as Only Girl, I could connect with them in a myriad of genderless ways. Their boy-ness wasn't fully developed then and, being raised Only Girl, I could handle the times when their boy behavior was apparent.  I even encouraged their boy-beings to come out; I know how to play like a boy. Give me paper dolls and I get bored quickly. But sure, let's play Mumbley Peg! That's fun.

Now my boys are teenager and tween, and there is no mistaking that they are boys and I am not. Thank goodness they have their Dad. He, of course, has been here all along but his presence is so much more vital now that the boys are older, more like young men. Their activity choices are no longer as genderless as when they were young. Don't rag on me for stereotyping (stereotypes exist for real reasons, you know) but they truly like things that most girls don't. Only Girl would have loved tagging along with my boys on their male escapades but now Only Not So Young Anymore Girl is not quite so daring or able. Thankfully she has a camera and is happy to act as historian.

And thankfully Overgrown Boy (a.k.a. my husband) is here to build, coach, wrestle, work higher math problems, code software, play with fire, and many other man-boy things.

Like launching rockets.

Climbing walls

Doing crazy high ropes courses

(I would have done this one but was wearing the wrong shoes. Seriously.)
Driving race cars
Lying on beds of nails

Oh wait...I did that one!

Holding snakes

Competing in hours-long, brain wave competitions

In this case, fewer waves are better!
Indoor skydiving

(I did that one too...but no picture to prove it...)
and driving practice.

As these boys continue to grow into men, Only Girl will be happy to participate when she can and take pictures of and blog about it all.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Say Uncle!

In my family, you must say "Uncle!" to be released from the unrelenting grip of the Tickle Monster. The notorious Claw will not back off until its prey begs out a defeated wail of "Uncle!" Any other utterance only fans the fury of these beasts.

To "cry uncle" means to admit defeat, to surrender, to beg for mercy. The saying's origin may be the from the Roman Empire when bullied children were forced to say "Patrue, mi Patruissimo" (Uncle, my best Uncle) in order to be freed from the bully's wrath. Reasons being that crying uncle is a way of proving another's helplessness by forcing them to call out for an adult's help.

My sons are blessed with several uncles none of which are bullies but many of whom are Master Ticklers and were known to administer Claw-like torture techniques when the boys were younger. In the face of such torment, my littler boys would sustain peals of laughter until the last moment when they could barely eek out an "Uncle!" just in time to catch their breath. They have long outgrown tickling and any true fear of the Claw, but their uncles can still make them laugh like no one else.

I imagine, for a boy, having an uncle is a special thing. It's a relationship ripe with a potentially balanced mix of big brother, friend and father. Just far enough removed from the authoritative, fatherly role to not be so, well, parental. Far enough removed to be fun, cool and wise all at the same time. An uncle's jokes rarely elicit eye rolls, at least not as often as a parent's jokes will. An uncle's advice might be more welcome than a parent's words of wisdom. Have you ever heard a kid say "Uuuuncle!" with the same annoyed inflection as they say "Daaaad!" It doesn't happen.

Several years ago, one of the uncles was visiting and I asked for a portrait of him with his nephews. The boys climbed the fence and huddled around their Patruissimo and the moment was captured. Confident and loving.

October 2010

I love this picture so much that I envisioned a wall of patrues posed with their nepos. My vision was not just pictures of the boys with their uncles but the boys in the same spot, same pose with their various uncles. It took a few years to get each uncle here and posed by the fence but it happened.

A short bit of time later another Patruissimo came to visit. Another captured moment of avunucular love. Caring and playful. 

April 2011
Later still, a third Patruissimo came to visit and the fencepost was the stage for another pose. Another special time with a special uncle captured. Dependable and fun.

May 2013
While the miles and the business of life do not allow for these relationships to have much face to face time, the boys are still able to connect with their uncles. We try to visit as often as life allows. And in between they are sustaining their relationships with their uncles through technology, texting and the shared love of silly YouTube videos. Deep, meaningful male bonding at its adolescent best.

I have these portraits framed and housed on a shelf side by side. My three brothers. The boys' three uncles. While my boys have changed, the uncles are a constant.

The pictures stand as reminders that while their current connections are at times pubescent and silly, those connections are building the foundations of deeper, longstanding relationships for their futures.

The uncles are cool. And my boys know they have at least three other men who have their backs. All they have to do is say, "Uncle!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

We're Going on a Bear Hunt

I am shameless trying to squeeze five months of blog posts into the last two weeks of the year. So bear with me...back to Cades Cove this summer...

We're going on a bear hunt.
We're gonna catch a big one.
What a beautiful day,
We're not scared.

Oh oh! The long, wavy grass.

Oh oh! A deep, cold river.

Oh oh! A big, dark forest.

Oh oh! A scary, dark cave.

We're not scared!

We're going on a bear hunt!

We're gonna catch a big one!

Lucky for us, he's asleep.

But that coyote is wide awake!

Maybe we should hunt deer instead.

No, let's just play it safe and hunt golf balls!

What a beautiful day.

Friday, December 13, 2013

My Reasons this Season

Nine days until Christmas! I know today is December 13th and that there are really twelve days. But by my count, I only have nine days left to prepare. Everything must be done in nine days because we will be heading South for the holidays. That's what Santa does...heads we are too.

Nine days are not enough. Reason #1 is this guy.

August 2013 - First day of school
His list is too long. I couldn't possibly accumulate all his wishes in nine days. Nor is there enough money to answer his demands. Let's just say the possibilities of Legos are endless and the bank balance isn't. But that's what grandparents, aunts and uncles are for. And Santa.

Reason #2 is this guy.

August 2013 - First day of school
His list is too short. Actually, he has no list. When forced (seven days ago) to attempt a list, he surfed the web and emailed me a list of links to various websites.The list of "http://www.yougottabekiddinme" that he sent included three international cites for specialty t-shirts. Once shipping and currency exchange were factored in, these three t-shirts would have cost almost as much as one of the Legos on Reason #1's list. I don't think even Santa is going to come through with this.

And did you notice that Reason #2 emailed me links when I asked for a Christmas list? That is what technology has done to the time honored tradition of the child's Christmas List; turned it into an unsentimental, cold grouping of bits (and bytes). I'm okay with that in this case because it was very efficient. It took me only about five minutes to realize that I wasn't paying international, expedited shipping. But don't worry about Reason #2, he'll get some nice alternatives.

One thing I do know that both of these Reasons are getting this year are some new socks. That sounds very Dickensian and that's good 'cause Christmas needs something Dickensian these days. But it also is good because these guys are obsessed with socks. Not just any socks though, they are obsessed with Nike Elite socks. If you have adolescents in your house, you know what I am talking about.

Nike Elite socks are the ubiquitous footwear that is sweeping upper elementary and middle schools across the country. My Reasons had never asked for anything in the way of clothing until these came along. They were happy to wear whatever was on their body, no matter what it was, who chose it or whether it matched or not. Once Nike Elite's came along, that all changed. Now as far as their feet are concerned, fashion matters.

So Santa and I will be snapping up all the Elite's we can find this Christmas. Actually, I can not speak for Santa but I will probably only be snapping up a few pairs for each Reason. They are $15 a pair! I have to set aside a little money for haircuts...

First day of school with new Elites!!!!!
And yes, they didn't want to wear shoes for their picture so we could capture the Elites. They are that amazing! So they say.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Hey Nineteen!

I am a muse. It just hit me this morning and it sounds sort of silly when I say it out loud but it's true. I am my husband's muse. To be fair, he is mine too but that's another post.

My husband is a songwriter. In all the years we have been together, he has written countless songs about and for me. He has written many other songs about many other things as well but so many of his songs are about moi. I am Linda to his Paul. His Yoko to his John. Or maybe Sharona to his Knack.

Today is our anniversary. Nineteen years. We don't do big anniversary gifts. But he broke the rules and gave me another big one. His gift to me was reading a new set of lyrics to a new song. I won't share it here but just know how special those words are to me. You may get to hear them one day (after copyrighting is in place).

So to my husband - Happy Anniversary! In some of his words:

We've Just Begun! Baby Can't You See? You are My Cup of Tea! Sweet Lover, I Think of You and there Ain't Much More Than That. Whether you like it or not, I Ain't Going Nowhere and I do see The Blue in You. 'Cause you are My Lovin' Kind and my Piece of Heaven. See you Late Tonight!

italicized words are song titles by B. Scott for C. Scott

Friday, November 29, 2013

One Post at a Time

And you thought that I forgot about my blog as well as my password. Not so. I know my password and the URL of my blog very well, thank you! I have just been mentally blogging for the past 5 1/2 months. Sorry not to have shared my mental blogs with you but if we take this one blog at a time from this point forward, things just might work out for us.

I thought the easiest way to ease back in to my blog, one post at a time, would be in a quick list sort of way. In the past five-point-five months, my life has included these fragments:
  • I finished my 200-hour yoga teacher training certification. I could write several other posts (which I might) about my training experience, but just know that my original list of observations for my training were bang on - yoga teacher training is like breastfeeding and Vegas!
  • Yoga teacher training had as much if not more impact on my life off the mat than it impacted my life on the mat. Just ask my husband and my sons. And that is where is the mat.
  • Enough about yoga...
  • Changes off the mat were primarily the reason for my blogging absence.  I was/am more present in my actual life and spend time in the moment, enjoying and experiencing. There was no time to blog. Now the pendulum may swing back and pick up time for a blog or two somewhere in mid swing.
  • Ok now enough about yoga...
  • We celebrated Thanksgiving with part of our families and greatly missed those not with us. We are blessed in so many ways, every day.
  • My hubbie and I  both went to the University of Tennessee. Part of both our families live in Tennessee. Part of our hearts still live there too. Our boys are growing up with a divided sense of home. Their true home is in Maryland but their family home is in Tennessee since we spend so much of our vacation time there visiting family and checking on our roots. Many holiday and family traditions are made and played out at the foot of the Smokies.
  • This past week we indoctrinated the boys into another Tennessee tradition. This one is decidedly un-yogalike....UT Football! There is nothing quite like the roar of 100,000 UT fans, all dressed in that special orange, singing Rocky Top at the top of their 200,000 lungs. 
  • The UT vs. Vanderbilt game was the first game for our boys and was the first one in about 20 years (how can that be!) for my husband and me. Despite the 20 degree temps, the face burning wind gusts and the very disappointing last minute loss, it was a warm, cozy Tennessee tradition which we all agreed will be revisited next season. We are thinking of an earlier season game where we can wear fewer layers. What do you think?

Good ol' Rocky Top!

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Forgot my Password

You know you have been away from your blog for too long when you have to go through the whole "forgot my password" routine twice in as many weeks. There was a time when I was logging into my Blogger account multiple times a day and knew my password as automatically as I know my name. Recently my blog has been neglected so much so that I forgot the password that I set for it originally in 2009 and have pecked out countless time since then. Alas, I reset to a new password and promptly forgot it within a week as well.

I never had to write my Blogger password down before thanks to my previous frequent, memory reinforcing use. But now it's written somewhere safe along with the login information for my other infrequently used accounts, like Craigslist (set up that one time I thought I would sell all sorts of house junk but decided I didn't like inviting strangers to my house to see the good stuff I was keeping) and that online flower shop (that I use every now and then but can never remember which one is the good online flower shop and which one stinks at sending online flowers.)

I thought these recent password memory disturbances could be explained away by my limited use of the unnatural, illogical combinations of alphanumeric characters, oddball symbols and grammatically incorrect use of capital letters required by programmers everywhere. Until I read Still Alice by Lisa Genova. And then I thought, maybe it's me.

Alice is a fifty year old Harvard psychology professor who starts to notice memory lapses and her dramatic increased consumption of sticky notes and lists. Then one day she finds herself lost and confused in a very familiar place. What comes next is Alice's surprising diagnosis of early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Alice narrates her downward spiral into the lonely place of Alzhiemer's where  cherished memories are stolen and communication skills are lost. Because Alice's situation begins looking very similar to many multitasking, over scheduled, under rested, middle-aged women, this book will make you think twice about the need for your lists and your dependence on the organizational bells and whistles of your smart phone. Is it good use of technology or a crutch keeping a genetic memory thief at bay for just a bit longer?

Either way, I've got my blogger password and other such important information tucked away safely. Just hoping I can keep remembering where that some place is.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Five Minute Friday

There is a moment right before it when you realize what's coming next. You feel powerless to change the outcome; it is going to happen. Unless... you flail, reach, grab and grasp to stop this thing. Your flailings change the choreography, the steps to the finale. Step-ball-change, step-ball-change, shuffle step, shuffle step, heel, toe, heel, toe, shuffle step, toe catches, aaaaahhh here it comes, knees buckle, hips sway, arms and body join in a desperate arabesque until you find your partner's arms, pulling together into promenade position and your fall becomes a stumble, barely perceptible from the mezzanine.

Today's FMF word was "Fall".

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day...And Thank You

You might be tiring of my recent fascination with writing about my loved ones using the prompting perspective of "He (or she) is from..." My apologies if this tactic is not speaking to you. But I find it a very inspiring method to pull out the characteristics of a person and display them in an honorary way. I hope you can take one more...and this is one is for my mom.

She is from exotic places in my childhood mind.
Baton Rouge, Waco, Memphis, Webster Groves, Frankfurt.
Places where proper ladies wear proper outfits,
say and do proper things.
She is from her mother, my Oma, both cut from fine lady cloth.
She is from decorum and tradition.

She settled in the ordinary life of wife and mother.
Where she is from, they make extra- out of the ordinary.
She is Clara Barton at Boy Scout Camp.
She is Jackie Kennedy at the PTA helm.
She is Oprah substitute teaching your class.
She is Barbara Streisand singing in the church choir.
She is a Carol Burnett, Erma Bombeck, Lily Tomlin mash-up.
She is Julia Child whipping up fried chicken and Angel Pie.
She is Martha Stewart planning your party.
She is Mother Teresa championing your cause.

She is from the safest places in my childhood, from laughter and happy tears.
She is from Christmas morning and Barbie Doll birthday cakes.
She is from sewing on patches, hemming it up and ironing it again.
She is from Better Homes & Gardens and Ladies' Home Journal.

She is from you can do it, even if she didn't.
She is from holding you up before she has her own footing.
She is from a place where personal joy is found in giving to others.
She is from let me help, I'll do it, it will be okay.
She is from a place where she will gladly carry all your burdens so you won't have to.

I am from a place where embellishments and praise grow
from deep rooted seeds of truth.
I am from where you don't fully appreciate your mother
Until you wear her apron, pearls and high heels.
Where I come from, you thank your mother for all the work, love and sacrifice
She put into helping you arrive at where you are and continue on to where you are going.

Happy Mother's Day Mom!

Friday, May 10, 2013


Today is the day for Friday Fragments and I have a few.

Half-Past Kissin' Time

First let me say, I love Mrs. 4444's new button for Friday Fragments. It may not be that new as I haven't been fraggin' in quite some time and the button could have been around awhile. But it's new to me today and it made me smile.

Next on the fragging agenda is that Bo Weevil's latest album, "Holding Hands with Grace," which was just released on Tuesday, May 8th, is now available on iTunes for all you Apple product nuts out there. You can read all the lyrics and liner notes by visiting the Bo Weevil website (for all you people who know what liner notes are and remember what it was like to hold an album in your hands.)

The entire album is dedicated to Bo's late mother, Pat and our late niece, Anna. The title track is in honor of Anna. Proceeds from the download of the title track will be donated to the Anna Daley Fighting Saint Scholarship Fund created this year in her memory. Read my post here for a bit more on the scholarship.

This is Bo's finest album yet with wonderfully clever lyrics and haunting guitar melodies. It is heartfelt and true and you will be effected by his songs. I promise.

Continuing to frag on, this week was the highly anticipated 4th grade field trip to Annapolis. You might remember a certain mother going on that field trip with her other 4th grader some years ago. My current 4th grader has been waiting for his turn on this trip since that day back in 2010. And that certain mother has been waiting for her second turn since then too. It was not to be however. We spent our day not learning about John Paul Jones' crypt at the Naval Academy or crossing the blustery Chesapeake Bay Bridge in a noisy school bus. Our day was spent quietly snuggled under blankets with small wastebaskets within arm's reach.

There were a few tears of disappointment shed about missing the trip. And the real 4th grader was a bit sad too. But I got to spend a quiet day with both my boys and that is a gift, even if there was vomiting involved. As someone said, "you get what you get and you don't get upset".

And the final frag, I couldn't leave that last line alone. I had to know who said that. I like quotes and I like to know the source. And now after Googling, I am a bit embarrassed to say that I just quoted from the literary classic "Pinkalicious" by Victoria and Elizabeth Kann.

I am sure that this is a fine piece of elementary literature. Being a mother of boys, I do not know for sure. And I typically avoid concocted words that end in "-alicious." Although I am not usually a fan of pink, I must say that Pepto-Bismol a few days ago could have been classified as pinkalicious.

Next time, I will just frag on rather than digging deeper.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Holding Hands with Grace, One Year Later

Today marks a full year since we lost our Anna. I have asked many times in the past year, how do we go on? The answer to my question every time has been the same as it is today...we just do with strength and will and with as much grace as we can muster.

My husband wrote a particular song, "Holding Hands with Grace," during Anna's illness. He had lost his own mother, Pat, to cancer just two weeks before Anna's diagnosis and was grieving her loss. Anna's diagnosis set the world further upside down for us. With Anna's struggle and strength in mind, writing the song was my husband's way of working out the sometimes incomprehensible things in life and laying down that need to understand.

The song is a comfort to us and our family. My husband was even able to sing it at Anna's family memorial service in Tennessee in June 2012.

On this anniversary, Bo Weevil (my husband, Anna's uncle) is releasing his latest album titled "Holding Hands with Grace". The album is dedicated to Anna and Pat and the wonderful memories shared with them in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

The full album and as well as individual tracks are available for download by clicking here or on the image above. The full web address to access is

Since HHWG is so strongly connected to Anna, proceeds from the download of the single HHWG will be donated to:

Anna Daley Fighting Saint Scholarship
Saint Charles East High School
St. Charles, Illinois

This scholarship was established by Anna's parents, Sean and Lisa, to award graduating seniors who exhibit high academic achievement as well as personal qualities of integrity, leadership, community service, spirituality and, in true Anna Daley Fighting Spirit, the ability to transcend life's challenges and to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

While the 2013 scholarships have already been funded, Anna's mom, Lisa has set forth a challenge to get the 2014 scholarships started with as many downloads today as we can.  Let's see how far it goes!

And to readdress the question, how do we go on? We remember Anna:

"living a life of love, a joyful look upon your face. 'Cause you're Holding Hands with Grace."
 - Bo Weevil

Monday, May 6, 2013

He is from....His Own Land

And into the Land of First was born another.
This new One was not to be Second, for Second would mean another of the same.
Or another lesser than the First.

This new One would be Second in chronology only.
This One would be a sort of his own, a First in his own way.
And he would take us along on his surefooted trek through the Land of Second to None.

He arrived and jumped right in lock step to the flow that had begun before him.
He marched a few steps along with us and then showed us another way to move.
Easy, relaxed, hopeful, joyous.

He is from Blanket and Guess How Much I Love You.
He comes from a place where babies sleep through the night, smile more than cry and
give good kisses.
He is from the moon and back.

He is from Mama, I can do it myself.
He is from creativity and look what I made!
Where he comes from they ask what if we did this?
And, want to play the game I made up?

Where he is from, you go first, I can wait.
I don't mind, sure I'll share.
But he does not come from I don't matter.
He is from a place where giving in is not giving up.

He is from the endangered and recessive: a natural redhead.
He is from his Mama's line of gingers,
his Daddy's line of Scottish eyes of blue.
He stands out here.

He is from his Daddy's musical heart.
He is from melody and tone and rhythm.
He is from singing along and dancing around.
Where he comes from they play it by ear.
He is from harmony.

He is from the place where things come easily
But he understands when to work hard.
He is from keep your eye on the ball and wait for the right pitch.
He is from good sport, good game, good game, good game, good game....

He is from books and more books and words and stories.
He is from read to me, let me read to you.
And let's read it again.

He is from comic genius, word play and quick wit.
Where he comes from laughter spills all over everything and smiles are free.

He is from a place I want to go.
He is from ease and peace
He takes you there when you need reminding
That is the place where you come from too.

Happy Birthday, King of Second to None!