Sunday, February 27, 2011

I would know... I was there.

About 10 years ago, my dad and I got into a minor argument about my birthday. We are at a church fellowship lunch. I was living in Tallahassee at the time, so I didn't really know a lot of people there. Dad said something about my birthday and age. I said, "You know my birthday?" He said, "Of course Min." And then he gave the correct month and date but the wrong year. I laughed and pointed out that I was in fact born in 1981, not 1980. To which my dad responds, "Please... I think I know when you were born... I was there!"
You have to keep in mind that I didn't know the people we were with well, and here is my dad arguing with me about how old I actually am. This conversation went on for a while, and I think it ended at an impasse. An agree to disagree. I know Dad will probably say that this didn't happen, but you really shouldn't take all of what he says for fact.
I had to tell you the above story to tell you the next one. You would not believe how often I have had to reference the "birth year" conversation over the past decade. Anyway, last night a bunch of our family members gathered at Mom and Dad's house to celebrate LaLa's birthday. My sister Steph was home from college, but Jack couldn't make it in to town.
So, Rea was eating an apple. Z (Steph's bf), Steph, Dad, Rea & I were all lounging in the family room. Rea was in a sharing mood... she offered some of her apple to me. I tried to politely decline, but it is hard to tell a 3 year old no. She kept shoving the apple in my face. I said, "I can't really eat it because of my fake teeth." Of course Rea had no idea what I was talking about.
Z said to Steph, "Min has fake teeth?"
"Hahaha. Yeah." Then to me, she says, "You were the one who got hit in the face with the softball, right?"
"Yep. That would be me." Lots of laughing ensues. Might tell you that story at a later time. Let's just say that I was lucky to have had braces at the time...
Then Steph says, "How did Jack break her's?"
LOTS of laughing.
I say, "Oh, funny story. When we were little, I thought it would be fun to walk like a duck by holding on to my ankles and waddling across the floor. Ahhh, good times. Jack thought it looked like fun too. But she didn't think things through. She attempted the waddle while on the couch. Almost instantly she face planted on the floor."
LOTS of laughing.
Then, my dad says, "That's not how it happened. I'll tell you how it happened."
"What?!? That's exactly how it happened... but ok buddy. Tell me what happened." (I am absolutely cracking up at this point)
Dad continues, "You (me) were going to do the wheelbarrow with Jack. You lifted her legs, but her arms gave out and she smacked her face into the ground. That's how she lost her tooth."
I think you should know that my dad is completely serious when he tells this story. Like, he actually believes this to be true.
A lot of heckling back and forth. Steph is even in on the action because we have NEVER heard this story before.
The only way to solve this is to have Jack tell us how she lost her tooth. So I call her... and leave a voicemail, because if you know Jack, you know she doesn't answer the phone. Ever.
When she calls back, I ask her (without any prompting or coaching) if she can remember what caused her to lose her tooth. No surprise here, she tells the EXACT same story I did. Then, without prompting she says, "Why? What did Dad say happened?" After I relayed Dad's fiction anecdote to her, she cracked up and said, "He wasn't even there!"

I really don't know why Dad even attempts to argue with me. I am usually right. He told me he has always done this... but ever since "1980/1981" I haven't let him get away with it.

Maybe Steph was a little prophetic when she was little... she always said Dad was the funniest one in the family. No one believed her at the time, but now I think she might be right.

Love you much Dad!

And happy birthday LaLa!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Beachin' it

So as I have said before, Rea loves the beach. I think she would like to hang there all day everyday if we would let her. I have never been a huge fan, I would rather be on a boat. Shane would give up both options for a golf course any day.
Luckily for Rea, her Aunt Steph and Aunt Steph's boyfriend Zach love the beach. So last weekend, when Steph was home from college for the weekend, she took Rea. Zach and Grandpa went along for the ride.
I don't have any stories because I wasn't there. But the pics were simply too cute to not share.

This is definitely one of the great things about living in FL.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Oh, how I love pancakes.

A few people have recently asked me if I miss teaching. 

Quick back story: I graduated from FSU, moved home and got a job at a local high school. I taught English until I gave birth to my second child last year. Technically, I am still "out on maternity leave".

The short answer is "HAHAHAHA. No." 

My real thoughts and feelings about it are always going to be complicated. I loved teaching... and, not to be completely self-centered but, I was really good too. No matter what my schedule looked like, or how I panicked when I tried to figure out how to pronounce some of the names (punctuation in a first name is totally unfair to the teacher), I truly loved my students and enjoyed seeing them. My students made me happy. They are the reason teachers go to work everyday... believe me, it's not the paycheck or the administration. 

But when I think of teaching, I think of pancakes. Always. 

This one particular class of students... I had three sections of these kids when they were sweet sophomores. During that particular school year, I got engaged. And right after school ended for the summer, Shane and I were married. These three groups had such a fantastic sense of adventure and a zest for learning that, I am sorry to say, just doesn't appear to exist anymore. They were so creative with their projects and almost always far exceeded my expectations.

Two years later, a nice number of them ended up in my AP Lit class. Since about 75% of the class had had me two years prior, we didn't need to spend a lot of time on housekeeping stuff. There was a wonderful relationship built-in on day one. We were ready to get the year started. Their senior year brought joy and sadness. I gave birth to my first child in late December. It seemed fitting for the group I was teaching when I got engaged and married to be in my class when I had my first child. 

Unfortunately not all things are wonderful. We lost one of our own in January. He will never be forgotten, and he was one of the most magnificent students I have ever taught. It was an honor to know him. 

I won't explain the pancake thing. Suffice it to say, it was a fantastic social experiment sparked by a literary discussion that lasted (literally) until my last day of teaching in January 2010. Pancakes will forever be a part of my life. I won't eat them without thinking about these kids. I can't watch an IHOP commercial without smiling. And whenever someone asks about my teaching career, or the best memories I have from it, I will think of pancakes. 

This sign made me laugh. I had to include it. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Terrible Trend

Last night another police officer was killed (St. Pete). I don't think we have made it a week without the death of at least one officer since this year began. As the wife of an officer, I am greatly disturbed by this trend.

Why can't people take responsibility for their own actions? If you screw up, know that somewhere, at sometime, you are going to get caught... deal with it! What is that old adage?-- If you can do the crime, you can do the time. (Actually, I think this should apply for more than actual crimes, but that's an entirely different blog.) I don't think I will ever understand the idea that it is acceptable to attack the police when they come for you. They are here to serve and protect, why can't we appreciate that?
Ok, so you commit crimes... I get it, appreciating the officer's job is probably not going to happen. But, what about the families left behind?
I think most of the FL officers killed this year left behind a spouse and children. Police wives (and husbands) understand that there are some concessions we have to make in order for our spouses to have a successful career: attendance at holidays is never a guarantee, meals will be interrupted for a phone call, kids' recitals will be missed. And the worse "difficulty" of all is that spouse might leave for the day and never return.

I don't really know where I am going with this entry. I just needed to get some thoughts off my chest. It has upset me to hear how many families have been destroyed by this new trend. At the same time, I am grateful every night when my husband walks through the door. And I respect and love all of the people who risk their lives everyday for my friends and family. Thank you for all you do.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Eef!

Today was Rea's BFF's 3rd birthday. And we had a fantastic time at his birthday party this afternoon. It was at a local park, and E's parents rented a bounce house (2 very important things to have: a playground and an inflatable cage). I held off on actually telling Rea about the party until last night. She has no real concept of time, everything in her world either happened yesterday or it will happen in 2 weeks. =) So the littler the amount of real time she has to dwell on an event, the more sane I remain.
Anyway, after we got home from the moonrise, I told her that around lunchtime tomorrow we were going to go to E's birthday party and mentioned Miss Jenn got a bounce house. One of the first things out of Rea's mouth this morning was, "Is it munchtime yet? I want to bounce." She patiently waited for munch... and the party.
And it was worth the wait! Both of my kids had a blast! This was one of the best kid parties we have been to, ever.

Happy birthday E!
~ lots of love from the Stu Crew

Friday, February 18, 2011

A First For All of Us

Our wonderful friends (the Moons) invited us to the beach for "dinner and a full-moonrise".  Rea was super excited since she LOVES the beach. And even though we only live about 2 miles from it, we rarely go. 

Both kids had a blast running around in the sand, getting their toes wet in the surf and laughing with Aunt Steph. 
We all had a sunset dinner. Pizza on the beach is delicious. But the purpose of our trip was to watch the moonrise. I have to say, I never really thought about the moon rising. I know the sun does every morning, but it never crossed my mind that the moon does too. Maybe I am actually a blonde. Oh well.
It was a fantastic experience. And I am very glad we got to spend it with such wonderful friends! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Our Royal Day

Poor Ri, we spent most of the day with Princesses... or maybe he really liked that. Hmmm....

Rea was a little uncomfortable with Belle; she was the first Princess of the day, and I don't think Rea really knew what to do.
Poor Belle. She tried to talk to Rea, but Rea just stood there staring at her. So I became a Stage Mom and coached her before she met Cinderella. I explained that it is in fact okay to speak to them when they try to talk to you. And I have to say, Rea takes direction well. She was a chatty bug with Cinderella and Aurora.

Ri never likes to be out of the loop. So, he got in on the action when we met Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.

Running on Empty

Do you know how far your car will let you drive after the "Fuel Low" light comes on?

Yesterday, my kids and I went to Disney for the day with my mom. We are fortunate to live so close. It has been 1 month since we were last there... so needless to say, we were all more than a little excited.
The day began a squidge earlier than most: Ri was up at 5:30 and Rea graced us with her presence at 6:30. It is a certifiable fact that if Rea wakes up before 8am, she is less of a Princess and more of an evil Queen. Yesterday was different. She rounded the corner and said, "Mom, change my dipe (diaper for short), so we can go." And it wasn't a snippy order; it was a simple, kind request.

The kids and I methodically went through my "travel checklist"... Rea actually carried the bag around our house in order to expedite our departure. We made it out of the house and over to pick up Grammie.

A quick stop at McDonald's, then we were off!

Am I forgetting anything?

Rea is potty-training, but I put her in a Pull-up for the long car ride. As we approached the Ft Drum service plaza, we asked if she wanted to stop and use the potty. She said yes. I pulled into the plaza, passing the gas station ($3.27/gall). I briefly thought about gas... but didn't check, didn't think about it anymore than, "Eeww... I don't want to put my 3 yr old on those toilets."

The service stop-off was a success. Almost.

Mom and I were chatting when ... BING. I looked down and saw:

Now panic sets in. Oh boy. Those of you who have travelled the FL Turnpike know, the exits are few and far between, and there is generally about 40 miles between service plazas.

Mom and I start laughing. That's what we do: joke at serious times. The hospital is like a comedy club for my immediate family. From where I sit, I actually cannot see the gas gage... if I were to redesign my console, I would swap the RMP for the gas. But it's moot.

We turned the air off (does that actually do anything?) and prayed for a gas station oasis. 22 miles after the BING that beautiful blue sign appeared. Canoe Creek 9miles. I did what most people do in a minor crisis: starting bargaining. I promised my car I would never say anything bad about it again. I promised to happily drive it until I can afford to get a new one. I promise to not kick it, if it would just make it the next 9 miles.

5 miles. Car begins to sputter. Or I imagine the sputter because I really do NOT want to walk. Rea's chants for Disney begin to get louder and increase in frequency.

Then, after a curve in the road, there it is! The best sight: a crappy, run-down, middle-of-revamp Shell station. Gas is $3.17/gall. I fill it half way... because I know gas is cheaper at Disney ($3.07/gall).

I suppose the silver lining is that running on empty actually saved me $0.20/gallon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lots of Love Today

It's Valentine's Day, so naturally I am thinking about LOVE. And I can't help but feel so lucky for all the love in my life. My husband (although sometimes he bugs me) and my wonderful kids are more than I could've ever wished to have. Last night there was a Valentine's themed dinner at our church... we celebrated an anniversary for the Balls. Mr and Mrs Ball have been married for 60 years today! 60 years, can you imagine? I have a hard time envisioning next August, when my oldest goes to school for the first time. In 60 years, I hope to be half as happy as those two seem. Although this is traditionally what people initially think about when Feb 14 rolls around, I am watching my munchkins right now and I can't help but notice how relative LOVE is. 
Ri is 13 months and he LOVES his toys and his new found freedom. He is stumbling around the living room, picking up a truck and chucking it across the room... then he rushes over to it as fast as he can and repeats the process. The look on his face is one of total happiness. 
On the other hand, Rea is chilled out on the couch. She is ecstatic the Disney Junior is (finally) airing "Jake and the Never Land Pirates". She has been waiting for at least a month for this exact moment. Luckily I had the foresight to TiVo the show... so as I am typing this, she is watching it for the 4th time. It is humorous to me how much she LOVES pirates and skeletons (called "Yo-hos" at our house). For this, I blame my husband. 
Well, duty is (literally) calling my name.
Happy Valentine's Day! ~ the Stu crew