Friday, July 24, 2015

Party in Slow Motion . . . Out Here in the Open . . .

Sunday was the day I was most excited for and it did not disappoint.

We rented a pontoon and spent the day exploring Lake Ouachita.  And by "exploring," I mean drinking beer and tubing.  DOES LIFE REALLY GET ANY BETTER THAN THAT?!?


We packed the car full to take to the marina.  It honestly looked like we were leaving the hotel.  Coolers, bags full of stuff for swimming, a mini-grill, food for days.  I was driving a rented Dodge Durango for the trip but with the third row up, we couldn't fit everything in the back hatch.  We ended up putting a bag of grilling tools and utensils at K2's feet.  And realized we'd left the bag in the car . . . when were about half an hour from shore.  That was literally the only mishap of the entire day and it didn't end in an argument (in fact, we both apologized to each other for leaving the bag . . . "my fault, I forgot about it."  "Nope, I should've grabbed it.  It was all me.") so I'm considering it a win.  It did make grilling interesting though! 

At the last minute, we decided to rent a tube also.  Best idea ever.  Seriously.  My kids had never been tubing before and they LOVED it.  We could totally be lake people.


The boys went on the tube first and . . . I'm not naming names, but one of them fell off and lost his pants in the process.  THANKFULLY, he grabbed them and they weren't sent to the bottom of Lake Ouachita.  Seriously, though, I don't know if I've ever laughed so hard in my life.  

Surprisingly, K2 decided she wanted to go tubing as well.  She's pretty timid about unknown situations so I really didn't think she would do it.  We put her in the middle of the tube between K1 and boyfriend's daughter.  We told them no less than eight times, "if you fall off, don't freak out.  You have a life jacket.  You can't drown.  We'll turn the boat around and come get you."  Uhhhh, yeah.  They were on the tube approximately two minutes before they all three fell off . . . and all three freaked out.  To K1's credit, his sister was holding onto him and clawing at him for dear life and he really thought she was going to drown them both.  They were rescued but K2 was done with the tube.  The big kids, however, had the time of the lives.

Including the biggest kid of all!

Lake Ouachita has a ton of little islands and we decided to beach at one for lunch.  The kids explored, boyfriend grilled, we all swam and just had a great time.  

After lunch, we spent the rest of the afternoon on the tube.  Boyfriend and I both took turns riding on it . . . he made me fall off so, of course, I had to do the same to him! 

It really was just SUCH a great day. My favorite people, fun times, beautiful scenery. The smiles on all the kids' faces said it all. Really gets no better!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

"You See Kids . . . "

Friday afternoon, we loaded up two cars with five kids, a tonnnnnnn of stuff, and four cases of beer and drove the three hours from Memphis to Hot Springs, Arkansas.  Two of the children were fighting with each other before we even left but, hey, that's pretty much par for the course when you're dealing with a Brady Bunch.

We ended up having a great trip. 

We stayed at the Springs Hotel, a place that didn't have great online reviews.  I figured they were from hotel snobs (the place is a little older) and I was right.  My only issue with the hotel was that, since it was on the older side, there weren't many electrical outlets in the room.  Trying to keep phones charged and lamps plugged in at the same time was interesting.  One of the coolest things about the hotel was that the pool was on the second floor roof.  The kids loved it!  That's where we spent our Friday evening, just chilling and unwinding from the drive.

Saturday morning we got up and around fairly early because we wanted to hike and it was a bajillion degrees outside.  Hiking needed to be done early.  We set out and only had minimal complaining from the kids.  I'll give them props even on that complaining because it was HOT.  We were all sweaty messes by the time we made it to the lookout tower.  The views were totally worth it though.  They call Arkansas "The Natural State" for a reason.  


(Total side note: when I was a kid and taking Arkansas history, the state motto was "Land of Opportunity."  I mean . . . really?  Who came up with that one?  "The Natural State" is so much more Arkansas.)


On the hike back, we let the two older boys go by themselves and since we're part Griswold, OF COURSE they got lost.  Actually, they made it to our meeting spot, got impatient, went looking for us, and then got lost.  My J did exactly what he's been told to do in that situation, though, and found "a nice lady who looked like a mom," told her they were lost, and she used her cell phone to call me.  Boyfriend and K1 went back to scoop the boys up while the girls and I took selfies.  I totally got the better end of that deal.

We spent Saturday afternoon in the hotel pool and then . . . again, we're part Griswold . . . boyfriend and I ended up both taking naps.  AT THE SAME TIME.  While five children were awake and in "OMG WE'RE ON VACATION!" mode.  Luckily, no one got lost, burned anything down, or got us kicked out of the hotel.  In fact, they used our naps to take advantage of the hotel "fitness center."  

We went out to dinner that night, walked along Bathhouse Row, and stopped for ice cream. 

Our dinner was at a place called Rolando's and, honestly, I just wasn't all that impressed with it.  I ordered the shrimp quesadillas and they came out with four tiny ones that weren't even tasty.  Margaritas were decent though!

And since this post already has a million pictures, we'll save the rest of the trip update for tomorrow.  Spoiler alert: Sunday was one of the best days ever!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Year

I've mentioned before that I started dating not long after splitting with my ex-husband.  It's not something that everyone understands and, honestly, it's something that I might've even judged before, you know, walking a mile in my own shoes.  I wasn't dating to find a mate.  I wanted to meet people, have a good time, build my confidence, learn to date again.  All of that.  Plus, I mean, a girl's gotta eat, right? 

I really wanted to be single (single-but-dating, I suppose) for at least a year before finding myself in another relationship.  And there were times when I met people that I probably had relationship potential with.  Without fail, something happened or came up every time.  One guy was very, very nice and we even developed a friendship but he had custody issues and babymama drama that I realized I wanted zero part of.  Another guy had potential but ended up moving for his job.  You get the picture. 

Boyfriend came along about thirteen and a half months after I split with my ex, just past my one year mark.  I didn't go into out first date thinking I was going to meet someone I'd eventually fall in love with.  I didn't sit down across from him at TJ Mulligan's and think, "this is it!  He's the one!  I've found a boyfriend!"  I really, honestly wasn't looking for anything like that.  The fact that it happened when it did -- just after my one year "deadline" -- is just another little piece of irony in "our story."

But I digress.  What I really want to talk about is that year.

I'm so glad I had that year.

I would recommend "The Year" to ANYONE coming out of a marriage or long-term relationship.  And let me tell you why.

I am so happy right now.  Hands down, I'm happier than I've ever, ever, ever, EVER been in my life.  And there's no denying that it has a lot to do with the relationship I'm currently in. 

However, because of "The Year," I know I can be happy alone as well.  I know it doesn't take a relationship to make me happy.  A year ago at this time, I didn't even know my boyfriend existed.  And yet if you'd asked -- or maybe even if you hadn't! -- I would've told you just how happy I was.  I was free!  I was having fun!  I was living life and learning to be Brandi again.

And that . . . that . . . is why I'm so thankful for "The Year."

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

It's Not What Happens to you, it's How you Handle it.

My weekend did not go as planned. 

Saturday afternoon, we drove to Arkansas, boyfriend in tow. The plan was to visit family, see some friends, show my guy my hometown.
Yeah, about that. 

We were on the "show my guy my hometown" portion of the plan. I'd taken him up to my family's land and while we were there ... this ...

Car trouble!  But first ... Let me take a selfie

My car overheated, was leaking something, and we were basically in "oh shit-ville." Called my mom to have somebody come get us, my grandma called her mechanic, and we saw most of the weekend plans circle down the drain.
Sometimes . . . sometimes being an adult can really suck!

But you know what?

We didn't freak out.  Neither one of us freaked.  Neither was angry.  I told him later, "thank you for not being angry with me."  He responded with, "Why would I be angry with you?  Thank you for not crying or screaming or kicking things."

On our ride home, we saw a car that had this printed along the back windshield:

It's not what happens to you, it's how you handle it.
Boyfriend and I both looked at each other and were just like, "YES!  THAT!"
Honestly, we were laughing about the whole car debacle by later in the evening.  (And we definitely were the next day when I flooded by grandmother's bathroom with her shower.  Don't let me touch anything; it will undoubtedly implode!)
I guess my point is: there was no use freaking out.  None.  Some times shit just happens and you've gotta roll with it.  Having someone by your side . . . someone who is also easygoing and doesn't freak out easily . . . that makes it that much better.  Car trouble is obviously a total first world problem, albeit a major stressor -- especially with costs and such involved, so it seems a little silly to say this but I kinda think the weekend and the events therein drew us a little closer.  It's nice - no, it's amazing - to have someone you can laugh with through the tough times.  Even if they ARE first world tough times. 
As far as the car goes ---
It ended up being a water pump, a pricy fix but I suppose not as bad as it could have been. Our stay ended up being a day longer which meant the kids got to spend yesterday afternoon at the lake. Not too bad for when you're stranded!

Friday, July 10, 2015

Four Years Difference

I was originally going to publish a post about how funny it is how much life can change in just a year (and I will probably publish that post next week.  Be prepared; it's kinda mushy.)  But I happened to click on a link to an old blog post, one about K1's third birthday, and it struck me just how funny it is and how much a child can change.

Many things I wrote about K1 in that post are still very true.  He is sweet and loving, easily the most loving of my children.  He's still a big time Mama's boy.  He'll take a break from what he's doing to run over and give me a hug.  He's creative and imaginative and adorable and inquisitive.  HOLY SHIT is this child inquisitive.  He wants to know how the world works.  He wants to know why we do the things we do.  He wants to know Michael Jackson's birthdate and how many brothers or sisters LeBron James has.  He wants to know it all!  He's still a big time ladies man and will turn on the charm whenever he meets a halfway decent looking female, regardless of her age.

He's still a lot of the person he was.  But in four years he's changed a lot.  He's not as much of a picky eater.  He doesn't get as jealous as he used to.  He never drinks chocolate milk anymore.  The days of Cars and Toy Story are long gone and have been replaced with the likes of Peyton Manning and superheroes.  What really struck me when reading that old post was that I wrote this:

He's temperamental and grumpy.  E and I have voted him the child will most likely have to post bail for.  He has never once, in all his three years, made life easy on me.
Four years ago, I would've told you K1 would be a difficult child forever.  I KNEW he would be my difficult one, always keeping me on my toes.  He WAS temperamental.  He WAS grumpy.  I don't remember voting him the one most likely to post bail for but, thinking back to those toddler years, I can see where we drew that conclusion.  And, as a baby and toddler, he certainly did NOT make life easy on me. 
Four years later, though, and I can tell you . . . it's almost like parenting a different child.  His temperament is night and day what it used to be.  He grew from a "grumpy old man" toddler to a delightful child.  He has his moments ("everybody hates me!") but, for the most part, he's the happiest, smiliest kid I know.
I just wish I'd known that four years ago.
Though I'll forever cherish that three-year-old stank face and how he genuinely seemed to think he was "above" being a toddler.

Like, what, you really expect ME to hunt Easter eggs or play at the park or whatever?  PUH-LEASE.

Let's just hope in four MORE years I'm not once again writing about the probability of posting bail for him . . .

P.S. If you have a difficult toddler right now, you can consider this your "it gets better."  Because it does.  It comes along with armpit "farts" but it does get way better.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Goofball Island

I mentioned yesterday that we saw Inside Out last week.

If you have children, please go watch this movie with them. 

There are parts of it that are so funny, clearly humor that's aimed at the adults in the audience.  But it also really just makes you THINK.  I love the message of it -- we have to embrace all our emotions.  We're not always going to feel joy.  There are times when we're going to be mad or sad or disgusted or afraid.  It's life.  Plus -- "bad times make the good times better."

Something in the movie that really hit me, though, was the loss of "Goofball Island."  I'm really not giving away much of the movie here, I promise, because that wasn't really a huge part of the movie.  It was huge to me though.  It literally brought tears to my eyes when this little girl lost her "goofy."  Why?

Because I'm dealing with this right now with one of my own children and it kind of breaks my heart.  He thinks he's too old or too cool or too whatever to just let go and be goofy.  It's something that a majority of kids go through and, therefore, a majority of parents go through.  But this is a first for me: I'm in the beginning stages of parenting a pre-adolescent with all the eye rolls and heavy sighs that go along with it.  The attitude makes me rage-y but I can deal with that much more than losing the goofy stage.

I tell my kids all the time . . . you're never too old to have fun.  You're never too old to let go and be silly.  It's important to be silly!  Don't worry so much about what other people think of you!

Of course, that's easier said than done when you're a child.  I know being concerned of what others feel about him now doesn't determine how he will be in adulthood.  Hell, I was in my 30's before I decided I didn't really give a single solitary care what [most] other people thought of me. 

But I really don't want him to give up the goofy fun of childhood because he's concerned that others might see, what others might think.

This part of parenting is hard!