Tuesday, July 31, 2012

12 Years Part Two (And Matt Damon)

"This is the moment where both of you became a possibility," Matt Damon tells his children.  "This is the story before the story.  This is where you begin."

Matt Damon was playing the character of Benjamin Mee and talking to his fictional kids played by adorable actors in the movie "We Bought A Zoo."  He was telling his kids the story of how he met their mother.  
I cried.  I thought about my/our story.

This past weekend I sat down with my family to watch a movie to review for Mommy Bear Media--a great place for family friendly movies.  (I was invited to write reviews of some movies this summer.  Movies we get to choose, so it's a really fun assignment.) 

Last month I wrote a review and made quite an event of our family movie night. This past weekend though, it wasn't about the props or even the popcorn.  It was about finding a place on the couch, snuggling and being together.

I didn't know much about We Bought A Zoo except that it had a great cast including Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson, and that it was a Cameron Crowe movie.  I love a lot of Cameron Crowe movies (Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire) except I have never seen Vanilla Sky (Tom Cruise was starting to bother me and frankly it looked too weird to me).

This particular movie was enjoyed by my whole family.  Well, there were a few moments when my two littlest ones (ages 6 and 2) were getting restless.  But they enjoyed the animals.  My tween enjoyed the teenager angst.  My 8-year-old daughter enjoyed all of it.  My husband teared up, which is saying a lot because that just never happens. Ever.

It's well written, the music is amazing(as in all Cameron Crowe movies) and the acting is really good.  It's the story of a family going through stuff, major stuff.  It's about a parent not shying away from handling the major stuff.  It's about taking risks to really live life full of joy, because "why not?"  

"You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."

It's about living your story and telling your story.

I cried.  I thought about my/our story.

Twelve years ago I had no idea what I was getting into.  All I knew was that I was madly in love with a man and I wanted to spend my life with him.   We both thought we knew so much. We knew we wanted kids.  We knew we wanted four kids to be exact.  

On our first wedding anniversary, I was seven months pregnant.  I've spent almost 40% of our married years pregnant.  Calculate all the fun postpartum months (which I count as almost the whole first year after a baby is born) and that's more than 50% of my married years pregnant or postpartum-y.  That's a whole lot of hormones people.

The funny thing is, that I hate being pregnant. No lie.  But I love the babies.  My babies. Our babies.  Our family.

Unless something crazy happens, there will be no more babies.  And that is strange.  But it's good.  It's scary.

"Ten years of toddlers" was a dream of ours.  I know you are reading this thinking we are crazy, but this is our story.  And you are right, we are a little crazy.  

I feel a little like the characters in the movie (yes I am Scarlett Johansson and Tim is Matt Damon, I think it's good casting right?) about to embark on the next scary adventure.  Because let's face it, 10 years of toddlers is one thing but 10 years of teenagers is a whole other beast.  It's kind of like buying a zoo.

"It's not about where an adventure ends, cause that's not what an adventure's about. So anything that happens from here on out is a bonus." 

It's an adventure, my/our adventure.  
We are living our story.  

Oh, one more thing about the movie, there are a few sensitive topics covered and a handful of bad words.  Be prepared to talk about death, the Easter Bunny and what an asshole is.  But trust me it's worth it.

Take a look at Mommy Bear Media--they have a wide variety of older movies and the best new movies on dvd for the whole family. And they offer free 2-5 day shipping on all orders.  In addition to their website, you can follow up with them on Facebook and Twitter as well.  

Ch-ch-check it out, the We Bought A Zoo trailer:

Monday, July 30, 2012

12 Years

While I was gone, my wedding anniversary arrived.  Twelve years.  Our marriage is 12 years old.

"My sister got divorced after 12 years," my cousin's wife told me when I said it was my anniversary.  

"Mmm," I nodded.  "Hope that doesn't happen to me," is what I said.  Because really what else can you say after that?

Being apart on our anniversary didn't really bother me.  We aren't big on ceremony and big deals.  Last year we celebrated with Arrested Development dvds and liquor, which is kind of perfect in my world.

It was quite poignant sitting in my aunt and uncle's living room with my cousins for my anniversary this year.  The same aunt and uncle and cousins who had traveled up to Michigan for my wedding all those years before.  

My uncle told the best story about an elderly couple he knew from his church--a couple in their 80s who had stayed married for what must have been like a million years.  He said on the Friday after their first week together, the man bought his girlfriend a bottle of wine with a note that said "we made it a week."  Every Friday, EVERY Friday, for the rest of his life, he bought her a bottle of wine with a hand written note that said "we made it another week."
This was the phase where Tim grew a beard.  I loved it.  My favorite quote about the beard was from a friend of ours who said, "Tim, you look so presidential, in an 18th century sort of way." 

I said I wasn't big on ceremony, but my god I love that.  I love that they carried on a tradition that reminded them of when they were courting (because they were so old you know they didn't call it dating, courting feels more appropriate).  

The older I get and the longer I'm married, I realize how f&@*ing hard it is.  It's not really being with my husband, it's managing four kids, money, disappointments, stress, crazy parents, damaged pasts, somewhat overwhelming futures, babies, tweens and all the rest.  If it was just about my husband and me, I think we'd do alright.  Honestly, I think we're doing alright right now.  It just wouldn't hurt to have a tradition/ceremony/thing-we-do that reminded us of who we were when we first fell in love.

What about you? Do you have any traditions/date nights/etc.?

Here's the song we danced to at our wedding, our first dance as husband and wife.  Ray Charles, Come Rain or Come Shine.

In other news, our weekend update:

We visited yet another emergency room, because that's just how we seem to roll lately.  Poor JT ended up with an infection under his cast, um gross. Luckily we were only in the "minor emergency" wing.  He had to have his cast removed, a splint put on and antibiotics.  We see the dr. this week to find out if he can remain castless. Fingers crossed!

No matter what your feelings are on health care, I am very grateful for our insurance this summer with the broken arm, high fevers, wacky ear infections, etc.

The Olympics happened.  We all tried to make it until the torch was lit, but sadly five out of six of us fell asleep. No worries mate, we caught the awesome torch lighting and Paul McCartney on our trusty DVR.  And now the kids are so into the games.  JT keeps rooting for "our world."  I love the Olympics.

I became a grown up.  That's right, I finally feel like I'm officially a grown up or at least a mother of a large family--I  became a Costco member. 


Friday, July 27, 2012

Messy is Good (sometimes) and What I Know For Sure (this week)

I keep saying to myself, "if I can travel with four kids alone, surely I can clean my basement and get a handle on my laundry." But nope, I can't.  The good thing is, I don't really care that much.  
Image source: http://poppy-darling.tumblr.com/post/18898999606/hee-hee

This week what I know for sure is that I accept my chaotic, unorganized style of living.  It may be messy, but we have a lot of fun and we aren't too bogged down in making sure everything is so in order that we miss the moments.  The moments of wonder, the moments of great humor--the moments of life.

Life is better when you're laughing--I know this for sure and not just this week, but always.

Here's what else I know for sure (this week):

Japanese toilets are pretty great. (That is honestly a sentence I never really imagined myself writing.) My husband refuses to buy a foreign car even though many of those cars are made right here in the U.S.A.  Out of respect to his father who worked for GM for 30 years we stick to the big three.  I get it.  But nobody said anything about foreign toilets.  As soon as I get enough money to spend on fancy Japanese toilets, I am so doing it.  
Let me explain.  My sister (whose house we just visited in Kentucky) has a couple of those fancy toilets.  I was a skeptic at first, I mean come on, a toilet with a remote control? Is that necessary?  No, but yes.  Lucy was the first to fall in love with the toilets.  In fact she told my sister she was in "toilet heaven."  Throughout the visit you could find various children of mine sitting on her fancy toilets with the clicker--- they in deed had the cleanest bums in Kentucky.

Drinking water is the key to feeling good.  Duh, right? I thought I knew this already, but now I feel like I know it more.  On the trip I drank twice as much H2O as normal and really felt good.  More energetic and just all around better than normal.  Drink that H2O people.

Vacation videos are what slide shows were to our parents.  So pretend I have you cornered at a potluck or fondue in my house.  And I bust out the slide projector to show you all my trip pictures. Except, video is so much better.  Beyond better.  And we have music.  Here's my video of my road trip if you missed it.  Sorry I don't have any fondue to offer you.

I miss Mad Men.  I love that show and the last season was so good.  Here is a clip from several seasons ago.  It might just be my favorite clip from the show, ever.  And it works in the slide projector reference from above--it's the Kodak Carousel scene. Classic.

Car paint is a fun idea, but a real bitch to get off.  Be careful. Be very, very careful people.

Next week we have vacation bible school at church and um, my kids need it.  We stopped in to drop off our registration forms yesterday (yes, they were way late) and my kids stole candy.  How did I know this? The very lovely woman that worked in the church office told me. Niiiiiice kids, real nice.

Feedback is good.  No really, I can take it.  Let me know what you think, leave a comment.  

What do you know for sure (this week)?

Click here to join the Facebook family.  Click here to follow me on Twitter @AngelaYBlood.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What Are You Looking At?

As I drove down the highway, melting in my driver's seat with the hairdryer hot air blowing in my face, I noticed people were staring.  "What are you looking at?" I thought while giving them a Billy Idol sneer.  Except I'm a sweaty, almost 40-year-old mother with a fan full of sweaty, red-faced kids, not Billy Idol.

I may not have the cool swagger of an old-school British pop star, but I have buckets of attitude.  You look at me funny, I'll give it right back bitch.  Go ahead just look at me funny, I dare you.  Pretty good right?

Yeah, I was feeling all kinds of "bring it" attitude in my overheated toaster oven of a minivan.  I wasn't just full of attitude, in the beginning of my trip I was full of anxiety and doubt and defensiveness.  The trip seemed overwhelming, the cards (no air, little money) seemed stacked against me and the world just seemed scary.

And people were staring at me. Judging me. So I sneered and judged right back.

Then people started honking. A white Lexus pulled up next to me and honked. Rich, mean people, great. What the hell?  The woman in the passenger seat rolled (don't we still call it rolled even though there's no roller?) down her window and  yelled "Have a great road trip!"

What? I forgot I painted the windows of my sad minivan. 

She was a nice rich person.  Hell, maybe she's in debt and running from creditors in her nice ride.  Who cares.  She just wished me well.

As the drive went on, so did the well wishes.  I sneered less and smiled more.  I judged less and laughed more. The world seemed a little less scary.

Then all of a sudden the world got a lot scarier.  I read a brief article about the Colorado shootings on my phone Friday morning waking up at my aunt's house.  I didn't watch the news.  I played with my kids in her backyard.  Normally, I am a news junkie who would be waiting to hear Anderson Cooper's take on all the madness.  I would want to know everyone's story.  I would cry and worry and be scared.

But I didn't get the chance.  I played with my kids and got ready to get back on the road for the next leg of my trip.

At McDonald's where we stopped (again) for lunch, the kids went and sat at a table while I ordered.  The place was packed with people.  A lot of men that looked like they had been doing something very difficult and hot outdoors.  One of those men in a ripped t-shirt and a very dirty hat was staring at me.  It wasn't the kind of stare you are thinking, that hasn't happened in a million years.  He was staring at me trying to get my attention. Without putting his cheeseburger down, he pointed to my kids and then up at the TV.  He was concerned about my kids hearing all the Colorado coverage on CNN which was directly above the booth my kids were shoving each other into.  I hurried over to the kids and moved them to another booth away from the TV and nodded my thanks to the stranger.

I found that to be the case throughout my travels.  People looked out for my kids and me.  
Little JT ordering his own lunch at one of the 28 McDonald's we stopped in for lunch.  It felt good to let go a little and let the kids do things themselves.
Every time we piled out of our car at a gas station all red and sweaty, people gave us tips on how to stay cool and let us stay in their gas stations for almost an hour.  My favorite bit of advice we got was from a well-meaning young man who suggested we open the side doors of the minivan and just drive down the highway.  He said he had seen it done.  As tempting as it sounded, I didn't open the side doors going 80 down I-65.

All my good, happy feelings were getting a little tired when baby Wade's fever spiked again on our way to Alabama.  We stopped in Rome, Georgia and my apologies to Rome, but I wasn't impressed with the particular gas station where we chose to stop.  I muttered to myself "I hate this place. Thank god I don't live in Rome. Rome is stupid."  Yes, that was me muttering, not my child.  Okay it was my grumpy inner child that doesn't always stay so inner.  Well, I was sneering a big old sneer at Rome, Georgia, when a nice woman rolled (whatever) her window down and said these words:  "I like your car paint.  Welcome to Georgia, I hope you have a great vacation."

I'm sorry Rome.

Yes the world can be scary.  But it can also be good.  And yes there are creepy people, but there are so many more good people.

On the way home, we stopped at one of my favorite places in the world, GunTown Mountain.  It's kitschy, old-school and just all around fabulous.  We skipped the Haunted House and did the black light mini golf instead.  Next year we said we might be brave and do the haunted house.

In the parking lot, a man was leaning against his motorcycle picking his teeth.  He looked like a cross between a member of ZZ Top, Sam Elliot in the movie Mask, and the bass player from the Muppet Band, you know Floyd Pepper.  Well he sauntered over to us and said "Are you there yet mama?" inquiring about my van paint.  We laughed and he told me about his daughter and his grand kids and how he couldn't wait to see them again.

In a week that should have been scary and filled me with anxiety, I found warmth and community.  I prayed for the tragedy in Colorado and instead of crying, I appreciated life more.  I lost the sneer and defensiveness, rolled (I'm over it) down the window to the world.

By the end of the trip the hot air felt less like a hairdryer and more like freedom.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Back to Life, Back to Reality

We made it home a day earlier than we anticipated.  
It was great to see Tim.  But it's happening already, the post vacation blues.  
Did the past week really happen?

I felt brave, bold and a little crazy traipsing across the southeastern states with nothing but my kids and a sense of adventure. I was the fun mom, the yes mom.  There was nothing mundane or ordinary about any day.

This morning, I woke up to a messy house, a giant pile of laundry and a stack of bills to pay. To just make it more normal,  Wade's diaper leaked and he peed in my bed, the bed he crawled into in the middle of the night.  Yes, I am home.

Here's a short video of our adventure.  It did happen.

C'mon, I had to put this Soul II Soul video up...Back to Life.  I've been singing it all morning.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Heading Home

We have started our journey home.  And while the road trip fun is still in full effect, it just isn't the same.  It will be nice to be home and it will be even nicer to see Tim, but going home just isn't quite as adventurous.

And it has been an adventure.  It has been harder than I imagined, more fun than I imagined.  It has been so fun in fact that for a few minutes I considered taking the kids out of school and living in a camper for a year.  The only real sticking point would be air conditioning and a tutor for math of course. 

It feels so freeing and romantic to be on the open road, yes even with four fighting kids and no air conditioning.  It's like a Midwestern mom's version of Jack Kerouac's On the Road.  

Love this song from Zac Brown Band--Free. Sums up part of how I'm feeling right now. 

No we don't have a lot of money No we don't have a lot of money
All we need is love, we're Free as we'll ever be
Just as free Free as we'll ever be
So we live in our old van Travel all across this land Me and you


But instead, we are heading home to the real world.  The camper dream will be my plan B for now. 

I have so many stories to tell and I will share soon. I have one more mini adventure to get through today--a hotel/motel alone with four kids.

Then the adventure will continue at home I'm sure.

I so want to do this with some of my pictures from the trip.  This might be a good rainy day craft project.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Back to the Future and What I Know For Sure (this week)

Writing posts in advance is strange because I'm not a planner.

I'm the mom who forgets the baby's shoes at a baseball tournament.
He was so not happy with me.
I'm the mom that has to borrow wipes, sunscreen, you name it.

So writing in the future is pretty strange, that I know for sure (this week).  

I hope you are following along with my travelling adventures on Twitter and Facebook.

Here's What Else I Know For Sure (This Week):

Being part of the MomPulse community on YouTube is pretty damn cool.  Check out my latest Vlog.  It's my family intro video.  Hope you like it and please subscribe! 

This is a great cover of the Muppet classic Moving Right Along. Love it.

I have a crush on Gwen Stefani.  I love her and so excited that No Doubt is releaseing new music!!

Summer is awesome. The end.

What do you know for sure (this week)?  C'mon leave a comment!  Share what you know.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What Would Maria Do?

Travelling with four kids, no husband and unreliable air conditioning is a little intimidating.  Yes, I had a few mini panic attacks before we left.  But ultimately, I believe getting away should be fun and exciting--an adventure.

In preparation for our adventure, here's what we did:

Made and decorated fans because let's face it, even though the air conditioning is working a little, it's going to get hot in our van.  So now they each have a hand-held fan and I'm sure they won't complain at all.  Right?

Packed the essentials-from UNO to my first ever trust first aid kit.  Click here to read how I am finally taking my own advice on being prepared.
The awesome travel bingo cards were a free printable from @Random Thoughts of a Supermom. Click here for more info. 

Possibly the most important thing we will bring, the music.

Recently my kids fell in love with The Sound of Music and therefore I fell in love all over again.  We are now in possession, courtesy of our fabulous library, of the soundtrack and we are LOVING it.  The whole family Do-Re-Mi's throughout town.  And now we are Do-Re-Mi-ing our way through the southeastern United States.

I am using Maria von Trapp as a guide post throughout this whole grand adventure.  I mean look what she did with just a little confidence, she entertained those kids and everyone seemed so happy.  If Maria can do it, so can I by golly.

I think Maria would be a B-52s fan.  She might take it hip to hip and rock it through the wilderness. Maybe not, that sounds too dirty for Maria.  But I do think she would approve of singing and roaming.

Follow along on our journey as I tweet and post updates on Facebook.
If not, then click here to follow on Twitter and here to join the Facebook page.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Stuck in the 1900s (what i wore wednesdays)

Me trying to look cool (just like in the 80s) and my baby trying to figure out what the hell I'm looking at.
I can't believe how fast everything is going.  I can't believe I am mother to a tween, along with three other kids.  I can't believe the "cracks in my forehead," as one of my children calls them, are mine.  I can't believe it's f&#*ing 2012.

"What was your favorite rock and roll song from the 1900s?," my tween asked me the other day.

"Um, they didn't have rock n' roll in the 1900s. Oh, you mean the 1980s?" I laughed.  But Jesus, he's right, I'm from the 1900s. Holy crap!

I'm so old, my dated fashion looks are coming back in style.  The eighties are back people and I'm loving it.  (Just don't tell people I never left.)

I'm linking up with the pleated poppy's What I Wore Wednesday(wiww) again. 

pleated poppy WWIW link up was started by blogger/business woman extraordinaire, Lindsey, as a "fun way for us to encourage each other to simply get dressed each day, and get out of our pj’s or yoga pants."  

Get the look:
Dress- From Pitaya $29.00
Glasses- CosmoGIRL off the rack at CVS for $13.99

Or this look:
Dress- From Old Navy $15.00
Bracelet- (the one I wear with everything that you just might be getting sick of seeing) from Francesca's Collection $5.00
Flower Pin- Made from an old VBS shirt, click here for tutorial on the very easy-to-make flower pins.

**the only thing really eighties in this picture is the big hair and frosted pink lip gloss***

Be a part of my Facebook experience. Or in other words, click here to like my page.

And please leave a comment and let me know if you too might be stuck, I mean bringing back the 80s.

Click here to check out the other links on the fabulous blog the pleated poppy.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Youngbloods Go On Tour

We are about to embark on a grand adventure--the summer road trip of 2012.

Every year, we load up the kids and drive down to see my family in Alabama.  My mother and father took my sister,brother and me when we were kids.  Now I take my kids. Traa-diii-tionnnn! (You should be singing that word in Fiddler on the Roof style.)

I love road trips.  I love to get away. I've always dreamed of being on a tour bus, going from gig to gig.  

Here's my tour bus.

Just like a celebrity. Except the air conditioning only works in 20 minute stretches, there is no nanny along for the ride and I am on an extremely strict budget.  Not only strict, but sad.  It's a sad budget.

No worries though.  I'm ready for a getaway.  I'm ready to travel like a god damn low level grunge band.

My tour manager husband has to stay home to manage the local bands here at home (code for the mostly sweet, but mostly delinquent kids at the summer school where he is the head honcho).  In a true sign of his belief in my traveling abilities, he has rigged up a "cooling system" that will help.  I'm a bit skeptical.
Get ready America, or at least a few states in the southeastern portion of America, the Youngbloods are coming!

Tour stops:
Louisville, Kentucky
Atlanta, Georgia
Huntsville, Alabama
Nashville, Tennessee
Louisville, Kentucky***
***repeat stop, thanks Dana!

I will be live Tweeting and updating my Facebook page.  I'm sure the tour will be full of wild antics from the band and the roadies.  Follow along!

Click here to follow me on Twitter @AngelaYBlood.

Click here to follow on Facebook.

Okay, I might have pretended I was going on tour with the Go-Gos when I was a kid.  And that is why this video is so awesome. Also because it's the Go-Go's on one of my favorite shows as a kid Solid Gold.  Enjoy!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sanitize-How to Shield Your Kids and Not Go Crazy

Sponsored Post

Eleven years ago right about now, I became a little bit of a worrier.  That is when it all changed.  Eleven years ago right about now, I was pregnant with my first child.  I worried about the foods I ate, the amount of weight I gained.  I worried about second hand smoke from the person smoking across the street.  I worried about standing too close to the microwave.

That's what a good parent does right? Worry.

Over the last 11 years, I've been very lucky.  I've had four healthy children.  Sure, there were ear infections, rashes, a minor hernia surgery, Swine Flu scares and even a diagnosis of Celiac disease.  But over the years, I relaxed and rolled with the punches, er, germs.

That's what a good grown-up parent does right? Worry less.

I was maturing.  I was parenting.

But then JT went and broke his arm.  I felt like a newbie parent all over again.  The anxiety, the worry came back.  I joke that I wish I could wrap him in bubble wrap, but the thing is, I 'm not joking.
"Oh it's just the beginning," the ER nurse told me as she smiled knowingly and put the splint on JT's broken little arm.  "I had three boys. Broken bones, stitches, you name it."

I nodded, speechless.

"It's not just boys!," another nurse lauged along with her friend.  "I had two daughters who were just as reckless and accident prone.  It's kids."

They laughed together and looked at me with a "just wait, honey, you are in for it" look.

All these looks.  All these worries.  I wanted to grab my baby boy and the bubble wrap and head for the hills.  But even the hills are dangerous.  Ugh.

After a couple weeks with JT in a cast, I've had a little time to analyze my situation.  Those nurses are right, I'm in for it.  But that doesn't mean I am doomed to a life of paralyzing fear and anxiety. 

Here's a few tips I figured out on how to shield the kids and not go crazy:

Be prepared, emotionally.  
-I was so NOT prepared for something bad to happen.  I am not suggesting you walk around waiting for the sky to fall Henny Penny style.  But know that bad things can happen to good, cute little people and leave the bitterness at the door.  Accept that you are strong enough to deal with life "stuff" and don't be afraid to ask friends and family for help.

Be prepared, with a kit.
-Have a first aid kit in your house, in your car. Sounds simple, but lots of people (um, me) don't have a first aid kit at the ready.  

Have a plan.
-We fill out emergency cards all over the place for our children, but what about at home?  Who is your emergency contact?  For example, who is your someone that will watch your other kids while you go to the hospital in an emergency? 

Teach them well.
-Being the mother of an almost 11-year-old, I realize how important it is to teach kids to be responsible for themselves, but also to help out.  When JT broke his arm, the older kids and I were a team.  Peyton grabbed the baby and helped ease my mind.  Lucy talked to JT throughout the ride to the hospital helping him from going into shock. 

-Always, I mean always, carry hand sanitizer in your purse.  Not only will it zap any scary germs lurking, um everywhere, it will give you a sense of control and ease anxiety and worry.  For example, I could not fix JT's arm, but I could sanitize the hell out of our hands in the ER waiting room.  You better believe that helped.

Bottom line, we simply cannot shield our kids from every bad thing that will happen to them, physically or emotionally.  But worry doesn't help.  Being prepared and taking control of what we can, even it is only sanitizer, does in deed make a difference.

As a member of Clever Girls Collective, I was selected to participate in the Healthy Habits program sponsored by Kimberly-Clark and Colgate-Palmolive. The content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #healthyhabits #cgc