Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Happy 14th Anniversary

Because our weekends are packed with kid activities, we had to squeeze in an anniversary celebration a few weeks in advance.  We combined our favorites: yummy Mexican food, decadent cake, and good company.

He says I make him laugh.  

That makes me happy.  

When I spit out something irreverent, flighty, or humorous, he laughs. And his laughter is my favorite.  It's full-belly, authentic laughter.  The sound from his mouth matches the gleam in his eye.  His cackle lightens the room.  He's happy, and I was the cause.  

Nothing brings me greater joy.

He listens to my stories.  He nods and maintains eye-contact as I tell the long-winded tales, the pointless sagas, and the catty nonsense.  He acts as my sounding board, my confidant, and my advisor.  

Nothing brings me greater comfort.

He tells me his own stories.  He talks about his love for Kenya, his desire to be a good doctor, and his quest to grow deeper in his faith.  His words give me glimpses into his soul, and every exposed layer shows me the beauty that sits beneath his surface.

Nothing brings me more pride.

He looks at our boys with emotions I know well.  His deep love for his son matches my own.  He is the only one in the world that knows our boys as intimately and deeply as me.  He shares in the pains and joys of raising each son, and enjoys going through the process together.

Nothing brings my more happiness.  

Caleb says this blog post is sappy.

No apologizes. 

I'm a sap.  

Fourteen years ago, I said I do.  

It was the best decision I've ever made.

Happy Anniversary to my dear husband.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Coach Mommy

We had the pleasure of watching family friend Mia for the weekend.  Collin was her buddy and even gave her this "flower" during a walk.  I'm beginning to think our fourth son may be a casanova!

A few months ago, I saw a posting at the boys' school; it was an opening for the junior high track coach position.  I lingered over the post and pondered whether I should apply for the job.  I love to run, and I am a religious reader of Runner's World magazine.  Certainly the combination of the two would be sufficient to lead a pack of pre-pubescent athletes.

I imagined I would be a coach like the one seen in Hoosiers.  I would stand on the track, gripping a clipboard and a stopwatch, delivering a motivational pep talk that rivaled the ones heard on Friday Night Lights.  I would turn a Bad News Bears team into superstars.  And when they stood on the podium clutching their shiny medals, they would thank God and then their coach. We'd collectively weep tears of victory and joy.

Then I was snapped back to reality.  The fact is I have four children, not all of whom are junior high runners.  After-school homework and activities leave little time to breathe, let alone coach.  And so I bypassed the position.

Coach Jackson landed the role.  She is a former track super star, and a talented instructor on everything from the hurdles to the relay.      I agreed to be the next best thing to a coach; I am her voluntary assistant when time permits and Chris is around to tend to the other children.

Caleb joined the junior high track team.  He did so on the stipulation that his running was kept to a minimum, and he could concentrate on field events.  I agreed to his terms with a gleam in my eye and a secret hope that he would catch the running bug and maybe, just maybe, enter a race.

After several weeks of working with the team, I realized that helping with the team is different than I imagined.  It's better.  I am not delivering speeches or barking out orders.  That's Coach Jackson's job.  But, I'm experiencing something I truly love and with my son.

When I stand along side him in practice, I swell with pride. He is not a track or field superstar, but he is a wiling and able participant. He is happy to have his mother's undivided attention, and I am happy to focus on just him.

I've learned the ins and outs of discuss and shot put.  He's learned a thing or two about sprinter form and pacing.

I sit by him on the bus.  We talk to his coach.  We laugh with his teammates.  We're forming memories of practices done together and meets experienced as a mother-son team.

I wasn't meant to be the coach, but I was meant to be his mother and cheerleader.  I have the privilege to stand along the track and practice field and belt out, "You got this."  Because he does.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Did you hear the one about.....

If you're wondering where to find the Wood family during spring.....

 look no further....



soccer fields!

"Do you know what part of the cake dentists like the most," Caleb announced holding center stage in the van.

His boy-filled mobile (captive) audience had little time to respond before Caleb unleashed the punch line with the precision of a well-trained comic.

"The filling," he chuckled.

Cue the laugh track.

(Or the groans.)

And so our morning commutes have turned into amateur comedy hour in my minivan.  As soon as his brothers are strapped (trapped) into their carseats, Caleb begins his bit.

"Why did the picture go to jail," he chirps.

Wait for it...

"Because he was framed!"

Ba dum tss.

As one who enjoys adding humor and levity into life, you'd think I cherish these lively morning commutes.  But there's only so many times I can be asked why the strawberry was crying (because he was in a jam) or why 6 is afraid of 7 (because 7 8 9...give it a minute), before this mom feels her sanity start to wane.

As I feel my blood pressure rise,

"What does a robot frog say?"

I feel the voice of reason take ahold of me.

"Rib-bot!  Get it!"

I focus on how many times our minivan has looked more like the site of a WWF meet than a comedy club.

"Why do cows wear bells?"

And so I bite my tongue and focus on the laughter.

"Because their horns don't work."

And I start smiling too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


No shirt required when greeting an Easter basket.

And the Easter Bunny is savvy enough to know exactly what each child wants.

Don't be fouled by the smiles.  Not one of these kids wanted their pictures taken, but this mom insisted on a pre-Easter Egg hunt photo before they were unleashed into the yard.

Fortunately, there is no age limit (or height limit) on this Easter egg hunt.

Just like his mom....will run for chocolate!

Most holidays we've tried to instill traditions.  We celebrate the same way year after year.  But Easter has been different.  Perhaps it's because the date changes.  This means some years the Easter photo shows the kids clad in parkas, and other years they are sporting flip flops.  Some years Easter falls on Spring Break and other years it sits within the normal school week.

This year Chris was working on Easter.  (Can't people wait to get injured or ill until after the holiday?)  So, we attended Easter service on Saturday night.  I had mixed feelings about attending a service on the day before Easter.  I fluctuated between thinking we were superior church goers because we were the very first congregants to hear the sermon to feeling a bit like we opened all our presents before Christmas morning.  Wasn't church supposed to be the center piece of Easter?  The real Easter day.  Nevertheless, the church was packed. Either everyone else in town was working on Easter or people were worried they would stay up too late watching Final Four games to make it to Sunday morning church.

Easter morning, the boys raced downstairs to get their baskets.  I tried to go light on the candy, and heavy on practical (yet fun?) gifts.  Nothing says Easter like a good pair of goggles and a sturdy pair of pajamas!  The boys can mention the lack of candy in therapy one day.

After baskets, the boys and I returned to church, but to volunteer.  Our pastor pleaded with the congregants to step up and help out on as he described it, "the Super Bowl of church days."  The church lured volunteers in with the promise of donuts.  My boys took the bait.  We were assigned to pass out programs at Door #5.  Fortunately, Door #5 is not the main door, but a bit secluded.  I rested easy knowing any boy shenanigans would probably not be captured on the church's big screen.  

But before we took our positions, the boys wanted to be paid upfront in the form of donuts.  We entered the volunteer room and the boys gasped at the sight.  Not only were there donuts, but bowls of candy and sodas too.  As a surprise to no one, the boys began loading up plates with candy morsels and snagged sodas. 

Caleb looked at his brothers with disgust and grabbed a plate.

"I'm going to eat healthier," Caleb announced with an air of superiority.  I then watched him pull a donut onto his plate.

Caleb said he was making the more "sensible choice" selecting donuts over candy for breakfast.

When he puts it that way, it sort of makes sense.

I let the boys eat candy and drink sodas for breakfast.  A mommy don't.  (But remember the Easter baskets with little candy?)  I figure if candy and sodas are part of the allure of volunteering at church, I'm willing to make some nutritional allowances.

Easter was capped off with dinner at my parents home followed by an Easter egg hunt.  As my kids have aged, I've wondered if the appeal of the Easter egg hunt would wane.  So far, the tweens race around the yard with as much giddiness as their younger counterparts.  Again, the allure of candy does wonders!

As much as I treasure holiday traditions, I enjoy the variations in the way we celebrate Easter.  We may celebrate differently, but the cornerstone of the day remain the same: faith, family, and (of course) chocolate.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Vacation with Kids

This year, we bypassed our annual trip to Florida.  Instead, we opted for a closer (more budget-friendly) destination.  We landed on a vacation to Atlanta and Huntsville, Alabama.

After driving for over eight hours, we stopped at Berry College in Rome, Georgia to pick up my packet for the Berry College Half Marathon.

Berry College is a beauty!  The boys had a blast running around the rocks and tiptoeing around the water (inches away from a good soaking!).  

I have no pictures from the race, as I got totally lost driving to the starting line.  Then, thing after thing happened.  It's a story.  I didn't start until 12 minutes after everyone else, but finished a bit frazzled (and with a second place age group win!) and with a cautionary tale of what not to do before a race!

Am I the only one who likes to indulge in a Diet Coke post-race?  Fortunately, we found just the place to satisfy my cravings!  We hit the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta.

For the boys, the highlight of the museum was the tasting room that featured all-you-can-drink coke beverages from all around the world.  I wondered if the boys would cut themselves off at some point.  They did.  Some even claimed to feel ill. Wonder why?

Next day, the weather warmed and we traveled up to the top of Stone Mountain.  Here I'm featured with my hiking buddy!

And why not celebrate when we reach the top?

Lunch followed at a picturesque picnic area.  After dining, the boys engaged in a pinecone war.  I tried to halt the flying pinecones, but Chris insisted this is what boys do with other boys.  I agreed to the pinecone war, if Chris explained to the ER doctor why our sons sustained pinecone lacerations and concussions.

The boys loved the amusement area at Stone Mountain the best.

Note to self: do not let my six-year-old tell me he can do a rope obstacle course two stories above the ground...alone.  As a surprise to no one, he became hysterical during the process and a sweet southern dad grabbed his hand and escorted him to the nearest exit stairwell.  This mom needs a good slap on the hand after that one!

Trip Day #3 was spent at the Atlanta Aquarium with the Tomeney family (former neighbors and Atlanta transplants).  Pam said it had been seven years since our last meeting.  You know those friends you don't see in seven years and then you can pick right up where you left?  That's her and her family!

We left Atlanta and traveled to Huntsville, Alabama for the US Space and Rocket Center.

Four future rocket scientist?  A mom can dream!

It's been less than 24 hours since we arrived home from our spring break excursion to Atlanta and Huntsville, Alabama.  A heap of dirty clothes the size of a mountain has set up camp in my laundry room.  Mail and catalogues are strewn all over my kitchen island.  Suitcases litter the hallway.  This scene is unsettling to me.  I prefer order and cleanliness.  Our home is anything but.  It's the price one pays for vacationing, and so I'm willing to have a day to regroup amid the chaos.

This spring break was different than our previous years.  We bypassed our annual pilgrimage to Florida opting instead for a road trip to the South.  I've heard people say that a vacation with kids is no vacation.  I agree in part.  I shed any expectations of leisure dinners and sleeping late.  But, I think a vacation with kids allows me to really see my kids (without the distractions of laundry mountains and mail piles).  I'm completely present with my children, uninhibited by the demands of schedules and home.

When I'm there with them, listening to what they have to say (Whale sharks are the largest fish in the world!) and what they feel (I'm afraid to climb Stone Mountain.), they provide me little glimpses into their world.  We add little blocks to the foundation of our relationship that hopefully stands firm when we travel back home.

And for that, I'm happy to live among the remnants of a vacation with my boys.