Happy 9th birthday dSwag!


Today you are 9.  NINE!  It’s the last year of single digits and I plan on living each of them fully with you.

I remember when you were born, born asleep- not quite ready for our hustle and bustle world.  You slept through delivery. That’s right. Slept clear through the next 2 days as well.  Then you woke up and partied so hard that they kicked you out of the hospital nursery that last night for being TOO LOUD. Not crying LOUD, just making noise LOUD.

At 3 months, you refused to roll and we took you to the doctor.  They told us nothing was wrong.  At six months, you refused to sit up and again, back to the doctor fearing the worst. They told us you were lazy. At nine months, you drug yourself around like a sniper and again, the doctor said “he’ll get up and run when he’s good and ready”.  You started running, not walking, at 13 months and you haven’t stopped yet. But when you do, you fall down fast asleep- and I’ll admit, that’s when I always have a camera ready.

when he sleeps its awesome...

when he sleeps its awesome… left to right: book sleeper, during the middle of mardi gras sleeper, in the middle of a fit sleeper and snuggler

You’ve always been that kid who is random. Random as in: no one can predict your next move or thought. Unlike your brother, you would say and do the most unexpected things.   It used to freak me out when you would do or say something extraordinary.  I would spend hours trying to decide exactly what you meant or what was happening inside your little head. Your dark eyes and inch long eyelashes make such pretty pictures.  

You’re a little guy- and you get that from my daddy and me. We aren’t a tall people. But you’re tough and scrappy and you don’t back down from anything. You laugh and you’re so very quick with a thought that it blows my mind- how street savvy and cool you truly are at such a young age.

You’re still my snuggler upon occasion. And although I know you’re way old enough to cross a street, I still reach for your hand every single time. Maybe it’s because letting you grow makes me grow- and I’ve been pretty alright where you’ve been for the last 5 years.  You have more personality in the tiny tip of your little pinkie finger- more than I’ll have in a lifetime.

You’re growing into such an amazing young man- it’s hard to let that happen.  You open my door for me and always check on me- when I’m sad or angry- you comfort me. I see you running rings around others in our household and wish I could bottle up all the love and energy you give, but I’d never sell it to anyone else.  I’m too selfish for that.

so much swagger, so little time...

so much swagger, so little time…

Happy birthday my little swagger-king, my d-money, my ninjadork. I’m going to try to live each and every single day of your nine’s with grace, dignity and reflection- keeping the best part of your snuggles for myself. You’ve created dozens of nicknames and personas and I plan on hugging each of them this next year.

All my love,


Happy birthday @cole_nlr


It’s the eve of your 12th birthday and your mom is a super-blogger-slacker. I couldn’t let the year pass without noting its significance.

You’re the kid we weren’t supposed to have. You’re also the kid who had such violent seizure we weren’t sure you’d survive. Not only did you survive, you came home weighing almost 10 oz more than you did when you were born.

You’re the kid that climbed a chain-link fence at the gentle age of 2 to get some gum out of the car. You’re the kid that never talked in 3 word sentences. When we asked where you got the fruit snacks, you said “i couldn’t find a grown up so i asked myself and i said it was ok”.

thing 1 (when he still had a tiny bit of baby fat)

thing 1 (when he still had a tiny bit of baby fat)

You’ve told me that my diets don’t seem to work, that we need to return your baby brother to the hospital before someone missed him. You’ve ratted yourself out before we could catch you. You’ll argue with a brick.

You’ve built a model black hole and an kickin Samuel Adams project. Just yesterday, you completed a super awesome mobile phone/string art project complete with jokes, facts, and a gameshow opportunity. You’ve built numerous businesses- including selling hose water to the roofers working next door and “crystals” to the early morning walkers. You helped define a new anti-bullying program at IHE and you’ve remained true to your friends even when you got your feelings hurt. You kicked elementary school’s butt and are working on middle school now.

Think of the children...

Think of the children…

We argue. We frustrate one another. We butt heads.

Until recently.

Until you spent a weekend in a batcave in the middle of Newton County.

Then i started to see changes.

A gentler, more reflective manchild. One who opens his arms more and accepts the mom hugs. Its like you started changing overnight and i find myself torn between this age of maturity and longing for the wildness of your childhood. You get the jokes now and you’re so funny.

You’re so loving and kind and super adorbs and handsome. Your heart is bigger than your vocabulary. You’re so quick to offer a helping hand or an awkward pat. And i realize that it means you’re growing up and becoming more responsible and that all that churchin that Ms Rhonda, the Wiselys and Mr Iggy invested prepared you for Mr Bobby, Mr Jerm, and Mr Charlie.



Youve got so much more figured out at your age than i ever did. I barely knew my name and more importantly, which hair barrettes i would wear. You’re secure in your faith and in running after Christ. You lead without making waves and love fiercely. Youre steadfast in your beliefs and in your passion for baseball, your friends, your education.

Happy birthday, Chief. I love you more than all the stars in the sky and all the chocolate on the earth. But I’m keeping you as a child for this last year and will try to remember to slow down enough to enjoy it before you officially become a “teen”.


its time to blame the teachers…

Warning: spoilers about the best teachers in NLR elementary schools. This post is 100% SNARK FREE.

It’s rare to have the perfect elementary school experience. I grew up over in the Spa City and attended 4 different elementary schools plus a private kindergarten. My situation was unique- death of a parent, shuffling in and out of schools until my dad remarried and we moved to Lake Hamilton- a district well known for educational excellence. Where I graduated from and was inspired by the holy trilogy of English teachers and the single coolest librarian ever to walk betwixt bookshelves. But more about them next week.

We moved into our house in Indian hills 2 full years before we had kids- not knowing a lot about the neighborhood or the elementary school but hearing that the school was “great”.

               Turns out, great is a gross understatement for amazing.
Because Cole has had 6 consecutive years of AMAZING teachers.
Continue reading


“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else- through hard work.” (Vince Lombardi)

most people don’t go by nicknames in real life. they just don’t have the moxie or stones to pull it off. i know a few who have the confidence to do so- ridiculous sounding nicknames. and i’m blessed to have worked for several dynamic individuals.

scooter was one of those people- nicknamed and dynamic.

a bank president and self-made millionaire- a hard-knock life, street-smart, educated man. like charles dickens epic character. so vivid and charismatic that he must have been written about instead of real.

yep, a bank president named scooter. only in the south, right? Continue reading

I’m a MAN…

Ok. maybe not. Maybe I’m just a mom-living in fear of the next phase of Thing1’s life.

He’s been threatening us with puberty. Verbally threatening. As in “I think my voice got deeper”- which I say “ok”- I mean, really, I pick my battles. And then the next day he comes in and says ‘look at my pits- do you see anything?  Get a magnifying glass mom’. and I laugh. And I get the magnifying glass and flashlight. And I tell him there MIGHT be FUZZ.

But last Friday night, something entirely different happened at our house. And while I won’t rehash the exact conversation or events thereof (only because I know he’s already gonna need years of therapy because of my FB/Twitter feed), I am aware that he may be starting the process.

At 10. I didn’t mature at 10. Or 12. I was what you might call a late bloomer.

Which, honestly, scares the crap outta me. mostly because I know I’m not ready. And I suspect that emotionally, he isn’t either. but then again, it takes years. And its puberty. And what little I remember from some of the horrifying, catastrophic, what-i-thought-were-life-changing-events at the time actually suck.

I’ve mentioned here that I want to freeze him. Right now. At this age. Where certain beliefs in mythical gift bestowers still abound. And the world is still good. And Superman always wins. I want to protect him from the broken hearts, where minecraft is still his obsession instead of a gal along the way.

I won’t lie to him. We’ve started the conversations about puberty. He even got a little brochure and I already have the ‘books’ for him to read, because he’s a reader, like me. and he’s approaching the entire thing with a fair amount of anticipation and through a scientific lens. Because that’s who he is.

he’s talking to us. About EVERYTHING. Especially changes. And I’m so thankful for that- whilst for the first time in my natural born life I try to control my snark and sarcasm and have real, honest conversations that are truthful and delicate.

But I have to say, its taking every single ounce of willpower not to LIVE tweet or PODCAST the hi-lar-ious  conversations that are occurring. They are epic. They are award winning. THEY ARE PURE COMEDIC GOLD.

But I know I only get one chance with this kid to get this part right. or as right as I can get it. Because I’ve never been a 10 year old boy. But I vaguely remember being an angst filled, angry, hormone driven girl- and it was horrible. So I want to rise up and be the parent and ears and support he needs.

No matter how much it stabs me in the heart.



maybe i never blogged it, but i went on my first cruise last year. my blog header = a pic i took on that cruise.  and maybe one day, i’ll actually post the real pictures.

however, a co-worker is leaving on a cruise next week. which made me all wistful again for cruising. and then i remembered to share ‘what i wish i had known’ prior to my departure. since i’m only 14 months late with an update, here’s the “tips” i provided last night to her:

Spend some time going over the possible excursion list. It’s overwhelming on the boat and packaged beautifully. read the reviews. I heard lots of people complain about theirs. Also, remember that you’re with a lot of other people. And kids. And possibly other ships in port at the exact same time.

Always order the drink of the day. It will be 30-50% cheaper. Buy drinks at the bar vs having them delivered. Wine is WAY overpriced.

Everything on board charges to your room. We purposefully used cash to control expenses. They don’t like that.

First thing, buy the refillable coke cup. They are awesome. and have the cruise line name on them. SOUVENIR!

As awful as we appeared, the ID holder/lanyard was super easy to keep up with room key/cash on the go- both on the boat and in port. its not like the camera already tipped off the locals that i’m a yokel.

Don’t buy anything from the onboard mall area (it’s like tables with stuff on them in the atrium) until the last night before you leave. Only exception is liquor/cigarettes- those sell out first and can’t be discounted. They keep the liquor and give it back to you when you disembark.

Honestly, you will not wear everything you take. pack light. The boat is big, storage is not.

If you use the Internet via inet cafe or business center, it may be cheaper to pay by minute unless you plan on using the full hour.  I used it a lot to check on my kids and only used 22 minutes, over 3 days.

Quite honestly, eating the late seating of dinner sucked. But I’m not a night owl. And I was hungry as hell by the time we got to eat.

The lido deck buffet rocks. Also, it’s just cool to say “lido deck”

Prepay your tips if possible. Then take cash to tip your staff. I can’t say enough about my stateroom attendant. She is Filipino and supports a family of 6 back home. She gets 4 days off for home every 5-6 weeks. I found myself feeling slightly guilty about being messy. also, i keep her business card handy. so i can remind myself that my life is ok.

The dinner stewards were a little much for me. Sit down dinner takes a while. We ate at the buffet at 4ish and then went to late seating. You don’t get our food until 9:45.

We had motion sickness patches from our doctor.  These are prescription.

If you need the concierge/pursers desk, there are long lines.

All of the staff is amazing.

Do not play blackjack in the casino.The slots on our boat took real change and dollar bills, unlike vegas.

Turn your phone completely off before you leave port-as in power down or remove the sim card. The lines are a little blurry on that whole “open waters”/roaming thing.

The first time they drop anchor for your first port stop, You’re gonna think titanic. Stay calm.

The lifeboat drill at the beginning sucks. The staff acts like total a-holes. It only lasts 10 minutes.

Unless you have a suite, be prepared for the  bathroom. Airplane bathrooms are bigger.

There’s literally nothing like Caribbean waters.

Not a lot of outlets in the room

Towel animals rock

Take some Kroger sacks. You may need them for carrying purchases on island or packing souvenirs on way home-like those nifty coke cups.

I don’t remember an alarm clock. There was a wall clock.

Hand sanitizer is your new best friend. We took the little sprayers.

Being carnival, the pools should be moderately bigger. Which means about the size of a nice backyard pool

Don’t let locals in open air markets see your cash. Everything is negotiable.

The hair dryer was, at best, a child’s toy.

The pool dance party was really fun. We thought the clubs/shows were horribly cheesy.

Royal Caribbean had a private island.

Best part was sitting on the top deck. In a chair. Watching the ocean go by.

Cruisecritic.com rocks. You can research your ship there. No one gave us a map when we got onboard. It also helped us pick excursions. also, all the decks had “names”.