We cancelled our Thanksgiving plans this year, more on that at a later time, but instead of having a houseful, it will just be the three of us (five of us if we count the dogs, some days I do, some days when I think I might kill one of them, I don’t). Still, even though there will only be three, maybe five, of us eating yams we bought the biggest can that Sam’s Club has. Why? They are yams, damn it.
The point of this is that the can of Bruce’s Yams is now sitting on our kitchen counter, because where does one fit a nine-pound can of yams? And Jackson has taken a liking to showing whomever he Facetimes with, his grandfather, his friends, his school study group, the can of yams sitting on our counter, while saying, “Look how crazy my parents are!”
Yesterday another sixth-grader yelled, “Oh my goodness, my parents have a six-pound can of strawberries on our counter!” And much to my hilarity I was sufficiently absolved of my yam guilt as Jackson said to his father, “Daddy, you and mommy are not the only crazy parents! Andrew’s parents have a six-pound can of strawberries!”
And just like that the world righted itself.
But by this time the question of how many yams are in the can had presented itself, leaving Jackson with a long division problem that he didn’t want to do, but one that Jerimiah made him do. Turns out, there are approximately 11 yams in the can. At least according to the “Dam Yam Hypothesis.”
Thursday of this week was a bit hectic. Jerimiah had to go to his office for a meeting (gasp) I hate when he has to leave the house for work. I’m so used to him being at home with us where it’s, you know, safe. And I never feel prepared on those days. Truly he’s only left about four days since the second week of March, but still. So, he was gone all day, the dogs were acting nuts, I had class, Jackson had class, I planned to cook a nice dinner and have it ready in the hour between when Jerimiah would be home (5:00 pm) and my class started (6:00 pm). In a normal year the time between five and six is also known as “Hell Hour” on account of all I’m trying to juggle. Of course I haven’t experienced “Hell Hour” in like seven months now so this week it took me by surprise.
It was a pretty uneventful day, save for the crazy dogs, then suddenly (as it happens) all hell broke loose. Jackson had a bit of a meltdown concerning math, I had started dinner, my phone was ringing, Jerimiah was texting me about an errand I had him run, and just when I was like, “The hell, Thursday?!” the baby squirrel showed up at the front door.
For sure. A tiny, baby squirrel who had fallen out of a tree and was in such shock that it was trying to get into our house, while the dogs lost their mind at the glass front door, then tried to climb the brick by our front door and fell again. I couldn’t take it anymore, so Jackson and I sprang into action (after I turned the heat down on the mushrooms I was sautéing.)
I immediately remembered the last time I had saved a baby squirrel, many moons ago in North Carolina. I’d Googled “Squirrel rescue” and a place had popped up and I called them and was schooled in squirrel rescue. In fact, I learned so much that I had saved the number in the event it happened again, and had just, last month, deleted the contact: “Squirrel Lady” from my phone. After all, she had been the Lincoln County, NC “Squirrel Lady” so she wasn’t going to be much help now. But I did remember some key points.
1. Don’t touch it without gloves.
2. Put it near a tree, the mother is probably around just waiting.
3. If it comes to you for help it’s probably in shock, they aren’t that trusting.
4. Only call someone to come get it if it looks terribly injured.
5. Do not try to keep/rescue/rehabilitate it yourself.
Number five came in handy a few times when Jackson begged to keep “Lee” as we named him. “Squirrel Lee.”
Obviously Jackson wanted to save Lee, so he put on his ski gloves and went for it. Meanwhile I was cutting the Brussel Sprouts to roast them, and hoping my kid wouldn’t get bit by a rabid squirrel. Hell Hour, geez.
Turns out Lee loved Jackson, so much so that every time Jackson would place him back by the tree, Lee would run back to Jackson to get picked up. It went on like this until I finally had to say enough and force Jackson to come inside so the Mommy squirrel had a chance to come back. The whole time I was terrified I’d find a dead Lee in the morning, and also had a dream of Lee trying to break into the house and cuddle in bed with me. I dunno, y’all. I dunno.
Anyway, Friday morning Lee was gone. And Jackson was happy, but also sad. And I was still burping up Brussels Sprouts from the night before.
The squirrel-Lee story.
**Please don’t try this at home, we are not trained professionals.**
I’m not even sure where to begin, but as I sat misty-eyed listening to our VP Elect speak last night I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming amount of love and light for this country again. Suddenly a waving flag didn’t mean hatred and ignorance anymore, suddenly the sight of a person waving a flag went back to what it used to mean: freedom, united people and beliefs, love for country. Sure, flag waving is banal and sentimental at best, but when the right people are speaking. When the good and the strong and the kind people have been passed the mic, suddenly I can stomach it all much better.
It was amazing to hear our newly-elected officials speak. Amazing to see emotion, love, and strength in their words. Amazing to feel like someone you can trust, two people you can trust to make the big decisions for our country, are right where they need to be.
When Madam Vice-President Elect Harris spoke to the children in our country, my son’s ears perked up. He smiled and nodded along, while I looked at my husband and our eyes met and I asked if he could ever imagine Trump addressing the children so wonderfully, let alone acknowledging them at all.
It’s a new day. A new hope. A restored faith for many of us. Let’s enjoy it, then get ready to get back at it. We have an election in January to prepare for, but I’ll enjoy this win for a few more days, then jump in.
This Halloween was a bit different from others in the past. We didn’t go trick-or-treating, or partake in a fun family costume. We were just too nervous and didn’t know what to expect from the evening. Instead, we did some new and interesting things, like visiting the filming locations of “Stranger Things” a show that Jackson has just started to be really interested in. You can scroll on down my blog and see where we went the last couple of weeks.
But for the actual night of Halloween, we opted to sit out in the front yard and have a s’mores pit going while we put pre-bagged treats in a bucket six-feet from us, just in case we had any trick-or-treaters. We didn’t have many, maybe six, but we did have a couple visits from some friends, and picked up an invite to watch a movie outside a friend’s backyard around the fire pit, where we saw “Flaming Pumpkins” for the first time ever! Seriously, see pics below.
It ended up being a nice night. We didn’t get home until 1 am, however, so we were dragging butt all the next day, but it was just the sort of social gathering (safe, fun, and outdoors) that gave us a little fire to keep going (pun intended).
Before the backyard party, Chief Hopper ended up walking up and down our street to lighted porch lights, and because he’s the only kid on the cul-de-sac and all the neighbors adore him, he filled up on candy! Then while at the party he got to partake in the age-old ritual of “The Candy Swap.” So it really was a fun night after all.
I hope you all had a safe and happy Halloween, but more than anything I hope you have already voted or have a plan to vote tomorrow. Please, pretty please, with spooky, scary sprinkles on top!
Another day in Stranger Things location land, and we made it to “Hawkins,” which is actually the downtown square of Jackson, Georgia, about an hour from our house. We went yesterday, so the square was decorated for Halloween too. They had a map of “Hawkins” so you could walk around and point things out annoying to your friends, of which Jackson did. Ha! It was really cute, and it didn’t take very long. Of course everything was shut down and the signs were all gone, but he recognized the buildings, even the spot in the alley where the boys got into a fight in season one. So please enjoy some more pics today and I’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program tomorrow, when I’m not tired as hell from Halloween festivities!
We have a kid obsessed with the Netflix series, “Stranger Things.” To be fair, only season one so far, but still. We also have a Halloween upon us wherein it is not safe to wander door to door asking strangers for Covid, err, candy, so we’ve been thinking up ways to celebrate this year while being socially conscious. Enter, visiting “Stranger Things” film locations while in costume! So far, so good. Living in the South’s version of Hollywood has been pretty interesting. Here, take a gander:
Today we are headed to a little town just outside metro Atlanta called Jackson, Georgia which is the setting for Downtown Hawkins. More pics tomorrow. Until then, Happy Halloween and enjoy more of his favorite location!
We finished season one of “Stranger Things” with Jackson last week and have moved on to season two, but we can only watch it during the day because he likes it, but also thinks it’s creepy. Sure, I feel that flow. So it’s been slow going, but he has developed a little obsession with Hopper, which makes sense seeing as Jackson loves the law. Police Chief Jim Hopper is his new favorite, but “Stranger Things” isn’t new at our house.
Way back in 2018, Jerimiah and I watched the first season with my mom when she was visiting. She also loved the show, and had asked to wait to watch the next season with her until she came back again. Well we forgot about it the last time she was here, so we’ve been stuck in this season one standoff for ages now. Back then Jackson was too scared to watch it BUT he had a little crush on a girl who liked the show and when he asked her what she thought he should be for Halloween that year, she said “Eleven” from “Stranger Things.” So this happened…
Yeah, that’s all of us dressed up for Trunk-or-Treat at Jackson’s school that year to impress a girl he never got the guts to “ask out.” Ho hum.
We were a big hit, but I did have to explain the Eggo connection to him because again, he’d NEVER watched the show.
Fast forward to 2020 and he’s like, “Ohhh, now I get the Eggos!”
Anyway, I wanted to be Marv, Harry, and Kevin from “Home Alone” this year. But then Covid happened and well, it’s not like we are going trick-or-treating anyway, so I let him do what he wanted and guess what he wanted?
Yeah, that’s Chief Hopper with a (fake) cigarette dangling from his mouth while he decides if he’s gonna crack open another beer or get to work. “Mornings are for coffee and contemplation” my 12-year-old has taken a liking to saying, “Coffee and contemplation.”
So there you have it. The Halloween costume has been created, once again, and he was headed to being all dressed up and nowhere to go. That is until we got a great idea! But this is a long post and my fingers are all burned to shit from ironing patches on shirts and coats and what not, so I’ll tell you about that another time. For now, enjoy some more pics of Chief Hopper.
Jackson took us on a “hike” yesterday evening. He discovered a new trail with his friend Bella a couple of weeks ago that was “way far away.” Way far away, is really just behind our cul-de-sac and he’s been wanting us to go “exploring” out there with him so he could go further out, so we harnessed the dogs and took out about five o’clock last night.
We only made it to the end of the cul-de-sac before our neighbor Mary (who’s just come back from seven months in Germany) stopped us to say hello, tell us she loved our yard signs (BLM and “Bernie, Ok Fine Biden”) and to warn that there is a mother coyote and her babies living back there somewhere. Cool. Cool. Cool. Thanks, Mary! (Side note: she also said she came back to vote “him out” and it was so different being back in the US where no one takes Covid-19 seriously.) Have I mentioned how much we love living in the brightest blue spot in the South?!
Anyway, we trudged off through the woods then, with Jackson and Duke leading the way, while I slapped at mosquitos and tried not to step on Winnie, who is so afraid of everything (she’s literally a 60-pound 8-month old puppy 🙄) that she kept running between Jerimiah and me every time she heard a twig snap.
Jackson was dressed, of course, as Police Chief Hopper from “Stranger Things” because we just finished the first season and he’s obsessed, and also he knew we might need the protection of the law, especially when we reached the “creepy, energy place that has a fence around it” like in “Stranger Things.” We were all, “Oh sure, okay. (Wink, wink).” Until we got to the fence with barbed wire and we’re like, “Oh damn, yep, that’s like in the show. Weird.”
So there you have it. We took a nice long “hike” on what we think is sewer easement land, stuck behind our cul-de-sac and a creek/lake we had no idea existed and right before a creepy energy compound secured with fence and cameras. Not weird. Not weird at all. Ps… we saw a dead raccoon, but no coyotes.
As usual, enjoy the pics from our little adventure.
We visited a friend’s farm last weekend. It is called Butts Mill Farm, and it is out in Western Georgia, near the Alabama state line. Our friend’s parents own it, and it’s less of a farm in the way you are imagining, and more of a family-fun farm, complete with peddle cars, number boats, and miniature horses that you can pet and feed and fall in love with and try to convince your husband to let you bring one home and get denied. Which is bullshit, but I just want you to be aware before you go.
Well, maybe you’ll have a nicer husband.
I digress. We had an excellent time at the farm, and not just because we visited for free and were fed pizza for lunch (although, bonus!) Yes, our friends are that nice. But really it was because we adore these friends and their family was so super nice, that we even got a super-special tour of their big collection of vintage cars and truck, which Jackson LOVED! Whew.
We got to play in a creek that has swings you can set in and watch the whole day go by. We got to feed goats, and go inside an antique Grist Mill. We got to ride a horse (well Jackson did, for the first time mind you) and play all day. Jackson was happy to be with his buddy Bella, whose grandparents own the farm, and Jerimiah and I were happy to hang with other adults and carry on conversations and not be inside our house. It was sort of the perfect day. Not too hot, overcast most of the day, and did I mention the 12-year-old rescued Macaw named River, who was just a delight, until he started screaming at me? Wow. It was a good day. Here are the pictures and trust, if you ever find yourself around these parts and wanna go check out the farm, let me know. We are always in for a trip out west.
Fall hasn’t hit Central Georgia yet, but I was feeling optimistic with the storms we were having over the weekend, so I made chili. Then we ate it in the air conditioning. It’s humid as hell today, y’all. Damn you, The South! But we pressed forward and pulled out the Halloween decorations last night. Jackson has been slowly inching into more “spooky” things lately. We certainly aren’t ready to watch “Halloween” let’s say, but we’ve almost finished the first season of “Stranger Things” and we are considering that a win. He’s so sensitive to that kind of “spookiness” though, that we have to watch the episodes during the day, quickly followed by an old episode of “The Big Bang Theory.” Ha! Working on it.
So last night we put on some Halloween music (mainly “Thriller” and the “Nightmare Before Christmas” soundtrack and we got to work making things “spooky” for #SpookySzn, but you know, only a little spooky.
Hope you are all full in Spooky Season, or in the least, able to eat some chili.
My kid is addicted to cars and has been trying to learn how to drive an actual, real car since he was about three years old. He has been driving a real car since he was about nine, so we haven’t helped much. One of the perks of having grandparents who live in “the country.” Unfortunately, we don’t live in the country, we live in Atlanta, which means no driving around here for our 12-year-old and when he is able to drive I’ll be terrified because, well, if you’ve ever driven in Atlanta you understand my concerns.
This is all to say that Jackson’s BIG birthday surprise involved driving!
There is this awesome place here called Tiny Towne. We’ve been a few times and Jackson loves it. It’s a large building that they have built a little city inside of, complete with “streets.” Kids as young as 10, get to drive golf carts around the town and get some experience behind the wheel, as it were. (Even smaller kids can drive tiny go-karts on a separate track!)
So Tiny Towne partnered with the University of Georgia on a pilot study to see if driving at a place like Tiny Towne over the course of a few years (ages 12-15) is a just as good, if not better (their hypothesis) than taking a driver’s education course at 15, and having to cram in all the tests and driving in one year. Studies have shown kids who are behind the wheel earlier, are more cautious drivers, and that pays off in the long run.
We sort of lucked out because we live about fifteen minutes from Tiny Towne, and had already been there numerous times for fun. Then when Jerimiah got an email about this pilot study we jumped on opportunity. A normal Driver’s Ed course here is about $500, but if you want to do this pilot study it’s only $350 and you pay that over the course of the three years. Every year when you sign up for the next season you pay $80 or so. This covers the cost of the classes, of which there are ten (in person, but because of Covid they are doing them on Zoom now) and the tests (ten total, and the child has to pass all of them at 100%).
There are some added costs. For example you have to pay to drive at Tiny Towne, but you get a 50% discount every time you go, and every time you go counts toward the miles a normal kid has to drive toward their driver’s education. By the time they are 15, they have to be able to parallel park the golf cart, and drive the whole course in reverse! Jackson is actually pretty pumped about that challenge.
So we made the news his final birthday surprise week present last week and we took him to Tiny Towne to sign up on his birthday! He was pretty excited. We even let him drive that day because there was no one else there! Win/Win!
As always, here are the pics that I snapped, and if you want more info I you can click here.
Sometimes I’m so overwhelmed by all that I have to do that I sort of spiral into a moment (or several consecutive moments) of hell right before my family’s loving eyes. That’s the thing that happened Wednesday. Luckily, Jackson was outside traipsing through the woods with his friend Bella and wasn’t privy to my “breakdown” of sorts. But Jerimiah saw it all. (Long sigh). Sorry, Jerimiah.
Wednesday it was all the things. You know those days, right? It’s copy editing time on the lit review. I have my first presentation next week. I missed workshop this week and a Southern Fiction meeting all to celebrate Jackson’s birthday. I’m not sad about those decisions, we had a great time celebrating, but it does put me behind.
I haven’t read ALL week. Ugh.
Then there’s the fact that my kid turned twelve yesterday. TWELVE, y’all. That’s an existential crisis just waiting to happen. So far I’ve kept it at bay, mainly because I don’t have the time to spiral totally out of control right now, but man, Thanksgiving break is probably gonna be rough.
We have been celebrating the 12 days of turning 12, and while it’s mainly been fun, you know for a Momma it’s also mainly been stressful. Trying to balance all the secret events, special surprises, the cakes, favorite dinners, and that look of inevitable disappointment when he opens what he suspects is a video game and it turns out to be a book. Man. Managing other people’s expectations is hard.
BUT, we made it. We did right? Like, it’s Friday, right?! I sure hope so.
Let’s say this, if I made it through this week, I’m sure y’all did too. And I’m sure it was rough as hell, as most weeks are nowadays. I mean, did you even catch the highlights of the presidential debate?! Ugh.
It’s Jackson’s birthday and you probably know that I’m a total fucking mess. How in the world do I have a 12-year-old whose voice is cracking?! How do I have a son who has stinky feet and greasy hair? How? Me? What? I don’t know, but I’m so happy and also so very sad. Christ, this is parenting isn’t it? Happy/sad. Calm/Chaotic. Joy/Hulga.
This kid of mine. Man. He’s smart. He’s gifted, he’s in a STEM/IB school. He plays the trumpet, is learning how to play the drums. He’s politically engaged. He’s marched for women’s rights in Washington DC. He’s protested in Atlanta streets for Black Lives Matter. He’s led group projects at school, competed on robotics teams, soccer teams, basketball teams, swim teams, and baseball teams. He makes people laugh. He prefers friends who are girls because they seem “smarter” and “nicer.” Also, they are “pretty cute.”
This kid of mine has traveled more in his first twelve years than many adults have. He’s been to almost 30 states. He’s been to Cananda, Puerto Rico, The Caribbean. He’s always up for anything and he seems to always have a bag packed just in case. His favorite is still NYC, anytime.
This kid of mine has made friends in all SIX school he has attended in the three states he has lived in. He’s funny and kind and he’s forever the optimist. He’s very agreeable, as long as you are on the right side of history with him.
He loves video games, board games, and watching 80s movies with his parents. He likes to talk on the phone to his grandparents. He’s an excellent swimmer and snowboarder. He loves all things cars and either wants to be in the FBI or an automotive engineer when he grows up. He excels at pinball.
He was born on October 1, 2008 at 3:57 am in Branson, Missouri. The moment I held him I knew he was destined for greatness.
I love you Jackson Riker. Thank you for consistently reminding me that life is good.
Not sure what happened this weekend. Had big plans. Didn’t do them. Spent a lot of time talking about what I thought I should do, did very little of the “doing.” Hopefully this weeks pans out better. BUT we did make it to the pool for one last hurrah! The pool has been a life-saver (bad pun intended) for us the last couple months. We had high hopes early on that school would be back in person, and when it wasn’t, well it was nice to still have Jackson around people his own age.
The pool is a relatively “low risk” outdoor adventure. You are basically swimming in bleach, and generally, generally the kids can maintain a safe distance. Though this “pool crew” is all really good about not going places, and all these kids take Covid-19 very seriously. You know you found your people, for instance, when one of them have a dog named “Bernie Sanders.” 🙂
Anyway, one of the mom’s organized the neighborhood ice cream truck to swing by and hilarity ensued! We were missing a couple of families, but for the most part this is our pool crew and we are so sad for the season to be ending and we can’t wait for next year! Enjoy the pics of children having a blast and eating ice cream. We made it until the rain come!
Hope you have a fantastic day. It’s the “official” first day of fall for us!
As you know, we celebrate birthday weeks round these parts. But because life has been bumpy, we decided to celebrate longer for Jackson this year. So we did the 12 Days of Turning Twelve, and we are on day seven today and my has it been fun! Jackson has been on a tech-break on account of some butthole behavior toward some friends (he still can’t read a room to save his life), which means he’s been hanging with us waaaay more and we have had an awesome time. It’s hard to explain to a sixth grader that you miss his company. He just rolls his eyes and says, “Okay, Boomer.” Then I have to politely remind him that, “I’M NOT A BOOMER!”
Anyway, yesterday we gave him a new t-shirt hoodie to rep his new middle school, of which he hasn’t actually been inside of (but I made him pose for pics outside of) and he was actually pumped about it. Apparently t-shirt hoodies, hoodies in general, are always cool. Who knew?! Not this non-boomer.
The hard part was (gulp) Jerimiah and I were looking through the rack of them at Target (we normally buy from PTA, but it’s been a tough year and this was super easier) and we pulled the men’s size small out because duh, and didn’t think twice about it. Then when Jackson put it on we were like, “Holy shit!” Inside our heads of course. To him we said, “How does it feel? Do you like the size?”
“It’s perfect!” He said with a smile.
So we moved on. But how did my kid just grow into and almost out of a men’s size small and I didn’t even notice?!
Well obviously I had a meltdown and now here I am. Enjoy pics of him in his new shirt and the ones I forced him to take in front of his middle school earlier this summer. I’m gonna go drink wine and cry now.