Saturday at the Farm

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.

M.

Jackson’s Birthday Surprise

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.

Have a safe and sane day, y’all!

M.

Grad School and Other Stresses

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.

But look at you! Look at me! We did it!

Now take a load off.

I love y’all.

M.

Monday Musings

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!

M.

A Pre-teen’s Birthday Week

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.

M.

Rest in Power

I was excitedly texting a friend Friday night about the new season of “Pen15” when she wrote, “Fuuuuck.” I Haha-ed it and she said, “No. RBG.” “What?!” I texted frantically. “Yeah,” she wrote back. “CNN just reported.” And then the curtain sorta fell. Only it didn’t, because Jerimiah and Jackson had downloaded the new Tony Hawk and were pumped to play it with me. So we played Tony Hawk, while my phone lit up. Text after text. “Can you believe it?!” And “Now what do we do?” I turned my ringer off and tried to master a Kickflip.

I haven’t had the bandwidth to process this and I’m not sure when I will. But it will come. Until then, we answered Jackson’s questions the best we could today. We talked about standing on the steps of the Supreme Court a couple of years ago. Jackson remembered the “big, bronze door” and how we waved to the building, hoping RBG was looking down at us. We watched the RBG documentary on Hulu as a family tonight, then we watched “Twins” with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito, because sometimes you have to laugh when you want to cry.

Jerimiah reminded me not to say Rest In Peace to RBG, after all she’s Jewish, wouldn’t care much for it anyway. I told him I’ll say rest in power then. But the important thing is just that she rests. She did her job, one hellava one at that. And we are so appreciative.

Rest in power, Notorious RBG. We’ll be down here picking up where you left off, and waving like crazy. I hope you can see us.

M.

Reset

Geez, sorry you guys. I’ve been a sad sack lately. I think this is just some of that ebb and flow we always talk about with emotions and the world sits with us. I’ve been particularly stressed lately because of starting school, and Jackson starting school, and a few other things I’m not quite ready to talk about on here, but when I am you know I will talk y’all like crazy about them.

Really what I am wishing for right about now is a reset button. Ever wish for one of those? Like when I was a kid and I would realize I was not going to make it back to the top of the Q-bert stack so I’d just reach over and hit restart on the Nintendo. Ahh, that was a good feeling. A do-over. A mulligan. That’s what I need for this week. Maybe this month. Certainly this year.

Let’s all look for that reset button today, okay? Maybe it’s nature? Maybe it’s a walk by yourself listening to your favorite podcast. Maybe it’s a call to your best friend. Whatever it is, find your reset button and hit it for me. Maybe it will reset us all.

Here’s to wishing.

Take care of yourself, and each other.

M.

Storms

It’s another 4:00 am post. I’ve been waking up each night at 3:00 am, and tossing and turning, waiting patiently to fall back to sleep. Last night I read, tonight I’ll write. Maybe tomorrow I’ll just stare blankly at the cracks of light in the curtains until my eye lids get heavy and my breathing slows.

Yesterday would have been my daughter’s ninth birthday. I’m supposed to have a daughter. Jackson is supposed to have a little sister. She should be nine. Playing Minecraft with her brother, asking for dolls, crazy over the Korean pop bands, or maybe just learning how to braid her own hair. I don’t know. I don’t know what daughters do, or like, or how they live.

Tonight I’m stuck in this same spot. I’ve been here before. I’ll be here again. The weather is changing. There’s are two storms coming up the Gulf. And I just don’t know what daughters do. I’m sure I’ll get more time to think about it. I hope I’ll get more time to think about it. Just not at 4:00 am.

M.

The Floor is Flour

We ran out the other day to pick up Jackson’s snare and bells set, and we left the dogs inside. Now normally we’d let them chill outside, with a bowl of fresh water, and the door open to the sun porch, with the fan left on, just in case they get hot. Yeah, our dogs are spoiled like that. But we were in a bit of a hurry, so we just closed up all the doors upstairs, and left. The dogs stayed inside, which the doggy door on case they needed out.

We were only gone about two hours, and when we got home we were greeted by this:

I was the first one in and when a long gasp escaped my lips, Winnie ran outside. Duke stood there looking at me, no guilt in his face. And when Winnie finally came back in, we were met with this:

Not that we doubted for a second who the culprit was, it was nice to have the proof. She also had white paws, and clumps of flour all over her chin and chest because at some point she got thirsty, probably all the flour, and mixed water with the flour which, if you can imagine, was no fun to scrub off the floor.

So, what’s the point of this post? There isn’t one, unless to say that she’s still alive, but I thought for a split second about shipping her to a grandparent for a few weeks.

Don’t be a Winnie, y’all.

M.

Bang on the Drum All Day

Jackson played trumpet in fifth grade band and he was really committed. So much so that when I asked him back in May whether we should keep renting this damn trumpet for another year he said, “Yes. Absolutely.” Then I said, “Well do you want to try a different instrument, maybe percussions?” And he was all, “No, I like trumpet.” So this week when his band teacher asked what everyone was playing, and reminded them they could switch instruments, and I asked him if he wanted to and he said, “Yep, I wanna play percussions” I might have walked outside and screamed into the air.

Okay, well he’s playing percussions now. Which means we went from having a hefty rental fee each month (that we paid all summer for absolutely no reason) to running to a used music shop yesterday to grab the last used bells/snare kit they had. But, at least we got a deal because the bag was a little roughed up. (Long sigh)

Now he says he’s “totally committed” to snare and bell and he’s here for it. He better be. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on him getting into college with a band scholarship. I don’t plan on him being on a drum line or even starting a garage band. I just want him to learn to play something, meet kids that maybe aren’t like him, and learn a thing or two about teamwork and the fine arts. That’s all I’m asking for. Meanwhile, he wants to just bang on the drum all day…

Watching drum line competition (Army vs Air Force) and trying to play along. Army killed it, in our opinion!

Today is the Day

Middle school starts today. My head is mush. I’m happy, nervous, excited, disappointed, scared, and that’s just me, I’m not even the one going to middle school! I guess wish us luck, this is going to be an interesting year!

And to all our friends with kids going back virtually or traditionally, we wish you luck and happiness all year long!

Be well, be safe, have fun!

M.

Taco Tuesday

Listen, I love me some tacos. In my baby book my mom wrote that my favorite thing was tacos when I was like six months old. There is a lot wrong with that, but let’s focus on the good, I was one cool baby. So the number one thing that I miss right now is getting down on some tacos at our favorite, local Mexican restaurant. I miss so much about it, that sometimes I wake up thinking that I can actually smell the sticky, vinyl seats. I’m sure I can’t. Or can I? I don’t know, it doesn’t matter, with Jackson’s help I took Jerimiah on a “Date Night” last night to our new favorite Mexican restaurant: Our back porch. And you know what? It wasn’t half bad.

Jackson took his role as our server very seriously, as he usually does pretend play. He never once broke character, even allowing us to take our masks off only after I convinced him we were the only patrons of the restaurant. This was the note taped to our front door when I loaded Jerimiah up in the car (with the dogs) and drove up the road and back while Jackson “prepared” (got into a suit and character).

When we got to “Saren Mexican Eatery” we were told that our table wasn’t ready and we were offered a spot at the bar, where we were lectured on the business of the restaurant business, and how it takes its toll on a person. Then we got drinks!

We ordered chips and queso, had to ask for the queso to be a little warmer since it was cold in the middle. We watched him “make” guacamole (dump it from a container into a bowl) and then we were told our table was ready. We took our drinks and appetizers to our sun porch, and well, hilarity ensued.

Eventually “Scott” came out (sans glasses) to take our order, and complained that “Dorian” wasn’t putting in the work and his section was slacking, but probably he’d be our server too. We did meet “Dorian” later, he really needed to get his shit together. Though his only real job was to come out onto the patio and announce parking problems every few minutes. Someone blocked the fire hydrant! Someone parked illegally! Someone needs to move their car! Things of that nature. Oh, Dorian. At least you’re cute.

Then there was the very loud, disruptive Spanish music blaring from Alexa while we ate. I’m sure it was very confusing to the neighbors, and the dogs didn’t seem to care for it so much. Eh, you can’t win ‘em all.

The main course came out quite late and not very hot, but I must say he was the only server/cook/manager on duty, and even though the food was precooked that day by the head chef (me) it could have used a tad more care. But we ate it without complaint, even when we were informed that the house was out of a few staples like tortilla chips and lettuce even the some of us knew we absolutely were not out of those items. Bizarre.

Dessert was not listed on the menu, it was a secret, and you kinda had to know how to ask for it. Also, the box of cheesecake bites was missing a couple when presented to us. Hmm…

All-in-all, we had a nice evening at Saren Restaurant and (Rebranded) Eatery, and even though our bill was absurdly wrong, the service lacked a certain, umm, finesse, and there were way too many dogs present, we still managed a hefty tip which was immediately pocketed by “Dorian” or maybe it was “Scott” while forgetting to actually clean up after us… Still I have it a 10 on Yelp.

M.

It’s Almost Time

My husband’s birthday is approaching. He turns 39 on August 5th, and we absolutely celebrate birthday weeks around here, so technically we start celebrating this week! I am so excited because I have some things cooking (no literally, eww, I hate cooking) and I am hoping it all falls into place. Jackson has been particularly pumped about Daddy’s birthday week, even picking out a few gifts himself, and readying himself to spend some quality time with Daddy, not playing video games, so you know he is serious. Of course this is the last good week of the year for me, so I’m trying to go all out.

August usually creeps up on me from out of nowhere and this year is no different. In fact, it’s really surprising because it just doesn’t feel like it should be August already, but here we are. August starts out great with Jerimiah’s birthday week, but then it goes downhill fast. August is the month that my daughter was born. The month she died. August starts school. Usually I’m sad to send Jackson back. This year of course he isn’t technically leaving me, which is cool, but usually it makes me even more sad. Then comes my birthday, which ehh, it used to be exciting but I turn 39 on September 10th, and for some reason 39 is scaring me, not empowering me. I am working on it.

Then it’s Jackson’s birthday on October 1st, so I get a little excited again, then comes fall. And with fall usually comes a cloudy depression that takes me a few months to get out of. It’s like I have to work so hard to make it from August 6th to October 2nd, that I finally breakdown. Ugh. I know, I know, if you know this Missy then why don’t you take some proactive measures? I do. Trust. This is Missy doing well.

So that’s where we are. Back at the end of July. Back at wondering where our summer went. Where this horrible fucking year went. Knowing as bad as it was, it still wasn’t the worst year I’ve ever had. All that knowing. All that thinking. Well, I’m ready to party for the next week anyway!

Sham on!

M.

Hidden Waterfall

We decided to take the dogs on a hike on Saturday, our most recent tech-free day, so we headed to a local park. It’s a large park, with soccer fields, and tennis courts, a pond, and several walking trails, but we haven’t even made a scratch in the trails. We parked on the opposite side that we normally park and we’re immediately met with a playground we didn’t even know existed, with a zip line that Jackson loved. It was a pretty cool surprise. After we let him play on it for about ten minutes (we were the only people at the park), we headed down one of the nature trails. The dogs were getting antsy, so we decided to tire them out a bit, then play after the walk.

We decided to walk the “Blue” trail, because Duke and I had done the “White” trail previously and I wanted to try something new. They both link up at different points, but it was nice to see so many options. We made it to the pond, and decided to walk all the way around it, but we got sidetracked about a half mile later with a waterfall! We had no idea it was there, and we thought it was fantastic surprise! The dogs loved it almost as much as Jackson.

The whole walk was really nice, albeit tiring for everyone. We decided the park reminded us of a place we liked to go when we lived in Charlotte called Reedy Creek. It really feels like you’re not in the city when you’re there. And trust, sometimes you just need to feel like you’re not in the city.

I hope you all had a fun, easy, and safe weekend like we did.

M.

Walking the Boundary Line

Let’s talk about boundaries today, y’all. I am 38 years old and have just realized for the first time that people will do anything they can to overstep your boundaries. Seriously. I know some of you are like, Damn, that is naive Missy, and you are right. How naive of me! I truly used to think that if you set your boundaries and told a normal person, like a family member, someone you love and who loves you, that they will respect those boundaries. They usually didn’t. And when they did not respect them I made excuses for them. Like, Well, they must be going through a lot right now, so I will just pretend like I didn’t set those boundaries and I will just let them mow right through them. Eek. That’s not good.

What are boundaries even? Well, some are just absolute truths about yourself that people should know and respect. One of mine is that I am painfully honest. So if you tell me to be honest with you, I will. You don’t have to force me, or ask me more than once. I am very comfortable in complete honesty. I can sit in truth for long periods of time, even the uncomfortable kind. And if you are new to this, it can be hard to be around me. But it is something that people know about me, it’s a boundary that I have. The particular wording for this boundary might be that I will not accept lies, or half-truths, or bullshit. I did that for too long. I know a few people who have their own, opposite boundaries when it comes to truth, and I try to respect those, but we don’t have the best time together. I will never be fully open with someone who can’t accept my complete truth and the way I approach it. Because truth should be universal, but it isn’t, that’s where my boundary gets tripped up. And I have spent more time than I would like taking shots about telling the truth. Having family members try to shush me. Trying to guilt me one way or another into not telling the truth. Usually they are just afraid I will say something bad about them, but what they don’t get is this is my truth. That’s all I share. If they are in my truth they are in my truth, I can’t photoshop them out of memory. Believe me, I wish some people I could.

Another boundary I have is that I expect kindness. Not niceness. I don’t want to be around someone who is fake and who does things and says things for accolades. I want kind people. The real, salt-of-the-Earth, honest (because that goes hand in hand with kindness) people. I want to surround myself with people who do selfless acts and tell no one. Not a soul. Those my people. It’s like donating to a charity. Jerimiah and I do that regularly, and sometimes I share it online in order to guilt other people into doing it. (Hey, some people only work from a place of shame and guilt, just ask Mama Brene.) But I don’t do it to say, “Look at me! Look what I did!” I don’t need a pat on the back to know I did the right thing, I do the right thing because I know it needs done. And some people can’t respect that. Don’t understand that. And will spend many, many days and nights showing me how they are “nice,” but not kind.

Sometimes boundaries are actual, physical boundaries. Have you ever went in for a hug with someone and they sort of stiffened up? Or backed away? Or put their hand out for a handshake? Take note of that. They are telling you they have a boundary. A physical one. Not me. I’m a hugger. I often want to hug people I have just met if I get a good vibe from them, but that’s weird, and goes against a lot of people’s boundaries, and some social norms, so I don’t. But once I get the go ahead from you, I mean just one hug, that’s it, I’m done. Hugging all the way. But I do know and love people who do not like to be hugged, and I am absolutely aware, and I try to keep the hugging to a minimum. I also know and love people who have a hard time saying, ‘I love you.” Got it, we can do that in other ways too. But I DO LOVE YOU, YOU ASSHOLES!

Boundaries for your kids is nuts. Not boundaries with your kids, that’s a parenting deal, I mean boundaries for your kids. Like when you have a baby and have all these ways you want to raise them and people just won’t shut the fuck up and let you do it that way. Too many opinions. Too much judgement and shaming. Jerimiah and I had THE hardest time getting our parents to understand that we did not want Jackson to have food, actual food, until his first birthday. Only breast milk and formula as needed. It did not compute to them. How could a child not eat food? Well, he was eating food, the right food for him. Seriously, I know that is weird for some people to hear, but babies absolutely do not need to eat anything other than milk for the first year and they are totally okay and living and all the things. It’s just a hard thing to set boundaries for your kids. Another example, I have always told Jackson that he does not have to hug a single person. Not one. He doesn’t even need to hug me if he doesn’t feel like it. I mean I kid him all the time and tell him to come give me a hug, and he does willingly, because we are all huggers (even Jerimiah although he doesn’t look like it), but I was very clear that he need not hug a second-cousin, once removed that he has never met before. And he won’t if he doesn’t want to. And we have gotten some looks from family and all I can say is, it’s called boundaries people. Learn them, live them, respect them.

Anyway, those are just some boundaries I have been thinking about today. Do you know what some of yours are? Do you talk about them with your family and friends? Your therapist? Therapists are awesome at helping you set boundaries, or learning the tools/language you need to set them yourself. And as usual, I’m here to help to, though I am not a trained professional, I can help you find the resources you need.

Sending love and hugs, and wishes that your boundaries are respected today and everyday.

M.