Autumn 2019

More has gone on here than our trip to England and Wales, so it would be a shame to make it seem like that’s been the entirety of our October and November. It would be terrible if you missed Jackson’s Halloween costume when he dressed up at a retired clown.

He and his friend, Libby, trick-or-treated together again this year, and Jackson received many compliments on his costume!

Jeremy competed in another chess tournament and brought home two more trophies. Between soccer and chess, the shelves in his bedroom are filling up quickly!

In early November, we went to see Ryan Bingham at the Tennessee Theatre, which was a fancy venue for his style of music, I have to say. But that meant Corey came to visit and that’s always worthwhile!

The following weekend we took a quick trip to Chattanooga to celebrate Matt’s 41st birthday, which meant I got some time with Amy!

We became instant friends after Matt started dating her in 2000. So much of my early years of motherhood unfolded alongside Amy’s. Now, whenever we squeeze in a visit, we unload all the toils and joys of raising teenagers, which is a far cry from naptimes, midnight feedings, and what happened on the latest episode of The Backyardigans.

These three have been friends since middle and high school.

In other news, Jackson wrapped his fall session of equine therapy, and Jeremy finally got a proper haircut. I decided it was time he started seeing my stylist. His hair deserves it, after all.

Peak colors didn’t show up in East Tennessee until early November, but when they finally popped, they were bright and vibrant. I snapped this photo while on a run one foggy morning.

Lastly, we had a brief and glorious snowfall that dropped the same day as Disney+. It was a Tuesday, but it felt just like Christmas morning. Somehow we managed to do some school work.

However, I did notice that this was the first year that the boys didn’t race to play in the snow upon waking up. The last time we had a decent snowfall was January of this year. It was gorgeous, and the boys couldn’t wait to play in it. This time, however, they didn’t mention sledding or a snowball fight. They didn’t even have the curiosity to go outside and touch the flakes. It felt significant, like a piece of their childhood was over.

Maybe that won’t be the case if we get another big snowfall, something grander and long-lasting. Or maybe it means I need to suit up and go out with them.


Thanksgiving is this week, and we’re going to have a full house of family members on Thursday. For the first time in 20 years, we’re mixing sides. We’ve always taken turns – Thanksgiving with one side, Christmas with the other. We’re on the same rotation as my sister and her family, and doing it this way kept holidays fair and uncomplicated.

But as family members have passed away, and others have moved closer to us, it seems silly to keep things separated. We can all be together. We can all share the table. On Thursday, we’ll have ten people here, and I’m happy to cook for all of them.

Where in the world have I been

In my former life, blogging was an almost-every-other-day thing. I had so much to say, so much to post, so much to SHARE about our life. It was easier then, when my world was a little less public and there were fewer eyes reading the posts. I didn’t care to share (almost) everything. This site has been a scrapbook of sorts, and I remain immensely grateful for the ability to look back several years, even a decade if I want to, and catch a glimpse at where we were.

Today, however, it’s a little more complicated. I’m sensitive to the boys’ privacy, I’m careful with my own, and I want to be sure that, while I’m more selective about what I share, I am still showing you what is real and true.

That being said, here’s a quick glimpse into 2019 so far:

Jackson continues to enjoy equine therapy (aka, “Horse Hangout Hour’) and finally found the courage to trot! It was a huge hurdle for him to cross since trotting makes him feel off balance and the fear of falling off the horse entirely is real. A couple of weeks ago, after tons of encouragement, he finally did it. You can see a video here.

Yesterday, the weather was so delightful that the class rode their horses in the field next to the barn. It was a beautiful way to wrap up the winter session.

Jeremy has been enjoying success on the local chess tournament circuit. After playing chess for several years at our co-op, and finally getting a quality chess coach, he entered a few tournaments recently and has had a great time playing other students in the area. The most recent win was a team win, and since I don’t have permission to post other kiddos’ photos in this space, I’ve blurred their faces. ūüôā

We are nearing that time of year when we’re tired of school and aching for summer, a level of academic fatigue that comes full circle in April. Still, I’m enjoying my role as an English teacher at our co-op and am already preparing for next year’s courses. It is still a surprise to me that I like teaching, but I also recognize that I get to teach in a space with limited restraints (unlike the traditional school system). Perhaps that’s made all the difference. Plus, it’s only once a week.

On co-op days, I’ve made a habit of using my lunch break to visit Grandpa Thomas, who moved here in January. I still can’t believe he’s here, actually. (Hi, Grandpa!) I’ve never lived in the same city as any of my grandparents, and I’m still getting used to the fact that my parents are only 45 minutes away. If you’d told me this time last year that both Grandpa and my parents would be here with us, I wouldn’t have believed you.

Finally, East Tennessee received a beating on Saturday with a record-setting 17+ inches of rainfall. By Sunday morning, entire neighborhoods and streets were underwater. Our neighborhood, mercifully, was spared any damage, but that isn’t the case for thousands of other Tennesseans. In fact, on the way home from equine therapy last night, a couple of the roads we usually take were still underwater, along with adjacent homes.

Chuck and I took time to drive the missing link Sunday afternoon and stopped by the Townsend Wye to see what the water levels looked like. The usual Class I and II rapids were easily Class III and IV on account of all the water. The area in the photo below is typically a calm pool for swimming in the summertime. Not the case this week!

Finally, there’s an addition to this website, but it’s not my personal work. Jackson decided he wanted to start writing book and movie reviews for tweens and teens, and I made his year by telling him I’d post them on the blog. Overjoyed, he got right to work on The Reviewing Rabbit. I assume the quality of content will improve over time, but he’s already doing a good job! He’s created a backlog of posts, and three are already live.

That being said, if there’s an age-appropriate film or book you’d like Jackson to review, please email me and I’ll pass it along to him. ūüôā

Summer is in the rearview

We are fully immersed in the fall schedule – homeschool co-op classes, soccer for Jeremy, another round of equine therapy for Jack, and other extracurriculars that give us little breathing room. Jeremy worked about 20 to 25 hours a week during the summer months, but he’s back down to 10 or 12, a more manageable number. Now that he’s in high school and the demands on him are greater, time management will be the ultimate task this year. Fingers crossed. These are necessary growing pains.

Jeremy’s two greatest loves are soccer and LEGO, so he’s entirely consistent with the person he’s been from the start. He plays for a local private school along with a smattering of other homeschooled kids, including one of his best friends, which means Chuck and I are officially soccer parents. I still don’t recognize fouls, and I can’t tell you a lot about certain positions, but I’m paying attention and learning.¬†

Jackson will be back in the saddle this week for equine therapy, or Horse Hangout Hour, as he calls it, and we couldn’t be more pleased with our experience in the program.¬†

Before the summer wound down for good, we took the boys and their friends to Brickmania, a LEGO convention, in August. Jeremy and Foster melted into the crowd immediately, plenty old enough to explore and walk around on their own. Jackson and Libby stayed with Chuck and me, as they are not quite old enough to maneuver the convention center without help. (They are two peas in a pod though!) 

I love the LEGO convention, but this year’s exhibits weren’t nearly as impressive as last year’s.¬†

There were also fewer vendors, to Jeremy’s dismay, though that didn’t keep him from spending more than $100 on mini-figures and whatever else he bought. (This is where the part-time job comes in handy!)

I don’t have a single photo of Jeremy from the LEGO convention because, at almost 15, he’s over it. I could press him to stand and smile for me, but the sheer panic and embarrassment is ever-present on his face. I’m learning to leave him be and not succumb to the pressure to document everything.

This guy still poses with Mom though: 

I am busier than ever, and I’m trying to figure out whether I’m over-committed or still trying to hone my own time management skills. I wrote a ton over the summer – editing the novel and freelance writing, along with settling into a position I accepted in May as editorial coordinator of a new local magazine. Now I’m in the classroom teaching four English classes at our co-op – English for 9th and 10th grade, Composition for middle grades, Literature and Creative Writing for middle grades, and Grammar/Mechanics of Writing for upper elementary/lower middle grades. It is true when I say I love everything I’m doing, but it is also true that my brain has little down time. Gosh, has it ever?¬†

For the curious, the works I’m teaching this year are We Have Always Lived in the Castle, Fahrenheit 451, Frankenstein, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Great Divorce, The Giver, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, Wonderstruck, Black Beauty, I am Malala, A Study in Scarlet, and a hefty collection of short stories from various eras, ethnicities, and genres.¬†

There is reprieve coming soon though. Chuck and I finally booked the trip we’ve been wanting to take for well more than a decade. No more waiting. Time, for all we know, is short.¬†

In the meantime, FOOTBALL SEASON IS BACK and the Packers play the Bears on Sunday. I am ready. 

Let’s hope this guy is ready too:¬†

Adios Tonsils and Adenoids

Last week Jeremy got his tonsils and adenoids taken out after we realized that more than 50 percent of his airway closed up when he laid down to sleep. A tonsillectomy¬†wasn’t something on our radar, but after consulting an ENT in December, we realized it was a solid possibility.¬†Then, after an early January appointment, we decided to move forward with it sooner than later so he’s all healed up for soccer season.

Having no experience with surgery, Jeremy was nervous, particularly the morning of. He was worried about needles and having things cut out of his body, along with how he might feel under the influence of anesthesia. Understandably so! He kept his anxieties well hidden, so it was only when the nurse administered the IV that his eyes got wide and I saw how scared he really was. I reassured him as best I could – telling him that it was totally normal to be nervous about the unknown, that kids have tonsillectomies all the time, that his doctor was wonderful and would do a good job. Then, having no frame of reference, I could only admit that I’d be nervous too.

The procedure took a mere 45 minutes, but when you throw in the prep and recovery time, we ended up being at the hospital nearly five hours. When I was finally able to be with him in the recovery room, I could tell he was truly miserable. He was not prepared for how uncomfortable he was going to feel.

Tomorrow marks one week post-surgery and he’s still eating soft foods. This morning he tried grits, and after eating an entire bowl he said it was the first time in a week that he’s actually felt full. (I guess ice cream and sorbet is exciting for only so long.) It’s cruel to have to limit food when, at fourteen years old, your appetite is bottomless.

When all is healed and back to normal, the hope is that Jeremy will sleep better at night because his airway will be open and clear. Thanks to all of you who’ve prayed for him, checked on him, and sent him well wishes!¬†

Jeremy turns 14

Welp, I have a 14-year-old. Not sure how that happened, yet here we are. For his birthday, Jeremy wanted to gather a few friends to go go-carting. His actual birthday was on Friday, but we celebrated on Saturday. The day started with a big breakfast followed by his first soccer game of the season.

First, a little pre-game practice with Foster:

Ethan spent the weekend with us, and since he was born five hours after Jeremy, it was a double-birthday celebration. He really wanted to play soccer too. That kid came out of the womb an athlete.

The game went on and they tied 3-3. This photo characterizes Jeremy so well. The tongue is his expression of concentration and effort:

Once we got Noah, the group was complete, so we headed to the Nascar Speedpark to drop some cash and let the boys wear themselves out. I was the payer, the driver, and the photographer.

They played mini-golf but kept no score and followed no rules.

The game resembled hockey more than golf.

My child was at his happiest – surrounded by friends and being silly.

Noah’s side-eye is my favorite.

We left the park for pizza but returned by sundown for more racing and taking a turn on the rickety fair rides in the back.

Contemplating the Starship 3000…

Yep, they all went in…

As the night wound down, their level of fatigue increased. The park closed at 10 p.m., and we had been there since 4 p.m. How much longer could they go?

By 9:55 we left, but I got them to take one last photo:

Yep, they still had energy. In fact, after I collected devices and went to bed at 1:30 a.m., they stayed up playing hide and seek in a dark house for another hour.

Thanks to everyone who sent well wishes to Jeremy for his birthday. So far, 14 has been great.

Thursday in Nashville

We decided to take the boys on one last hurrah before school starts, so we went to Nashville for two days after my birthday.  Jackson has been asking to see stadiums, and Jeremy has had a hole burning in his wallet for the LEGO store at Opry Mills, so Nashville made a lot of sense.

We left Thursday morning and drove straight to Tennessee Tech. None of us have an affiliation to Tennessee Tech, but they have a stadium and that’s all that mattered.

Then we swung down to my alma mater, Middle Tennessee State University, where the gates to Floyd Stadium were wide open.

Jackson was so happy to touch the turf.

He used an old, unused iPhone to take his own pictures.

On we went to Nashville and checked into the hotel. Chuck secured a strange but spacious corner room that had one heck of a view.

After dropping off our bags we walked across the street to the Tennessee State Museum – a three-floor smattering of detailed exhibits completely free to the public.

18th Century medical advice:

Early journalism:

John Sevier:

William Blount:

Old Andrew Jackson:

Scary doll that comes alive at night and wanders the museum:

The only evidence that Chuck and I were on this trip:

The Battle of Chickamauga:

City money:

Stunning portrait of Ida B. Wells:

(More on Ida here.)

We stayed at the museum until it closed and then walked a few blocks to Puckett’s for dinner. If you’re ever in Nashville (or Franklin, or Chattanooga, or Murfreesboro, or Columbia), eat there. It’s delish!

From there, all we had to do was let the boys experience Broadway, which gave Jackson access to Bridgestone Arena and Nissan Stadium.

We capped off the night with swimming in the hotel pool, followed by checkers and chess on the patio.

After a few episodes of Shark Tank, we zonked out and went fast to sleep. I’d like to report that it was a perfect night’s sleep in comfortable hotel beds, but Jeremy got bit by a stomach bug and woke us up early with many trips to the restroom. While he was able to carry on with Friday activities, he didn’t feel 100% until sometime over the weekend.

Friday in Nashville.

Jeremy and the Five-Point Buck

After a handful of attempts last year, Chuck and Jeremy were unsuccessful on their hunting trips.

This year is another story. Chuck got a doe two weeks ago, and then on December 9, Jeremy had his moment.

This is how the morning started:

how-hunting-started

But then it quickly escalated to this:

jeremys-first-deer

My apologies if you don’t care for photos like these. In all honesty, I don’t either. However, I can tame¬†my animal-loving heart-strings and look at this as a proud moment for my son. Not only was it exciting for Jeremy, but it was a moment of immense pride for Chuck and both grandfathers. In fact, the gun Jeremy used was given to him by my dad. This is family history in the making.

Jeremy called me right after it happened, all breathy and excited. I praised him and congratulated him and said, “You are helping to feed our family.” He paused and said, “I never thought of it that way.”

I could feel him smiling through the phone.

chuck-and-jeremy-with-the-gun

 

Thanksgiving 2016

My goal for Thanksgiving was simple: Keep it low key. Even though I cooked the full meal and didn’t skimp on the menu, the rest of Thanksgiving was simple and laid back. My sister and her family came into town, we shopped, she helped in the kitchen, and we saw a movie. Things just flowed along, and I didn’t bring out my camera once, evident by the poor quality photo of our¬†dinner, complete with catching Jackson mid-blink.

thanksgiving-dinner-2016

I wanted to enjoy myself, so that meant keeping plans to a minimum. It worked, too, because we had a lovely few days together.

When Jeremy and Owen weren’t gaming, they were enjoying their mounds of Pokemon cards.

pokemon-explosion

Jacob DROVE me to get donuts. I wasn’t nervous at all because he’s an excellent driver. It was weird though, because it’s Jacob. He was just born a few years ago, right?

jacob-drives-me-to-get-donuts

Jackson used his money to buy another pillow pet – this time, he chose a West Virginia Mountaineer. I was pleased!

wv-pillow-pet

And Jeremy finally saved enough money to buy an iPod Touch. He’s been waiting nearly two years for this moment.

jeremys-new-ipod

In hindsight it might have been nice to set up the tripod and capture a full family photo with all eight of us, but I really liked keeping my duties to a minimum. Maybe next time ūüôā

becky-and-me-at-thanksgiving

Jeremy, Before 13

I have not gotten sentimental with any other birthday or milestone when it comes to my boys. I didn’t cry when they started school or learned to ride a bike or turned double-digits. I did not tear up on their first Christmas or when they learned to walk. Everything has come along in its due time.

But there’s just something about 13. I’m feeling it.

Jeremy and I spent an hour watching old videos this afternoon and it left me feeling nostalgic for the sweet days when nap time was our biggest hurdle. I had to share the best ones with you all. Here’s my boy, our firstborn, before the teen years.


Wherein I prepare my heart for the next phase

I have never been the mother who says things like, “Time slow down!” or “My babies are growing up too fast!” Not once have I felt like time was spinning at an unnatural pace. Part of that has to do with my personality, but I also recognize that our life is set up in a way that allows me oodles of time with my kids. We are together every day, all day. I’m not missing anything.

And yet, Jeremy turns 13 years old next week. As in, there will be a teenager living in this house next week. As in, I’m going to be the mom of a teenager NEXT WEEK.

Excuse me, what? 

I’m still not saying “Time slow down!” or “My babies are growing up too fast!” but instead I’m¬†saying, “How in the world did this happen?”

Jeremy has been reminding us¬†of his impending age for months with comments like, “In three years I’ll be driving,” and “In five years I’ll be graduating from high school,” and “Come on, can’t I stay up later? I’m practically a teenager.”

Can I start school early

Bit by bit, we’ve been letting out the reins. In fact, Chuck had been wanting to re-watch Stranger Things, and knowing that some of Jeremy’s peers watched it, I suggested, “Hey, why not watch it with Jeremy?” Yes, there’s language, yes, it’s startling, but… baby steps.

Furthermore, since he’s about to have the word “teen” in his age, he’s eligible to attend dances and social events hosted by our homeschool co-op. It’s something we’ve already talked about – how to ask a girl to a dance, whether or not to even ask a girl but instead go with friends, how girls are just as nervous about being asked as boys are nervous about doing the asking. These are conversations I knew were coming, but still.

Today we were at the orthodontist, and while we sat in the waiting room a light flickered directly above us. It jolted us from our book reading so¬†I teased, “Maybe that’s Will in the Upside Down?” a reference to Stranger Things. Jeremy looked at me wide-eyed, then laughed, shaking his head, “Don’t joke about that!” I like that we had this between us, a banter that was above Jackson’s understanding. In that moment I liked that I had an older child to joke about something PG-13.

It’s all gonna be fine. I’m probably going to cry a little on September 8th, but it will be fine.

But man. This face…

Jeremy April 2008

 

First Week of School

The first week of school was near perfect – great attitudes, excitement over co-op classes, the blissful return to routine. We were all smiles last week.

First day of co-op

Today is a different story though. I don’t feel well, and neither does Jackson, and Jeremy has been reminded just how hard math can be. He also doesn’t love that middle school has more required work than elementary school. When Jackson wraps up for the day, Jeremy still has a few more subjects to go.

Man, life is hard.

With sports¬†and activities at church picking up, it is more apparent than ever the need to encourage stillness in our home. We need time away from screens and people and noise. We need to close our eyes and rest so that we’re prepared for the next big thing. We must say no to things so we can do our best with what we’ve said yes to, an exceptionally hard lesson to teach two busy boys.

Can you tell that I’ve been missing the abbey? Because I am.

The Start of Fifth and Seventh Grade

We started school today, and afterward I took a two-hour nap. I love homeschooling.

Fifth and Seventh Grade

The boys are in fifth and seventh grade at The Miller School for Boys,¬†which means this is our sixth year of homeschooling. NEVER EVER DID I THINK we’d be a homeschooling family. Sometimes, I’m still surprised that this is what we’re doing.

Brothers August 2016

Jackson, Age 10

Jackson age 10

Our fifth grader is all sports, all the time. He loves wearing football jerseys and reading his ESPN Encyclopedias.

ESPN encyclopedia reader

Football loverAn avid reader of all things, he spends a lot of his free time on the couch or front porch with a book. This year he’ll play flag football and participate in a younger youth group at church that uses Harry Potter-inspired curriculum. Jackson¬†hopes he’ll be¬†sorted into the Hufflepuff House.

Jackson August 2016

He’s still as cheerful and smiley as ever, always happy to chat with anyone about sports and share his random bits of statistical knowledge.

Jackson fifth grade

This year Jackson is taking Geography, Science Survey, Language Arts, Reading Comprehension, P.E., and Bible. Today he started fractions and reading The One and Only Ivan.

Jeremy, Age Almost 13

Jeremy August 2016

Our middle schooler wakes up every morning hoping he’s actually 30 years old and living either in a big city as a head chef or on the pacific coast as a marine biologist. When he realizes he’s still a kid who lives with his parents, he¬†forges ahead with anticipation. Super mature and thoughtful, Jeremy is an old soul who loves to be with people. He’s in youth at church, still enjoying¬†soccer, and carries a very heavy backpack to co-op.

Jeremy age almost-13

Be still my heart, he still loves to play with Legos. 

Still loves legos

This will likely be his last year playing soccer with Parks and Rec. He’s ready for stiffer competition.

Soccer lover

Jeremy seventh grade

Jeremy has a heart for animals, something he and I share, as well as a deep curiosity and desire to understand God. Sometimes I want to peek into the future to see where this guy ends up because he could go ten different directions and succeed.

Forever competitive

This year Jeremy is taking pre-algebra, French, Physical Science, Mock Congress, World History (specifically the Middle Ages), and the MARS Project. He’s also in my Literature and Creative Writing class at co-op. (We’ll see how that goes!) Today he started reading Wonder.

I feel like we hit the jackpot with these two.

Love them

Finally, a word from our mascot, who didn’t care that we were trying to take photos…

Salem interrupts

Cheers to a productive school year and happy attitudes every morning!

Come here. Sit down and look at me.

I do this often. I’ll be playing around with my camera, figuring stuff out, and suddenly I need a face in front of me. I’ll call a child, whoever is closest, and he’ll stare at the lens. I click, adjust, click, readjust. My handsome¬†boys, the¬†test models.

Jackson in mid-June 2016

Two things about this I love:

First, I always have updated photos of them. Not just blurry phone pictures, but real, detailed, up-close images of what they look like RIGHT NOW. Every freckle, every inch of peach fuzz. This is Jackson at ten years and ten days old. This is Jeremy at twelve years, nine months, and twelve days old.

Jeremy in mid-June 2016

The second thing I love is that while I fiddle with aperture and shutter speed, we talk. We talk about random stuff, like Pokemon cards, football stadiums, swimming with friends. Though neither avoids conversation with me (yet), this is a time and space when we have each other’s full attention. I’m looking at him, he’s looking at me. Though there is a camera between us, we have eye contact.

I’m not sure how much longer they’ll let me use them for test models, and if I had to guess, I think Jeremy will jump ship first. But for now, I will continue. Every month or so, every couple of weeks, I’ll sit them down on the edge of my bed, outside on the porch, wherever, and say, “Come here. Sit down and look at me.”

And it will be worth it.

Backstage at the Orange and White Game

A few weeks ago, an opportunity was presented to us for Jackson to meet the University of Tennessee, Knoxville statisticians – the guys who keep track of every yard, every punt, every point for the home football games – a career possibility that Chuck and I have encouraged for Jackson. He’s an excellent math student and has an unquenchable passion for sports. When Jackson realized that a real person¬†was responsible for those recording numbers, all those tiny details that he loves to read and memorize, he latched on to the idea of becoming a statistician.

So, did he want to meet the UT Vols statistician? ABSOLUTELY YES.

Better still, would you like to meet him at the Orange and White Game and sit in the press box and learn all about being a statistician?

There were no words, just one huge smile and eyes that welled with tears. A definite YES. 

Fan Day 2016

Charles¬†Child has been keeping the Vols’ stats for three decades, and in recent years he’s been joined by his son, Brian, and son-in-law, David. We met them a couple of hours before kick-off to get a tour of the press box and the field.

Going on the field

Two brace faces on the field

SEC Pylon

Press box at Neyland

We watched the players practice and saw¬†what the stands look like from the ground level. The stadium wasn’t full like it normally is on game day, but it was still impressive.

Time to practice

College footballs

Peyton Manning hall

We met Tim Priest, the familiar voice of the Vol Radio Network and former Tennessee player coached by Doug Dickey.

Tim Priest

We ate lunch and enjoyed ice cream and took our seats in the press box as Charles, Brian, and David readied themselves for the game. They were generous to give the boys plenty of media guides and record sheets Рpiles of information for Jackson to study.

Jack in the press box

Jeremy and I aren’t stats people, but we¬†enjoyed the special treatment nonetheless.

Jeremy in the press box

Members of the U.S. Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, kicked off the game by landing on the field. It was beautiful! (Here’s a video.)

Navy Seals

Steve Spurrier received the Neyland Award, a short ceremony that received both cheers and jeers. (More cheers, though.)

Steve Spurrier

Then my favorite – Smokey – took the field and the game was officially on the clock.

Smokey and the gang

They team was split into orange and white, but there were a handful of players in gray. Why? Because gray meant “Do Not Touch.”

Gray is no touch

Of course, it wasn’t a regular game but rather a scrimmage. A “let’s show them how we’re doing” sort of game. The view from the press box was great.

Orange and White

Orange and White at Neyland

Smokey in the checkerboard

It wasn’t just about the perks. We learned all about how serious the statistician’s work is, how folks from ESPN hover over them on game days to get all the numbers to all the stations. Though the stats wind up computerized, they keep official records the old-fashioned way – pencil and paper.

Stats sheet

While the game is going, all excitement and frustration is tabled. They are record-keeping, not rooting. Aside from high-level math, this is the hurdle Jackson will have to jump. He kept mostly quiet during the scrimmage, but that wouldn’t be the case in a real game. This is the kid who asked to leave the Tennessee-Arkansas game early last year because he was getting too emotional and knew he was going to blow.

Statisticians

On the way home on Saturday, Jackson said that the whole experience had been a dream come true. He didn’t stop smiling the entire day, and while most of us wouldn’t care about¬†the mounds of stats and records, Jackson has been reading them at length and regurgitating random facts like revelations.

So many times I’ve looked at the face of this sweet child and wondered, “Where will you end up? Where will you go? What will you do?” Perhaps those questions got answered on Saturday.

Blog Challenge Day 24: A difficult time

Describe a difficult time in my life.

By far, to date, the most troubling time in my life was at 23 and 24 years old. I was newly married and freshly off all forms of birth control. We were going to start a family. With all that potential in the air Рand it was palpable Рwe forged ahead in anticipation that I would have a positive pregnancy test by the beginning of 2002, if not by the end of 2001.

Nothing happened, so we upped our game. Still nothing happened, so we went to the doctor.

It was at this point that a dark cloud came over our two-bedroom apartment in North Chattanooga and settled there for the next year and a half. It was dark, so much that the darkness crept in my heart and pushed out all the happiness. There would be no pregnancies. Ever.

All around me, friends fell pregnant, and one-by-one, they hesitated to tell me. We weren’t planning it, they’d say. We hate to tell you this, they’d say. It was as if all they had to do was run into each other in the hallway¬†and – voila! – pregnant!

They hated to tell me, and I hated to hear it. The darkness got worse and I hated everyone. I was a horrible friend, a horrible person. Mother’s Day in 2002 was the worst. Pastors and preachers, don’t ever ask all the mothers in the congregation to stand up and be recognized with applause. I’m still surprised lightning did not strike me dead in the pew on account of my awful thoughts.

It was around Christmastime in 2002 that my best friend,¬†Karin, cautiously, carefully told me she was pregnant. After feigning excitement for the duration of the phone call, I hung up and wept at Chuck’s feet. Not only was this the absolute lowest possible point I could fall, it was also the turning point. I resolved that I would enjoy pregnancy through Karin. If I wasn’t going to be a mother, I would at least be¬†the next best thing – the auntie.

Starting in January 2003, I scraped myself off the floor, wiped my face, and helped Karin decorate the nursery. We shopped together and I helped host her baby shower. I put my hand to her belly and felt the baby kick. I did all the things.

The darkness in my heart was still there, but it had waned. Occasionally it resurfaced, like when we started the adoption process and the road felt long and hopeless, but I kept focused and diligent. I would be a mother eventually.

In August 2003,¬†we met Jeremy’s birth mother. In September 2003, we were there for his birth. From the moment I decided to lift myself out of the fog to the moment Jeremy was born, it was exactly nine months.¬†

adoption quote

Fourth and Sixth Grade

We start the academic¬†year on Monday so it felt proper to take some school photos. We may not¬†have a yearbook or a sit-and-smile photography studio, but we do have the flexibility for me to say, “Go put on some nice clothes and come out in the driveway! It’s time for school pictures!”

Let’s do this.

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Jeremy’s first trip to Disney World

Do I even have to tell you that he had a wonderful time?

Jeremy at the Disney castle

Jeremy is now suffering a post-Disney depression, which I’ve tried to mitigate by indulging stories about all the things he loved about Disney World and reminding him that he can go back when he’s older. “When I grow up, I’m definitely taking my kids to Disney World,” he says.

Jedi training

Fighting Darth Vader

I’m glad he went with people who know that place inside out (my sister and her family), so Jeremy’s time was well-managed and he was able to hit all the high points. He did Jedi training and ate breakfast with characters. He raced a car he created and rode all the big rides. He even went on the Tower of Terror. Jeremy did not want the week to end.

On a ride with Jacob

But of course the vacation ended, as they always do. In two years, Jackson will go to Disney World and I have no doubt his experience will be equally as magical.

Before our family headed back north, we made an evening trip to Menchie’s, where another patron took our photo. I hate that it’s blurry, but I’m grateful for the time spent with these precious people. The geographical distance between us is just too far.

Millers Przyluckis April 2015

We are now¬†in the home stretch of the school year and you can tell this by our lack of enthusiasm. Truth be told, Jackson will be finished with his math curriculum this week and he’s already started fourth grade vocabulary… He could be done with third grade by Friday, but I can’t fathom that long of a break in school years – April to August? So we’ll spend the remaining time in review and working to master the skills he learned this year.

If you’re ready for summer, raise your hand.

TBT March 2007: When Jeremy gave me a weed

Spring had finally arrived in our little corner of North Georgia and Jeremy, my three-and-a-half-year-old outdoorsman, couldn’t wait to pick me a flower.

Even though it was a weed. Bless him.

TBT March 2007

Spring is on the verge right now (or so my sinuses tell me), and we couldn’t be happier. It’s time to go back outside.

Undefeated and Preaching on Sunday

It’s times like these that I want to laugh when¬†people¬†ask if my boys get enough socialization, as if homeschooling means we never leave the house.

Jeremy had his eighth and final soccer game of the season on Saturday, which they won, therefore the Blue Bombers finished¬†the season undefeated. Jeremy couldn’t be more pleased since last year’s football experience was the exact opposite – they never won a single game. He worked his tail off and his coach made the remark that Jeremy is one of the players who showed the most improvement.¬† Continue reading “Undefeated and Preaching on Sunday”

From now on, call me Gary.

On our way home from the grocery store last night, Jackson announced that he’d like to change his name. No, that’s not accurate. He had already changed his name and decided to inform the rest of us about it.

Jack: From now on, call me Gary.

Jeremy: What?

Jack: Gary. Like Gary Old Man.

Me: Gary Oldman?

Jack: Yeah.

Jeremy: Who’s that?

Me: Sirius Black. Commissioner Gordon.

Jeremy: Okay. Well that’s weird.

Jack: No it’s not! It’s the best name. Call me Gary from now until forever.

Okay, Gary, we said.

Jack: Jeremy, what should we call you?

Jeremy: Awesome.

Additionally, after getting his hair cut last night, I took a¬†picture, to which he replied, “Call it ‘Gary’s new haircut.'”

So, here’s Gary’s new haircut.

Gary's new haircutHappy Weekend to you, readers. From all of us. And Gary.