Me: "Is that rain on our roof or a truck?" Chris: "Definitely rain. It's pouring out there." Me: "Oh no! The chickens are outside in the pen, I should go put them in the shed so they won't get drenched." When you run outside in the torrential rain to get the chickens to put them in the dry shed, but they freak out at your umbrella and get confused and high tail it into the woods which causes you to freak out thinking you'll lose the kids' chickens on Christmas, so you chase them into the woods and end up chest deep in prickers screaming for your husband while covered in prickers, getting soaked, and trying to will the spazzed chickens back to you. Finally your husband arrives to the pricker party, hands you the umbrella you've dropped and tells you to hang on while he gets his camera. You say some not so jolly phrases at him. Then...you both laugh hysterically as the chickens come right to him and go back into the open enclosure where you started this situation. He bounds back into the house to escape the downpour while you're left there to figure out how the heck to escape the prickers.
Mags: "Mama. 'Member when you used to do all that writing in the morning? Now you just sleep." It's true. Five years ago, when the children were four and six, every single morning at 5:00 AM my alarm would sound. Soon after the coffee would brew as the keyboard would begin to clatter away effortlessly under my eager fingertips. The days of young children were full of fodder. Spilling it onto the blog became therapeutic. And now, five years later, I sleep. The kids' bus comes early, the lunches aren't going to pack themselves (to my dismay) and work always has an invisible rope tugging around my waist. However, that does not stop me from WANTING to write. I have multiple stories floating around in my head. They are like buzzing flies in there, but I keep batting them away to the back of my brain. Time is fleeting, after all, and priorities are a must. This morning, though, I'm taking a second or two to myself. I read a blog post from my intelligent friend, Becky, which reminded me of something important. Take time. So, I'm up early. I made my way downstairs, grabbed a fleece blanket, brewed my decaf and snuggled in with the hum of the warm computer on my lap. I let go of all the "have to get dones" on my list for a moment and made a list of wanna be posts. A list so these ideas won't be forgotten. Planes, Koalas and Kangaroos : Our entire trip to Australia and New Zealand. Mourning Summer : Every year it's bittersweet to start the new school year. This year especially. Bad Religion : How a hurried explanation made Mags want to run. Hell's Kitchen...Bugaj Style : The follies of teaching our son to cook, when I'm not a great cook. Did You Say...Bumblefoot : How Chris and Tuck saved our favorite chicken's life. The Day I Decaffed My Life : Decaf is made from dirt. Hello 2015...Why is There No Self-Packing Brow Bag Lunch Bot : Packing lunches is my nemesis. The Dog Diaries : Pros and cons of a dog in our life...why are we so darn responsible? Make a Wish : I blew out my candles on my 38th birthday and got my wish. NO is Not Spelled Y-E-S : Learning how to say N-O in five easy steps. Escape Room : A surprise present for my birthday from which I couldn't wait to escape.
Chris: "At the end of the day, which
memory do you want to have? The one where you were too scared to do what
challenged you or the one where you kicked its butt?"
Life is full of choices. In fact, lines at an amusement park are full of life lessons. Observation is the key, and honestly, who doesn't like to take in a good people watching session?
First up are the Thrill Seekers. They are buzzing from their last conquests of the highest roller coasters in the park. They are on top of the world and can't wait to go back to do it again once their stomachs return to the proper alignment in their bodies. They'll convince anyone on the edge of trying it to just do it. You only live once and you never know until you try!
Behind them are the Ghost Riders. Their faces tell their stories. They are the ones who tried it to say they tried it, but will never get within 200 yards of the entrance to the ride again. And if you try to ask them about it, they'll stare blankly at you for a few awkward moments before answering, "It was the scariest thing I've ever been on, BUT, I'm glad I did it."
Next up are the Planners. They sit together talking about their NEXT big adventure in the park while waiting to complete the one they're waiting to start. Always looking one step ahead, never fully enjoying the moment in which they are standing.
Then there are the Hemmers and Hawers. They sit and listen. If someone mentions one of the rides they've been carefully considering for hours, they'll ask about it. "How was it? Scary?" The danger for these people is that their decisions are based on the general concensus, rather than searching within themselves.
Finally, there are the Naysayers. They stay on the same two rides all day. They know every twist and turn that will be thrown at them. They're ready. To spice up their day, they rebelliously sit on the handrail and don't get down when it's asked of them 20 times over the scratchy sound system.
So, as we entered King's Dominion with our 48 inch girl and 53.5 inch boy, we were ready to take it all on together. We are the Thrill Seekers. Well, three-quarters of us were that is. Always keeping us guessing, our "finally able to ride the big roller coasters" girl was not having it. She appeased us by going on the first coaster called the Grizzly. When it finished, she joined Team Ghost Rider.
To be honest, as the parents of the girl who took on The Tower of Terror at age THREE with such confidence and sass, we were completely baffled. This was also the child who cried watching her brother go on roller coasters last year, begging us to stuff her shoes to boost her the final two inches she needed. Now, the moment she waited for "her whole entire life" was here...and she was frozen. Switching teams on us.
After trying to talk to her about it, rationalize her fear, reassure her she would not get hurt, remind her of how much fun she had in past and how sad she was she missed those adventures, she would not budge. We urged her to actually sit on one of the coasters with the option of walking through if she couldn't do it. That happened multiple times. She had made up her mind. And so we let her have her moment.
But, then, my husband said the above words to both the kids. It stuck with our 53.5 inch boy (one-half an inch too short for the tallest coaster in the park). All day he rode the top level thrill rides with excitment and ease. But, being a sensitive guy, he also empathized with his sister's new found fear. So, he took the time to go on rides WITH her as well. We warmed her up. We started small. He helped us rebuild her confidence.
After an hour of this, Chris and I decided to switch off and ride some of the restricted-to-our-kids coasters. As we waited for him, the kids and me found a ride that was a step above the others. The Bad Apple. It was high. It twisted. And most importantly, it was HER decision. She was hooked. When we got off, she was ready.
Something clicked. So, we went with it and let her lead the way to her next conquest. Much like the Bad Apple, she chose The Scrambler. It was fast. It jolted you around violently. It was a blast!
It was her favorite...UNTIL...
The Stunt Coaster. This was her first attempt on another coaster after the Grizzly...and many hours. It seemed harmless. There were no big drops, no loops, no rickety motions. However, it was FAST. And once the speed started, it didn't let up for the full course. Sitting behind her and Chris, I couldn't see her face. When we finished, she threw her arms in the air and screamed AGAIN! Her brother wasted no time convincing her that if she could do that one, she could do The Anaconda (his favorite at the time).
She considered it for a minute, and then repeated what Chris had told her earlier.
"Okay, Tuck, I'll try it. Cause if I don't, I'll never know if I would have liked it."
After one time riding The Anaconda, she was back to team Thrill Seeker. Four times later, she was leading the way. Not only did her bravery really make an impact on us, but also her brother. Our 53.5 inch boy had been going back and forth about one ride in particular all day. A 305 foot tower drop. He was tall enough, but not sure he had the guts to do it. I think watching his sister really inspired him, because not soon after, he announced,
"Okay. I'm gonna do it. I'm going on the Drop Tower."
With that, he marched himself into the line. Chris followed in amazement and off they went. Soon they were loaded onto the ride and after they were checked and double checked by the park employees, Tuck mouthed to me, "I can't believe I'm doing this."
I watched them rise up higher and higher. I was dying from anticipation waiting to see his reaction after the release and free fall. I didn't have to wait long.
He got off the ride screaming, "YES! YES! I'm so glad I did that!"
We soaked in every single minute of that park's open hours. At 9:45, fifteen minutes before closing, we ran to our final ride. There we sat on the Stunt Coaster, where all four of began together as Team Thrill Seeker, ending our day in absolute victory.
Thanks, King's Dominion. We came. We made memories.
Mags: "How do you always know the answers to everything?" Me: "Google. And college. And Daddy. But mostly Google." Graduation. From Pre-K to Doctorates, these major milestones fill my social media feeds. Within these moments, come epiphanies that stick with us. They may even sway us toward a specific direction in our lives. As I watched the seniors in my school practice walking across the stage today, I had some wisdom of my own to impart on them. Over the years, these are the things that have stuck: 1. Just do it. Ulcers never met a procrastinator they didn't like. 2. Speak carefully. You can never take back what comes out of your mouth. 3. Live within your means. It makes a difference. 4. Splurge every once in a while. The memories will be worth it. 5. Laugh and smile. Those wrinkle lines are a sign of a life well lived. 6. Hydration is key. Reach for the water before the sugar or caffeine. 7. Take a hike. Fresh air and a humbling view can do wonders for the spirit. 8. Choose wisely in people, situations, challenges and words. 9. Listen to someone with experience, even when you don't want to hear it. 10. Be silly. But not obnoxious. 11. Give a firm handshake. It shows you mean it. 12. For every negative, find twice as many positives. 13. Quality not quantity. Especially time with people you care for greatly. 14. Reveal your vulnerable side to at least one person in the world; the one you trust the most. 15. Make mistakes. You'll never be a lifelong learner otherwise.
Me: "Okay, ready. Here we go. Gonna go into the house I grew up in all my life." Chris: "Oh, wow. Look at these pictures on the wall. That's your brother, right? Me: "Yep." Chris: "Who is in the picture next to him? Do you have a sister?" Me: "That's me." Chris: "Oh, wow! That's...wow. Your hair is...wow. I'm glad I met you now." Me: "Thanks?" So, I wasn't a beauty queen. I had braces, head gear, bangs that could challenge Mount Everest, and a school uniform. Hard to believe? Nah. Today, my sweet high school friend, Lorrie, reminded me that it was the 20th anniversary of the day we graduated from high school. TWENTY. YEARS. How could that be? I was just 20 years old. Really. I was. Like...17 years ago. Damn. It got my brain thinking. If I was Marty McFly and I could go back, these are the top five things the 2015 me would say to the 1995 me...(keeping it short and sweet is always best) 1. Challenge yourself. You could easily take all Honors courses. Well, except for Geometry. You never will pass that class. Ever. 2. Stand up for yourself. Knowing what I know now...if you stand up to that bully...she/he will back right down. And it will save you a lot of embarrassment, self-doubt, and tears. 3. Wear a bikini. Trust me. Just. Do. It. 4. Don't cut your hair. Or curl your bangs. And for the love of jellybeans, PUT THE AQUANET DOWN! I know it's "the style" and all, but simplicity is best. (However, looking back at the pictures will be make you and your friends laugh pretty hard.) 5. Save your money. Don't buy more AquaNet or get another perm. Just take your summer job money and put it in the bank. Right. Now.
Most of all, I'd like to say that I'm proud of you. You faced some pretty big challenges. You fought through them all. And, with a lot of determination