Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Sound Out

It's that time again. When I air my grievances. Get excited!

Before I get started, I need to say that both of my children have succumbed to the "start of school sickies". These are the very special germs made when hundreds of grubby little people spend all day breathing on each other. Right now, it's only a cold. I'm hoping it doesn't get worse. Big Dan has a sore throat. Last year was the sickest year he's had in recent memory. He was no match for brand new kindergarten germs. I'm hoping he built up some immunity during all those days sick. As for me, my immune system has been fortified by literal years of wiping tiny noses, holding grubby hands, and hugging and kissing kiddos who should've stayed home.

Suffice to say, it's going to be a rough week around here.

Because tired+hungry+sick=HELP!!!!!

Now. On to the business at hand.

I'm a really big fan of Fall. I love when Fall is approaching and every now and then you feel that little crisp in the air. I love Fall smells, and colors, and football, and fires. All that. Love every bit of it. I haven't been as anxious for Fall to come this year because the weather has just been so delightful. Last year, when my face was melting off on a daily basis, I longed for Fall to come.

And I'm excited this year. I am.

Just NOT excited enough to be ok with Fall decor being out in full force ALREADY. (This post is dedicated to my friend, Jen, who is a strong voice on the subject of holiday creepage.) You wanna know what holiday creepage is? Well, holiday creepage is when a holiday and it's garb start creeping onto the scene too early. We are all used to seeing this happen with Christmas. At the stroke of midnight on November 1, the spider webs and skeletons come down and Santa and his reindeer go up. It's pure madness.

But these days, holiday creepage is not limited to Christmas. EVERY holiday is now officially in on the act. When I went to Kroger yesterday, and they had some ceramic jack-o-lanterns out FRONT? Oh no you did not. We're not even going to ease in with some mums? We're going straight to jack-o-lanterns??

Then today, I was in Walgreens (buying cold medicine, obviously) when I noticed their HALLOWEEN CANDY was out. Really? Do I really want some candy someone bought a full 10 weeks before Halloween??? I mean, Walgreens, you're a delightful little drug store. Can't you just do without some hoopla for one minute? Focus on your meds and your delicious snacks. And your tempting Kate +8 People Magazine cover. Just take a breath. Aren't you tired after all the "Back to School" drama?

I am putting up a protest. I refuse to buy anything Fall related until October 1. And I refuse to buy any Halloween Candy until WAY closer to the actual day of Halloween.

So take that holiday creepage! You're no match for my one woman demonstration.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Growth Spurt

During the summer there were many times I looked at Drew and thought, "Dang. He is skinny." We've had trouble keeping his swimming trunks up. There have been many an inadvertent "moon" at the pool. Our school has a strict rule against "sagging" and I have to stay on top of the adjustable waist in Drew's shorts so he doesn't land in in-school suspension.

I don't know if they really have in-school suspension (or ISS if you will) at his school.

Anyway, both kids had their check-ups last month and I was very interested to see what his growth curve was looking like. Let me just say that while the height has been freakishly on the move, the weight? Notsomuch. The BMI curve is starting to look like a sad face.

Because Drew was in the room I didn't want to act like my crazy, irrational mom self. So, I just raised my eyebrows and low-talked to the ped. "Are you concerned?" I said. He laughed, because, well, I've been asking this questions regularly for the past 6.5 years. Then he said, "Are YOU concerned?" So, I low-talked again, out the side of my mouth, "He's just so thin!" He laughed at me again. I'm sure he means it in love. He told me he was not concerned, but to bring him back for a weight check in 6 months.

Skip ahead 3 weeks, and I think it's safe to say Drew's bod is in catch-up mode. I cannot keep the kid fed! You know how most kids chub up a little right before a growth spurt? I think Drew might go opposite. Like he grows 3 inches in 18 months and then his body goes into super eating mode to catch-up.

Welcome, friends, to super eating mode.

I'm not going to lie. My grocery budget is taking a beating. I've taken to hiding some things in the pantry just so they'll last longer than one day. You think I'm kidding. I'm totally not.

The hunger has also created a rather unpleasant demeanor. I mean, I can get down right ugly when I'm hungry. And, since Drew is apparently hungry all the see where I'm going? Grumpy city. Basically, it goes like this: Drew gets up-get food in him RIGHT away unless you want to pay the price. Lunch is packed (last week he told me he needed WAY more food in his lunch), a snack is packed. Then when we pick him up from school, I have to hand him something to eat right then or the walk home will be a little less delightful. When we get home, he eats what I like to call 2nd lunch (or 1st dinner-whichever you prefer). I've found that if I fix him a meal right after school, he's less likely to snack all afternoon. And, if you're worried that the 1st dinner will spoil real dinner, don't be. He'll eat his and probably half of Emily's.

Are you exhausted yet? Because I feel sort of like Alice from Mel's Diner.

I'm hoping this is a phase and not our new normal. I know it's coming, the eating machine phase of a boy's life. But I'm not really ready for it to be right now.

I have a sneaking suspicion that a 6 month weight check might not be necessary...

Monday, August 12, 2013

Loves to Bake. Not a Baker.

You might have guessed from the title of this post that I am still solidly off the wagon.

Today I made peanut butter cookies. You know what goes good with peanut butter cookies? Wine.

Houston? We have a problem.

I have loved baking things for a long time. I also happen to LOVE to cook. But it wasn't until a few years ago that I realized that most people are either really good bakers or they are really good cooks. The reason most people aren't awesome at both is because the approach to these two things is completely different.

My sister, Katy, is an unbelievable baker. You might be familiar with her cookie art, which, in my opinion is the best you can find. If you live in Nashville and you need cookies for a special occasion, let me know. I'll hook you up. If you can think it, she can cookie it. Obviously, I'm biased towards her as a person, but I don't mess around when it comes to cookies. Not only do hers look amazing, they taste amazing, too.

The reason that Katy is an amazing baker is because deep in her heart she's a scientist. She's precise, meticulous, ridiculously patient, and a perfectionist. Believe me, I know. I've been a major partaker in delicious cast-offs. Bakers are like this:

I am not this. In fact, I'm pretty much the opposite of this. And I've learned to embrace it as a good thing. When Paula Deen (scandal alert) got her start, she was on a show called Door Knock Dinners. The basic premise of the show was that Gordon Elliot (I'm a sucker for Brits-who grew up in Australia. Whatever.) and an up-and-coming food personality would show up at someone's door, pilfer their pantry, and come up with a delicious dinner. I swear I could be on that show.

I'm not trying to brag. Clearly, we are all aware of my many foibles. But one thing I'm pretty darn good at is making do in the kitchen. I can make a meal out of all kinds of random items and mama ain't afraid to throw some random spices in the pot on a whim. Sometimes the contents of my pantry/fridge swim around in my head all day. When it's finally time to cook (assuming there isn't a plan already in place) I'm just as happy as I can be. A cook is more like this:

Last night I texted Katy about what would happen if I substituted brown sugar for white sugar in a cookie recipe. Basically, my requirement is "will my family eat it". I wasn't planning on baking for an audience. (FYI-you can substitute. There's more to it but...) When I got busy on the cookies this morning, my inner cook came out. I tasted the dough, didn't love it and went all Swedish Chef throwing things at random into the bowl until "it tasted right".  I wasn't sure AT ALL what the end result would be. You will be happy to know that I did read the recipe all the way through and managed to get the dough chilled in time for an after school snack. Were they the best peanut butter cookies I've ever had. Definitely not. They did earn me "you're the best mom ever" from both kids (I think they will both be cooks as well. Not a very refined palate on either one of them...) 

Also? Did I mention the wine?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Sound Out

Buckle your seat belts, friends. This is going to be a super random post in which I  a) continue confessing my cookie problem  b) tell you about some more free stuff I got and c) get up on ye old soap box and harp for a minute.


First, hopping back on the wagon? Did not happen. In fact, I basically walked over to the wagon and kicked its tires. Suffice to sayI have some serious work to do once I finally decide to get going again. Notice I said "when". It is not today. Obviously.

Second, I feel like I have a duty to report to you any time I get something for free at my local Kroger (or anywhere for that matter). My first free item was a package of Hormel natural lunch meat. I feel like it's important to tell you it's all natural because of what I'm getting ready to tell you next. The second item I got for free was a bag of Cheetos. Clearly, not all natural. I don't really buy Cheetos, but as I've mentioned before, if they're giving them away? For free? Who am I to turn that down?

Finally, I've got a BEE in my bonnet. My friend and neighbor already heard me rant about this. You would think that talking about it out loud would get it out of my system. It didn't. It just kind of riled it up even more. Now you probably think it's something really important. It's not.

I read this article on-line last week (I have no idea where-I landed on it after following some worm hole around the web. I apologize for the lack of referencing) about how we are too hard on our kids. The basic gist of the article suggested that "we" aren't allowing our children to be people because we don't let them have bad days, be angry, and express emotion.

Listen. It is true of me that I would do well to LIGHTEN UP on lots of occasions. I know this about myself. I'm hard on me and I am sometimes hard on my kids. I know it, and I really do work to have some balance in my parenting.

However. I do believe it is my job to teach my children how to properly manage their feelings. And this does not mean that because they are children they have free reign to emote all over everyone in sight. Because they don't.

Here's the thing. Yes, kids should be allowed to be angry, grumpy, grouchy and whiny. But they should be taught the right way to express their emotions, and sometimes, the right place to express their emotions. You know what's worse than a whiny child? A whiny grown-up. And thanks to things like facebook and twitter, it has become painfully obvious that some folks were not taught how to express their emotions properly. Like, you know, not in a public forum.

As a person, I have the right to feel any way I want. But, I do not have the right to inflict those feelings on innocent by-standers. I've talked so many times here about the need for "your people". My people are usually the ones who have to deal with my emoting. Those same people will tell me when it's time to, you know, deal.

Kids do not need more time and space to be a wreck. They just don't. They need safe places to express themselves and good training on emotional boundaries.

If we teach our kids these simple things, facebook will thank us some day.

End rant.

You're welcome.

Thursday, August 8, 2013



I have to tell you the worst thing.

I totally ate a chocolate crinkle cookie. Or four. Whatever.


Today was going to be the day I told you all about the Whole 30. But that cookie sang its dang siren song to me and before I knew what was happening I was eating it. And it tasted just like I wanted it to taste. Which is why I had more.

Not good, friends, not good.

I did package some up and send them to Drew's teacher. Which was nice of me, right? Because if I hadn't, then more for me!

So. I think that means I get to start over. Which, you know, not awesome. Because that probably means I will have another detox hangover which is LOADS of fun. Stupid cookies.

In other news, it is raining like none other here in Music City. But the best thing? Every day this week it has been NOT raining right at the times we've been walking to school and walking home. I'm happy to report that we are all still thoroughly enjoying the walking. It is a delightful way to begin and end a school day. Today Drew walked right beside me and told me about his day. I didn't even have to ask. When you have a 6 year old boy, these moments are rare. You have to treat them delicately. Like when you watch a deer in your backyard. Any sudden movements and the moment is gone. Which is hard for me. Because I'm the kind of person that if you crack open the door to your personal life a tiny bit, I'm right there all up in your business. I have learned that Drew does not appreciate this. Ahem. Probably most others don't either.

Tomorrow morning is just around the corner. It's going to be hard work hoisting myself back up on that wagon of healthy eating. Especially with the cookies of chocolate perfection mocking me from the counter.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

All the Things

I'm standing in my kitchen waiting for a batch of cookies to bake. I'm not going to eat any of these cookies because I'm on a cleanse. Did you know that's what we're saying now, instead of diet? It's cleanse, not diet. That's your public service announcement portion of the program.

I'm working on my third Whole 30. I really want to write a whole post about this, but it ain't happening tonight. Why? Well, because it's Wednesday and apparently Drew and I both run out of steam in the middle of the week.

Of course, the cleanse begs the question of why I'm standing in my kitchen at 10 p.m. baking cookies. This, my friends, is a mommy project gone awry. I told my kids that today after we picked up Drew from school we would make cookies. The main problem is that ol' Mom forgot to read the recipe all the way through. She might have skipped over the part where it said, "Allow dough to chill for at least four hours." Do you know how long four hours sounds to a kid? ETERNITY. Upon announcing my discovery, there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth, despite the licking of the beaters. So, in my usual rational fashion, I told the kids that they could have a cookie for "breakfast dessert" if they would quit complaining. Hence the being stuck in kitchen purgatory while my bed is calling my name.

Besides the Whole 30 I have other things in my brain that I want to dump out here. I hope some of them will be encouraging, or challenging. I mean, you know, beyond being encouraged that you are a much more sane, normal person than me based on all of my other posts.

But for tonight, I'll leave you with a link to the chocolate crinkle cookies that are baking in my oven. It only seems fair.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Back to School

Here it is. The obligatory back to school post. Complete with pictures. I know. Wonders never cease.

My firstborn child, who was a baby five minutes ago, just started first grade. I wish I was kidding. I mean, LOOK AT HIM. He's like a full-blown kid. I'm beside myself. It's weird, because both times around the baby block, I did not enjoy myself. I had two extremely high maintenance, scream-y, pukey babies. But, somewhere around 3 and a half, I reached that mushy mom point where you just want time to stop. 

When you add in the fact that my brother-in-law mentioned we only have 11 more years with the big kids at home? Full blown panic attack. 

If you are the mom of a baby, toddler or young preschooler and they are wearing you slap out? I'm here to say that it gets SO much better! It does. I mean it.  I would not lie about this to you. (Of course, if you're one of the lucky ones with dreamy babies and sweet toddlers, then your heartache will only be deeper because you had longer to enjoy them!) 

Back to school kicked up some anxiety around the Hull household. Most of it originated with me. I know you're shocked. I have lived in complete denial about the start of school for weeks. But then, all of a sudden I started hearing that teachers were calling their new students and I started freaking out. Internally, of course. I was try to maintain a calm facade for the sake of the one who was actually going to be headed to school. I was just hoping for ONE of his little buddies from his class last year. Just ONE. And honestly, that little class was so amazing, I would've been thrilled with any of the boys. 

Instead, he is in a class with just one little girl he knows. Granted, if he had to choose ANY girl from his class last year, it would be her. And I agree. But it didn't make the first day any easier when he had to start all over. 

This is Drew with his new teacher, Mrs. Hall. (Do you love that little adorable photo bomber in the background??) Despite his initial disappointment, Drew has handled the start of school like a CHAMP! And the best news is, all his besties are with him on the playground. 

The best development of this new school year is that we have figured out we can walk to school! I know this makes me sound idiotic. Because how would one NOT know one could walk to school? The thing is, I knew we could physically walk to school, but I was unclear on procedures. And it was all I could do to deal with the car line without my head exploding. So, I just never looked into it. This year, several neighbors are walking, including a very good friend. We've tried it, and we love it! 

Drew loves it because he doesn't have to sit in the cafeteria during "talk and you die" time. Emily loves it because she is not strapped in her car seat for a sweet forever while we languish in the car line. And I love it because a) no car line! and b) I get in a little exercise. Currently, we are walking too and from school. We'll see if the novelty wears off, but I'm definitely going to enjoy it for now!

I've sent him off on another adventure. Only God knows what he will learn, how he will grow and what he will experience in the coming months. Every time I walk away from him, I ask God to go with him since I can't. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Ode to Summer

Well, dang. I'm totally behind once again. I have no excuse. Except all the regs. I'll spare you.

This summer has been, hands down, my favorite one in recent memory. This is not because of anything fancy or spectacular. It's pretty much because it has been the opposite of that.

As I've mentioned before, we were all barely crawling when we came to the end of May. The rat race had officially handed us our tails. We were tired. The one thing I wanted from this summer was to slow down for just a cotton pickin' minute. To rest. Maybe even relax. Summer delivered, and I think I need to thank her publicly.

First, let me just say this. For the past couple of years I've had a little camp at my house in the summer for some sweet preschool children I know. Doing this was a HUGE blessing for me. I got to hand pick the kids I had here. Which also means I got to hand pick the moms. And all of them were some of my faves! It was wonderful to be able to generate income and still spend the summer with my own kids.

But it was work. A LOT of work. Gratifying? Definitely! Exhausting? Yep!

This summer, because of my new work situation, I opted not to do summer school. My kids were super bummed. Some moms were super bummed! Ha! But I knew we needed a chance to sort of move at our own pace. And by our own pace, I mean, slow.

So that's what we did. I was not a very good friend this summer. I did not plan as many play dates as I thought I might. I didn't initiate very often. But I did rest. And I did relax.

More people have told me that I look "rested" in the past few weeks than in my entire life combined. I think this is a nice way of saying, "Wow. You are starting to look less and less like someone who's been dragged behind a bus." Because that's how I've spent the last two years looking. For real.

We spent time at the library. We had dinner at the pool. We visited some fun places around town. We saw friends. We saw movies. We got free lunch.

We made a list at the beginning of the summer of things we wanted to do. Tonight I moved it to the "Trash" on my desktop. At first, I was going to open it and read up on what we forgot or never got around to. Then, I decided I wasn't going to do that. I think everything shook out just the way it was supposed to. No frills. No fuss.

Here's to you summer! You've been a true friend!

Leaving Knox-Vegas

**Uh. Yeah. I started this post two weeks ago. Super. So I'm posting it. And then another new one. I'm one awesome blogger.

One of the main things on our summer to-do list was "Get to Knoxville as much as possible." The reason for this is simple-COUSINS! One of the biggest blessings in my life is my siblings and then in turn, their children. As I've mentioned once, or a hundred times, I am beyond blessed to have one sister with me here. Her kids are like my kids. In fact, Van looked at me just yesterday and said, "You're almost my mom." Yes, little buddy, I am. And I couldn't be happier about it!

Yesterday, we returned from our second trip to Knoxville. We went to celebrate my oldest nephew's birthday. Weston is 7. SEVEN. He has no front teeth and he's almost as tall as me already. And he's SEVEN. I can't even deal. It is not only hard for me to accept that he is seven, I also have to come to terms with the fact that my girl Lyla will be seven soon. And shortly after that? I can't even handle it a little bit.

The party was an absolute blast and so cute-baseball theme. You should have seen the adorable decorations made especially by Nana. I would love to show you a picture. Only, I didn't take a single one. My favorite feature was the Big League Chew my kids got to bring home. I may have had some. Twice. Whatever.

It just makes my heart so happy to see my kids playing with all their cousins. And that doesn't even cover the good it does my soul to be with my people: my sisters, my brother and my dad. And yes, being there, and together makes the ache of missing Mom burn a little hotter. But there is also nothing better for the ache than being able to be together and talk about her. My sister has a beautiful picture of Mom in her kitchen. We have gotten to the place where we can have some humor about the picture. For example, I needed to work on the little table where her picture sits. So I moved her! I said I didn't think she'd mind because I was working on church work, after all!

I don't know about you, but there is nothing better than my tribe. I do hope you have one. They all look a little different. And, in fact, your tribe may change over the years. But there is nothing more comforting than the people who hold you close, call you out, hug you tight, listen to you rant, pray for you and love you no matter what, for real.