I could be a nerd when it comes to Halloween. Okay, I'm definitely a nerd when it comes to Halloween. Growing up in Ohio, we had more fun Trick-or-Treating than we knew what to do with and it's always fun to share the experience with our kids here in North Carolina.
We're excited for the night to arrive and hope you and yours have a very HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!
Adam's parents came from San Antonio, Texas for a fun Fall Carolina visit. It was nice to enjoy family time in the beautiful Autumn days...
Ahhhhhh, the State Fair. Horribly delicious food, exciting rides and goldfish. Yes, the infamous goldfish Ping-Pong toss. If you're unfamiliar with this game, it's the most infuriating idea of tossing a ping-pong ball into one of a billion little glass bowls, only to taunt your kids into wanting to win a losing battle. Not by getting the ball into the bowl, no, but rather by "winning" the end result...a goldfish.
You can explain to your kids until you're blue in the face how the fish probably won't make it through the car ride home, but this will be lost on them as their focused hand becomes determined to bring home a swimmy best friend.
This year, the North Carolina State Fair is upon us and for whatever reason, it was the year of the goldfish. Besides that fact, it was the most enjoyable time with more food and fun than we could shake a fish stick at...
The car ride home consisted of cotton candy discussions regarding what to name our new found friend. While getting a tank at the pet store, it was decided to give the newly deemed, "Pumpkin" a swim mate and name him/her "Pie".
All we could do next was sit and wait. My husband decided the fish would either last less than 24 hours, or with our luck...10 years.
24 hours it was. Our little girl came running in from school to check on Pumpkin and Pie only to turn in confusion. "He's not swimming, mom..." No, he definitely wasn't. The late, great, orange Pumpkin is now in State Fair fishy heaven, leaving us with Pie, the confused and wandering solo goldfish.
We're having a fish funeral tonight, all are welcome - and I can only hope Pumpkin had a good life while it lasted. I hope even more that next year, we'll walk - nay - run past the ping-pong game of misery, a little wiser and with a tiny piece of our hearts in loving memory for our all too temporary, State Fair fish.
Rest in Peace, Pumpkin. You were a good fish. All 24 hours of you.
Dear Mrs. Glenn,
They say when you throw a stone into the water of life, you never know how many ripples you create. I'd be honored to inform you of one of yours...
You don't know me, but at my college graduation you were our commencement speaker. I was young and ready to take on the world, but when I listened to your story of growing up with a paralyzing grip with the struggles of stuttering, something stirred inside.
You spoke of feeling unable to speak to unknown listeners and how once even news teams and the vice president sat outside your front door, causing panic between yourself and the thought of speaking out loud.
You continued to describe how the effects of your stutter controlled countless elements of your life, until one day you learned of an intense program that changed everything. You explained how you worked with speech therapists, relearning elements even down to the letter.
Your beautifully eloquent speech was met with rounds of applause, but for me there was more. A switch had turned on and I couldn't wait to gather my diploma, hug my family and friends and share the good news.
"That's what I'm going to do." I beamed to my bewildered parents. I hadn't taken one class in the field and had no idea how intense the road would be to get there, after completing the drudgery of graduate school, I never looked back.
You were a great influence with a powerful message that has been such a part of my journey...and I've been fortunate to work with people and patients in situations at times that would seem to be unfathomable. I've held hands and listened to unimaginable stories from people varying from World War II concentration camp survivors to victims who lived from within the collapsed twin towers on 9/11.
One of my most memorable experiences was working with an elderly man, who after following a stroke was unable to speak. His receptive language was intact so he was able to comprehend, however it was devastating to watch his family wish for words in his ending days. Handing him a notebook and pen, he weakly wrote his final message, "God is good", in which his family held onto both physically and emotionally.
The speech you gave and the examples you provided stayed with me throughout. It's been years now, but my heart was touched yet again by a child just last week. He's ten and he stutters. He explained how much it bothers him and how he sometimes doesn't want to talk to his friends because he's afraid of how it will come out. You immediately came to mind and I made it my mission to work with him, hoping to have one fraction of the impact on his life as you've had on mine.
So thank you, Mrs. Glenn. Thank you for your words, your wisdom and your willingness to share your journey. I know you've touched the lives of countless others and I'm sure each and everyone one of them share my sentiment. You are a shining light who has opened the eyes of many, in ways you may never fully comprehend...and the stone you've thrown into these waters of life...will forever have ripples beyond compare.
It would've been impossible not to appreciate the path and awe of the solar eclipse we had - even for a non-science person like myself.
Our kids go to an amazing school that not only made sure everyone had the proper glasses, they pulled the entire middle and high schools out to observe and celebrate the natural wonder of it all.
Once we began to feel the air cool, the sky darken and shadows change before our very eyes, we knew it was truly something to behold.
Later in the day, I heard someone on the news say, "It was such a big event, it was like Woodstock...for nerds" making me laugh at the thought, then smile.
Even though memories of petri dishes and microscopes from high school still make my head want to spin, I was beyond glad to witness the eclipse with family and friends...and can only hope to one day have the chance to do it all over again.
To my Dearest, Darling Children,
You stink. I don't mean, a little bit that's cute and sweaty like in the summertime...I mean...you stank.
You reek of smells not humanly possible, making me wonder everyday how one could be so fortunate as to pick you up from sports and practice in this southern heat.
People often warned me of the time you'd get older and emit scents of such fragrant bouquets. Naively, I didn't believe it couldn't happen to you. Kissing the tops of your heads, smelling the deliciousness through your hair after bath time wouldn't allow such thoughts.
Oh, but how very, very wrong I was.
Now, when you pile in the car, it takes a minute to catch my breath and speak. Birds fly away as we travel and small animals fall dead, stopped in their tracks.
I'm quite convinced at this point in the season, our car glows a pretty shade of nuclear green, making all the neighbors jealous.
So, my darling children, now that you're older, I think it's time. I've pondered long and hard on this, and since the changes in your body and the paint peeling from our walls indicates you're ready, it's my job - nay - my responsibility as a human being to let you in on one of life's greatest secrets.
In our house, there's a place you've never seen. It's a magical place with a portal, taking bad things in and mystically changing them into good. Even the worst of your attire that seems to have crawled out from under the toilet seat of a truck stop, has no power against this place...and I can't wait to show it to you.
The simplicity of this room will amaze you and believe it or not, you're welcome to it every. single. time. you come home from games or practice. All you have to do is carefully approach, open the door to the other side, put your filthy, wretched items in, then simply pour a liquid of wonder in. It's a beautiful shade of blue I've once heard comes from the happy tears of unicorns.
So, my dearest darlings, it's a new day. I feel my job here is complete and the universe might once again rejoice in the decreased levels of toxicity changing the makeup of the first three layers of the atmosphere.
I love you. Take a shower. XO, Mom
"I can't believe you're doing this."
I think those were the parting words from my husband as I loaded all four kids in the car.
He knows me. He knows I don't do well without him...quite literally. My whole life has been wrapped in countless hours of wandering lost with absolutely zero sense of direction.
A perfect example of this came when our son had his class trip to a strawberry patch and I somehow ended up at the airport instead.
The airport. Not even kidding.
That's when you know you have problems.
But this summer, this summer would be different. It was the first summer in fact, I've had in a long time. My new job in the schools has allowed me the sweet, sweet freedom of summer vacation and I could kick myself for not doing this years ago.
Gathering our things, I was on a mission to have the best Griswold family vacation of all times, even if it meant going it alone. Adam couldn't take time off from work, so who knew where I'd end up driving the kids by myself.
What I did know, is we had a full tank of gas, snacks in the car and a destination to get back to my home in Ohio for a visit with family and friends.
Believe it or not, we only got lost a little and had a few minor meltdowns along the way, but all in all, the spirit of adventure guided us and the destination of spending time with the best of friends and family was beyond a measurable success.
Our summer is winding down now and we're all home in one piece. We were able to grab Adam on the weekends and shoot to NYC, D.C. and the beach, which was the icing on the traveling cake.
There's a feeling like no other when you do something you're afraid to try. It comes to you not only in the attempt, but also in the success of accomplishing what you never thought possible.
Throwing four kids in a car by myself and driving aimlessly around the eastern part of America would be no big deal to some, but for me, (who was absolutely sure we'd end up in Oshkosh, Wisconsin) it was a very big deal. So big I can't wait until next summer to see what fun we can get into again.
THANK YOU to our Ohio peeps for making it the Greatest. Summer. Ever. We Miss and Love You Already and can't wait to see you again!!! Road Trip 2018!
It all started with a boat ride. The year was 2007 and I was 37 weeks pregnant in July when we set off to see fireworks over the water.
Why would I get in a boat being that far along? Probably because I was a moron, but at the time, I imagine it was because I didn't want to miss the experience with our two little boys. We weren't supposed to go fast, anyway.
What's the saying about the best laid plans?
When a boat sped across in front of us, sending us up and over their wake, I braced myself for a bumpy landing but couldn't imagine the sharp pain that incurred when we hit. Grabbing under my stomach, I shot a look to my husband telling him something was wrong. We landed much harder than we'd expected and being my third pregnancy, I'd never experienced pain like that before.
Heading to the doctor, what began as relief to hear the baby's heartbeat was regular, quickly turned to concern once the doctor noticed it had no fluctuation...no speeding up, slowing down...in fact, the doctor couldn't find much movement from him at all.
In what seemed as one swift jerk, everything began to spin. We were heading to the hospital with our two little boys in tow, hoping and praying for the safety of our third.
"If we get him out now, he should be just fine. He's 37 weeks now, so..." I lost track of anything else being said. I wanted to refute and stop everything, everyone. We weren't ready. Our two older boys were both born a week late, so we were still supposed to have four more weeks until our third baby. My head refused to process why everyone was scrambling to get us in for a C-section.
The minute my parents arrived, they whisked the boys away and a nurse with compassionate eyes held out a set of scrubs for my husband. She'd done this before. All the people who had gone through before us and who'd follow after, came through her in one single glance.
In what was the fastest length of eternity of our entire lives, hearing his cry was sweeter than any sound on earth. I'll never forget how tiny he was. Literally almost half the size of his brother's birthweight who both came in at nearly ten pounds. Preston's tiny fingers clenched as his feet stretched then tucked in. The nurses had him cleaned and swaddled in no time for Adam to gently introduce us to each other with soft kisses and tears.
It wasn't until they whisked him away, did we wonder what was wrong. Being our third time around, we questioned why we weren't getting to keep him. Adam followed, so I felt some relief knowing he was with him while I impatiently waited to get stitched back together.
The hours that followed were unbearable. They wouldn't let us see him. They had taken him to the NICU - Neonatal Intensive Care Unit - to run tests to determine if something was wrong. They said they felt his lungs weren't fully developed so it was difficult for him to breathe on his own - so Adam and I waited second by second to hear any news.
Adam circled back and forth between my bed and the window of the NICU, where he caught only glimpses of Preston's tiny fist off the side of an examining table while staff hovered over.
Falling to his knees, Adam begged God to keep his son alive while offering his life instead. We wept, we prayed. In what seemed like hours, a nurse arrived, stating we could enter the NICU to see our baby. She informed us he was stable and breathing with assistance until his lungs had a chance to fully develop.
Somehow, he was even more tiny in that bed. Monitors and cords all around. He wore only a diaper, so I asked for a blanket, anything to keep him warm.
"He's fine, hon. He's under a warmer, so don't worry."
Everywhere we turned, there were other sweet babies, monitors, wires, impossibly tiny fingers and toes. It felt both hopeless and miraculous at the same time.
After a few days, it was time for us to go...without him. I never thought what that might feel like. To go through the automatic doors carrying flowers and balloons while completely empty handed.
I wept the entire time, wanting to go back to be with him. He was days old and we were leaving him there, going against every natural instinct. I became in awe of the families who endured this for weeks and months.
His lungs continued to strengthen and his body gained as much weight as his spirit gained will. We were able to take him home and have been thankful ever since.
I'll never forget what one of the nurses said when we were leaving, "These are the fighters. You wait and see, they're strong from the minute they enter this world and they come out swinging."
She couldn't have been more right. It's been ten years and he's the toughest kid. It'd be so great one day to take him back to the hospital to thank them for all they did. The people who devote their lives to take care of those babies are in a league all their own. We are one story in a countless number who they care for, love, and protect each day.
Ten years later, we took the same boat ride. This time, Preston was with his two big brothers and now little sister, watching fireworks over the water making it impossible not to smile as their eyes lit under the sky.
Time continues to go faster than we can imagine, but we'll never forget that day and have been forever thankful, every second since.
Happy 10th Birthday, Preston. We Love You!
Ahhhhhhh, summertime. Lazy days of sun and fun while your kids seem to forget every. single. thing. they've learned in school.
If you're anything like I am and absolutely love math, (ahem) you struggle with ways to keep your little ones up to par in the wonderful world of arithmetic while they splash their days away.
Have we got a treat for you.
There's an app called, "Zap Zap Math" your kids are going to love. It's bright, colorful and easy to use so it's truly a fun way for your children to learn - A far cry from the days of car rides with flashcards - to say the least.
Once our eight and nine year olds tried it, they were instantly hooked, making us happy they were learning, rather than simply playing meaningless games.
So go outside and play, have the best summer ever...but when it's time for your kids to brush up on those fabulous math skills...give this app a try. You'll be glad you did.
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Adam and Bea live in North Carolina with their three boys and a girl, Christian 14, Ethan 12, Preston 10 and Lauren Elizabeth 8 years old.