Weekly Column: How will you celebrate?

©Stephenie Freeman

Next year will be my tenth wedding anniversary. I guess I shouldn’t say “my” anniversary since it takes two people to actually have an anniversary, but I often refer it as “my” wedding since I did all of the planning. The Golfer, like most grooms, didn’t do much in the way of planning our big day. All he did was show up and look cute which was enough.

And much like ten years ago, I now find myself once again doing all of the planning. To mark this special occasion, we have decided to reward ourselves with a trip somewhere fun and fabulous. It’s been ten years and we still like each other. That’s something definitely worth celebrating.

I think I have spent as much time planning our anniversary vacation as I did our wedding. Just like our wedding, I want this trip to be perfect, memorable, and special with no expense being spared. Unlike our wedding, this time it’s on our dime, not my father’s.

(He’s reading this and smiling right about now.)

It was a tough call at first—to take the children or not to take the children. There were lots of great travel ideas discussed that involved leaving the children at home with the dogs to fend for themselves. In the end, we decided we better include them. Our anniversary is about the two of us, but celebrating our marriage also meant celebrating the family that we’ve created.

After a little research, we decided to take a cruise, specifically a Disney Cruise. You might think I chose this for the children, but in all honesty, I chose this for me. The kids just lucked out.

We are Disney people; always have been. I was blessed to have grandparents who took me to Disneyland almost every summer growing up. My grandfather, a stoic and serious man, was never happier than when he was sitting in the little boast on the ride “It’s a Small World.”

I was with the Golfer the first time he ever visited Disneyland. We were in our early twenties at the time, but the way his face lit up the first time he saw Mickey, Goofy, and Pluto, you’d swear he was still a 5-year-old little boy.

We see the movies, visit the theme parks, and buy the merchandise— our love affair with the Mouse runs deep. There seems to be an indescribable force that draws me to anything Disney. I guess they don’t call it “Disney Magic” for nothing.

The first time I saw each of my boys in a pair of Mickey ears, I cried. I cried the first time I watched my 1-year-old kiss Goofy on the nose. There is no doubt that I will cry as we sail away on our Disney Cruise. A large box of Kleenex is on the top of my “to-pack” list.

I realize that behind all of the magic lies a huge corporate conglomerate. I know that Mickey is all about making money. Goodness knows I have given him plenty of mine. But for whatever reason, for me the magic seems to overshadow the money. Mickey tugs on my heart strings just as much as my purse strings.

So the planning continues. I want to ensure that we don’t miss one moment of the magic. We’re waiting to surprise the boys with the news of our special trip on Christmas morning. There’s no question that my children will jump up and down and scream and yell with excitement. They’ll be copying off of me.

My weekend.

The Golfer calls from out-of-town.

"What did I do this weekend? Oh, a whole lot of nothing really."

  • made homemade waffles and turkey bacon
  • fed the dogs
  • started the laundry
  • watched Game Day on ESPN
  • watched football
  • did a little magazine reading catch-up
  • watched more football
  • helped build a few Legos
  • folded laundry
  • scooped poop
  • cheered for the Sooners
  • worked on family photo albums
  • folded more laundry
  • cheered that USC got beat
  • watered the plants
  • did a little secret Disney research
  • watched more football
  • cheered for the Bruins
  • slept
  • read the Sunday paper
  • more Disney research on eBay
  • balanced the checkbook
  • enjoyed a few Halloween Oreos
  • posted a blog
  • watched "Drop Dead Diva"
  • watched "Flipping Out"
  • watched "Real Housewives of Atlanta"
  • let the kids make their own dinner--Cheerios and yogurt
  • had an in depth discussion with the Cheese about numbering his bodily functions
  • watched the Emmy's
  • bathed
  • slept

"Didn't do much really. How was your weekend?"

(You know when women say they are sooooo busy, they just can't tell you with what? This is what they mean.)

This is how behind I am.

Yes, I know. I haven't been blogging much. Other than quickly downloading my Weekly Column, I really haven't had time to blog much else. I've been busy with flag football and life and school and PTA room parents and planning a secret vacation on a Disney Cruise and Disney World. (To blog list: must, must, must blog about super-secret Disney vacation planning soon.)

And when you get busy with all of those sorts of things--the required things--you get behind on doing the things you actually like to do, like blogging and reading and just laying around with nothing to do.

This is how behind I am. These pics are from two weeks ago. They're from the 1st UCLA football game. These were all the pics I was able to take before the ticket taker man told me that my lens was too big. Who knew?

And then I wasn't able to take anymore pics until the game was over and we headed home to watch the OU vs. BYU game on our DVR. I joked on the way home that we were headed home to watch some "real" football. Oh...how...wrong...I...was.

I'm not sure where the "pose like a rock star" thing came from, but I'm hoping they grow out of it soon.

You gotta love the water bottle being used as a guitar. By the time we got into the car, it was being used as a drum stick. Unfortunately, his brother's head was the drum.

His father is so proud.

{He might be small, but he's not afraid.}

Weekly Column: Drama Mama

©Stephenie Freeman

If you asked me point blank, I would swear up and down, with my eyes rolling and arms waving considerably, that I am not a dramatic person. Me? A Drama Queen? Absolutely not! How could you think such a thing?

If you asked my husband, however, you would undoubtedly get a much different answer.

I will admit that there are times when I can get “overly animated” about something. I’m passionate. I feel things deeply and sometimes when you feel things deeply, those feelings regurgitate themselves in an exceedingly dramatic fashion.

Yes, I have had my fair share of drama-filled moments. But I am not a Drama Queen. I am a Drama Mama.

Motherhood is filled with drama. I am well known for throwing out phrases like, “I have nothing left to give!” or “Just take me out and shoot me!” that air on the theatrical side of the emotional spectrum. But like most mamas, these phrases usually come when I’m at the end of my rope, when I am right on the verge of either biting someone’s head off or bursting into tears or both.

Drama Mama appears only for good reason. I’ve never taken advantage of or abused my right to have a Drama Mama Moment now and then. Then again, who would dare deny me my Drama Mama Moment when all hell has broken loose?

For example, a few weeks ago the Golfer was out of town for four days, the air conditioning went out, the boys broke their toilet seat, and an unexpected trip to the vet ended up costing me five hundred bucks. Let’s just say I had a Drama Mama Moment Extraordinaire!

Near the end of August, our air conditioner broke. A part needed to be ordered and would take at least three days until it was installed. Now, unless you live in Antarctica or somewhere equally as chilly, the month of August can be miserably hot. It just turned out that where I live, on the days that I would be living without an air conditioner, there was going to be record-breaking heat.

My Facebook status declared, “Just take me out and shoot me.”

On the fifth day of no air conditioning and temperature over 100 degrees, Drama Mama finally made an appearance. I had held her off for days, pushed her away and denied her any power. But after getting the run around from the repairman and being told that it would be three more days before everything was fixed, I could no longer restrain her.

My week had consisted of things falling apart all around me and no husband to help fix them. I had replaced broken toilet seats, endured sleepless night in pools of my own sweat, and had a dog with a large cone around her neck that made her look like a mini satellite dish. I had had it.

I informed everyone on Twitter that, “I had nothing left to give.”

So I did something that I haven’t done in decades: I laid down on the floor, held my breath, and kicked my feet. I was a grown woman, 36 years young, and I was throwing a fit.

I realize how ridiculous I must have looked. My children and our two dogs stopped what they were doing to stare at me in amazement. I think my 4-year-old was actually quite impressed. It was almost as if he were looking at me and thinking, “Ahhhhh, so that’s how you do it!”

Perhaps throwing a fit wasn’t the healthiest way that I could have expressed my emotions, but it could have been so much worse. I could have screamed and yelled and thrown things, scaring the pants right off my children. Instead, I had expressed my emotions in a way that my young children could totally relate to.

And the next time that one of them decides to throw a fit, Drama Mama might just join in.

Weekly Column: Show-and-Telling Memories

©Stephenie Freeman

The Cheese started second grade this year. At Back-to-School Night, I flipped through his textbooks and listened to his teacher talk about curriculum. I quickly realized that my son would be learning more in second grade than I did in high school.

I guess that’s how it’s supposed to work. Our children are supposed to learn more than we did and learn it at a much earlier age. My son can already do double-digit math in his head, soaks up entire chapter books with ease, and has at least an hour of homework every night. By today’s educational standards, my children are going to be smarter than I ever thought of being and I’m more than okay with that.

My early elementary memories are hazy. Most of my memories of Pecan Grove are charming—idyllic. I remember the smell of the cinnamon rolls coming from the cafeteria. I remember the rope that you had to climb in P.E. for reasons unknown and getting so excited to learn how to square dance. Elementary school was pretty simple back then.

I remember that on certain Fridays we got to watch a movie in the gym, complete with small bags of popcorn. Mr. Wright, our principal, would come during the intermission and show us how to blow air into our empty popcorn bags and hold them tightly so on his command we could pop them together, making a huge ruckus in our tiny school.

Nowadays, Disney movies aren’t allowed at school unless they are connected to the curriculum and snacks are forbidden because of the childhood obesity problems. Buttery popcorn, “Pete’s Dragon”, and principals with goofy senses of humor just aren’t allowed any more.

I could go on and on about all of my elementary school memories and most of them would have nothing to do with learning. I remember how pretty I thought my second grade teacher, Mrs. Martin, was. She was tall and blond and wore glasses, but the coolest thing about Mrs. Martin was that she was missing part of her right index finger.

She told us that she had injured it while playing basketball. It never healed correctly and eventually had to have part of it removed. It was clear to all of us that Mrs. Martin was the coolest teacher in the school— a basketball beauty that lost part of a finger and had lived to tell about it.

The other thing that I remember most about second grade was Show and Tell. Today’s second graders don’t do Show and Tell. There’s simply no time when their teachers are working so hard to make sure that no child is left behind, but when I was in second grade Show and Tell was a weekly occurrence.

There was one student in my class who had the best Show and Tell even though he didn’t actually show us anything. All he did was tell us what he had eaten at his grandmother’s house over the weekend. You wouldn’t think that this would be entertaining, but the way he talked about his grandmother’s roast and mashed potatoes and gravy made us all groan with hunger and delight.

I had quite a memorable Show and Tell that year myself. My mom had brought our cat, Black Beard, to the school for me to show. About half way through my Show and Tell, Black Beard became overwhelmed by all of the love and attention and decided to use the top of one of my classmate’s desks as a litter box. Shown and Tell was never the same after that. Neither was my friend’s desk.

I know that my children will grow up to have their own special memories of elementary school. Their memories might not involve missing fingers, Show and Tell presentations, and exploding popcorn bags, but they will be special regardless. And probably a lot more educational.

Look what my husband built me!

As the big guy himself once said, "It is finished." Alleluia and Amen!

Just a little reminder of what it looked like before...

Wait for it....

And almost one month later, exactly to the day, this is what it looks like now. AND MY HUSBAND DID IT ALL BY HIMSELF!!

I obviously took these at night, because once I got the kitchen put all back together it was late. So I still need to take some pics in the daytime, but don't you love it? Didn't my husband do an amazing job? Aren't I blessed to have a husband that would work so hard during his time off to give me such a special gift?

This is now the bar area (used to be a little, useless desk and also where the microwave and oven were located.) It needs a little lamp to bring light to the area. Behind all of that glass sits my crystal which now has it's own home.

These pics just don't do his handy work justice. I wish I could all come over and if you did I would cook you dinner and you could see with your own two eyes just how fabulous my new kitchen really is.

Weekly Column: Our own little Rudy Ruettiger

©Stephenie Freeman

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: I am not an athletic person. What an understatement. I lasted one day in soccer, dropped out of gymnastics because I didn’t want to do cartwheel races, and the only time I ever made it on base in softball was when the ball actually hit me.

The Golfer is quite the different story, having played sports his entire life and even providing for our family through a career in athletics. The night after finding out that we were having a boy, the Golfer and I laid in bed, romantically discussing our future being filled with soccer practice, football games, and yes, golf lessons. Genetically, we knew the little guy had a 50/50 chance of becoming an athlete. I saw the glass half full. The Golfer tired hard not to think about the empty portion of the glass.

The Cheese started flag football practice last week. He’s a skinny little thing; his glasses slipping down his sweaty nose, the flags around his waist cinched tight. He’s what some might call “scrappy”, eager and ready, at times even growling at the teammate he’s about to come up against. Sometimes the smallest athletes are the hungriest.

My son simply wants to play football. When I pull into the practice field parking lot, the car barely comes to a full and complete stop before he’s hopping out and running full-speed toward the field. During water breaks, he runs off the field with a smile, quickly drinking his Gatorade clumsily through his mouthpiece before anxiously running back out. Every coach wants a kid like mine on his team.

Except for the fact that he has trouble catching the ball during five yard turn around drills and throws more of a wobble than a spiral. He usually fumbles the ball when it’s pitched his direction and his eyes have welled up with tears more than once.

But he’s a fast little thing, his little body and quick feet definite benefits to his team. Give him the ball and if he doesn’t drop it, he’ll run with his whole heart until he makes it into the end zone. He might not always grab that flag, but it’s certainly not from a lack of trying.

He wants it and I am the parent on the sideline wanting it for him. I cheer for the hits and the misses, holding my breath during both. It’s hard to watch his disappointment after missing a flag. It’s hard to watch as my son is overlooked for key positions, always being used as filler. It’s hard to watch other kids with more athletic style and talent.

But those things are hard on me, not him. All he cares about is being a part of the team. He’s always out there paying attention to every word the coach says, always trying his hardest, always giving it all he’s got regardless of his athletic inheritance...or lack thereof.

Then the other night while the Golfer was out of town, the Cheese asked me something.

“Mom? Will you come outside and do five yard turnarounds with me?”

My poor, sweet child had no idea what he was asking of me. Against my better judgment, I headed outside with my son. I had watched this drill at every single practice and I knew that all I had to do was throw the ball to my son when he turned around after running about five yards. Easy.

After three failed attempts (each my fault) and one Nerf ball to the face, the Cheese started to realize that asking Mom to help him practice wasn’t a very good idea.

“Mom, I’m a lot better at football than you are!”

And that, my son, is quite an understatement.