Thursday, April 11, 2013


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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Tech Week

I woke up this morning with a purpose. I had to get Nicholas up and off to the ACT exam. Exhausted, I walked downstairs to fix a cup of coffee, and there was a random kid on my couch. OK not so random. It was one of Christian's best friends, and Christian was on the love seat. The first thing I thought was "I guess he didn't go back to Lincoln." the second "What's wrong with the perfectly good bed in his room?" the final "I love waking up and finding my son and random teenagers on my couch." I miss him, I miss his friends, and I dread Nicholas leaving. After a long and frustrating week, I was tired and in a very happy place. Let's go back to Monday.

Monday was  the beginning of tech week for the Fall play. Frankenstein. I'm not going to lie that I was a little disappointed in the play selection. I know it's October 26th, and Halloween is next week, but I was seriously worried it would be boring. However, the truth is that I always feel this way, and I'm always proven wrong (guess it's a good thing I don't get to pick the plays). Anyway, Monday the kids were out of school. They had come off of a weird week previously where they only went to school Tuesday and Thursday, so everyone was well rested and ready to go for tech week.

Tuesday came, and so did work, school and rehearsal. Unfortunately I had to work Tuesday and Wednesday, and Al had 12 hour shifts starting Monday which went through Sunday. Needless to say, when you throw in tech week, Tuesday was a rough day. Al had to leave at 5:30 am, I had to leave at 5:50 am, and Nicholas had to leave at 7:00 am. Around here, days like that are hell, because everyone is getting in late, nothing is getting done around the house, dinner is a scramble, and everyone just wants to go to bed. Al and I managed to get to bed by 10 pm, but Nicholas wasn't home yet. He was working on lights, didn't roll in until 11 pm, and he still needed to do his homework. I was tired, stressed, and a little angry. I was just wishing for the play to be over and for all of us to get some rest. I felt so bad for Nicholas that, in solidarity, I made the decision to keep the same hours as him for the week  (yep I forgot I'm not 17).

The rest of the week went by in pretty much the same way: long nights, busy schedules, cheap take-out, early mornings, and lots of coffee. As promised, I stuck to Nicholas' sleeping schedule, and all the while I was ready for the next week. I was exhausted. I was rushing around and wishing for the end of tech week.

Friday came, and my whole outlook changed. First, Nicholas and I got and extra hour of sleep because he had an 8:45 am doctor's appointment. On the way back to the school, we stopped and picked up his new glasses, and then we did something very dramatic...WE GOT NICHOLAS' HEAD SHAVED! Yep. As I said, they were doing Frankenstein, and he was the monster, and the bald cap just wasn't working. Dedicated as he is, Nicholas took one for the team, and left his luscious flowing locks (as he calls them) on the floor of Sports Cuts. Nicholas went back to school, freaked everyone out (a few teachers actually screamed when they saw him) and finished the school day. At 3:30 pm, it was time to rush home, grab his stuff, and get back to school by 4 pm for make-up. He said the make-up took 3 hrs to get on, and let me just tell you, the head shave was absolutely the right decision. His make-up looked AMAZING! It was so much more realistic than the cap.

Anyway, the show and the kids proved me wrong. Nicholas actually made me cry, and he never even uttered one word (unless "urrgh" counts as a word). After the show everyone raved about his make-up and his bald head. We hadn't told anyone outside of school (even Al) that he had shaved his head. It was a complete surprise. Also, I don't know who did his make-up, but they did a spectacular job. During photos, little kids were too afraid to even get their photo with him. The show was so much fun, and it was at this point that I realized what I had been wishing away.

I stood in that auditorium and I couldn't help but notice how few of the kids I even knew. It used to be that I was scrambling just to get photos of everyone I knew. I was excited to see the shows, watch how much each of them had grown as performers, and let all of them know what a great job they had done. However, almost everyone we knew has graduated. After Nicholas graduates, I only will know about 5 of the kids who remain in drama/choir/band. It's sad really.

Play nights also used to be the "get-together" nights for the parents. We all came together in support of our kids and pretty much stood around visiting until the auditorium lights went down. Some friends were there last night, but not all. I miss seeing them ALL. It's the same way everywhere we go. Our whole life has pretty much revolved around the kids' activities, and now we spend more and more time alone. Some of my friends are already empty-nesters, and some have their last child heading out the door in the next year or two. Most of us are pretty much asking ourselves the same question "What do we do now?" Many of us have gradually added activities which do not revolve around the kids, but it isn't the same.

In January Al and I went on a cruise alone. We were trying to establish a new chapter in our life. The trip was wonderful, and amazing, and we had a great time together. However, as much fun as I had, I couldn't help but think about how much fun it would be if we all went. Many times we would comment on how much the kids would love what we were doing or the country we were visiting. We enjoyed our time together, but we LOVE spending time with our kids. Our kids are amazing, and creative, and talented, and so freaking funny. I can't help but miss them. I wish I had a week off with nothing to do but spend time with my family.

Monday I was wishing for it to be over, and today I realized it's almost over. I know the days are long, and tiring, and sometimes trying. I know that every day won't produce an epiphany about how much I appreciate my kids. I know that the rest of the school year will bring more sleepless nights, early mornings, and endless coffee consumption. I know that raising kids hasn't always been easy or fun, but it was my job. Now, as I head into retirement, I can't help but wonder how it went by so quickly, and what's next?

Nicholas and his luscious flowing locks!
Almost gone.
With the bald cap
With the bald head 

Friday, September 7, 2012

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream!

Last night I had the strangest dream...It seems like I've been saying that a lot lately. For the past couple of years I have been having a hard time sleeping. I've had a hard time falling asleep and then I'd toss and turn and wake up every hour. Obviously there wasn't a lot of dreaming going on. I missed that. I missed those dreams. I have a history of having vivid and realistic not just dreams, epics. I would start a dream and it would toss and tumble and turn and evolve into different dreams throughout the night. When I woke up I felt refreshed and entertained, as if I had just finished a great movie or novel. Anyway, they're finally back. Thanks to regular nightly administration of Melatonin, my colorful night time adventures are back on track.

The "Real" Jay
Last night I dreamed I was being over taken by aquarium animals. I think it all began with me checking on our current tortoise Jay. Jay is real, and is actually Christian's tortoise, but he got evicted from the dorm early last year, so Grandma got a tortoise...which Logan loves by the way. Anyway, in my dream I was checking on Jay and unpacking boxes from our recent move (7 years ago). I pulled another aquarium out of the box that had been packed up from the previous house. I must stop here and tell you I was actually unpacking in the previous house, so the rest of this dream took place in our old house in Georgia. Anyway, in the other aquarium was a dead turtle and a dead little alligator????? I know. I guess I packed them up for the move and forgot all about them. They looked pretty good for being dead 7 years, so for some reason I just filled their aquarium up with water, and VOILA 30 minutes later I had a baby alligator and a turtle that had quadrupled in size (the turtle not the alligator thank God).

Now that I had been blessed with freeze-dried-insta-pets, aquariums and animals started showing up all over the house. I had one with an alligator which a bird flew into and was being devoured, one with hamsters who were eating each other, and one with tiny red, purple, and blue baby elephants, which I worried weren't getting enough nutrition. I could have fed them the hamsters but I think they were vegetarians. Anyway, there were aquariums and animals everywhere.

I believe in the significance of dreams. So what does this crazy dream mean? In my experience I have learned that I incorporate the encounters of the day, or some of my current worries, into my dreams. I use them to sort and file away the things I have done, so as not to carry them around with me I guess. So why this dream? Am I feeling angst about having to care for so many animals or people? Am I worried about Jay, or the alligator and elephant populations? Has there been too much talk of Alabama football in my house? Am I repressing anger about all of the animals that the kids have left behind? I have no idea. I think I was just thinking about Jay when I went to sleep, wondering if he got fed, and God only knows where the alligators came from. I do think there has been WAY too much attention to Alabama football in this house, but since the season just started, that's not going to change unless I kick Big Al out of bed...hey, maybe he bought the miniature elephants...anyway, I'm just glad I have my dreams back. I love my dreams. I love my entertainment, but most of all, I love my sleep. Have a great day everyone.

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Cousin, My Friend

The event that really made me determined to get my blog back on track, was the recent death of my cousin Buddy. Most of you that know me know that on June 21st, my 37 year old cousin Buddy Hopkins was hit and killed while he was out jogging in his neighborhood. Many of you also know that the driver was a 40 year old man, many miles from his own home, who was high or in some sort of altered state at the time. After he hit Buddy, he left the scene, dropped his car off at a body shop, and stated that he had hit a dog. Luckily the body shop was suspicious and called the police. The police began investigating the owner, and less than a week after killing Buddy, the man killed himself. Two families are now living with devastating loss.

My Uncle Gary (Buddy's father) and his family lived in Huntsville, AL when Buddy was born, and we lived in Tuscaloosa. My mom's family is very spread out, and all of her sisters and brother have lived their adult lives in different parts of the country (at some points the world). Uncle Gary and his family (and later Buddy himself) moved around some, and after I was married, I did too. Somehow, Buddy and I ended up in the same location (or close) 3 different times in our lives. The first time was when we were both very young, and they lived in Huntsville. Buddy and his sisters were born in Huntsville and we would drive up from Tuscaloosa to visit. The second time we lived near each other was when they moved to Tuscaloosa from Saudi Arabia. Uncle Gary had been teaching Electrical Engineering at a University in Saudi Arabia (I think in Riyadh) and when they moved back to the states, he taught at the University of Alabama. Buddy and his sisters were in grade school and I was in high school, so I was their baby sitter. The third, the last, and the most memorable time was when Buddy and his family moved to Omaha for 2 years in 2006. Buddy worked for Omaha based Kiewit, and they transferred him here temporarily.

Buddy was a great guy. He was married with 4 young children, and was a loving father and husband. Buddy was my cousin, but he was also my friend. He was 7 years younger than me so I remember when he was a baby. However, most of my memories of Buddy are from the time we spent together as adults with our families in Nebraska. These are the times that I will cherish the most.

I could write all day about Buddy. Buddy was loyal, and loving, and he had a way with each of his kids. He was quiet, but had a very distinct sense of humor, and it popped up when you least expected it. He could be a real smart alec, but he was never rude or inconsiderate. He always made me laugh. My husband Al and Buddy got along especially well. They could sit together for hours and watch Alabama (or any team) play football, or watch some other type of sporting event or race, and be perfectly content. After Buddy moved away, he and Al would text each other during Alabama games. The phone lines were especially busy during the last 2 National Championships in which Alabama played...and won!

I think one thing that clicked so well with Al and Buddy was their idea of having a good time. Fun always included their families. A good time was not a night out at the bar with the guys; it was hanging out playing Wii, or going out to dinner (as a very large group). We spent most of our time together in restaurants, basements, living rooms, and dining rooms, at tables, or on couches, while kids ran around and played on trampolines, or computers, or tortured the Chihuahua. Our life and our fun was simple, and that is the way everyone liked it.

Many things went through my life, my head, and my heart when Buddy was killed. First, was sheer pain. It physically hurt when my mom told me he had been killed. Unfortunately I was also at work, so it was hard to even get through the rest of the day. I was in tears throughout the day, and could barely function. My very understanding manager was amazing, but I still don't know how I got through those 9 hours.

After the shock, I prepared for the trip to Ft. Worth to attend Buddy's funeral. I felt an overwhelming sense of grief, and I felt as though I needed to gather all 3 of my children and my grandson near me. This was somewhat difficult because Christian was in summer school, and he could not leave Lincoln. Logan was at his other Grandmother's house in Kansas City. Al, Alyssa, Nicholas, and I traveled to KC to pick up Logan and then we continued to Ft. Worth together. I almost couldn't bear the pain of leaving Christian behind. I was irrationally fearfu, and I almost pulled him out of his summer class. In the end I realized that this would cause irreparable harm to his college schedule. Still, leaving him behind was difficult because I wanted him near me, and I knew that he wanted to be able to attend Buddy's funeral.

In Ft. Worth, we were met with my mom's entire family. Everyone was grieving and still in shock that Buddy was gone. I was very sad and concerned for Buddy's wife Heather, and her 4 children, but as a mother, I just wanted to get to my Aunt Rosemary. I couldn't imagine the pain she was going through, and I needed to let her know how much I loved her. At the funeral home, however, the first person I met was my Uncle Gary. In the end it was his face, and his pain that hit me the hardest. I don't know how to explain it. Maybe it is because a woman's pain is understandable. Everyone knows a mom and a wife are going to be sad beyond belief, and that it will be visible. However, a man's pain, a Father's sadness, it just hits you so hard and cuts you so deep. The look in my Uncle Gary's eyes is one that I'll never forget. The sadness of losing his only son, his youngest child, his little boy whom he named after himself but called "Buddy" because he was his little buddy! I almost couldn't stand. I felt as if my knees would collapse as I hugged him, and all I could say was "I'm sorry". What words can be said that will ever ease that pain?

Seeing Heather, my cousins Melissa, and Cassie, and finally my Aunt Rosemary was so very difficult. What can you say or do that will ever erase or even relieve the suffering that has been brought upon them? When someone dies, no one has a monopoly on sorrow. Our whole family was in pain. Each member feelt the loss in a very different way, and there was now a hole so unique that no one could ever fill it. That was the testament to the man Buddy was: special, unique, and irreplaceable.

Buddy's death was also a testament to both the good and bad in humanity. Something that started out with someone doing something irresponsible and incomprehensible turned into something very loving and beautiful. A lot has happened in 2 months. Buddy's company Kiewit, and Heather's friends and neighbors, have rallied together to support her and the kids through this terrible time. There have been fundraisers and volunteers who have done amazing things. Events nothing short of miracles have occurred, and a community has come together in a way which may change everyone in it. For me, Buddy has been on my mind every day.

 I don't mean to minimize or bypass Heather or Uncle Gary and Aunt Rosemary's stories in all of this. I only feel that their stories are just that; theirs. They belong to them and should be told by them. This is mine, and this is my way of expressing what Buddy meant to me. This is my way of saying how much I'll miss that "Roll Tide" text this month, or how much I missed having dinner with him this summer when he should have been in Omaha for the Kiewit meeting. This is me knowing that he and his family will never get transferred back to Omaha, and that we will never have another birthday, Thanksgiving, or family reunion with him.

I think of Buddy's wife and children a lot. I think of Heather learning how to be a single mother. I think of Rachel acting as a role model for her brother and sisters. I think of Kimbo trying to keep everything in order. I think of Natalie and her free spirit, and I think of Garrison who lost his compass. I mourn for them and their heavy loss. I mourn for my Aunt Rosemary who is heartbroken beyond repair, and I mourn for Uncle Gary who is devastated. However, Uncle Gary remains the epicenter for everyone in his family. He is a true patriarch, and is a fine example which I believe Buddy was emulating.

Through it all, I wake up every morning and go to bed every night with the certainty of 2 things. First, I miss my cousin, and I wish that we had had more time to spend together. Since I can't change that, I am trying to cherish each and every moment I have with my own family. You never know how much time you have with anyone, so I don't want to waste it. Second, there is no certainty in life, and bad things happen when you least expect it. I have lived my whole life in fear, but it has never done me any good. For all of the things that I try to protect against, the least expected always seems to pop up out of nowhere and slap me in the face.

Because I have so much fear, I have a lot of self imposed restrictions. The day Buddy died, I decided to try and live my life the way he did; responsibly, but not fearfully. He loved life, and he did things he never should have been able to do (like jogging). He traveled a lot for work, and I remember talking to him one day about how afraid I was of flying and he told me that if it was our time to go, we had no control over it. I loved that about him. He wasn't simple minded (he was very smart) but unlike most intelligent people, he looked at life with a simplicity and clarity that most of us take a lifetime to achieve. Maybe that is why he went home so early. Maybe he had life figured out. I just wish he'd have been around longer to educate the rest of us.

I miss you Buddy!

Well Here I Am Again...

Yep, it's been over 2 years since I wrote anything, and yep, I suck. It isn't like there is'nt anything going on, or that my life is boring, oh no. It just seems that everytime I sit down at the computer, I get sidetracked with bills, and schedules, and everything else that takes up my time. Anyway, I think most people who care about what's going on in our life keep up to date with us on Facebook (because for some reason that doesn't seem to suffer no matter how busy I am) but I am going to try and be better about writing my blog. I'm not sure if anyone reads it, but it is mostly for me and the kids as a kind of public journal...and bragging rights.

I guess I need to catch up on all of the important stuff that has happened lately, but obviously, I can't do that in one sitting, so here's what I'll try. I'll try to reminisce about one important event (or child) per post, and I'll try to bring everything up to date. If you already know the goings on, then you can keep on going, but for me, I'll just do a little back tracking and see where that gets me :-)

Every time I open my blog to check other people's blogs, I am faced with a 2 year old picture of Alyssa and Logan (I notice the changes in him the most). Right below that very short post is a 2 year old picture of Christian from his Junior Prom, and that really makes me sit up and take note of how outdated my blog is. Christian is now a Sophomore in college, and Logan is almost 4. All of my kids have done so much over the past 2 years. I have been present, recorded it with my camera (and some video), and I've loved almost evry miute of it, but I didn't put down in words (short of a Facebook status) how I feel about the times whice are a passing. So I'll rip off the Band-Aid and start with the hardest post I hope to ever write, and go from there. Comment or don't, it's up to you. Again, I do this for myself, but I'd love to know what you think.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Alyssa

Every mother-daughter relationship is complex. First you dress them up like dolls, then you're fighting over the way they dress for school. Raising a daughter means learning to let go a little at a time. That way, by the time they are ready to leave the nest, they have all the tools they need to become a strong and responsible woman.

I haven't been perfect, and sometimes I like to hold on a little tighter than I should, but I am proud of the daughter I have raised. You are a beautiful and smart woman, and a wonderful mother to Logan. I love you baby girl. Happy 22nd birthday.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Happy 17th Birthday Christian

I could post a lot of pictures
I could write a lot of platitudes
I could boast about how talented you are
I could try to explain how funny you are
I could tell everyone how proud I am of the young man you are
I could paint my vision of the extraordinary man you will become

But I really just want to tell you how much I love you and how happy I am to be your mom.

Happy Birthday Son