Belle Meade Civil War Experience

The classes at Belle Meade (the plantation down the road from us), are always so well done.

This time was especially fantastic. Gorgeous weather, wonderful re-enactors, fun activities.

Great explanation about women’s roles during the Civil War.

These faces.

Roll those bandages for the front lines.

This dress…

Then we learned about communication in wartime before cell phones and satellites.

Flags and telegraphs

Explaining the process.

Practice decoding the flag shorthand.

For you to try at home.

At this point, Buster and Monkey sat under a shady tree to tell each other stories while Yessa and I learned about the infantry.

The dedication of this Belle Meade gentleman; He did a fantastic job, and the kids loved it.

After the program was over, we headed down for Monkey to get her allergy shot, and I caught one last photo.

Yup, he’s taller.

Lovin’ this life.

Buster’s A Teen

He turned 13 a month ago, and it doesn’t seem to have changed him much. He’s still the same thoughtful, kind, sensitive soul he’s always been.

We had plans for a little birthday party, but Yessa started spiking a fever a day before and we had to change up our plans. As is his way, Buster wasn’t disappointed, just ready to enjoy the time with the five of us. (Four, really. Yessa watched from the couch.)

She was not alone on the couch:

They offer furry comfort.

Tough to tell, but Waffles has snuggled himself under her arm to offer warm love.

Whipping up one of the two cakes.

The vanilla cake Buster picked from Lindsay’s website, Moist and Fluffy Vanilla Cake, was amazing. We have never had a batter that was so moist and delicious. It was like mousse. Buds and I would have eaten all the batter, but that was frowned upon.

This batter…

It makes me faint from deliciousness.

He also requested a red velvet cake, which Monkey took on.

There was a plan to decorate both cakes to look like books; Yessa in charge of one, Monkey in charge of the other. Once Yessa fell ill, we gave the book cakes a raincheck and focused on enjoying our weekend time together.

We still frosted them.

Some sculpting.

Crumb coat in place.

He wanted pizza.

Cake #1

Cake #2

He’d gotten gift cards and money to choose presents from his grands and aunts and uncles, so on his official day, he had a couple presents from the family.

One gift was a set to make round ice balls. An odd gift, it might seem, but he became entranced by the set at Kel and Paula’s, so we wanted him to have his own.

Overall, it was a lovely birthday.

And with Waffles’ loving ministrations, Yessa was soon well, too.

He thinks he’s helping.

Happy Birthday, Buster. We love you, now and forever.

Build A Bridge

Today was the last meeting of the Girl Scout year for the girls’ whole troop. (Monkey will still be meeting with her sister scout and leader, but Yessa is done for the year.)

The four leaders organized a beautiful ceremony on this sunny, comfortable day.

The big pan of choco chip bars Yessa and I made to share.

The delicious spread.

Helping each other get ready.

This made me smile. So loving and helpful to each other.

Yessa will be a Junior Girl Scout for one more year, but Monkey bridged up to being a Senior Scout.

Their bridge

She’s bridged up to Senior Girl Scout.

They received their annual pins from one of their leaders:

Watching the ceremony.

We enjoyed the ceremony, shared some food and shared stories, a few final pictures, then wrapped up the year.

One last photo booth shot.

Though at times we felt like strangers wandering in a foreign land with this troop, I’m very glad Monkey wanted to give Girl Scouts another shot. It was a fantastic experience before, and though this new troop feels very different, it has brought many great things, too.

For a brief throwback, Monkey as a Daisy Scout:

Streak Breaker

Note: Post contains video. Read at mommie2zs.com for best results.

I broke a long streak of many months with at least one post when I didn’t post anything in April. Living life and not writing about it.

Buds and Monkey are still working on moving the blog over to a private server. I’m a little mentally stalled by that since I know it will mean changes to how things work and look.

Many things going on with the our crew. We’ve had trips to Vermont, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, and soon to Ohio. We’ve had birthdays and Girl Scouts, and love, laughter, and tears.

And I was the target for musket shots at a Civil War Homeschool event because I teased the Lieutenant.

Please note that Yessa shoots at me with much less alacrity than many of the other children.

A few random photos with explanatory posts to follow eventually.

A few long drives.

Beautiful day for being out and about.

All getting so big.

So tall.

Saturday workouts.

Beloved nieces come in all heights.

The new game store space.

Monkey’s smile/look intrigues me in the above picture. She’s an enigma.

These “smiles.”

That’s better.

Mission Complete

It started with the New Hampshire Compulsion. I’ve spent the past few years chewing over this challenge like a dog gnaws on a bone.

Given enough time, sometimes the dog finishes the bone.

The New Hampshire Compulsion was a long bet I made with my buddy Todd. We had ten years to finish in the top 10% in the Crossfit Open (for me) or complete a lifetime 50 marathons (for him). The Crossfit Open rolls around once per year and consists of 5 or 6 workouts. Everybody submits their scores online and there’s a global leaderboard so you can see where you stand. I’m in the 45-49 year-old age bracket. Five years ago there were 1,600 people doing the competition at this age. This year there were over 13,000 men in this age group.

Got ‘er done.

2017.1: The year started with ups and downs. The first try was disappointing, and exhausting. The worst part was burpee box jumps–throw yourself on your chest then stand up and jump over a 24″ tall box. These favor lightweight, explodey types, which I’m not. I didn’t finish the first time, finished but miscounted my reps the second time. The third try was finally solid, and valid. I was very happy to do great on third try. Improved from 79th percentile to almost 94th.

Getting pumped up for the first workout

2017.2 Every year there is a workout that includes muscle ups. This movement also favors lightweight, explodey types. Fortunately, this workout was structured so you could do considerable work before getting to my sticky wicket. For the first time ever (EVER!), I successfully made muscle ups in practice, but they never showed up in my two tries at this. All the practice and failures left me with bruised ribs that didn’t go away until the final week.

98% there for the 40th time

2017.3 This was a complex, technical movement (squat snatches) that I’ve never felt good at. But it played to literal strengths. I got through the first two parts of the workout with one second to spare, putting me in the 94th percentile. Zach and I then put in lots of practice to try again. The second try started great but then I became stuck in glue.

Can I get a golf clap?

2017.4 A long grind of a workout that I only tried once. Slow on the row but disciplined on the HSPU. When they went away they were gone. Final results put me at 94th percentile.

This part… horrible.

2017.5 Finally, right in my wheelhouse! This last workout relies on strength and persistence. All the characteristics of a turtle. I did a little better than 98th percentile on this.

Gonna crush it

Here are a few things I learned in this 4 year journey.

The power of a rising tide: Experience and practice matters. Todd has seen a similar change in his portion of the compulsion. What once was a big challenge (running a marathon, finishing in the top 90%) becomes routine. What makes it routine isn’t always fitness but experience. Your legs know the right pace; everything you’ve done you’ve done 5000x before. It’s a help.
You’re defined by your weaknesses: In the open, one big fail can eliminate you. I almost eliminated one of them this year but still got a little lucky that the workout gave me movements before my waterloo so my score ended up decently strong.
Going new places is fun: I did two things (squat snatches and bar muscle ups) this year that I’ve never accomplished or mastered before. Both of them are immensely satisfying when you get them right and neither are as hard as they look. They’re like a golf swing; 11 things have to happen in just the right order in a quarter second and the result can be enjoyable.

So, where to next?
Who knows, I’m just going to enjoy the celebratory videos for now.

Still Laughing

Buddie’s brain amazes me. As he said in his guest post: You can’t be married for 21 years without knowing your partner pretty well, but you can still learn new things.

This morning as we had a few quiet moments snuggled in bed before we began our Sunday, I learned his side of a story from our trip to Universal Studios. I’m still laughing at the different perspectives on the world.

Her perspective:

Monkey and I were finishing packing up the hotel room. The plan was to check out of the room, then head over to Universal to ride those last few rides all of us wanted to get in.

We had one inner tube left from the original four that we had for the Lazy River at the hotel.

Bob, bob, bobbing along.

Tube tower

I handed the tube to Buds, Yessa, and Buster and said, “Hey, you guys go give this away to someone in the lobby while Monkey and I finish up here. We’ll meet you down there to walk over to the park.”

Monkey and I quickly finished packing up the car, and headed to the lobby, chatting happily about our upcoming day at the amusement parks.

We walked into the lobby, and sitting on this blue couch:

The scene of the crime.

was Buds, squeezing the air out of the inner tube while Yessa and Buster looked around guiltily.

“What are you doing?” I asked.

Buds got that look on his face that says, “You asked me to do something I didn’t want to do.”

“There was no one to give it to.” he said, completely sincerely.

I scooped up the partially deflated tube, walked over to give it to another mom who said, “Thank you so much, you are so sweet.” Walked back over to my crew and off we went to the park.

His perspective:

I walked into the lobby. There was no one in line waiting to check into the hotel. There were people waiting in line to get tickets for the park, so they were obviously wanting to get out of the hotel.

I considered the employees at the check-in desk and envisioned myself asking them, “Hey, do you ever come float in the lazy river and would you like this inner tube to use?”

That didn’t seem right.

I looked around some more; the bartender, the guy playing a guitar…nope, nope, nope.

I asked Buster and Yessa if they wanted to give it to someone.

Nope.

Do I have a knife in my pocket? I asked myself.

Nope.

Okay, I can deflate it and hide it before Ginnie gets here.

Almost made it.

Then, this morning:

I asked Buds, “What would you have said when I asked you if you found someone to give it to?”

“I would have said, ‘I disposed of it in an environmentally responsible way.’ because I would have let all the air out, and you wouldn’t have wanted it to go the landfill with all that air in it, would you?!”

“And,” he continued, “I wouldn’t have put it in a plastic bag to throw it away, so that should have made you happy. In fact, the only thing that could have made you happier is if I had put it in one of your cloth bags and thrown it away in that.”

Oh my gosh, this man makes me cry with laughter. He gets me, he truly gets me.

This is what happens when the introvert and the extrovert are bonded for life.

Flanked by two extroverts…his worst nightmare.

New Doggie Great-Nephew Alert!

Jeremy and I have been colluding on Jeremy and Teresa getting a dog since they moved to Nash. I assured them that we would be puppy’s second home, ready, willing, and able.

And today the family expanded. T & J showed up this afternoon with a furry surprise for us.

Such sweet kisses.

We’re missing a flag to make this picture scream “AMERICA!”

Such a handsome boy.

I agree Duke, Buds does have delicious smelling breath.

He had very important secrets to tell me.

The new family.

Can’t wait to have decades of fun with this sweet boy.

So What Was Todd Up To?

Lest you think Todd has been resting on his laurels as Buddie moves forward on The New Hampshire Compulsion, Todd provided entertaining proof that is not the case.

While Buds was working his way through the first round of the CrossFit Open last weekend, Todd was completing a 50K run, setting a personal PR of 6 hours, 30 minutes. (AMAZING!)

You can see the fun he was getting up to here:

In case you’d like a reminder of what happened when Todd and Buds were together a few months ago and what The Compulsion entails:

Congrats, Todd!

They are both on track to knock the Compulsion out of the park.

Orlando- Day 1!

Editor’s note: this post contains video. View at the website for best results.

Huge thanks to Paula and Kelly for kindly sharing their photos (mostly Paula’s) to enhance blog posts. I’m not giving individual credit by photo because I’m already having trouble getting these blog posts written since life keeps moving on, but it is hugely, hugely appreciated!

The big trip had been discussed for months. It was our kids’ Christmas present. Kate and Betty’s birthday present.

Gina and crew had just stayed at the exact resort where we were headed the week before, so we knew specifics about rides and the hotel.

(I think sending Gina ahead to do recon on all our trips should become the new standard. I just told her about the trip to Germany last night. We’ll see what she thinks about being the advance team for that one.)

Anywho…our tribe was driving down from Atlanta, then K, P, K, and B would fly in that night. Our stay was at the Cabana Bay Resort on Universal Studios property in Orlando.

Having a suite with a kitchenette was important for me, Buds and Paula loved the idea of being on property, and Kel was the reason we began planning this whole adventure since she had a work conference on Monday-Tuesday of the time we’d be there.

We immediately loved the resort and the room. The 1950’s theme is done so wonderfully, so neatly, so tongue-in-cheek. (Whenever I’d call the front desk, they’d sign off with, “Have a swell day!”)

Our living room space

Our living room space

The kitchenette

The kitchenette

The bedroom

The bedroom

Shower room- there was a separate room with the toilet.

Shower room- there was a separate room with the toilet.

The bathroom area.

The bathroom area.

The screen between the bedroom and living room.

The screen between the bedroom and living room.

The little touches that made you feel you'd stepped back in time.

The little touches that made you feel you’d stepped back in time.

We had time before the dear ones arrived, so we tested out the pool.

Let’s get this vacation started!

There were two pools. The one closest to our section of the resort had a splendid water slide. The other pool had the lazy river, and that was the one we ended up using most frequently.

After the children had their fill of swimming, Buds and I headed out to get a feel for our location relative to the parks, to see how long it took to walk to the parks, great places to eat, etc.

The resort has a bowling alley.

You already know who we bumped into.

We didn’t ever eat here, but the cafeteria was like being in The Jetsons.

The Jack LaLanne gym was a big hit with Buds.

Jack’s trophies

Part of the gorgeous, retro lobby.

Our section by day.

Our section by night.

The park was about a 15 minute walk on adult legs.

After Buds and I got back to the room, Buster, Yessa, and I decided to wander up front in the hopes that our friends would be arriving soon. THEN vacation would really begin!

Their taxi was pulling up as we walked up the sidewalk. Oh, glorious day!

They’re here!

SO HAPPY TO BE TOGETHER AGAIN.

We carted all their stuff to the room, quick switch into swim suits, and over to the other pool to explore the lazy river.

Already talking our lips off.

For our family, in addition to loving the time we were going to get with some of our best buddies, we were so happy, amazed, and a little doubtful that Buds was actually going to take vacation during our Florida time. We knew he wanted to, but Buds taking two days off in row…that just doesn’t happen.

But it…mostly…did. And it was magical.

Off he sprints to join the crowd in the lazy river.

Kel starts reconnecting with our kids.

And he’s nearly as tall as her.

Four adults, 5 kids, everyone comfortable, relaxed, and ready to play. Great times ahead!

Zachary’s face balloon had a leak. We blew him back up the next day.