Saturday, January 7, 2012

Holy Crap ...

First, let me say HOLY CRAP,  I can't believe it's been six months since I last posted!  Don't know how that has happened, but let me assure you that I have continued to read everyone on my blog list.  I'm still having some problems commenting, even if I use the anonymous option, but I do read you all.
The next HOLY CRAP is that I didn't wish everyone happy holidays and happy new year.  So to one and all, a belated Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!  I hope 2012 brings many good things to all of us (especially good health and money)!

The main reason for this HOLY CRAP post is something that happened yesterday with my two grandsons, ages 6 and 8, and the phrase holy crap was repeated many times by me.  It was about 5pm and they had been out in front of the house, going up and down the street on bikes, skateboards, and pogo sticks with some other kids, and I checked on them every 15 minutes or so.  What usually happens is that I either make a visual check thru the window, or if I can't see them I step outside and listen for their voices, which are usually coming from either the house next door or two across the street where they have friends.  I know the kids and the families, so I don't generally worry.  There's a little concern that Conner is only 6 and the boys that he and Garrett play with are 10, but we've lived here for six years and they've known him since he was a baby and generally watch out for him, so the main problem is that he thinks he can do anything that they do!

Anyway, yesterday when I realized that they were no longer going up and down the street, I went out into the yard to see where they had disappeared to.  I began hollering their names, and eventually they popped up at a yard at the end of the street and waved at me.  I thought they were at a house at the 'dirt road' on the end of the street where I'm a passing acquaintance with a lady from the school, where our street turns to the right toward the cul-de-sac.  I hollered at them that they should have told  me where they were going, and then let it go.  My daughter called a few minutes later to say she was on the way, so I decided to go ahead and call them home...

and they were nowhere to be seen or heard.  Nothing.  I yelled until I was hoarse, but nothing.  I had been sick for several days and was weak as a kitten (I think it's my thyroiditis flaring up), so I was in my pajamas with  no make up on and my hair pinned up and all over the place.  After yelling for what seemed forever, I ran in the house and put my jeans and shoes on and headed down the street to the dirt road area, which is four houses away (that seemed like a dozen).

If you have read me for any time at all, you know that we have an area behind our subdivision that is wooded, and where we have taken the boys for hiking and exploring.  There's a trickle of a stream that floods when it rains, and though it's not a huge spookey area, it is a good distance from the house and wooded and, oh, did I mention that THEY ARE NEVER SUPPOSED TO GO THERE WITHOUT AN ADULT???

So I went to the dirt road at the house where I thought they were, and two men in the driveway said they hadn't noticed which way they'd gone, and their kids were in the house.  I stood there at the dirt road that leads to the woods and began a frantic screaming for the boys.  Nothing.  More frantic screaming, turning round and round so that my voice would carry in all directions.  Garrett, Conner!  Where the hell are you?  Where did you go?  Why can't you hear me?  Pa-leeeeze, where are you????

Finally, off in the distance in the direction of the woods, I saw a flash of white shirt and heard a far, far away voice.  Filled with both relief and anger, my screaming became Are you kidding me? What the hell are you doing over there?  Get your butts over here immediately!  Run as fast as your feet can carry you!  What the hell were you thinking?  When they finally got near enough for me to actually hear them and they me, my anger was just overwhelming.  My heart was beating so fast I thought I'd drop dead right there, and blood roared in my ears so loud I was almost deaf except for the screaming of my own voice.  What the hell were you thinking?  You know you're never supposed to go in there by yourselves!  On what planet do you take a six year old boy into the woods without an adult?  Bla bla bla ...

By now both boys are crying hysterically and Garrett's saying I'm sorry! and asking me why am I screaming, and telling me that he thought I knew where they were.  What?  Knew where they were?  Was I unconscious when he came home and said Mawmaw, Conner and I are going to go by ourselves down the dirt road and into the woods and down to the creek?  Of course he knew that that made no sense, but by that point I think we were all three in a state of hysteria, them at being in trouble and listening to me scream at them as we walked/ran home, and me at the idea of how easily this could have had a bad ending.  (And let me say here that the lapse of time from when I first called them home until the time they came out of the woods was the longest 15-20 minutes of my life.)

As I neared the house, an  older girl, maybe 10 or 11,  came up from behind me saying m'am, m'am! She's new to the neighborhood, and though I had seen her walking home from school I really had no idea who she was. She ran up to me as we got to the house and apologized, saying it was her fault. (Apparently she had walked out of the woods more slowly and had waited until my rant subsided before she showed herself!)  Said that she's new in the neighborhood and that Garrett had mentioned the creek and she asked if he could show her. Didn't know that they didn't have permission. I thanked her for her apology, said that she had no way of knowing he didn't have permission, that Garrett knew better, and that she should never go there by herself and especially without telling anyone where she was going!

When we finally got into the house, these two little boys still crying and me shaking like a leaf, I said horrid things like Do you realize that every week there's a story on the news about a child being kidnapped and either hurt or murdered?  About little kids that ride off on their bikes without saying where they're going and never coming back?  About parents who turn their backs for ten seconds and never see their kid again?  Do you have any idea how badly you scared me?

Well, by the time Melody got here a few minutes later, Garrett was sitting at the computer and Conner was totally wrapped in a blanket and laying on the couch crying, and  I was sitting at the kitchen table trying to slow my heart beat down.  Melody was on her phone and didn't realize for a few minutes that something was going on, so when I finally was able to tell her the story she was very disappointed in her boys!  She handled it better than me, scolded them calmly but sternly, telling Garrett that she was disappointed that he had made such a bad decision, making her realize that he needed to be better supervised until he could make better ones.  That they were both grounded to their yard or mine and could not leave them until further notice.

And I had to apologize to her for letting it happen, for being an unreliable caregiver, both of us knowing, of course, that these things happen under the best of circumstances, that we lucked out this time. And I'm thinking back to when she was a girl, about four or five years old, and disappeared on our street while playing with neighborhood kids, and they had gone to a field at the end of the street - where she was never supposed to go!  At that time there seemed to have been a rash of kidnappings and deaths across the country, and particularly one where the child had been dumped in one of those roadside porta potties on a mountain road in Colorado.  So I recognized this fear as the same I had felt at that time!  And, of course,  last night I had the same kind of dreams that I had had then.

One thing that I keep thinking about is - I do not know my neighbors.  I know the ones on either side of me and across the street, but all the others are phantom neighbors who pull into their garages when they get home from work and just as silently leave the next day.  Who are they and why are they so anonymous?  Do they have kids, how many, how old?  Are any of them unbalanced?  Do they watch any kids that are in their visual range for safety sake, like I do?  I feel like I need to go door to door to check everybody out, to know who is interacting with my grandsons, and who I can go to if one of the boys seems to have disappeared!

Well, there's not a parent alive who hasn't gone thru some version of a child disappearing, if even for just a few minutes, and experienced that cold fear that grips you so quickly, so primitively and to the gut.  I know I won't soon forget those long fifteen minutes and the fear that gripped me. 

And I don't think the boys will soon forget the vision of their Mawmaw looking like a wild woman going down the street, screaching at the top of her lungs, and probably were a bit shocked at all the cuss words she forgot she wasn't supposed to use in front of them!

Of course, it doesn't stop at childhood, does it?  They're on a date and 30 minutes late getting home and forget to call.  Or off riding around with friends.  Oh gosh, the first time they take the car for a drive by themselves!  I'll never forget the first time Melody drove all the way to Colorado from Georgia by herself! What about you?  Do you have one of these lost or late kid stories?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Riverbend 2011

I've told you the last few years about Chattanooga's annual Riverbend Festival (see Labels), nine nights of music in June for $30 (we went on five different nights - still a bargain!). All you have to do is get there and park, and enjoy the main act or any of a number of other musical acts on smaller stages. It's all about family and friends enjoying time together, and watching the teenagers walking around like peacocks strutting their stuff. I won't go into a lot of detail again here, except to say that this year we went to see Miranda Lambert (Melody and I went by ourselves and spent most of the stormy night sitting under a bridge and only saw 30 minutes of miranda before the lightening closed her down), Alan Jackson, the Beach boys (with John Stamos on drums!), Kellie Pickler, and Huey Lewis and the news.

The most fun part for Conner is always the children's playground.

But this is what he escaped into during the music ... his DS.

The first night was unbearbly hot, so Garrett enjoyed the misting machine.

Garrett is into bracelets, and his old hippi g'parents were proud of his choice!

One of our favorite things - the sundown view of gathering boats.

We tried to control our eating this year - settled for sharing some chicken-on-a stick. Delicious !

Garrett and Pawpaw sharing a grin.

Melody and my favorite(only) son-in-law.

Since the festival is actually in downtown Chattanooga, the kids get to enjoy some of the activities like the pipe fountain and 'swimming' on the steps and under the bridge, a regular summer attraction.

Fireworks on the last night ...

This is most likely the last year he get's this special treatment!

Can't wait to see who'll be here next year! Whoever it is, we'll be there ...

(A final note ... I AM SO FED UP WITH BLOGGER!!! I have spent more time than I care to admit with one frustration after another trying to do this post, including slow movement and pauses from one spot to another or one letter to another, and just now when I published it, it came out with miles of space between photos and paragraphs! Seriously? Every time I came back from being in drafts I had to go thru this same thing, and it's just pissing me off! Is anyone else having trouble? And we won't even talk about the commenting thing ...)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Garrett's 8th Birthday, Feb. 16,2011

(I was going to put this in its proper spot in February and just do a link here, but blogger won't let me do that, so I'll post it here and then move it later! If you haven't read the previous post, I missed some postings this last six months for one reason or another, and want to back-track and get them on here.)

February 16, 2011, my first born grandson, Garrett, turned eight years old. Conner (the five year old) and I made the cake, with him doing the sprinkles (which, as you can see, all went on one spot!), and we had the usual small family dinner on the day.

My daughter Melody and I have always had a pet peeve about those elaborate, expensive parties that have been the trend over the years, and she swore to never do one. Until this year. For some reason, she decided to do what Garrett said he'd like to do for his birthday...go to one of those bowling alley/arcade games places (the name escapes me) like Chuck E.Cheese. So off we go with eight little boys (and about ten adults) for a couple of hours of fun. I don't know if you've ever been to one of these places, but they're a huge warehouse affair with rooms for different activities, each planned down to the minute and guided by an appointed host or hostess. And between the screaming kids and the pings and musics of the games, they're very noisy!

The table they provided was really cute, and a nice touch was that they had all the guests sign the bowling pin for the birthday boy to take home.

The pizza was delicious, and luckily (and happily) there was enough for the adults as well, as we were starving! The snack bar was outrageously expensive, and you wonder how some families can afford it these days (much like going to the movies).

They had only bowled a few minutes when the hostess rounded everybody up and said that they had to get to the other activities, but could come back to the bowling later.

You can't go wrong with bumper cars! But they were only alloted maybe five or ten minutes, so by the time they got the hang of it, it was time to move on.

I'm not sure what this was - oh, Conner says laser tag, but for some reason I thought they had real nurf balls or something, but what do I know! (Or maybe I've got my photos confused, and this is actually from the next game...)

You definitely can't go wrong with laser guns! I had to take an extra seizure pill to go in here to take photos, but it was worth it to be able to watch the hunters (though I will admit that I had to leave after a few minutes as I got so sick to my stomach that I had to sit on the bench outside and hope I didn't throw up!). Conner has tried to explain both of the games to me, but all I hear is bla bla bla ...)

Back to the bowling alley, the boys ate cupcakes while Garrett opened his gifts, and here he is reading his card from us which said that I would take him to buy the skate board he's been wanting. He was so excited, even after I told him that it wouldn't be one of those $200 fancy ones! ( I had a photo of him looking excitedly at me with a huge smile, but forgot to upload it and don't know how to add it in the middle of a post!)

Would a birtday party be complete without a game room? Apparently not! So noisy that you want to run screaming from the place, but that would be showing your age, and the kids don't seem to notice. In fact, it seems that louder is better to them (as demonstrated when they turn the volume up full blast on their ds and online video games, with a 'tune' that plays over and over and over ad nauseum).

More guns! Good grief! (And that's my husband, David, in the background.)

This is the aspect of this whole arcade thing that DRIVES ME CRAZY (that's Garrett's friend Jake above), as I'm sure it does many adults. You pay something like $10 and more for tokens to play these games. The kids will be over the moon when they score on a game and get TICKETS (which,basically, you already paid for), lots and lots of tickets. Then they excitedly take these tickets up to the counter, eyes shining bright with the anticipation of what things they will 'buy' with these tickets. They totally don't get that they (you) paid the $10 or $20 (or, good grief, $30) to play the games that produced these tickets...only to be able to trade them in for a 5 cent plastic something that will end up in the recycleables a few days later (if it lasts that long), or a piece of candy that will be gone in seconds. Well, just call me Mrs. Scrooge!

I guess the important thing is that the boys had a super good time, and this sculpter of an elk(?) outside in front of the store next door just topped it off! I'm sure he'll not soon forget this special celebration of his birthday, nor will mom and dad soon forget how much it ended up costing!

And the skate board - picked out with care and still being enjoyed. He looked on the computer to read about the care and feeding of his new possession, and went to a skating park to learn the rules and some techniques. His goal is to be as good as Tony Hawke someday, and our hope is that he doesn't break any bones along the way! If only we could wrap them in cottom batting on this journey thru boyhhood...

What is the most elaborate/expensive birthday party you had for your kids, or that your kids went to, or that was your own birthday celebration? Do you have a party in your memory that stands out as one that has stood the test of time?

Thursday, June 30, 2011


(birthday present from my cousin Nancy in May)

You may have noticed that I haven't been here in a while, and before that only sporadically! The biggest reason has been that I have just been totally empty in the brain department, at least the part of the brain that writes posts. We've been under a lot of financial stress lately, and for some reason this has erased the part of my brain that creates posts for my blog. (I have, however, been reading you guys. I'm not always able to comment as I've got some kind of crazy computer or blogger thing going on where it won't take my comments, or only under anonymous, or, as some of you know, I've commented by email on occasion.)

In looking back thru my photos today, I realized that I have been selling myself short. I keep thinking that I need to be creative, or entertaining, or enlightening. But what I realized (and what you guys have actually told me before) is that I could just be journaling my daily or weekly events whether they were interesting to anyone else or not! I know I enjoy reading other posts where they are just talking about the minutiae of their lives, so why can't I? Well, of course, the answer is that I can! And I will!

What I realized, also, as I was looking thru the photos, is that I have photos of several events in my grandsons lives that I didn't post or write about, and phases in my garden as the last few months have passed, of the tornado damage, and even some cute doggie photos, all of which should be in my blog when I decide to print it up for the boys to read someday. Sooo, if you will bear with me, I'm going to go back thru those photos of the last few months and do individual posts on those individual events, instead of doing one of my 'if I had been posting' posts, so that I don't regret letting them pass on by with no notice.

Now, if I just don't procrastinate until the end of the summer to get those posts started ...

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Much to be thankful for ...

I have much to be thankful for this first Sunday in May. Last Wednesday, April 27, parts of my town of Ringgold, Georgia were mangled and in many instances destroyed by an EF 4 tornado. A short fifteen minute drive from my home and my daughter's, Ringgold is where we do most of our business - my grocery store, bank, chiropractor, pharmacy, beauty shop, etc. - and there are many lovely older homes. Eight members of our community, four from one family, were killed.

But here at my home we simply had very high winds and much lightening. My husband was out of town, leaving me home alone with three dogs, a hamster, and a fish, and me trying to figure out, amidst the many watches and warnings, how I was going to get a muzzle on the forever battling Eva Jean and Charity, or attach little Oliver to my body (maybe put him inside my shirt?), and getting the four of us in the tub, in a split second. Melody and I were in touch every little bit via text and phone calls, but the four minutes between our homes seemed very far indeed under the circumstances. After one of our calls I told her with a catch in my throat that I loved her, and she, with a shaky chuckle, said she loved me, too. Neither wanting to voice the real fear beneath the surface, that 'just in case this is the last time ...' fear.

Meanwhile, Julie at Midlife Jobhunter was worrying about her son, Ian, who is a freshman at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. And Dinah at My Aimless Infatuation was dealing with her own fears near heavily damaged Rainsville, Alabama. I'm glad to report that they are both fine, and I'm sure Julie and Dinah will both have a post soon on their experience with this historical storm.

We still aren't allowed into Ringgold because of the damage. In the meantime, as I walked my yard this weekend, my heart was full of wonder at how lucky I am to have an intact yard, especially in light of seeing the forever changed landscapes on the news. I took these photos before the storm, but all remain as you see here. Spared. And I am so grateful.

(As a side note...can you find the camouflaged object in this snow photo?)