Why do I love my Joe? Let me count ten ways.

Ten years ago tonight I was in a hotel room.

At 11:00 a.m. the next morning I would put on a white hospital gown, walk through the operating room door and watch a surgeon pull my youngest to his first breath.

So for my Ten Things of Thankful this week, I’m concentrating on:

My Joe.

10.   I’m thankful for your curls.

Though you’re not so sure about them some days.




9.    Thankful that you still don’t care if I play my music. Though I’m not really sure what my music is these days.


8.    Love the way your face falls into a trance as you paint.


7.    Love the way we sit and talk in the car on the way to the way to and from school.

And the rest of the gigantic world doesn’t exist.


6.  Thankful that you still don’t care much about what you wear.

Because I don’t either.


5.   Thankful that you like to build things.

Because I do too. And now I have an excuse to play around with two x fours,  hammers and nails.


4.   That you constantly hand me marshmallow creme pumpkins.


3.   You haven’t tipped over into adolescence.

When that happens, well, I don’t want to think about what happens when that happens.


2.    To see your face light up when you make me laugh.


1.    And most of all, I’m just thankful we are together. Of all the arms, you could have landed at 11:00 a.m., October 27 ten years ago,

The doctor and the good Lord placed you into mine.


What are you thankful for this week?

Ten Things of Thankful

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Rolling with the changes. Primary school graduation.

All smiles.

joe's graduation

At the graduation ceremony, a few minutes before . . .

All business.

joe graduation

Yes, my baby is set to leave the primary school tomorrow.

My Oklahoma Joe.

As I stood in the serpentine line of parents winding our way to the check-in spot at the office, I had the wonderful thought.

I forgot my camera.

Followed by.

I forgot my phone. With its camera.

You’d think a middle-aged crazy woman pumped up on Hormone Replacements would be never forget her camera for a moment such as this.


Well. Shrugged my shoulders and reached out for the door as the nice man, who looked like he probably had his camera, held the door for me. Which I held for the next person.

Walking down the halls of the primary school — probably for the last time (okay it just hit me that I was walking the halls for the last time) — I made it to the library. And managed to find friends to ask if they would take a picture for me.


I struggled with this. Why wasn’t I more emotional? I so loved seeing all those cute faces walking across the carpet. Wondering what path each of them will take in life.

Who will shoot straight like an arrow at their target?

Who will bloom late and flourish?

Who will fall between the cracks and wonder why they sat on the sidelines their entire life?

It’s funny. Some children will fulfill their potential and surprise no one — the I-always-knew-they-were-going-to-do-greats.

Then some will fulfill their potential and surprise everyone.

It’s those children I ache to see on down the road.

Which ones will be touched with magic and confound their teachers, their fellow students, their fellow students’ parents.

Who have the power to change things and don’t know it.

Or maybe they do.

It’s just everyone else who’s yet to see.

That makes me happy.

And the best quote of the day — and of my year — was one I read on my friend Jill Hill’s blog this morning. It sums up why I have no tears.

Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.  Dr. Seuss.

Yes, I’m smiling for what has happened.

And for what is yet to be revealed.

What about you? Tears for big milestones or do you roll with the changes?

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Enjoying the last malleable one. A Mother’s Truth.

This is why I love dogs.


They adore you.

Even when they get like 1.75 years old. Thirteen in dog years.

These, on the other hand . . .


The child not the strawberry.

Children don’t look at you like you were the last Oreo in the sleeve — forever.

When they are five, they adore you like a Labrador Retriever. And let you hold their hand (in public places).

Then they turn 12 and think you are the most embarrassing creature on the face of solar system.

So that is why I enjoyed today. I spent the afternoon with my 9 year old.

Nine year olds still think you are great, as long as you do not try to take their computer away.

Today after an appointment, we picked strawberries.

But the best part for me was riding in the car and listening to music. My music. I don’t get to do that with the 12 year old.

So today, we listened to John, Paul, George and Ringo.

We sang we all live in a yellow submarine and na, na na, na na na, na na an, hey Jude.

Nine-year-olds love that stuff.

Because they are still Play-Doh when it comes to their moms.

And great music is great music.

Are your children still Play-Doh?

Linking up with the coolio Moonshine Gang

This is pretty funny if you have a second.

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Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo — and the second graders.

I love chaperoning field trips but one thing never fails to surprise me when I get off the bus at some destination.

Chaperoning means keeping track of children.

As in make sure they don’t wander off. Make sure they behave. Make sure they get back on the bus alive.

A few weeks ago, I traveled with my son’s second grade class to the High Museum in Atlanta for a celebrated exhibition.




Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo were married Mexican artists. Rivera was Kahlo’s senior by many years and an internationally renown artist when they met. He is considered the greatest Mexican painter of the 2oth century. Kahlo was a self taught artist who began painting while recuperating from injuries sustained in a serious bus accident.

Here’s a blurb about the exhibition in the Huffington Post.

Now the High is a cool place. They made us swear blood oaths not to take pictures of the Rivera/Kahlo work. So later when I tried to take pictures else where in the museum, my four charges freaked out.

But I snapped away in spite of their shrieks that an officer of the High would carry me off to the museum pokey.





Now the exhibit itself was fascinating. We donned headsets and stood in front of the painting the voice described. There was an adult track and a child’s track.

I chose the adult track which in hindsight was a rookie-chaperone-of-second-graders-to-the-High mistake.

For they didn’t talk about the same pieces of art. The kids were running to the paintings they were hearing about and I was back trying to follow the adult track.

In the end, I skipped some of mine — because frankly I didn’t want to be the mom who lost a child.

Some of the art was more adult in nature.

I got that the nude figures were sensual — but it took the nice voice over headset person to point out the erotic nature of the splayed-open papaya sitting next to the rather large banana.

Frisky fruit. Who knew?

When we came upon a three-story exposed breast and I heard giggling from my charges, I quickly shuffled them on the the next painting of watermelons. Not sure what the watermelon represented but it was a lot less funny than a naked lady to a nine-year-old boy.


After viewing the exhibit we got to roam the floors of the High for about 20 minutes until lunch.


In case anyone turned up missing, I thought this one was a good shot to verify I had everyone with me at 12:05.

While we were eating our lunch, a youngster who wasn’t in my immediate group sidled up to me.

“Joe’s mom,” J. asked while putting the mouth of a milk carton to his lips.

“Yes, J.”

J. swallowed the milk.

“I don’t think it was appropriate that we saw some of those pictures.”

Dear goodness. I wasn’t even J.’s chaperone. I think all such sensitive questions need be answered by the individual child’s shepherd for the trip.

“Well, J. The human body has always been a subject of artists since people began drawing. It’s a object of beauty.”

J. looked me straight in the eye, took another sip and darted off to throw away his carton.

Okay my answer was pretty lame — the kid threw me a curve — but I said it so matter-of-fact that he must have thought there was nothing to be concerned about.

After all the human body is a work of art.

It’s those darn papayas that you’ve got to watch out for.

When was your last field trip?

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Held hostage at the dentist office.

Not really.

My son had a cleaning scheduled for after school.

In the waiting area, I mentioned that he was going to run with me later.

We have another 5K coming up.

This wasn’t in his plan for the afternoon. He planned to sit on his pa-tooty and play Minecraft for hours. For those of you who don’t know what this is — it’s crack for 9 year olds.

When I said negatory on the Minecraft Marathon, my guy lashed out in what he thought was a death blow.

He snatched my phone as the lovely hygienist arrived to ask the updating-your-file questions.

And just to irate the heck out of me — this is what he did.


I finally wrestled my phone from the little imp.

And at home two hours later — guess who is living the vida Minecraft.

Who is that child’s mother?


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Coach Mom and the Pep Talk.

Every mother has it.

That little ESP where she can look about a room and size up any windfalls or downfalls her child will suffer through.

My youngest and I pulled up to the start of the Real Buckhead Road Race 5K on Saturday.

It soon became evident, there were more children his age than normal running a small race like this. Which was great. Or could be not so great.

Depending what scenario played out.

Scenario one: He races his young friends full speed till his breath fails then he good-naturedly walks and runs the rest of the race.

The second and more likely scenario: He races full speed till his breath fails and he stops right there — not moving another millimeter forward.

The competitive spirit that drove him to almost puke beating a 55-year-old woman to the finish last weekend will swamp him with anger at not keeping up with friends. Why is this the more likely scenario? Because it has happened. Leaving me stranded with an angry child who will not move. One. More. Inch.

But I’m an old pro at this mother biz. Let the slight prospect of a major meltdown bobbing on the horizon stop me?


Besides. We had already picked up our numbers.

Before the race. All was posey rosey.

Before the race. All was posey rosey.


The gun sounded — or maybe there was a nice man who said, “Go” — and we were off.

Sure enough. Soon enough my linebacker strained to keep up with the wideouts.



And before too long . . .




But we kept moving forward.


Until his side-stitch-of-a-cramp paralyzed him like Botox in a midlife furrow.

He wasn’t moving.


This is when I called on my decades of child psychology to keep that boy stepping forward.

“Mom. Mom. I don’t want to go anymore. My side hurts.”

“Just walk it off. Keep moving. It will get better,” I said a bit too peppy for me. I’m a positive sort but not rah-rah so this came out rather like telling all my friends “so glad you made cheerleading when I didn’t because really I only tried-out to watch your triple backflips up close.”

Smile. Smile. Ugh.

We had only gone one mile of three.

Double ugh. Smile. Smile. “You can do this Joe. You got to finish the race to wear the shirt right?”

“No,” was his reply.

And then a little Christmas miracle happened at the 1.34 mile point.

A wide receiver came back to play with my linebacker who had evolved into a lineman.

Skipping and walking and trying “not to step on the road.” Then “trying not to step on the yellow,” the wideout and the lineman forged ahead.



We all skipped along for the last few miles.

Finally, we saw the finish looming up there.



Thank God.

Afterwards, nothing like some pancakes to really work a cramp out of your side.


Yes, my running buddy and I hit the high school cafe for pancakes and all was better.


You know, it was a great morning.

A sweet wide receiver came back and helped his lumbering lineman friend (and the lineman’s mama who was running out of tricks) finish the race.

And my son didn’t meltdown with disappointment. He rose to the challenge and played the ball where it lay that morning.

A raging cramp-in-the-side was a crummy lie.

Like I told the boys. “We might have been one of the last ones to finish, but we beat everyone who stayed in bed that morning.”

Not that staying in bed on a Saturday is such a bad thing. But you didn’t hear it from me.

Have you ever had to coach a child through disappointment?

Tough huh?

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Running on Empty. Chick-Fil-A Madison 5K

Early this spring my youngest told me he wanted to run three 5Ks.

Three races of 3.1 miles.

I wasn’t sure.

But we signed up for the Chick-Fil-A race that was today in Madison.

Now he has run 5Ks before. But it was at Disney World and there was over 5,000 runners. This would be through the streets we travel every day and with a few hundred entrants.

So how did it go?

We started with the pack.



And stayed with the pack.

It became apparent that he thought I was being pokey.


I was intentionally.

It’s just when you are a journalist you have to put personal records on the back burner and think of the integrity of your reporting.

And honestly, it was fun to run and walk at a relaxed pace.


Though my son was all business. As were the people dressed as cows.

A few of the masses cheering us runners on.


We kept running.

My son plowing ahead. Mumbling under his heavy breath, “let’s get her. The one in the blue cow spotted socks.” And nodded in the direction of a woman 10 yards ahead.


We made it to Mile 1.

Then Mile 2.


Then the last half a mile he became as a demon.

Refusing to be passed.

Unless someone passed him.

He finished ahead of me.


 For how else would I get a photo of him crossing the Finish line?

When he stopped he didn’t look so good. He sat down and looked sicky.

“I really don’t feel good.” He cried a little and sniffled a lot.

“Joe. You always push yourself past the point of no return. That can’t be taught. That fighting spirit will serve you well.”

‘I don’t like it,” he said. “It’s too painful.”

I got him up and walking around and he kept asking to leave.

When you child tells you he feels sick and wants to leave and doesn’t even care about puppies for adoption — you need to get that boy home.

Later that morning Dad came home and said that at the race site they had been looking for Joe.

He won second place in his age group.


Joe got something today. A thing much more important than a trinket on ribbon around his neck.

Something a parent can’t give a child no matter how much we’d like. He experienced a sense of accomplishment.

That’s one thing everyone has to earn on their own.

What do you think? Is accomplishment taught or caught?

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Home. Through the window pane.

Five Minutes.

The prompt: HOME


Four walls, some windows and a roof. Thank goodness for protection from the elements.

But there is not much a house can protect us from if a F5 tornado decides to veer toward our front door.

Or a world of tearing down and violence that seeps in every crevice and floats in on a wireless signal.


Long ago, listening to James Dobson speak on the radio, an image he remembered has stuck with me throughout the years.

After a particularly snippy round of his children’s bickering, he pulled them all to  a window and said paraphrasing here.

Look out there. It’s a tough, mean world and people and things are lurking to tear you all down. In here, we are going to build each other up  …


In this home we are going to build each other up by talking kind to each other and supporting each other. Right now this is the best we’ve got.

I bring that point up to my children frequently. Because some days they do battle. BATTLE.

Battling me, battling each other.

I take them to the window.

Our home means safe, encouragement, edification.

Even if I pull my hair out in secret to make it so.

What does “home” bring to your mind?

Linking up with Lisa Joe Baker and Five Minute Friday.  

Click on the badge and join us.


Five Minute Friday

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A little forced family run.

Linking up with Jana and Stream of Consciousness Sunday.

She encouraged our minds to run free this week. Blogging uncensored for five minutes on the subject of our choice.


More specifically running with my 9 year old. We’ve signed up for a family 5K end of next month. Part of all the enjoyment of this family fun is getting out and training with my son.


Five minutes starts now . . .


Are we having fun yet?

I feel like the line from Vacation when Clark Griswold says he’s on a quest for fun.

I’m on a quest for bonding, togetherness and good health with my 9 year old.

Good luck.

“Joe, let’s go out and run this afternoon.”

Wailing, sighing and gnashing of 9-year-old teeth.


Let me say that our running exists of running and walking (mostly walking) whenever he feels like it.

“Leash up the dog, Joe.”

Insert pleas of “I’ll clean up my room every day till I’m 35, if you don’t make me run.”

But I will not be deterred in this quest. Why you might ask?

Because when I drag his complaining 9-year-old booty out there — after the first painful 30 seconds — he ends up having fun. Or at least doing it and carrying on a nice conversation.



Okay. I played by the rules and stopped at five minutes. What I really wanted to say is that like most things involving children, it is never a Hallmark card moment like you imagined.

It is work and not much fun to get him out there most days. But when I do, it’s almost (yes, almost) always worth it.

I love him and he can be my little couch/computer potato child.

I love him too much to not force him outside for fresh air and body movement.

That goes for myself as well I guess. So signing off now to leash up the dog, drag my child away from Minecraft and go for a little run.

What about you? What do you drag yourself or your children out to do?


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Hope springs from a talking giraffe.

I just learned that Disney is releasing a movie on Oz.

As in the wizard. Not the M.D.

Now we’ll learn the real story behind that crazy yellow brick road and those flying monkeys.

Sometimes movies show us what’s really going down.

In the land of Oz. And in our children.

My son emailed me this video short he made.

Seems even though my constant good manner admonitions haven’t changed his behavior, at least they have trickled down to his animated characters.

There’s hope.


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