Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Mom Fail...Again

As most of you know, Kevin couldn't just quietly come back from Europe and slink into the shadows.  He had to return and keep the focus on him.   His most memorable souvenir is probably the nasty staph infection that kept him in the hospital for four days and resulted in his first surgery.  Dr. Dunn made a lovely two inch incision last Monday, which is now doing incredibly well.  The young heal so fast.

While I have suffered small bouts of guilt over what I could have done differently and perhaps avoided him having had to go under the knife, I know that is futile.  The aftermath, though, is where my real failings have become apparent.

After the whirlwind admittance to South East Georgia Regional Medical Center, the angst of inserting the IV (Kevin is not really wild about being pricked with needles of any sort) and beginning the antibiotics,  the long wait for the imaging folks to have an opening to do an MRI, and then the waiting to hear if surgery would happen later in the evening or the next morning (all while Kevin is starving and he's hoping he hasn't NOT eaten all day for nothing), my emotions began to wear thin but Kevin was like a rock, completely unflappable and joking with everyone right up to and including the anesthesiologist.

Kathy and Lauren Lee were God-sents to me and stayed with me all though the pre-op, the surgery, and waiting in the regular room for Kevin to return from recovery.  Really and truly, without them I might have been a puddle on the floor by 10pm in a waiting room that had long been abandoned by everyone but the janitor.

I spent the night in the hospital bed next to Kevin and almost felt like I'd slept a few hours when the morning rolled around.  I dutifully waited for the doctors to make their rounds and then slipped home to take a shower while Kevin rested.  I returned to the hospital and later in the afternoon, since Kevin had several visitors, I decided to slip home and get Victoria. After she was able to spend some time with her brother, I returned home to get Hannah, who was staying with Caitlyn.  About 4pm, Hannah and I stepped out of the room.  I planned to bring Hannah home and make sure things were under control at the house when a nurse stopped me and said, "Are you leaving him alone."   I sort of nodded and laughed nervously...wondering why she was asking me that.  She proceeded to tell me that pediatric patients can't be left alone without notifying the nursing staff.

Oh...I confess it had never crossed my mind that a kid who had just returned from backpacking Europe without me might not be safe to leave alone in a hospital bed with a nurse's call button at his finger tips.  Now I understand the rule, mind you.  It just honestly never occurred to me that it might apply to Kevin.

And then today I was again reminded of how I have so completely abandoned my maternal duties in regard to my son.  Kevin has to go to physical therapy every other day to put is elbow in a whirlpool that swirls around some kind of solution to clean the wound and for the nurse/therapist to change the packing and redress the wound.  The first day I went and sat in the lobby for the duration of the appointment...all 20 minutes.  The next appointment he attended by himself because it seemed pointless for me to sit in the crowded lobby and listen to the country music station when he's perfectly capable of driving himself.  But today he again went by himself and was told that because he is a minor, he had to have a parent in attendance or he couldn't be treated. 

Gee whiz.  I do suppose he could pass out while puts his elbow in the stainless steel tub of  luke warm water, or peeling the bandage off might cause him black out; but couldn't they just call me if that happens.  I'm pretty sure the billing department has my number.  Honest to Pete it never occurred to me that I would have to be present for him to have the Band-aid changed.

I was afraid the Europe trip would change Kevin into this independent, self-sufficient man who no longer needed his mom (much).  The truth is, Kevin was already those things before he left.  Apparently it was ME who needed the Europe trip and his long absence for that reality to be solidified in my heart.  Now, if only the rest of society could grasp the same concept, I wouldn't have to feel like such a failure for allowing him tend to his own business.  Thankfully he turns eighteen in a couple of weeks and the rest of the world will see him as the responsible young man that he is. I may not receive any Mother-of-the-Year votes, but neither will I ever be accused of being a helicopter parent.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The European traveler has returned!  The stories are trickling in, and I can't help but smile to hear of all he learned and all that he has learned at home that was reinforced abroad.  Yep, even if he couldn't quite spit out Romulus and Remus names precisely, he did know the legend of the abandoned twins, nursed by a she-wolf, who are purported to be the founders of Rome.

I have marveled that my son had the determination and assertiveness to make the trip happen.  I can even begin to think that Kevin has done something extraordinary, something unique among his peer group.  I can also begin to pat myself on the back that I even LET this kid wander through Europe at seventeen years of age.

Then, in the midst of one of my self-congratulatory moments, it hit me that I'm not unique at all.  I'm not that brave.  My kid has not done something that hundreds of eighteen year olds have never done before.  And I'm not talking about studying abroad.

Whole generations of young men have gone off to explore Europe.  But they didn't fly into London on a commercial jet; they arrived on a transport ship.  They didn't have a debit card in their pocket, but dog tags dangling from their neck.  Yes, there's been plenty of young American men tour Europe - compliments of WW I and WW II. And for everyone of those boys, there was a mother back at home sending him off and wondering when and if he would ever return.

That realization made me doubly thankful to have my son home and grateful to live at a time in history when my child can freely travel Europe, even those countries that I find slightly mysterious (think Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia - now the Czech Republic and Slovakia).  I'm not blind to the unrest in the world, but I'm also not overlooking the blessing it is to have a son who came home from Europe on his timetable and not the schedule of the US Army.

As we approach Veteran's Day on Monday, I'm thankful for those who currently serve and have served our country.  It's their devotion that has paved the way for my children to experience a world with a freedom few people in history have ever known.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Sometimes you just have to take the plunge.  After several years of snooping around Sapelo Farms' website, I  inquired about an opening in their CSA program and joined.  Once a week for six weeks I will pick up my box of vegetables - whatever is in season and ready to be harvested.  I figured we would have to expand our palate a bit, and I was right.  This week was heavy what looks to be a ton of greens for salads, radishes, a cucumber, a couple of winter squash and two other items I've never laid eyes on in my life.  

The first new veggie is tatsoi.  I have never even heard of it, let alone know how to cook it.  Thankfully, Sapelo Farms enclosed a simple recipe to try - a pasta dish that uses tatsoi much like spinach is used in chicken Florentine.  The other mystery vegetable looked like over ripe green beans, but with a thinner shell and funky colored.  I surmised that they were field peas, which I had had before but had never seen un-shelled.  Honestly, they look far more like a bean than a traditional pea to this Yankee girl.  I KNOW how to cook those like a Southerner - throw them in a pan with a little water and bacon and I'm good to go.

Here's to the Eades attempt to support small, local farmers and eat fresh from the field vegetables.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Two Perspective

Alyssa, Kevin's girlfriend Lauren, and my sister-in-law Cynthia have safely arrived in Florence, Italy and have met up with the boys.  They spent today meandering to Rome, will spend the night and see the sights tomorrow.  Sure hope they don't eat so much pasta and gelato that they make themselves sick.

I'm not sure who was more excited about the trip...the girls getting to see Italy (well, and Lauren seeing Kevin) or the boys getting to see some familiar faces other than each other's.  In preparation for the girl's arrival, the guys found their razors that had long been buried at the bottom of their packs.
Handsome, don't you think?

On our side of the pond, I'm noticing the same sad song being repeated around the house.  The girls, Victoria in particular, miss Kevin.  Just a few days ago, Victoria surprised me with her countdown.  Yep, after Kevin counting down the days until the beginning of his adventure; Victoria is counting down the days until his return.  Today's number: 20.

I'm anxious for him to come home and add captions to his photos.  Looking forward to learning so much by living vicariously though his pictures.  I mean, who knew that Budapest had thermal baths?  Pas moi.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Smooth....Very Smooth

Budapest, Hungary
As most everyone knows, Kevin and his friend Sam have been gallivanting around Europe for the last month.  When people would hear of this trip, they normally had one of two reactions.  One group of cautious folks would have a look of horror come over their faces and would ask if we were nervous about letting him go.  The second group would slap us on the back and congratulate us for encouraging such a fine learning experience.  Typically that person had backpacked or biked through Europe themselves and would proceed to tell us stories of narrow escapes and wonderful memories from back in the day when they were a carefree teen or early twenty-something.  

Honestly, when Kevin approached us about the trip, I think he was surprised at our positive reaction.  But Kevin's super responsible, level headed, possesses more common sense than the average teen and has one of the biggest cases of wander lust ever known to a seventeen year old, so the trip seemed like a tailor made adventure for him.

While I confess that "worst case scenarios" occasionally run through my mind, for the most part I have complete confidence that Kevin and Sam are resourceful enough to find their way in train stations, decipher the time schedules, and figure out a way to communicate their needs, even in countries that don't speak their language.  And, if all else fails, they can both be amazingly charming and nearly irresistible.  

And based on a conversation I had with Kevin on facebook, my assessment of their abilities is entirely accurate.  They are in Croatia, staying in a home (the owners are out of town) with no internet access.  They rented bikes and planned to camp for two nights at a mountain near Varazdin, Croatia.  Unfortunately it was cold (like 45 degrees) and raining, so they pedaled back to the house in town.  The house with no internet.  

I saw Kevin online at about 1pm Croatia time and wondered how it happened he had internet access.  Here is a log of our Facebook chat.

Me:  Where are you right now, if the people don't have internet at their house?  
Some coffee shop or something?

Kevin:  We asked the neighbors for there wifi password. Lol

      Me: Oh my all are CRACKING me up!   

       Kevin:  Haha.  We try.

       Me:  You just went knocking on their door, introduced yourselves and asked for their password?

      Kevin:  Maybe

Me: lol  Oh my...

Kevin:  We needed Internet!!!!

Me:  Desperate times call for desperate doubt.

Kevin:  Lol. It's good we did cause it's too rainy to go to town for Internet. It's nasty!

Me:  And they were happy to meet such charming American young men.

Kevin:  Exactly. And we needed it for getting train times and stuff

Me: Right...

So if you are the shocked and dismayed type who wondered why on earth we would let these young men buy a Eurail pass and visit London, The Hague, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin, Prague, Krakow, Budapest and now Croatia before moving on to Venice, Florence, Rome and who knows where else; rest easy.  These boys are smooth, very smooth.  Who else would have the courage to visit perfect strangers, who may or may not speak English, and ask for the password to their secure internet access?  And how many young men would be charming enough to walk away with password in hand?  No worries....these boys will be fine.

Monday, July 18, 2011

You can take the girl out of the Midwest,

     but you can't take the Midwest out of the girl.

Have you ever watched a movie and noticed something strangely out of place, maybe some kind of factual error or mistake in editing?  My girls have noted several faux pas in You've Got Mail.  In the scene when Joe (Tom Hanks) sits down with Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) at the cafe, Joe takes his overcoat off twice.  And in the scene on the yacht when Joe is mixing drinks with his dad, he's seen putting an olive in the martini, the camera angle changes to his dad, then when the camera returns to Joe, the olive is gone and he places another one in the drink. 

Or in the movie Schindler's List there's a shot of a train arriving at a station in Czechoslovakia and electric cables are visible above the train tracks.  Czechoslovakia didn't have electric trains before World War II.

I recently finished reading The Help, a southern novel if there ever was one.  Set in the early 1960's in Alabama, one of the main characters lives on her daddy's cotton plantation.  For whatever reason, from the moment the first scene flashed in my mind, that portion of the book was unfolding at the farmhouse where a childhood friend of mine grew up  IN OHIO.  Now I've lived in the south a LONG time.  Over twenty years.  And I've never seen a traditional mid-western farm house down south.   I unsuccessfully tried to "switch" locations, change the house, knowing this character should be living in something more akin to Tara than the timeless farmhouse that I so clearly pictured in my mind.  And the Ohio house doesn't remotely fit the descriptions.  Scenes from the book took place on the porch, and the farmhouse doesn't HAVE a porch.  No problem for my imagination.  I simply changed the front foyer into an expanded porch.  Seems like it would have been simpler to just imagine the common southern mansion with wrap-around porches.  But no...the farmhouse stuck.

Have you ever pictured a scene or place in a book inaccurately, but somehow couldn't make your mind play it any other way?  Strange, I know...but I just couldn't help myself.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Functional Avoidance:

doing one project so as to feel less guilty about NOT doing a more pressing and less desirable task.

Well friends, I've come to the end of a road.  The 2010-11 school year has passed, Victoria's recital was a success, Hannah's horse activities are on summer hiatus, another VBS is in the books, and Patrick and Victoria are on their way to Haiti via Miami.  Now, something's gotta give around this house.  The piles of books, stacks of papers, and small mountain of boxes destined for the attic must be given the attention they've been needing for so long.

I should have started this week.  VBS sucked all my energy last week, but this it is.

Functional Avoidance Day 1:  What DID I do on Monday...oh, yes...I went shopping (again?) for items to take to Haiti.  I'm not sure why this took most of the day, but when you are trying to avoid unpleasant tasks, any ole excuse will do.

Functional Avoidance Day 2:  The pictures say it all - well...most of it anyway.
A HUGE thank you to Kathy Lee for telling us about the corn available to be gleaned from her family's garden near Hortense.  It seemed like a manageable amount when we were picking it.

 It felt far less manageable after 3 hours of shucking.  I'd burned the kids out with the bushel we put up on Saturday.  Thankfully, Hannah and Victoria helped a little bit.

 Thankfully my neighbor Naomi showed up to help cut it off the cob.  Here's her daughter Reagan being entertained with, what else?  Corn on the cob!
The final result: 49 quarts.  Naomi and I prefer to think it was really 50, but one quart was spread across every available bit of counter top and floor space, with a healthy bit splattered on the cabinet faces and my shirt.  Do you know, dried on corn is harder to wipe up than about any other spill I've encountered? 

Functional Avoidance Day 3:  Day DID I profitably spend Day 3.  Oh, yes...Haiti packing.  Though, for the life of me I can't imagine why I can justify spending a whole day packing Patrick and Victoria for Haiti.  First, everything must fit in the overhead compartment and weigh less than 22 pounds.  That's right, they had to pack for an entire week in a carry-on.  And second, they packed themselves.  Honestly, come to think of it, I didn't even check Victoria's bag.  I sure hope she has everything...because there is no Wal-mart nearby to purchased what was forgotten. I'm feeling like a bad mom.  Maybe I should call Patrick and have him check Victoria's bag before they leave Miami in the morning.  I think Day 3 was a fail and can't even be classified as Functional Avoidance.  It was just plain laziness.

Functional Avoidance Day 4:  More Haiti prep (Yikes - it's sounding a smidgen old, isn't it?) and dessert making for the team and parent meal.  This really did take a better part of the day since I had to research recipes, make a grocery list, go to the store, AND make the goodies all in one day.  I know, I're thinking "Wow, Natalie, don't tax yourself and over do it."  No need to worry.  I won't.

 Tiramisu Trifle
Yes, that really is the dessert I made.  It looks a bit like dirt on top...and know...I should have shredded something other than baking chocolate on top.

 Pistachio Layer Dessert - I have no idea it's proper name.

 The TEAM!!!

Functional Avoidance Day 5:  The team drove off at 9:55am and then I was left with the rest of the day to tackle projects looming over my head.  I stopped by Carenet to deliver some coin filled baby bottles and chatted with the lovely staff and volunteers.  Then I came home and caught up with e-mail correspondence and now am blogging.  Hmmm....I think Hannah and I might need to go to Summer Waves this afternoon as our reward for...reward for...seeing the Haiti team successfully off!  I'm grasping at straws now, but will enjoy a quiet moment reading Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet and will get myself psyched to really get going on the tasks at hand...tomorrow. 
Oh, wait....Kevin wanted to go to Jacksonville tomorrow to look for shoes and pants for his trip to Europe.  There's always next week.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

We had a WONDERFUL time in Perry at the State 4-H Horse Show.  The second day, Hannah competed in three Hunt Seat classes and placed third in the Pleasure class of about 50 riders.  She and Scotch Bar Buffington (Buff) had an amazing ride against some very lovely horses.  The whole family is proud of her hard work and determination.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention that Hannah's friend Rachel is the Senior Division Stock Seat (Western) Champion.  It was thrilling to see a girl from our county clean up in her division.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's All About Perspective

Hannah's not normally pleased with a sixth place finish in a class at a horse show, but when the class is at the State 4-H Show with nearly fifty competitors in each of her classes, sixth place suddenly feels like much more of an accomplishment.
 Hannah and Scotch Bar Buffington (Buff)

I love how hard this girl works!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Finals are DONE and Alyssa's Home!

Okay, well she never really left home, but there were times that we saw so little of her that she might as well have been gone, especially the weeks she stayed with Lauren while her parents were out of town.  Now, since she's not preoccupied with her studies, it seems like she's come home for summer break.  She's free to sit around talking to me and indulging an occasional craving for Starbucks.   I so love having her around the house more.  Never fear, she'll keep herself busy.  She's volunteering at Carenet two mornings a week, in addition to working at Lai Lais.   Even so, her "no school stress", relaxed personality is shining through.
So nice having someone to run errands for me AND to treat us to half-price Frappachinos.  
Don't you wish you had an errand girl like I do?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Weekend

 Showmanship with Buff

 First show on Buff

 Victoria showing off her Easter eggs

 Caitlyn showing off her Pez candy dispenser

 Victoria showing off her silly faces

 A good looking crew, if I do say so myself

After years of dressing the girls in matching attire for Easter, I gave up so as not to scar them for life. 
Imagine my surprise when they decided to buy the same dress and match for Easter this year. 
Aren't they just adorable?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Lessons from British Literature

That title might be a little deceptive.  No, I'm not going expound on the subtle nuances between Jane Austen's early works vs. her later novels, and I'll let you decide what makes Frankenstein a quintessential work of Gothic fiction.  While those might (or might not) have been discussed in the British Literature co-op class that I taught this year, and I HOPE the students learned SOMETHING these last two semesters; the lessons I gleaned  might be more fascinating than anything Lord Byron ever penned.

1.  When a class meets only once/week and the kids don't already know each other, it takes about a semester for everyone to start feeling at ease with each other.  Once they settle in and are comfortable, they can really talk and play pranks on one another.  You might want to check the stability of your chair before you sit in it.

2.  Even kids who have never been to school have the ability to entice the teacher down rabbit trails.  Enough said.

3.  Just because they moan and groan about having to read a particular book doesn't necessarily mean they don't have strong opinions about the book or the author.

4.  Just because they moan and groan about having to read a particular book doesn't necessarily mean they are missing the beauty of the literature.  Yes, you would have thought making these boys read Persuasion or a work of Shakespeare was something akin to waterboarding; but once the discussions started, they were quick to read the class their favorite lines and animatedly describe their favorite characters.

5.  Despite my love for Jane Austen, none of my class will probably ever read another Austen novel.  Somehow, that makes me sad.  They loved the characters, but being a class of mostly boys, they kept waiting for a sword fight or an accident more tragic than a twisted ankle, a high fever, or a silly girl jumping off a step.

6.  Instructed to select a novel to read from a particular list, students WILL NOT always pick the shortest.  Okay, some kids will (and his last name is strangely similar to mine), but many don't.  I think one brave soul even started Middlemarch

7.  I can never guess how students will react to certain authors or works of literature.  I mean, who would have thought that the student mentioned in #6, the one who selected to read Heart of Darkness and The Time Machine (due to their short page counts) would spend free time reading poetry by William Blake.  Seriously, who knew?  *I* have never spend free time reading William Blake. And that same student claims his favorite work in the cannon of British Literature is Pilgrim's Progress.  Do you have any idea how happy that makes my heart?

8.  Everyone is strangely and pleasantly surprised by Frankenstein.  Possibly the class's favorite book of the year.

9.  Austen is a let down after the suspense and intensity of Frankenstein.  If I ever teach Brit Lit again, I think I should put some distance between those two works, particularly for boys or younger students. The wit and keen mental insight of Jane Austen is somewhat lost on students still engrossed in murders and monsters.

10.  While relieved to drop one ball from my proverbial juggling act, I'm going to miss seeing these kids every Wednesday morning.  They have been a delight to get to know and teach. 

Oh...and one more...a teacher bringing Dunkin Donuts offsets the ire induced by giving difficult tests or too much homework.  Really, a Boston cream or jelly roll greatly increases affection.  The way to a student's heart (especially a class full of boys) is through their stomachs.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Advise from the Trenches

After a very late night chat with #1 son a few nights ago and a bit of a follow up dialogue this afternoon, I've been thinking about parenting (and how little I actually know). Somehow I thought when my kids passed some magical age (which has yet to be determined...but apparently it's not a number in the teens), I somehow would have accumulated so much wisdom I would have at least some confidence to be that Titus 2 woman I always imagined ladies should be my the time they reach "my age".

The reality is, now that I have three teens and a tween (soon to be three teens and a twenty-something ), I think I have more questions than when I started this parenting journey. Sure, I've learned (and failed) some lessons along the way, but I still feel wholly inadequate in this parenting journey. What I have learned is to hobnob with people a whole lot smarter than myself, and reading blogs seems to be the perfect way to do that.

Yesterday I was catching up on some blogs and found this worth passing along, especially since I have so many wonderful nephews and just found out one of Patrick's nieces is expecting her first baby. I'm thankful for wise, articulate ladies - my virtual friends, if you will. Some of you don't even know who you are, but I thank you for your help.

Okay...did you go read it?  Here is is again...a great tip for raising boys.

So, go ahead.  Even if you aren't a southern girl and would never consider yourself a steel magnolia, let those boys do the heavy, or even light, lifting.  I know one thing, I've probably carried my laundry hamper to the upstairs laundry room for the very last time.  "Kevin, can you came here, please?"

Monday, April 11, 2011

This might be the only ray of sunshine for the Cardinals so far this season.  Albert is a nice guy...even if he hasn't found his swing yet this year.

And here's an interesting bit about the bat used to hit his 400th home run.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Amazing Life and Kids

For those of you who may not be friends with Kevin on facebook and haven't heard his announcement: He and his friend, Sam Brooks, are planning a two month trip to Europe in the fall.  I'm counting on a couple of dear friends in London and Berlin to hug their necks for me and make sure they have a decent shower and a proper meal once or twice while they are trekking their way around the continent.  
Here's a peek into why I absolutely LOVE having teenagers and young adult children.  Samantha is one of Alyssa's best friends and one of my absolute favorite young adults in the whole world.  Enjoy the following facebook dialogue and see why I think my kids and their friends are some of most amazing young people EVER (and I want to preserve and savor this moment).  We moms can feel invisible much of the time, so we must treasure times such as these.
Better be savin money man. Our next purchase needs to be a Eurorail pass. Looking like it'll be $550-$700. :/

    • Samantha Walton God created nitrogen. He can provide 700$ plus some
      8 hours ago · · 4 peopleLoading...

    • Ashley Liggett You can earn 500 a month if your working part time.
      7 hours ago ·

    • David Alejandro Estrada What are you doing in Europe?
      6 hours ago ·

    • Natalie Rath Eades David, wandering around Europe for 2 months. They are still in the planning stages, but have purchased plane tix to and from London.
      5 hours ago · 

    • Samantha Walton Mrs Natalie, how do you feel about your boy 'wandering around Europe?'
      5 hours ago · 

    • Natalie Rath Eades Okay...they'll be fine. Both very smart travelers. I'm just jealous I can't go with them. :-) Plus, I know a family in London who will let them couch surf when they are in England and Daniel and Heather Williams are in Berlin. They'll eat well and have a decent bed for at least a few nights. :-)

    • Samantha Walton Man, your faith in God is encouraging :) I'd be lying if i said i wasn't jealous. They'll never forget it for sure.
      5 hours ago ·

    • Samuel Brooks Natalie Rath Eades LIKE LIKE LIKE LIKE LIKE!!
      5 hours ago ·

    • Natalie Rath Eades Samantha...should this REALLY require that much faith in God? Do you know something about these boys that I don't?
      5 hours ago ·

    • Samantha Walton Hahaha NO! I just know my mother. and the response iiii would get if i told her i was going to Europe for 2 months.
      5 hours ago ·

    • Natalie Rath Eades Boys...very different from girls. Not sure why, but it is. I'm not sure I would go for you and Alyssa doing the same trip. Sorry.
      5 hours ago ·

    • Samantha Walton I'm not sure I would go for me and Alyssa doing the same trip either haha
      5 hours ago · · 1 personYou like this.

    • Kevin Eades Samantha, what can Sam and I say?? Kathy Brooks and Natalie Rath Eades are the most amazing moms in the world. And to be honest I wish they were going with us!
      15 minutes ago ·  · 1 personYou like this.

    • Samantha Walton That they are. You're pretty awesome yourself Kev. You too Sam! Sam, promise me you'll bring my little brother back safe and sound :)
      12 minutes ago ·

Friday, March 25, 2011

Passports and Paradigm Shifts

I had a shocking and somewhat disappointing realization this week.  In the process of applying for Victoria's first passport, Patrick and I checked ours and discovered it was time to renew.  Since being issued nearly 10 years ago, Patrick has traveled to Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala, Peru, Brazil and Columbia.  Me?  My passport was empty.  Not one entry.  I realized I haven't been out of the country since our trip to South Africa before Victoria was born.

Patrick and the two oldest kids have had the privilege of serving in those previously mentioned countries.  During those years, the younger girls were small, and it felt completely overwhelming to even consider arranging the schedule for me to leave the country.  It just seemed logical for Patrick to go and for me to stay.

Over the years there would be moments when I'd sulk over feeling like Cinderella while Patrick and the older kids were off having a ball.  But for the most part, I felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.  After all these years, it's almost become a given that Patrick will go and I will hold down the fort.  But this week, after mailing off Victoria's passport application, I realized there's been a paradigm shift.  Victoria, my baby, is going overseas.  My big kids are staying home...and they don't need me with them!  I'm free to go.

I'm not sure what this new found freedom means...maybe I SHOULD think about going to Haiti with the team this summer.   Who knows?    In any case, I have realized I've just entered a new stage in in which my kids need my physical presence less, and I'm now free to get that passport stamped.

I'll be sending that old, unused passport in soon. Trading it in for a brand spankin' new one.  My goal for the next ten years is at least two from Haiti.  I want to see this country that has imprinted itself so massively on Kevin's heart.  The second stamp I'm hoping for...England.  I have a dear friend moving there...and she's going to need to show me the lay of the land.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Congrats to the Showmanship Champion

Hannah had her final show in the 4-H Satilla Winter Circuit. Going into this show she was tied for first place in Showmanship.   You'll have to ignore the stinky videography.  I get caught up watching and forget I'm supposed to be paying attention to the Flip screen.

She and Lacey had a great pattern, and she emerged ONE point above her competitor.  Here are the results!

She is also the Halter Reserve Champion (2nd Place) which is terrific considering she only showed one horse.  The Champion actually showed more than one horse, thereby accumulating more points and not necessarily placing higher than Lacey and Hannah in the classes.  At this particular show, Hannah and Lacey did place first under both judges in the Mare Class and in the Championship Class against mares and geldings.  Thank you to Ms. Wendy for letting Hannah show your beautiful mare.  Those two have come a long way together!

 Hannah displaying her winnings with her riding instructors, Ms. Wendy and the amazing Erin.  
Erin is the Showmanship pro, so all kudos go to her.

While winning chairs and cash is nice, an almost sweeter victory came later in the day during the riding classes.  Hannah and Ginger had their best day ever, with Ginger making it through both western classes and both English classes.

Generally it's not a good thing when the judge walks over to talk to you before the results are announced.  It usually means something like this:  You did this and that really well, but because of the other thing, I was left with no choice but to place you last.  And, that would stand true for Hannah's Western Horsemanship ride.  Judge B told her she rode the pattern well, but the rail work killed her - and he placed her dead last.  Apparently the other judge didn't weigh the rail work as heavily since he placed her third..

Historically, Ginger has gotten more nervous and become unrideable (I think I just made up that word) as the shows progress.  To Hannah's credit, she and Ginger made it to the English classes and even placed a respectable 3rd and 4th in the English Equitation class.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Feeling Like Anne

Anne Shirley: Can't you even imagine you're in the depths of despair?  

 It seems only Anne Shirley can appreciate what the Eades family is experiencing right now.  For over fourteen years we have had a Saturday tradition.  Pretty much the entire community knows about our weekly outing; and if anyone ever wants to find us, they know exactly where we can be located: eating muffins, bacon and cheese biscuits and drinking some of the best sweet tea ever to grace our lips. know what I'm talking about...Saturday morning breakfast at Sweet Mama's.

It started off innocently...long before Hannah was born.  Patrick took us one Saturday to give me, probably pregnant and exhausted, a break on Saturday morning.  Back in those days, pork pops (the food of the gods) were a quarter, muffins about a dollar and a five dollar bill nearly covered breakfast for four.  How could we not keep going back?  It gave Mom a day of rest and Patrick some bacon.   

Hannah was born and---I'm not making this up---breakfast at Sweet Mama's was her first outing.  It's true.  My other kids first outing was to church, but Hannah's was our Saturday morning tradition.

Then we started homeschooling the kids, and it seemed even more imperative that Mom get a break on Saturday morning.  Occasionally people would act shocked that we ate out every Saturday, without fail.  I think Patrick has always considered it an investment in our family, knowing life just runs more smoothly when Mom is sane.

Several years went by before I knew this Saturday morning trip to Sweet Mama's was serious business, not to be tampered with.  One week when the kids were quite small and Patrick was out of town, I just couldn't bring myself to drag all four kids (Victoria was probably a baby) out for breakfast by myself.  Just seemed easier to stay at home and feed them cold cereal or something.  But all I heard, all day long was "it just doesn't seem like Saturday.  What day is it?  It doesn't FEEL like a Saturday".  All that whining just because they didn't get their weekly dose of pork pops.

As the kids kids grew up, their palates expanded and bacon and cheese biscuits became the order of the day.  And sticky buns.  And cheese danishes.  But don't forget the honey-nut bran muffin for Mom.  Or a doughnut with sprinkles. Or maybe some sausage gravy over biscuits.  Or a Wainright (a piece of sausage and a pickle between a pork pop that's been cut in half).  Or, our most recent discovery...sausage gravy over pork pops.  Now were talking!

I'm really not kidding about this...Sweet Mama's is ingrained in the Eades' culture, and I'm not sure sure what we're going to do come Saturday morning.   You see...they closed their doors a few days ago.  Suddenly...rudely.  It's just gone.  

Sweet Mama's was the St. Simons version of Cheers, where everybody knows your name.  Not only did they know our name...they knew our order before we even gave it.  They'd start preparing our drinks (decaf with 2% for me) before we even placed our order.  But no more...sadly our tradition has come to an end.  I suppose we'll visit other restaurants and maybe they will let us linger and read the Saturday paper over one more drink refill, but nothing will ever take the place of Sweet Mama's.

So...we're left feeling like Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables.   In regard to our Saturday tradition, 
This is the most tragical thing that has ever happened to me.
--Anne of Green Gables

Saturday, February 26, 2011

What Language Are You Speaking?

Sometimes in the midst of wearing my laundress hat, teacher hat, mom hat, wife hat or any one of my other millinery options, I forget which language I need to be speaking; or as I recently found out, don't even know which language is most appropriate for the situation.  No, I haven't become bilingual and disoriented.  It's not Spanish or French to which I refer.

The kids recently resurrected the discussion of "The Five Love Languages".  As a matter of fact, a couple of them had been to the website and taken the assessment.  As you might imagine, an animated discussion ensued, and I was left a little dejected.  I realized that I had been blowing it with a certain child...really, seriously not speaking the right language AT ALL! 

Patrick and I can joke about them as we've discussed the love languages plenty over the years.  We laugh because we are so opposite.  If one of the languages is at the top of his list, it's at the bottom of mine and vise versa.  It makes for comical moments.  For Patrick, Acts of Service communicates love and affection to him.  So when he rattles off a list of things he's accomplished for me...a to-do list I didn't even know needed to be done...I can know that he did those things because he loves me.  And I, in turn, can smile and thank him profusely because I know it's his language (instead of doing what comes natural to me...staring blankly and wondering why I would care if my van tires were rotated and transmission system flushed out).

You can laugh it us, but this used to be a big deal in our marriage.  This is the honest to goodness truth---early in our marriage, Patrick would vacuum the house.  I don't mean zipping the machine through the middle of the room.  I mean moving furniture, dusting off baseboards and really going to town with the vacuum cleaner.  I would get defensive and moody (okay, downright pouty)  because I was hearing "you don't keep the house as clean as I would like it, so I'll just do it myself."   In reality, he was just speaking the love language that comes most naturally to him...and assumed I was listening in the same language he was speaking.

Needless to say, Patrick and I have come a long way, but I've realized I need to figure out a way to speak to the kids in their primary love language.  I confess, it feels a little overwhelming to think about keeping it all straight with four maybe I need a flow chart or a giant reminder on the refrigerator.  But thinking about how being in tune with the kids' love languages would pay huge dividends makes it worth the effort.  Maybe I can give a follow up post on my success and/or failure in this area.

If you are unfamiliar with love languages, check out the book by Gary Chapman, The Five Love Languages and The Five Love Languages of Children.

What about you and your spouse?  Do you speak the same language?  Or at least recognize that you don't speak the same language and make an effort to translate?

Sunday, February 20, 2011

And the Winner Is...

 Woo hoo...Hannah and Lacey!  Lacey and Hannah have won several first place ribbons in the halter class against other mares, but yesterday she won the championship class...beating all the girls AND the boys.  Here are Patrick and Hannah showing off her winnings: a new lead rope, a bucket and some horse grooming supplies.

Hannah and Ginger- it may well have been their final show together.  It was another rough performance, but Hannah looked good trying to ride the Little Red Mare. (Note the sparkly teal shirt and matching show pad on Ginger)

In fact, Ginger and Hannah were having such a rough time, the trainers took her off Ginger and had her ride Lacey for her final riding class.  Yep, after combing catalogs and websites for a show pad that would match Hannah's teal and black she is completely clashing with Lacey's lime green pad. Painful for the costume mom in me...but after seeing Hannah nearly take a spill on the very nervous Ginger in the show last week, I was happy to see her safe and sound on Lacey...clashing or not.

No matter who she's riding, Hannah rolls with the punches.  

 Let's hear it for #314!

After the show, it was on to the Father Daughter Ball.

Yes, it's the obligatory photo of one of the girls licking the ice sculpture.

Such loving sisters - always!