The Family

The Family

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Rare Occurrence

Gentle snow falling in late afternoon is a beautiful sight.

Parents and children stand at the window together eagerly gazing into the first, and probably only, snow coming their way this year. As evening turns to night, the snowflakes blanketing the ground take on a mystical quality.

Many in the mid-west and northeast are probably tired of mother nature's icy punch, but when you live where snow is rare, it's a wonderful thing. That is, if you live in a city that prepared well.

Many have seen the images of the stranded motorists sleeping in their cars on the interstate in Atlanta, Ga. Others throughout our state, some of them friends, posted horrific stories on Facebook yesterday of seeing accidents, being in an accident, or walking for miles to get to their children.

We experienced none of that. Our local officials made the call on Monday afternoon to shut down all the schools, which meant many businesses felt free to do the same.

I was starting to think that icicles would be the only thing we'd have to show for this winter storm because we were the only city in the vicinity not getting snow. It was sleet for a good six hours before the snow finally began.

Ours was a typical day at home that ended in excitement as we bundled up and headed to the back yard to enjoy the falling snow.

This morning, what little had fallen was still on the ground, allowing us to enjoy a snow day as it was meant to be experienced - from home with a nice, ruddy fire blazing inside ready to warm us up as we shook off the cold.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Doing What We Can

For years I've wanted to get the children and I involved in a service project. You know, one we can actually participate in together.

The problem is my children are too small to truly be of service for many of the things I have thought to do. We've helped at our church food pantry as well as a local community food pantry on several occasions, but we were all too much in the way to be of any real help.

Sometimes I got discouraged because I felt there was something more we should be doing. I had to remind myself that all things come in good time.

What I have discovered is simple things we can do from home that hopefully have an impact - in the lives of others as well as our own.

Several months ago I decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International. We picked a
4-year-old girl from India named Ashuka. We write her frequent letters and have recieved one in return. Being a Compassion sponsor has created interesting discussions about poverty and lives lived in stark contrast to our privileged existence.

Another thing is using our weekly church bulletin to pray for those in our church and community battling illness and dealing with grief after the death of a loved one. The bulletin lists individuals who have been given a prayer pager. We say a brief prayer for the person and their family and then call the pager. There's no person on the other end or any type of message that needs to be left. It's literally a pager that vibrates whenever anyone calls it to let the recipient know that someone is lifting them up in prayer.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

On the Homefront

As much as I love to travel, there's not much on the itinerary for the next few months.

That's equal parts because we're considering a BIG trip in May, and we need new furniture for the den. We've had our sofas for 10 years, and it's obvious. Not only are the cushions fraying practically everywhere, but the legs on both are rigged and held up with whatever device Matt configured to keep them from constantly falling backward while people sit on them.

Instead of the real thing, we have been doing some arm-chair traveling lately.

Jack is REALLY into Egypt right now. I mentioned in a blog post awhile back that he wanted me to get a biography on Nefertiti when we were at the library one day??? It was not a fast read, so we've returned it and checked it out again more than once. This latest obsession was exacerbated when the movie "The Mummy" and "The Mummy Returns" aired on television shortly before Christmas.

Now he's asking for Lego mummies, and we practically ransacked our local library shelves for every book on Egypt we could find a few weeks ago. He is even asking to go to Egypt (not going to happen anytime soon!).

We've also been to Winterfell and King's Landing - by we I mean Matt and I. Game of Thrones is no show for children.

We tend to go on binges because they are the only way we can watch a show.

I've read the first three books in the series, so I know everything that is going to happen. We're still on the first season, and I'm glad to see that, so far, the show's writers have stuck to the original storyline.

I'm back to merry-old England as well with the return of Downton Abbey. I haven't been able to catch it on Sunday nights, but because we get both Alabama and Georgia public broadcasting, I have several opportunities to watch it later in the week.

As far as Mattie is concerned, she's just happy to go to Mommy and Me music class every week where she can sing and dance to her heart's content.

And even though what I'm about to add has nothing to do with traveling or what we've been doing lately, I have to plug this story on doodling that aired on CBS Sunday morning today. I have a co-worker that is an avid doodler at faculty meetings, and I just might be joining her this week as well as encouraging Jack to doodle away while I read aloud.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Different Reason to Head to the Store

We spent 30 minutes at Publix this morning and didn't purchase anything.

That's because we weren't there to shop; we went for a field trip. Though my stomach was rumbling by the time the tour was done, we made it out of the store without any impulse purchases - my wallet stayed in the car for that exact reason.

As usual I forgot my camera, so I missed getting pictures of the clerk/tour guide showing all the kids in our group how a parent gets paged when a child wanders off in the store, how the butcher's glove protects his hand from that super sharp knife and the children licking a dollop of purple icing off their fists.

We were treated to cookies and a chicken finger (what a combination) at the end of the tour, as well as coloring sheets and crayons.

One of the best things about a field trip to Publix is that the store does it for free. Another great thing was how excited all the children got just being in a grocery store. I remember taking a field trip to a local grocer's warehouse when I was in elementary school and loving it.

I guess some things hold true for kids of all generations.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Flu or Not the Flu

We've been to the pediatrician's office three times this week. While the flu test for both children came back negative, the doc thought it could likely be a false negative.

I said at the time I would be suprised if it was the flu because (1) we all got flu shots this year (yes, I know you can sometimes get the flu even though you've had a flu shot) (2) we hadn't been around anyone that had the flu nor had we been anywhere in almost a week (3) I was pretty sure they picked up a nasty cold from playing with some friends on New Year's Eve.

Now, two ear infections and a scary cough later, I'm still going with my original thought of this being a bad, bad, bad cold virus.

My go-to site whenever my children are sick is I stumbled upon the site when Jack was a baby, and the Sears' advice on attachment parenting was music to my ears.

At the time I was trying to parent more by instinct, and it seemed like many voices around me were questioning my every move - both to my face and behind my back. Everything Dr. Sears advocated in terms of parenting made me feel like I wasn't alone. The more I read, the more I realized others like me did exist.

Even if you don't get into all the ideas of attachment parenting, the site is FANTASTIC when it comes to figuring out how to care for your sick child. It is so in-depth and mimics the real-life scenarios parents often encounter with their children.

Thanks to our own patient pediatrician (my children hate going to the doctor, and the loud cries make that apparent to anyone in the vicinity of the clinic) and the Dr. Sears website, I've been able to nagivate through the sneezes, coughs, runny noses and fevers that have plagued our household this past week.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Win or lose, it's been an amazing ride!

And while I wish I was writing this post from a hotel room in sunny Pasadena, Calif., we'll be cheering on our Tigers from home tonight.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Starting the New Year Right

"Cheers to another year and another chance for us to get it right."
                                                 -Oprah Winfrey
While the past few days have found my little ones under the weather, which isn't exactly how I'd hoped to begin 2014, I've been focusing on the positives so far.

We had good friends over on New Year's Eve to share food, drink and laughs.

We eagerly await Monday night when our team will play in the biggest game in college football.

And I'm starting the new year by turning once again to one of my favorites: Sally Clarkson.

I love Sally because she not only encourages moms, but helps inspire them to focus on the meaningful priorities. I'm reminded of this again reading her newest book "10 Gifts of Wisdom."  For as well Sally knows, it is the heart that matters most - both in my children and myself.

Instead of focusing on to-do lists and accomplishments, Sally inspires moms to focus on gentleness, truth, beauty, goodness and wisdom.

Sally is the mom of four adult children, and one of the things I love most about her is how she still focuses on being a mom. It's so encouraging in a world where so many women of her age focus more on living their own lives now that their children are grown. It amazes me how this focus and dedication to her children, both when they were young and now as adults (though many of them live in different cities) ultimately enables her to live the life she craves and desires. I think it is because of this that she is able to connect with many moms of young children. She's a true testament to what a woman should strive to be throughout her life.

I'm also re-reading a book she co-authored with her husband, Clay, called "Educating the Whole-Hearted Child."

Both of these books inspire those of us idealist-moms about who we hope to be to our children, the homes we try to create for them and the lives we lead.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Top Ten of 2013

Around the web, people are posting their top moments of 2013. With this being a travel blog, I thought I'd join the reminiscing by posting favorite travel moments from the past year.

10. Astronomy night with my little man. We didn't have to go far from home for this one. We traveled about two minutes from our house to a field where high-powered telescopes were set up to view the night sky and the moons of Jupiter.

9. Breakfast at this Washington DC cafe.

8. The tastes of Paris courtesy of Matt's mom. Not once, but twice this year did I receive an overnight package of bread from the Parisian bakery Poilane.

7. Exploring the outdoors in the northwestern corner of our state.

6. Walking the streets of New York and Mattie sticking her hand out to pet all the passing dogs. One greeted back by filling her hand with slobber. That was in June, and she still asks if we remember the doggie in New York.

5.. Hildene, the home of Robert Todd Lincoln, in Manchester, VT.

4.The magic carpets at Disney World.

3. An evening picnic in Chicago's Grant Park listening to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.

2. Sitting on the window ledge with my son in our room at the Lucerne Hotel in NYC looking out into the traffic and lights of a West-side night.

1. The Iron Bowl 2013. This took place a few weeks ago here in our hometown. Though we have two season tickets, this was the first game I'd attended all year. If you haven't seen or heard the final moments as they unfolded on Auburn radio, it's well worth it. Even if you have seen or heard it - again and again - it never gets old!

Happy New Year, and Happy Travels in 2014!