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Solo Parentis

Kellie is in Nashville, TN for a couple of days at SEPA (Southeastern Psychological Association) getting her learning and networking on with fellow peers in the field. Which has left me home with the two wee ones, which has been a bit of an eye opener. I mean I keep the kids throughout the day from 7am~4pm before heading to work til 2am, but trying to work from home and juggle parental duties was just about incapacitating as it could be. It has given me a new found respect for single parents, and increased my pride in Kellie for handling this parental duty, full time work, a handful of a husband all while still sticking to her graduation deadlines. Recently she attended an interview for a PhD program, we have our fingers crossed for her acceptance, which is exciting and scary at the same time as it will mean some big changes in our lives. Although I think it is wonderful cause she is driven in not just using this opportunity to improve herself but also as a way to help others.

So hats of to those that do this solo every single day, especially those that pursue more while trying to keep what they have.

The Holidays of 2013

Much like every year the Holidays bring a mixed bag of good and bad. The bad is really just the odd painful memory, the hurt of loved ones no longer with us, or the loved ones here but not. Kellie and I try to put something together for the kids because they deserve all good memories this year though we’ve kind of been overwhelmed with realization that we really do spoil our children throughout the year. We could not imagine buying them more toys, gadgets, or gizmos to spread throughout the house or pile in the garage once the novelty has worn off. We are going to start teaching our kids that Christmas is not about the gifts under the tree but the gift of being together with each other, of course this is going to be a learning curve they are both under the age of four and one is just turning two. Honestly we are still a new family and a lot of our life is in flux with school and career so our traditions are not yet completely solidified to even be called traditional. My ultimate goal for this holiday season is to see family, love my family, and hopefully spend some time with my wife. We have put a lot of ourselves out there in a lot of different directions, it won’t be so bad to come back to center with each other for a while.

This year I have given more to charity regarding feeding the hungry, local shelters, toys for tots than I probably have any other year. Mainly due to my own reflection on just how fortunate my own family is, just how much we have that others do not. I plan to continue my reflection on this as I feel it helps me avoid that terrible consumer driven nature we all wrestle with. That voice that tells you a new something will make you happy and complete your life. Nothing completes your life other than your own resolve to get up off your ass and live it. Which I fully intend to do every day.

For those that care have a happy time with your family, whatever your celebration. Here is the card we intend to send out, however our printer has been late with our delivery!

2013_xmas_card

From US-16 to I-95 feels like a long ride… – Jekyll Island 2013

Well the family headed back down to Jekyll Island this year and we stayed at a new condo within the same resort space. The condo was great: clean, well furnished, and spacious. There were only two problems with the condo: 1. Only one bathroom, on the 2nd floor, 2. No area rugs, so cool tile first thing in the morning on the 1st floor. Other than that it was actually a great place to stay not to mention we had perfect weather all week! The temperature got into the mid 80s most days and it was clear skies and lots of sun for us. Luckily we found some Ocean Potion Sunblock at Maxwell’s and it worked like a charm cause while I am slightly ‘pinken-ed’ I am by no means burnt. A hard feat for any sun screen with this ginger’s pale skin.

Looks like we arrived this year with high tide arriving in the early afternoon and late evening, this put low tide at early morning and mid afternoon on most days. This worked well for us as we’d hit the beach for some sand castle building or a long stroll before returning to the shadier pool area during the heat of the day. On our last day out we got to take about a 1/4~1/2 stroll up the beach just passed the Drift Wood beach area. We found a few tide pools with some signs of life and a few unfortunate victims of the tide as well. The kids had a pretty good time of it the exception being Liam who was starting to interest in his beach vacation, he had to be toted part of the way on shoulders.

The food at every place we visited was delicious although the gem we found this time was Marshside Grill where we had the best wings in the area with a cool and easy atmosphere. While the staff was mostly young locals the service was pretty quick and the food arrived promptly so another bonus. After that most meals were taken on a whim of whatever was nearby at the time or wherever we happened to want to spend the day. We lucked up though with the Driftwood Bistro serving lunch during September. They made some amazingly huge ciabatta bread sandwiches at a fair price. Let’s just say no one went hungry on the island and we brought some of our snack food back with us cause we never hungered to touch it!

The kids seemed to have a blast as well although Liam seem to have some travel anxiety here and there. He was definitely not his normal self that is for sure! Kellie was able to relax and this year didn’t have an exam to bring with her so she laid out for a good tan and enjoyed the ocean with the rest of us. Overall it was a relaxing and fun vacation, it was really hard to come back. We even talked about what it would be like to live the ‘island life’ down the road, I mean who knows?

Oh and I took some pictures too!

Void

I’m sitting in front of my computer, the kids have both been put down for naps. Staggered unfortunately so that the moment I would become comfortable to nap one of them would rise.

I’m sitting here cause I don’t know where else to sit, I feel adrift and empty. Television is just noise, internet is just the squawking of a million mindless voices each with their own opinion and very little facts.

So I sit here, not knowing where else to sit, what else to do. I’ll put supper on in an hour or so, prepare for work. It just kind of feels pointless at the moment, a complete waste of time.

I sit here, waiting for it to all make sense, for a moment of clarity. I wait for that moment of clarity so that it might all make sense today but will tomorrow bring?

It’s not about you…

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Family.

Families comes in all shapes and sizes. Rarely do you get to choose your family your born with and sometimes you make a family out of those around you. When you start a family it is a whole other story, cause it is up to you to determine how your family works.

The determination you make however may not always be an easy path, but so long as your loved ones are safe and happy it’s a road worth traveling.

The Holidays…

The holidays are bitter sweet for Kellie and I. On the one hand we enjoy the traditional gathering of those we care about and love, but we still have deal with stresses that also crop up. Whether it’s familial drama, wishing lost loved ones were with us, or just the odd old holiday memory that isn’t the most pleasant we try to deal with our stresses as best we can. Still we strive to make the holidays nothing but happy memories for the kids. So that maybe they can grow up, with less dread and anxiety, to truly appreciate the holidays. In a way doing for them lets us heal ourselves, at the very least it gives us immense joy and happiness that makes the weariness of the holidays a bit more tolerable.

December is also now packed with things for us to celebrate from Christmas to Kellie and Liam’s birthdays it does seem to make for an interesting time of the year. Of course this was Liam’s first birthday and one I’m glad he won’t really remember as he was sick and teething, which basically means he was a hot mess of “no I don’t want anything to do with anything”. So hard to believe he is already one, and Ripley soon to be three, I don’t know where the time has gone honestly.

Our Family Vacation – Jekyll Island

Head South bound on I-75.

On the road!

We booked a condo unit at the Villas by the Sea resort on Jekyll Island back in June, we felt that September was far enough away that we could plan ahead to take a small family vacation. Well we hit a few speed bumps along the way namely that Kellie would have to bring along a test to finish while we were on vacation, yuck. Despite this we hit the road early Saturday morning to make our afternoon check in time, we started our trip following the trusty “family truckster’s” GPS and then mixed in some good ol’Google Map directions I printed so we could have a pit stop in Dublin, Ga. Mixing our sources took us through some interesting town small towns such as Glennville, Ludowici, and Townsend before spitting us out to I-95 South. The trip was most pleasant with Liam and Ripley napping almost all of the way there… almost. Liam seemed to find a breaking point at just about 20 minutes from our destination, so Mr. Cranky Pants had us stop and relax at a rest area off I-95. However he decided he didn’t care that we had stopped that he was done riding for the day period! Our ears worn out and butts sore from the five or so hour drive we finally arrived to our home for the next week. We lugged our luggage inside and proceeded to get some what comfy while checking out the digs. This was a one bedroom unit with a fold out sofa, sleeps 4 in a pinch though more comfortable for say three. We had the other basics as well with a complete kitchen, cable TV, DVD player, 36″ flat screen, seating for dining, and the place was decorated with tiny treasures of the owners. We also had a sliding door that led right out to the court yard where there was a kids playground for Ripley. The playground was in decent shape with slides, swings, climbing ladders, tire swing, and a giant playset built to look like a ship with the name the “S.S. Neversail” which was funny to me, anyway. We were pretty starving after we settled into our unit and decided to stick close to home for supper so we took a quick walk over to the restaurant located at the resort, this is where we found our favorite place to eat on the island, the Driftwood Bistro. We sat down to a simple but fantastic menu with reasonable prices for sensibly sized portions. Even Ripley and Liam who were half crazy with car-cabin fever were behaved and ate well. Before retiring for the evening we decided to check out the beach, which was non-existent due to high tide so Kellie took Ripley along the inland side of the rock barrier were she found many rocks to bring home, our lil’geologist is not so interested in the sea shells yet. As a matter of fact, that night Ripley was right into the shower because she was covered head to toe in sand from her explorations. The first of many shower wrestling matches that week!

Unit 208 at Villas by the Sea

Our island home.

A note on staying at a condo rental, you will need to bring everything with your that you will need through out a day of normal living: food, water, coffee, toilet paper, dish soap, laundry detergent, sheets, pillow cases, hand soap, towels, and of course paper towels. We had been prepared for most of these necessities prior to our arrival except food and water which we decided to pick up once were more local. So on Sunday we kept things low key and went to pick up provisions for our stay, riding into Brunswick for a Wal-Mart shopping spree. We planned to eat in for lunches and a few dinners while sampling here and there a few of the islands offerings, this planned worked well as it kept us on a sensible budget without feeling like we had to count every penny in the pocket. It was a smart plan that worked well throughout the week.

We found out that Georgia Sea Turtle Center was typically closed on Mondays was actually opened for a few hours during September, so we snuck down to find out if we could avoid a large crowd. We arrived a bit early and walked a bit of the Historic District grounds before attending the center. Upon arrival we were told that they had an issue with the registers and asked if we would kindly pay admission on the way out. At a measly $7 per adult and $4 per child over 3 any lame-o that tried to sneak out should be hung from one of the beautiful oaks on the grounds, as all proceeds go right into helping and rehabilitating the turtles at the center. While not very big the center provides a great deal of information and is a definite feature for those wee ones of any age. Ripley of course finds the one and only video game at the center that is a version of Frogger  but featuring a turtle trying to lay eggs across a busy highway. We also got to visit the patients at the center in various states of care, the most visible and largest of which was Caton, a large female logger head sea turtle who was being treated for an issue with her air bladder, being a return patient she was being looked after with great care. After viewing the center we sought out some grub as we were starving. We ended up walking the Historic District to find the Jekyll Island Club hotel, which had a few dining options we decided to keep it simple, and enjoyed a meal at the Café Solterra. For a simple cafe they had a decent sandmich and soup menu an even a few pizzas.

We spent a large amount of time at the pool, mainly due to the high tide along the north side of the beach and it’s pattern for being low when we were ready to eat or catch some shade from the hot sun. We did make it to the beach for an extended period one day for exploration and fun in the sand, first visiting the driftwood beach and then walking back to our access point and playing in the waves. Kellie and Ripley built a small sand castle which ultimately succumbed to the waves, Ripley was not impressed and thought the waves should go spoil someone else’s castle. Although Ripley has not been known for being daring on a playground typically she will not climb, never slides, and usually stands around looking at things with an intimidated frown. Well she must be over it cause she spent quite a bit of time climb, sliding, digging, running, and swinging on just about everything out there. She also climbed the highest slide on the playground and came back down by herself! Poppa was proud and impressed to say the least!

While the weather had been beautiful upon arrival and the last two days that Tuesday morning brought an overcast day and some drizzling rain. Not a down pour or shower, just enough rain to be annoying and keep most folks indoors. Not wanting to be cooped up we set out on a little island road trip to find a place to eat and pick up some souvenirs. We hit the GSTC first for some forgotten items and then Maxwell’s to have custom embroidery done to hats we had picked up to make one of kind keepsakes. We took a turn towards the marina and found Seajay’s sitting at the end of the street. We enjoyed pub style grub and sitting by the fish tank, which Ripley especially enjoyed as she was quiet just about the whole time. Liam slept through most of the meal until we finished and he scarfed some of his own eats. A short walk around the marina turned up a ‘sea cat’ left by a former-boat-now-land land-owner, the cat “Bobo” would basically make his way back to the marina despite being taken home so often the owner just stopped picking him up. Ripley fell in love instantly and was not really excited about being separated. Actually Ripley was trying to befriend every furry critter on the island but none as hard as the some what tame but still skidish squirrels. For days she would offer chips and acorns she would find to the squirrels in hopes of being able to pet the quick footed fuzzy butts. Sadly it was not meant to be and Ripley spent many hours running to and fro chasing that which would not be captured. While humorous the recent news about kids and squirrels made us keep a keen eye on just how friendly those squirrels were and just how close she got to catching one. We wrapped up a rainy day at the condo watching some of Ripley’s favorite movies and some bad reality TV, we even elected to order a Red Bug Motors Pizza that wasn’t too bad.

Ripley walking back from the Camp Store on Jekyll Island, Ga

Slow Poke

Kellie had spent some time in the evenings working on her test that we had to bring with us, but Wednesday was crunch time so I took the kids for a long walk from the Villas to the Camp Store, this started out well despite two dogs and a squirrel chasing that ensued by one Ripley. The Camp Store is a small shop off the camp ground/RV park  which we stopped in to purchase some water and a few treats for the way back. It was about half way back to the Villas that I lost Ripley, mentally that is. She didn’t want to ride in the stroller, didn’t want to be carried, and begrudgingly walked onwards to our unit. If someone had stopped and opened a car door she would have crawled inside without a care, she waved at cars parked along the road hoping one would carry us home. Once we got back to the unit she finished off the water and had half of a 100 Grand, it was like it had never happened. Cranky two year olds, gotta love ‘em, don’t make good time walking so about a two mile trip took us about two hours, so Kellie had actually gotta to her last question and wrapped up just a few minutes after we got back.  Kellie’s test done we headed pool side to visit our friends the skiddish squirrels and play in the pool for a good while since the weather was sunny and warm. After an exhausting day laying around the pool we packed it in and then headed to Fins on the beach. This place is recently renovated with an outdoor deck area and a open airy indoor setting. The food is pretty good, better than Seajay’s but still not on par with the Driftwood even if the prices can be somewhat comparable.

Kellie finally free of her test allowed us to take on Thursday without any concerns or worries other than making sure we prep to head out on Friday, sadly. That morning Liam decided he wanted to nap on Mama so Ripley and I left them on the sofa for a walk. She dashed from the playground to the observation deck, then back towards our unit only to circle back around an entirely different building then a mad sprint to our sliding door on the back of our unit. I think this was revenge on me for Wednesday’s walk as I was plain ol’tuckered out. We did try the pool for a while but it was a bit over cast so we gave that up to relax in the condo, deciding that as our final dinner we would get some Driftwood Bistro to go. This way we could eat an awesome meal and still pack. It took us all five days but we finally figured out how to get the kids to bed at the same time without having to wait for them to simply give in to sleep. Still they woke just as early as they had every morning so we packed the truckster and headed home. Dropping off some post cards and the keys along the way we headed out following the GPS, without the addition of any Google Map notes, it was smooth sailing all the way home… until we reached I-75 Northbound… then well…. then we wanted to turn around.

For some reason I-75 N at 2:12pm EDT was a gridlocked mess of traffic from Exit 214 northward, without any noticeable causes. So we attempted to get off and take surface streets only those had become swamped with over flow traffic as well. It was like looking at the finish line a mere hundred feet away only to have some attach a ten-thousand pound weight to your back and say ‘giddy up’. It was miserable and we were all stir crazy, but somehow even Liam kept it together all the way to the front door. The drive back made home coming all to sweet, even if we were still sad to leave our lovely getaway, and now a day later we are happy to be in our own beds and have our own things. Yet we still haven’t stopped talking about all the fun and memories we had at Jekyll, if anything this trip has only spurred us to consider other trips and venues in the future. So happy to be home, looking forward to next time though!

Photos of our travels below…

“In America there are two classes of travel – first class, and with children.”
- Robert Benchley

 

Moments in time…

You live life one day at a time, and then you come to a decision. You make a decision based on all of the information you have at the time, all the feelings, all the past experience, you consider it with these bits of information and you make a choice. What you can’t do is see how those choices will effect you down the road. You can’t predict what you believe will be harmless won’t end up harming someone else, or worse harming lots of other someones. Make decisions with great care, I’m not saying to try to predict every future or antagonize over every little thing, just make sure you make good choices and really understand why you make them. If those choices come from a bad place, a sad place, they probably aren’t good choices, and nothing you do isn’t able to come back an haunt you.

That was a reflective thought I had today and I wanted to share it, for many reasons. Although today was definitely a great moment as the morning came and I woke with Kellie. With a good laugh and a great start of the day we finally got up to have breakfast with the kids before she headed off to class, this is how I wish every day could be instead of the passing each other coming or going that we do all the time. In the end I think it’ll be worth it for the kids, but honestly not seeing my wife and sharing a laugh or conversation is a giant pile of suck. We are working on ways to make more time for us, cause well I think if you try hard to just maintain everything else and not yourselves then you and everything else suffers for it. And well nothing you want is really given to you, it is earned, worked for, or taken so we trying to figure out which of those will get us the most time to keep connecting and laughing together. I have a feeling we will settle on ‘work for’ cause ‘taking’ still leads to giving up something else, and everything you ever have comes with a great deal of work.

“Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.”
- Mark Twain

Liam “At play”

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“A day without laughter is a day wasted. ”
- Charlie Chaplin