Mommy Nostalgia

A little nostalgia along the way…

One of the highlights of our trip from NH to TX was a stop in Monroe, LouisianIMG_0098a – my old college town! The home of what used to be Northeast Louisiana University but is now University of Louisiana at Monroe (formerly the Indians, now the Warhawks thanks to the political correctness of our day)!

We realized somewhere along the way that I hadn’t been through Monroe in 19 years, so as you can imagine, a LOT has changed! All of the old dorms that I had lived in have since been demolished, replaced by what appear to be luxury apartments on campus! Jealous! There are also some incredible new buildings, including a beautiful library, and renovations to just about everything – and a Starbucks right on campus!

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There are so many memories, I couldn’t begin to share (what happens at college stays at college), but one thing I will share is that when I was accepted to NLU, I was awarded a “work” scholarship, meaning that I would be assigned to someone – a professor, one of the admin offices, somewhere, to work 10 hours per week. And ironic, considering my current career, I was assigned to Mr. Duff, HR Director, in the campus HR office, who admittedly actually had no use for a student for 10 hours.

I spent those 10 hours per week mostly filing and stuffing paychecks (while desperately trying to keep my eyes open) – it was so incredibly boring, except for the payroll lady that was a bit of a nut, so from time to time, her shenanigans would liven things up a bit. But while there, Mr. Duff became a 2nd Dad for me away from home, and he looked out for me, gave me advice, and told me to watch out for all the boys because “they were only after one thing!” He and I have kept in touch over the years, and we IMG_0089were fortunate enough to meet up with him for dinner the night we stayed in Monroe on our trip.

Nineteen years later, we reminisced, laughing about the time I was there, and the HR experiences we’ve both had over the years. I am so lucky to have been assigned to his office and made a lifelong friend and mentor. And I was so proud to introduce him to the Littles, who didn’t hesitate to shower him with their sweet hugs, somehow knowing he is special to me.

The next day, we visited the bookstore and picked up some ULM gear, IMG_0097then trekked across campus so I could show the Littles the natatorium where I spent so many hours swimming with the team as a walk-on. Good times – ones I’ll always cherish. Unfortunately, the “Nat” as we called it was closed – no team anymore. Sad, but maybe someday they’ll get another one going.IMG_0100

We also went by the waterski ramp on the Bayou Desiard, where we used to swim out and sunbathe during off-times – tons of fun! And imagine – this school has a National Championship Waterski Team that actually practices on the bayou!

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And another couple of fun memories – Peking Restaurant – which always had the most amazing Chinese food buffet – we would load up after swimming (and when we had money)! Can’t believe it’s still there!

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And for those of you who have heard me speak of this and didn’t believe me – yes, it’s true – and here is a real photo – of the drive-thru daquiri place! When I was there, it was called Daquiri’s Unlimited, and now is called The Oasis Daquiris – complete with drive thru window! One of my favorite places when I was a student there! Only in Louisiana!  😉

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It was certainly a nice walk down memory lane, even having changed so much! The best part? Taylor exclaimed as we drove away, “Mommy, I’m going to go to college here too!” Who knows? Maybe! Go Indians! Oops…I mean Go Warhawks!

 

 

Lauren…our little fearless leader!

This girl…our Little Lauren…our fearless leader. This girl has got11811489_10204990723427674_630832289937915816_n to be one of the sweetest little people in the world — and one of the smartest! She really “gets” things, and she rolls with things better than most adults would! And she absolutely LOVES everyone – truly cares and wants everyone to feel it! And she is such a little hugger! If she feels comfortable (and that is a loose qualifier), she will hug! And it always makes anyone we interact with feel so good! There truly needs to be more hugging in the world! People need it!

As far as our move goes, she has probably been the least affected! She has been super helpful, patient, and kind, and is an example for us all. She very much likes to be in charge, and to be helpful, and if I had to identify her love language, it would be “words of affirmation.” She loves to be helpful and be praised for it – that really makes her feel special!

The very last day in our NH home, we all gathered in the kitchen area and said a prayer of gratitude, hope, and safety for our drive, and she just had to run up to her room to look one last time – even though she rarely slept in there – and then literally hugged the cabinets in the kitchen to say goodbye…

She and her Daddy are so close – it’s the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen….and she talks to him about all the details of what’s happening. This morning, she woke up telling him all about our having to sign 50 papers to buy our new house, and promised to be good because of our “deal.” Our deal was that if they were good, we would go to the mall and visit the Lego Store – and boy, does she get excited about “deals!”

She is simply a delight – and a negotiator, a caregiver, and absolutely a leader. I cannot wait to see her grow into our new life in Texas. I am not worried at all that she will rise to the top! And seriously – just look at that face – love this girl!

Thirty hours, three Littles, fourteen states, and two loaded cars…

I’ve you’ve never done it, I highly recommend it! That is, as long as you have movies in the car, iPads and other entertainment items – a HUGE thank you to everyone who gifted us fun car activities! They came in super handy!

First let me say (brag) that our Littles were nothing short of nearly perfect on the ride – the whole way! They were patient, kind, and a lot of fun! Inquisitive, curious, nostalgic for our NH home, but excited about the adventure!

It was a VERY long drive, but hubby Steve did a great job of mapping it all out for us, complete with lunch stops and hotel stays. That gave us a great goal to shoot for each day, and provided enough progress AND the opportunity for the Littles to play in the pool and wear themselves out before bed! Score!

And if you haven’t ever had the opportunity to drive cross-USA – you should plan to – we are all so truly fortunate to live in such a beautiful country – rich with gifts, culture, history and humor – and you’ll appreciate every bit you come across, even if in different ways.

Our first day was a fairly short one from a drive perspective, only from NH to Fishkill, NY – an area we have seen many many times. That morning, we finished up laundry in our house, cleaned, patched holes, and packed the cars, heading out around 1 p.m. The drive to Fishkill was uneventful but for the usual summer New England traffic on the Mass Pike that held us up for a full extra hour…of course!

Day two…on the docket…Fishkill, NY to Knoxville, TN! Our longest planned day – 11 hours! Got up early, hoping the Littles would be sleepy enough to pass out and give us at least a couple hours of quiet progress. It was a spectacular morning, with a beautiful blue sky and not a cloud in sight. The perfect driving day. Not too long into the drive we were gifted with the sight of two hot air balloons drifslide-16ting not-too-high above the trees – they were just beautiful! When Taylor saw it, she enthusiastically exclaimed, “I want to go hot-air-ballooning!” Of course you do, my little DareDevil!  😉

Not too long after that, we started climbing into the mountains – where we were met with this amazingly beautiful fog draped among the trees – nothing that interfered with driving, but it was just mysterious and made me marvel at the wonders God can create to make a morning even more spectacular.

The Littles, ate, slept, played, observed, sang, danced, and even wondered out loud why we didn’t just take a plane to get to Texas – smart little stinkers! And I’m not sure if they are buying the whole story of needing to get the cars down there…but the complaining was not incredible.

So some observations along the way – and some things that make you go “hmmmm….”

1. For anyone who is God-fearing and worried about this country and where it is headed – feel comforted that there are a great many people and communities that are worshipping in a big way. Starting as soon as Eastern Pennsylvania, there was an obvious presence of Christian movement, evident by the frequency and sheer size of the churches and crosses adorning the sides of the interstate. Add to that the “God” billboards, and yLoveThyNeighborAsThyself-300x176ou are reminded the entire drive that He is working on people in this great country!

2. There is so much history along the East Coast and down to Dixie! The beautiful Shenandoah Valley is full of Civil War historical stops – and we wished we had time to stop and explore.

3. The 18-wheeler that had this painted on the back of the cab…”Don’t sweat the petty stuff…just pet the sweaty stuff.” Ummmm…ewwww!

4. The increasing frequency of fireworks stores! Most memorable? “Bimbo’s Fireworks!”

5. The dwindling signs for Dunkin’ Donuts off the highway and the increasing signs for Bojangles, Popeye’s Chicken, Waffle House and Cracker Barrel!

6. Sweet tea from Tennessee down – a Southern staple! I’m in! The way it should be!

7. The proud billboard for a liquor store, proclaiming, “We have YER moonshine!”

8. The kudzu, simultaneously beautiful and destructive, blanketing the trees and foliage alongside the highway…creating these mysterious looking mounds that make you wonder what’s underneath…

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It certainly is beautiful, and I couldn’t help but stare at it as we drove by.

9. The speed limit increases the farther you move South…yes, really! By the time we reached I-20, the speed limit reached 75! Woo hoo! That meant that making really great time toward the end of our trip!

10. Clearly Alabama and Louisiana are sorely lacking in the highway funding department! 😉

11. The gentile demeanor of those beneath the Mason-Dixon line – the friendliness, the slow (very slow) hospitality (why the rush?) – it will be an adjustment for us after 13+ years up North, but it will be a welcome change…a reminder to slow down, enjoy people, establish a more gentle pace. It’s absolutely something we look forward to…

12. This store…who wouldn’t want to shop here?DC_THO2

I’m quite sure there are a hundred more things that will come to mind, but I wanted to memorialize this drive while I remembered some of these details…again, I highly recommend a good long road trip with your loved ones…the discoveries, and even the quiet contemplation while driving is worth its weight in gold!

Finally arrived in DFW! Ready to close on our new home and share more with you soon! Godspeed!

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The best kind of party…

Let me say this up front…Steve and I have had a lot of parties. A lot. And some really big ones – those close to us can probably call one or more of them to mind. But I must say, we had one of the best parties ever this past weekend, and it’s not the kind of party you’d think! You know, the usual all-adult party where food and beverages were flowing…well, mostly beverages…and there was all kinds of grown up joking and shenanigans (like throwing lemon slices in jest at a very drunk partygoer as she walked away headed home to her house next door – I know….mature, right)…?11885400_10206280369681928_9139810515863548668_n

No…not even close. This one was all about the kids! Once we knew we were leaving, we started trading requests for the Littles to have playdates with all their Little friends before we departed…but at some point, I realized, there just simply wasn’t enough time for everyone to get together one by one, so I very hurriedly slapped together a Facebook event entitled the “Grant Family Pre-Move Ultimate Super Duper Play Date” and invited all of the Littles’ friends and their grown ups to join! I said I’d provide the protein, and asked that everyone coming just help out by bringing a little side dish or something…

I rented a Spongebob Squarepants bounce house and a huge (even accommodating adults) inflatable water slide, then just went back to work on the details of moving. The RSVPs kept coming in, but it wasn’t until 3 days before I realized I needed to actually PLAN for how this party would come together. So I decided on crock pot pulled pork, hot dogs and chicken tenders and nuggets, and hoped for the best!

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Amazingly, I went to bed the night before without putting the pork in the crock pot, only to wake up at 5 a.m. with a start! So up I go, knowing I had a full 7 hours of wonderful crock pot time to get the pork done by party time! That was divine sleep intervention for sure!

Around party time, the guests and food started pouring in, and I was very soon out of any kind of counter space to accommodate it all! It was nothing short of amazing! We had Texas caviar, fresh guacamole, caprese salad, broccoli salad, tons of desserts, more salads, potato salad…the list goes on and on and on!

Outside, the sun was shining, the kiddos were sliding and bouncing, the grown ups were commiserating, people were smiling, and I was in awe. In awe of the people who came to wish us well, who came to celebrate with us, who shared so many gifts with us…my heart was and is full.

Unfortunately, we had found out that very day that the school many of our Littles connected through last year is closing, so there was a sense of concern and worry about those who had planned to continue there. Nevertheless, everyone ate, drank, and was merry, and had an amazing time! People who hadn’t connected before DID, and there was an amazing sense of camaraderie and support for those needing to find a new school in a short period of time.

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Late in the afternoon, it was time to wind down, and the goodbye’s were heartfelt, warm and lasting. We wished everyone a nice quiet afternoon at home with their little ones (who should be worn plum out from the party activities), and reveled in their heartfelt goodbyes and promises to stay in touch.

While we are excited for our new adventure, warm weather and long summers, I have to say the feeling is bittersweet. We have been extraordinarily blessed to have met and connected with such wonderful and warm people here, and will truly miss you all (you know who you are)!

For those who gave up a very precious New England summer day to celebrate with us, please know how blessed we feel and how much we will miss seeing you! We wish you all the best in health, wealth and happiness!

And thank GOD for social media – keeping us all in touch almost like we’re in each others’ backyards!

“Happy trails to you….until we meet again…” You are all welcome at our home in TX any time!

A promise to see them soon…

Well, yesterday was the super-duper final play date party with all the Littles’ friends and their families (I promise a post to come soon about that day), but today was the farewell lunch with Steve’s family, the Grants. We all met up in Kittery, Maine at Roberts Maine Grill, a fabulously quaint yet progressive eatery with that authentic Maine lighthouse feel and fantastic food, nestled right in the middle of the Kittery Outlet shopping. Check out their website here – it’s a GREAT place to go! Roberts Maine Grill

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Steve’s parents were there, of course, along with his brother, Brad, sister-in-law Laurel, and their two “kids” – one headed off to Trinity College this Fall, and the other a Junior in high school. We had a very nice lunch…casual but with great food, and lots of fun conversation about all the changes and milestones being reached in the upcoming year, as well as some reminiscing from Steve and Brad’s childhood – always entertaining!

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There were laughs, and there were tears, but easing the pain of our departure (at least we hope) was the presentation of already-booked airfare for Grammy and Grampy to Texas for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday week. And you know with everything going on, that will be here before you know it!

Have I mentioned moving is hard? It’s a big change – affecting not only those moving, but those who surround them…who love them…and will miss them. Our hope is that anyone affected knows that we cherish their presence in our life, and further that our doors and our arms will always be open to welcome them anytime they are in our area!

A fabulous weekend all around! God is good!

My baby Colton…

Colton…what can I say? He is my first born, the love of my life! He was the sweetest little baby, calm, docile, and so incredibly cute! I spent every waking minute with him that I could, and rocked him to sleep every night. I really struggle to find the words to express what he means to me and how he makes me feel. It’s hard to imagine that this perfect little person came out of me…he is truly a gift every microsecond of every day.

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Not to mention, he is just…handsome! I know I am his mommy, but I seriously could just stare at him all day long! He has this perfect, sweet, beautiful face and big, giant blue, sincere eyes that can melt anyone’s heart in half a second!

Since I am chronicling our move to Texas, I want to make sure I spotlight each one of our Littles and their reactions to this first really major change in their little lives.

So once we knew we were moving, we waited a bit to make sure everything was falling into place before telling the Littles. But once everything was all set, we decided to go ahead and sit down with them and let them know we were all headed South.

Colton’s immediate reaction was to start crying…honestly I think he thought we were just leaving – and not taking all of our “stuff” with us – so that meant his precious LEGOs would be left behind! Once we convinced him that everything would be packed up and coming with us, he seemed to be ok.

Since then, he seems to be taking it in stride, but I know my baby boy, and know deep down he is still trying to work it all out. He is his mother’s son – a thinker – emotional. You can tell it all in his eyes in his photos…they are deep and vulnerable.

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And I can tell it’s working on him. He has been SUPER snuggly and clingy lately, which, of course, I love, but also means he is looking for that security he is used to. So I keep hugging him close, reassuring him that everything is going to be ok…

He has been stuttering more lately – an issue we had about a year ago but went away – and I’m sure it’s just a stress reaction. He has always been the little one that doesn’t like surprises – likes to know exactly what to expect, how it will look/sound/be, and so I fully expect once we are there, all of this will settle down.

He remains the sweetest, most gentle, caring, loving young soul I’ve ever met, and I am so proud of him and who he is becoming. I look forward to being his stability, his rock, his MOM…forever! I will most certainly update his progress as we get settled in to our new life!

Stay tuned!

NO room for error!

So we are on official final countdown! After all the anticipation, preparation, excitement, and so on, we’re now down to the wire! We leave – driving – next Saturday! T minus 10 days and counting! There are blessings in life, big and small, and while God has been busy with all of the bigger things in life, He has found… Read more →

The mystery of change…

It’s been a long time since we’ve had change of this magnitude in our lives. Well, that’s not really true – having the Littles was certainly a huge change, but even so, it’s been at least 6 1/2 years. Change is a funny thing. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some do it easily, some cannot deal with it at all. I would say Steve and I are a pretty good balance. We handle it pretty well, and actually look upon it as a good and needed new adventure. While it can be stressful, we do our best to remain positive and upbeat about it, and also tend to get quite a few laughs in during the process. I also tend to worry a lot, but that just motivates me to power through what needs to be done.

What is rather remarkable, though, is the way other people handle our change. Seriously, it’s so interesting! As a psych major, I guess I’ve always been intrigued by how people behave and react to certain things, and then I try to figure out where the reaction is coming from. Sometimes it’s obvious, and sometimes I’m baffled. And sometimes I’m disappointed.

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So I thought I’d jot down some of the reactions we’ve encountered so that I will remember them the next time we have a major change, and then I won’t let myself be surprised when some of these present themselves. If you are reading this, you may recognize some of these from changes in your own life! I do believe they have more to do with the person reacting than with us personally. So here goes…

1. Genuine joy, elation, excitement! LOVE this one, of course! These are the people who we know truly love us, support us, and know the struggles and joys we’ve had over the years. It also includes our closest friends down in Texas, because they are truly excited we’re coming back!

2. Genuinely happy, but sad at the same time – the “Bittersweet!” I love this one too! These are our family and friends who are genuinely happy for us and support us but are sad that we will be leaving the area. We have made such wonderful new friends here, and I will miss all of them and the chance to build closer relationships over more time. Truly, we are grateful.

3. The “Bewildered.” The ones who just look as us like we’ve lost our minds, and ask questions like, “what do you mean, you just ‘decided’ to move?” “Who does that?” This one is kind of funny to me!

4. The “Inspired.” Those who are inspired to rethink their own situation and life and location – who suddenly realize through our experiences that they could do it too! I love when it gets people thinking!

4. The “Debbie Downers.” “Oh, it’s so hot down there!” “You know the entire state just flooded! Yes, the entire state!” “I could never live there – there are no seasons!” “Watch out for all those tornadoes!” Need I say more?

5. The “Haters.” These are the people I’m most sad for. You know, the ones who really just cannot be happy for anyone, no matter what? The ones at work that I know are secretly planning which office supplies they will confiscate from my desk once I’ve made my final exit? The ones who have absolutely nothing to say – and I mean nothing. Like they just quit talking to you. And the saddest part about this group is that they don’t know what they are missing out on! I mean, come on – we are FUN!

I think that’s all so far – if I think of more I’ll add to the comments. Onward and upward! Focusing on the positive and all of the amazing people we have in our lives that are allowing themselves to share in our joy. We are truly grateful for all of you, and look forward to long (even if long-distance) loving relationships with you! 

Join in the conversation! Register and comment! Love to hear your thoughts – any others you can think of?

 

 

 

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