Saying Goodbye to Begin Fresh

January 1, 2013: *deep breath.*

I love this space. I came into the blogging community quite unwillingly, but have become so at home here, I’m not sure why I ever fussed about it.

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There was never really a purpose to this. There’s never really been a theme. It’s always just been whatever is going on in my life at that time.

We got a baby.

He went to school. They made me a room mom.

I’ve had a LOT of peculiar ailments.

I’ve tried to be healthier.

I’ve ranted and sworn. A lot.

I’ve psychocrafted.

A tree fell on my house.

I read once that when a television show goes on the air, the producers plan for 5 seasons. There’s really not much more story to tell than that. I’ve been here for more than six years. I’m out of bourbon-soaked ranty material. I mean, I can still come up with a good rant, just ask anyone who lives in this house, but I feel played out.

I’ve been reading a lot about living a life with intention. I know, I hate it when people say things like that. It sounds all deprivation tank meditation and uncooked food diet. But I don’t know how else to say it because I also hate the notion of “trying to live to be happy” because happiness is such a vapid thing. Instead, I want to focus on contentment, meaningful work and play, being present in each moment and trying not run around from one thing to the next like my hair is on fire. And while I adore what this blog has been for me as an outlet, it’s also another item on my to-do list.

I want my home to be one of joy and laughter and contentment. That means I must become that kind of person: joyful and content. I must worry less about blog postings and be more intentional and deliberate about other things.

So… this is the end for Damn you, Little Rock. You’ve been an amazing blog. I’m so proud of you. If you were a person, I’d give you a savings bond now. (In case you’re wondering, I’m not giving up this domain. It will sit here quietly in archive should you wish to visit. Although I’m not sure why you would want to.)

What’s next? Drink, Sleep and Be Kerri!

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I’ll be there with less frequent posts. Hopefully, I’ll be producing quality over quantity. It will still be me: offbeat, irreverent and occasionally thoughtful. I hope to be a little less raw and a little more contemplative. I think my family needs that.

It is my most sincere wish that above all things, I’ve made you laugh. I intend to keep doing just that, in a slightly different way, going forward.

May 2013 bring genuine joy and blessings to you all!

~Kerri

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Big Ole Love Note to Ms. Francis

You realize pretty quickly, as a parent, there are certain things you cannot teach your child. You need other people to do that for you. If you have just one kid, this is particularly relevant. For instance, I cannot teach my kid how to get in a line, how to share toys or a lot of other skills he needs to go to school. For that, there are Pre-K teachers. Let me just say, good Pre-K teachers can be the absolute greatest thing to ever happen to your kid. I know. We had some wonderful ones.

Teacher Appreciation Day 2011: J took her a Burger King crown. He said she deserved one. She deserved so much more.

Teacher Appreciation Day 2011: J took Ms. Francis a Burger King crown. He said she needed one. She deserved so much more.

One of those women, Ms. Francis, retired at the Christmas break. As far as I’m concerned, Ms. Francis gets to sit next to the warm cookies when she gets to Heaven. She was amazing. That Monkey did NOT want to go to school. He wanted to play with cars all day long. She just calmly redirected him back to his chair for work time. Then she rewarded him with lots of play time. She showed infinite patience for his rowdy-boy ways. If he made her want to pull her hair out, she didn’t show it.

She was his teacher when the tree fell on our house. It took a few days to get ourselves together. Making his lunch wasn’t really possible for a day or so. He refused to eat a school lunch. She gave him her peanut butter sandwich. Seriously, she gave my kid her lunch to calm him down when everything in his life was literally upside down.

Ms. Francis and J: Spring Play 2011 - He was a cow

Ms. Francis and J: Spring Play 2011 – He was a cow. Moo.

Her family needs her more now than the school does. It’s time for her to stop working full-time. We’re all hopeful she’ll substitute from time to time. J LOVES to stop by her room for hugs. She will be dearly missed. Even though J hasn’t been in her class for two years, it still feels like a personal loss that she won’t be there every day.

We made her a good-bye gift. It’s a little piece of our hearts to take with her because she gave so freely of her heart to us. God Bless You, Ms. Francis!

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IMAG1097P.S. Ms. Francis, I forgot to mention this to you before the break. But every time I saw you, you told me I’m pretty. And I know for a fact you were lying about that. A lot. I’m going to need you to appoint someone else to take over that duty at the school. Thanks!

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Before the Snow

Before the thundersnow and the insanity that it brought with it, we had a little Christmas at our house. It was nice.

J at his school program. As it turns out, you can make the kid wear red pant, but you can't make him happy about it.

J at his school program. As it turns out, you can make the kid wear red pants, but you cannot make him happy about it.

The sweetest gifts under my tree: toys from my son's collection he wrapped in blankets and a cape to give to me and Charlie.

The sweetest gifts under my tree: toys from my son’s collection he wrapped in blankets and a cape to give to me and Charlie.

Two boys named Jackson, two days before Christmas rehearsing to be shepherds. One of them took the job seriously. The other...

Two boys named Jackson, two days before Christmas rehearsing to be shepherds. One of them took the job seriously. The other…

So there was no confusion, the pink cookie was labeled for Mrs. Claus because she might want a snack too.

So there was no confusion, the pink cookie was labeled for Mrs. Claus because she might want a snack too.

Hey Reindeer, stop on by. I put out some nice magical food for you. Bring your boss. Anyone else, please note the security sign.

Hey Reindeer, stop on by. I put out some nice magical food for you. Bring your boss. Anyone else, please note the security sign.

And then there was one...

And then there was one…

After inspecting his red Ninjago motorcycle, he told me, "Mom, the elves made it perfect! Santa must be so proud of them." There was a Daddy Elf who was up past 1am on the assembly line, who grinned all day after that.

After inspecting his red Ninjago motorcycle, he told me, “Mom, the elves made it perfect! Santa must be so proud of them.” There was a Daddy Elf who was up past 1am on the assembly line, who grinned all day after that.

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It Doesn’t Snow at Christmas & Other Lies

For weeks, the Monkey has been telling us that he can’t wait till Christmas for all the obvious reasons. Then he adds, “and then it will snow.”
We were then forced to have the conversation every parent of Southern children must have: It really doesn’t snow here at Christmas. Every movie made about a white Christmas was set north of the Mason Dixon line. Sorry, buddy. Don’t get your hopes up.
Then Christmas Day, about midafternoon, it started sleeting. Then it began to snow. Last night, thundersnow, which was a whole crazy scifi weirdness.
My son stood at the window and jumped up and down, “I knew Santa wouldn’t let me down! I knew it!”
This morning, he bolted out of bed and straight out into the snow in his pajamas. It didn’t take long to realize that was a bad idea. We got him dressed as properly as we could. And it’s been mistlesnow all day.
Merry Christmas, you crazy child!

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He made a snowman

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Playing in the snow with his best friend Sarge

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Snowball fight with Dad

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From the front porch

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Charlie, Jackson, Aunt Becky, Sarge & Lucy in the snow

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Our house in the snow. It's pretty. We had our fun. Now it's time to melt.

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16 Candles, No Sports Car

1995 Dating - I'm pretty sure just got caught making out in the kitchen at our friends' apartment.

1995 Dating – I’m pretty sure we just got caught making out in the kitchen at our friends’ apartment.

If my marriage was a person, it would be legal to drive today.

There was no sports car with a big red bow in my carport this morning. My trusty Subaru remains on guard, ready for any mom-ish needs. Because that’s just where we are in life.

We’ve been married 16 years. We tried to decide if we’ve managed to accumulate an entire year of days when we were not annoyed at each other at some point. But a year is a long time: 365 days. That’s almost 23 days per year of non-annoyance. Two days per month, every month that we’ve been married? I’m not sure that we’ve had that many days where neither of us was annoyed at the other one at some point. I think we’re going to have to make it to 20 years before we reach the one-full-year mark…maybe longer.

In December you'll see a lovely photo of all of us smiling. But this is the real us. Jackson is being a nut job. Charlie is trying to figure out where it all went wrong for him. I'm cracking up at Charlie for being so annoyed with us. Happy Holidays!

Earlier this year. See, we can’t even take Christmas photos without him wondering how he ended up with this crazy woman.

This is not to say it’s been bad around here. Overall, I’d say we’ve got it pretty good. It’s just that when two flawed, human people live together, well, things don’t go perfectly. Charlie has this wife who will say pretty much anything that pops into her head. When you’re a guy who wants to live a reasonably dignified life, that can get old. I have this husband who does not participate in my HILARIOUS shenanigans, rolls his eyes and sighs a lot. That makes me want to punch him in the throat.

Still, I’m glad it’s him who I’ll get old with. I could be with someone more like me, but I doubt I’d have this much fun. There aren’t a lot of people who get it. He does. That’s nice.

So maybe when the kid goes off to college, we’ll talk sports car. I’m sure it will depend on the gas mileage, the safety rating, resale value, Consumer Reports…

Happy Anniversary, Charlie!

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2010 In spite of all of it, we do ok.

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What I’m Afraid Of

I’m hearing stories from friends that children at some schools in Little Rock are reporting “drills” where they practice getting in their cubbies behind backpacks and coats to be very still for three minutes. They are told they will do this “in case a bad man with a gun comes to the school to shoot people.” These children are five.

I suppose there is a desire to do *something* in the wake of last week’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut. I have serious questions about the appropriateness of this plan. To my knowledge, no such drills have gone on at my son’s school. I’m pretty sure I would not be the only parent appalled by such a thing.

I am hopeful that in coming weeks we will see legislation about guns. I am fully aware there is no way to make enough laws to keep murder out people’s hearts. We can, however, make it harder for someone to kill dozens of people in mere minutes. Do not tell me I don’t understand a gun culture. I was raised in an arsenal. I’m from the South. My father is a retired Colonel. I understand responsible gun ownership. There is no argument you can make for a fully automatic weapon that isn’t absurd in the face of 20 dead kindergarteners. Sell crazy some place else.

While on some level I’m scared something like Sandy Hook could happen at my son’s school because it could happen anywhere, that’s not my biggest fear. The chances of a stranger with a gun shooting up my kid’s school remain relatively low. What I’m afraid of is the “good guys” who actually aren’t so good. I’m scared to death of the teacher, choir director, coach, friend of the family or countless other people who I let into my son’s life. I’m afraid because there is a statistically significant chance one of these people will hurt him.

In the past few years, it has come to light that people I trusted as a child or young adult were, in fact, not trustworthy. Some of them harmed children. I never knew. I didn’t even suspect. It has caused me to question how reliable my smeller is about these things. Several friends have shared with me stories of abuse at the hands of relatives or trusted adults in their lives. My friends carry deep wounds, most of which are not healed.

I believe we’re doing the proper things to prevent something horrible. Because of various job assignments in my life, I’ve taken seminars on what to watch for. I know predators look for vulnerable kids. I try to be sure my kid never looks like easy pickings. We don’t let him spend inappropriate lengths of time alone with adults. I still don’t let him go to the men’s room in public alone. But I’m not sure how much longer that’s going to last. At some point, it’s even weirder for him to be in the ladies’ room with me. I keep my guard up. I trust my gut. But there are no guarantees about these things.

The truth is, I want the only danger to my family to be some unknown man with a gun. I want scary people to out there somewhere. I don’t want them anywhere near my family. I want to believe that I could never be fooled a con artist or let a credible threat near me or my child. That would be foolish thinking on my part. It would be even more foolish than hiding behind my coat and being very quiet for three minutes waiting for the danger to pass.

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Santa, Hearing Impairments and Magic

I’m on Day 3 of the 2013 Kerri’s Body Work Stoppage. It seems my organs got together and went all Norma Rae on me. They decided they’d had enough and demanded rest. So they began rejecting food and forced me into bed. It’s fun to live in this body that pretty much does whatever it wants. (In case you couldn’t tell, that last sentence was written with the sarcasm font.)

Before I took to my bed, we managed to make our annual pilgrimage to see Santa. It went reasonably well this year. On the way over, I was practicing with the Monkey what he would say.

Me: Pretend I’m Santa. What’s your name little boy?

J: MOM! Santa knows my name.

Me: Of course he does. Sorry. Um…so Jackson, have you been naughty or nice this year?

J: MO-OM!! Santa knows! He has the list! Why are you being like this?

Me: Right! Yes, well I’m driving, so I got distracted. OK, so Jackson, you’ve been a good boy this year, what would you like?

J: I want a jet, a plane, a truck, a ninja and Schlotzky.

Me: Now, we’ve talked about the Schlotzky situation honey. That’s really hard toy to find. Santa may not be able to get it for you. You don’t always get everything on your list. But you’ve got a good list there, and I bet you get some of the stuff on it.

J: I bet I get Scholtzky. Because Santa’s magic. You said so, Mom. And he can get anything.

Me: We’re here. Let’s just go in and see.

I couldn’t hear the entire conversation but everything seemed to go just fine. There were no tears. Jackson still stood about six feet away from the jolly old elf. Santa is getting a little hard of hearing, and it was pretty loud, so I’m not sure how clear the conversation was. I intend to use that in my favor later.

Because here’s the thing, Disney only sells that stupid Schlotzy car in set with ALL the other Cars 2 cars. And that costs $200. Also, we already have all the other Cars 2 cars. I’m not spending $200 to get the ONE car from the movie he doesn’t already have, when I also know that Disney will begin selling that car next year individually for about $7.50. Because not only is this Momma cheap, this Momma has a little common sense. And I’m not doing it. Even if I had $200 to blow on cars we don’t need for no reason, that’s just stupid. He can wait… and learn to live the disappointment of a partially deaf Santa who obviously didn’t hear him.

 

They seem to struck a deal.

They seem to struck a deal and sealed it with a handshake, as they are gentlemen.

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