Category Archives: Raising Boys

Photos: The Last Homecoming

This year will be filled with “lasts” for my son.

His last Homecoming. His last season of high school basketball. Last Prom.

My son has been blessed with a solid group of friends who have become like family. Some of them have played basketball together since Junior High (one of them since they were 8 years old.) They are all good students, they are smart, driven, loyal and they always have each other’s backs.

This weekend was their last Homecoming. Of course, I brought my new baby with me and well, I took over 270 pictures. That sounds crazy, but my son was with a large group and I took it upon myself to photograph all of them.

Here are a few of my favorite shots.

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I am honored to be able to capture their Senior year through photography, to share these memories with their parents (who are all awesome people) and to give them all something to take with them as they all go out into the real world to become the great men they are destined to be.

At Least He’ll Have an Interesting “How I Eventually Got My Driver’s Permit” Story

The Middle Child has been bugging me to get his driver permit since the day he turned 15 1/2. I kept putting it off because the longer that kid stays off the road, the better for everyone involved.  He recently used the “get all of my friends to bug my mom about letting me get my learner’s permit” tactic.

It worked.

I signed him up for his online driver’s ed course and three weeks ago the certificate came in the mail. The day we received that we made an appointment with the DMV so he could take his test.

His appointment was last Thursday. He was super excited and super annoying about it.

All morning long he was saying things like “Mom, don’t be late!” And “Mom, make sure you’re there to pick me up on time!” And “don’t forget my certificate when you pick me up!”

I was not late and we got there in plenty of time for his appointment.  But we did not anticipate that the line for appointments would be so long nor did we anticipate that ONE employee would be working three lines at once. (Ha ha ha. The Government.)

I began panicking because I was sure we weren’t going to get to our appointment on time. His appointment was at 4:20 and they stop giving written tests at 4:30, so if we were late getting to the window, there was no way he would be able to take the test. Luckily, we were called up at 4:19! Just in time!  CLOSE ONE.

We told the lady at the window why we were there.

“Driver’s Ed certificate and birth certificate please.” She says.

“OH SHIT.” I said (in my head) because I hadn’t brought his birth certificate.

After all of that trouble, we walked out of there without my son getting to take his test. And I couldn’t blame the DMV. It was my fault.

That was a fun car ride home!

Yesterday was the big day! The night before, Ethan asked his dad to get his birth certificate out of the safe. I asked Ethan to put all of the paperwork that he needed next to my purse on the kitchen counter so I wouldn’t forget anything.

We arrived to his appointment over an hour early.  The lady behind the counter was all “Um, no. You’re  TOO early. But, I can give you a number and you can wait with everyone else.”

Luckily, the wait wasn’t very long. They called our number in less than thirty minutes. Everything was going just perfectly. 

Ethan walked up to the window. He was so excited! Finally! He was going to be able to take his permit test! And if he passed, he was going to be able to drive home!  WOO!

The lady behind the counter asked us why we’re there. Ethan answered “I’m going to take my permit test.” He handed her his birth certificate.

“Do you have your driver’s ed certificate?” She asked.

“I didn’t bring it!” I say.

We immediately start arguing and blaming each other.

“MOM! How could you forget it it?!”

“Ethan, I told you to put all of the paperwork on the table. I just grabbed what you left there. You…”

The woman behind the counter interrupted us.

“It wouldn’t have mattered anyway.” She said. “This isn’t Ethan’s birth certificate.”

We both looked confused as she handed us the certificate.

It was Gabby’s birth certificate.

GABBY’S!  WHAT THE HELL? How did my husband NOT look at the name? How did Ethan not notice? WHAT IS WRONG WITH ALL OF US IN THIS FAMILY?

He has another appointment on Friday for his third attempt to take his test. I have all of the documents on the fridge ready to go. Wish us luck because OMG WTF ONLY US.

 

 

 

Six One

This morning I had to go to the high school to do an intradistrict transfer to keep Ethan at the same school. I was filling out the paperwork and got to the section that asked what grade he was in.

“11th.” I wrote.

And as I wrote it, I had to take a deep breath to fight back the tears because when in the hell did that happen?

When did the little boy who loved to hug me, squeeze my face and tell me that he loved me so so much turn into the handsome young man who is a junior in high school?

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I mean, seriously, when in the hell did THIS happen?

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This is one of those things that I can not even deal with because time is a huge jerk who doesn’t slow down even when you desperately need it to because my babies are growing up too fast and I’d like for them not to, please. Also? How did I birth a giant? I DO NOT UNDERSTAND.

Eleventh grade though.

High School Sports Are Filled With Excitement, Life Lessons and Sometimes? Concussions!

My son Ethan started playing basketball when he was three years old. It was the sweetest thing to watch that little guy running up and down the court, trying to dribble the ball, trying to make baskets. He fell in love with the sport and became passionate about it.

Even at that young age, he would spend hours practicing putting the ball into the basket. All day, every day. As he got older, his love for the game never faded but only grew stronger. He started to develop his skills and became what coaches considered a good player. His specialty? The 3 point shot.

It was a thrill for me to watch my son improve every season, to become really good at something he loved so dearly. Basketball was his passion and it showed in the way he played on the court.

When he entered middle school, the thing he was the most excited about was trying out for the basketball team. He made the team both years. The 8th grade team went undefeated and he was so proud. All he could talk about was how good their team was going to be in high school.

He tried out for high school ball in the summer and made the summer team. He was thrilled to learn he’d be a starter. He did well offensively, but struggled a bit defensively. But, he kept pushing himself to get better. He never missed a single practice or a single game. He made the team for fall and secured himself as one of the starting five players. He shined during his first freshman tournament, scoring seven 3 pointers in one game, only missing one shot. It was EXCITING to watch him out there, nailing shot after shot, watching the crowd cheering and getting more excited with each made shot. When the game was over, he had scored 29 and was awarded the award for Player of the Tournament.

He had a fantastic freshman season. I can’t tell you how cool it was to hear the other coaches yell “he’s the shooter!” I’d be like “DAMN RIGHT HE’S THE SHOOTER.” He was a team player all the way around and just so much fun to watch. I couldn’t have been more proud of that boy.


(Taken last year at his Freshman basketball banquet)

This year, he made the JV squad. He was excited to start a new season with his teammates. The day of their first pre-season game I asked him if he was going to be a starter. “Probably not, Mom.” He replied. He said there were kids on the team that were better than him, so he didn’t expect to start. He was fine with that and I was fine with that. I mean, I know what my son is capable of, but if there were better players that would help them win games, I totally get it. Ultimately, it’s more important that the team win than my son start, right?

My family came to the game, and there were a lot of friends there. We were all totally pumped up! First quarter passed, Ethan got no playing time. Second quarter, still no playing time. Third quarter? Nothing. Nada. Game was over, my son never left the bench. I was upset, because I knew he was going to be upset. Not in a “I deserve to play” way, but in a “basketball is my passion and zero playing time crushes my soul” way.

I was upset, but swore to myself that I wouldn’t say a word to Ethan about it on the ride home. This was between him and his coach. Personally, I thought his coach was crazy to not use Ethan, but, again, not my battle to fight. The very next practice, Ethan made me proud yet again by pulling his coach aside. “What can I do to earn my spot?” was what he asked. Not “Why didn’t you play me?” but “tell me how I can earn playing time.” (Love. That. Boy.) His coach told him to keep working on his defense.

So, that’s exactly what my son did. The next game, he got a few minutes playing time in the third quarter, in those few minutes he had a rebound and scored 14 points (Boom!) The next game? Zero playing time. The next? A few minutes of playing time. The next game? Zero.

My son was devastated. And as his mother, I began to worry about him. His confidence was shattered. I spoke with him about it and told him to keep working hard, to not give up, to play hard anytime he was given playing time. I told him to keep a positive attitude towards his coach and his team. “There is a lesson to be learned here, Son.” I said. Even though I had no idea what the lesson was. Seeing him so utterly wrecked was hard to handle. When other parents would approach me after games and ask why the coach wasn’t playing Ethan (because they knew what he was capable of) I’d get choked up, fight back tears and just shrug my shoulders. “I don’t know.” I’d say. I wanted to talk to the coach, but I knew that would be the wrong thing to do. (But don’t think I didn’t cuss the coach out IN MY MIND.)

Two weeks ago, Ethan’s team played one of the better teams in our league. We were getting beaten quite badly, so, coach put Ethan in the game during the second quarter when we were already down by 20. Ethan took their shooter defensively and shut him down completely. He didn’t score a single point while Ethan was in the game. It was super obvious how great his defense has gotten. The varsity coach happened to be at that game. Later that night, Ethan got a call. He was smiling from ear to ear. “Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.” I overheard him say. When he hung up, I asked him who it was. “It was the Coach F.” (The varsity coach.) “He said I played great defense, that he noticed how much I’ve improved. He told me to keep up the hard work.” I was relieved that he had noticed but more importantly, that he had taken the time to call my son. He had absolutely no idea ho much my son needed those encouraging words.

The next game, I was sitting in the stands like I am at every game, ready to cheer on the team. I noticed my son take his shooting shirt off. The only time he takes his shooting shirt off is if he’s going to play. I looked over to my other son. “Do you think Ethan’s going to start? Could that really be happening right now?”

Yes. It happened. My son was one of the starting five players.

(#3, my boy!)

I took a deep breath and fought back tears because my son freaking earned his spot. He worked hard, he never gave up and oh my God, he earned a starting spot on the JV team.


(Taken right after his first starting game last week.)

On Tuesday, he started for the third time. He was pumped up, like he always is at game time. When coach pulled him out, they were winning. He didn’t come back into the game until they were down by 10 points. I know my son and he wanted desperately to win that game, so he came in aggressive. During one play, he jumped up to grab a ball that was heading out of bounds. I watched my son jump into the air, get a little push from another player and come down with such force, that his head slammed into the ground. The sound of his head hitting echoed in the gym and a sound came out of me that I can’t explain as I watched my son hit the ground and black out. He wasn’t moving, the crowd was completely silent. I screamed from the depths of my soul and then covered my mouth with my hand in shock. I wanted to run down there to be with him, but my husband beat me to it. I just stood there, saying “oh my God oh my God oh my God” while trying to breathe. He laid there, not moving and then, suddenly, he moved just a bit. I couldn’t believe what I had just witness or that this was actually happening. I had no idea if my son was going to be okay. I’m not exaggerating here, it was bad, a nightmare before my eyes. I was frozen with fear. Another mother who was sitting next to me kept telling me “he’s okay, he’s going to be okay, he’s okay” over and over again while her hands trembled in fear for him, for me. There was nothing I could do except wait to see if my son was going to be able to get up. He eventually got up and everyone cheered as he walked back to his seat. I could see he was dazed. I walked over to him and told him as soon as the game was over, he was going to the hospital.

After the game, parents were coming up to me saying how scared they were. One of his teammates said “I was so scared, I thought he was dead.” Everyone agreed I needed to take him in for observation.

My husband took him to urgent care while I stayed home to do homework with Gabby. I texted non-stop. “Have you seen a doctor yet? Is Ethan okay? Don’t let him go to sleep! How does Ethan feel?”

He finally called to tell me that they said “he seems fine. Give him something for his headache.” And I was all “did they check his pupils?” And he was all “No?” And I was all “ARE YOU F*CKING KIDDING ME? TAKE HIM BACK RIGHT THESE SECOND TO SEE ANOTHER DOCTOR.” And he did and came home and said THE SECOND DOCTOR DID NOT CHECK HIS PUPILS OR DO ANY KIND OF TESTS WHATSOEVER. He literally said “well, he’s not throwing up or slurring his words, so he’s fine, but if he starts throwing up or slurring his words, be sure to bring him back right away.”

I was LIVID.

That night, I did not sleep. I woke my son up every two hours. And then, first thing in the morning, I called my doctor and told him what had happened and how he did NOT get a proper examination by the doctors at urgent care. After listening to the facts, he asked me to bring Ethan in right away so he could check him.

Oh, guess what?

Turns out, my son had a concussion. Because of COURSE HE DID, asshole Urgent Care Doctors!!

And then, the doctor said it.

“No sports or any type of physical activities for at least one week.”

There are only five more games left in the season and he will miss at least two of them.

He’s worked so hard to earn his spot and this happened. He’ll no longer be able to practice or do the one thing that he loves, possibly for the rest of the season. I keep asking myself “what is the lesson now?” The only thing I can think of at the moment is “Sometimes life sucks. Deal with it.”

Hard work sometimes goes unnoticed, but that doesn’t mean you should quit or give up on your dreams/goals. It means you should work harder at bettering yourself, no matter what. Even if he doesn’t play another game this season, my son can hold his head up high knowing he earned a spot by working hard and ever giving up on himself or on his team. As tough as it was to watch my son struggle, I’m grateful for the valuable life lesson he learned from the experience.

Most importantly though? I’m grateful that my son was able to walk away from that horrible fall and that he’s going to be okay. My God, that was terrifying.

A Simple Request

Andrew recently graduated from Military Combat Training at Camp Pendleton. We were going to drive out for his graduation ceremony and would get to spend a couple of hours with him before he was shipped out to MO to continue his training.

“Would you like for me to bring anything for you, son?” I asked.

I was thinking maybe he’d ask for me to bring food, or his favorite candy.

“Please just bring my guitar so I can play for a little bit before shipping out.” he replied.

I was so moved by his simple request.

I brought his guitar as he requested. After the ceremony was finished and photos with the family had been taken, my son was able to play for a few minutes before shipping out to MO.

I can’t wait until I can hear him play again. Hopefully in time for Christmas.

Another Goodbye. (Goodbyes Suck.)

After seventeen days, Andrew’s leave ended today.

We left the house at 6am and just a few hours later, I was saying goodbye in a parking lot. As I walked around the car to give him a goodbye hug, I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes, but I fought them back.

“Stay strong. Son.” I said. “Make me proud. I love you so much.”

He hugged me, I hugged him back.

“I will, Mom. I love you too.”

He turned and walked away carrying all of his things. I sat in the car and watched him walk away.

“He’s a man now. My son is a man.”

I wanted to roll down my window and shout out “I love you! I’m going to miss you!” like I used to do when he was just a little guy. But I just sat there, watching him, proud of him. And then, I drove away and left him to do continue his journey.

His time here with us was simply wonderful, but the days flew by too quickly. He’s gone again and his presence here is already missed deeply. I can only hope the next three months pass as quickly as the last seventeen days did.

It Felt Big In My Mouth

This morning I stopped by the Starbucks closest to my house and ordered my favorite cold drink.

A venti black iced tea, easy water, extra ice, 3 pumps of sweetener.

Yes, I’m THAT jerkface.

I waited until after I had dropped the kids off at school before I begin to sip on my It’s Complicated Iced Tea.

Very first sip, something slipped through the straw and into my mouth. My brain was all “Oh! a piece of ice!” and so my teeth chomped down and BIT IT.

HERE’S THE THING, YOU GUYS.

It wasn’t a piece of ice.

It was a whole spider.

AND IT WAS CRUNCHY AND IT TASTED WEIRD AND I SPIT IT OUT AND THE ROOM STARTED SPINNING BECAUSE I AM SO SCARED OF SPIDERS AND YET I ACTUALLY BIT INTO A SPIDER WITH MY TEETH IN MY MOUTH.

I started to freak out. Like, crazy, losing-my-shit freak out. I ran down the hall and threw open Andrew’s bedroom door. I was hysterical.

I don’t remember what I said but I think it may have sounded something like this:

“Oh my God, I just bit into a giant spider and AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH *GRUNT GAG SPIT GAG BODY SHIVER* I don’t know what to do and are you recording me with your phone? Stop recording me with your phone and please go look and see what kind of spider it was because what if it was poisonous am I going to die? HELP ME FORGET THIS HAPPENED. I TASTED IT, ANDREW, I FELT IT AND I TASTED IT AND AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH HELP ME.”

He went to go examine the spider that I had spit out of my mouth. He started to laugh. “Mom! It’s not big. It’s a small spider.” I was all “It’s small because I ATE HALF OF IT.” And then he examined it closer and laughed some more. “It has all of it’s legs, mom.”

AND THEN I STARTED CRYING AGAIN.

And then he laughed some more.

It’s been hours since this happened, but I can’t stop thinking about it. I can’t stop feeling it in my mouth.

I had to run to Target really quick on my lunch break because we were out of toiler paper and while I was there, I wanted to tell every single person I saw what happened to me.

“Oh, hi! Did you now I accidentally ate a spider today and it tasted weird and PLEASE HOLD ME?”

I’m just not sure how I can ever forget the way it felt in my mouth or the way that it tasted. Maybe Vodka will help. It’s it 5 yet?

*Updated*

I can’t believe I’m posting this, but I AM POSTING THIS.

The Man I’ve Raised.

Our son has been home with us for twelve days. Having him home here with us has been wonderful. We’ve gone out for pizza with friends. We’ve gone out to breakfast. We’ve gone thrift store shopping. We’ve sat on the couch late at night and reminisced about the past. We’ve watched our favorite T.V shows together. We’ve eaten our favorite foods together. We’ve visited with friends and family. We’ve laughed. A LOT.

My son is definitely a changed man, but the core of who he is has remained unchanged. He’s still kind, loving and hilarious. He’s been transformed into a confident, strong, focused individual. He’s also not ashamed to admit that he is proud– proud of what he’s accomplished, proud of who he is. As his mother, this brings me immeasurable joy.

His time here at home is short– there are only five days left until he has to leave us again for another three months. (He has Marine Combat Training for thirty days, followed by his specialty training in Missouri for two months.) When I think of him leaving, my heart aches because I know I’ll miss him like crazy. However, I’m better prepared emotionally this time around. Even though I will miss him, I won’t allow myself to be consumed with fear and worry this time around. My son is no longer a little boy who can’t take care of himself. He’s a strong, capable, brave man. Not to mention, a freaking U.S. Marine.

A Video of Our Journey. We Are so Grateful. We Are So Proud.

Over two months ago, I kissed my son goodbye and left him to begin his journey to become a Marine.

The first few days of his absence were the most difficult days I’ve faced as a parent. I cried too much, I ate too much, I didn’t sleep much and I cried some more.

Luckily, I have an amazing family and support system. So many of you were there for me, sending me emails, texts and comments, letting me know you were thinking of me and praying for my son.

On August 9th, I got to see my son again. On August 10th, he graduated and we brought him home. It was the proudest, most meaningful moment.

I wanted to share this video I created and to say thank you to every single person who was there for me and my family during this amazing journey.

I am so grateful for your kindness.

And I am so proud of my son.