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Sunday, February 14, 2016

I blogged (and wrote about Coke)

So my New Year's resolution was going to be to start writing on the blog again. But then I found this:

And this amazing challenge became my New Year's resolution. But then two things happened: one Lent. Being pregnant I have already given up plenty of things, so I thought I'd take up more blogging. Two: I was asked to be a social ambassador to the Clinton Center. Yes, I was as surprised by this as you all are. The woman that asked me said that the social ambassadors were chosen because we had influence amongst our peers; it was all I could do to keep a straight face at that one.

Anyway, a couple of weeks ago I went to a really cool event at the Clinton Center. It was a Coca Cola Collectors' Convention. Basically, it was Antique's Roadshow for Coke memorabilia. Let me be the first to say that I was skeptical. How much Coca Cola memorabilia is out there? Would anything actually be worth anything? The answers to those questions are: yes, tons and yes, a lot.

First, we got a chance to look in at the Coca Cola exhibit that is currently in its last days. (Next up is an exhibit on the history of the Olympics that is going to be super cool.) Did you know of the 6 original Andy Warhol illustrations, Coca Cola only owns 3? One of them was bought by Coke in the 1970's after some guy realized it had been hanging above the mantle in his parent's house for years. Anyway, here are two of them:

Next: on to the main event! The very first item that was shown was this old, red "airline cooler." The lady that brought it in had had it in her garage forever. It was in great condition. And was estimated to be worth $300-500 at auction. Man, home run!


Next was a man that had a bunch of old bottles (apparently I didn't take a picture). Coke bottles got their now-classic curvy appearance in 1915. Bottles before that were just regular "straight-sided" bottles. Those bottles, the pre-1915 ones, can be worth $200-300 each. For a glass bottle. Crazy stuff.

The same guy pulled this bowl out last. It was a silver "pretzel bowl" (I'll let you figure out why). Anyway, this innocuous looking little bowl that stands on three silver coke bottles is worth, I'm so not kidding, $600-850 at auction. What!?

Last two items worth mentioning: this guy had something that not even the Coca Cola archives had in it. He had a painted wall bulletin and and advertising booklet. Painted walls were all the rage for advertising back in the day. The bulletin was given out so that all the walls were standardized, no matter who painted them. It had specifications for how big all the words were, what the text should look like, the specific colors to use, etc. The advertising booklet was pretty similar but for print ads. Coca Cola has some in their archives, but not the ones he owns. The Coke people couldn't even give him an estimate (but they did give him their cards so they might just end up in their archives).

Last, was a grocery/gas sign in pristine condition. These used to sit at the end of grocery store aisles or on top of gas pumps and served as advertisements. This one still spun and everything. It was estimated to get $600-1,000 at auction. Can you imagine having something like that laying around your garage?

There were many other things, but these I thought were the most interesting/unique. The Clinton Center has some surprisingly cool things going on. It's easy to forget that it's over there, being a the edge and almost separate from downtown, but kids under 5 are free and it's a great rainy/cold day destination. The Olympic exhibit will be there all summer, and I'm super pumped to check it out. The summer Olympics are seriously my favorite thing ever.

Coke archive on Facebook:

Coke archive on Instagram:

Clinton Center on Instagram:

Friday, July 10, 2015

Listen to Your Mother (the video)

A couple of months ago, I was honored to participate in Little Rock's Listen to Your Mother show. It was an amazing show, an amazing experience, and featured a lot of really amazing people. Well, the videos are now up! Here is the link to the YouTube channel featuring the whole cast:

If you have some time, you should definitely check all of them out!

Here is a link just to my story:

If you notice, I only look in one direction. All of my family and friends were sitting on one side of the auditorium. I knew if I looked in that direction, I'd lose it even more than I did. So i just kept looking away from them.

Also, here are some pictures from the evening. Thanks Jabob Slaton ( for the amazing photography!

I am terrible at pictures like this.

Power posing. Obviously. 

The cast! 

Actually giving the talk.

The big finish! 

These are my people. So happy they were there to support me! I couldn't do life without them.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Kid's Menus Make Me Want to Punch Someone in the Throat

Have you looked at a kid's menu lately? You know what's on 90% of those menus? Fried food, rice, and macaroni and cheese. My kid LIKES vegetables. So do most kids, until they get exposure to kid's menus. It's 2015. Parents want to feed their kids vegetables, fruit, grilled food, etc. I want Semmes to continue to explore food, to continue to try new things, to continue to be interested in healthy food.

This is the kid's menu from P.F. Chang's. Yes, there is a vegetable option, but look at the Kid's Chicken Fried Rice. They actually seem proud of themselves for taking the vegetables OUT of the fried rice! Honestly...

I have a friend who has two elementary-aged children. They eat mostly fried food, french fries, etc. And she thinks a large reason for this is that whenever they went out to eat, that was what was available to them. Kids are people too. They want variety. They want to be challenged. They want to eat real food! Let them!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Acts of Kindness

Honestly, I've been pretty lucky as a special needs mom: no real confrontations with assholes, not too much "advice," etc. Some of this I chalk up to dumb luck, but I think a lot of it is who I choose to surround myself with. My friends, the people I have chosen to grow close to me and our children, are awesome. A couple of things that have happened in the last couple of weeks have made me realize just how lucky I am.

We went to a friend's daughter's first birthday party last weekend. It was a great party and both boys had a great time. My friend's dad, who had never met me or either of my children, made a point of going over to Cooper, sitting next to him, and then had a little conversation with him. It was amazing to watch. And I realized just why Rachael and I are such good friends: she comes from good people.

Last Sunday, Brad was working nights. So I took both boys to church by myself. Semmes loves communion; he wants to "eat the bread." So I always go get him from the nursery before communion. It's hard to keep Semmes quiet and occupied in church and sit with Cooper. My friend Sydney and her mom have just made themselves the bonus moms of my children on Sundays when Brad is on nights. They go to the nursery with me, they hold Cooper, they let Semmes play with their son/grandson's toys and read his books, they walk Cooper to communion while I walk with Semmes, and after church they help me get everything to my car. They are everything church is supposed to be: warm, welcoming, supportive, helpful...I'm so thankful for them every week.

So, my friends, thank you for being you. And being awesome. And for never making me feel different or that there is anything wrong. You people rock, and I'm so thankful for you!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Saturday Happenings

Today has been surprisingly busy. We got up this morning and went to The Toggery to get silhouettes of the kids made. They turned out really great!

We also got Cooper a tooth fairy pillow while we were there. When he went to his 4 1/2 year dentist appointment, the dentist told us that two of his six year molars were already in and his two bottom, front teeth were already loose. He should loose them in the next few months! Crazy!

After naps, I took the kids on a short walk, then Semmes and I painted. I'm becoming quite the Pinterest mom (ha, yeah right!). The "paintings" turned out pretty cute!

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Lie

Sometimes, parents lie to their kids. It happens. You know, "Your face will freeze like that," "They're out of cookies at the grocery store," that kind of thing. Yesterday, we told Semmes his first lie: that alligators live in the sewer drains.

We were on a walk and he was eating a banana. He had rubbed a banana peel all over his car seat the day before, and it had to be cleaned. So I didn't want the same thing to happen again. Brad took the peel away and went to throw it in the storm drain. Semmes was crying and carrying on about "his banana peel." So I told him that we were feeding it to the alligators that lived in the storm drain. For the rest of the walk, every time we passed a storm drain, he would point and say, "agilators (his cute word for alligators) live there." I was kinda hoping he would forget about this, but he's STILL talking about it. And how alligators live in swamps, ponds, and storm drains. I've scarred him for life. 

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Listen to Your Mother show

On Thursday night, I participated in Little Rock's Listen to Your Mother show. It was an amazing cast, an amazing experience, and I am so honored that I was even allowed up on stage with the other 12 people. I had a great time getting to know them all (and getting so distracted by each other that we got stuck in an elevator), and all of their stories will remain with me.

LTYM is in 39 cities across the country, and there will eventually be a YouTube video of my talk. But that won't happen until mid-summer. So for now, I'm posting my talk so you can all read it. Happy Mother's Day, and enjoy!!

"Two Mothers"

I am two mothers.  I am a special needs mom, a label I never imagined I would have.  And I am a “typical” mom.   I am as comfortable with pulse oximeter readings, feeding tubes, and seizures as I am with play dates and the complex rules of toddler sharing.  It’s a complex balancing act that requires both children to have a little less of me, but isn’t that true of all mothers of more than one child?

I became a mom in August of 2010.  What should have been one of the happiest days of my life quickly turned frightening when Cooper wasn’t breathing well.  Plus, he was born looking just a little different than a typical baby: enough that he was almost immediately tested for genetic variations, but not enough that anyone could pinpoint what, exactly, was wrong.  Cooper was rushed to the NICU to be fed and breathed for, and we went into a holding pattern until his test results came back.  We discovered, a few days later, that he has a random, genetic mutation.  He doesn’t have a defined syndrome and his deletions and duplications are so rare that the doctors could literally tell us nothing about what we could expect for his growth and development.  We were, and still are, flying blind.

Cooper is now four and a half.  He’s been hospitalized 22 times, been in the ER 20 times (8 of those visits were in a six month period), and has had more than 10 surgeries.  He has 12 separate diagnoses, from chronic lung disease to infantile spasms, and we see 14 subspecialists.  It’s quite an ordeal.  

But Cooper is happy, and I’m thankful that Cooper is happy. Even though he can’t tell me that he is happy, the signs are all there. He smiles, he laughs, he’s ticklish, he gives the best hugs, he loves to snuggle. Plus, of all the consonant sounds he could make, the only one he says with regularity is mama.  I’m thankful to be loved like that.

In the midst of all this craziness, we decided to do something even crazier: I got pregnant again.  We found out at eleven weeks that we were having a perfectly typical baby boy. And my reaction to this news was that of terror.  I was just figuring out how to navigate the complex world of Medicaid, seizure medications that had to be ordered from other states, and early intervention preschools.  What was I going to do with an infant?  One that was going to be rolling over and sitting up on a pre-defined schedule?  How was I going to deal with an infant while going to bi-monthly doctor appointments?  And then, he was going to grow up!  He was going to talk, and have opinions, and throw tantrums.  I was definitely not ready for any of that.

But you know what happened?  I figured it out too.  And Semmes, my precious second son, did everything early.  He sat up at four and a half months, crawled just after six, and was running by a year.  At two, his vocabulary is huge.  He knows all his colors, most of the letters and numbers, has memorized countless books and songs, and loves his big brother.  He’s in the helping stage.  He wants to help give Cooper his nasal spray, he loves sitting next to Cooper and “reading” him a book, and if you ask him what Cooper says, he says, “mamama,” just like Cooper.  

Cooper goes to school from 8-3:30 year round, so I get to be just a regular, old mom Monday-Friday.  And let me tell you, it is just as stressful.  Semmes tells me no when he doesn’t want to do something, throws huge, fall on the ground tantrums, steals toys from his friends (and cries when someone takes something from him), and in general behaves like a typical toddler.  He also gives kisses if you’re sad, yells “Hold, mama” when he wants a hug, and is just so sweet.  

I love my life and I love my kids.  Is my life exactly the way I pictured it when I was younger?  No.  But I have come to realize several things about being two moms:
1. We’re not super heroes.  The learning curve for a special needs mom might be steeper, but we’re just doing what all other moms do: figuring out how to do this mom thing the best way we can and doing what is best for our child.  
2. A good support system is the best thing you can have.  Thankfully, my husband is a pediatrician, so we have been surrounded since the time of Cooper’s birth by an amazing team of doctors that love Cooper, and us.  None of our family lives in town, or even in the state, so I’ve been so lucky to find an amazing group of friends that I wouldn’t know what I would do without.
3. I’m thankful that Semmes will grow up with a sibling with special needs. I hope that it makes him more empathetic, more willing to stand up for those that are weaker or have less. I think that some of the life lessons he will learn from Cooper may not be easy ones, but I’m glad that he will get to learn them just the same.

My life is filled with more laughter, love, and joy than it is with struggle and pain. So I call that a good life.