Monthly Archives: July 2014

Back in New York City

Tom had another business trip to New York City this week so I tagged along again. This time we stayed at the W on Lexington, which is closer to Central Park than last time. Thankfully tom had most of Monday to hang out with me. We strolled through Central Park together, found The Boat House which is a restaurant and a bar, and had a drink while watching families boat around the small lake. Then we had dinner at Mint, and Indian restaurant that that had fabulous lamp chops. Tom won the award for “best dinner”.

On Tuesday, I walked over thirty blocks to Highline Park. Everyone talked about how beautiful it was but I was not very impressed. It was an old elevated train track turned into a sidewalk with plants lining it. It seemed similar to something I would see in Charlotte. I decided that I would brave the subway again in order to get back to the hotel so as not to have to walk more miles. It was a piece of cake. Lesson learned: don’t try to get on subway from Time Square – get on at a small corner many blocks away from it. I found a park on my way back to the hotel, ate a sandwich and finished the book I was reading. Very relaxing. Grand Central Terminal was on my way back to the hotel as well so I stopped by. It was beautiful. The ceiling was very high and was painted a brilliant blue with constellations on it. Everything was white marble and very clean. I wanted to stay and simply watch the people and the building, but happy hour was calling me back to the hotel to meet with Tom and his coworkers.

I do love New York city. There is so much to do and see. I love being right in the middle of all the people and then two blocks later being able to relax in a park. The building architecture is amazing as well. The older buildings have such intricate designs and sculptures around the outside of the them. One building had child-like faces rimming the top of one of the floors. Amazing.

I could write about all of the things that I did and saw during my time in NYC, but what I enjoyed the most was the things I didn’t do. I didn’t do anything that required work or servitude. I loved the peace and quite of doing nothing. I loved riding my bike through Central Park , stopping to sit under a tree and doing nothing. I just stared out at the scenery for a while before deciding to read a book. I rarely read at home now that the tv is back on at night. I finished one short book and started into another. I loved having four hours in which to do nothing but ride my bike around the park and sit in various locations. I loved being able to buy a banana on a street corner so that I could sit and eat it in peace while under one of those trees in the park. I did see many of the sights in NYC which fulfilled my need for adventure and knowledge. But relaxation is what my mind and body also needed in order to replenish what it has been giving out at home. I feel like the Becca that I used to know before kids …this is what makes going home difficult. I see her only in glimpses throughout the year, but it sure is nice to have three full days to be her. This will probably be my last vacation alone for a while. School starts soon and I will be back to work. Going to NYC was a great way to wrap up the summer.

Toms 51

Tom turned 51 on Sunday. As with most of his birthdays, he wanted a low key day with our family. After church we went to the Harris Y to swim. Wilson kept begging us to go to the indoor pool so that he could go down the very tall, tube slide. We finally conceded and took everyone inside to the slide. It wended up being hilariously fun. Faith and wilson went down the slide first. Faith sat up on the slide and went at a normal speed. Wilson laid down and came shooting out of the slide like rocket. It was funny to us but it scared him from doing it again. We decided that Tom should go next. Because the tube slide was too short for adults to sit up in, he had to lay down. Inevitably, he shot out like a rocket as well. This provoked much laughter from us and other families and began a line of fathers going down the slide. We laughed with each father sliding out of control and into the pool. I even tried it. I went so fast that I couldn’t hold my head up off the bottom of slide. I felt like a pilot fighting g-force. I had to put my hand under my head so that it would not hurt as I flew down the slide. It was intense. I was like wilson and didn’t go down the slide again. We had a great time laughing at tom and the other men go down the extremely fast children’s slide. I wish I had a picture.

After the pool we went to Tonys Pizza for Toms birthday dinner. We were going to go to a fancy restaurant but decided that pizza would be better for our family that day. It was a good decision. My parents met us at the restaurant and ate dinner with us.

After dinner we had the usual (yet very unusual) teddy bear birthday cake. I think that this is Toms third straight year with a teddy bear birthday cake. The kids and I make the cake each year and I only have two types of cake pans: round or teddy bear. Of course the kids choose the teddy bear. I guess that is what happens when you have three kids choosing the cake style. The important part is that is has candles, tastes great and was made with love. :)



Fan Fest

Last night we went to the Bank of America stadium to watch the Carolina Panthers first practice.  Their first practice is open to the public and is free.  We had never been before, but I was alerted that it was happening through an email I get from  This website sends me emails each week about different events that are happening throughout the city.  It is a great resource and many of the things to do are free.  I believe that it is available in many other cities as well.

Because I am too cheap and it is too loud for the kids, I knew we wouldn’t be going to the stadium for a real game anytime soon.  This was the perfect substitution for a real game.  Tom wasn’t going to be able to meet us there until after 7:00pm so my parents said that they would go to help with the kids until Tom arrived.  We all dressed for the occasion…


We could sit anywhere we wanted so we chose to sit on the twenty yard line and in the tenth row which is better than any seats that we would ever be able to buy.  The kids were bored soon after we sat down so I took the boys to check out what there was to do (other than watch practice).  We found “Sir Purr’s Playhouse” just outside of our section.  The kids could try on real helmets and pads.  Wilson and Miller attempted to kick a field goal and  Wilson let Sir Purr throw him a pass.  Very fun…





After the practice, the players came around to sign autographs.  We were not prepared for that at all:  No markers.  Faith was very upset that she couldn’t get an autograph.  The kids are obsessed with Cam Newton, the quarterback, and she really wanted his signature.  We had to convince her that we would get it right next year.  After the signatures was the band, “The Voltage Brothers”.  Oddly enough, I swear that I used to see them play in college.  It is possible.  I did realize that I watched about as much of the practice as I do a regular season game – not much.  I enjoy people watching and walking around more than I enjoy watching the game.  The best part of the evening was the fireworks show inside the stadium.  They turned off all of the lights in the stadium and then shot off fireworks from the field, the scoreboard and above our heads on the upper level.  It was awesome!  They played music during the fireworks and had a small light show on the field.  The fireworks were very loud!  I wanted to take a picture but Miller had my hands so tightly over his ears that there was no way that a picture could be taken.  It was one of those moments in life that I will just have to remember the old fashion way…in my head.  We had such a great time as a family doing something that we normally don’t get to do.  I am sure that we will go again next year.  Here is our family selfie before the fireworks…



Here are a few other pictures…




A church on Sunday, Pastor Rusty gave a sermon entitled, “Where ever you are, be there”.  He went on to explain that his old boss used to tell him that all the time.  It means that we should be fully focused where ever we are and in whatever we are doing.  He then transitioned and made the point that we need to be active and present in our communities, neighborhoods and families.  I am sure that everyone in the congregation came away with a different message and a different nugget that they could apply to their lives.  What really stuck with me was an old quote, that I had never heard before, that he said in the middle of his sermon…

“Bloom where you are planted”.

Immediately I thought of the many “mommy” tasks and jobs that I do throughout the day.  But as I pondered it more, I could think of many other tasks and jobs that I do outside of the house.  Some of the hats that I wear are as follows:  mother, cook, maid, preschool teacher, water aerobics instructor, co-worker, friend, daughter, wife, money manager, playmate (to the kids), and church member….just to name a few.  My roots/fingers are in a bit of every thing.  I know that I can’t do everything perfectly, nor should I kill myself trying, but to “bloom” means to do my best and to gain nourishment from the things that I do.   It also means that I need to bless those around me; just as a flower would.

I knew that one thing that needed to be blessed by my presence was Wilson.  He has had some “issues” lately that are reminding us of when he was 2-3 years old.  Those are days that I do NOT want revisited.  Without going into too much detail today, I was about to give him away by Tuesday night.  At my wits end, I decided that what he really needed was a loving and caring mother who didn’t yell at him all day (even though he may be getting in trouble all day).  He needed a mother who played with him and cuddled with him when he asked for it.  I even let him sleep in our bed one or two nights in order to make him feel more secure and loved.  It worked two years ago and I am hoping that it works again.  Being the middle child has to be difficult and I think that he is feeling the pinch.

Anyway, back to my “blooming”….I have invested in Wilson over the past two days and I have seen a difference.  I have cuddled with him, I have spoken more kindly to him, and I have had more sword fights in the last two days than I can remember.  All Wilson wants to do is sword fight.  We swing the swords so hard that most of them break within a few days.  Recently he got a hard plastic machete that can actually break wood.  I let him chop up a yard stick into small pieces while I held the two ends of the wood stick and prayed that he didn’t break one of my fingers as the pieces got smaller and smaller.  Thankfully, he is really good at wielding a sword.   :)

My number one job right now is to be a good mother, teach my kids to be nice to each other, and to keep the peace.  By investing in Wilson, there will definitely be more peace in my home.  As usual, when I submit to my role as mother, I have a much happier and more content day.  It also helps to put a smile on my face, even if I don’t feel like smiling.   I have “bloomed” a bit over the past few days.  I have been a better mother and have given my children the gift of fun and laughter with their mom.

Gardening, Pool, and Dinner

I had a very fun, busy and relaxing weekend…

On Friday night my kids all slept over at Grandma’s with Gabriel and Shepherd.  I dropped them off around noon Friday and didn’t get them until Saturday morning.  I was so relieved to have all that time to myself.  I had also just cleaned the house so I was able to enjoy a clean house for almost 24 hours (almost unheard of).  I decide that a nap was a very good use of a quiet house.  After the nap, Tom and I had a date night and then he went to bed early because he had an International distance triathlon the next morning at Lake Norman.  Tom’s continuing goal is to be on the top three finishers in his age group.  He had yet to achieve this goal until this race. This time, Tom came in third place in his age group.  He works very hard at doing his best in these races.  When I raced a few last summer I just wanted to finish and have fun, he wants to win.  Third place was a great achievement.  Here he is crossing the finish line and up on the podium….




While Tom was at his race (which I didn’t go to because I was sleeping in with no kids), I went over to my mom’s to play with the kids and see Grandmama Pat.  Grandmama loves to come over to see the kids.  Today she wanted to see them swim at the pool and help in my mom’s gigantic garden.  My mom’s bean plants are so tall that Faith had to get up on an eight foot ladder to reach the top of the plants.  This picture is actually only half of her garden.  The other half has tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, squash and zucchini.


After gardening we took the kids to the pool.  It turns out that the best time to go to the pool is on a rainy day.  It had be sprinkling off and on all day, but without any thunder.  Instead of their being 100 people at the pool there was only ten, and we were half of them.  My dad played in the pool with the kids and continued to teach Gabriel how to swim.  My dad loves to play and to teach.  The kids were crawling all over him towards the end.  Wilson kept climbing on him and stealing his hat.  Wilson doesn’t know when to quit so he kept doing it over and over again.  It is usually either annoying or funny.  This time it was both.  I happened to catch an action shot since he couldn’t stop doing it long enough to take a decent picture.


Even after all that, our day was not done.  We went over to Jeff and Joanna Wise’s house for dinner.  The Youngs were invited also.  Faith, Robin and Colton are in the same Sunday School class together and so are Dallon, Jesse, Wilson and Miller.  The kids have become good friends over the past year.  It was time for all of us to get together outside of church.  The BBQ, sangria and conversation were all very delightful.  I would love to do it again sometime.  The Wises have a beautiful house and are very gracious hosts.  I love that all my friends have a relaxed house that  is very kid friendly.  It makes for such an enjoyable night.

This is Sidney, Bobby,  Jeff and Joanna….


The kids are now old enough to eat outside while we eat in peace inside. I am not sure if much eating was done, but they were having fun….



It has been a crazy week. Sidney is out of town so I offered to watch her two kids each afternoon (Monday – wednesday). I was also supposed to watch another friend’s two kids on Wednesday, along with Sidney’s, but thankfully they ended up not coming over. I love my other friend’s children but I think that seven kids and one adult may have been too many….even for a Super Mom like me.

The days may have been busier than usual, but they were fun. Believe it or not, but sometimes it is easier to have five kids instead of the usual three. They entertain each other. At one point I actually sat down and read my Time magazine while the five kids played downstairs. I decided to brave it and take all of the kids to the pool by myself. The first pool day was a bit harried because it was just me and five kids, but the second day my parents were there to help.  They met us there with Gabriel and Shepherd, whom they hadn’t seen in six weeks since the move. It took a while for them to get used to each other again, but then it was all back to normal.
The pool trip was especially exciting because Gabriel and Robin each decided to take the swim test. Gabriel warned a yellow necklace and Robin got the green. Robin had been asking me for two days if he could take the test. I worked with him a bit, he practiced a few times and then took the test. I felt bad doing it without his parents there but it had to be done. :).

Now that Robin and Faith both have a green necklace they could go on the slides together.  It took Faith a while to work up the nerve to go down the slides, but she finally did it.  This is Faith splashing into the water…



Robin and his green necklace…



Gabriel and his yellow necklace…



My kids are very excited to have their cousins back in Charlotte with them this week.  They will be together off and on for the rest of the week.  They are even having a sleep over at my mom’s house on Friday night.  :)  We will all be sad to see the boys leave again, but they are enjoying their new home and we will be in Maryland to visit them in August.

Here are Shepherd, Wilson and Miller….



Anyone that knows me knows that the first place that I go to buy household items or toys is Craigslist.  I love Craigslist.  Once you get over the fear of strangers it is the easiest way to find things that you want at half the price.  I typically buy my kids toys, a crib, bikes, and Christmas presents on Craigslist.  I even buy coffeemakers, furniture, and athletic equipment for myself.  I am telling you, you can buy almost anything on this site/app and it is worth the effort.

For example, I was in Target the other day and saw a lamp that I liked because I knew that it was one that was bright enough for me but wouldn’t hurt Tom’s eyes.  The lamp was $60 and I didn’t want to buy it right then because I knew that I could get it cheaper somewhere else.  Wouldn’t you know it, I found the exact same one on Craigslist for half of the price.  It will take some effort to get the lamp but to me it is worth it to save $30.  Because Charlotte is such a large town, I have to be very picky about what side of town I buy from.  I am a very lazy driver and don’t want to drive more than fifteen minutes in any one direction….not even for a deal.  I can get the lamp later this week when I have to drive towards uptown anyway.  If someone else wants to buy it first then I will have to reconsider its importance vs. distance.

I have been on the lookout for a particular dresser from Ikea for a while and finally found it.  I wanted to put it in the dining room to store all of the kids markers, paper, coloring books, etc.  It is stylish enough for Tom and functional enough for me.  I am too cheap to pay full price at Ikea, but half price on Craigslist is right up my alley.

Now, selling on Craigslist is just as easy, especially with their app.  I can take a picture of the item for sale, write up the details and post it right away.  So simple!  The best part is that I am basically only renting my kids toys.  I can buy them for $30 and sell them for $15.  It is a beautiful thing!  If there is a toy that the kids are not playing with anymore then I will list it and sell it before they even know it was gone.

You may be asking yourself, “I thought that it was dangerous to sell things on Craigslist or have strangers come to your house?”  Yes, it can be a bit risky, but so is walking into gas station, a post office or a school these days.  I have met people to buy/sell things at a playground, in a parking lot, or at my house and I have never felt afraid.  Sometimes I do make sure that Tom or my dad is at the house if it is a man coming to buy something.  Because most of the things that I buy are family oriented, I meet many moms that are doing the same thing.

The best way to use Craigslist is through the app.  The website is fine, but you can’t see the pictures of the items until you click on the post.  That is a pain.  With the app you can see the pictures without clicking on the post.  I can type in “black dresser” on the search line and a huge list of things will come up for me to look at.  I can scroll down all of the pictures and only click on the ones that I think might work for me.   If I like one of them then I can directly email the seller to see if it is available.  Some things sell very quickly so you have to be ready to get it that day or the next if you really want it.  There are so many options that I do not worry too much if something gets away.  There will be something great tomorrow.

One more tip:  Never pay asking price.  People expect to haggle on Craigslist.  Sometimes I even price my item for sale a bit more knowing that the person will try to knock the price down.  I have sold somethings at half the price I was asking only because I wanted to get rid of it.  I have also had the same thing happen when I wanted to buy something.  It depends on how desperate the person is or how popular the item is.  It is always worth asking, the worse the seller can say is ‘no’.

I hope that I have made Craigslist a bit less scary for you.  It is super easy and so worth the effort.  I actually find myself a bit addicted to it on occasion.  It is fun to search and see what you can find, and I love a good bargain.