mandyholbert

A glimpse into our family – the good, the bad, and, of course, the funny

My Worst Nightmare May 17, 2014

There are things that happen to people.  Bad things.  Things that test the limits of their sanity.  Things that can break them.  That can push them over the edge and change them.  Things that cause people to lose themselves.

One of these things happened to me.  And I knew that if I didn’t conquer it, I would never be the same.  And while it may not be easy for others to understand, for me it was real.  Very real.  I knew it was a battle that I had to win or it would defeat me.  It would define me for the rest of my life.  It would rule me.  If I didn’t finish that bologna sandwich…if I didn’t force myself to eat the entire thing…if I didn’t consciously choose to chew it up and force myself to swallow it…I’m quite certain there would have been permanent damage in my mind.  I was on the verge of being broken.  Yes, my battle was a bologna sandwich.  I’m not proud of it, but we can’t control these things, can we?  Stay with me.  I’ll explain.

To set the stage, I need to share just one tidbit of background information:  I’m terrified of frogs.  Boy, it feels good to have that off my chest.  Yes, I’m scared of frogs.  I’m scared of frogs!  I know that by disclosing this, you may never look at me the same.  You may think of me as the weird woman who is scared of frogs instead of as me, an otherwise normal individual who functions just fine in society.  But I had to share.  You had to know this in order to understand the sandwich.

So, it all started, well, let’s be realistic, this story started somewhere back in my childhood.  But we don’t have time for that.  We’ll skip over the traumatic frog experiences of my life (did you know they scream when on fire?  did you know they pop when run over?) and get right to the events leading up to the bologna sandwich.

It was a dark and stormy night (seriously), and we were camping.  I thought I would take the dog for a little walk even though it was wet outside.  After all, we were camping anyway.  So, I leashed the dog, and we took off.  A girl and her dog.  Off for a little walk in the rain.  In the dark.  I know, I know – what was I thinking?  I was practically begging for a frog encounter.  But, honestly, I thought I had my fear under control.  I thought I could handle walking in the general vicinity of croaking amphibians without losing it.  And I probably could have.

Until it happened.

My worst nightmare.

I’m not exaggerating.

This is something I have obsessed about ever since I was a little girl.  Something that has been in the forefront of my mind every single time I walk outside at night.  Something I have lain in bed at night an contemplated, only to give myself the shivers and force the thoughts from my mind.  Literally, my worst nightmare.

I stepped on a bullfrog.

Remember, it’s pitch black dark!  It’s raining.  I can’t see a thing.  But I felt that bulbous mass under my left arch and I knew right away what it was.  It was a hideous feeling – worse than I imagined.  But, I had a lightening fast reaction, and I rolled my foot to the left to get my precious foot off the beast.  And something worse than I ever could have imagined happened.  The frog jumped up the leg of my pants.

I immediately flailed and kicked until I caught a glimpse of the reflection of the moon off his grotesque white belly as he flew spread-eagle through the air.  And then I was frozen.  I couldn’t move.  I mean, how could I?  I couldn’t see anything, so I didn’t know where that villainous creature was or if he had an army of cohorts nearby ready to attack.  But I knew the longer I waited, the greater the chance that I was being surrounded, so I began a panic-stricken shuffle back to our campsite.  I couldn’t breathe.  I was doing some sort of high-pitched moan that didn’t quite sound human – certainly not something that’s ever come out of me before.  I couldn’t think.  It was the longest 100 feet of my life – just trying to reach safety.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of my panic attack.  Let’s just say it was ugly and leave it at that.  It took hours to stop crying, to calm my racing heart, to stop shaking.  Hours of laughing and crying and laughing while crying.  I was not in control of my emotions, to say the least.

And when I finally calmed down, I was hungry.

Enter the bologna sandwich.

I sank my teeth into that sandwich, and all I could think about was the striking resemblance between the cold, clammy, moist skin that was pressed up against my left leg and the remarkably similar texture of that cursed bologna.  Every time I chewed, I felt that frog on my leg.  I felt it like it was really there.  And then I tasted it.  I felt that amphibian skin in my mouth.  I looked at that slice of bologna between two slices of bread, and I saw that frog looking back at me with his ugly little froggy eyes and his arms and legs overhanging the crust of my bread.

I had to finish that sandwich.  Don’t you see what was happening!?  If I didn’t finish that sandwich, the frog would have won.  My mind would have never been the same.  I would have been broken.  I had to force myself to overcome those temporary pangs of insanity.  I had to eat a bologna sandwich made out of a frog.

And I did it!  I gagged my way through it.  I concentrated.  I dug deep and fought to keep myself.  I chewed that sandwich.  I ate that sandwich.  I finished that disgusting, froggish, nightmarish sandwich, and I was victorious!!  I WON!  I will not be controlled by my fear.  I will live a normal life!  The frogs will not rule me!  I will not make accommodations for amphibians.  I will live my life to the fullest!  I finished the sandwich!!!

But I will never wear boot-cut jeans again.  I mean, skinny jeans don’t look good on me, but let’s be realistic – they are much safer.

And I will always carry a flashlight.

Oh, and I’ll never eat bologna again.

 

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Our Own Terabithia September 25, 2012

The king made the decision – they would seek refuge for the night high in the trees.  And so the royal family made preparations to camp perched in the branches of a towering poplar.

They climbed into her branches and peered through the leaves into the enchanted forest.  The queen and her two small children settled in for the long, cold night while the king scavenged for firewood with their trusty Boxador.

He returned with a cart full of freshly chopped wood and built a fire high above the forest floor.  The family huddled around the small fire and roasted their dinner, keeping the aroma of sweet meat in the leafy canopy in the growing darkness.

When the stars began peeking through the leaves to get a glimpse of the royal family, the queen prepared pallets upon which they would slumber.  The king stoked the fire and the queen tucked the small boy and girl into their downy blankets.

The poplar embraced the family with her giant limbs while they gave way to sleep.  The ever-attentive dog kept watch for the wild things of the night…

We had a true Terabithian adventure last weekend – we spent the night in the tree house directly under the stars.  It was all Ronnie’s idea, and the kids were understandably thrilled about the plan.

I, on the other hand, wasn’t really what you would call a happy camper.  It was cold and windy and I was miserable.  We only own two sleeping bags, so the kids naturally got those, so Ronnie and I covered up with rather inadequate (for the circumstances) blankets and froze our butts off.  The cool breeze chilled me from every angle – it had the unique advantage of even being able to get us from underneath since we positioned ourselves in a tree.

Ronnie tried so hard to make me comfortable.  He was really sweet.  He moved my cot closer to the fire and told me he’d be fine if I went to the house.  I couldn’t sleep at all.  I swear every time I closed my eyes, the fire went out.  We spent all night trying to keep it going.  All I could think about were Copperheads.  And when I did manage to doze, I dreamed of fighting off the bears that were trying to eat us.

Sometime in the middle of the night, Ronnie and I were lying there, freezing and resigned to the fact that we weren’t going to sleep, and he said to me, “At least you’re being a good sport.”

“I am?” I asked, a little surprised, but proud of myself.

“Not really,” he answered, “but at least you’re doing it.”

And that kind of summed up the night for us.  I wanted morning to come so badly.

Then, to our surprise, we heard Kendra’s sweet little voice.  “The stars in the trees look amazing.  This is so cool.”  I looked over to see her sleepily enthralled by the view above her.

That changed everything.  Even when she needed to walk all the way back to the house to use the bathroom and get more socks, it didn’t bother me.  I didn’t even notice the cold while we walked.  Well, while I walked and she skipped and chattered about how cool it was to walk in the dark and how amazing nature is.

When we got back to the tree house, I zipped her back into her sleeping bag and she went right back to sleep.  I checked on Max.  He was snoozing happily even though he was completely uncovered.  I felt him and he was  somehow warm as can be.  I zipped him back up, too.

I climbed back in my cot.  Even though we had hours left until dawn, we were out of firewood, and it was getting colder and colder, it was somehow not quite as terrible knowing how much fun the kids were having.

I think they’ll remember it forever.  And we will, too.  And I think we all might remember it as the royal family on an enchanted adventure…

 

A Lesson for Kendra September 4, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 6:49 pm
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Kendra has a tendency to be too nice.  I know that sounds like a good problem for a kid to have, but sometimes her sweetness just breaks my heart.

We went camping for Labor Day weekend, and it didn’t take the kids long to make new friends at the campground.  The people right next to us had a son who was five and just started kindergarten and a daughter who was eight and was in third grade.

Besides just the age/grade coincidence, the kids actually had a lot in common.  The little boy carried a book bag full of things like a bow and arrow, handcuffs, and a flashlight – pretty similar to the kinds of things Max usually plays with.  And the girl loved dancing.  That alone is enough to be a pal of Kendra’s.

When it thunder-stormed Saturday night, the kids all came in our camper to watch movies and play out of the weather with all the toys our kids brought.  Kendra showed the other girl her stuffed animal collection while the boys played Matchbox cars.

The little girl really loved a particular stuffed animal of Kendra’s, which happened to also be one of Kendra’s favorites.  The girl begged to have it, and I was so proud that Kendra stuck to her guns and said no because more often than not, Kendra feels pressured and gives other kids whatever they want.

The girl was relentless.  She really begged and pleaded for that toy.

Kendra caved and told her that she could borrow it for the night, but she had to give it back first thing in the morning.  That sounded like a pretty good compromise to me.

But, when morning came, and it was time for us to leave and time for Kendra’s new friend to return the toy, the little girl turned on the puppy dog eyes and begged for it again.  She hugged it and said she would cry if she couldn’t have it.

Kendra was still saying no.  I’ve talked to her so many times about how people will try to take advantage of her and how it’s okay to say no.  I had even told her the night before that I was proud that she didn’t give away her animal because I knew it was one of her favorites and it was special to her.

Somehow, though, that girl ended up with that toy.  She guilted Kendra right into it.  Kendra told her she wanted her to have it to make her happy, and then she climbed in the truck and cried her little eyes out.  It absolutely broke my heart.  She didn’t want to give away her animal – she was just once again being too nice.

Kendra and I had a long talk about it.  I asked her if she thought her new friend would have given one of her favorite toys to Kendra if Kendra wanted it, and she (of course) said no.  We talked about how a real friend wouldn’t demand her to give up something she loved.  We talked about how some people try to manipulate others to get what they want.  We talked about saying no.

It’s not Kendra losing her toy that upset me.  It’s the fact that she was taken advantage of.

That’s why Ronnie and I hunted until we found a store that sold stuffed animals just like those, and we bought her two to replace the one she lost.

I’m so proud of my sweet little girl.

 

Camping at Cascade May 28, 2012

Our favorite place to camp is Cascade Lake near Brevard, NC.  We’ve spent several holidays there, including Memorial Day and Halloween.  We went back for another Memorial Day this year, making it almost a tradition for our little family.  Our campsite was right on the lake, giving us a gorgeous view.

Sunset over Cascade Lake.

The weekend was full of fun with family and friends.

While I was still at work on Friday, a friend invited Kendra to spend the night.  Since we had plans already to camp, I instead decided at the last minute to let Kendra’s friend come with us.  And since she was coming, I couldn’t not invite her little sister, so our number of kids went from two to four and I hadn’t even packed yet.

After work, I rushed to pick the kids up from my mom’s, picked the kids’ friends up, ran home to pack up our clothes and food (thankfully, Ronnie packed most of our camping supplies), loaded up the car, took four kids to Ingles to get snacks and drinks, listened to Kids Bop dance songs all the way to the campground, and arrived at our site at about 9:30.  Whew!

The kids spent the day swimming, fishing, exploring, and just enjoying each other and the great outdoors.  They had a blast!

Four friends on the dock.

Max and his best buddy.

The adults had a great time too.  We watched the kids play, took in the scenery, and enjoyed fantastic food and relaxed conversation.  It was so nice to kick back and relax and laugh.

Nothing like fresh fish!

The highlight of the trip was a canoe ride to Hooker Falls, another thing we try to do every time we go camping at Cascade.  The waterfall is about thirty minutes from the campground, and it’s a very peaceful ride in the canoe to get there.

Hooker Falls

Hooker Falls (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The kids each took turns rowing on the way there, and then for some reason, on the way back, I told Ronnie I wanted to see if he and I could make it in twenty minutes.

Off to Hooker Falls!

It took us a while to get into a groove.  It was very challenging to steer accurately when we were trying to move as fast as possible.  We finally got in a good rhythm – we were moving quickly and in a straight line.  Yep, we were moving right along, right on target to get back in twenty minutes.  Then I saw it.  A log right under the water’s surface.  We needed to get around it, but we were going too fast.  I yelled at Ronnie to turn us, but it was too late.

I was sitting in the front of the canoe, and when we hit that log, the front end of the canoe came up out of the water.  We were completely stuck!  Ronnie and I laughed so hard!  Max thought it was great – it was a crash, after all.  Kendra was concerned.  I was looking to see if anyone saw us, and Ronnie and I pushed on that log with our oars as hard as we could to try to dislodge ourselves.  I felt so ridiculous sticking up in the middle of the lake like that!

We finally got off the log and made it back to our campsite in a little over 25 minutes.  Not quite the 20 we were trying for, but all things considered, I think we were lucky to make it back dry.

It was a great weekend.

 

 

Camping time is here again! April 22, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Max,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 12:59 pm
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Our campsites at Black Forest Campground backed up to woods for the kids to explore.  Of course, as soon as we got there and set up, that’s what they did.  We could hear them out there, but we couldn’t see them.

Finally, we all went down to explore their new hide-outs.  There was a giant rock they used as a slide, a “play room” where they stored their toys, “monkey bars” that were rhododendron branches, a creek for hunting salamanders, and “pride rock” for pretending to be Simba or a pack of wolves.

After a while, we realized that no one knew where Max was.  We split up and started looking and calling for him.

“MAX!  MAX!”

“MOM!  I’M WOST!!”

I could hear him, but I couldn’t see him.  I headed in the direction of his voice.  And I found this along the way.

Finally, after yelling back and forth for a while, I found him.

In addition to getting “wost” in the woods, Max fell and hit his head on a rock (which thankfully did not need stitches, though it did bleed a bit) and fell and stabbed his wrist with a stick (which also bled a little).

The kids’ jeans were filthy from sliding down their rock slide and scavenging through the woods and creek, and I had to add mine to the wet/dirty pile after Kendra kicked a full mug of coffee all over my lap when she flopped her foot on my lap to ask me to tie her laces.

It was definitely a dirty weekend, but a fun one.  We went hiking…

…at DuPont State Forest…

…it was a beautiful day…

…we went and got snow cones in Brevard…

…and, of course roasted hot dogs on the fire…

It was a relaxing, fun weekend.  Camping always is, though!

 

Confession: I’m not the Mom you Think I am April 12, 2012

Filed under: Confessions,family,parenting,pets — mandyholbert @ 7:12 pm
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Somehow, unintentionally, I have given some people the impression that I have it all together. I appreciate the compliments – I truly do. But, I feel a little hypocritical in accepting them.
Let me tell you why.
I washed all of our bed sheets on Saturday. I finally put ours on our bed this morning (today is Thursday). We’ve been what we call “camping out” all week. That really just means we’ve been sleeping on sheetless beds on top of and under whatever covers we can scrounge up that are actually clean.
I have done an additional four loads of laundry this week, and all of the clean clothes are piled on a couch unsorted, unfolded, and un-anything else that is responsible and motherly.

We have eaten out every night this week – not because we love eating out but because I never made it to the grocery store to buy ingredients for proper dinners. We also are down to the last roll of toilet paper. I really need to get to the store.
My son’s favorite meal is macaroni and cheese from a can. Most people don’t even realize macaroni can be bought in a can. I actually feed it to my child.
I forget to feed the dog sometimes.

My poor husband had to dry off with a hand towel after his shower this morning.
The kids’ rooms look like disaster zones. I only care when I go in them. And I only go in them to tuck them in or to put their laundry away (obviously, a rarity).
The thing is, nothing is perfect around here. Actually, nothing is even remotely close to perfect. I feel like I never have it together. If I get the house cleaned up, the outside is a wreck. If I get outside presentable, then my car is a mess. I don’t think I’ve ever had it all done, and I don’t think I ever will.
I am a working mom. I have to remind myself constantly that I leave my house between 7-7:30 in the mornings, depending on the day of the week, and I get home sometime after 6 and usually before 7. When I get home, I have the family and animals to feed, laundry to do, a house to clean…I could go on naming the mundane tasks that keep a household running, but I won’t. More importantly, I have a family to love and take care of. I have projects to start and try to finish. I have a garden. A tree house. Bunnies. And a dog.
I am so blessed to have a husband who doesn’t demand a spotless house and meals on the table when he gets home. I have a man who doesn’t mind helping me search through the mountains of clean clothes and maybe the drier too to find two matching socks to wear to work. We decided together that we can’t have everything perfect and still have time for our kids, our projects, and fun. So, we compromise. We keep things presentable, but not perfect. When they start to get out of hand, we all work together to get it decent again.
I’d so much rather drop my kids off at the garden on the way home so they can play in the tree house. I’d rather go inside and take off the uncomfortably professional attire I have to wear to work and put on my holey jeans and my Crocs so I can go join them.
I’ll get to the laundry eventually. It can wait.
My family shouldn’t have to.