mandyholbert

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

Boy Meets Girl October 10, 2012

How did Ronnie and I meet, you ask?  Well, it’s a long story.  Actually, you didn’t ask, and it’s a pretty short story, but I’m going to tell it anyway.

I was employed at a home improvement super store which was not Lowe’s while I was a college student.  Here’s some advice for all you eighteen-year-old girls out there: this is a great job if you don’t mind being propositioned, objectified, hit on, flirted with, asked out, and stared at by customers and employees, most of whom are at least twice your age, on a very regular basis. Anyway, I worked there, and I hated it.  I was offered money to give a father and son who came through my check-out line a private dance.  An employee asked me to stay with him while his wife and kids went out west to visit family.  And those were just the stand-outs.  I was literally asked out so often that I quit even looking at the person I was turning down.  You’d think a woman had never stepped foot in that store before.

So, one day I was working the register in the lumber end of the store.  I didn’t have men on my mind at all, but then a really attractive man came through my line with a cart full of materials to build a privacy fence.  I rang him up slowly and tried to catch his eye the whole time. He wouldn’t look at me.  I checked his finger for a ring.  Nothing.  He was driving me crazy by not looking up.  All those men who asked me out constantly, and the ONE TIME I wanted to be noticed, this guy wouldn’t give me the time of day!  Arg!

Finally, he had to look up as I gave him his total – somewhere around $300.  I smiled as I took his debit card from him, and he smiled back a little.  I was thinking he might actually talk to me, and then the dreaded thing happened – the end of any conversation we may have had – his debit card was declined.

Darn it.  Darn it.  Darn it.

I bashfully told him the news, and he fumbled around with his wallet and mumbled something about a paycheck not going in and running home to get the cash and being right back.  I knew it would be a miracle if Mr. Hottie ever came back.  I just knew he didn’t have the cash at home.  I pulled his cart over to the side, fully expecting to have to return all the lumber to its rightful place before my shift was over.

He came back.

I rang him up again, and we didn’t talk the whole time.  I had given up on even trying to be cute with him.  I gave him his total and he paid with cash.  He thanked me and started rolling that cart right out the door.

I sighed and watched him leave.  He sure was a good-looking one.  Strong.  Polite.  Ooo, and he builds fences, so he’s handy.  And those eyes!  Those big blue eyes…Oh, well.

The automatic doors opened as his cart passed through.  Instead of walking, though, he turned around and blurted out, “Do you want to go out sometime?”

I think it surprised both of us.

He recovered a little and walked back to my register, leaving his purchase in limbo.

“Umm…what’s your name?” I asked.  I couldn’t remember it off the debit card.  After all, it didn’t actually work.

“Ronnie.”

And then, from some deep-rooted, recently burned-by-an-idiot-who-said-he-loved-me place inside me, all these questions came pouring out like the rat-a-tat-tat of machine gun fire:

“Do you smoke?  Do you drink?  Do you party?  Do you go to church?  Do you still have your tonsils?  Do you or have you ever supported Ross Perot?  Coke or Pepsi?  Butter side up or butter side down?  Do you have any children?  Do you enjoy bonsai?  Do you speak Spanish?  Do you wish you spoke Spanish?  Are you divorced?  Do you use drugs?  Are you gay?  Do you have any skeletons in the old proverbial closet?  Do you brush your teeth with hot water?  Do you snore?  Are you a vegetarian?  Do you have a criminal record?”*

Whew!  I took a deep breath.  Ronnie was still alternating between nodding and shaking his head with a very confused look on his face.  When we both recovered, we stood there looking at each other for several moments.

I shrugged.  “Well, I don’t go out with people I don’t know, but here’s my number.”  I handed him a scrap of a yellow sales flyer with my name and number written on it.  He took it and put it in his pocket.  He walked back to his cart and pushed it on out the door.

I never thought he would call me.  Especially after the irrational interrogation I had just subjected him to.

But, he did.

We talked for an hour that first time.  We went out the next night.  And we’ve been together ever since.

Don’t ask me why he would have called me even after I went all crazy-girl on him.  But I’m sure glad he did.  We are perfect for each other.

Maybe he knew that.

* This was twelve, almost thirteen, years ago.  I can’t remember exactly what I asked him, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this were pretty accurate.

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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…

 

Six words never to say at school September 19, 2012

Filed under: children,family,humor,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 6:30 am
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Max is figuring this kindergarten thing out.  Last night, when Ronnie tucked him in, Max told him a few things:

“There’s six things you can’t say at school.  You can’t say poop at school.”  He raised a finger. “You can’t say bomb at school.”  Another finger.  “You can’t say guns at school.  You can’t say foopy-bo-poopy at school.”  Still counting on his fingers.  “You can’t say fart at school.  And you can’t say weirdo at school.”

This is very serious.  How will he manage not to say “foopy-bo-poopy” for an entire school year?

He also told Ronnie, “I cried on the outside at school today.  Most of the time I just cry on the inside, but today I cried on the outside.  My leg hurt and it was bleeding so my teacher gave me a Band-Aid.”

Did it really happen?  We’ll never know.  But, he has mentioned several times that he’s struggling not to cry at school.

The other day he told my mom that he cries on the inside all day at school because he misses me.

Last night, he told me he needs to go to the doctor because something is wrong with his eyes.  Of course, I thought he could be having vision problems, so I asked him what was wrong with his eyes.

“They keep wanting to burst into tears,” he answered.

He’s melting my heart.  We’re encouraging him and making school sound exciting and fun.  He’s doing great in school – he has been a good boy, he’s making new friends, and he loves his teachers.  He’s still just struggling with doing it all on his own.

For being such a tough little guy, he sure has a sweet, tender heart.

 

That’s all I need! And this remote control…and this lamp. That’s all I need! September 9, 2012

Remember that scene from The Jerk– the “That’s All I Need” scene?  Steven Martin is leaving his fancy house and his fancy life, and he doesn’t need to take anything with him, except an ashtray.  And a paddle-ball game.  And a remote control.  Then a lamp. A chair.  His dog?  Each time he added another item, he declared it was all he needed.

Cover of "The Jerk (26th Anniversary Edit...

Cover of The Jerk (26th Anniversary Edition)

Ronnie and I cleaned the garage yesterday.  It was a mess.  A big mess.  We did it, but he reminded me of Steven Martin the whole time, grasping on to junk like he somehow needed it.  I don’t even think he can explain why half of the stuff in there is even there at all.

Seems to me he could be dealing with some hoarding tendencies, and he of course is in denial, so I took the liberty of finding a diagnostic test and taking it on his behalf.  This will, naturally, be scientifically accurate and utterly indisputable.

DURING THE PAST WEEK.
0                  1                                    2                                       3                             4
Never  Rarely   Sometimes/Occasionally  Frequently/Often Very Often
1. How often do you avoid trying to discard possessions
because it is too stressful or time consuming?

We put off cleaning the garage for several months because of all the stuff.  We knew it was going to be an all-day ordeal, which it was.  3
2. How often do you feel compelled to acquire something
you see? e.g., when shopping or offered free things?

All I can say about this is that I found lots of merchandise still in the bag from the store that he bought for projects that he plans on getting to one day.  3
3. How often do you decide to keep things you do not
need and have little space for?

me – Ronnie, why do you have this kitchen sink faucet?

Ronnie – Because it’s a perfectly good faucet.

me – Then why did you replace it in the first place?

Ronnie – Because it’s a piece of junk.

me – Hmm…3
4. How frequently does clutter in your home prevent you
from inviting people to visit?

Our clutter problem is restricted to the garage, but we have had the strict rule for the past couple of months to have the garage door closed when people are over. 3
5. How often do you actually buy (or acquire for free) things
for which you have no immediate use or need?

see number 2; 3
6. To what extent does the clutter in your home prevent
you from using parts of your home for their intended
purpose? For example, cooking, using furniture, washing
dishes, cleaning, etc.

You mean to tell me that some people can actually park their cars in their garage!? 3
7. How often are you unable to discard a possession you
would like to get rid of?

me – Ronnie, what should I do with all of this stuff?  I don’t even know what it is!

Ronnie – Just throw it away.

me – Okay.

Ronnie – Wait!  Just let me look at everything before you throw it away. 3

I think it’s safe to say that he could have a proclivity towards hoarding.  Thank goodness he isn’t too far gone and we were able to haul a bunch of junk away yesterday.

Our garage is clean as can be!  He only kept what he needed.

“This gas can, this wrench, this watering can, this boat oar, and my dog.  That’s all I need!”

Disclaimer: This post is intended to be tongue-in-cheek.  Ronnie is not really a hoarder.  He is a very hard-working man who puts in long hours and understands that the little free time he does have is better spent with his family than separating the 42,000 different screws in the garage.  All four of us contributed to the mess in the garage, and all four of us cleaned it up.  But, he is a pack-rat, and I did enjoy teasing him about it when I found some of his odder stashes of junk.

 

A Lesson for Kendra September 4, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,parenting,Uncategorized — mandyholbert @ 6:49 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

 

Max starts kindergarten August 28, 2012

Filed under: children,family,Kendra,Max,parenting — mandyholbert @ 8:29 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Boy, it’s really been a while since I’ve written.  Seems I can only handle one hobby at a time, and lately I’ve been reading instead of writing.  I’ve read some really good books, though.

I couldn’t let today pass without writing about it since it was such an important day in Maxwell’s life.  That’s right: he started kindergarten.

We’ve been pumping him up for weeks, and we really kicked it up a notch when we realized that he was lucky enough to get the same teacher that Kendra had her first year of school.  She is truly one of the best teachers I’ve met, and to top it off, she has an outstanding assistant.

I was not really sure what to expect from Max today, especially after we explained the behavior system to him (green is good, yellow is warning, red is bad).  When I asked him what color he planned to be on every day, he shrugged and said, “green or yellow.”  I was very surprised and asked him why yellow.  He answered, very nonchalantly, “nothing happens at yellow, so it doesn’t matter if I’m on yellow.”  Ugh!

Ronnie was able to take the morning off work to take him to class with me this morning.  Max was practically bouncing into the school.  He was so happy and seemed very excited.  When we got to the room, his teacher showed him where to put his lunchbox, and then she told him to go see the teacher’s assistant to do some other things.

Ready for a great day!

The assistant greeted him by saying, “what’s up?”

Max looked at her then very politely answered, “the ceiling…and the sky…”

See?  He was totally himself…

Until it was time for Ronnie and me to leave.

When he realized we were really leaving, he became really uncertain.  I knew he was getting upset when he suddenly needed to use the restroom.  He was on the verge of tears, but he got himself together in the bathroom.  The look on his face absolutely broke my heart.  He put on such a brave front, but I could see right through it.  He was scared, and he didn’t want us to leave.  Even with other little kids crying in the room, he never did let himself cry.  He was so tough.

Of course I burst into tears as soon as we left him.  Like a big buffoon, I stood in the hallway and cried my eyes out over leaving my baby at school.  You would think I hadn’t done this before.

I was anxious all day wondering how he was doing.  I couldn’t wait to pick him up.  I knew as soon as I saw his face that I would know if he had a good day or not.

And he definitely had a good day.  When he and Kendra headed to the car arm in arm both with huge smiles on their faces, I knew he had a great day.  So great, in fact, that he stopped to hi-five the principal on his way to the car!

 

Sure enough, he was totally energized when he climbed in the car.  The first words out of his mouth were, “I have two new friends!”

He told us all about his day, which must have seemed like such an adventure to a little guy who has never been away from his family.

I asked him so many questions: what did you do? how was lunch? how was recess? did you have fun? do you like your teacher?  and he answered each one with enthusiasm.  Then he told me the great news, “Mom!  You will be so happy when you see my color for the day!  It’s the best color – the color of the grass!”

YES!  He was on green!

A “great job” sticker from his teacher for a great first day of school!

I asked him how he felt when Mommy and Daddy left him that morning.  He said, “I was so sad.  I was trying so hard to hold my tears back.  I feel like I’m going to cry now.”

And that’s what he did.  For the whole rest of the evening, in fact.  Well, I guess it was more of an alternation between extreme happiness and crying his eyes out.

The first day of kindergarten just took a lot out of him.  What a great little guy!

Just for fun, here’s a picture from Kendra’s first day of kindergarten.  It seems like so long ago.  She’s in third grade now – really growing up!

Here’s a little excerpt of what I wrote about her first day of school.  They sure handled it differently!

Anyway, we walked her to her classroom toting her bookbag (“Dad! This thing is WAY too heavy!”) and supplies and got her settled. We took a few pictures and gave her hugs and kisses. Then we left. I don’t know what I was expecting, you know, maybe a little twinge of sadness to be leaving mommy, but nope. She was cool with staying in a big unknown world with not a single person she knew in sight all by her little self. 
Well, my preconceived notions were further shattered when we picked her up that afternoon. I was so anxious and excited to see her that I was driving Ronnie crazy – chattering, babbling, goofing, and flubbering. When I saw her walking to the truck, I jumped out to hug her. 
She got in the truck and said, “I am SO thirsty.” 
I gave her some water. 
“Well, how was your day?” I burst out just itching to know every detail. 
“It was good. I learned a lot.” 
She sat back there not like the ecstatic little girl I thought she would be, but rather like an old pro, a jaded old kindergartener who had been there, done that, what’s the freakin’ big deal, mom’s acting like a buffoon again, oh brother. 
I finally managed to get her to tell the highlights of the day and learn that yes, she loves kindergarten, and yes, she loves her teacher, and yes, she’s excited to go back tomorrow. She hated quiet time, was amused that one girl actually slept, and she thought recess was too short. 
I’m proud of her. I knew she was ready. 
I guess I just didn’t realize how ready.

It’s going to be a great year!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mommy is Sorry, Max July 30, 2012

Lakewood Camping Resort is like its own little city.  They have everything you could possibly need while on vacation – stores, restaurants, coffee shop, mail service, laundromat, and tons of fun things to do – pools, slides, sports, mini golf, boating, and, of course, the beach.  Once inside, you can get around by walking or riding a bicycle, but most people opt to rent a golf cart.  It makes lugging coolers and chairs to the beach much easier.  Plus, driving a golf cart around for a week is just plain fun.

2007_0801SouthCarolina0009

2007_0801SouthCarolina0009 (Photo credit: j-rod89)

We rented one for the week.  The golf carts are electric, so they don’t go too fast, and the campground has the necessary rules governing the use of them, so overall, even though there are hundreds of them driving around, it’s pretty safe.

I guess that’s why I didn’t consider the possibility of someone getting hurt.  I should have learned my lesson when we went last year, and Ronnie managed to back into my shins not once, but twice.  I’m surprised my bruised shins didn’t make more of an impression on me, but this year, I had forgotten about accidents, and I wasn’t careful at all.

Max and Kendra on the golf cart waiting to ride from our campsite to the beach.

Max and Kendra were sitting on the back seat, and I backed the golf cart out of our campsite.  I halfway noticed as I looked over my shoulder to back up that Max was lying down instead of sitting properly, so I told him to straighten up.  I didn’t, however, wait for him to sit up as I instructed, and when I put the golf cart from reverse to forward, I threw him off.  He screamed and rolled on the pavement.

I jumped off and ran to him, looking around to see who all had noticed what a bad mom I was that morning.  I checked him out, and he seemed okay, but he wouldn’t stop wailing – I think he was more mad at me than anything else.  He was making the most of this opportunity to get back at me for throwing him off.  He really made quite the scene, so I told him to go back in the camper.

Even though I was embarrassed and mad at myself, when it finally sank in that I had thrown my five-year-old son off a moving vehicle onto hot asphalt while he was wearing only swimming trunks, I started feeling really, really bad.  I couldn’t shake it off.  I apologized to him so many times.  I asked him if he was mad.  I begged him to forgive me.  I told him it was an accident.  I just couldn’t shake it off all day long.

Finally, that evening, all four of us decided to go for a golf cart ride around the campground.  Max joked a few times as we drove around and told random people how his mom threw him off the golf cart.  Funny boy.  We were laughing and having a great time, really making up for my earlier incident of bad parenting.  We even played some music and sang together.  It was really fun.

All of a sudden, Ronnie, who had his feet propped up on the dash, hit the switch with his foot and the golf cart stopped in the middle of the road.  I panicked just a little and jerked to a start without checking on the kids who were sitting on the back seat…

…well, I thought they were both sitting.  Max was actually standing up, and when I started the golf cart – yep, you guessed it – I threw him off again.  Does road rash scar?  I sure hope not…

Scène from the Police Academy Stunt Show

Scène from the Police Academy Stunt Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)