Star Wars Invades Legoland Atlanta

25Mar2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog
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If you have any Star Wars fans in the house, there’s something new in Atlanta to check out. Legoland Discovery Center has unveiled a new Star Wars Episode 1 Miniland exhibit and it’s quite impressive. With special light and fog effects and interactive displays, it really captures the spirit of the films and draws fans into the experience.

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We were invited to attend the display’s opening last weekend, and it just so happened to coincide with my son Eli’s 13th birthday. His love of all things Lego and Star Wars goes back to toddlerhood. When he was six, he wrote a letter to Carrie Fisher (he had a major crush on Princess Leia) and she sent this autographed photo back to him.

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So you can see — the love goes back a long, long time!

I don’t know which experience thrilled Eli more: receiving Princess Leia’s autograph, or hugging Darth Vader on his actual birthday.

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Probably hugging ol’ Darth….

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As you can see, there were several costumed characters milling about and interacting with the crowd.

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Eli also enjoyed an opportunity to help build a giant Darth Vader Lego figure.

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We will have to go back and see their finished work, as the display runs through the end of 2015.

Legoland is located on the top floor of Phipps Plaza in Buckhead. Parking is free, and you can save $5 off admission by  purchasing tickets in advance online.

TBT: March 2003

19Mar2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

I found these photos in a box tonight. They were taken almost exactly 12 years ago, at Fort Stewart, Ga.

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Donnie’s Army National Guard unit had been activated for deployment. For eleven weeks, we spent our weeks apart, then on weekends, drove four hours back and forth between our home and this base. Donnie had to stay there while we waited to hear when he’d be leaving for Iraq.

For eleven weekends, we said our “final” goodbyes, thinking it would be the last time we’d see each other for a year.

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Needless to say, it was brutal on all of us.

I love these pictures of my precious guys, but they also make my stomach hurt a little, even today. Because I can’t forget how I was feeling when I took them.

It sure is hard to believe this sweet baby becomes a teenager in a few days.

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He sure was a pretty baby. (He’s going to hate that I said that!)

Time…it flies….

My NASCAR Surprise

14Mar2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

NASCAR is just a redneck sport, right?

I used to assume that. Now, you’d think that by my age, I’d know not to form judgments about things that I’m unfamiliar with. But I guess we all tend to do that to some degree.

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Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Quik Trip Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. I won’t lie–it was a sponsored blogger opportunity, one I applied for because of our family’s military background. I was drawn to it because I love helping companies that support our veterans, and the Folds of Honor program awards scholarships to the children of killed or disabled soldiers. The Steel Marketing Development Institute hosted us, and they also play a big role in keeping our soldiers safe through the strength of steel.

Participating in this #StrongLikeSteel campaign helped me realize that my own veteran husband’s health is in some part, due to steel protecting him while he served in Iraq. I wrote about how on this guest blog post at NextGen MilSpouse.

And going to a NASCAR race truly changed my mind about this sport.

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Here are 9 of my surprising NASCAR realizations:

  1. It’s not just a “good ol’ Southern boys’ club.” I was told that 40% of NASCAR fans are female, and there were multiple demographics represented in the crowd.
  2. Its fans aren’t just Americans. I met some Canadians while waiting in the lobby. Imagine driving from Ontario to Georgia for a race?
  3. NASCAR fans are SO nice! I guess I was kind of expecting a lot of beer-induced wild behavior, but I saw none of that. No pushing or shoving in the crowds, no breaking in line at the concessions. Honestly, I’ve never witnessed a better-behaved crowd at a big sporting event.
  4. They unashamedly open events with prayer, and as a Christian, I found that refreshing and welcoming. It was also very moving when everyone held up Folds of Honor flag signs during the 13th lap.
  5. The Fan Zone would make a fun day trip whether you were attending the actual race or not.
  6. A pit pass adds to the fun, especially when you get to stand on Winner’s Circle. And seeing the pit crews work their lightning-fast magic was one of my favorite things to watch.
  7. Race restarts are not for the faint of heart! It was fascinating to see how close those cars were to each other when they’d take off again.
  8. I can totally see how addictive it is to be so close to engines that powerful. Feeling the roar in your chest, and having to wear earplugs because they are SO loud, was actually pretty darn cool. I can’t even imagine being in charge of operating a vehicle with that much power!
  9. Going on one of those NASCAR driving experiences is now a must on my bucket list.
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I’m always grateful for experiences that take me out of my box, and this was truly one of those times. It was a blessing to take my husband and our two oldest sons along, and they had a blast. It was also really good to learn more about Folds of Honor and I’m now resolved to support it and QuikTrip as often as I can.

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So, step out of your box. Give NASCAR a try. I bet you’ll be as pleasantly surprised as I was!

Peanut Butter Days

23Feb2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

Sometimes I feel this crazy obligation to make every post have a happy ending.

You know, be encouraging. Lift others up. Keep a stiff upper lip. All that jazz.

But sometimes…I don’t know. Sometimes I think it’s OK to be moody and morose and melancholy, like I am tonight.

I learned about two friends having cancer today. One, I already knew about, but I didn’t realize it had progressed so much. Another one was just diagnosed. And yet another friend is still deep within the battle for life against the awful disease. I feel so stunned, and sad, and tired of seeing amazing people being beaten up by cancer.

And then I feel that combination of intense gratitude, that “thank you, thank you, thank you” that it’s not my child or husband or me in their shoes, and then this horrible sense of guilt because there’s absolutely no reason that it shouldn’t be us instead of them. No reason at all.

I resigned from teaching at church today. It was just one Sunday a month, in Jonah’s class, and I wanted to stick it out for him, because he loves having me in there. But a room full of preschoolers arguing, pouting, refusing to cooperate, spilling, pushing, whining just pushed me over the edge. I can handle a couple of kids, and I truly enjoy my kids’ friends in individual situations. But oh, don’t give me a roomful of them and expect us all to come out the other side in one piece.

I don’t know whether to pat myself on the back for recognizing my limitations, and honoring them, or to kick myself for letting my son down. I like to be someone who helps create solutions, not one who causes problems. I know how hard it is to get volunteers to work with the children, and now I’m part of the problem. But I just couldn’t do it anymore. The kids deserve better than someone who just really doesn’t want to be there.

So, I’m a quitter that quits. Who doesn’t like quitting.

I’ve got one kid wanting and needing to make a radical change for next school year, but I can’t get the people in charge to return my messages. It’s that time of year that we have to start registering for next year’s classes, making plans for all four kids, and as a homeschooling mom, I always feel like I’m messing things up somehow. I tell one about next year’s co-op class schedule, and they balk. Then two others balk as well. I spent HOURS sorting out what would be the best-case schedule and all they can do is complain. I’m tempted to keep my money and do straight homeschooling only. And of course they whine about that option, too.

I’ve got one child who seems to be getting migraines, another one needing a root canal, two being tested soon for learning disabilities, three needing eye appointments, and one showing hints at possible autoimmune symptoms. There are a dozen cavities between three heads that are needing to be filled. I’m grateful for insurance that makes these treatments affordable, but it’s the time management that trips me up, scheduling all those appointments around all the other obligations.

And I know this struggle is not even remotely unique. It’s familiar to every mom out there.

Sometimes I can just blow through the to-do list and accept it as simply what needs to be done. Other days, all I feel is a crushing burden and like I’m wading through peanut butter while I’m struggling to carry it.

I guess I don’t need to tell you that it’s been a peanut butter day?

 

The Mama 500

18Feb2015 Filed under: blah-blah-blog

It’s so funny, the things you let your kids do to you.

Yesterday morning, I woke up to the sensation of engine sounds and something dragging across my arm.

I opened my eyes to this:

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It turns out that my body was my son’s car track. He was making all the proper engine noises and running it up and down my arms and legs and even across my forehead.

I said, “Alright, alright…I’m getting up….”

“No! I’m not done driving yet!”

So I just stayed there and made a raised bridge out of my folded arms and he thought that was hilariously fun.

And it was all fun and games until my arms got tired, and he zoomed off into the tangled mass atop my head. AND the car got stuck.

I grumbled and untangled and lost about 20 much-needed hairs in the process, and when I gave the “car” back to him, he made sure to say….

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“It’s NOT a car, Mom! It’s a golf cart.”