(Not So) Tall Tale Tuesday: Bringing Joy in the Midst of Sorrow

Today’s (Not So) Tall Tale Tuesday prompt:

Write about a childhood memory that changed your perspective.

I could probably write quite a few stories about childhood memories that changed my perspective but for now, I’m going to go back to a memory from a long, long time ago that I barely even remember.

I am not sure how old I was but I was young enough to not understand death, funerals, or visitations.  However, my great grandmother on my Grammy’s side had passed away and we were in Lincoln, NE at the visitation at the funeral home.  I remember being there and there were so many people.  And they were all crying and they were all sad but they would brighten up as soon as they saw me.  I was just glad to be with so many of my family members.  I kept going to the many tissue boxes scattered throughout the room and pulling out the tissues one at a time.  I think I emptied all of them.  I might have picked a few of the flowers too.  I found it quite odd that they were all over the room.  They smelled so good, I couldn’t help it.  And for once, no one said anything.  I was shocked I didn’t get a spanking right then and there, to be honest.

At this point, you may be asking how this changed my perspective.  It didn’t change my perspective as a young child but what I got from this and the many other visitations and funerals that I went to as a child is that death is an inevitable part of life.  It’s something all must face and it doesn’t have to necessarily be a bad thing.

The other thing is this- I sometimes feel funny taking my children, knowing that it will be awkward for them (and possibly a hassle chasing the flock around).  But then I think back to the smiles that I brought the many grieving visitors and family as a child.  I see the same smiles from those that we share our kids with in these times of sadness.  Children bring joy in the midst of sorrow and are a constant reminder that life does go on.

Deep for me, I know….

017f89537a0905d084e75ed02fa953ccc6ceef910cMost of my (Not So) Tall Tale Tuesday posts have been a bit more upbeat, positive, or funny than this but it honestly was the first childhood memory that came to mind in terms of changing my perspective.  Sorry.  Not sorry.

However, if you need a laugh after this sobering post, check out this one.  It always gives me a chuckle.

Photo credit- Garen Graves Photography

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My Dad turns 60

Growing up, and even in the recent past, my mom has told me, “You are just like your Dad….”

Man, what a compliment.

My Dad is one of my heroes.  It’s no secret that I adore him.  I’m proud of his accomplishments throughout his career, but I’m even more proud of the man he is personally.  Here’s a few things that I love about him:

He takes things as they come.  He has more patience than any person I have ever met….even Garen and that’s saying a lot.  He’s generous and truly believes in doing what’s right, even if it’s not the popular thing to do.  He’s got faith in what he believes in, even when others around him may doubt.  He loves my mom, his soulmate, with all his heart.  He taught me to get up early and to become a lover of all things breakfast-related.  He treats everyone with respect….and I truly mean everyone.  He can and will talk to anyone.  He is so very smart but also has common sense, which doesn’t always come packaged.  He loves a great debate.  He is passionate about whatever he sets his mind to.  He is a perfectionist and he goes further than measuring twice to cut once.  He can rock a sweater or turtleneck like nobody else I know.  He always wants to find better, more efficient ways to do things.  When he gets on a kick- whether it’s making bread, buying classic wool shirts on Ebay, or designing a custom anchoring system- he focuses in and perfects each process.  He admits when he’s wrong, quickly apologizes, and, on the flip side, also forgives quickly.  I believe him when he says he can fix anything but a broken heart.  And he can build just about anything too.  He believes in good shoes.  He’s an Eagle Scout.  He loves to read, listen to books, go to classes, and is a true life-long learner.  He is not afraid of change.  He’s hilarious and can find a way to make almost anyone laugh….or at least shake their head and grin.  He is an excellent friend to many.  And he truly is an amazing father and now also a wonderful YaYa to five grandkids and four grand-fur-babies, plus a grand-cat.

I could go on and on.  Really.

I’m sure, if you know him, you’d be able to add a few things too.

If you’re reading this, Happy 60th Birthday, Dad.  I hope you know how much I love you and how proud I am to be your daughter, employee, & friend.  I’m so glad for my kids to get to call you YaYa.  

To everyone else– enjoy the photos.  There’s nothing like looking at old photos to provide a bit of entertainment.  Genes run strong in our family, both on the Odom (Dad) and Bottlinger (Mom) sides, right?!?  Most of these photos were from the slideshow that Joe put together for Dad’s 50th surprise party that we pulled off, plus a few since then.  Yes, Mom, that means that I have found the video.  Hallelujah!

The above photo is from Mom and Dad’s 60th Birthday trip.  They climbed Machu Picchu.  Yes, I know they’re awesome!

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Thanks also to Joe for putting the man hours into getting these photos together.

Solution Sunday: You’re Grounded Chore Chart

In the words of my Grammy, “I don’t want to sound like I’m airing my dirty laundry,” but we’ve been having some behavior issues around here and problems not minding the first time, etc., etc., etc….

And a while back I saw a few Pinterest posts that had some ideas for grounding, including a “Congratulations, You’re Grounded” chore chart.  The basic idea is as follows:

  1. Kid does something wrong
  2. Kid gets notice from parent with assigned “point value” for wrong doing(s) that they have to “earn” back by doing an assortment of things to get ungrounded
  3. Kid is grounded from XYZ activities until they’ve earned all of the “points” back

There were a few of these out there already and none of them were exactly what I was looking for and they were all PDFs so they weren’t very easy to edit.  The one I liked the best was this one and I wish I could find who actually created it but I haven’t yet.  So, if you’re out there, thank you for the great inspiration.

But, like I said, I wanted it to work for us, so I created my own on Excel and then converted it to an editable PDF so I can use it quickly.  I’m sharing this with you because so far it’s been very helpful for us.  Download the Excel Version or the Editable PDF Version of the You’re Grounded Chore Chart.

Before this, grounding didn’t do that much to correct or prevent behaviors in our house.  Now the kids have to actually do something to get ungrounded.  You’ll notice that they get an 2 extra points added if they complain.  And, yes, Anna has already had some extra points added (and done over 100 points of chores so far) but she’s learning quickly.  And, Will…. he’s staying out of trouble for the most part!  Obviously, we’re only doing this with the bigs.

The littles…. oh my…. someone should give me some good ideas for getting them to behave too!!!

Hopefully this can help you out if you struggle with discipline being ineffective like we were for a while.  I’ll let you know if it continues to be a success.

And, who knows???  Maybe my house will stay cleaner this way too….

Photo Friday: Mr. Chairman, My Dad

My dad doesn’t often read this. And it’s a good thing because he’s a very humble man and may not approve of me bragging on him so much. However, I’m going to brag about him anyway.

Last night he was “inaugurated” as the Chairman (equivalent of President) of the Mason Contractors of America (MCAA). He’s been on the board now for 6 years and will now serve as Chairman for two additional years.

I’m so proud of him and my mom, who supports him every step of the way. They made up the “p” and the “s” of P and S Masonry, a masonry contractor in Central Texas established in 1987. They’ve both been advocates for the masonry and construction industry for the 30+ years they’ve been in business. I’ve been fortunate enough to have worked with them both in the masonry business and now on the equipment company, Spec Rents, which they established to provide increased safety and productivity to contractors across Texas.

I couldn’t have asked for better mentors and I’m so excited that he now has the opportunity to help continue to promote masonry across the country.

Congratulations to my Dad, Paul Odom, Chairman of MCAA, and to my mom, Susie, the First Lady of Masonry.

With that said Photo Friday consists of photos from the MCAA World of Masonry in Las Vegas. They’re all iPhone photos and none taken by Garen so they many not the best but they captured the moments!

It doesn’t matter how many times I attend the World of Concrete/World of Masonry… I think I’ll always be in awe at the sheer awesomeness of the cool construction products and equipment there is available.  Yes, I’m guilty of being a masonry/construction geek!Pre-banquet photo.  Em, Brian, and I flew out yesterday just to attend the closing banquet and hear Dad make his first speech as Chairman.  Garen was already out there since Oldcastle is a big player in the industry too. It was a great surprise for Dad because he didn’t know we were coming!Here he is: Mr. Chairman. It’s official since it was in the banquet booklet!I’m so proud of this guy!

Here he is with Mike Sutter, the outgoing Chairman of MCAA.  Dad’s had such a great time being his “wingman” over the years!

You can’t forget the First Ladies, Mom (Susie) and Colleen.  Behind every great man is a great woman.  They’ve had such a great two years traveling together.

Before boarding this morning we enjoyed a quick breakfast together as a family, minus Garen who flew American.

Did I mention that the banquet last night was at Fogo de Chao??? I’m pretty sure I ate about 3 lbs of delicious meat and had about 10 of those addicting cheese rolls soooooo I may not lose any weight this week. Totally worth it! And I was glad that I wore my stretch tent dress for the occasion.

It was a fast, furious, and fun trip and I’m so glad I got to go. We’ve got a big weekend with Anna’s dress rehearsal for the Talent Show tonight and the Pinewood Derby tomorrow. Stay tuned next week since I’m sure Garen will get some great photos.

(Not so) Tall Tale Tuesday: What Makes a Great Mom

Today’s prompt for (Not so) Tall Tale Tuesday is:

Write about the woman who has had the greatest impact on your life.

This didn’t take more than a few seconds for me to know exactly who I’d write about- my Mom.


We’d both freely admit that we don’t always agree about everything- far from it. But I have a long list of the great reasons she’s had the greatest impact on my life and what I think makes her a great mom:

  • She’s taught me to love unconditionally. I was a hard teenager to deal with. If I could take it back I would. But I can’t. What I can do is learn from how she continued to love me despite it all. I have a feeling I might need it- what are the chances that none of my four kids are not going to give me some heartache?!?
  • She loves my dad and he’s her best friend. I have married my best friend I aim to keep him happy and show him how much I love him every day.
  • She’s the money-lady. My mom has diligently kept the financial side of my parents’ companies going for 30+ years. She’s taught me how to save money and how to spend wisely. Many think I was brought up in a house where I got whatever I wanted. Ha. So far from the truth. My mom was pretty close to the budget-Nazi growing up. And while I was sometimes upset that I didn’t get to always have Tommy Hilfiger or Guess brand clothing (am I dating myself???), I sure am glad now that I got to experience that.
  • She gives freely. Part of her above mentioned budgeting always went to either the church or to fundraisers, etc. I don’t remember her ever turning anyone down unless she had already bought more Girl Scouts cookies than our family could eat.
  • She taught me to love to read. Not just because she read to me or made me read. She also was always reading and was always willing to help find me a book that I found interesting. This is something I worry about at our house because my books are now on my phone and iPad so it looks like to the kids that I’m “playing” while I’m really reading my book on my Kindle app.
  • She loves family get-togethers and has hosted them almost every holiday for a long time, especially as my grandparents got older. Getting together with aunts, uncles, and cousins has always been a big part of our life.
  • She’s taught me to party plan and to cook for others. This is similar to the above point but still a little different.  It drives Garen (only a little) crazy but I love planning parties.  I’m pretty sure the cooking doesn’t drive him crazy (unless he ends up cleaning it).  I’m not as good as my Grammy or my Mom but I think, like them, I’m getting better with age.

I could probably go on and on but I’ll stop. She’s a pretty great Mom and an even better Mammy! Happy (not so) Tall Tale Tuesday!  And thank you, Mom, for being a great Mom and friend.

Mommy Review Monday: Big Block Singsong

I can’t take credit for finding this group because Garen introduced this lovely group to me. If you’re like me, you quickly get tired of kids music.

Enter Big Block Singsong.

Pros:

  • They will crack you up with their off-the-wall lyrics. This may be helpful if you’re ever in the car with everyone yelling at each other….not that we ever experience that in our family….
  • You don’t have to worry about anything offensive or bad words. I guess that’s almost a given with children’s music but a pro is s pro.
  • Even your older kids will like them, despite there being no inappropriate language.
  • They’re educational in a bazar way.
  • As a mom of girls, the “Princess” song is empowering, yet allows them to feel like it’s ok to be a girly-girl. Is that too much to read into a children’s song? Maybe…
  • The music is decent too. Very upbeat.
  • They’re easily found on YouTube or iTunes.

What they could do better:

  • I’m not a huge fan of the videos. I expect too much of them but we never really watched them anyway so that’s not a huge deal. They’re probably perfect for babies and toddlers so I guess that’s really a positive rather than negative.
  • Maybe produce more songs? Yes, I like them that much. No more negatives for them.

There you have it. What are you waiting for? Check them out.

Hair is one of our family favorites if you need a starting point….or a quick pick-me-up.

Photo Friday: New England Favs

Here are a few from our girls’ trip to New England- Newport, Boston, and Salem. 

There’s MUCH more content to come, including our itinerary, but these are some of my favorites, not just because of the quality but because of the memories. 

House of Seven Gables…can I be honest and say I don’t remember the book???

We went to Peabody, Massachusetts to the house that my dad, Aunt Karen, and Aunt Lynn lived in for a few years of their childhood. Believe it or not, this was only after a drink or two…we just had that much fun celebrating my cousin, Sarah’s birthday. These four photos above were at Marble House in Newport. You can see that Mom is telling us all about everything!Isn’t my Mom gorgeous? She was the mastermind behind this whole trip. This kitchen was at The Breakers. Who wouldn’t love to have a kitchen like this?!?Or a bathtub like this???Or a living room like this??? Ok, so maybe I wouldn’t like to have to clean this. As the daughter of a mason contractor, I’m in love with this entryway!This is the servants’ stairway. Nice, right?This is how full our little minivan was with all of our stuff. Who needs sand in your toes when you can be on the rocks?What a great way to end the day……picking up seashells……and enjoying time with my Momma!This is one of my favorites…my Aunt Karen and Cousin Sarah. This was obviously before we climbed the 297 steps to the top of the monument. You can tell by the smiles. These three ladies made the trip a blast!The Holocaust monument was amazing and very touching. 

It was a great trip, spent with great ladies!