It’s Okay To Play Hooky With Your Kids

There are some days that life just catches up to me and I just want to take a day off. I don’t want to turn on my computer. I don’t want to see what e-mails have come in. I don’t want to check Twitter or Facebook. I just want to veg out.

And then something wonderful happens. My sweet husband will say, “Hey – let’s go out to dinner tonight – just you and me.” And my day doesn’t seem so hard. Something as simple as that can really just make you happy.

I remember when I was in first grade. I was sitting in Miss Lapin’s class when the school secretary called my name over the intercom to come to the office. I was a good girl! I didn’t talk during class! Why was I being called up to the office??

With my heart beating a mile a minute, I rounded the corner to see my mother smiling at me.

“Am I in trouble?” I said.

“Nope! I have a surprise for you”, my mother said, leading me out of the school.

Thirty-eight years later I can still remember it as if it were yesterday. We drove into Downtown Atlanta to the Fox Theater… (If you’ve never seen the Fox Theater, google it!!!)…to WATCH A MOVIE! During school hours! This was awesome! I looked at my mother. She was grinning at me. My heart burst. I was so excited! This was by far one of the most fun days of my young life.

Me, not too thrilled about going to school

Many years later, I showed up at Matthew’s school to do the same thing. He is a hockey player, and the movie with Kurt Russell about the 1980 Olympic Hockey team that beat the Russian team had just come out. He was dying to see it and said so every time the trailer would come on TV.

I went to the front office and told the office staff that I needed to check him out of school for “an appointment”. Thank goodness they didn’t ask me what for.

As we got to the car he finally asked me what we were doing. I told him to wait and see. We drove to the local mall and he looked at me like I was crazy.

“Shopping? Please, no.” he said.

But when we got to the line to buy movie tickets, things began to fall into place.

“Are we going to watch ‘Miracle’????” he asked, the pitch in his voice raising with each word.

“Yep!” I said.

The grin on his face is one that I will remember for the rest of my life.

Recently, my husband did the same with my step-son, Austin. They went to a midnight release for a video game that he had been saving up for. As Austin was getting ready for bed, Dale said “Hey, get dressed – we have to go somewhere.”

Austin looked confused but did as he was told. As they pulled into the BestBuy parking lot, it began to register that they were there for the game release. Dale said that Austin had that look that I had described to him that Matthew had when I took him to the movie.

Playing hooky from work or school isn’t something to make a big habit of. My mom only did it once with me, and I only did it once with Matthew. It was so special that I wouldn’t want to ruin those memories by doing it over and over.

I realized at that moment that we don’t need to buy our kids expensive gifts or take them to exotic places for them to be happy. It’s really just the little things that they will remember the most.

Matthew recently mentioned that day we played hooky from work and school just to spend the day together, doing something that he really wanted to do.

And I hope he does the same thing with his kids one day, and those “hooky day” memories will continue on for the next generation.

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I’m Not A Hoarder…I Just Collect Lots of Things

My husband and I are probably going to be moving in the next six months. We have been renting a home since we got married because we both had houses to sell, and in this market we knew that was not going to be easy and would probably take some time before we could buy something. Now it’s that time.

To get a jump start on our moving process, I decided to take this past weekend to start figuring out what we would be moving, what we would be donating and what is going to stay boxed up in the basement from our last move.

I put on my raggedy sweatpants and an old t-shirt and just for the look, I tied a pink bandana around my head, kerchief style, just in case that would help motivate me more if I looked the part.

I opened the garage door and looked around. To my left I found all of our camping gear, which takes up a ton of space. To my right is the deep freezer, more shelving with hockey sticks and lacrosse equipment, four sets of golf clubs and eight bicycles. We are a family of five. With eight bicycles.

I turned around and shut the door. I’ll conquer that room later.

I opened the basement door and went down stairs. I looked around. Two more bicycles that the kids have outgrown are by the back door, waiting for the garage sale that I can never seem to put together. Mismatched furniture from before we were married sits against the wall with more stuff from our pre-marriage days. Boxes that have NEVER BEEN OPENED that we both moved from house to house before we got married – my stack is on one side; his is on the other. What the heck is in them? Who knows? Probably my old Halloween costumes from when I was five…that my MOTHER wanted out of her basement.

I turned around and go back up the stairs. Maybe I’ll just start on my closet.

That’s when I realized something.

Oh. My. Gosh. I might be a hoarder.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m clearly a very ORGANIZED and clean hoarder. My house is spotless. Everything has a place and is usually IN it’s place. I don’t have boxes towering up to the ceiling waiting to slide like an avalanche and crush the next person to walk by. Or old rotten food from 1995 in the kitchen. Or so much junk everywhere that there are decaying animals in the dining room that died because they were trapped behind 97 boxes of QVC deliveries. You know what I mean…you can admit you’ve seen the real “Hoarders” on TV.

I just have stuff. Lots of stuff.

I collect antique books, but they are all nicely kept on bookshelves. I have knickknacks, but they are all in a display case.

I think what did it was when my mother passed my old toys (that were in boxes in HER basement) on to me, which for many items, I have proudly displayed: the old metal Peanuts lunchbox, a Mickey Mouse watch, Baby-Beans (the bean bag doll with the pull string that would say “I love you!”), my old Winnie-the-Pooh, Romper Room toys, marionettes, etc. They are all displayed nicely on the bookshelves in my family room.

But it’s still a lot of stuff.

I started having an irregular heartbeat.

Because I realized that moving doesn’t mean just moving the furniture. It’s all of the other stuff that makes a house a home; clothes, toys, dishes, patio furniture, potted plants, pictures…EVERYTHING. And now I’m going to have to pack it all up and move it.

I start to realize that maybe we should have started packing for this move the month after we moved in.

But wait! I sort of already have. Those unopened boxes in the basement from the last move?

They’re all ready to go!!

Are You A Baby Book Slacker?


How many times has your child done or said something funny and you think “I’ll always remember when he did that”? And then the following month you are wracking your brain trying to remember what exactly it was? My son is now 18 years old and I still think of funny events but can’t remember all of the details.
After my son was born I was determined to fill in his baby book with memories, sayings, firsts, etc. I think I got to month three before I became a slacker on the job. The only reason I remember what day he took his first steps is because it was my sister’s birthday. But which birthday? I don’t know because I didn’t write it down.

But that all changed, thanks to my mom.

Years ago when my son was just a toddler, my mother would often babysit him while I went to work. She was able to spend the first three years with him, often telling me some of the funny things he said or did while he was at her house.

That following Christmas I opened a present from my mother. It was a standard black notebook – the kind with the paper that has to be punched with three holes. Nothing fancy. But what was inside was utterly priceless.

My mother had written down almost every funny conversation they had, typed it all up, and gave it to us. She said that she kept paper in all of the rooms of the house and when Matthew said something funny, or something happened that she thought would be good in the book, she would write it down. At the end of the year she took all of her little sheets of paper and typed them up. (As a side note – my mom is Ninny.)

Here are some of my favorite “Matthew Funnies”, as the book is so appropriate titled:
Age 3 – Your Dad was teaching you the sign language alphabet. When he got to the letter “p”, you said “we don’t pee in the tub.”

Age 3 – The pest control man, Tucker, came to the house today and you followed him around.
Tucker: How old are you?
Matthew: (silence)
Ninny: You know how old you are. You can tell him.
Matthew: (silence)
Tucker: When is your birthday?
Matthew: When I turn four!!!

Age 3 – Your Mom: I’ve got to go to the bathroom.
Matthew: I’ve got to go to the bathroom, too.
Your Mom: Well, you’ll have to wait a minute – I’m about to pop.
Matthew: Well, I’m about to poop.

Age 4 – You gave me a kiss on the cheek and then I felt something stuck on my cheek.
Ninny: Gross, Matthew! It’s a fingernail!
Matthew: No it’s not! It’s a footnail!

Age 4 – Ninny was working on the porch when you came outside.
Matthew: I have a new wallet. Want to see it?
Ninnny: Of course I want to see your wallet!
(And you showed me a rock that was about two-inches long.)
Oh my. Where did you get that nice wallet?
Matthew: I got it in the Army ‘bout four years ago.

She did the same thing for my sister with my two nephews. This is one of my favorites:

Zachary was sitting in his dad’s lap and was running his little hand over the hair on his dad’s arm.
Zachary: Hey Dad!!! Look! When I do this to your arm, your fur lays flat.

And now that my son is an adult, reading these precious stories helps me exactly remember these events that would have been lost long ago. Those yearly “chapters” continue to give me endless belly laughs remembering “funnies” that I have already forgotten.

To do this for your family, consider just keeping a little notebook in your purse and jot down simple memories as they happen. If you wait too long, you will more than likely forget certain details. As time allows type up your notes and then you can print and give numerous members of your family your child’s “Funnies” book. It is such a personal holiday present for grandparents, parents & friends.

Remember to write down the amusing stories but don’t forget the heartfelt ones too…

Age 4: You were gazing out the window and you were lost in deep thought.
Matthew: You know what, Ninny?
Ninny: No, what, Matthew?
Matthew: I love you.

It’s All Greek To Me

My college student has officially started rush week. My husband and I have both told him that this week will be one of the most fun parts of his college years. And for him, it’s only the beginning.

Even though it’s been well over 20 years ago, I can still smell the hazy cigarette smoke and stale spilled beer throughout the Sigma Alpha Epsilon house at Mississippi State University. I was lucky enough to be invited and initiated as a “Little Sister of Minerva”, or an SAE Little Sister.

I’m convinced that Kurt Cobain copied the grunge style from the SAE’s at Mississippi State. They were way ahead of their fashion time with their long stringy hair with the occasional mullet (hey – it was the 80’s!), and disintegrating t-shirts saying “You Can’t Spell State Without SAE!”

The house was probably one of the strangest on Fraternity Row. For some reason someone thought that a very plain, two story rectangular, red brick building would look better by adding a church-like addition (minus the steeple). Nestled in with the Southern Plantation, white columned style homes of Kappa Alpha, Pike, and Kappa Sig houses, the SAE house stood out like a sore thumb. Besides the fact that the house looked like an old gas station, an eclectic mix of sofas and chairs were usually strewn out in the front yard along with the previous night’s beer bottles and empty solo cups. Are you having visions of “Animal House” yet? If so, you’re right on track.

Dancing to a live band playing “Brown Eyed Girl”, or sitting on the roof watching the sun rise (and laughing at girls trying to sneak out of the frat house in the wee hours of the morning), or the Little Sister/Big Brother Wine & Cheese party, or dressing up as a 1920’s gangster’s widow during Paddy Murphy week. These are just slivers of my fun memories.

And now my son Matthew is going through rush. I don’t care what fraternity he chooses to pledge, I just want him to pick the one that fits his personality the best. And the most important thing I hope he gets from going through rush is realizing the lifelong friends he will make. Many of the friends on my Facebook page are my SAE big brothers…and I was just a little sister! The depth of lifelong brotherhood that he will be a part of upon joining a fraternity is immeasurable.

And although I know he’s going to have fun, I hope he realizes that there are some things he should and should not do. I won’t name names here, but holding a pizza guy hostage for more pizza probably isn’t the smartest thing to ever do, but keeping beer in the coke machine? That, my dear brothers, was BRILLIANT!!!

I made the fun photo above using StoryMark. For more information, visit http://www.storymarklife.com or download for free in the iPhone app store or Android Market.

Happy Father’s Day, Mr. Fancy Pants

By Dana McIntyre  @danamcintyre1

Father’s Day is coming up and this year is more special to me than ever.  Six months ago we were not sure my Dad would even be around for Father’s Day.   He was diagnosed with a blood cancer and started chemo treatments immediately.   (He recently underwent a stem cell transplant, and I am blessed to say that it was successful!)

This year for Father’s Day I plan on doing something different for him.  I am going back through my old photos and finding the ones that make me laugh, the ones that make me remember and the ones that make me happy.  I want him to know how much those memories mean to me and how lucky I am to have the best dad in the world.

I want him to know that I remember seeing the thousands of jellyfish in the water on our beach trip to Panama City.  I remember camping in our 1970’s VolksWagon van and catching my first trout in the river up in the north Georgia mountains.  I remember going to the pool and being mesmerized by the tsunami that he created by doing a cannonball off the diving board.  I want him to know that I cherish every one of those memories!

And I plan on giving those memories back to him through StoryMark.

And as much as I love my dad, I will have to make fun of his short sleeved turtleneck shirt and plaid pants combo from 1974.  It’s classic.