Thursday, November 29, 2012

50+ Places in the U.S. to Check out the Lights in 2012

Eileen, from Taking the Kids, along with help (input) from the girlfriends at Family Travel Forum and Traveling Mom (my baby - sort of), have come up with a list of 55 places to light up the holidays.

From the largest Christmas tree in New England to a celebration with Mickey and Minnie ... this list is one of the best.  If you have a favorite that's not mentioned on the article, leave a comment and let Eileen and the rest of the girls know about it.  Who knows ... maybe we'll see ya there next year!
Check out the list HERE! You might just find something close to you that you didn't know about or have forgotten about.
Happy Hanukkah, Happy Holidays ... or my personal saying: Merry Christmas!  From me ... to you!

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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Letter To My Son on his 5th Birthday

Those of you that have been following my blog from the beginning know that every year on my boys’ birthdays, I write them a letter to put into a box for them to open and read whenever they can and want.
Every year, the letter gets harder and harder to write. Not because I can’t think of anything to say. I’m a blogger/writer. I ALWAYS have something to say. It gets harder to write because I can barely make it through the Dear _____ without bawling my eyes out. It pains me to see my boys grow up so fast.

Everybody always says, "It seems like only yesterday…"
But for me … it seems like it was only five minutes ago.
It was only five minutes ago that I anxiously took the test to find out if I was pregnant. It was only five minutes ago that we were playing music into headphones wrapped around my pregnant belly. It was only five minutes ago that your first grunting cry, after several minutes of not breathing, would be the most beautiful sound in the world.
And now … now I have to answer all kinds of questions that even I want to know the answers to. Just know that I’m trying my best. I’ll always be honest and truthful. There’s an answer for every question and while we may not know the answer right away … we’ll figure it out together. Sometimes the questions are hard but the answers are easy. Don't ever be afraid to ask.

Dear Cassius,

First things first. Being your Mommy is the greatest privilege in the world. People say all the time that you are your Daddy’s clone. A bona fide mini-him. If only they knew how proud it makes him to hear that. While for me … sometimes it terrifies me. It makes my skin itch to know that someone in the world has the tendency to reproduce his quirks, his gestures, and his attitudes. But at the same time … it makes me melt. Afterall, it’s those quirks, and those gestures, and that attitude that made me fall in love with him. He is an amazing person (and especially Daddy). I am envious of the bond you two share. You are best friends and NOTHING could ever come between that bond. When you are angry with him ... I wish you could see the hurt in him that I see. His heart breaks when you are sick, or sad, or you are disgruntled at him. You call for him in the mornings before you call for me. But I also know that you and I share a bond that nobody else could ever have. When you are hurt - Mom's kisses are the ones that heal. When you are sick - Mom's hugs are the comforter so you can rest. When you are sad - Mom's words are the ones that make you smile. No one could ever take the bonds away that we all have.

Five is an awesome age to be. Afterall, you’ve waited five whole years to start Kindergarten. Well son, the time has come. This is the age you will start "big kid school" and get to walk to my bus by yourself.
You’ve already come to the point where you don’t want me to walk you into pre-K anymore. And that sucks. I don't think it's something I can ever get use to. It sucks that I have to kiss and hug you, and wave my hand and pretend that it doesn’t hurt that you don’t want me to walk you in to school anymore. Sometimes I want to freeze the time that you will always be my little baby boy. But I know that’s impossible.

As all mothers do, I have goals, wishes, and dreams for you. The list is endless. But on this 5th anniversary of the moment that I first heard your grunting cry … I will limit myself to the five that I wish for most:

1. Love your God with all of your heart, mind, and strength. And love your neighbors as yourself. Combined with the strength of the wonderful character that you have become, these truths will have the power to change the world. Your Lord who wonderfully and fearfully formed you in my womb deserves every ounce of your love and affection. Throughout the challenges you will no doubt face in life, He will always provide for you and never steer you wrong. God has a plan for your life. Leave your mark by loving each and every person your life touches; those who love you and yes … even those who don’t. Love has no conditions. It doesn't expect anything in return. It gives freely, multiplies, and grows. Do this and I promise, everything else will work itself out.

2. Don’t ever apologize for who you are and for what you want. Nor for how hard you have worked or where you're going in life. As you learn to love others, don’t forget that your love for them can go only as deep as your love for yourself. I can already see signs that you are quick to apologize and to back down. Don’t. You have learned this from your Dad and me and I wish that we could take it back. Be proud of who you are. Do not live to make others happy or to measure up to someone else’s expectations. Be Cash. This is plenty.

3. Be a student and be a teacher. Learn every chance you get. Read. Be inquisitive. Ask questions. And when you know something well – teach others. Do not hoard your knowledge or your gifts – share them. It is a gift to learn and a privilege to teach. Your Dad is the best example of this. He loves to learn and he loves to teach. He is the smartest person I know. Be like him and you will always find the answer.

4. I wish you wins and losses, trophies and empty shelves. As much as I would love to see you succeed in everything you do … and as much as I believe in your gifts … I must wish you challenges as well. For it is within those losses, the 3rd, 4th, and 5th places, and the failures in life that help make you who you are. It is my job, as your mom, to do my best to guide you through these moments. If everything were easy for you, you would be ill prepared for the ‘real’ world. Life is not always easy. It gets harder the older you get. But embrace it. It's God's gift. And be thankful for everything and everyone in it.

5. Seek joy. Every single day. Find something that makes you happy and do it. Be it big or small – act sof kindness, listening to songs you love, calling a friend (or your mom), going camping with your dad - it simply doesn’t matter. What matters is that you spend a portion of each day smiling and laughing. This is what everyone says they notice most about you … your beautiful and bright smile. It’s a gift that God has given you. You love to be funny, watch funny things, and laugh. You have taught me not to take life so serious and to pause and enjoy this life God has given me. Thank you for making me laugh. Just make sure you are smiling and laughing as well.

And my "one to grow on" wish…
Just make sure I’m part of these moments. I just want to make sure you’re on track.

Cassius, you are what bliss and joy look like in a little boy. You are dirty and messy, you snuggle and you love me. You are defiant, willful, spoiled, and sometimes downright ornery. You have a wonderful and fantastical imagination. You can find a unicorn in the clouds or a rabbit in a piece of shredded cheese.

Last night you cried and cried that you changed your mind. You wanted to stay 4 forever. While I too wish and cry for the same thing ... I can promise you, that 5 is going to be your best year yet.

My job as your mom is to build a home of love and laughter. A place where you can cry without fear, discover without prejudice, and grow without judgment. Even though I know I have failed at times … please know that your Daddy and I are here for you always. While we can not shower you with material things … we cherish every moment we spend with you. I can’t wait to see what your future holds, the joys and challenges that await you, and the legacy your life will create.
But right now, I’m too busy enjoying you too much. All 5 years of you.

Happy birthday big boy. Thank you for allowing me to be your mommy. It is the greatest gift you could ever give me.

To the moon and back , my sweet smart little man.  I love you.