Tag Archives: birthday

An adventure, the devil, and great-grandma

This trip snuck up on us.  We had planned it a couple months out, and next thing you know it was here.  I almost wanted to break this story into two parts, but then I stopped being a little girl and finished it.  I become impatient when I write sometimes, especially when my message or story in my head gets ahead of my notes.  I know how I want it to end, and sometimes rush to get there.  I am listening to Childish Gambino (Camp), drinking a Cattywompus (it’s a fancy IPA by Devils Backbone), and Hot Rod is in his high chair eating some cheerios next to me.  Kash was a party pooper (she felt a little under the weather this evening) and fell asleep watching Zootopia on the couch.

I began finalizing this on Memorial Day.  I have found the best way for me to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, is to no let their death be in vain. Celebrate them, raise a glass, and continue to live your life. Enjoy the freedoms you have, but never forget those men and women who have died defending those freedoms.

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James River off of the Monitor-Merrimack Bridge Tunnel

It was 430 AM on Saturday morning.  The sandwich maker and I rolled out of bed and drug our ass’s downstairs to get ready for our mini road trip. I immediately went for a quick shot of strike force and took a shower. We quickly loaded up the jeep (we forgot the watermelon) and started on our short journey to Krissi’s great-grandmothers house. The kids had spent the night with Maw-Maw, and rode with her for the duration of our trip.  For the record, Krissi’s mother is a lunatic and in denial. And no, we are not talking about the river in Egypt. But, we love her anyway. She is a great Maw-Maw and is always down to take the kids off our hands. The kiddos love here and Gran-daddy (probably because of the brownies the eat over there, ha). We wouldn’t trade them for the world. It gave Krissi and I some adventure time without the kiddos.  The drive up was relatively quiet, minus some a-hole driving dangerously around some 18-wheelers.  We stopped for gas in Crozet, VA and had a quick bite at Legacy Markets. This ended up being the best gas station ever. Made to order breakfast, walk in beer cooler, and an upstairs patio to enjoy the view.  The breakfast burrito I had was delicious and so was the coffee (if you are ever traveling on 64 near there, check it out).  We hopped back onto the highway and continued on towards Natural Bridge State Park (we were stopping the before going to grandma’s).  We met up with Maw-Maw at the Pink Cadillac Diner for some more breakfast.  Another neat joint.  It was very 50’s-esque and the building was, wait for it…… pink. There was a small wait, enough to make Hot Rod antsy and fussy.  He had been satisfied through the trip thus far, but he was itching to move around.  He attempted to eat most everything he could get his hands on, but soon discovered how some things aren’t that tasty.  Once we sat down, it took both Krissi and I to keep Hot Rod from tearing down the building.  Kash was focused on eating her food and “brought her manners,” as she says. Lincoln figured out he could stand in the restaurant high chair (it didn’t have straps) and would attempt to grab anything but his food. He somehow was able to snatch a piece of toast off Krissi’s plate (he really just caught a moment when Krissi and I weren’t watching him).  Once he had that toast, he was content. He propped his foot up and chowed down.  We wrapped up breakfast and finished our trek to the natural bridge.

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The bridge isn’t bigger than her personality

The Natural Bridge was amazing.  Words and pictures will not be able to capture it’s size and glory.  As you walked underneath, it would rain on you and there were plenty of smalls streams along the trails.  We were able to borrow a toddler carrier for Lincoln and we used the Boba for Kash.  The toddler carrier was perfect.  It was easy to get him comfortable and simple to adjust for comfort. It was rad listening to Lincoln baby talk his way throughout the hike.  I would occasionally use my phone to see how he was doing (I later discovered a small mirror attached to it, after the fact) and record his monologues. He would play with my hat and want to touch the surrounding nature.  The layout of the trail followed Cedar Creek, a tributary of the James River.  Along the trail was a living history camp set up.  It was of the Monacan Indians, and it had a few hut’s, frontiersman trading post and live cooking demonstrations.  One lady was building a new hut, tying together the timber used to build the bones of it. We continued on along the trail to a creek crossing. I took advantage of a sweet bench by the bank to put Hot Rod down for a few minutes. IMG_0321Kash saw a bunch of snakes and of course wanted to pick them up.  They weren’t deadly and seemed used to the traffic, they didn’t flinch at all when you got close to them.  The trail doubled back from that point, continuing along a limestone wall on one side and the creek on the other.  It was a fairly straight shot from there until the end.  I gave Lincoln the opportunity to touch the rocks, and of course he tried to eat them.  Once we made it to the end (or turn around point), we sat down and took some obligatory family pictures where the kids weren’t looking and I have the same smile in all of them.  Both kids were tired at this point. Kash didn’t know if she wanted to ride in the Boba or walk and Lincoln was upset when he couldn’t touch anything.  As we headed back, Lincoln fell asleep.  Kash pressed on, enjoying the ride on Krissi’s back.  IMG_0362We passed by all the attractions we had seen before, but once again slowed down and took in the sight of the bridge.  It still hadn’t lost any amazement. The real kicker in the trail is climb up the stairs you walked down in the beginning. And it’s a steep climb. My legs were burning at the end.  We loaded back up in the vehicles and made our way to grandmas’.

We didn’t initially realize it, but we had driven past her (grandma’s) house and hour before we arrived at the Natural Bridge.  So, on our way there, Krissi and I broke off to go check out Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company.

Devil’s Backbone makes one of my favorite beers, the Vienna Lager. It’s a go-to beer for me.  Their other brews are delicious, but not as common as the lager.  We pulled into the parking lot, and immediately became excited to see where the magic happens.  The crowd was small, as they had just opened. The tasting room was smaller than expected, but the assortment of beers was great (as it should have been).  We went super-touristy and grabbed a flight (for those who don’t know what that is, it’s a sample of X number of beers to see which ones you like).  There were fancy beers and down to earth beers, all were delicious. At the brewery is where I began to jot down my notes for this post. Once we were finished, we grabbed a case of beer (for $20, I might add) and set out for our destination.  We finally arrived at g-ma’s house.

We took a load off and Krissi’s brother gave me a tour of the place. There is a lot of history in that house. From the foundation (it was literally built on a rock) to the pictures of relatives from the late 1800’s.

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The rock

We checked out the shed’s and garages and found some neat (in my opinion) stuff. There were some old woodworking hand tools, an early model chainsaw, and a dead snake.  Grandma showed me her porcelain doll collection and some of the tools needed to make them from scratch. Later on, in the evening, Krissi and I went out to dinner in Harrisonburg.
One of her friend’s son goes to JMU and works at a local joint in town. We had some food and drinks and made our way back to the house. By the time we got back, everyone was asleep. It was like being an adolescent again, sneaking through the creaking house hoping not to wake anyone.

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Block plane

The next morning, we held a small surprise breakfast birthday party for Krissi’s great-grandmother.  All of the aunts and uncles on Krissi’s mom’s side of the family showed up with some food and conversation.  I cooked the bacon and Krissi coordinated the rest. The whole family crammed into the tiny kitchen to sing her a happy birthday. Once the cake had been dispersed and reminiscing had quieted, the crowd began to filter out.  Kash was outside with her cousin, attempting to bust open a geode we bought at the natural bridge. Krissi used a pick axe to break it open finally.  Hot Rod had some fun with all of the relatives and crashed out in his pack-and-play.  Around noon, Krissi and I loaded up the Jeep and headed home. We hit fog early on and stopped in at one of the scenic views to check it out. It was smooth sailing until we hit Ft. Eustis. Typical fender bender causing a ridiculous amount of traffic. Once we got home, we unpacked, showered and relaxed until the kiddos arrived.  It was good to have them home. Kids went into the tub and then it was movie time.  We all crashed early that night. All the fun and adventure of the weekend had finally taken its toll.

 

Do work, be rad

Mustache

The Whirlwind of Life: Hot Rod

This past weekend was a good and productive one.  I had a good friend come over and school me on a house repair I was new to.  There is a chimney that I need to knock down at the rear of my house. It isn’t structural, and I thought it was causing a wall to buckle. We started by tearing into the wall on the inside of the house. It yielded a lot of damage I wasn’t ready for.  There was evidence of termites and water leaking from the top of the chimney (got to love a house from the 40’s!). None of the studs were holding up any weight, they had been destroyed. Once we got rid of all the plaster and termite poop, you could see where the water had been leaking in for who knows how long.

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How this wall was still up, I’ll never know.

We reinforced the wall with some brand-new studs and I can now rip down the chimney and fix the outside wall.  The wife and I also installed a new throne (toilet) upstairs. It’s a Koehler, no big deal.

I have always made the effort to post my ramblings on Fridays. With how my schedule has been of late, I am going to start posting on Tuesday’s.  It is difficult during the week to sit down and compile my thoughts into something you can read and (hopefully) be entertained by. This one is about the day a little man named “Hot Rod” Lincoln came into my life.  My wife swears he is the spitting image of me (when he cries he looks like her).  Watching him grow over the past year has been awesome.  He is definitely a daddy’s boy (so says my wife) and always touches the Texas A&M sign at the bottom of the stairs when I bring him down in the morning (future Aggie?). I am sitting here putting the final touches on this drinking some George Dickel and ginger ale.

 

It was a gloomy Sunday morning on May 22nd.  Krissi and I had decided to take Kash to Comic Con and see the Batmobile from the old Adam West TV show. She is a yuuuge (see what I did there?) fan of Batman, so we figured it would be a neat surprise.  During the ride there, Krissi began to have contractions. “We might be having this baby today, but we are going to Comic Con first so our girl can see the Batmobile” she told me. Kash was dressed to the teeth as Batman. Cape, mask, shirt and some sweet pink chucks. She was ready.  When we arrived, the crowd was fairly small, which made it easy to get around.  We made a b-line towards the Batmobile and took some sweet pictures with her at the wheel. Kash’s face was filled with excitement and awe.  We cruised around for about an hour. Afterword’s, we checked out what Comic Con was, as both Krissi and I had never been before.  We picked up a couple trinkets for Kash and bounced, Krissi had a work meeting later that day to create new drinks.  On the way there, she reiterated to me, “Babe, this baby is coming out today.” It still hadn’t hit me that my son was going to pop out that day.  We hung out at the cantina (Krissi’s work) while she was creating new drinks for the upcoming summer season. Kash began to start her “I’m tired, but not tired” attitude, so we knew it was time to beat feet. As we left, Krissi called her mom and asked her to pick up Kash. We were going to the hospital. It was around 530 (1730 for you military types) when Maw-maw arrived to pick up our girl. Krissi and I then loaded up and headed to Maryview. Now, this hospital has a bad rap with a nickname Murderview, but the maternity ward it awesome and the staff was amazing. It looked newer than the rest of the hospital and the staff was great. It’s where Krissi and Kash were born, and it would now be Lincoln’s place of birth.  We checked in and made our way to a delivery room. Our first nurse was thankful we didn’t bring any family/baby-mama drama with us. She had been dealing with it all day from other patients. Krissi’s contractions had been ramping up all day and were becoming more frequent. We got settled in and the nurse came in to check her out. 2cm dilated. Nothing crazy, but the nurse wanted to check in another hour. An hour later, she was 3 cm dilated. So, we were able to stay for another hour.  At around 8 pm, Krissi was 6 cm. Hot Rod was on his way out.

The staff began to make preps to deliver Hot Rod.  The anesthesiologist asked me to leave the room when it came time for the epidural (I had been warned about this, thought it was silly).  It was about 10 pm, and we hadn’t yet hit critical mass. Maw-maw came up there to be with us after Kash had gone to sleep. It was then just a waiting game. Around 1130 pm, things began to happen.  The doctor made her way in, shit was getting real.  I was tasked with holding a leg while Krissi pushed. It still hadn’t hit me that my son was on his way.  I was preparing myself for a rush of emotions and maybe a little freak out when it came time, but the whole process seemed normal and didn’t faze me in the way I expected it to. I just did what the doc told me to and I was good to go. At 1203 AM on May 23rd, 2016, Lincoln Theodore Clemens was born.

There are not a lot of things that I get emotional about, but the birth of a child (I found out) is one of them.  After, the nurse cleaned him up and weighed him, she handed him to me. He came in at 8lbs and 20in (I think).  He was a little fella then, as opposed to today where he weighs 5lbs less than his 4-year-old sister. Once my wife was done with the nurses and doc, I gave him to her to hold.  Watching her for the first time with our son is something that I will never forget.  It was an amazing visual of love. (Here I am about to get all sappy, ha-ha). I stepped out of the room to call my folks.  They knew we were at the hospital and I imagine they were anxiously awaiting our phone call.  My mom picked up the phone, and I began to ball my eyes out. “Mom, you are a grandmother, again,“ I told her.  A quick conversation followed, I composed myself, and went back into the room with my wife and mother-in-law.  My sister came up for a little bit to see him about an hour later, once everything had died down. After they made sure the wife and son were good to go, they moved us to another room where my wife would be for the next couple days.

The next day, we had some family and friends visit.  It was nice to see them, broke up the monotony of being cooped up in a small hospital room.  On the 24th, we were able to check out.  Maw-maw, who had been watching Kash the past couple days, brought her up so we could go home as a family. Usually after your 2nd child they require the mother to stay for 48 hours. We were able to leave a tad early, which was nice.  That afternoon, Mom, Kash, Hot Rod, and I made our way downstairs and loaded up in the pick-em-up truck (as Kash calls it). We waived goodbye as we drove off and headed home.

The shift from one to two kids wasn’t easy, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything.  As Lincoln grows, he will more than likely be a terror (prerequisite: boy). He is a huge flirt and already giving us a run for our money.  He figured out how to climb up the stairs (while I was spotting him), and just wants to do that all the time now. It’s great for wearing him out.  He finally started sleeping through the night without screaming bloody murder. It’s been pleasant to hearing nothing but the weather outside lately. I look forward to him growing and learning, eager to teach him skills and watch him develop a personality. It’s going to be awesome.

 

Do work, be rad

Ben

 

 

I felt the need to give some background on his nickname Hot Rod. It is purely coincidence that there is a hilarious movie with the same name (which I enjoy watching after the kids are asleep). When it came to naming our son, I had suggested we name him after my father, Theodore. While Krissi liked the name, she wasn’t too thrilled about having him called Ted (my dad’s nickname) or Teddy (what my grandma called him). She liked Theo, but wasn’t 100%.  She came to me a couple weeks later and asked if I liked the name Lincoln Theodore.  It had a nice ring to it and sounded strong. My middle name is my grandfather’s name, so there is a bit of tradition in it as well. Shortly after, we learned about the song Hot Rod Lincoln by Commander Cody. It fits hit perfectly and has been his nickname since before he was born, and he has lived up to it. I can only imagine how he will pay it off in the future.