Monthly Archives: May 2010

Graduation Day

Tucker graduates from kindergarten today!! ~ HOORAY! 

Our little fellow is growing up and joining the ranks of compulsory education. I intentionally chose the word compulsory…because given a choice, Tucker would not go to school. He’s not a big fan and probably won’t enjoy the routine for a long time. In fact, we have delayed his arrival to public school as long as possible. This year, he attended a private kindergarten at a nearby church. This program offered a shorter school day and no school on Friday. It was a minimalist approach to ease Tucker into the shocking reality that he will be in school for more than a decade.  In parenting Tuck, we have learned (the hard way) that he needs some form of a “warning” before any major transitions occur… otherwise, as my Dad says…”You might as well be pushing a rope.”

Tuck is stubborn (I don’t know where he got that trait?!?).  He also should have attended school in 1940’s instead of 2010. He doesn’t care for cute “learning” songs or sweet alphabet animals. He likes the facts and just the facts. He can tell you anything you want to know about Neil Armstrong and the first lunar landing. He is also particularly astute on the subjects of the founding fathers, Abraham Lincoln and World War II. Clearly, these topics are not covered in a kindergarten curriculum. While it’s nice that he has such a grasp of American history, it tends to cause a disconnect in the regular classroom. We need Amelia Earhart mixed with Rosy the Riveter to be his teacher. I’m already praying for her!!!

Tuck is under the illusion that when you graduate….school is O-V-E-R.

For him, that catchy Christmas tune “the most wonderful time of the year” was written for that fateful day when he exits the school doors.  Yesterday, I watched as he slowly walked toward me dragging a brown paper sack. Inside that special bag was his “life’s work” from this school year; his kindergarten dissertation if you will. I couldn’t wait to open the pages of his three-ring binder to observe his learning and witness his growth. My excitement ended when I stopped on one of the first pages. I noticed that the teacher had made a list of questions to ask each student about his/her future plans. She wrote down their dictations for each parent to savor and enjoy. I am always skittish at these “proud” parenting moments. Somehow, my children have never cooperated or joined their peers in normalcy. My worries were confirmed when I read Tucker’s response to the following question: “When I grow up, I want to…..”

Most kids wrote things like, I want to be a doctor, a fireman, a nurse,  etc… (typical…right?!?). Not my Tucker. His response to this question was unique. He said, “When I grow up, I want to…live with my parents.”

Yikes! It looks like it’s going to be hard to push our baby bird out of the nest!

On the upside, I guess I should be grateful that Tuck is honest. Most graduates from college have his plan in mind, but never put a voice to it. At least we have advance warning and can prepare to include him in our retirement savings.

My only hope at this point is that they don’t announce each student’s “future plans” as they cross the graduation stage tonight.  I can envision the scene….”Hannah would like to be a teacher when she grows up, Robert would like the be a rocket scientist, Tuck Neeley plans to… live with his parents”….you get the picture. It just another day in the life and something to be added to the Neeley Archives.

Congratulations to all graduates big and small!!!



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Scaring the Living Daylights

I’m not a big fan of clowns or balloons.

The clown issue is something for future therapy, but here’s my balloon story:

A week ago Tucker celebrated his 6th birthday. I knew the birthday would not be complete for him unless there was at least some balloons. Tucker loves them!!! …Honestly, a balloon can entertain both of my kids for hours on end…which would lead you to believe that balloons are good….right?!?….Not after last night.

You see…a stray balloon from the birthday party made its way into my house.  It was one of those blasted foil balloons that never pops or deflates. It is also the kind that lingers on your ceiling for days, weeks and even months after the “happy event” is well past its expiration date. Forget grabbing the “helpful string” attached….my kids have a knack for cutting that off within the first five minutes….so I am left with a sad-looking balloon just out of reach on my ceiling. This was the case in my bedroom. Somehow… “Happy Birthday” made it to the very top of my cathedral ceiling. I tried to trampoline myself off the bed to reach it, but after a few half-hearted tries…I gave up and resigned myself that Tuck’s birthday would be celebrated for a little longer until it decided to descend.

I completely forgot about it….until last night!

In the middle of what I think was my R.E.M. sleep stage…that balloon was suddenly jolted back into memory and it threw me out of a “healthy heart” range.

I guess it decided to descend…the problem was…it floated right into the center of my moving ceiling fan.

I cannot explain the sound, but I can tell you…it scared the living daylights out of me. I went from a peaceful slumber to wide awake in less than 3 seconds.  My heart was beating out of my chest like a cartoon.  Again, I was reduced to eyes and teeth shining in the dark.

If you received an email from me at 3AM last night….this is my explanation. Who could sleep after waking like that?!?

I really miss a good night’s sleep!


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Tucker Neeley Turns 6

It’s hard to believe, but Tucker is now 6 years old.

Last night before bed, he asked….”Mom, do I have to say goodbye to 5 forever?!?”

It seems like a simple question, but if you remember my Benjamin Button post…age is a complicated thing in this family. Fortunately, Tuck didn’t wait for an answer. He probably saw my bottom lip quiver, so he threw me a bone with…”It doesn’t matter, Mommy…I will always be your baby boy.” 

Nice save, Tucker! …He knew he didn’t want any “sappy” tears from an emotional woman on his birthday.

He’s right. No tears, today! We are blessed beyond measure and thank God for this incredible little boy.

Here’s some photos from his special day:

This is a very happy boy. Take a look at the Toy Story cake.

A water balloon fight cooled things off

Tuck was prepared for the balloon battle with water grenades

Lots of family and friends came by to celebrate

Jordan and her middle school friends decorated the playset in camo for our special army man

Chris was with us here in our hearts and thoughts!

I love this little boy! Happy Birthday, Tucker!!

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Leaving Earth

As an update…no, we haven’t caught our attic critter yet…maybe this is another exercise in patience…if anything is trapped/killed and/or maimed… a photo will follow…promise 🙂

On to a new subject….

Yesterday when I went to our mailbox, I found Jordan and Tucker’s final passport booklet. This has been a long process and I will not bore you with the details, but we initiated the whole passport process because there was a rumor that Chris might receive Army R&R leave mid-tour. According to our calculations, mid-tour would equal something in June, July or August and we were hoping to fly away and visit Chris somewhere fabulous before school started back. This whole exercise was just one more reminder that I cannot plan anything this year and actually expect it to come to fruition. In reality (i.e. the Army’s version of a calendar) Chris will not receive his mid-tour R&R until the end of September/October… a good 9 months into this stinkin’ tour. By the time we learned this information, I had already submitted all the paperwork, pictures and money to get the kids a passport. Bummer. But,  Chris and I decided that it wouldn’t hurt to have a passport for them and that we may even try to take the kids away on a cruise or something when he returns next year. It’s a new good plan written in pencil.

So the passports arrived. Tucker was beside himself. He has wanted a “picture ID” forever. He’s too young to be issued a military ID which has been a point of contention for him every time we enter Fort Jackson. He wants to flash some credentials to show everyone that his Daddy is a soldier and serving in war zone. Since he doesn’t have an I.D., he reverts to a “verbal card” which involves a lot of loud talking about his Daddy from the perch of his buggy seat in the PX. All I can say is that it is an awesome shopping experience (sarcasm intended).  I’m surprised that he hasn’t already seized Jordan’s card, scratched off her face and glued on a picture of himself. Tuck is very good with art projects.

Anyway, back to the story…Tucker was thrilled with his new passport picture I.D. He hugged the little booklet to his chest and said, “This is great, this is just great…. now we can leave Earth.”

What?!? I just wanted a fruity drink in Jamaica or something…leaving Earth was not the intended plan, but then again…you have to know Tucker. He shoots for the stars. Someday, he may leave Earth in a rocket ship (hopefully it will be sponsored by NASA and not home-made…just a safety sidenote)…and I can bet if my camera has a good enough zoom lens…I will be able to see Tucker’s round face in that little window…holding up his passport photo I.D. card with a grin that could say nothing else but, “I told you so, Mom”

I love that little boy with all my heart. Who knows where he’ll go especially now that he has credentials!


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Boots the Exterminator

I don’t know how it’s possible that I don’t have my own reality show on the Bravo or A&E television network. My life is never dull especially during a year-long deployment.

Case in point:

Lately, I have been suffering from some sleepless nights which is partly due to the fact that I recently signed up for a strength training boot camp at church (you already know my history at the church gym, my wounds from the treadmill fall are healing nicely)…anyway, this boot camp is beating my body into submission. No amount of Aleve or Motrin is helping my poor aching muscles…so I am lying awake feeling sore and sorry for myself when suddenly….I hear something  scratching on the ceiling of my bedroom. For a moment, I thought it might be a side effect from too much medication, but then…I hear it again…a creepy scratching and chewing sound above my head.

Let me tell you, it was pitch black dark in my bedroom…but I can guarantee… had you been there…you would have been able to see my big white eyeballs rolling around in fear. I held my breath and wanted to die… you know the feeling…I was 7-years-old all over again and the monster in the closet and the boogie man were all there in the shadows of my bedroom. The bad part is that I’m “X” years old…which means when you wake up in the middle of the night or get scared…. you always need to go to the bathroom (the aging process really blows!!!).  But NOooooo, not me…something could grab my ankles on the way… I’m holding it and waiting for a little daylight. It was painful, but I made it!

With the morning sunshine came some clarity to my situation; there’ s a critter in my attic. I announce this fact to my children at breakfast. Here’s their response:

Jordan: “Eewww!” (she’s in middle school)

Tuck: “Can I shoot it?”  and  a follow-up comment of… “Cool, it’s like an episode from Billy the Exterminator” (he’s a boy and his favorite TV shows are: Billy the Exterminator, Dirty Jobs and Dog the Bounty Hunter…mind you, I hit the mute button frequently…but I also happen to love these shows…somehow, I feel like I could play the lead role in each one of these…especially this year).

Which leaves my response….I dial the digits to my parents.

Remember, my parents live in the country. They have a barn and are accustomed to unwelcome critters. For the longest time as a child I thought we just had an ugly cat that visited every night, but it turns out it was an opossum. Anyway…I digress. My Daddy was excited to help and took me in his barn. He said, “So what size trap do you need?!?…I’ve got a racoon/opossum size, squirrel size,  rat size…and if it’s anything smaller than that…you’ll just need to go to Wal-mart and buy one of those wimpy traps.”

Well, let me see…I had to “size up” the situation and determine the magnitude of my problem…. I chose the squirrel size trap, hopeful that it wasn’t a rat and praying it wasn’t anything the size of my childhood cat.

Next step…the bait. I asked my Mom what should I put in my trap to lure my unwelcome guest….she said (as any southern woman would), “I’d give him a smorgasbord.” …Excellent advice…. Tuck on the other hand was hollering…”Mom, Billy the Exterminator uses cashews or smelly chicken for his traps.” Considering the cost of cashews and chicken, I opted for a half-eaten moon pie left over from Tuck’s lunchbox….who or what wouldn’t want a moon pie?!?

Last night, the trap was set. I laid in bed comforted by the fact that I might hear a loud snap of the cage door slamming. Good riddance boogie man!

I woke this morning…with no luck in trapping my “friend.”

I guess moon pies are not good bait after all. I’m starting to rethink the cashews and chicken. I don’t have to make it smelly…it’s expected to be over 90 degrees today…one hour in our attic and that chicken should be just right! I also have purchased some of those “wimpy” traps from Wal-mart…just in case. Another friend has also suggested moth balls.

I’m thinking my mother’s day might be smelly (both literally and figuratively). It also might entail a caged wild animal or one dangling from a trap. Just call me “Boots the Exterminator” … I really need a leather outfit to go with the title…maybe that’s what’s in the mail from Afghanistan…one can only hope!

Happy Mother’s Day Y’all!


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