The Reset Button.

It should be mandatory that all mothers get a day to themselves after the holidays are over, and perhaps two days if their children’s birthdays sandwich the holidays. There is a significant amount of damage done to the maternal figure’s inner wiring that can only be repaired by complete isolation and a significant break from the 794 questions that they are required to answer per day.

(Assuming said mother is an introvert. I don’t pretend to know what the alien species of extrovert mother needs to reboot.)

Chris provided me my first retreat four years ago when he, for my requested Christmas present, sent me off on a Mommy Retreat at a local hotel. I decided at the last minute that weekend that I didn’t want to be alone the whole time, so I invited him to take me out to dinner and stay over one night. It was productive, perfectly blissful, and the reset I needed to start the year.

Since that trip, I have done a couple variations on my January Need For Escape, including two snow-chasing adventures (one just me and the kids, and one including a babysitter), and a hybrid reboot trip. All were fun, but not quite the purity of the Mommy Retreat.

After 2016, I definitely needed a bit of a reset. I mean, who doesn’t?? But also, I had a strong urge to feel productive and get some stuff accomplished.

So I booked a hotel room in Montgomery, a smaller city a little bit over an hour south of Birmingham. It’s Alabama’s capitol, but it doesn’t exactly have the greatest reputation as a destination. However, the kids and I had taken two trips there for our Alabama History project, and I was delightfully surprised at what a pleasant city it seemed to be. Chris and I love exploring small towns, and my Marriott points could go a long way in Montgomery. So I got two nights at the Renaissance overlooking the river at a total cost of $4.15. A retreat with no spending guilt attached? I’ll take it.

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I arrived alone at 1pm on Friday, got settled in, and immediately set off for my maiden run through the city. I strongly believe that the best way to understand a city is to explore it on foot – you get acquainted with both the personality of its people and its buildings. I saw and read at least a dozen historical placards, found the church that Martin Luther King Jr. pastored, and met MANY strangers – because everyone in Montgomery will absolutely speak to you if you run by them.

Montgomery Trip 170114ALTb-Dexter-AvenueMartin Luther King Jr. was pastor of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church from 1954-1960. You can see the state capitol from the beautiful little church…

Montgomery Trip 170114e-First-Baptist-Church-MontgomeryThis is the First Baptist Church. Never have I ever seen a more castular church in Alabama.
p.s. I know castular isn’t a word.

Montgomery Trip FullSizeRender 61This fountain features ladies bathing themselves and others. It was a hot day in January. I totally got it.

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Montgomery Trip IMG_3609Montgomery is officially smarter than Birmingham: They didn’t tear down their beautiful historic train station.

I vowed then and there that next time my kids and I visited a city for history-learning purposes, I would make them walk it – we had missed so much on our two trips!

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That afternoon, I set off into a frenzy of blissful productivity. For five and a quarter hours – until 10pm, I Excel Spreadsheeted and Quickbooksed and Crunched Numbers and made journal entries. I worked on all the year-end stuff that had to be done for Chris’ company, and adored every minute of it.

I’d forgotten how much of an accountant I am at heart – it’s just that it’s not nearly as much fun when you’re being interrupted every five minutes with a request for another snack or an extra show or to please come play a game. But give me an isolated hotel room and a spreadsheet that needs creating and I. Am. In. Heaven.

It nearly made me miss my full time accounting manager days of yore, but not quite.

The next morning, I focused on writing productivity, getting a couple blog posts organized and composed. Meanwhile, in Birmingham, Chris dropped our kids off at Noah’s wonderful godparents and drove down to Montgomery to join me. I took him back on my running route to show off the city, the river, the capitol, and the fountains. He also was charmed by the city and repented of misjudging it. We’ve driven much farther in the past to have a weekend getaway in less charming southern cities, and were happy to add Montgomery to our repertoire.

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After our run, we headed out onto the rooftop pool deck – in January – a week after a “snow” storm – because Alabama. It was well over 70 degrees and perfectly lovely for sitting and soaking up some winter rays.

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Then he took me out for a sunset drive, of course.

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Montgomery Trip 170114g-Alabama-River

Montgomery Trip 170114b-The-Capitol-of-Alabama

Our hotel was in the restaurant/nightlife section of Montgomery, so we walked across the street to SaZa Italian for dinner. It was one of those places that made you immediately wish it were in your city, and was such potent pasta that Chris came back to the hotel room and passed out for two hours – I forced him to wake up and watch SNL with me.

We got up early Sunday and had our long run – 9.5 miles around Montgomery, focusing on the beautiful historical residential areas, and going through two college campuses – Huntingdon College and Alabama State University. I learned that people don’t talk to you nearly as much if you’re not a single girl running through the city. Huh.

Montgomery Trip IMG_3730Huntingdon College looked more than a little like Alabama Hogwarts.

Montgomery Trip FullSizeRender 63We even passed our sadly sleazy Governor’s house. But that’s another story for another day.

It seemed that running as a pasttime has not really “made” it to Montgomery. In our 9.5 miles, we counted five other runners. In Birmingham, we would’ve lost count before the first mile was done.

(Of those five, two were a couple running together. As they passed us, the man said, “I have 17.6. What do you have?” and the woman answered, “I’m showing 19.1 miles.” I was convinced they were just trolling us, and I SO BADLY wanted to pass them again and say to Chris, “I’m showing 35.4. What do you have?”)

We had the most lovely guilt-free breakfast buffet at the hotel following our run (bacon never tasted so good),

Montgomery Trip IMG_3658where our water wore granny panties

then laid around for a bit, after which Chris headed out to go get our children, leaving me for the last three hours for a bit more productivity and silence to finish the rebooting process.

Every time I get away like this I remember the incalculable value in a reset, and vow to make it happen more often. So next time you’re feeling overwhelmed by life and kids and responsibilities and maybe even want to work on an Excel spreadsheet for 5 hours, I highly recommend raising a white flag and yelling “Reset, reboot, RETREAT!!”

What a Homeschool Mom’s Therapy Looks Like.

It was the first day back to school after the holidays.

Not only after the holidays, which included two 3.5 day weekends with Daddy at home, but also after a “snow” weekend, full of frolic and laziness.

There was no way this would go well.

And indeed it did not. No one was prepared for academic pursuits, and the dunking of all three of us back into the books was traumatic, to say the least. By 8:54am, everyone had cried. Including nearly almost myself.

My amount of thankfulness I experienced when Not-Crazy-Renee texted me is indescribable.

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She was on her way out of our neighborhood to fly out of town. Yet she had the kindness, thoughtfulness, and compassion to think of me in the midst of her travel flurry.

(Unlike my husband, who had seen the possum on the way to work earlier that morning, but forgot to mention it. Forgot to immediately inform his wife that there was a dead animal just down the road! Inconceivable.)

I attempted to focus on school for a bit longer, but then decided I needed an outlet. Stat.

So I grabbed some supplies, left my children home alone (for my half-mile drive up the street), and set off to find my happy place. My therapy. My mood lifter. But not before appropriately thanking Not-Crazy-Renee.

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I drove slowly up the referenced road scouring the area for a good looking possum. Finally, I spotted her. She was indeed a lovely specimen.

(Except that her eyeballs already being eaten out by a greedy crow, but I could work with that.)

I turned around and parked on the hill. Why do possums always die on hills? Maybe they’re slow like semi-trailer trucks on an incline. Perhaps I should launch an investigation.

I waited for the cars to pass, realizing that I parked in just the wrong spot that forced all the passing cars to straddle my new friend. I hoped they didn’t hit her again in the process.

The area cleared out and I toted my supplies, took some shots, ran most of the supplies back to the car while another car passed, then took one prop back, and shot again.

Photo Shoot #1:

First-Day-Back-to-SchoolThe first day back to school will be the death of us all.”

A dead animal acting out a commentary on my immediate circumstances. Could there be anything more therapeutic?

I think not.

And then the second shot, with a book picked off my shelves specifically for her…

Possum-Reading-Naked-Mole-Rat“Quit trying to be what you’re not.”

I went back to my teaching pursuits with a bounce in my step, happy that I had accomplished something meaningful that day.

But what I couldn’t figure out is what this model’s name is. She now joins the ranks of Buck Skywalker, Crunchy the ‘Possum, Sloppy the Squirrel, Sunset the Armadillo, and Sleepy the Chipmunk, but she herself is currently nameless. Please help.

Who. Is. This. Little Lady.

Now taking suggestions.


I swear this blog isn’t just becoming a roadkill blog. I think. I don’t know. Is it? My apologies. My writing subject matter tends to meander through many various fields of study – from denim to poop to chocolate to roadkill. Follow me on Instagram at @HappyRoadkill. I’ll begin moving my stories over there. Maybe. Unless you want them kept here? I just don’t know what the future holds. 2017 may just need a roadkill blog.

The Greatest Snowstorm of All Time.

I believed in my heart.

I waited with anticipation.

I followed the forecast, minute by minute, keeping three radar apps, a weather blog, and a constantly updating Twitter feed up on my phone.

This one – this is the one that would happen. The Winter Wonderland my kids deserved. The Winter Wonderland I deserved.

Finally, Friday evening, it started sleeting. Then giant snowflakes! Huge, fluttery snowflakes mixed in with the sleet. Then back to sleet…then it tapered off.

But I still believed.

I was awoken by my son the next morning. He believed, too.

“There’s more snow than last night! There’s lots of snow out there!”

I looked out the window with great expectations in my heart.

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Indeed.

It was our very own Snowy Utopia.

I mean we might as well live in Maine, for the giant drifts of sleet in our yard.

The children excitedly donned their warmest clothes over their pajamas and ran out to bask in the glory of the multiple feet of snow surrounding our house.

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It was quickly determined that this wasn’t snowman snow. Or snowball snow. So that meant it had to be snow angel snow.

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Their faces shown with the thrill of existing in a 100% white-with-snow world.

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We quickly pulled out our snow board, which is pulled down hills all year ‘round by an old electrical cord, but now could fly on its very own.

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What a wonderful world.

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Noah remembered that it was his best friend Loulie’s birthday (it was actually the day after her birthday but sometimes 6 year olds have a breakdown in communication) and quickly declared that we needed to take a walk around the corner to her house. He and I worked our way through the treacherous snow, barely averting the very real danger of falling into a drift too deeply to be rescued.

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When we finally arrived, nearly frostbitten at every end, and told Loulie about the unbelievable fun we were having doing the whole Winter Wonderland scene, she decided to join us. And so we started our long trek back, wishing we had sled dogs to help us make it through.

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But the bone-chilling journey was all worth it when we introduced Loulie to our 70mph sled.

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This is the kind of snowstorm that thoroughly tousles one’s hair.

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The speeds were so intense that Noah preferred being walked. Like a dog.

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And then another neighbor saw our fun and contributed a real device to our adventures. Wow did that thing slide gracefully. With speeds that left flames in their wake and blew people’s coats up into intertubes.

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I’m pretty sure we earned our Canadian citizenship today.

All of Alabama did.