Parents of the Year, Two Years Running

So tonight I was going through iPhoto looking to cull some images that weren’t useful and hopefully post a new update to the Cota family album. During this exercise, I came across this picture and, after a brief moment of “What the…”, I remembered the context.

We had gone down the street to a neighbor’s house for dinner. Since they are originally from Portugal and Italy (it must be some sort of custom or something) there seemed to be no shortage of wine at any given time. This photo was taken with my iPhone, sometime around midnight, and doesn’t really begin to describe the scene.

Well, at some point, Char looks at me and says, “You know, we really should be getting home.” I, of course, agreed. So, we gathered up the kids…

Yes, I meant that; and no, it’s not a typo. The kids had been playing pretty well up to this point, so we gathered them up, put them on their bicycles and…

What? Oh, yes. You heard that correctly, too. Since we just lived down the street, we decided to walk down. The kids chose to ride their bikes. So we loaded everyone up and headed back up the street. Laughing, of course, because by now it’s 2am and we have two kids riding their bikes up the street on training wheels. This is not exactly a stealthy way to get anywhere, much less up a bumpy blacktop road in the middle of the night.

But in the end, I’d do it again. (And, in fact, I think we may have.) Because this– heading home at two in the morning with kids in tow and laughter following– is what neighborhoods are meant to be.

Lily’s Creek


After hiking through the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on Thursday, we stopped on the way back out of the park and walked down to a clear (and very cold) mountain stream. The kids had changed out of their boots and into their Crocs and were walking around on the rocks in the creek. Fearful that they might slip and fall in, I told them all to take off their shoes and walk around barefoot. I have some priceless video of this… the water was probably 50 degrees.

Well, it was only a matter of time before it happened: Lily, while standing fairly close to me, slipped and fell. She got up, slipped again, and I grabbed her on the way down. She slipped again while we were trying to get/keep our footing but I still had ahold of her, so she was okay at this point. (I should also note that the water was moving pretty fast and was probably 3 feet deep right next to where she slipped. Oh, I was also holding the video camera through all of this… tense moments!)

She was crying, not because she was hurt, but because she was terrified. After a few minutes, she got herself under control and we walked up to the car to change out of her wet clothes. I mentioned while we were walking how proud I was of her because she dealt with it and got over it very quickly. It was impressive.

Later that night, we were sitting in a restaurant and Char asked the kids to turn over their placemats and draw a picture of their favorite thing from the day. Of course, Jack drew picture of Lily falling in the creek and crying. (He’s such a putz!)

When we asked them to share their pictures, Lily got pretty bashful and started crossing things off and hiding it. It was clear she didn’t want us to see it, so (of course!) we forced it out of her. To my surprise, she had also drawn a picture of her falling into the creek. Except in her picture, though she was dripping wet, she was smiling. She had also included me in her picture holding on to her. She wrote, “The best part of my day was falling into the creek because Dad was there to catch me.”

Here’s a picture of what will always be known as “Lily’s Creek.”

“I want my kids to know you…”

On Saturday, we were driving through Great Smoky Mountains National Park on one of the ‘motor tours’ and stopped at one of the old Ogle farmsteads. Beautiful place, unbelievable setting. We walked around a bit, shooting video, taking pictures. At one point, Jack said to Char:

“Mom, can I take a picture of just you by yourself? That way, when I’m your grandkid, I’ll remember what you were like.”

Char said, laughing, “Sure Jack, but you’re never going to be my grandchild. You’ll always be my son, but your kids will be my grandkids.”

“Well, I still want to do it,” he said. “That way, I’ll be able to show them the picture so they’ll know you weren’t always old.”