Thursday, December 31, 2015

Hello New Year....Goodbye old year

I have never been one for resolutions even from a very young age.  Having grown up Catholic I knew making a resolution that I was suppose to keep all year was fruitless - I could never make it through Lent. That's all of what 40 days?

New Years used to get the blame for my melancholy mood that followed all through January also. With Auld Lang Syne and all the "Remember when" and "Best of the Year ????".  I was a hot mess by January 1st.

Just like my children who have yet to cry Uncle regarding Santa Claus I was not willing to say out loud, "I know he is not real". My mom just did it for me. She outed him when I was 12. It was the saddest Christmas ever and it went downhill from there.  

Then I was married on December 23rd.  The holidays had been renewed especially after we added children to the family.  But one thing remained, the dreaded New Year's Eve. It was still the one thing about the Holiday's that could put me in a solid funk. Debbie Downer. The party pooper. 

Maybe this will be the year - I will find the secret to New Year's Happiness.  I will make a resolution to not be the New Year's Downer.  I will embrace the Year in Review with folly and mirth. (Should be easier given that Trump is running for President)  I will make resolutions with utter abandonment.
#532 - set alarm clock to "Wake me Up before you GO GO"
#533 - wear the wrong day of the week underwear ON PURPOSE
#534 - eat ice cream for breakfast once a month (ok maybe just on Birthday)
I will eat every lucky and prosperous food on the list! Grapes at Midnight. Black eyed peas and Collard Greens, Sausage and Sauerkraut. Soba Noodles. Vasilopita. and Pickled Herring! Ok maybe not pickled herring.....

This year I will make the New Year Merry and Bright for sure! Well at least I think I will, that would require getting out of bed, getting in  he car and driving through traffic, going to the store with the rest of the universe and fighting over the last bag of Collard greens and trying to find black eyed peas. And that is only if I don't bother to shower, dress, put on make-up, not to mention wake up my children.

Ugh this is getting more and more complicated and it is already New Year's Eve Day.

NEW PLAN - I will make a plan for next year! And it will be awesome.

Happy New Year to all and to all a good night. (I'm just going to stay in bed)

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Are you sure you've been married 20 years?

Wow. It is a sobering moment to say out loud, I have been married 20 years.

Even though my children are twelve and nine the concept of time is still lost on them.  Talking about the 1990's might as well be the 1890's because they can not conceptualize the world that long ago. When mom and dad were other people.

I have a hard time looking back at those other people.  After 20 years they seem to be fading away. It's hard to remember a time before soccer, basketball, school, and life.  What the hell did I do with all that FREE time!!

My husband has been asking clients for months what he should do for our anniversary, where we should go to eat, and how should we celebrate.  His clients range in income so some of the answers were awesome because they totally sent him into a tailspin.  Like surprise her with a weekend in Paris.

So the other day when I took the boys up to the fitness center to workout, people were stopping to say Happy Holidays and Happy Anniversary.  By the time we left both boys had heard this 20 times. (HA typed that without thinking!)  When we got in the car my twelve year old looked at me and said, "Are you sure you've been married 20 years?"

Now granted, I am not known for my math acumen and frequently rely on my children to handle a math question, especially in public. (Including, How old am I now?) So his question did not strike me as all that odd.  I told him Dad and I were married in 1995 - and it's 2015 you do the math. and double check me.

Yes, I really have been married 20 years.  It's no wonder my children struggle with the concept of time.  I am baffled at that statement.  Where did the time go?  How is it even possible?  The days sometimes felt like forever while the months went by in a blink.  And suddenly here you are, 20 years later.

How should it feel?  No married couple ever gave us that insight.  They said, Don't go to bed angry, Always kiss goodbye, and make sure to keep a Date Night. (None of which we've yet to follow) But no one told us what this would feel like.

I think it feels like - school.  I'm always learning, there are a lot of pop quizzes, and a few major exams.  You have to study every day because you never know when you will be called on.  Your son needs surgery, your friend is dying of cancer, your furnace is broke, your fired, your mom needs surgery.....

Those moments when you can feel your heart in your throat, your eyes start to sting, and you wish it was as simple as three sharpened no. 2 pencils. And it usually is. Somehow you make it through. Together. Maybe this is what it's suppose to feels like, school.  Only you get to sit next to your best friend everyday, there are no demerits for PDA, lunch is way better, and if you get stuck you can ask for help.

(Now it doesn't seems so dumb that he copied off me on the marriage test during Pre-Cana.)
Happy Anniversary Hubbie

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sports of all sorts

The last two weeks have been - exhausting. 

My twelve year-old son was trying out for a coveted spot on the Junior High Basketball team.  

While we have told our son, over and over again, he is a sum of the whole not merely any one single accomplishment this truly was a HUGE deal.  There are easily 100+ boys going for 30 spots on the teams.  Tryouts lasted technically three nights, but five if you count the two open gyms.  Some of these boys worked with a trainer prior to the tryout and some have been focusing on just Basketball since third grade.

Perhaps I should have prepared my son a little more before the first open gym but I didn't want him going in so nervous that he was a hot mess.  In the few weeks leading up to the tryouts while we were still in soccer season I did mention causally a few times that he may need to go pick up a basketball. My husband was a little less subtle. Surprised?  

That first open gym I couldn't even drop him off because I wasn't home so I arranged a ride to the gym and I drove the two boys home. The other boy I took home was very talkative, which was unusual for him, and my son was almost mute.  After we dropped the boy off my son literally exploded with emotions.  I let him vent, I took the long way home, and I told that even though they called it an open gym it was very much a part of the tryout process.  He was miffed, but now motivated. At least he picked up a basketball.

The next night of tryouts as I drove him up to school I asked him to remember that this should be fun. Not knowing one single thing about basketball I couldn't give him any fundamental advice, so I was left with emotional stuff.  I told him to stay out of his head.  "I don't care who is on your team, who gets the ball or how much, who is watching you and who isn't. Just play ball. When you start to think to much - STOP! Play ball." I'm sure my husband would have been rolling his eyes, sighing, and possibly said shut-up.

I didn't play sports really, I was a dancer. I was forced to play softball once (I was 9-it lasted two weeks) and took tennis lessons once (they begged me not to come back).  I played volleyball and was a cheerleader in Junior High and that was enough for me. Needless to say, I am so proud of my sons it is hard to find the words.  I've often told them, they have inspired me to be a better person by showing me what handwork, commitment, and perseverance really means.

But like I said, I can not coach my kids in sports but I could teach them a soubresaunt or passe. 

Or better yet I guess, I can teach them how to stay out of their head.
Something about that sentence just sounds wrong.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It's officially Fall - Welcome Baby Lakis

Soccer is over for fall!! Halloween has come and gone. Basketball tryouts are here. (YUCK!) And it is Election day. Which means no school, friends over to play, and a perfect fall day here in the Midwest.  The temperature is just right, the sky is that amazing blue that reminds me of the first time that I glimpsed the Aegean Sea, and the leaves are all shades of yellow, orange, red, purple, and brown. 

This is my favorite season. I can not help but collect leaves every time I take the dog for a walk. Sometimes I actually get them into a book to press, mostly they collect around my house until they turn brown, mostly I forget and they turn to dust in the pocket of every jacket in the house.

The boys have been outside most of the day either playing on the neighbors trampoline, throwing the football, or creekin'. The dog is happy to just lay in the sun at my feet while I search the Internet randomly as thoughts pop in my head.

My husband's family has a new addition, born just two days ago, we received the pictures via Skype of the tiniest human being I have seen in quite a while.  It makes me swoon for just moments of those first days after the baby is born when your faith and hope in the universe is at it's highest.  After nine long months of cooking the timer buzzed and the wait is over.  You get to touch, feel, smell, hear, feed, and finally look at the miracle product.

With a nine and twelve year old it feels like those days are SO far away. When your children are that small the days feel likes weeks, sometimes months but the years still fly by. It's hard to explain to anyone what will happen to them after they have children. Each one of us will take a very unique journey that is for certain. But when I was very pregnant with our second child and waddling through the grocery store with a toddler in tow I remember a beautiful older woman stopping me.  She asked how far along I was and squatted down to talk with my son.  Then she looked me dead in the eye and said "The days are long, the years are short, and soon this will all be over. My one wish now is that someone had told me - don't wait for grandchildren. Enjoy your children."

In those first days at home with a newborn, a toddler, and a sick husband those words ran through my head one day. I laughed out loud thinking "HOW?" I was exhausted. I was alone. I was totally overwhelmed. and then it dawned on me. All those years I spent with my Grandmother (we were best friends) when she was overwhelmed - we went shopping. We ate ice cream for lunch. We drove an hour to buy Muss Melons or 30 minutes to find a McDonald's. Or we just drove around looking for "something, I will know it when I see it."

I remember that day. I put my one week old in the baby carrier, the toddler in the car seat, and left my husband in bed.  We went to a McDonald's with a Playland. We ate fries and ice cream for lunch and no one was worse for wear.  So that's my best advice to new parents. old parents, and especially overwhelmed parents. Channel your grandparents - and spoil the kids for a little while. No one will be worse for wear.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

It's bad to find out the making the news.

No news is good news, the saying goes. As a substitute aide and health aide in the schools this is one of many sayings that are near and dear to me along with but not limited to: Let sleeping dogs (and children) lie.  Beware of Greeks (and students) bearing gifts.  If they are quiet, they are up to something. and of course Fever Free for 24 hours before they return!

After enjoying the long weekend together with friends, movies, sleepovers, pizza, and too many late nights no one was looking forward to school on Tuesday. Not even me. I headed back with my youngest son because I was subbing at his school.  This would be a new position for me, it was someone I had never subbed for before and those days are always rough.  There is no learning curve for a sub - you are jumping into someone else's shoes and you need to hit the ground running. Which we did not. My son was throwing a fit about shoes (apropos) and I got to school about 20 minutes late and totally flustered.

But the first hour was without students so as I took a breath, acclimated myself to the Aide's schedule and ran errands and copies for the teachers. Just as I was feeling like I might be able to handle the rest of the day the announcement came; "Teachers and staff please evacuate the building immediately. Evacuate just as you would for a fire. All staff evacuate the building."

Being without a class I was almost the first out of the building.  I watched as teachers and students calmly and quietly filed out of the building and into place. Teachers counted and shh'd while other staff members took up their posts and made radio contact with administration.  There was a lot of speculation among the crowd both from students and adults. I could hear both saying things like "Do you smell smoke? I do!" or "Do you think there was something wrong with the building?"

It was literally less than two minutes before we heard two short whistles and the Principal shouted to teachers to get students to the very back of the property but to stay as far away from the building as possible. One teacher right away said "It sounds like we are getting what's been going around the state." What the Flu?? For this no-news watching person it would be another 10 minutes before I was told there was a bomb threat called into the school.

Now, Let me say that having a background in safety, my first clue that it was not a fire was that there were no fire trucks pulling up to the school only 6 police cars. As we walked the students to a location a safe distance from the building, I could see that there was an ambulance parked in a cul-de-sac that butts up to the property, but not in plain site of the students.

It was a beautiful fall day - a little chilly if anything but a great day to be outside.  Let's keep it that way.  Every teacher, aide, custodian, cook, and volunteer there focused their attention on the students. It became clear we were going to be outside for quite a while and staff was briefed quickly every 20-30 minutes and the message was consistent. Teachers started games of all kinds. I saw popcorn, hot potato and simon says.  They practiced vocabulary or math facts by scrimmaging other classes. Those of us not with a class jumped in wherever we could, finding tissues for the bloody nose, band aids for a splinter, and soothing words for a tummy ache.

I would not find out until later that night that we were one of 7 schools that day that received a bomb threat and many more around the country in the past weeks.  What is this all about- Fear? Probably. Many parents came up to school and pulled their children out saying I just want to hug them. I get that....but what if that is exactly what someone intended. Get as many people there as possible, and then reek havoc.  Is the intent that our schools are not safe and they can't handle a situation like this?

Let me tell you from what I saw that day and every other day - those teachers are the front line.  They may not be sworn in but they take their job seriously. To TEACH and PROTECT.

The need to hug your children close when you hear of a mass shooting, a natural disaster or bomb threat will never go away. I know. My mom called me when she heard.  I just want you all to know, as a parent and a substitute I want nothing more than to send your child home to you everyday a little better and a little brighter than they were this morning. And I will do whatever it takes to make that happen. I Promise.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Quote of the day today....

and some days those kids are my own....and some days it's me!!  i love that my own kids can see when I am the one that needs the hug, the support, the love. 

yesterday morning in the stress of getting out the door on time for both of us, my husband pops in to eat breakfast before going back to work which throws my son off task completely.  i start snapping and biting at people for no reason and then feel awful....I stopped my youngest before we get to the bus stop and say "I'm sorry I don;t know why I am acting this way" and he hugged me and said "It's OK Mom you're just nervous about working at the high school today." 

last night trying to get the oldest to get up and get ready for soccer practise and stop bouncing from screen to screen I finally gave up and went and sat in the car.  he came running out with all of his gear and said "Sorry! I didn't know you were waiting in the car." i just shrugged to exhausted from fighting with him every minute of everyday now on every little thing.  we rode in silence about two minutes then he put his hand on my shoulder and said "It's all going to work out Mom I promise. The kitchen looks great, the van is good, and you and dad will have it all paid off before I am out of high school!" 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

One of THOSE weeks.....

Have you ever had one of those weeks that wouldn't end? The kind of week where by Tuesday morning you are questioning every decision you make? By Thursday you start to wondering if drinking at noon is really such a BAD idea?

Ok - that was my week. I am not sure when I am technically suppose to start the week, but this week started last Saturday.  My oldest son and I were at a soccer tournament when he decided to head another player and not the ball. We spent the rest of the tournament watching the team but not any screens. When was the last time you tried to entertain a twelve-year old boy with out electronics or any physical exertion. It was a long weekend.

Monday started with getting one to rest, one off to school, and making an appointment with the concussion clinic...for late in the afternoon right when the other one gets off the bus. Perfect. More phone calls and coordination to get that covered. Then groceries and  more policing the screen time for concussion kid. Appointment, pick-up, dinner, homework wars, and soccer for the one with out a concussion.

Tuesday is a half day at school for concussion kid and starts with a meeting at the Nurse's office before bra, make-up, or dawn. (Don't worry the weather finally changed I was wearing a sweatshirt.) After getting the next kid up and off to school I took the dog for a walk because she hadn't been out in days? it is Thursday right?

Then it was time to answer emails that had piled up because while concussion kid was not allowed to have screen time - No One should be allowed to have screen time. Whatever!  Then back to school to pick up concussion kid who was suppose to be wiped out from having the concussion and going back even half day...He was not.  I made dinner, policed screen time, quizzed on homework and missed assignments and struggled to figure out with to do with the child who is SUPPOSE TO BE SUFFERING FROM A CONCUSSION. What he does suffer from is lack of screen time which causes severe moodiness, irritation, mouthiness, and boredom.

One more kid to get home, feed, and police, not to mention a husband who throughout all of this wants my attention. Oh yeah - and he could help, maybe, if you tell what to do. Back to soccer for concussion-less child and home to homework that he "suddenly" remembered and a dinner that finally looks "OK to eat?". Help me Jesus it is truly only Tuesday?

Wednesday concussion child decides he can make it all day.  HALLELUJAH! Wait, what about the amount of time that he is spending at school with his face in a screen? Will that cause permanent damage that I have not already inflicted from general poor parenting? Should I email the teachers or do they know not to let concussion child sit with his face in the screen for 4 hours. This is exhausting.

I get everyone off to school, the dog gets walked, and I take off to finally keep an appointment to look at Granite counter tops to finish the kitchen. I forgot to eat. Well, three out of four ain't bad.  The laundry gets done, mostly, dinner gets made, homework, policing (damn these screens), and plenty of screaming and gnashing of teeth. We are darn near back to normal. Except that now I am sporting a pounding headache. But there is no soccer tonight. Yippee Ki A.

It's Thursday. Concussion child is making it through school all day and I have had a productive meeting regarding our kitchen counter tops however it was an hour drive - one way.  Crap- I have a doctor's appointment that I forgot about. Good bye Thursday's productivity. It's time for concussion child to get home and the dog really needs a walk so does concussion child because he is bouncing off the walls. Is this a good idea? What were the doctor's instructions again besides limit screen time - which I have done SO great at anyway.  I think he was actually taking the dog for a walk then I step outside and realize that he used the dog as a cover.  He is standing outside the neighbors front window watching their TV. Ugh. I made a decision right then and there. "Get dressed you are going to Cross Country practice." I took him back up to school told the Coach he was cleared and sped away.  Of course after words I thought what the heck am I doing? What if he truly has a horrible concussion and I just ruined his brain. Help me Jesus! or Calgon! Or vodka!!!

The husband is home, again. He wants attention. He wants to know what I'm doing. He wants to know what's for dinner. I want to know what the sentence is if it is not pre-meditated? Number two son comes home and we once again fight over getting homework done, getting ready for soccer, and life in general. I'm done! I'm pooped - parenting sucks. And I STILL HAVE A HEADACHE. Dinner is leftover's the soccer bus leaves at 6:30. I'm going to my room.

Yes - husband MY room. You are not invited. sighhhhhhhhhh.

I pick up concussion child from Cross Country practice praying that not getting a phone call was a good sign. My usually bouncy, rambunctious, energetic child saunters over to the car. Crap. I ask tentatively, "How did it go? How do you feel?"
AWESOME I rocked the sprints I beat Jacob then I .......

Thank you Jesus. Score one for me - it only took till Thursday. Night.
Now I can ignore the remainder of the screaming, yelling, and gnashing of teeth that I have yet to endure this evening and go to bed with the satisfaction that just once this week, I got something right.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Our year begins.....

So for a woman who didn't want to work full-time.....I've been working Full-Time! I have been subbing non-stop since the second week of school which means that everything else is falling through the cracks. Very large cracks. Craters actually. More like the Grand Canyon.

The kitchen is rolling along but it would be really great if I could be home long enough to pick out some counter tops and get those ordered. I joked about it not being done until Christmas - now I'm not joking. If I don't get those ordered they won't be here until Christmas.

My husband was very upset when people joked to him about how long it would take, now he's just upset because they were right.  He has tried his best to keep it together during the construction. But between spending large amounts of money and living in chaos and clutter he's had his months of losing it. I meant moments. Moments honey, sorry for the typo. (It wasn't really. wink. wink.)

The boys are doing their best to adjust to the new routine and new school year - especially since I keep telling them I'll be home today - then I am not. The cupboard isn't bare yet, but it's hard to make lunch with olives, peanut butter, and left over mashed potatoes. If you think that's bad don't ask what we are eating for dinner it would make Martha Stewart call child protective services.

My seventh grader is now getting up at 6 a.m. Well, sometimes he is getting up at 6 a.m. If he is at all like his mother (yes) there is never any getting use to waking up before God. He is playing Soccer, running Cross Country, and playing the Baritone Saxaphone in band. I am taken aback at how much he is changing everyday in appearance, mood, and smell.  But the very best parts of him are just getting bigger and better.

His Cross Country times are getting progressively worse as the season goes on but he hasn't noticed. The last race he stopped to help a runner from another team who fell into a ditch scraping up his knee pretty badly and hitting his head on a tree root. The kid even said"Dude what are you doing keep running!" He was too worried and stayed a few more seconds until an adult got there. I can't fault him for that.  I love how everyone gets a cheering section even the last man in. Sounds like Cross Country fits him well.

He is most excited about playing the "bari". The school actually had one for us to keep at home for extra practice. Oh joy-Thanks school! I love the way he lights up when he talks about music. It's the only class he looks forward to this year. I can't tell if that's because the content in his classes is getting more intense, or the personalities are getting more interesting but that 's a story for another day. I warned him that Junior High is a unique experience.  I'm glad that he has band.

My little man is actually doing great this year compared to the past.  He was really excited to have one of the teachers that his older brother had and I think that has made all the difference.  He has still forgotten several things, hates having early soccer practice, and really feels that this school thing gets in the way of his social life, but this is WAY better than dragging him out the door everyday.

Part of the reason he may be loving this year's new routine is that he has mom all to himself in the morning.  That's usually when I get the sub calls too and he loves that I always ask him if I should take the job or not - then he critiques my outfit.  Also when I get to sub at his school we can eat lunch together. He thinks he is hot stuff marching into the office to eat with me while his buddies head to the cafeteria. I learned a long time ago with this one - it's all about the cool.

Just yesterday I got a call to sub and I told him I would love to, it was at his school, but I had such a bad headache.  He said, 'Mom. You're the nurse- if your head hurts just lay down!" Why didn't I think of that.

My little one is so much like his dad. I see it more and more everyday.  He lives freely and loves fiercely, standing up for his brother one minute and tearing into him the next. His most commonly screamed phrase is "I just want to talk and no one ever lets me!" There is a lot going on inside that little man of mine and he wants you to know every bit of it.  What's funny, but not really funny 90% of the time, is how those feelings come out.  Like the other day when he had to tell his dad the same thing three times.  When my husband asked a fourth time something like, What are you doing now?! His response was "Buying you a hearing aid because you are DEAF!" I laughed.

Even though the school year has started off with more than enough excitement for one family and I can't get a break from work....everyone is healthy. KNOCK ON WOOD!! and that's worth more than gold. What else can I ask for.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

You What?!

Yes, Ladies and Gentleman I turned down a Full-time job.....
It's fine, I'll wait. It's nothing I haven't heard already.

For once in my life I trusted my gut. That's all there is to it. I trusted my gut and said "No thank you."

So what now ted??

Stay tuned......

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Look where you are going!

What a simple phrase. What a profound concept. Why is it so hard to do?

Look where you are going! If you don't want to fly the plane into the ground look into the clouds. It's more than words for a pilot to live by, they are words we could all live by - Look Where you are going!

Look where you are going! "At some point you have to face your own life and want to make changes. That is the definition of adulthood"* Look where you are going!

Look where you are going! When you learn to ride a motorcycle they tell you to look through the turn or past the bump in the road, keep your eyes focused ahead of you at all times don't look down at the wheel. Look where you are going!

Look where you are going! It is a simple phrase but a profound concept that I find so very hard to do. Maybe I should buy a motorcycle? Or learn to fly a plane? Or maybe just keep trying to Look Where I am going!

*Rebecca Coursey
Thank you for sharing your gifts of healing with me

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Is it a lie or a tall tale...or a rebellion to their past??

I try very hard to instill good moral character in my children - lying is not an option here.  I have one son who can not lie to save himself and one that lies about everything.  But that's not what has me's my parents.

They can not retell a story or provide information without changing something. I used to think it was insignificant: they said it was $50 instead of $25, they said it was 2 hours instead of 4, they said it was 30 days not 10.  Is it insignificant? Is it OK that they can not get the facts straight?

It didn't seem to matter, until now. They are both getting older and Mom just went through spinal surgery and Dad is in the hospital for a large blood clot. Now it seems important, because it is up to them to be there for each other and get the facts straight. To hear the Doctor's words and be able to tell us what is going on without adding, subtracting, or multiplying. To quote their generation - "Just the facts mam."

My Aunt questioned my use of the term lying - she said "what you are talking about is just exaggeration and it's a part of their generation."  Little did I know what she was referring to.

I thought my parents were Baby Boomers - that is how they identify themselves. They are not- news to me. After my aunt said my blog really made her want to call me I did a little more research.  My parents are part of  The Silent Generation. I had never heard of this one, but after reading it made a HUGE amount of sense.

They are at the very tail end of a generation sandwiched between The Greatest Generation and The Baby Boomers.  Their generation was suppose to work hard, be seen and not heard, suffer in silence, and watch their back! (McCarthyism) But here they were raised, in my mom's case at least, with younger siblings who did anything but hang they head and hold their tongue.

At least in my parents case, I think they are caught between their head and their heart. Ingrained beliefs - and modern society.  I know they raised us to believe you should always work hard and they demonstrated that fully.  They also demonstrated that you don;t like work - you just do it. Complain over drinks later with the neighbors while you ignore the kids.  Supper's on the table when Dad gets home, the house is clean, and the dirty laundry is in the closet. With a smile on it's face. Saying everything is just fine.

I get it. Wait, No I don't get it. I will never fully understand my parents or where they come from because they don't talk about it. Everything is just fine remember. But I do hope that trying to understand will make it easier for me to let go of the little things and take care of the big ones.....Mom and Dad.

What happened to writing?

It's been a while since I've been in the mood to write.  I don't know that I would call it writers block. I have a list of topics and funny stories, just not in the mood to grab the computer and sit down to write.

Working more is part of it. It doesn't leave much time for the other things. Also that darn nagging feeling that I should be doing something productive - or worse - the idea that I should get to do nothing.

When did it become part of our culture that we have earned the right to do nothing?  And when has doing nothing ever felt good? For me it's only after working so hard that every muscle is screaming, or going so hard so long that you missed month without realizing it.

Summer is upon us and I hope that with the slower pace of life....comes the renewed joy to write.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Is it Ok ......

This is the innocent question from my eleven-year-old the other day in the car.

"Why is it not Ok for boys to hit girls? Is it a manners thing?"
"It is a manners thing, chivalry. Think about our conversation the other night when everyone was wrestling - men have more upper body strength than woman, so imagine a man using all that force to hit a woman, that is not a fair fight. Plus you know that book your brother is reading about slavery - there was a time when woman had no more rights than a slave they were the property of their husbands and sometimes they would get beaten very badly.  We had to put a stop to that in society."
"So...then, why are girls allowed to hit boys?"

BAM! right to the gut - that's my boy

"Well, girls are not allowed to hit boys. Why?"
"Because they do. The girls in my class do anyway. I won't name any names but the other day I was holding the door for the whole class and when I went back to where Darin was in line one of the girls called me out and said get back. I told her I was holding the door and she said I don't care and kicked me in the shin."
"Did you tell someone?"
"It didn't hurt that bad."
"If it didn't hurt that bad, why are we talking about it? It sounds like you are still upset about it?"
"Well, it did hurt bad, for a little while. But I didn't cry or anything. The girls hit, and push, and kick  and stuff and I don't like it. I don't want to hit back I just want them to cut it out."

What a precarious precipice I am on right now. I hang on to the steering wheel for dear life- I feign exuberant interest in the traffic while trying to collect my thoughts.

"If anyone is ever touching your body in a way that is hurtful, harmful, or makes you feel awkward in anyway you need to make that stop.  If you are being attacked - fight back. Even if it is a woman. If you are being touched - get out of there immediately. Even if it is a girl you really like.  And if the girls at school are being mean - call them out, loud and clear in front of everyone. For example you could say loudly so that everyone around you will hear your words -
Emma stop kicking me. That hurts and I don't like it. Please keep your hands and feet to yourself.
It is really important to me that you take care of well as others. But if you are not taking care of probably can't take care of others."

I try to keep my voice steady and the tears at bay. I hope that I have given him a reasonable answer and appropriate tool.  I imagine my beautiful sweet boy who holds the cafeteria door everyday for the entire 125 students in his grade getting kicked for it. Literally. And what I really wanted to say is
"It may not be ok for you to kick her - but I can. Give me her name!"

Mama Lion won't make this better either.....but sometimes I'd like to try.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Snow Week......and this is not Boston!

Because goodness knows if we were in Boston the kids would be in school right now. They had to get 6 feet of snow to get called off, we got 3 inches, and negative temperatures, and they are STILL home. Such is life in them Mid-America.

See what I mean? I know the people in Boston are scratching their heads right now, but that's probably more from the lice as they have been locked in doors, most without electricity and hot water from the 6 major storms in a row that have pounded the East Coast. No wonder they hate the Midwest.

I'm just totally bummed because had I known that we were going to get an early Spring Break I would have scheduled a vacation, from my family. Wrong preposition - with my family ;-)
We've made the best of it. Before the wind chill dipped into the oblivion we were able to have friends over, go sledding, get to the gym and the library.

Being the "mean" mother that I am I made the boys go down the street and check the driveways of elderly neighbors I know can not or should not be shoveling.  There was plenty of shoveling! My older son is usually ready to go earlier in the morning.  My younger son has to be coaxed, prodded, threatened really usually sometime after lunch and he's the one that got $25.00.  Which "mean"  mom said we should donate to charity.  But he just did a writing project where they researched non-profit charities that help children so he was pretty excited to be able to donate to Kid's CafĂ©.

I know that we will get back to school, eventually and that I will soon forget all the screaming and fighting....and long for another snow day.  Because despite it all I will remember the conversations we had while shoveling the neighbors driveways, the Hawk that swooped down at us and perched in the tree, the sun making the snow sparkle like a million diamonds, the squeals of laughter as they went head first down the hill on the sled, the hot coco, movies with all of us sprawled on one couch, and mornings all snuggled into one bed reading.  I hope they remember those things too....

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Shakespeare was the first Reality TV

My youngest has a hard time getting up in the morning. Since he is now eight-year-old I have finally decided it may be time to stop enabling this behavior. (No one said I was a quick learner!)

The other morning I went in to wake me. He was on the top bunk. Something came over me. I am not sure what it was because God knows I am not fully awake until maybe 10:00 a.m. but seeing him up there on the top bunk whining for me to get him down made me think Shakespeare.

So I went with it. Not that I have ever read Romeo and Juliet. I've just seen it performed, on TV, like The Brady Bunch or Bugs Bunny.  My rendition was a little lacking, but what did he know!

"Romeo! Romeo! Where for art thou Romeo?
I am down here. Wait. Tis the sun and Juliet is east, no. Tis the East and Juliet is the Sun.
Deny my father and climb up here Romeo!
Yes Juliet I will save you from your tower - throw down your hair. I will save you from the wicked Queen who hath locked you in the castle with thine ugly Ogre. We shall ride off into the sunset and sing -"

"I'm UP NO SINGING MOM!!!" whatever works.

It did start me thinking that maybe I should read Shakespeare. Or maybe Google it, at read least the speech I so badly butchered.  And this got me to thinking how Shakespeare was really way ahead of his time. He was the original Reality TV.  What gets better than two 15 years-olds killing themselves for love - not that I condone that behavior.  If MTV did it I would be totally appalled. Unless maybe their names where Capulet and Montague.....just saying.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Stepping outside my comfort zone

This is not my usual blog.  Sure, I'm still going to attempt to be witty and clever enough to catch the attention of a Publisher, Pinner, or potential employer. But I may get a little bit - political.  Kind of like girls in high school that got a little bit - pregnant.

Without knowing it, I have taken a political stand. Yesterday I opted my children out of all PARCC testing in our school district not realizing that to do so would be committing to a political party.  That I would be taking a side.

Am I taking a side? YES - My children's side! I'm the Mom - that's my job.  To look out for their best interest. I am their advocate, their voice, their representative in adult decisions.

I did not make the decision to opt them out of testing lightly.  This wasn't something I did on a whim. "Hey look cereal is on sale and opt of testing. I'll get two!"  The biggest factors in saying NO to the Common Core Testing this year is that our state is not even going to count it. It will not count against students, teachers, or school districts. The other factor is that my third grader will have taken 3 different sets of Standardized tests, twice-Fall and Spring, by the end of the year. It's part of the Third Grade Guarantee.

This is where it somehow gets political.  Because believing in Common Core is supporting Obama and so I am a Democrat.  Or a Communist depending on who you talk to. Not supporting Common Core makes me a Republican. Wanting to repeal Common Core makes me a Tea Partyist.

Listen people, I am just a mom. Trust me. A very average very ordinary Midwest stay-at-home mom.  I do want reform. I do want overhaul. I like the idea of National standards of education because as one brilliant blogger said - is the math different in Maine than in Texas?  I want to see big changes in how schools are funded.  I want to see changes in how teachers are tenured and paid. 

I want every child to have the opportunity to learn whether they are lucky enough to go to a suburban school, on a warm bus, with a full tummy and their homework finished on a computer. Or whether they got there an hour late because no one is home to wake them up, hungry, in yesterday's clothes, without their paper homework and lunch money.

Do I have to be a Democrat or a Republican to be a Mom? Do I have to pick a side? Then I pick their side - the kids. Because that is my job - advocate, voice, representative in adult decisions.
I chose the kids.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

To color or not to color? Vote ;-)

Should I use colored pencils? watercolors? markers? You decide


My NEW favorite cookie

I think I posted this once before with the Title: Day After Halloween Cookies
but I may have to re-name because these are my NEW favorite cookie by far! Enjoy

2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. butter
1 c. white sugar
1 c. brown sugar (packed)
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 c. rolled oats
1 c. (+) cut up left over Halloween Candy
REPLACED WITH - wait for it
1 bag of white chocolate chips and 4-5 crushed up candy canes

Pre-heat oven 350 degrees. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt with whisk and set aside.
In a large bowl cream together the butter white sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, then vanilla. Gradually add sifted ingredients. Then oats and candy pieces.
Bake 8-10 minutes, do not brown these much or you will have crispy crunchy cookies by day two. I like them to stay a chewy.  So just bake them off they will spread and puff up. You can not get them off the cookie sheet until they are pretty cool or they will tear apart.

Day After Christmas Cookies

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

To my 6th Grade son....

To my beautiful little man-

I just wanted to write this note to you because you are about to make one small step for mankind but one giant leap for Tweenkind. Middle school.  It is a battlefield and you must be prepared to fight. Middle School is littered with broken hearts, shattered self-esteem, misplaced aggression, raging hormones, and drama.

When you came home last night and told me the story about your best friend not wanting to acknowledge you in school because you were talking about playing YuGiOh together I thought I would cry. But what you said next did make me cry - because I was so proud.

Good for you waiting until lunchtime to talk to your friend privately about dissing you and letting him know that you are not afraid of what other people think.  I know he said he doesn't want kids to make fun of him for playing YuGiOh so that is why he ignored you and your answer was brilliant.
"If they make fun of you they were not your friend to begin with."

I know that you had to learn this lesson the hard way, for that I am sorry. But the fact that you already know it going into Middle school may just save your life.  Middle school is when a lot of kids will try on new identities, try out new friends, and try very hard to be cool.  It's one big popularity contest. Knowing that popular isn't everything is the most important thing to remember when the people you thought were your friends let you down, walk away, or worse - turn on you.

You are such an amazing person! And I am not saying this because you are mine. Every teacher you have ever had has commented on how wonderful you are to have in class.  Even your specials teachers, coaches, committee chairs, and your Principals have gone out of their way to tell me that you are awesome.  Do you know how cool that is? I wish someone would have told me going into Middle school that even though it's going to be a battle - they knew I would be fine coming out the other side.

Why you ask? What do you have that is special? Let me tell you ;-)

You are kind, generous, and authentic.  There is nothing fake about you my love.  When you hear music you are going to dance, when you like a song you are going to sing along, when they ask for your help you will give it with a smile.  There is not a mean bone in your body.

You are hardworking, smart, and funny.  A great combo by the way, you get it from your Mom.  Add to this intuitive and sensitive.  When things get tense you know how to lighten them up, when it gets serious you know how to listen, and when it gets ugly you know how to stop it.

You are beautiful, athletic, and talented.  The whole package.  Whether it's playing football, playing the sax, or playing the villain  Whether it is breakdancing, singing, speaking, or leading student council.  Don't ever short change yourself. Remember all of your accomplishments there are all a part of what makes you who you are.

My beautiful baby boy -
Your very proud Mom.

Monday, January 19, 2015

No Name Calling Week

What a great concept. What a wonderful thing. I want to help promote it - but not just on social media.  I think it's needed- please do not get me wrong. Right here in this blog I have ranted and raved about Reality TV and how the US is turning into one trashy trailer park.

This got to my soul.  Way deep down to that 12 year-old girl in me that wanted to die. Literally. I thought being dead would have to be so much easier than living through the hell that was my Junior High experience. The High School years got worse.

My Grandmother tired very hard to repeat over and over again, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me."

But they did! Oh Grandma, they did. They stuck to me like glue.  I carried them around for more than a decade believing that they were all true. The thing is the words weren't flung at me by my peers - they were whispered by my parents, siblings, family, and friends. They were shouted back at me in my own head.

I just finished the book Wonder because both boys have read it at school with their class.  I loved the book. Maybe this was odd, but I loved the last chapter. I don't want to ruin the book for those of you who ARE going to read it after you read this blog. 

In the book the Principal makes a speech and quotes J. M. Barrie's The Little White Bird....
" 'Shall we make a new rule of life...always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?' "

Yes, I think we should. Starting this week. Starting with ourselves. Starting with this initiative.
a little bit more than is necessary

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Where did the Playdate come from anyway?

Friday this week was my Monday. Because it was when I finally got number two son off to school for the week without too much drama.  The kids were off and so was I cleaning the house like a woman on a mission.  Well, technically I was, because I was determined to get it sparkling clean.  Something I have not done since Thanksgiving between working the month of December and then everyone being sick.  Plus the Cable/Internet repair man was scheduled between 8-12 so I was stuck here. yeah.

I dug right in and stripped beds, cleaned bathrooms, vacuumed, and dusted every inch of the place.  I threw some windows open while I Lysoled, Frebreezed, and de-funkified the whole house.  The Cable/Internet guy was very impressed by the way.  And grateful, he said, because the last house he was in had 50 cats in it. "Really I couldn't smell? Tell!" Our dog almost tore through the Carhart pants he was wearing she was so freaked out.  I had to lock her in her cage - growling.

After he left I quickly finished the downstairs cleaning and de-funkified really really well then took the poor dog out for a brisk two mile walk.  We both needed it. It took all two miles for me to not smell Lysol.  Back at home it was almost time for the boys to get off the bus which meant I had minutes to check emails, texts, and messages from various Moms, Coaches, and Teams.

The boys arrived, my husband arrives, it's Friday night so everyone is excited and talking all at once.  The husband wants the boys to go to a High School Basketball game with him, the boys whine they want to have friends over to play. That's when it starts.

"Mom can you call Mrs.-"
"Honey do you have a number for-"
"I want to go to-"
"Can I have a sleepover with-"
"I'll take a sleepover baby...."

Who the hell invented the playdate? and why is it Mom's job to organize them - ALL? It was 7:00 p.m. when I sat down to eat a salad after getting everyone organized, everything straightened around, dinner made, boys feed, and those who needed to out the door. That's when I looked around and said no wonder I don't have any friends, I NEVER have a playdate!

I'm too tired to figure it out, Good night!

Boston Sunset - Thanksgiving week 2014