Sunday, December 20, 2015

Home Sweet Home

It's December 20th, and we are all under one roof.  Semester number seven is in the books for our oldest and senior year for our youngest is quickly approaching a memory.  

This year, thanks to El Nino, we are staying back for Christmas Eve.  Typically, we are the first family to get out of dodge, so we can capitalize on the beautiful, fresh snowmobile trails and the fact that everyone else is putting on their game faces and spending time with extended family.  This year, there is little snow in the forecast, and the trails are officially closed, so we are staying back and leaving on Christmas morning.

I am looking forward to seeing family this year; it's been a hard year at best with dad passing away.  We won't see everyone in both families, but I will make sure that phone calls are made or text messages sent, at least to send out wishes.  The times we do stay home for Christmas, there are a lot of laughs.  This year, there will probably be tears too.

This past week I wished my oldest brother a happy birthday.  We haven't seen each other in years, but text occasionally, usually initiated by me after someone falls ill or passes away in our family.  I talk to his kids more than I talk to him. I started my message to him calling him big brother and I told him I loved him.  That day I didn't get a response.  The day after I didn't get a response.  Two days later I got my response in the form of an invite for our family to come to his house on the 26th.  Unfortunately, we will be out of town, so we won't get to see there family.  He signed his message big brother.

In all honesty, it was a huge step for our family.  There had been a rift after an incident that happened 15 years ago (I still don't know what really happened) and divided our family; we rarely talk.  I've never been one to give up on something, so I text every time something significant happens...I'm the baby sister, and I'll make sure that I always talk to my family even if I don't see them for every holiday.

I'm hoping that it is the first of many invitations either from his house or ours.  I want our kids to know there cousins.  That was one of my favorite things about growing up - spending time with my cousins.

I wish we could be there on the 26th, but our tradition is to spend time away with our family.  I'll miss seeing my brother and sister-in-law, and seeing my niece and four nephews, and I'll miss meeting their significant others, and meeting my grand niece and two grand nephews.  I know he won't see this unless one of his kids show it to him.  I wonder what he would say.

Our vacation won't be our typical vacation where we spend every day on the beautiful trails of northern Wisconsin.  This year, unless there is some northern snowstorm that develops in the next day and dumps 24 inches of snow in the next two days, our vacation will first be three of us, then five of us, then three of us again spending time together and just enjoying our down time.  It's been a really long and hard year for our entire family.  What we need is a little home sweet home time to regroup, refresh, and hope for a better 2016.

Monday, December 14, 2015

40+10 Lessons Learned

It goes without saying that I read alot.  Books, magazines, blogs.  The back of shampoo bottles, toothpaste tubes and gel containers (don't judge...I know you do it too).

I read this blog tonight ( and quite a bit hit home.  Here are some of my favorites:

3. Always check for toilet paper before sitting down.  Your probably ok if you are in your own bathroom at home, within reaching distance of your cabinet or screaming distance of your kids, but do this at work or in a movie theatre, you'll be praying to God you have either your purse with you, or you can somehow make it from stall to stall without anyone seeing you.

6. A girl will never stop expecting other people to make a big deal about her birthday - even if she's 41 (45!).  I don't necessarily agree with this.  While I do think it really important that my husband, kids and mom remember, I don't care if my coworkers know what's going on.  I do, however, like when my Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn wishes surpass 100.  I don't claim to understand why.

9.  Ice cream is not better than love, and chocolate isn't better than sex.  Truth.

11.  Don't sneeze when you're eating crackers.  Unless you across from someone you really don't like. Then that shit is EPIC.

22.  Always wear underwear under white shorts.  And a bra under a tank top.  Unless you have the chest of a 12 year old boy, then go for it.

39.  Women can have rectal exams too.  Wait, what?  I'll pass.

40.  I still have alot to learn!  This goes without saying.

What else have I learned in my 45 years?  Just a few others that top my list:

1.  Life is too short to work for someone you don't trust.  You spend one fourth of your life working.  If you can't trust your boss, move on.

2.  Your kids grow up way too fast although right under your nose.  Before you know it, they'll be graduating college and planning their own futures.

3.  Don't feel like you need to please everyone in your extended family during the holiday season.  We have chosen to change how we celebrate because sometimes it needs to be just about us, and not about everyone else.  If that isn't your cup of tea, so be it.  Do what's right for you.

4. Don't be ashamed if you want to go back to coloring, but avoid the 'adult coloring book' fad.  It's totally ok to grab a Winnie the Pooh or Scooby Doo coloring book.

5.  Rethink who you've given access to your life.  If you don't interact, maybe it's time to delete.

6.  You'll never get a second chance to say goodbye.  

7.  It's ok if swear a little too much.  Unless you are in church or your child's grade school, there is still free speech...and sometimes you just need to use the word fuck.

8.  Worry about who is in your house, and what you have, and not what everyone else is doing or has.  You don't know their circumstances, nor do they know yours.  Unless they are the type of person to post every beef they have with every person on their friends list, what their salary is, or how they've been shamed, it's none of your business.  

9.  Sometimes it's ok to pop a bag of popcorn, pull up a chair and watch the insults fly (see above).

10. Don't feel bad for laughing at number 9 above.

Bonus.  Live every moment. Laugh every day.  Love beyond words.

All-in-all, I would rather be 45 with kids nearly out of the house, than 25 and starting out over again.  Do I know what this list will look like at 65?  Not a clue.  I guess we'll just have to wait and find out.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Six Months To Go

In six short months, our youngest son will graduate high school.  I can honestly say that on the outside, I'm doing a happy dance.  Everyone that knows me knows I have a countdown clock: 185 days to be precise.  I reference it often.  It's the culmination of getting both of our children through grammar, middle and high school, and getting ready to unleash them on the world.

On the inside, I'm a little sad though I'm not quite sure why.  I don't think things will change that much once we hit 186 days.  He'll be off to college a few short months after graduation, and thankfully he's narrowed down his choice...I think.  He'll still live at home when he's not at school, as will his brother until he finishes and moves out on his own.

It's been almost 22 years of having a third, then fourth, body in our house.   Sometimes I wonder what my husband and I will talk about when it's just the two of us.  The school years have been filled with homework and projects and athletic practice and games. It's been filled with permission slips and a million questions: Mom can you help me? Dad, my truck is acting up, what's wrong with it?  Mom, what's for dinner?  Dad, help! We need a trailer for the homecoming float. Mom, I need a black dress shirt for formal.  Dad, help me clean up my mess.  Year after year we celebrate our anniversary and our conversations more often than not lead to our kids (their friends, their teammates, coaches and what is going on in their lives).

I've been called the homework Nazi by every member of my house.  It's not necessarily a bad thing.  I'm the one that goes through the portal and questions why a 0 was received for a day of gym, or remind my husband to say congrats when a kid gets an A on a big project.  We've encouraged or boys to make good choices and get their stuff done early.  My husband tells them to treat schoolwork (high school and college) as a job.  Get it done early, then you can have fun.  Thankfully, both of our boys have been and continue to be good students, albeit sometimes lazy ones.

Earlier this week my husband and our youngest went on his second official college visit.  It's the college his brother attends, so he's pretty familiar with it and quite a few people, both staff and students, already know him by name.  After conversations with the coaching staff, they headed over to admissions to get down to the details.  I.E., what kind of money is available?  A great GPA, a pretty good ACT score and AP credits is a start.  As my husband was listening intently to the questions from the Dean of Admissions, he made a quick phone call to me to find out about some details, while our youngest piped up and said "Dad, don't worry about it.  Mom will handle it."  I laughed when he told me that.  Because I do handle that.   

Lunch that day was with football players and fraternity brothers, and even his own brother.  As I understand it, questions flew about offense and defense and why that school was chosen.  There was a comfort there, which is a good thing.  Even if that school isn't the ultimate decision, he made some new friends.

I'm disappointed I missed that day, because I did go to every visit for our older son.  It's not that I wanted to miss it, but life (work) got in the way.  It doesn't make me less of a parent because I couldn't go to a college visit, but I was still a blubbering idiot after dinner and I couldn't figure out why.  I'm just so used to being involved that it got the best of me.  In retrospect, it's probably menopause.  

On the flip side of me handling school stuff, when either boy has a problem with a science project or truck or snowmobile or something equally technical, they head right over to dad.  

Mom kisses booboo's, dad tapes them right up.  It's what we do as parents.  Can I work on a science project, sure...but it might not be pretty.  Can dad whip up dinner?  Absolutely.

How is it possible that after raising your children that some people are emotional wrecks and don't want to let them go?  I'm not pushing our kids out the door by any means.  I will miss them terribly when they aren't living under our roof.  I'm most proud of the fact that my husband and I have raised smart, healthy, polite and driven children.  Even when they graduate college, find their career, fall in love, get married and have their own kids, I know in my heart that we did everything we could to raise them the best way that we knew how.  Our house has been filled with love, and support, openness and sometimes arguments that could be easily solved.  I think my husband and I have done one hell of a job raising our boys.   Down the road, I do expect phone calls and visits often, because that's the type of family we are.

We do not boast a cookie cutter family dynamic where everything is rosey 100% of the time.  If anyone says they have a life like that, they are lying.  Life is messy. Life isn't meant to be perfect. If it was perfect, we would have won the lottery, built a 3,000 square foot cabin in the woods with a 4,000 square foot garage (if you know my husband, you know why), and would never work another day in life.  We work hard for what we have.  We never lay blame where it isn't deserved.  If our boys do something wrong, they own up to it.  Granted, our kids haven't really gotten in trouble, because they have made good choices and stayed out of situations where they don't belong. There was also a fear of getting a boot up their ass...but that's a story for another day.  We aren't the type of people that assume their kids are angels like so many other parents believe. Our boys have just learned stay out of where they don't belong, and solve problems if they need to instead of laying blame where it doesn't belong.

Six months down the road until we can officially claim we've gotten our children through school.   College is still looming and degrees have yet to earned.  I can comfortably say I'm looking forward to seeing what our kids do next.

What I want our boys to know is that even though you are each embarking on the next stages of your life, you will always have a place at home.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Invading Deer Camp

Yes, you read right.  Not only did I, but my sister-in-law and I invaded deer camp this past weekend.  Anyone that lives in Wisconsin knows this is the most scared of times.  I've been married to my husband for 23 years, with him for 27; my sister-in-law has been married to my brother-in-law for 16 years, with him for 25.  Never have either of us stepped foot within a 250 mile radius of the hunting grounds.

Normally, we both become deer hunter widows.  We've had dinner dates, movies, cookie exchanges and shopping trips.  My MO is to paint anything I can get my hands on in our house.  Every year changes; sometimes it's cabinets, sometimes it's walls.  This year, there was no painting.

Our family dynamic changed this fall when our father-in-law passed away.  Our husbands chatted between themselves and decided it was time to bring to camp.  

Now you can imagine, my first thought was "no way, never going to happen, I like my alone time".  I didn't want to cook or clean for the group, nor did my sister-in-law.   We both like our freedom that weekend, which normally consists of not doing dishes for four days and living on take out Chinese or pizza.

This year we welcomed the change.  The boys (both husbands, and our two sons) went Thursday, and we left Friday to make the 4 1/2 hour trip after work.  We chatted the entire time and the 4 1/2 hours felt like about 60 minutes.

We were given the option to sleep in  on Saturday morning, but we both braced for the 4:30 am wake up call when we had gone to bed well after midnight.  Before we headed out, I started making our dinner...what would be a full Thanksgiving dinner.  (Remember, I didn't want to cook).

She went with her husband; I sat with our youngest son.  I've come to appreciate the patience a deer hunter must have.  I was cold (14 degrees that first morning), and I needed to pee.  It's not like I'm male and can just whip it out and take care of business.  Nope...leave the logistics to your imagination.

There is something so very surreal when you see your 17 year old's face light up when he sees that first deer.  I watched him from the comfort of my chair get up, turn his chair on its side, and take aim.  The shot was well over 150 yards; a distance even the most seasoned hunter would have trouble with.  I was able to video the action, and I realized that my heart was about to jump out of my chest.   Watching him take aim, hold his breath and shoot was incredible.  Sadly, the shot was low and the doe took off.  The disappointment on his face was terrible.  I wanted it for him.  The disappointment on his part was because he wanted me to see it.  Shortly thereafter I saw a doe prance off into the woods, and then a buck follow.  He decided against the shot because it was even further than the first.  We headed back to camp.

Everyone else went out later the day and little luck again, but they all came back to what was a sleep inducing meal.  I think everyone needed it.  We laughed.  We told stories.  It was exactly what I needed.

Day two started out much like day one.  An early morning wake up call.  My sister-in-law went with my brother-in-law again, my boys hunted together, and I braved the cold (this time 9 degrees) with my husband.  The view was breathtaking.  We were over a ridge and were able to watch the sunrise.  I had only wished I had my Canon with me.  My phone didn't do it justice, and the cold was just too much for it.

I lasted a few hours and headed back to camp to get breakfast ready.  No one had luck the second morning.  Everyone headed out around lunch, and I decided I better nap since I had a five hour drive home (longer than Friday, taking our oldest back to college).  I was out for 2 1/2 hours, only to be abruptly woken by something.  That something turned out to be my boys tagging a deer.  Our oldest got the lone doe this season.  He was determined to take something, since the love of his life had gotten one the day before with her family. 

What I am most proud of is that our boys did it together.  There were no arguments; there was no one storming off.  Our oldest asked our youngest to use the lone doe tag of the group.  

Our family doesn't hunt just for the sport.  They don't take more than they eat and would never hunt illegally.  There were five deer in our yard and they could easily been taken, but it was well after sunset.

I spent the end of Sunday driving my oldest back to college.  It was nice spending some alone time with him since he's away at school and normally we just text.  There were only a few moments where I wanted to throw him out the truck (sorry kiddo).  Knowing that he'll graduate soon and move out, I appreciate these few moments.

My sister-in-law helped my husband clean the cottage before the left on Monday.

Needless to say, invading deer camp wasn't what I thought it was.  We still cooked, and cleaned, which is ok, because I love to cook, and she loves to clean.  I guess it's who we are.

Will we go back next year?  I think so.  They might have another hunter on their hands though because I'm the best shot in the house. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

It's Not Goodbye...It's See You Later.

The last two weeks have been simply awful.  Yesterday, I had to say goodbye to my father-in-law.  He's been in my life for 27 years; nearly as long as my father before he passed away.  For all intents-and-purposes...he was my dad.   

What we thought was a stomach issue, turned into something so much more.  Over the course of two weeks and too many procedures to count, the man that I've watched eat pizza until he'd bust, walk around eight miles at a car show, and build furniture just because we asked, couldn't fight any longer.   There is something very surreal in watching someone you love be taken from you right in front of your eyes.

When my father died, I wasn't there.  I was on vacation with my husband.  We saw my dad five days before he passed away, and then I saw him when he was laid out for his wake.

This time, we were there by his side and my mother-in-laws side 14 of 15 days.  The only day we weren't there we called.  My husbands (and now my) family is very close.  There were times when I thought the hospital door was a revolving door.  Everyone wanted to see dad.  He's been a rock in this family.  He's the one that ensured my husband make it to hockey practice at 5 am.  He's the one that made sure my husband and his brother knew how to work on cars.  He's the one that showed them both how to treat their wives.  He's the one that told stories, sometimes over and over again, to our boys...often things that they just didn't want to hear.  He's the one that got picked on at car shows by his son's, only because that's what they did.  He's the one that had a phrase for just about everything.... "down the road a piece", "you're about as useless as two tits on a board" and the every popular "were you born in a barn?" 

Dad was preceded in death by 11 of 12 brothers, 1 of 2 sisters, his mother and his father, mother-in-law and father-in-law.  Leaving behind a sister that lives in the same city, and a brother that lives in the South, there family was closer than many. I married into a family that was and is very close.  Cousins are treated as siblings.  Aunts and uncles were treated as additional parents.   Extended family is treated as family.

Dad rescued a chihuahua a few years ago from near our family cottage in northern Wisconsin.  He brought him home and gave him all the love he needed.  Brownie quickly became part of the family and proceeded to bite (nip) just about everyone in the family except dad and mom.  The last two weeks has been hard on Brownie and Roscoe (their other dog).  No one really thinks about leaving pets behind.  We had anticipated bringing Brownie to the hospital and had it approved, but quickly realized that it wasn't a good idea.  The first few days dad was in the hospital, Brownie didn't eat.  After a few more days, he warmed up to the rest of us and started eating.  I don't doubt it's going to be very hard in the coming weeks for him as well.

I'd like to believe there is life after death.  Until that happens, I know that dad will live on through his boys and our boys.  If there is, I hope that dad and my dad are both the angels on our shoulders, or voice of reason, when we need a little guidance, or a swift boot in the ass.

Hug your loved ones a little tighter tonight.  You never know when your world will turn upside down and be faced with tragedy.  See you later dad.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Clean Slate

I would give anything to turn back the clock.  Right now, my family's future is uncertain.  We are at the mercy of recruiters and employers, home buyers and mortgage lenders, doctors, specialists, insurance companies, and time.  I can't say I'm a woman of's been years since I willingly went into a church to pray.  I don't know if what we are going through as a family will get me to go back.  I do know that at night I try to think of alternatives to working a traditional job.

There are days in between looking for jobs and looking for clients that I pray that we win the lottery and we could just move forward with our lives.  My husband and I work hard.  We don't know how to be lazy.  We want to work.  We want to volunteer.  We want our lives to be normal again.  This 'new normal' plainly sucks.

Monday I spent a large part of the day following up on interviews and letters and basically had to pry out the "thanks but no thanks" messages.  For a brief hour, I spent it at PT to try to get some relief from the car accident we were in a few weeks ago.

Tuesday, I had to go to the unemployment office to prove that I am actually looking for jobs.  I needed to present a piece of paper with the four jobs I looked for last week.  (In full disclosure, I applied for probably eight times that).  The meeting took all of two minutes.  I understand that they need to check up on people, but seriously?  Was it really necessary to present that info when you already get it electronically?

Today, I had a two hour interview at a very cool company. Met with a woman that appears to be everything I want in a boss, toured the location, and was told I was one of two top candidates.  I was surprised when she candidly told me she wanted to bring me back in next week.  Thankfully, it's scheduled for Tuesday, and I hope that I am what they are looking for.  I have several interviews scheduled over the next few days, to which I am thankful for.  I am getting pretty good at talking about myself, but am honestly tired of interviewing. 

We were greeted with the second of two acceptance letters for our son's choice of colleges.  It's a blessing knowing that all the hard work he has done for the last three plus years has paid off.

Tomorrow will be spent trying to find volunteers for a football game, looking for potential customers for my husbands business, and following up on more jobs.

Friday will end with a football game and those few hours where I can get lost in my photography and watch my son's team win the game.

Saturday and Sunday will be spent with family, and taking some baby and family pictures.  For this I am thankful.

There is so much I want to say about what else is going on, but I've made a promise to myself that I won't, just yet, because it involves others.  I'm digging back into my book, getting ready to send it for editing and have decided to dedicate to a very important man in my life.

The clean slate starts today.  I don't know what tomorrow will bring.  I know that I will apply for jobs until the right one sticks.  I know that I will use all of my education and experience and help build my husbands client base, because it's what I do best.  I will tackle editing senior pictures and get them ready to send off for printing. I will help my kids with anything they need.  I will finish my book.  I will be the best wife, mother, daughter and friend I can be.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Just Another Day in the Life

In this little thing we call life, I have been summarily dismissed, outsourced, restructured from my most recent job.  Talk about a downer.  I actually liked that job.  I really liked that job.  An up and coming company that had a great story to tell, I hit daily obstacles when it came down to actually getting my job done.  Personally, I felt the exec team didn’t trust their staff and proceeded to put those obstacles in place.  So here I am again, a year after I lost my last job to outsourcing, looking for another job.

In a normal setting, this would be stressful.  Add to it a new career my husband is launching, in which I am fully confident he will be extremely successful at, a senior in college, a senior in high school with scholarship applications and college essays to write, and the thought of our insurance ending at the end of the month, it is downright taxing, hard, tough, traumatic…you pick the adjective.

As I sit here taking a break from creating a software template he can use for this new venture and the phone calls and emails I had to make this morning, I think about the marketing pieces I will create and the website that will be launched, the insurance that needs to be purchased and how I can help him be successful.  Don’t forget about the photography sessions in the works, the job searching and scheduled interviews, what the game day program will look like after I pick it up from the printer and if every parent will show up to walk with their players, organizing the buttons for parents night, if we will get enough volunteers the rest of the season and what it will be like asking parents again for donations to end of season gifts.  Don’t even get me started on my novel that needs my final edits, and then to be sent off to a few key critics that can do a read through.  And my photography website that needs an overhaul, the phone calls that need to be made, and surprisingly enough the gesture of having my nemesis contact me and say I could use him as a reference.

In the last week, we had to get rid of one of our trucks since it was making a not-so-great noise and my husband felt he couldn't trust it any longer for our trips to the cottage.  Thankfully my husband is mechanically gifted and we might have found a gem of a new vehicle at a price that wasn’t tragic.  I can hear him pounding on something on the truck, nothing that he can't handle, just another example of a truck owner that didn't give a shit about how he took care of his vehicle because that owner would just go buy something new with the money he's earned from his job. News flash. That job could be gone tomorrow.  Take care of your crap.

Yes, this is a woe-is-me post.  I don’t do them often.  From the outside, we are a well-adjusted, relatively successful family that works hard and plays hard.  On the inside, we have been thrown for the loop and are now finding ourselves picking up the pieces.   Do I think that I won’t find a job?  No, that has never crossed my mind.  Do I think that now that I’m 45 that it might be slightly harder to find a job, potentially…but it’s what I can offer a new employer that matters.  Hiring me makes sense.  Yes, my salary is higher, but my experience should count for something.  Right?

I'll apologize now for those that know me and run into me in public.  I may not be my bubbly self.  

Friday, August 7, 2015

Bittersweet Memories

Anyone that knows me, knows my life revolves around my kids lives.  As we are finishing up summer and leading into fall, it means one thing: It's Football Season.

This year is a bittersweet season. It's our youngest son's senior season.  My husband and I have been active members of our kids football careers for what seems like forever.  For our oldest, it was two years of youth football, four years of high school and three years of college.  Our youngest was three years of youth football, three years (so far) of  high school, this upcoming season, and what will hopefully be a college career too.

We live in a city with two high schools. Rival high schools.  I've noticed recently that the rivalry isn't just a friendly rivalry.  It's a division of the entire city.  My husband grew up in this town and went to the rival school.  Had borders been in place, our kids would have gone to the rival school.  Our kids chose to go to their current school. We gave them that choice. They are both excellent students and we felt that it was their lives, and they needed to live them every day, so we left it up to them.  Both schools have outstanding academic programs (though some people outside the district might think differently).  Both have AP classes; both have full sports programs; both are really good schools. The indoor and outdoor sports facilities are shared, and unfortunately it is perceived that because the outdoor facility is on our school grounds, that it is our facility.  The indoor facility is at our rival school school and allows for shared hosting of indoor events.

I won't get into a debate about shared facilities, what we get vs. what they get... or what they get vs. what we get or even where money comes from to buy whatever it is that schools buy. It's a frustrating topic and just creates animosity among the schools and feeds into the division.

What frustrates me is the division of friendships because of the rivalry.  When our boys were in middle school, the rivalry was present.  The only time it really showed was during the youth football team rivalry week.  Every other week of the year, both sides got along.  They ate lunch together.  They joked in the hallways.  They went to movies together.   

Now, it's become an ever present nightmare of we are better than you, you are worse than us from both sides of the coin.  How about everyone just takes a step back and realize that we are from the same city and it could possibly be our city against another city.  Go back to a good, clean rivalry.  

I am one of the first ones to like things on social media when the rival school does something good.  I'm happy when they succeed.  I'm happy when they win games.  I feel bad when they don't.  Kids on those teams were kids that my husband coached for years in youth baseball.  We watched them grow up and are happy when they are successful.  We want to see them get into good colleges, and get the accolades they deserve.  When one team goes to the state playoffs or matches, or a single student gets accepted to a prestigious college, I am beyond happy.  That means our teachers, our coaches, our administrators have done something right.  It's our city.

The memories I have from our kids in youth sports and grade school and middle school are bittersweet.  Some of my closest friends are from that rival school.  Our oldest son attended prom at the rival school instead of his own prom.  He missed his friends and wasn't going to let something like a little rivalry stop him from that experience.

Ultimately, I want my kids, and those kids that have been part of our lives for years, to know that no matter what they think about this rivalry, once you graduate high school and move to the next level, none of this matters.  Unless you get stuck in high school and can't move away from what was, you will make new friends.  And if you are lucky enough, you'll rekindle friendships from grade school and middle school, and even from your rival high school.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why I Volunteer

Leading into my youngest son's senior year of high school, I've done some reflecting on what volunteer footprint I'm leaving.

I can't speak for my friends that volunteer, but this is why I do.

  • I don't do it for my kids (sort of) - in all honestly, I don't think they care whether or not I volunteer.  Let me be clear though. They are what drove me to volunteering.  Had they not been in active in sports, I don't know that I would have walked that path.  
  • I do volunteer for my kids teams, teachers, coaches - it's to make their lives a little bit easier.  They can focus on what's important; prepping for games, teaching instead of spending hours grading math papers, and focusing on coaching kids into the best athletes they can be.
  • I don't do it to be recognized - if you are doing it for recognition, you are doing it for the wrong reasons.
  • I don't do it so my kids get special privileges at school - they can do that on their own by being good students and good citizens.
  • The volunteers I've worked with have become great friends.  Sure, we can bitch when it comes down to others that don't help, but our common bond at the end of the day is feeling pretty damn good at what was accomplished.
  • I don't just volunteer when it comes to my kids school or their sports.  I'm the first one to step up at work when something needs to get done.  I'm a firm believer in that we are all in this together, and sometimes you just need to dig in and help.
  • I've stopped worrying about others helping.  They have their reasons, which frankly are not my concern.  Everyone has their reasons why they do, or do not, want to help.  I can only hope that when there is a need, we will find the way to get everything done.
  • I let people that complain about what volunteers do or don't do roll off my back.  The only way to make a difference in what a volunteer does is by helping.  If you don't want to help, don't expect to get buy in from those that do.
  • I volunteer in hopes that my kids following in my footsteps.  I certainly don't take all the credit, because my husband is right beside me when it comes to volunteering.  He may grumble when I sign him up to help, but he loves it as much as I do, and has spent years along side me helping, and even more years coaching teams that our kids did not play on.
  • I'm selfish in that I put volunteering on my resume.  It makes me appear more employable.
  • I don't question how a volunteer coach interacts with my kids.  Keep in mind, if there is a need, I would step in.  But in hindsight, they are volunteers.  They aren't getting paid to spend time with your kids, and having parents breathe down their necks make their job that much harder.  With that being said, if I had to step in, it would be done after the game, one on one with the coach.  It is never acceptable to criticize a coaches interaction or decisions in front of other parents or players.
  • I welcome criticism when making volunteer decisions...but keep in mind, if you aren't offering a solution, I probably won't listen to you.
  • I volunteer because I feel damn good at the end of the day when I do it. They might be long hours when getting ready for a sports season, lots of hours when you are helping glue googly eyes on art projects in kindergarten classes, and even longer hours spent editing hundreds of photos for peoples enjoyment.  
  • I've taken my love of volunteering and turned into into enjoyment for others.  I love the look on peoples faces when they go through a game day program that I've designed, or when I get like after like on pictures I've taken game after game.  (Note, I know they aren't perfect, but I try...and I'm willing to stand for hours on end hoping to get that perfect shot that is forever captured digitally).

All-in-all, I volunteer because I love it.  It's bittersweet going into my youngest son's final football season of high school (with any luck, he'll be playing past high school). I apologize to everyone that knows me, the next four months I will be knee deep in trying to keep the tears at bay, all while encouraging others to help out when I finally hang up my volunteer hat for this high school experience.   All I ask, is that when you see me walking towards you, don't walk the other direction.  You will get far more in return from volunteering than in the effort you will ever put out.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Here We Go Again

This has been a horrible year.  It's also been a great year.  Actually, I think it's been the last few years that have a mix of ups and downs.  

On the up side, we've gone through a high school graduation and admittance to multiple colleges.  We also went through high ACT scores, great GPA's, successful football seasons and general calm that comes through raising good kids.   We are on the cusp of two more graduations, another college choice and a sense of peace knowing our kids are on their way.

On the down side, the last year we have gone through multiple job changes. Some due to well thought through decisions, and unfortunately some not of our own doing.

Also on the down side, our family has eleven hospital visits and/or procedures and surgeries since October 2010.  For a family of four, that seems pretty high to me.  

Last week was a horrible week.  Coming off a trip to Austin for a tradeshow that I helped successfully execute, the week was filled with travel issues, a fried hard drive, and a coworker that is only happy when he is complaining about everything.  After getting back to the office and trying unbury, my husband called me at work Thursday to tell me he was heading to the doctor.  Now, for those of you that know him, and his stint at the hospital a few years ago, this was something that I wouldn't take lightly.  He hates doctors.  He hates hospitals.  He's also convinced that nothing will kill him.  I have to twist his arm when his doctor calls to get him to come in for a check up.

So I don't embarrass him, this particular incident that had him running to the doctor. The first thing that came to mind from our doctor was cancer.  No lead saying let's explore this further.  It was, call the hospital and make an appointment now.  Our doctor is one of the most attentive physicians I have ever encountered.  He is a teaching physician, and we often subjected to his minions checking us out first, only to watch them get yelled at when they misdiagnose.  I honestly believe that given the last stay in the hospital nearly took his life, our doctor will do everything in his power to make sure that whatever we face, we will do it as fast as possible.  

On Friday, my husband lost his job.  I'd like to ask why this is possible, but the company he was working for was shady at best, so it's probably a blessing in disguise.  Are the gods against us?  At times, we think yes.

Fast forward a few days, after a long weekend of uncertainty, and a plan to go back to school, the job situation is on the mend. 

Today was the hospital visit, and thankfully, everything turned out ok.  There will be a follow up, but there is nothing to worry about, other than some minor changes.

It is now 7:00 pm, a mere nine hours after the procedure, and my husband is on the phone with our doctor.  He had nothing to do with the procedure, but he called to check on him.  He is an incredible physician, even if he complains about not seeing us often enough.

Collectively, as a family, we tackle everything together.  We support each other without question and we will get through whatever is put in front of us.  I know that this just make us stronger as a family, because adversity builds character and this family doesn't know how to fail.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Turning 45

Yesterday was my 45th birthday.  I made it through the day with some fanfare.  I was greeted in the morning with kiss and happy birthday from my husband, three birthday cards (instead of two), and a great new monopod for my Canon.  Seems that our oldest has learned that mom likes birthday cards, even if it took him all day to say happy birthday after I subtly reminded him.

I would have loved to take the day off work, but I'm in the final hours of planning a trade show, and it seems as if everything rests on my shoulders.  I would probably be much further along if I didn't have to jump through hoops to get every little thing approved.  I guess, though, since I've only been with my current company for a little over seven months, I should be pleased with what I can get done.

So, what did I learn yesterday, now that I'm closer to 50 (yikes!)?  I learned (knew) that my husband and boys, inlaws and mom love me and wanted to make sure I had a good day.  I also learned that the family you are born into isn't necessarily the same family that you have at 45.  With four siblings, three sib-in-laws and nine nieces and nephews, I heard from one sister-in-law, her daughter and son and another niece.  I can't say that I'm surprised.  If you've read any of this blog before, you'll know that unfortunately I'm not that close with my side of the family.  I'm thankful that I did hear from many on my husbands side, who I am happy to say are my family too.

I also had Facebook greetings, texts, IMs and emails from about 150 friends, cousins and colleagues.  I think that's pretty cool.  I hope that I successfully responded to each and every one of you.  I even had one this morning that was a really nice message, only the find out it was deleted.  You know who you thanks for the wishes C!

I'll be honest...I don't always remember to wish my family happy birthday wishes (unless they are on Facebook!)...but it doesn't mean I'm not thinking of them and that I don't love them.  I do.  And now, realizing that I don't always remember, I will make every effort to call, text, email, tweet, and run up to their house with a birthday cake, balloons and a pinata.

All in all, 45 isn't any different than 44, except my knees hurt a little more, I don't need quite as much sleep (only on the weekends), and I need to officially debunk the rumors my children spread saying that I'm old.  I'm not old, boys.  I'm getting better with age.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Peace, Relax and Avoid

There is no greater peace then having a three day weekend and actually not focusing on anything.

We planned on heading out for Memorial Day weekend, so I was proactive and decided to take a PTO day on Friday.  My husband and oldest son had work, and my youngest had school and track practice.  While I anticipated having to get some office work done because I am in the middle of planning our biggest tradeshow of the year, I figured I'd have some downtime to get some laundry done, finish packing and get some errands in.  Thankfully, I wrapped up my to-do list by 9:00 am, and then proceeded to work the ENTIRE day.  I'm not talking until 5:00.  I'm talking working until nearly 5:00, and then after packing my laptop, along with a gigantic bag of work crap in the back of the truck, I pulled out my laptop and continued to work remotely in the truck on our roadtrip.  Thankfully, my battery died and I just didn't care enough to get the charger out.

Given the tradeshow is just outside the three week mark, I figured I would work over the weekend. I tried, sort of.  Saturday morning after picking up groceries, I broke out my laptop and opened my work bag.  After answering a couple of emails and sent queries that needed quick responses, I sat there...and did nothing.  I had a stack of things I could accomplish while waiting for responses.   I realized that I spend way too many hours working and vowed years ago, after often working 60 hour weeks, that I wouldn't do that again.  I immediately put everything away, and barely touched my phone over the weekend.  I tried working on the way home Monday afternoon, and made it for about 30 minutes, thinking I would pick it up Monday night.  Nope, didn't do it then either.

I have a to do list that grows daily.  I'm responsible for (or will touch) just about every item for the show.  My one saving grace for backup decided to take a full week of vacation this week, so its all been dumped put on me.  Add that to every other responsibility leading up to a product launch, press releases, eblasts, research, databases, content creation, intern training and making sure that everything for the show executes seamlessly.  Today I was tasked with listening to and transcribing an hour long webinar hosted by my not looking forward to this project.  My downtime lately is being used to finish tweaking the book I'm writing, gathering information for our sons football program, soliciting donations and advertising for the upcoming season, along with every other normal home activity.  Thank God that my husband is right by my side, so I'm blessed with the yardwork being done on a Wednesday afternoon, instead of being saved for the weekend where our entire family would tackle it.

Don't get me wrong.  I love staying busy. I don't know how to not stay busy.  Actually, that's not quite right.  There are days I get home from work and I'll I want to do is sit on my ass and do nothing.  You all know how much I love to read; and I am still able to do that.  I get to spend time with my husband, and boys now they are both home and under our roof again.

In three weeks I'll be three days into a trip to Austin for the show.  My days will be filled with the show floor and talking up our products.  I'm hoping my nights involve a quiet dinner, a king bed and the remote control (Kindle, movie, a tub full of bubbles and get the picture).  On the fourth day, I'll be wrapping up and flying home.  One day post show, I am refusing to go to work.  I will not take a PTO day, but comp time instead.  I will sleep in late.  I will not answer my phone, or email or instant messaging.  I will avoid the office and instead curl up in bed and put the finishing touches on my book, and then spend the entire weekend shut down from anything electronic. Wishful thinking, right?

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Seasons Changing, Kids Growing Up and the Empty Nest

How is it possible that we've crossed over the half way mark in May?  I feel like it was just yesterday that we were sending our kids off to their junior years in college and high school.  Lately, time is speeding by so fast, it seems as if we are missing out.

I honestly don't know how we functioned when our kids did track, baseball and football. From March until November, our weeks were taken by carpooling, practices and games.   Our calendars rarely had free time available.  I'm thankful our boys decided to opt out of wrestling in favor of snowmobiling.

Our late nights were filled will washing uniforms in hopes that we could get the stains out of white pants before the next game.  Those of you with Little League players; no I didn't use fels naptha soap on the white pants to get out grass stains.  I used bleach and oxy crystals.  No harm, no foul...and I'm not sorry.

I was at the athletic complex on Friday night to watch the track meet, but was also able to poke my head in on baseball tryouts.  I kind of miss it.  And, I kind of don't.  Our kids were lucky enough to make the teams they tried out for.  I always felt bad for the kids that would walk away dejected.   Unfortunately, the best players don't always make the teams.  Sometimes, like life, it's about who you know, and not what you know.  We witnessed kids making teams that shouldn't have.  This doesn't stop with baseball.  We notice it with other sports as well.  I've heard it all... I've even heard that our kids shouldn't make teams.  So be it.

While it's frustrating that we are already halfway through May, I'm looking forward to summer leading in to fall and watching our youngest be part of his final season of Varsity football.  Will he play in college?  Who knows...only time will tell.  Our oldest went the same route and played for three years, then opted to focus on school.  I couldn't be more proud of that decision.  

I'm looking forward to what our kids do over the next year.  A friend of ours posted today that her daughter (that played on our son's youth baseball team), got a full ride to the college of her choice.   What a great accomplishment.  I would love for that to be the case with our youngest as well, and know that he working his butt off to make that happen.  I'm also looking forward to our oldest walking across his stage in the near future. 

High school and college are always a series of ups and downs.  I've watched our kids thrive and struggle.  I've watched their friends do the same. They've been praised by teachers, coaches and friends; and shit on by the same.  There has been excitement and sadness, and stupidity and genius.  This next year we will watch decisions being made about futures and look forward to giving advice, since we've been through it.

I don't anticipate our empty nest happening in the next year, two or even five.  It could be many years down the road.   Watching your kids grow up is the most frustrating and exciting time as a parent  You hope that you raised them right and they have learned to not allow others to put them down or step on them.  You know you've done something right when adults, teachers and coaches enjoy their company and when you see your children holding intelligent conversations with them.  You hope that their relationships with friends and others are strong and not one sided.

As we lead into summer, fall, winter and spring....I will continue to count the days until graduation next year (363 and 390) and the next chapter of all of our lives.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Writing Retreat

I follow Jane Green on social media because I really enjoy reading what she writes.   Her books, her blogs, even her tweets get to me. This week she is at a writing retreat, and working on a new project.

It got me thinking about downtime and how great it would be actually have the opportunity to have solitude when writing.  I've been writing a book for the past year or so, and it's been an up and down experience.  It was all guns blazing when I first started writing...then it cooled off significantly.  After about nine months, I picked it up again and am happy to say that it's getting close.  Or I think it's getting close.  It certainly isn't ready to be edited or read yet, but maybe in the next few weeks.

Next weekend we head on a mini vacation and I'm hoping that I can spend some time sitting at the picnic table, enjoying the outdoors and getting some much needed editing done.

I would love to get to a point where writing wouldn't just be something I do as an outlet, but a career.  Writing gives me a chance to express myself and essentially just get things out.  There are so many topics that I'd like to cover, but I don't, for fear of offending people.  My friends laugh at that comment, because I am a pretty open person.  My reticence to criticize is for the benefit of my kids.  Do I think when they are grown that I will unleash all hell?  Probably not.  I'm all talk.  I will however expand on things I do write and have a little more fun.

The thought of spending an uninterrupted week at a retreat is pretty intriguing.  Waking up when you want, spending hours sitting on the beach or in a sun room overlooking a forest sounds simply blissful.  Hours upon hours jotting down thoughts and making what is my mind come alive.   

To date, I write while watching TV; I write when I get stressed at work and can spare a few minutes; I even write on my phone in my notes app when sitting at a stop light.  Until the opportunity presents itself where I could get that uninterrupted week (even a weekend will do), I'll take whatever I can get.  

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

I'm Just A Mom

Is there such a thing as being just a mom?

I won't take all the credit for raising our boys.  I couldn't have done it without the help of my husband, in laws, my parents, family and the rest of the 'village' that it takes to raise children.

I, however, am just a mom.

I'm the one that didn't think I'd ever go into labor with either child.
I'm the taker of bad dreams. 
I'm the kisser of boo boo's.
I'm the authority on homework.
I'm the doer of laundry.
I'm the grocery shopper.
I'm the maker of meals.
I'm the editor of papers.
I'm the advice giver.
I'm the one that needs to watch her language.
I'm the one that laughs at all jokes, even if some I don't understand.
I'm the shoulder to cry on.
I'm the one behind the camera trying like might to get them to smile.
I'm the organizer of schedules.
I'm the stalker online.
I'm the one that gets texts at midnight, and 5 am.
I'm the one that needs an I love you before bed and a hug and kiss when they leave.
I'm the stern voice at the dinner table when things get out of hand.
I'm the one that feeds friends.
I'm the one that remembers birthday's and anniversaries.
I'm the one that volunteers (the family).
I'm the fielder of "ask your mom" questions.
I'm the one that caves when badgered...and they know it.
I'm the one that cries looking at old pictures.
I'm overly protective.
I'm the 'doer without' so my kids can 'do'.
I'm the one that gets hurt emotionally.
I'm also the one that loves unconditionally. 
I'm fiercely loyal to my children.

I don't doubt my husband's list is just a long, and overlaps this list in some areas.   It does take a village to raise a child.  Could I have done things better?  Probably some things, yes.  But our kids are our kids and they were raised to be strong, smart, loving young men.  I'm o.k. with that.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Things I Want My Kids to Know This Mothers Day Eve

As we lead up to Mother's Day, there are a few things I would to add and/or modify to this list I found on   (  
  1. Learn to cook.  I know I push you out of the kitchen, but I really want you both to learn how to make some key meals, so at some point when you move out you a) don't starve to death and b) can impress whatever girl you are trying to woo.
  2. Love with all your heart, but don't let anyone step on you.    Make them chase you.
  3. Trust your father.  He's been there, he's done that.  Don't mistake his use of the word 'dumbass' when you do something less than perfect; he's saying it out of love and because he too at one point was a 'dumbass'.
  4. Learn to change a flat tire, change oil and do anything mechanical.  You don't need to overpay to do something you are very capable of.
  5. Visit your grandparents.  They won't be here forever.
  6. Listen to to me when I become the 'homework Nazi'.  I've been through high school, I've been through college.  I know what needs to be done to keep your teachers/professors off your back.
  7. Be sure you have pets.  They will love you unconditionally; just remember to feed them, bathe them and let them outside.
  8. Laugh.  A lot.  I'm talking rolling on the floor laughing your ass off, laughing.  Enough that it will make the dogs go running.  It cures all ails.
  9. Don't forget that your brother was your first friend.  He will be there when others walk away.  You may tolerate each other, but I expect that you do it with a smile on your face.
  10. Speaking of smiles, when I ask to take your picture, please smile.  We have enough pictures that show gritted teeth, flipping of the bird, and showing of the 'minivan'.  
  11. Visit your grade school, middle school and high school teachers and coaches.  You never know what it does for their morale when you go back and say thank you.
  12. Say please and thank you.  And open doors for others.  This just doesn't apply to girls.  
  13. When someone is talking to you, give them your full attention.  
  14. Be nice to your dad and I.  We are your lifeline.  We have the ability to make your life miserable, even if you are an adult.
  15. Remember, we aren't the enemy.
I will never claim that I was a perfect child growing up.  I wish that I had lists like this to reference because it would have saved many headaches.

Remember, boys, I love you with all my heart, and dad and I will do anything we can to help you reach your goals.  Happy Mothers Day to me.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Mending Family Ties

How is it possible that you can grow up in a house with five kids, and as you grow older, you grow apart?  I'd like to say that what I remember best about growing up in a large family was all of the fun we had.  Instead, I remember being the youngest, and called an accident, or that my parents didn't want me until they had me.  I remember being close to the youngest boy in my family (who is still seven years older than me); being in awe of my older sister (who I thought was the coolest because she drove a 1976 Cutlass, and then I drove one too); being tortured by the second oldest son in our family who liked to treat me as his own tickling doll; and having nearly no relationship with the oldest son in our family who is 13 years older...the relationship only started after he married.

I come from a family that now has eleven grandchildren, five great grandchildren, and I believe four pseudo-step-grandchildren.  I say I believe, because I'm not quite sure.  I don't have the relationship I'd like to have with my nieces and nephews.   I blame it on distance...and time.  Things happened that broke the family apart.  I hate that my kids don't really know their cousins.

I saw a picture this week of my oldest brothers family, and I really tugged at the heartstrings.  I miss them.  All of them.

I miss all my nieces and nephews. I want to meet their children.  I want my kids to realize that there is more than just the two of them.  They have family.  A lot of family.

I'm thankful that I married into a family that is close.  Cousins are really more like siblings.  Siblings fight, then make up.  We get hugs and kisses from nieces and nephews and we giggle when get together.  We chuckle when the topic of discussion revolves around 'what happened way back then,' or when topics get repeated over and over again. 

Someday I hope that the relationship I have with my family will mend.  I don't want to reflect on life standing at funeral on what could have been.  I wish my siblings used social media so they would see this.

I can guarantee that no matter how mad I would be at my kids, their spouses and their kids, I would never, ever, cut them out of my life.  There is nothing more important than family.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

The Push to Finish Strong - One Year Later

A year ago today, I posted this blog on our kids push towards the end of their sophomore years.  Here we are, a year later, and they are back at it.  Here we are, ending their junior years.  Time seems to fly by faster and faster as our boys get older.

Shawn has just eleven classroom sessions left this second semester of his junior year.  A drawing final (which is very cool, and very him), a painting final (also cool, and an image of something he truly loves), a fifteen page art history final and subsequent exam, and a biology final, plus Springfest and multiple fraternity meetings, stand in his way of fourteen weeks of summer freedom.  He'll start work a few days after he gets home, and spend his free time weightlifting, hanging out, and hopefully sketching on a new art tablet he wants to buy.  

Ryan has a little more time to deal with his end of year prep.  An AP Calc exam, an ACT exam that he's retaking right after the end of the school year to push his score a little higher, a football combine, a college visit, several track meets and various assignments and exams stand between him and his of which where he will work a few hours a week, lift a couple of hours a day, and get ready for his senior year of school and what will be his last year of high school football.

Over the summer as a family, we'll try to spend some downtime away from the city.  As parents, the college discussions will take the forefront and college visits will be planned.  We'll spend many, many hours trying to come up with a game plan and give our youngest the same opportunities our oldest received. 

The last year has had ups and downs, but I couldn't be more proud of who our boys have become.  Knowing that we have one son that is leading in towards his final push to finish his college degree, and one that is starting to plan his college experience, is all the reason to spend downtime with our kids.  As they get older, I know they will want to spend less and less time with us, so I will try to soak up as much time now as they will allow.

There is no manual when it comes to raising kids.  We struggled just like other families, but we thrived as well.  We have healthy, well adjusted, strong willed children.  They are smart, and talented and know what needs to be done to succeed.  Both Doug and I smash heads with our kids when it comes to what we believe is right and what they think they know.   Some day they'll realize that they should have listened to the two people in their lives that know them best.  The two people that want them to succeed in everything they do.

The Push to Finish Strong - Originally posted 4/28/2014
It's the push.  The push for my kids to finish out their respective sophomore years strong.  With a sophomore in college and a sophomore in high school, their lives couldn't be more different or more similar.  One is focusing on trying to pick out the right classes in the right order so he can move on with his life, while balancing a full class schedule, clinical education sessions, art projects, football practice, weightlifting practice and his fraternity.  The other is focusing on his current classes, which are just a small stepping stone to the next level, while balancing track season, weightlifting, deciding whether or not to try out for baseball, anticipation of a job, football camps, a drivers license and next football season. Add to that encouragement from mom and dad to start thinking about that next level and the possibility of playing college football and picking that right college.

When I think back to my sophomore years in high school and college, they were definitely laid back.  At least in my eyes. I knew that I wanted to go into accounting (which never happened) and was anticipating getting my drivers license while balancing classes and track schedule.  My sophomore year of college was much different.  I came home after a year at UWW.  It just wasn't for me.  I went to MATC for a year, lived at home and worked a 30 hour a week accounting no less.  My parents didn't push me.  I was the fifth of five kids and by the time I graduated high school I knew I wanted to go to school, but I wasn't quite sure why.  When I think back, I should have finished what I started when it was right in front of me.  It took me 17 years to finish college.

The amount of stress that children, both young and adult, is overwhelming.  Sure, they have downtime.  The play video games, they hang out with friends, but the pressure to succeed is always there.  At least in my kids minds.  My husband and I pressure, I mean encourage, our kids to succeed.  There is no reason why they shouldn't succeed with the tools they have been given.   I saw Pinterest post on Facebook tonight that said "In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college."  Where have we gone wrong?  Have our standards of education been simplified over time?  Are we now ok with barely passing to get through life?

I hope that the lessons I've taught, and my husband supported and taught on his own, are taken to heart by our kids.  Like most parents, there are days that my kids think we are the enemy.  We push them to succeed... but we encourage their failures.  Not on purpose, but we know that they only way they will learn is by trial and error.  I truly believe that they know that we do this out of love.  When they have children of their own, I hope the lessons we've taught are morphed into lessons of their own.

We've built a solid foundation for our kids to grow and thrive.  It hasn't been all lollipops and butterflies.  There have been trials and sacrifices. But I know for certain, they know we love them, unconditionally.  And we can't wait to see them finish out their respective educations and go on to great things.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Raising Boys

I think my new favorite website is  A friend posted an article this morning from the site and I found myself going back several times today.

This particular article hit home:

When my husband and I started planning our family, I always envisioned two kids - a boy and a girl.  I thought it would be perfect.  We didn't want more than two - we needed to be able to tag team them (I grew up in a five-kid family; my parents didn't know what hit them).  Fast forward to going through my first pregnancy, we had no idea what the sex of our first child was.  At 18 weeks during my first ultrasound, we asked if we could find out.  We lived in a small apartment and we wanted to know how we could start planning.  Needless to say, there would be no finding out the sex.  Our future child's ass was promptly facing out.  That's all we saw.  Kind of a "kiss my ass mom and dad" view.   At 40 weeks, there was no hope in sight.  I thought I was going to be pregnant forever.  At 41 weeks and one day, we did another ultrasound.  This time, the doctor offered up the option to find out.  Ummmm, no.  We waited this long, we can wait a few more days...unless of course I was never going to give birth, then I wanted it out at that very minute.  Five days later, a bouncing baby boy was born.

Fast forward four years and we decided to try for another baby.  Thankfully, I was able to get pregnant relatively fast.   At 19 weeks, and my first ultrasound...we were eager to find out.  My husband and his friends from work had a bet going.  They all believed he was having a girl, since the wives of four guys he worked with were having five (one set of twins) girls.  They were convinced it was in the water.  This time we were able to find out.  I crossed my fingers and hoped that whatever we had would be healthy...and convinced myself that that is all that mattered.   We found out we were having a second boy.  In all honesty, we were happy with that. We live in a small(ish) house, and if we were pregnant with a girl, there would be a move in our near future.   After we left the doctors appointment, my husband promptly called the guys at work and beamed (gushed, laughed, screamed) that we were having a boy and that they owed him a soda, or ribs; I can't remember exactly what the bet was.  For a split second, there was some disappointment, because I always thought I wanted a girl.  Then I realized that I wouldn't make a good mom for a girl.

I grew up as a tomboy.  The neighborhood boys can attest to that.  My three brothers can attest to that.  And my sister, who was a tomboy, could attest to that.  There would be playing with dolls; or painting toenails or doing hair.  There would be no screeching girls at sleepovers, or broken hearts (who was I kidding) when the boy they wanted to date was going out with someone else and didn't know she was alive.   There would be no dance lessons, or trying out for cheerleading.

As our boys grew up, we have experienced everything you would think that would come with having boys.  I'm privvy to farts and burps at the dinner table (yes, I laugh...I try not to, but I do).  I have to put up with smelly football and baseball cleats and uniforms that have to be stripped off in the driveway.  I also get to use my boys for their strength, and can get their help when we move furniture, or bring in groceries (testing the theory that you only need to take one trip from the truck) or cut grass or need to wrangle a dog into the yard.

I've been blessed with boys that have gigantic hearts and love with everything they have.  There is nothing better than getting a hug and kiss before bed, or an "I love you momma" text from college.  The relationship a mom has with her son(s) is like no different than a dad and his daughter.  

Our youngest son opted not to go to his junior prom.  I'll admit it; I'm kind of heart broken.  I didn't go to my prom...I hung out with friends, then went to coronation and finished out the night drinking (I don't recommend this).  I wanted to have him have some that I didn't have.  I think it's easier for boys to get away with not going, as opposed to a girl not going.  Had we had girls, there would have been tears.  I don't think I could have handled that.  Instead, he spent the night like any other night.  I anticipate he'll go to one or more dance next year, but if he doesn't that's ok too.  

Our boys have been raised to show their emotions.  There has never been a time where we've told them to hold it in and be a man.  I think by allowing them to express their feelings, they will be better men.  It will take a very special girl to capture each of their hearts.

Getting validation for how we raised our children is always in the back of my mind.  It is definitely nice when you hear from a teacher when they say "what a pleasure it is to have your son in class", or "your son helped so-and-so with her homework", or from a coach or teacher that "your son is very talented in art/chemistry/football/ should be proud of them".  

I would never trade having boys.  I will take everything gross and scary they do/bring home/try to scare me with, in stride.  They have made me a better mom, because I am able to decipher what they are thinking (yes, sometimes I get in their heads and realize that I don't want to know what they are thinking).  I hope that I have taught them how to love unconditionally and I hope that they will each meet the girl of their dreams, that will learn what makes them tick, and that will love them unconditionally.