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.