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.