Friday, December 30, 2016

Leaving 2016 Behind

It's the eve of the last day of 2016.  This has been by far one of the happiest and most challenging years of my life.  As I'm nestled under a blanket and wanting to get back to writing, I knew that I needed to reflect on 2016 before hitting the ground running in 2017.

First, the good.  I published a book... I did it for myself, to prove I could do it, and am happy that some people wanted to read it.  My youngest got into the college of his choice, graduated high school in the top 15% of his class, and played in multiple college football games.  My oldest graduated college, and yes I cried at graduation.  My husband and I celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary and our 28th first date anniversary.  I had a great summer and fall taking senior pictures, and was able to take a season full of football pictures too.  We are on the end of our holiday vacation and we were able to ride nearly every day, with our whole family.

Now, the bad. My job was outsourced and I took a temporary position until I find something perfect and permanent.  My  mom's health forced her into a surgery that was unexpected, and a recovery that has been less than stellar, putting stress not only on her, but on the relationship with her children that do talk to her.  I've had to delete and block family from my social feeds because they find it necessary to spread info about me and my family.  Yes, I know when you post it on social that it's free game, but it hurts that instead of just asking a question about my life, info gets spun into something more. As both my husband and I get older, life gets harder and harder to do the normal day to day things. Knees creak a little more, elbows are sore at the end of the day and backs just aren't 25 years old anymore.

And then we have the bad that has or will turn out good.  My MIL moved from her home into an apartment where she has made new friends and began a new normal.  I had a fabulous series of interviews ten days ago that will hopefully turn into that perfect position.  My husbands home inspection business has traction, and we know some day that will be his career.  I started thinking about what I should write next, and if it is what I anticipate, I hope those I write about forgive me.  On the flip side, there is a novel brewing and I know it will be a best seller.

As 2016 rolls into 2017, life will get better.  They say that life is what you make it.  So I made a conscious effort a couple of months ago to think positive, to see the things I want and know that they will be mine.  To know that the law of attraction will bring more home inspections for my husband, a great job for myself, a teaching license for my oldest, and a great job to boot.  A successful college experience for my youngest.  A novel that makes people laugh, or cry or just think about life and how it makes them happy.  A blog that gets written at least a day a week, but more likely double that.  Family that worries more about their own lives than that of mine and my family.  Photography jobs that help launch a true career.  Health that turns the bend to be better.  Great getaway weekends that help refresh us.  A long snowmobile season. A reading list that gets successfully tackled. A spring, summer and fall of great weather.  A successful football season.  And health, wealth and happiness for us and all of our family and friends.

To any and all that read this.  I'm pleading with you.  Think positive.  I have a friend that swears by the law of attraction, so much that she no longer parks anywhere further than a few parking spots away from a door...even when fighting the holiday crowds.  I have a friend that built a new life after leaving corporate America, and now not only works from home, but travels and gets to see her kids more than she ever saw co-workers.  We all need to think more positive.  Life is too short to bring negativity into it.  I'm not saying its all going to be wine and roses, and unicorns and lollipops.  I'm saying that if I want to get that perfect job, I will have the perfect interview, write the perfect follow up note, and get after it, because I DESERVE IT.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Three Months Later....

Three months ago I posted this blog:  Three Weeks Later

It was the story of a couple that had become empty nesters and how they were handling life.  All in all it was quite a change.

Here we are three months later and things are decidedly different.  Sure, we spent Friday nights at the football field, both home and away, watching our boys team.  It was surreal because we didn't have a vested interest in the players.  Saturday's we traveled to our boys' college and away sites, to watch our youngest and his new team play.   We've adjusted to dinners being small and intimate, and I've learned to cook for two instead of four (I'm not happy about that!).  We have shared time with our oldest's schedule, when he hadn't been home for months.  I'm thankful for those few fleeting minutes in a restaurant after a Saturday game.  Laundry goes fast, dishes can be done in five minutes, and we never seem to run out of anything in the fridge or toilet paper in the bathroom.

The last two weekends have been something special.  The first weekend my husband and boys were at their annual bonding session at deer camp.  He was lucky enough to have both boys for nearly three days straight.  This weekend, we had both for Thanksgiving, albeit not at home, and then had our youngest with us at our cottage nearly four days.   Both are nestled back at school in their dorm rooms, and soon enough they will be home for Christmas.

We will never take for granted the amount of time we get to spend with our children, because before we know it, they will both be on their own, and sadly probably not five minutes from home.  I never realized how much I cherish those nights when I get a "love you momma" text, or they say goodnight without getting prompted with a text from me.

Leading into Christmas, I'm looking forward to our annual trip to the cottage to snowmobile (fingers crossed Mother Nature cooperates).  We've been doing it for about eight years.  If the weather doesn't go as planned, our getaway might change, and we'll spend time doing something else.  All I know is I'll have my boys with me...and that is present enough for me.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

All The Things I'm Thankful For

First and foremost, Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope today is everything you wanted it to be.  I hope you were able to spend the day with the people you, friends, your pets, or even by yourself.  Whoever or whatever makes you happy.

I'll be honest.  2016 has sucked.  There are days when I wake up and think that karma has taken a big crap right on our house. I've been looking for a new job for 10 weeks.    I took a temp job because frankly you can't live on unemployment, and I can't just sit at home sending resume after resume all in the hopes that someone will call me for an interview.

So, while I will continue to customize and send my resumes out every week, I will change the way I think about 2016, and focus on making 2017 better for every person in our house.

Today, I am thankful for all these things...

  • My marriage.  24 years and counting.
  • My kids.  18 and almost 23 years old.  Smart, strong, and truly nice kids.
  • My dogs.   Even though they drive me nuts, they are part of our family.
  • My house.   The roof over my head, and how 22 years ago we turned a house, into a home.
  • Our families.  Today we sat at a table with 18 people and laughed, and laughed, and laughed.  We aren't all related.  But we are all family.
  • Cars in our driveway.  
  • Meals on the table.  Sure, there are some nights that are full spreads, much like Thanksgiving dinner, but there are also nights where we make due with grilled cheese and soup, or breakfast for dinner.
  • My friends.  Friends from grade school, middle school, high school and college. Friends made from jobs. Friends I met because of who I married.  Friends made because our kids were in sports.  Friends made through marriages and after divorces.  Friends who get me.
  • Our home away from home.  Just a little place where we can go and get away from everything.
  • My Canon. My husband started me down this path years ago, and upgrades me when he can.  I'm always the person behind the camera, and I'm ok with that, because there are times that I can capture that perfect moment in time.  Maybe in 2017 I'll move from behind the camera.
  • Writing something and having it resonate with the reader.  I love when I write something, and people get it.
  • Making people laugh. Social media has allowed me the ability to write a post and have people laugh at it related to my neighbors, or ex-colleagues, or something someone in my house said.
  • Knowing that deep down, behind my sarcasm and the bad luck we have had, lies true happiness for every single person in my house, every single person in my family, and all my friends. 
For the next few weeks before the end of this year, I am going to change the way I think.... everything is going to be turned from negative into positive.  I want to roll into 2017 with a great job, another book published, pictures taken that get turned into Christmas cards, and true honest to goodness happiness.  You might be wondering, how the hell can that be done in five weeks?  I really don't know....but I'll figure it out.   There has to be a better way.  If anyone wants to join me on this journey, let me know.  I can use some encouragement. I think we could all use a better 2017.  

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Putting a Positive Spin on Something Negative

It's getting harder and harder to be positive.  Job searching is exhausting.  I've had dozens and dozens of phone interviews, in person interviews and skype calls.  I have said all the right things, schmoozed the right people, and thanked interviewers until my head hurt.

What I've realized is that companies want that perfect candidate.  They want someone that has exactly everything in the job description that they posted.  No matter it was probably written by a HR partner that really doesn't know diddly about the job at hand.

I truly believe that companies should be more flexible in what they are looking for and maybe take a chance on someone that has 75 or 80 percent of what they are looking for.  

Last week I had a great interview that turned into a second interview.  That second interview lasted two hours and I met with five people.  After we met, two of the interviewers requested me on LinkedIn.  I wrote fantastic thank you letters, that were customized to each individual conversation.

Low and behold, I'm not what they are looking for.  Mind you, when I left that interview I knew in my heart I had the job.  I said all the right things.  I took queue's from them when and how to answer.  I can't figure out for the life of me, why I'm not a fit.  And, surprisingly enough, I'm ok with not knowing why.  It's their loss.  Not mine.

Going into this weekend, I'm feeling pretty low about myself, my background, and if I really do know what I'm doing. I'd like someone to take the reigns and find me that perfect fit.  Sadly, I don't have that luxury.  Recruiters can only do so much, so I feel like I'm on an island.  

Needing to see the positive in this negative time is hard to do.  But here it goes:
  • I've been married for 24 years to the guy I met at my first day at college.  28 years later, we have two incredible boys who are truly the lights of our lives.  Three months ago, we started to rediscover us.
  • I have my health...sure my knees might creak and my back may hurt, and for the life of me my leg won't stop tingling, but all in all I'm pretty healthy.
  • My family is standing by my side.
  • I have a roof over my head, food on the table, clothes on my back.  It may not be the biggest house, it may not be lobster, and they may not be Vera Wang, but they are mine.
  • Our kids got into the college of their choice, and they love every minute of school (even though they may deny it)
  • I went back to school after 16 years away and finished with a 4.0 GPA and graduated Cum Laude.  No one can ever take that away from me.  It might not be an MBA, but it's what I wanted.  I went after it and I achieved it.
  • I've met some really great people at the companies I worked at...and I'm happy to say that I do still have some of them as friends. 
  • I have three awesome dogs, who might drive me nuts, and tend to pick sides, but they are still pretty great.
  • I picked new skills at each job I've held.  Each job has paved the way for my career, and I know that soon someone will realize that I'm perfect for their company.
  • I get to do what I love in my spare time.  Read, write and take pictures.  If I could make a career out of it, I would.
  • I've realized that there is a company out there that will appreciate my candor, my sarcasm, and my need to sometimes be left alone to do my job without interruptions.
  • Sometimes, at the most random moment, I'll see a post on Facebook, or get a text from a friend, that puts it all in perspective.
Time to start each day with a positive attitude.  Time to find that perfect fit.  Time to make the most of the photography jobs I get.  Time to write that next book...this time around, everything will make sense. 

Time to be me.  Only better. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Still Searching

Three weeks ago I wrote about losing my job.  I feel like I'm a professional job jumper/resume writer/interviewer extraordinaire.

There is nothing fun about being out of work.  Sure, I've been lucky enough to take some senior pictures, which I am so very thankful for...but I still feel like I'm failing my family.  I don't understand how people can be ok with being out of work.  A couple weeks off would have been sufficient, but I'm ready to go back to the grind.

I've had alot of interviews, both on the phone and in person, and what I felt was a pretty awesome opportunity where I am still waiting for a call back.  Even if they decide to go elsewhere, a note would be nice.  You know that moment when you leave an interview and the last thing said to you was "when can you start"...I was walking on Cloud 9.  That was a week ago.  Now I know some of you might say, it's only a week.  But that's one more week on unemployment.  One more week that you feel like opportunities are slipping out of your finger.  One more week of questioning whether or not you truly are good at what you do.

Some days, after I've done my initial hour search at 8:00 am, early scheduled phone calls, emails that need to be sent and photos that need to be edited, I tackle the laundry, straightening the bed, play with the dogs and then start thinking about prepping dinner, I sit back at the computer and just search.  I've stalked LinkedIn profiles, Facebook pages for keys into whether or not a friend might work some where that will be a good fit, websites of local companies and reached out to ex-colleagues that might have landed somewhere else.  I've sent follow up note, left voices and done my due diligence.  I've pulled out old recruiting books, job search guides and borrowed books on good karma.

A few nights ago I was restless in bed, and according to my husband screamed in my sleep.  I have no idea what I was dreaming about, all I know is I was exhausted the next day after not being able to fall back asleep.  Is this a queue to slow down on the search?  Wait for something to land in my lap? Go down a different path? Unfortunately, we are not independently wealthy. This is real life.  I can't just stop looking for a job.  It's not in my nature.

This isn't my first rodeo when looking for jobs. Both my husband and I have gone through this.  We haven't been ones to stay at company for 10, 15, or 20 years.  There are times when I'm jealous that we haven't.  The level of security must be something that helps a person sleep at night.  The level of monotony would get to me.

I've heard it all with friends sending quotes: "Good things happen to those that wait", "Things happen for a reason", and then the wishes of fingers crossed, you'll find something better messages, and just stay home and do your photography.  That's all fine and good, and I appreciate the messages...sometimes it's what keeps me going.

So here I sit, thinking about writing another book, one that will sell, and wonder if or when I'll get that phone call from an employer that actually wants me to join their team.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The Great Job Search

Here we go again.  I am furiously looking for a new job.

It doesn't matter that I sometimes worked 50 hours a week, often until 10:30 at night, on the weekends and vacation days.  It doesn't matter that I was doing more with less, and fighting an uphill battle where there were too many cooks in the kitchen.

What matters is that I have years of experience and will now probably face judgement because I'm not a 20-something fresh out of college or a 30-something with a few years of experience.

When I left high school, I took the traditional road to college.   It's where I met my future husband.  I spent a couple of years in school, we got married, and had kids.  I ended up going back to school 16 years after I started, graduating cum laude after taking 57 credits in a single year (short three credits for summa cum laude the university required), all while working full-time, serving on the board of Little League and helping my husband raise our two boys.

I've polished my resume, posted it on job sites and have done due diligence by checking with recruiters I've worked with in the past, old supervisors and colleagues, and customized my resume per position.  I've had many interviews in the last few weeks.

I'm not afraid of a new challenge.  It seems to be the norm in my career.  What I need a chance to prove myself.  Should I go back into marketing?  It's what I know.  Would I love to write or do photography full time?  That would be incredible, but without the chance, I don't see that happening.  I have friends that want me to tackle marketing Isagenix and working for myself. With two kids in college, that might still be a way off, but we will see.

While I'm off of work, walls will be painted, the basement cleaned, cabinets organized, all in hopes that when I go back to work life will be back to normal.

They say things happen for a reason. While I liked people I worked with, I wasn't happy in my position.  I would have liked to pull the plug myself, and unfortunately that didn't happen.

So, here's my plea.  I'm looking for a position that I can truly excel at. With 20 years of marketing experience, something has to give, right?  Leads are appreciated, opportunities welcome and offers blessed.  You can reach me here.   

Friday, September 9, 2016

Opinions are like assholes

Its three months post-graduation and life has definitely changed.  Both our boys are away at school and life as we know it is pretty quiet.   Yes, we go to Friday night football games.  Yes, I take pictures.  Yes, we go to work every day, and do yard work on the weekends.

I’m finding myself getting more and more irritated by things I read on social media.  I don’t doubt that my friends with kids older than mine had been irritated by my ramblings about volunteering or being proud of the kids or posts filled with 500 pictures or requests for photography jobs and links to my blog.  Or my countdown clocks to important days in our lives…you know like graduation, and snowmobiling.  I’m sure that friends I have now are irritated by my incessant need to post about my love of the word Fuck, or recipes that I have every intention of making, but never seem do make the time to do it.  Everyone’s lives are different and what might be tragic or life disrupting for them, might not even cross your radar.

Since graduation, there are many things I’m ridiculously happy about.  I no longer get phone calls from school saying my kid missed one or more periods, when in fact he was in school all day.  I no longer care that the school was on lockdown or that there was water in the gym.  Would I care if there was a shooter, yes, absolutely, because I am not a monster.  But for the water in the gym?  No, that’s just poor construction on the districts part.  I’m still involved with the football program, but don’t have the pressure of being involved 100% and could walk away at any time.   

It doesn’t matter to me what your child is doing now after graduation… sure, I’m curious, but in all honesty, it doesn’t affect me if your kid went into the military, went to a two or four year college or is slinging burgers.  They need to do what is right for them.   Now this may seem heartless.  That I should care about my friends kids and what they are doing with their lives.   I do, but not in the way you think.  I don’t jump up and down when little Sally gets her first job at TJ Maxx, or little Johnny decides that life sucks at home and he knows he can do better on his own.  I do care about my friends and the fact that their lives change, every time their kids’ lives change, because I’ve lived it.

As a parent you spend 18 years raising your kids and hope that you got everything right so when they make that next step, albeit college or a job and moving out, that they are not little assholes; that they don’t lie or cheat; or when you come across someone that had interactions with them, you are proud to say they are your child and not embarrassed by them.

Now back to social media.  I post things I probably shouldn’t because I think they are funny or offensive.  If that upsets you, feel free to unfollow or delete me.  Every time a friend posts something I don’t agree with, I don’t find it necessary to comment because frankly it doesn’t affect me.  Does that mean I’m going to delete them?  No, because you are entitled to your opinion.  There are days I want to go rogue on that delete button, because if I have to see one more cryptic message, I might blow a gasket. 

You know the ones.  “So tired”.  Could you elaborate?  Did you run a marathon or are you just tired from sitting at your desk today? 

How about that one friend that says “GM people,” at 6:00 am?  Every.Single.Day. I get it.  You love the morning…your happy. I’m going back to bed. 

Or those that only talk about one of their kids and not the other.  Weird, but not unheard of…I just wonder why.

And then the ones that are so cryptic that you can just tell they are waiting for someone, anyone, to say that they have your back, when clearly you are so delusional no one has your back but they say they do just to see what you respond.

I read and then scroll over political posts, because frankly I just don’t want to debate.  I respect my friends too much to get into with over something that could end a friendship.  I see your religious posts, and if that is what you like, more power to you.  I grew up in a Catholic household so I understand living your faith…I also will not comment because you have a right to choose if you worship God or a plant, just please don’t push it on me.  I stalk your pictures, and pictures of your sisters, husbands, daughters and friends.  Don’t judge me, I just got sucked in.

I had a friend message me this morning apologizing for not having me take her child’s senior pictures, when we had talked about doing them multiple times.  She’s been asked by other friends to do them, but has opted to go to an indoor studio so she doesn’t upset her friends.  My advice to her: do what is right for you and your child.  If they are your friends, they won’t get upset if you go with someone else.  I’m not offended…I promise you that.  There have been several instances where this has happened, and she is the first to say anything to me.  The others I just saw pictures taken by another photographer and was never told I wasn't doing them.  So be it.

So on this lovely September morning, my words of wisdom are this:  Life is too short to give a shit about things that don’t affect you, and that post you read that you think is about you probably isn’t.  And if it is, who cares.  It’s an opinion.  And opinions are like assholes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Three Weeks Later

This is the story of an old (~pseudo old~) married couple.  They met 28 years ago this month.  Four years after they met, they married.  A year after that had their first child, and four years after that their last.

Fast forward 24 years to the present.  Their boys are grown and at college.  They will come back on weekends and breaks, but for all intents and purposes, this couple is now an empty nest couple.

They have spent the last 24 years going to field trips and school sings, baseball practices and football games.  They went to conferences, until they realized that they didn't need to any longer because their boys were doing their homework.  They coached soccer and baseball teams.  They helped with homework and projects.  They picked out school clothes when the boys were younger, and handed over cash when they were older.  They watched when their youngest was in the hospital after a biking accident, and their youngest in the hospital he took a baseball to the face.  They've been their through surgeries and recoveries. They have been their through successes and defeat.  They witnessed their firstborn get his first tattoo (after a broken leg), his second (after recovery) and third (for his brother and their heritage). They saw their youngest accept an all conference nod, and scholarships from an alum of his chosen college who also happens to be his brother.

It's been 20 days since the youngest left for campus, nine days since the oldest left as well.  We have seen both of them multiple times in these last 20 days...the perks of having a campus so close to home.

Life as they know it has changed.  Dinners have been quicker to make (thinking two burgers and a salad, instead of six burgers, a salad, mac n cheese, pickles, chips and dip) or opting to go out instead; laundry is relatively painless; and the house has been quiet.  There are no boys upstairs gaming, or rough-housing.  Their dogs tried to sleep on their beds when they left, but end up in the couples room, most likely wondering when their brothers are coming home.  The nights laying in bed is often eerily quiet as there are no noises coming from their bedroom as the couple drifts off to sleep.

There have been phone calls and texts, and no doubt there will be more.  But there hasn't been good night hugs and kisses, when in reality who is to expect those from a 22 and 18 year old anyway?  (This mom...that's who).

Things will continue to evolve as this empty nest syndrome takes hold.  Trips to the cottage will be two people, two dogs, instead of the entire family.  Rooms will be cleaned and remain spotless until there is that one surprise visit.  Then chaos will ensue and the rooms will wait to be cleaned again, the couch cushions will have to be fluffed, the meals will be seven course, the laundry will pile up, the dogs will perk up, and this mom will get her hugs and kisses.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

An Almost Empty Nest

Well that's it.  The boys have moved into school.  Their rooms have been emptied and it looks like a ghost town in our basement.  Pillows are gone, Xbox's no longer light up the night and we don't hear them talking at 11:00 before bed.

We are lucky.  We will see our kids often before Christmas break.  We have the luxury of going to Saturday football games and being able to take them out to dinner after the win's.  We will see them for fall break, and rivalry week and for deer hunting.  

It is still like a ghost town in our house.  There are no creaky chairs moving on the second floor, or kids coming down at 9:30 to forage before bed.  There is no gently waking them before work in the morning (me, not my husband).  There have been mixed messages from friends that can't believe we can handle this...that their lifeblood is pretty much their children and they have no idea how we can handle not just one, but two kids gone.  Then the others that say give it a few weeks and it will be good.  Then the others that say fuck yeah, your free.

Frankly, I don't want to be free.  I like cooking for our kids.  I like watching Packer games on Sunday afternoon and the Walking Dead on Sunday nights.  I like the texts at noon asking what is for dinner and the "I love you's" before bed.

Now it's just different. Dinner last night took about five minutes to make and another five to eat.  There were no recounts of how the work day went because my husband and I talk throughout the day.  There were no tales of what went down at the playground for our youngest or what cool project our oldest worked on.

So why do I say this an almost empty nest?  Our kids will come back.  There will be those quick visits home, and four breaks a year. The oldest will move out, the youngest still has four years of college.  Some of our friends have kids that didn't go to school. That once they hit 18 or 19 they moved out on their own.  They are working jobs and want to get started on life.  Some moved into apartments, and some bought houses.  Others have kids that flew clear across the country to go to school or even across the ocean the serve our country.  Those parents might only see their kids once every few months.  I'm clinging to the fact that I will see ours a little more often, at least for the time being.

I don't foresee much will change.  It isn't like we were having family game nights or spending all our free time together.  We are just a normal family.  Two parents, two kids, two dogs.  We all have our own hobbies; we are tired after work; we eat meals together; we go on vacation together; and we are there when we need each other.

The empty nest syndrome is just a state of mind.  Although they aren't under the same roof right now, they know where home is.  It makes it a little easier to know they are together for this next semester.  And for the record, it's easier for me; they are brothers and could be across the country from each other and they would be fine.

Monday, August 1, 2016

What Makes This Mom of Boys Tick

I'll admit it.  I'm a wreck.  On the inside.  And a little on the outside.  Well a whole lot on the outside.  Maybe its the start of menopause.  Maybe its the baby leaving in 10 days.  Maybe it's the fact that no matter what I do or say, it never seems good enough any more.

Mom's of boys will relate.  When a son leaves his dad, that dad will still have his hunting buddy and his fishing buddy, and his watching horror movies partner.  When a son leaves his mom, she loses the one person she can take care of that appreciates home cooking, bandaids on booboo's, late night talks, and being needed.  Even if it means your son needs his green mids washed on a Thursday night at 10 pm for a Friday game.  Or that you need to run back to the store to pick up that one thing you forgot for his favorite cookies.  You were the one person in his life that would be there unconditionally, be their biggest fan and greatest allie, and the person they could count on.  It's not to say that dad's don't have that too, it's just different.

As we approach college move in day, I've come to the realization that life doesn't have to stop when your kids leave the nest.  I went through this four years ago when our oldest headed off to his first year of college, and had varying episodes of sadness/elation every year after.

I'm not sad that our youngest will be gone.  I know that we will see him virtually every weekend through mid November for his football games, and then after that the end of the semester will be here and he'll be home for a month.  We will text (I hope), and talk (please call), when he has time.  I will offer up editing of papers if necessary and his dad will be there if something goes wrong on his truck.

I'm not sad that our oldest is leaving too, a few days later, because I know that his journey is nearly over and he'll be moving on to the next phase of his life.

I'm sad that they grew up too fast.  It's a parents job to prep their child for the real world, or maybe be a barrier so their child doesn't turn into an asshole.  You spend 18 years prepping them to move away.  The lucky ones get them for more than 22, but life definitely changes once they are on their own, even if it is at college.

I am sad I won't get daily hugs and kisses and thank yous for making their lunch or favorite dinner on a Tuesday night.  I'm sad I won't be able to sit with them after practice while they eat dinner at 8 pm.

You send them with what they need, like Tylenol and sports cream, heating pads and enough socks to make it until the next time they are home.  But you are never really prepared that they actually can do their laundry, or make a meal, or remember to call their sibling on their birthday.  You aren't prepared to cook for two instead of four.  You aren't prepared to shop for fewer groceries.  And you aren't prepared that when you go into the freezer for a chocolate covered caramel ice cream cone that it will actually be there.

I don't know what it would be like to be the mother of daughters.  I know I was a handful, but not overly so.  I got away with a lot being the 5th of five kids so maybe by the time I was ready for college, my parents just were tired and wanted me out.  I wouldn't have made a good mom of girls.  Too many dance lessons, hair ties, prom dresses and drama.

I'll take my boys any day.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Life Moves Pretty Fast

Just five weeks ago our youngest graduated high school.  In 23 days he moves away to college.  Life as we know it is changing, and fast is an understatement.  

I, as a mom, am most definitely not prepared.  I'm not talking about making sure the laundry detergent is bought, and the sheets are washed, and the supplies are packed. (Frankly, none of that is done - we have purchased a shower caddy and two shower poofs).  I'm talking about the fact both of our kids will be gone and out of the house in month.  

I know my husband and I will survive just fine.  There will be fewer clothes to wash; groceries will be cheaper; and we will be able to walk out of a restaurant with a $30 bill instead of $80.  Sure, we'll have to tackle the yard work and shoveling snow together, but we do that now.  I will miss cooking for an army, because even though there are only four of us, I grew up in a house of seven and learned to cook for seven.  And since my mother learned to cook from her Polish mother, I learned that cooking for seven really meant cooking for 12.  So cooking for four, really means cooking for ten.  (I don't understand this logic either, just run with it).

Don't get me wrong.  I'll enjoy cooking for two, and then wait for the rare weekend when I can cook for all of us.   

Having kids means you are afforded an entirely new friend base.  You become close with your kids friends parents...and sometimes those friendships last longer than your kids friendships.  I've realized I'm in pretty good company when it comes to these friends.  Yesterday, one posted how much she wished her kids were younger again.  I miss those days, where the only thing that mattered was mom and dad.  Alas, your job as a parent is to raise your children to be healthy, well adjusted, contributing members of society, regardless of how much your heart breaks when you realize you aren't their whole world any longer, but just a piece of it.

Regardless of how I feel today about the fact that we will be pseudo empty-nester's in a month, life could be decidedly different.  I have a cousin who's son was paralyzed at 19, and now fights daily with the pain that came with a medical trial.  His parents are by far two of the strongest people I know.  The amount of shit they have tackled in the last few years is something that would make anyone of us curl up in a ball and suck their thumb. Nearly two weeks ago another wrench was thrown at them when the mom had an accident in their garden and lacerated her eyeball on a metal trellis.  She is in the same hospital where their son spent months of his life.  Thankfully, she is on the mend.

We have a friend fighting stage four cancer.
We have multiple friends that fought and won against breast cancer.
We have a scary amount of friends who divorced after 15, 20 and 25 years of marriage.
We have friends that lost not one, but two, of their children in accidents.
We have a friend who's spouse has trouble doing even normal every day tasks.
We have a friend who is raising her grandson because her daughter is fighting a horrible addiction both to a drug, and bad taste in men.

All of the friends mentioned above have kids.  Quite frankly, we are only friends with a couple of people that don't have kids.  I guess that just happens when you get older. 

So regardless of what you are going through, know that someone else is going through it too, or something worse, or different...or even having the time of their life. Enjoy the time you have with your kids, even if it means you'll only see them when they have time. Just remember, though, sometimes mom and dad come first, and we as parents need to lay the law, put down our feet, and most definitely piss off our kids.  It's your God-given right as a parent.  They'll thank you in the morning.  (Maybe not tomorrow morning.  Or the next morning....but some morning in the future).

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Boys Will Be Boys

Yesterday was an eye opener.  We've been married for nearly 24 years, and have two (relatively) adult male children, so eye openers have been a staple for 22 of those years.

Why relatively?  Well the youngest just turned 18 five days ago.  Granted, at times he seems more mature than anyone else in our included.  The oldest at 22 shows is mature, however, yesterday showed us he is still a kid at heart.

Our boys decided to hop in the truck and drive around town to catch the every elusive Pokemon.   This was a cartoon they grew up on and they collected all of the cards.  In fact, we still have those cards in various places in our home (desk, dresser, basement, possibly under a bed).  I wonder if they are worth anything...could they fund spring break? Part of me wants to jump on the bandwagon and run around town catching 'em all.  I used to love video games (Crash Bandicoot was my favorite), and I still spent mindless time playing Candy Crush Soda Saga on my phone.   The other part of me wants to relish in the fact that it is quiet in our house.   Better yet, this little adventure ensured they weren't fighting.  Thus, the eye opener.

In just four short weeks, our foursome will become a threesome once again, and then two weeks after that, the threesome will become a twosome.

I'm not yet in panic mode knowing they will both be gone.  I have begun the list.  Those parents with college age kids know what I'm talking about.  The list of all things we need to buy so they can live comfortably in a 12' x 10' room.  We have a better grasp on what needs to be bought and taken up for the first year, since four years ago we went through this.

This weekend (or next, or the weekend after that), will be spent washing clothes they will probably want to take; going through and organizing what games will be taken; and figuring out how many shorts a football player really needs for two-a-days.  We'll go shopping for sheets, and cases of Gatorade, and decide whether or not to buy paper plates or go without.  The youngest will be on the lookout for posters, and I'll be in the school supply aisle silently sobbing to myself.

We know that we will still see our boys quite a bit.  Since our kids will be at the same college for four months while our oldest finishes a minor, and our youngest will be playing football, we will be on campus.  What will be different is knowing that after we watch a Saturday game, we'll hop in the truck and head back to an empty house, where we know there will be milk in the fridge, treats in the cupboard, and quiet.

As a mom, I love the time we spend with our grown kids.  Last weekend, we took our 18 year old to see "The Secret Life of Pets", and in a few weeks we will all take a mini vacation and spend time together before they leave for the semester.

Our family dynamic is changing.  I grew up in a house where once my siblings hit 15 or 16, they were never home.  I was the one home with mom and dad.  Being 8 or 9 at the time, when the next youngest flew the coop, I felt like an only child.   Sure they came back occasionally, and even after two moved out at 18 they came back, but it never really felt like that Norman Rockwell family.  Does that mean that we have that Norman Rockwell family?  Not a chance in hell.  And frankly, I don't want that.  That's just too much damn pressure.

We love each other unconditionally.  We cheer each other on.  We laugh at each others jokes.  We laugh at each other.  And we fight.  Oh boy do we fight.  Does that mean as a family we have problems and can't cope?  No, it just means that sometimes I am right and everyone else in the house in wrong.  (Sorry honey...I know, I know.  You are the one that is always right).  It actually means although we value each others opinions, sometimes they just suck...and we will tell you that they suck.  Then we'll sit down for a dinner of homemade spaghetti, while I try not to laugh when one or more of the three males in the house farts to get me to laugh.

I wouldn't trade having two boys for anything in the world.  

Friday, July 8, 2016

I Have Been Deleted....

....and you know what?  I don't care.

It has taken me years to come to grips that I cannot please everyone.  I was not put on this earth to keep my mouth shut, or to coddle those around me.  I have realized that when someone deletes you, they are the one with the problem.

Yes, I have spoken loudly about deleting a host of people on my social sites after the boys graduated.  Did I?  A few, but not as many as I thought I would.

I was deleted by a family member today. This was the second time in two years that I have been summarily dismissed and told to have a nice life.  The first time was shortly after I spoke out about how our city, and our students, were represented in the media.  Six months later, I was re added...with a host of 'love you's', 'how was the game' and 'you must be so proud' messages.

This time, it stems from not sharing a hard copy of a picture that the person felt they had a right to.  It wasn't my picture to share, and told that person as much.  I was told today that I hold grudges; that I'm mad because they didn't show up to the boys party; and that they are sick of how I treated them.

Anyone that knows me, knows I wear my heart on my sleeve and that I do what I can to please those people around me.  I bend over backwards when it comes to keeping the peace among family and friends.  Yes, I might be loud and in their mind uncouth, but I call it like I see it, and it's taken me years to really not care about what people say.

So why write this down?  It does seem like I hold grudges, and that I do care.

I wrote this down as a reminder to myself that when someone doesn't get their way, it's their fault, not mine.  We don't have to please people 100 percent of the time.  Those that I'm friends with online know what they get with me.  They can keep me in their feed and listen to my ramblings on my blog, check out my pictures, and see my posts about how my favorite word is fuck.  They can keep me as a friend and unfollow me, so they can stalk me when they feel the need to read something I said.  Or they can delete me.  

I promise, I won't be offended, I just don't care. It's ok if you don't want to read my blog, see me post 100 pictures of a weekend away or a football game, post a recipe that I just have to try, or see me tagged in a picture of clown and wonder why I hate them so much. I'll still say hi to you if I see you, or maybe I won't.  I won't know that until the opportunity presents itself.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Life is One Big Countdown

1 day.  Tomorrow our baby turns 18.  That's impossible, right?  It was just yesterday that he graduated high school.  It was just yesterday that he played his last high school football game.  It was just yesterday that he joined track.  It was just yesterday that he ran the bases.  It was just yesterday that he went to the petting zoo.  It was just yesterday that he was born.

26 days.  In 26 days there is a mandatory high school football meeting that means absolutely nothing to us any longer.  A little piece of my heart is torn because of that.

27 days.  In 27 days, my husband won't know what to do with himself after work.  His old normal would be heading to the field to watch practice.  His new normal will be something decidedly different.

31 days.  In 31 days we will go back to our happiest place on earth and spend the weekend decompressing after a busy summer, and relaxing before college picks up. 

36 days.  In 36 days we will drive our youngest to college.  We'll pack up his clothes and TV.  His Xbox, his books, and his football.  His laundry detergent, cases of water and Gatorade and enough Pop Tarts and beef jerky to get him through two-a-days.  He'll go to the same college his brother went to, take completely different classes, have day after day of football practice that lead into Saturday games, study Chemistry and in his own words "blow shit up", and join a fraternity where he is a legacy.

37 days. In 37 days we may swing by the high school football field to watch the scrimmage for the new season.

47 days.  In 47 days, our oldest will finish his minor, to add to his major.  He wants to teach and coach at the middle school level...he also wants to design and build things.  We'll see which path sticks.

47.5 days.  In 47.5 days, we'll do one of two things.  Jump for joy that they are both settled, or cry like babies because they are gone. (Your guess on which one of us does each).  Will we also stare at each other and not have anything to say?  Will it become the new normal?  Will my husband really embark on the new naked room in the house?  (Sorry kids!)  Will I have time to write another book or finish my photography book?  Will we go on vacation alone?  Will we stop running out of milk, toilet paper, paper towel, bottled water?

52 days. In 52 days, our youngest will be playing at the collegiate level in the scrimmage that leads into the season.  We'll be there with smiles on our faces, and provisions in the truck.

59 days.  In 59 days we'll travel to the first away game of many.  We'll sit in the stands and cheer from the sidelines. I'll take pictures and try to capture these moments.

91 days.  In 91 days we'll be married 24 years. It seems like just yesterday he asked me to marry him.  Or even the day of, standing in the vestibule at Holy Apostles, where my father took my hand, looked me in the eye and said "Are you sure?  The car is parked right outside the door.  We can leave now."  (Side note, we've been together for 28, so in my mind it's really 28 years of marriage.)

103 days.  In 103 days it will be fall break.  I have no idea when we will see either of our boys.  One can only hope they end up at home.

131 days.  In 131 days is the final regular season game.  Yet another season that will go by too fast.

137 days.  In 137 days the crew will head out for deer hunting season.  Unless the team makes playoffs.  Then will we adjust on the fly.

5 1/2 months.  In 5 1/2 months, first semester will be done.  Our youngest will be tired, our oldest relieved.  We'll be leading into Christmas and our annual family vacation.  

2017 is right around the corner.  Another year will go by way too fast.  Our kids are grown and nearly out on their own.  I will still worry about them, and ask they call or text when they get somewhere they are going.  They will call when they advice, or are homesick. I'll watch for those texts that say "I love you" or "hi mom" or "I aced that test mom!) (HINT HINT BOYS!).  All a parent can ask for is that they are safe, healthy and happy (and that they make good choices).  And hope that once in a while they come back for a visit. Remember, boys, there is no place like home.

Friday, July 1, 2016

It Sucks Getting Old

Yes, I said it.  Here you are, a thirty-something, minding your own business: raising your kids; working your job; date nights with your spouse; volunteering for everything...then BAM!  Your 46.  You have trouble getting up in the morning.  Your back aches.  Your tired...all the time.

This week I decided to bite the bullet and go see my doctor.  Mind you, I've chatted with him online when I need a med refilled, or when I was in the accident nine months ago, but for the most part, I've avoided him.  Yes, I went in for my mammogram this spring, after having multiple biopsies (everything is good!), but avoided that dreaded Pap because frankly, who the hell wants to get up on that table and be poked and prodded?  I don't.  

I didn't go in this week for the Pap...knowing full well he was going to yell at me.  (He swears he doesn't yell, he just looks at you like you walked in with a 60 oz Slurpee and a box of Krispy Kremes).   I did, however, go in for some swelling of my ankles, and sore feet in the morning.  Why am I telling you this?  Because if you aren't feeling your self, make a point of going to see your doctor, even if you know he is going to yell at you.  

After his stern talk of why they my ankles swell, I was give a strict talking-to:  Here's your Rx for the excess water; go down and get lab work done (even though it was done in September); explicit instructions to avoid sugary drinks (damn you Dr. Pepper!), and carbs (are you fucking kidding me?), and drink more water (three days later I feel like I'm floating away).  Seriously?  Please put me on a diuretic, and then tell me to drink a gallon of water a day.  I'm down.

That night tests came back with higher than normal blood pressure (dude, you just took away soda and carbs, what the hell did you think would happen?); an under-active thyroid (could we be on to something); and vitamin D deficiency (I'm stuck in a warehouse office, with no window...the only light I get is during lunch - which typically is 20 minutes - at the end of the day, or on the weekends). 

Could this all be leading up to menopause?  Maybe.  Let's not even get into the night sweats and chills.

After a trip to the pharmacy, and the list of potential side effects, I'll apologize now for any reaction out of the ordinary from me, until they get this shit right.

So here we are leading into a holiday weekend.  The worst possible time for life changes. Or is it?  I'm going to try.

It's July 1.  I solemnly vow to drink more water; to take the meds; to get out in the sun; to avoid sugary drinks (damn) and carbs (double damn); and to get up and move during the day, even when I should be hunkered down in my office.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Can I Be Honest?

Sometimes I get jealous.

...of those that seem to have the perfect life.
...of those friends that travel to exotic places.
...of those that have time to go to the gym.
...of those that go to the spa weekly.
...of those that live in 3,000 square foot homes with vacation homes bigger than our house.
...of those that don't need to get into the office at 7:30 and sit through meetings about meetings.
...of those that have best friends.
...of those that don't volunteer.
...of best selling writers.
...of those photographers that spend days doing what they love.

Most times I don't: one's life is perfect.  It may seem so on the outside, but I guarantee, they are looking for matching socks, picking up dog crap, and struggle to figure out what to make for dinner.
...although I'd love to go to Italy, or Hawaii, or Ireland, or Alaska, I'm happy with our simpler weekends away.
...sometimes it's ok to walk around the block, lost in your own thoughts.
...ok, this would be nice, but spending $200 on a facial seems like a waste to me.
...bigger house, means more crap.  We have enough crap.
...yeah, this one does stink.  It's a necessity.  I would rather work from home in my jammies though.
...yes, I have the one I married.  Best girlfriends are hard to find.  Thankfully I have some that are close enough.
...the last 10 years have been filled with volunteer duties.  I loved it.  But once graduation was finished, I realized I'm over it.  I've been told to run, as fast as I can, away from it.

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Busy Week in the Life of Us

Last week was a busy week for us; work, my husband's bosses semi-annual visit, a doctor visit, college orientation, and a graduation party on Saturday.

Work is work.  Busy every day and trying to manage processes, procedures and the ever changing mind.   The bosses visit went extremely well for my husband...he was initially worried, but, as always, he is a rock star. The doctor visit was prompted by a car accident last week, and for someone that has to drive hundreds of miles per week (sometimes daily), has to climb ladders, and lift heavy materials, it was necessary.

The college visit was awesome.  Same, but different, than four years ago when I was there with our older son.  Required classes have changed, the dorm rooms are the same, breakfast was less than stellar (how can you mess up scrambled eggs?), and professors and administrators knew us, and asked me a lot of questions in front of other parents.  One thing different; a hotel room. There would be no stuffy dorm room for this mom.

As for the party, we had great food, incredible company, beautiful weather, a friend that I probably shouldn't have challenged, and a really yummy boozy fruity lemonade.   We were able to catch up with family and friends, and the boys are so very thankful for all the gifts.   It seems as we get older, our get together's often have less and less family, and more and more friends.  We were pretty picky on who we invited...the family that we are close to and the friends that truly mean something to us...the ones that went on this journey with us.   We had some invites that went out unanswered, which is hard to swallow, and some that just said no because of other obligations.  It was a hard decision leaving some people off the list, I wish we could have invited everyone.  Next up: thank you notes.

Here we are now June 27th; 45 days until we start the college experience all over again; 45 days until the baby flies the coop.  The growing list of things that need to be purchased before that first day of camp is ever growing.  But we have a secret - we know a little bit better of what will work:

Do not buy the case of ramen noodles.  They will come home uneaten.
Stock up on water and Gatorade.
If you think you've packed enough socks and underwear, think again.  Double up the count.
You can have too many t-shirts.
Tide pods are a must.  As are dryer sheets.  When in doubt, wash it in cold.
Paper plates will come home unopened.
Beef jerky is a staple.
Take a nice pair of pants, shirt, tie and dress shoes with you.
Buy an extra power strip, and Ethernet cable.  Don't buy it at Ace Hardware in town.
Duct tape has a purpose.
Remember glade plug-ins.
If you must drink coffee, invest in a pot for your room.  Don't spend $4 for every cup at Starbucks on campus.
Bring your baseball glove and ball, and a football.  You never know when an impromptu game will happen.

Life hasn't changed since graduation two weeks ago.  The real test will happen in August.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

So Now What?

Here we are, a couple of days post graduation.  Nothing has really changed.  Sunday was filled with housework, laundry, grocery shopping and yard work...all a typical Sunday.  

Monday we got up to go to work, including the youngest who started his summer job working at the Rec Dept...the very same place my husband worked over summers.  Our oldest headed to his summer internship to teach art to 4th-7th graders.  

Graduation was hot.  The gym was packed and the kids looked miserable for the heat, but elated for the reason to be there.  Our boy bucked the system.  He wore shorts.  They were told at graduation rehearsal to dress up...that this was a community event.  He was having none of that.  I tried to get him to dress up, but on Saturday I caved.  What were they going to do, not graduate him?  I was pleased to see a handful of other boys bucked the system too and wore shorts....the girls, I assume were wearing dresses, but for all know could have been in shorts too.  Except that one girl that no one seemed to know that had on 5 inch heels that could have belonged to an outfit with a feather boa and possibly a stripper pole. Sorry.  I just call it like I see it.

We were lucky enough to have a friend save us seats and get really good placement in the gym.  And yes, we skipped the line.  Sorry Lori.  We saw an opportunity and took it, only because we knew we already had seats.

We watched a mom freak out when someone else was saving seats (not for us), and was agitated she couldn't sit at that very location.  I'm guessing that she may have been shoe chick's mom.

We realized that some moms out there were dressed to go to the club, and some dads, a game.  After eight years of high school, we dressed to be comfortable.  Four years ago we dressed up, and we sweated our asses off.  This year, there were no pretenses.  Our boys are very laid back and they couldn't have cared less what we wore.  We are who we are, and if people don't like it, we don't care.  Let's not even get started on the water delivery system.  I could unleash on that.

We caught up with friends that we don't see often, but talk to all the time... there were lots of hugs and high fives because frankly we were all in this together.

I thought I was going to be an emotional wreck.  Our baby, finally graduating high school.  It's not that we didn't think he could do it.  That was never an issue being in the top 20% of his class.  He's grown so much over the last few years from being a shy and emotional child, to one that doesn't take shit from anyone, especially his classmates and teammates.   When the kids were ready to get their diplomas, the crowd was asked to refrain from clapping until the end.  When he walked the stage, low and behold my very own husband yelled out to him and the crowd laughed.  Sorry administrators, you really didn't think he'd keep his mouth shut, did you?  You are lucky he didn't start a chant during the teacher speech, knowing full well the chosen class speaker wasn't allowed to speak because he's done it too many times before.

I didn't cry through the entire ceremony on Saturday.  I cried when our oldest walked that very stage four years ago. What does that mean?  I have no idea. Maybe subconsciously I'm saving all my tears for August 11th when he leaves for college.  

I did, however, cry after graduation was done and he had his diploma and was outside taking pictures with friends.  It wasn't until the very last picture that I broke down.  It was with a girl that he was in grade school with, and the very girl that was on his first soccer team.  

So now what?  Summer will be filled with college orientation, a dual graduation party next weekend, an 18th birthday, trips to the cottage, shopping for college, and finally the baby flying the coop.  It's already June 14th, and soon we will be making those weekly trips to watch him and his new football team hit the field.  By August 11, he'll be gone.  By August 21, the older one too.  By August 22, the new norm.  Lower grocery bills, less laundry, no school pictures, no yearbook order forms, no refilling the lunch account, no early morning reminder to sign permission slips, no watching of football practices or prepping for standing for three hours taking pictures.  No more banquets.  No more progress reports.  No more rushing across town in hopes to make it to the meet on time. No more auto phone calls that get deleted before listened to, and no more reminders that this is "Mr. Coyle, Dean of Students.... your child was absent for one or more periods today"...  For those of you that are left, enjoy this year.  It will be over before you know it.  You might see us at games if the urge hits.

No more.  That's a good thing.  On to bigger and better boys.  

Friday, June 10, 2016

Graduation Eve

On this night before graduation I've been thinking about the last few years of school.  So many things changed.  Our little boy is almost 18.  He was shy early in grammar school, but then in middle school his personality thrived.  He is very analytical, and tries to solve problems rather than avoid them.  His dry sense of humor often makes others uncomfortable, and it was learned from his father.  His laugh, infectious.

Our high school experience with children was different than our own.   Our oldest lost friends when a coach made a decision to move him to the Varsity football team.  Our youngest was the one that interacted better with the coaches than his own teammates. We are the parents that knew where our kids were at 10:00 when the news asked "Parents, do you know where your children are?"

Over the last eight years I've noticed that kids try too hard to grow up fast.  They want to be an adult, instead of enjoying the little things.  Trust me, there is plenty of time to worry about work and growing up.  So many want to party...and for what?  A little high?  A hangover?  To be cool?  

I miss the days where their only mode of transportation was their bike or their own legs.  We didn't worry (much) about how far they could get.  

We are the parents that asked questions.  Where are you going?  Who is going to be there? What did you end up doing?  If there is alcohol, you will leave, right?  Call me when you get there.

Does that mean we've sheltered our kids?  Some might thing so.  If it means our kids were safe, anyone that questions how we raised our kids can delete me right now.  

When my husband I were growing up we went to plenty of our own parties...I even hosted a few.  He was drunk at his own graduation.  I don't recommend this.  He doesn't even remember driving his best friends car...he thought he was driving a suburban.  It was a 68 Camaro.  He was clearly the best one to be driving.

If a kid did that now and got caught, their life would be severely impacted.  The way social media spins, you never which one of your bosses, or college professors, or coaches will see that tweet or Instagram pic of you driving 90 on the expressway with a beer in your hand.

A close friend of our oldest posted this week about being the best person he can be.  How three years ago he was all about getting girls (beer in hand) and now it's about being the best version of himself he can be.  Three years taught him patience and discipline.  Pretty profound for a 22 year old.

Our kids made it through high school without detentions, without expulsions, without fights (well, almost).  There was no drama except for those that created it on their own end and spread rumors that still make us laugh.  They never bullied and were never bullied themselves.  They got to school early, turned their work in on time and helped coaches when asked (and often before a coach even knew he needed help).  Does it make them better than anyone else?  No.  They just kept themselves out of those situations.  And if something did happen, they solved it themselves.

I believe we raised healthy, strong, smart boys that make decisions based on facts.  On this eve before graduation, I know I'll cry tomorrow.  I'll cry when I see him walk in the gym.  I'll cry when I see his friends too. And I'll cry when I see all those parents that have become friends over the last xxx number of years.  We are in this together.

When he gets that diploma, I'll know we did what we could. We were there when he needed us, and even when he thought he didn't.  And we'll be there every next time he's looking over his shoulder and needs encouragement.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Turning 46

Celebrating 46 is much like 45.  A cute card and Lightroom from my husband and boys, a full day of work, out for dinner last night and again tonight.  Facebook and text messages, phone calls, and in person wishes abound.  So cool to have those wishes out there.  

Some highlights from the last year and some wishes for the future:

The best of all: A college graduation, and soon a high school graduation.  At 46 I don't feel old enough to have a college graduate and another high school graduate.  On a good day I still feel 30.  On a bad day, 55.  I guess 46 isn't so bad.

The worst of all: My father in law passing away.   I had nearly as many years with him as I had with my dad.  Neither of which was enough.

The what the hell are we going to do with our time: The end of high school sports.  Our lives have been so involved with school sports I have no idea what we'll be doing on after work during football season or what our Friday nights will look like.  No more pictures to take...after I spent so many of the seasons on the sidelines hoping I avoided collision with the players, coaches and refs.

My patience: I've realized that as I get older, my patience wears thin much faster than it did a few years ago.  The neighbor thing and his love of bucketry is really pissing me off.   So do some high school parents.  For those of you that are left, for all that is holy: VOLUNTEER YOUR TIME.  It takes a village to run those programs...stop assuming a few parents will do everything for you and your kids.  The coaches need help.  Don't think that your time is more important than theirs.  This isn't limited to sports.  If your kid is involved, you should be too.

The proud moments: Watching both our boys succeed.  And being able to brush off the inner homework Nazi when our youngest never brought a book home.  A definite highlight was watching our oldest award our youngest with his scholarships from the very college he graduated.

Not again: Job changes for both my husband and myself, starting a business, and actually making a go of some real paid-for photography.

Being published: It isn't much, and may not be your cup of tea...but I loved writing Raising Doug.  It doesn't matter what everyone else thinks, I just wanted to finally accomplish what I set out to do.

In retrospect: Knowing that so many of my friends are in the same boat as we pass this next phase of our children's lives.  I spent last night looking through hundreds of pictures and those memories came flooding back.  Thankfully I was able to share some of those.

Weekends away:  There were not nearly enough snowmobiling weekends.  They are the one thing that really make us happy in winter.  We'll have to make up for it this summer.

Time with the kids: August 11 will be here before I know it. Knowing that our youngest is heading to the very college his older brother was at and will play football makes this momma very happy and knowing that Saturday's will bring football and roadtrips.

Nostalgia: Yesterday was the 28th anniversary of my high school graduation and 18th birthday.  I'd like to think that after I posted our commencement book it spurred many conversations in my classmates homes.

The wish: That our favorite class speaker actually gets to speak at graduation.  It doesn't matter if he's done it before multiple times.  The kids have spoken.  Let him speak!

If only: Every year is one year closer to retirement.  If only we could win the lottery.   We would be on our way to the one place that we really want to be.  Life is too short to sit at a desk every day and have to worry about every one else's deadlines when they don't seem to care that your time is valuable too.

For those of you that are turning 46 this year, we are all in the same boat.  For those of you that are a little younger or older, know that you are in good company.  Don't be afraid of your kids graduating, going to college, getting married and having babies of their own.   For those of you with much younger kids, I can't say I envy you.  We married young, had babies young and can now enjoy time with each other.  I don't know if I could raise young children today.  

I'm hoping 46 is the year we can finally get things right.