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:

...no 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.