A Perpetual Student


Each of us are perpetual students in one way or another. Each day brings opportunity, new lessons, old lessons, new topics, old topics, and life experience. What kind of student are you?

Way back in my high school years, the student body sorted itself into groups.

Teachers however, sorted us into different categories. Good students, average students, A students, bad students.

I couldn’t wait to graduate high school.  I wasn’t one of the popular kids, yet everyone knew me.  Well, to be fair, there was only 120 in my graduating class so it wasn’t that difficult. Anyway . . .  I was a good student.  No, really I was. I didn’t fare as well in college. I came to the crossroads of having to decide what I was going to do with the rest of my life. . . and well. . . you already know how that turned out.

Life is the best teacher there is.  No one can ever take an education from you.  Having that little piece of paper and the college transcript to back it up is invaluable. But learning doesn’t stop in the classroom.

We learn about  the person we are dating. We learn what the boss expects of us. We learn which restaurants to avoid. We learn which stores have better prices and better quality than the others. We learn to care for our children. A note on this later. Each day we learn lessons both good and bad. The past few days I learned that I can manage to cook meals, do my regular housekeeping (minimal) and  not vomit while having a migraine. That is an improvement. I learned how to block calls on my phone, something I had left to the hubs to do. I learned that you can make a spy device with a burner phone. I also learned something about parenting an adult child.

First, let me start with this disclaimer. When they send new mothers home from the hospital with a newborn infant in their arms or carrier, they don’t send an owner’s manual. There were mothers a lot younger than me in there with newborn babies smaller than mine. I was instantly overwhelmed. We sometimes joke that the first-born is the trial and error guinea pig and we figure out a few things that work with subsequent children. The fact is,  it’s true. Your mother is there to help you ideally in this new endeavor, but it’s a steep learning curve.

I think my first mistake was naming my child a name that meant Princess. OY! We’ve had other names over the course of her  life  that were more fitting but her birth certificate declares her Princess, and thus she acts with the entitlement that comes with the name.

Drama Princess is having to learn that adulthood isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  A sharp lesson in how to treat other family members  was served up last night. Don’t get me wrong here, please. I love my kids with my whole heart. The idea is to raise your kids to become responsible adults not irresponsible overgrown kids in adult bodies. Adulting is hard. Responsible adulting is even more difficult. Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had. I thought things were rough when they were teens. Nope, doesn’t even compare to young adulthood while they are still living at home.

Seeing the results when the light dawns, the lessons are learned, and you know they get it – priceless.

Well done grasshopper number one, well done.

 

 

Shift


Today is the day.

The counter has  a few hours left on it, at which time I will be hitting the road to retrieve my eldest spawn – I mean daughter.

The past two days have been grueling; fighting a migraine with a to-do list a mile long, storms raging through the area, power outages, (hard to vacuum when there’s no electricity) all while the clock ticks away.

Every item of mine that was in the room is moved. If you don’t count the bed, dresser, bookshelf – all of which we paid for. You understand that our kids don’t see it that way though, right? Last year at this time she  gave us fits because we gave her mattress away when she went to college.  The mattress that we bought for her, for a full-sized bed, that had a “nest” indent in the middle when  the younger daughter got the bigger room, and she would get the twin bed for the 3 months out of the year that she was home. Technically we didn’t give it away.  The guys hauled it off when we got the new one for the other daughter.

She has already started in about we need to buy her a futon.  She’s 21,  if she wants a futon she can buy it herself.

There will be a lot of shifting  over the next several weeks. She will have to adjust to our schedules. She will have to maintain her room to a certain level of cleanliness. (Oh, trust me. I’m far from a white-gloved inspector) She will be expected to pull her own weight around here which means helping out with household chores once again.

I absolutely love her to pieces,  but she’s about to get a slap of reality.  My wonderfully talented and gifted daughter has decided that she’s not going back to school. With one year left to achieve her degree, she’s quitting. So, it’s time to enter the workforce.  She doesn’t seem to understand that she’s basically pushed her timeline forward by a year without the benefit of a degree.

Her student loans will come due in six months. We aren’t paying them for her.

She doesn’t have a car and expects to use ours to get a job. Problem is, that car has 200000 miles on it.

At 21, making adult decisions she will get to experience adult consequences.  You know, you try to  help them avoid the same problems that you’ve had to deal with, but they don’t see it.  As parents, we want the best for our kids.

We want them to do better than us and we try to shelter them from the same stupid mistakes that we’ve made. But those mistakes help us learn  how to do things better, how to manage our lives. Is it  a good thing then to shelter them from experiencing them?

There will be a shift on our part to help her but not coddle her. She’s not 2 anymore. She’s 21. I don’t want to be an enabler, and I don’t want to be harsh.

This is new territory for all of us. God give me strength – and wisdom. I need lots of wisdom.

With anything new, it’s a learning curve. Learning a new software. Learning a new job. Learning to live with your adult child when they’ve been on their own for a while. There will be snags,  rough spots, and testing of boundaries. But at the end of the day, our daughter is back home safe and sound with us and we won’t be worried about what she’s doing. We may be praying for answers and the patience to not engage in senseless arguments but we will know that she is alright.

colorful sunset

The future is full of opportunities, possibilities, and the road to success. Whichever road that may be.

As I sit and enjoy my last few hours of freedom, I mean quiet. . . . . I can’t wait  to have her home but I am still anxious about the next few weeks. My family means everything to me. This wasn’t in my outline for life. But then again, the best stories have sudden twists and turns.

I know this one is going to be good.

Write on my friends, write on.

Ellie

 

The Countdown Has Begun


Have you ever had those days (weeks) when life is a whirlwind that leaves you dizzy and unable to recall exactly what you’ve done?

Last week I shared what I’ve been up to. Aside from admitting my lack of cake decorating skills for the Han Solo cake,  it was all about the office space.

I have a confession to make. Well, two actually.

  1. Next time we are having ‘stormtroopers in a snow storm cake ‘ aka chocolate cake with white frosting.  It tasted good but black frosting  stains teeth and everything else.
  2. I have to shift my efforts for the office space to clearing my stuff out of my daughter’s room.

 

The ZenDen  is still  going to happen,  unfortunately  though I have hit a snag.  A snag in the form of a time crunch. My plan was to get everything completed downstairs and then move stuff. After several days of clearing, moving, bagging, tossing, head shaking, fighting off the overwhelmed panic, my back  said that  it had enough. I’ve scheduled a visit to the chiropractor out of my normal sequence,  but it isn’t for another few days.

So, . . . we move our daughter back Thursday night. This Thursday night. Like . . . 2 days from now. The ZenDen still looks like this:

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Wait,  I did move a couple of those boxes out of the area. The one in the foreground,  the ones on the little rocking chair, and  the box in the wire frame cart. Also,

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all of those books have been moved, as well as the stuff on top of the shelf.

That’s the point when my back said, Whoa Nelly! This was about the same time that the hubs and I had a discussion about the area.   You see, I get these ideas, I get excited, and I’ m off and running. I worked up my color scheme,  decided on the flooring that I wanted,  had my little floor plan designed. It was all good!

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It doesn’t show up well on this photo, but the main color  is this Bermuda Bay  (It says Big Surf on the photo, but I found the exact color I want and it’s called Bermuda Bay – a different brand) on the left. The sand color on the bottom will be the wall where the  map of the Caribbean is currently. The navy blue and red in the sails will be accent colors as will the black and of course, sail white.   He looked at me with  an expression that said,  Have you lost your mind?  

Look, I know  not everyone will get my color scheme. I know not everyone would choose this.  It’s my space – my office/craft room/private retreat. I selected my flooring choice, a plank vinyl that will go down right over the concrete floor. It looks like gray weathered wood, kind of a cross between the weathered pier and driftwood. I thought it was perfect.

My husband? Not so much.

Then there were the light fixtures. I found one that was perfect. It looked like something that would be on the Nautilus. Then I looked at the price.  Ummmmm, no.  I will need 4 lights after evaluating the area. I thought we could do two but I think 4 would be better.

Then we had a disagreement about  the dimensions of the space I was carving out.  He had  in mind something along a 5′ x 5′ space.  I don’t think so. I was livid.

After several minutes of discussing function and space issues, he  realized that I was including my craft stuff which is currently located on the other end of the basement.  We came to some semblance of an agreement. My dimensions are more along the lines of 14′ x 8′.  By then I was  tired and we needed to address our daughter’s room.

Most of my notebooks, pens, files, and all office related items were in her room on the writing desk that I was planning to use. My  belongings are now in a box . . . in the basement . . .   along with the rest of the  stuff down there. This evening  vacuuming, stripping the bed, and cleaning out the closet are the  items on my checklist.

I need to take some more items to our resale booth, but  getting her room in a welcoming state has to come first. If you want  to check out my previous posts on this, read –

Once we get this addressed, my attention will return to my office. Then I can begin organizing and clearing out the years of accumulated stuff. I have to admit, at this point minimalism looks pretty appealing.

Sometimes it takes a spark of inspiration to ignite the fires. We’ve been stagnated, overwhelmed with the years of accumulated stuff.  His Grandmother passed away, we got stuff. His uncle passed away, we got more stuff. His great-aunt passed away, we got even more stuff. My father and mother passed away and we got still more stuff. I have to admit, I’ve been stagnated with this inundation of stuff. As if it wasn’t enough to have to deal with our own stuff, we have stuff given to us to add to the mountain of stuff.

Yes, we really do suffer from stuffitis. It can be paralyzing. It is also stifling. There is a psychology to clutter, and it’s not pretty.

If you want  to check out my previous posts on this, read – Space Revisions and Personal Space,  about creating my own zen den, my home office/craft studio/retreat/paradise.

 

 

 

 

By the way, the kitty litter thing is working. The musty smell has diminished in the basement. We’ve also increased the intervals at which the dehumidifier runs. The decor theme and reveal will be postponed, sorry.

My oldest daughter announced to the world that she is not planning to return to college after her junior year by posting a picture of her first tattoo, a compass to signify the new direction of her life. I have misgivings about this new direction. But, she’s 21 and has to make her own decisions. (This is the one that is moving back home.)

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These were her words: “As a symbol of my changing courses in life, I got my first tattoo today. It’s a compass that will be a constant reminder of where I’ve been, and where I’m going. Even if I’m not sure where that may be.”

I still have a ton of work to do before we  make the drive to  get her on Thursday. 2 days. 47.23 hours from now.  25 of those hours are already scheduled. I suppose if I forfeit sleep I could get it all done. If I did, then I would  be in a foul mood akin to a badger. Bear would be too kind.  It is what it is.

On the bright side, I have  8 topics on which I can blog about – all briefly mentioned in this post. Those should serve for inspirational fodder for a while. You know,  just in case my well runs dry sometime in the year 2024.

Write on my friends, write on!

Ellie

 

Holiday Feels


Who doesn’t like Holiday goodies?    Anyone?

Part of the “feel goods” of Holiday gatherings are from the comfort foods, and treats that we would otherwise not indulge in.  Food has always been a big part of my family gatherings whether it’s a summer barbecue or Thanksgiving or Christmas, or whatever other get together we had.

I miss those days. I miss the summer barbecues with my dad basting pork steaks in Maul’s/beer combo until it was melt in your mouth good.  I miss the Thanksgiving feast and mom’s stuffing along with 8 different kinds of pie – because not everyone liked pumpkin.  But most of all I miss the Christmas traditions that were long-established since I was a small child.

On Christmas eve we used to go to my grandparents. It was the one time of year when you got to see  everyone –  the aunts, uncles, cousins – and sample some of my Grandpa’s homemade wine. Sometimes his wine was more akin to moonshine but there were other times when it was like nectar of the Gods.   I remember distinctly his banana wine, watermelon rind wine, and Missouri grape wine.  He never entered any competitions for it, it was reserved for family and friends.  Sampling Grandpa’s wine was an honor and something that we looked forward to.

Then sadly Grandpa passed away, because eventually we all pass.  Then the baton was passed to my parents,  and the gatherings grew. I have four siblings who are all married.  Three of them have kids, and their kids have kids.  The Christmas before my mother passed  had a full house! Five siblings and spouses, (10) the grandkids and spouses, (+19)  the great grandkids – plus there are more now (+18) plus my mother.  48 people crowded into the house, but it was a joyous occasion and we never considered it crowded.

We always had finger foods,  never a full-blown meal.  There were the traditional,  Mom would buy a ham and have a variety of bread for sandwiches.  There were always numerous sides to choose from,  chips, dip, cookies cakes  –  so much to choose from and we often overindulged.

SIGH

Now the torch has passed to us,  we no longer have the big family gatherings.  I feel sad that my kids have been short-changed by missing out on  our traditional family gatherings. As most of the parents out there will understand,  I tend to overcompensate and overindulge my kids.

It is a difficult thing when the traditions are taken from you and you have to come up with your own.

Baking sugar cookies and decorating them,  making my Grandma’s snickerdoodles, and of course the Gingerbread men – these are things that have bonded me with my girls in the kitchen for the holidays.  I think we had the most fun the year we made Gingerbread cookies as characters from Louise Rennison’s Angus Thongs and Full Frontal Snogging.  That book was hilarious,  and the gingerbread people definitely had character!  We had Mark Big gob, Slaggy Lindsey, Dave the Laugh, Jaz, and of course Robby and Tom.

I tried a couple of different things over the years,  but the only thing that has really stuck has been  baking treats. So,  in honor of our traditions,  here are a few recipes to share:

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Traditional Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 egg
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal™ all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
Granulated sugar or colored sugar
 Directions:
  • 1 Mix powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond extract and egg in large bowl. Stir in remaining ingredients except granulated sugar. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.
  • 2 Heat oven to 375ºF. Lightly grease cookie sheet.
  • 3 Divide dough in half. Roll each half 1/4 inch thick on lightly floured surface. Cut into desired shapes with 2- to 2 1/2-inch cookie cutters. Sprinkle with granulated sugar. Place on cookie sheet.
  • 4 Bake 7 to 8 minutes or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool on wire rack.

This is the traditional cookie from my ancient Betty Crocker cookbook. We decorate some with frosting, some with sprinkles and colored sugars.  These are great blank canvases for your own creation!

Microwave_Fudge_Recipes

Fantasy Fudge

(I have never ever had this fail) Grease 9 X 13 pan with butter.

Ingredients:

3 cups granulated sugar

3/4 c margarine or butter

2/3 cup evaporated milk

1 (12 oz) package of chocolate chips

1 (7 oz) jar marshmallow creme

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 tsp vanilla.

Combine in large heavy saucepan sugar, margarine and evaporated milk. Stirring over medium heat bring to boil for 5 minutes. Boil until in soft ball stage.

Remove from heat, stir in chocolate chips, until melted thoroughly. Beat in marshmallow creme, walnuts, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly.

Transfer to pan and let cool before cutting into 1 inch squares.

What are your holiday traditions?

Write on my friends and enjoy those holiday goodies!

Till next time ~~~~

Ellie

P.S. You can check out my other post over on Eclectic Bard Books today as well!

 

 

A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Office . . .


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You may remember that I work from home. My office is a shared space in my daughter’s room where I have my desk set up.  When she’s home from college, the kitchen table becomes my desk. It’s not ideal by any means but you do what you gotta do!

The countdown has begun for the big move when the semester ends. My mental list is like the stack of continuous feed paper from a track fed dot matrix printer. Anyone remember those? They had the perforated feed strips on either side and connected end to end. You tore the strips off the sides and separated your papers. (Yes, I’m showing my age!)

Track feed paper

Track feed paper

We have definite dates approaching for Prom, baccalaureate, graduation, finals week, and graduation party. One dilemma was solved when we found out that the older daughter will be home for her younger sister’s high school graduation. This was a major relief as I was calculating in my head how I was going to drive the 2 hours to pick her up for the graduation and then get her back down there so she didn’t miss her finals.

 

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The amount of caffeine necessary divided by the hours of sleep I would have to miss to the 4th power, the sum divided by the gravitational pull and tidal state and the sigma of the effects of the moon phase. Or something like that. Ever notice how most of what we worry about and try to figure out in our heads is rarely a real issue?  

Yes, I obsess over little details like that.

I’m a mom – it’s what I do.

Anyway, after checking the calendar (DUH!) my worries were for naught as the timetable works out. I have the party to plan, car maintenance to schedule, home repairs to be completed before the big party date!

planner

I would be lost without my planner. Back in the day, I was never without my Dayrunner. Things are a little less hectic now but the planner is still an essential tool for me. Mine is a compact size that goes everywhere with me. Oh, I have apps on my phone but it’s not the same as my planner.

I get the dates marked on the planner with appropriate color coded highlighter and realize I need to schedule time between now and then to work on some things like party planning and home repairs. (It’s not any major repairs, mostly fresh paint and replace the flooring in our kitchen before we have guests over. Frankly, I’d be embarrassed to have guests over right now with broken tiles on the floor.)

As I look at the planner, I start getting that anxious feeling. The one that says “ you don’t have any time to write”. A few months ago I would have gone into a tailspin, had a cry-fest, wallowed in my excuses of why I couldn’t write – but not today. Today my voice of reason says “schedule time”. I’ll skip the rest of the self talk that went from whining, to the drill Sergeant barking, to the pouting, then finally the calm counselor asking why I never allow my own dreams to have any priority? (Thanks to Aedan, that voice has gotten louder.) The obvious solution then was to schedule the time right? I have my planer out, I’m already blocking off time to get things done why not allow myself a chance?

I’ve been quietly (mostly quietly, I have piped up a few times when I had a really good day here and there.) plugging away on a contemporary romance. My minimal daily word count is only 500. I changed that from a much higher count to cut myself some slack and not beat myself up for failing to meet the higher count. Too many times in the past I spent more time beating myself up for failing to meet my goal for the day and not enough time actually writing. Of course after berating myself I was in no mental state to write. Visious cycle – that!  I figure that if I schedule an hour, even if I stare at a blinking cursor part of that time I can still manage 500 words. At least it’s something.

Each day I made a note on the scene I would be working on based on my outline. Bear in mind, I’ve already deviated from my original outline but based on the planned storyline, I only have fifteen (15!) more days of writing until I type “The End”.

That’s roughly 7500 to 10,000 words. Can I let you in on a secret?

Lean in close!

I already have the bulk of six chapters written I just need to tweak them a bit based on my earlier deviations So I could be typing “The End” even sooner.

On my time line, the fifteen days coincide with the day my eldest will return from college and I have to make the big move to the kitchen table. I’m going to go get a refill on my coffee to let that sink in for a bit.

The reality hit me square in the face . . .

I could be done with this book in 3 weeks! I can be finished with Red Wine & Roses before I have to relocate to the kitchen table as my desk! Do you realize how BIG that is?

While I’m feeling the stress of a hectic schedule with the multiple responsibilities of mother, wife, employee, writer, homemaker I just got a HUGE jolt of excitement that is both intoxicating and exhilarating.

It’s a similar feeling to running the last leg of the mile run.  Rounding the third corner of lap four, on the backside of the track, lungs burning, legs feeling like lead,  and  the runners begin to pass as my energy wanes.

Not this time!

I can almost hear my Chatty Chicks Morning Sprinters encouraging me.

“You can do it!  You’re almost there! Don’t give up now! You got this!”

It’s just the boost I need for that last jolt of adrenaline to kick in and quicken my pace to the finish line.  Finishing has been the hardest part for me. The momentum is there if I can keep up the pace.

Isn’t it odd how  when you focus on something else and stop stressing over a thing,  that is when you often get answers and solutions to the thing you were stressing over? Have you ever gotten weary and felt like you would neer cross the  finish line?  Have you quit running and are walking the back stretch?

It’s funny how things work out. Sometimes we just need to step back and let them work themselves out.

 

Write on my friends, write on!

 

Profound Lyrics


Over the past few weeks I’ve had to do some soul-searching and self-evaluating.  It’s a difficult and painful process. There are aspects that bring a smile to my face, others that trigger the tears to fall, and still others that give the warm fuzzies.  I’d like to be able to say there have been more warm fuzzies but I would be lying.

As a parent,  I  bought all the books from What to Expect When You are Expecting (An absolute must for the soon to be mom), to Dare to Discipline, The 5 Love Languages of Children, The Ultimate Parenting Guide,  to Raising An Emotionally Intelligent Child.  OH, there were many others. My home library looked like a child psychologist’s office combined with a day care resource center with craft magazines and ideas to entertain my children, develop their fine motor skills, creativity, and pique their imaginations.

We became parents  a little late in life.  While many of my former classmates were fawning over preschool and school aged children, my husband and I were working in our chosen careers.

To be perfectly honest,  I would not have made a good mother in my 20’s.  I didn’t have the patience, or the where-with-all to be responsible for  raising a child.  Heck, I thought I was doing good to  keep myself healthy! When I turned 30 and became pregnant, I seriously doubted my abilities to parent.  I was terrified of being  like my mom.  I was terrified of damaging my kids.  I was terrified that I wasn’t fit for parenting! When my first  was born –  from the moment they suctioned her and she took her first breath I would have died for her.  I would defend her with my dying breath,  do anything for her, move heaven and hell to see that she was well taken care of.  She was a Gerber baby from the very beginning!  No stork-bites, no cradle cap, no splotchy skin – just sheer perfection!

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Then, they sent her home with me from the hospital – no instruction manual, no guidance other than a few instructions on how to nurse her  correctly. Welcome to parenthood 101. It’s sink or swim with a live guinea pig only they didn’t give me a guinea pig – they let us  do trial and error on a live baby!  Why didn’t I take those home Ec. classes?

I know you all are thinking what’s the big deal? We eventually figure it out and our kids survived.  To me it was a very big deal. For over a year I thought I couldn’t get pregnant and would break down and dry every month that I wasn’t pregnant.  Then when it happened the reality  that I was responsible for this tiny bundle of joy  became my soul focus.  I was determined to be the very best parent I could.

I made many mistakes along the way, but I think I did many things right as well.  At the end of this week, my first baby will be 20 years old.  It will be her first birthday away from home without her family around her to celebrate.  I’m so proud of her I can hardly contain it.

But now it’s time to let her spread her own wings. And I thought the early years were difficult!

So what does this have to do with my intro? EVERYTHING!  I was determined to be the best mom I could, part of that based on the less than stellar parenting of my own mother.  I’ve been attending this counseling course.  I’ve been meeting with this counselor. I have issues many of which stem from my early formative years. I am the youngest of 5 children, and was a  change of life baby.  My mother never  let me forget that I was unnecessary, that I was a burden, and that I was unwanted. I have 2 older sisters and 2 older brothers – so it’s not like  she finally got her girl.  They were strapped for cash trying to feed  4 kids already. She thought she had moved on through the change and didn’t have to worry about pregnancy anymore and 6 months later found out she was pregnant with me.  She pointed out to me on several occasions how I screwed things up, that by the time she figured out she was pregnant with me it was too late to do anything about it.   Yeah, I have issues.  Rejection being one of them.

During my formative years it was made clear that I was unwanted. It created in me a lack of self-worth. Don’t get me wrong – I am not blaming my mother for all my issues.  She contributed to them, but I’ve been an adult for quite some time. I’m just trying to work through things to keep my sanity.  I never wanted either of my girls to feel like this,  to feel that they were unwanted unloved, or unworthy! It has been the driving force behind everything I’ve done as a parent.

A friend and writing associate has criticized my parenting on several occasions.  It cut deeply.  I know I’m not going to be mom of the year.  I know that I have a lot of room for improvement, but is it anyone else’s place to critique your parenting when they don’t live  with your family? They aren’t there to make those snap decisions.  They aren’t there to see the temper tantrums, the poutfests, the attitude, or smart mouth come-backs that your children give you.  They weren’t there experiencing my childhood. So in all fairness, does anyone ever have the right to criticize your parenting skills?  Well ok, if you are abusive, neglectful, or somehow causing detriment to your child’s well-being or survival then yes.

I’m working through this week’s lesson and homework for this course.  I have to evaluate some of these issues and how it has affected me, trying to determine the root problems with my own bad behavior.  I  think I’ve done a pretty damn good job at parenting. I didn’t always make the best choice, but it was the best choice I knew at the time. I mentioned my oldest one, we are just as proud of our younger daughter as well.

Another Gerber baby!

Another Gerber baby!

Both are intelligent, beautiful girls with good morals and sense of self-worth.  I don’t  think any parent is perfect – we have to make snap decisions on the fly, come up with solutions RIGHT NOW, provide conflict resolution, be master chef with limited ingredients ( I don’t like green beans, corn peas, fish, peanut butter, fill in the blank), provide star quality entertainment, instruct  them in appropriate dress codes (I had to set a rule with my youngest that no more than 5 colors were to be worn at one time.  The oldest was forced to wear colors with her black.), and make sure they get to enjoy  some fun in their childhood.  All in all,  I think every mom that  manages to raise their children to adulthood is more qualified to be a CEO of major corporations, or even run congress. I certainly think we’d make better decisions. (You speak to your mother with that mouth senator?)

My two angels grown into beautiful young ladies!

My two angels grown into beautiful young ladies!

We are all on different stages along life’s highway. While examining my own troubles, as part of  this section I had to come up with music, movies, and tv shows that  impacted me as a child and explain why.   TV was my babysitter when I was pretty young so there are a whole bunch of ideas that stemmed from Leave it to Beaver,  I Dream of Jeannie, The Munsters, Dark Shadows and even Hogan’s Heroes. TV was an escape.  It provided laughter and comedic relief to the day-to-day existence.

Music on the other hand was invaluable to me.  From the first little hand-held radio (AM) that looked like a white stuffed poodle – music was essential.  I learned a variety of  styles during my piano lessons.  My older siblings exposed me to many artists. One sister loved Elvis Presley, the other loved the Beatles.  My brothers contributed Tubular Bells, Inagoddadavita by Iron butterfly. One thing that stood out in my memories though, were Simon and Garfunkel’s album that my sister used to put on the turntable while doing housework and chores.

I still find those tunes comforting and soothing.  Strong lyrics that have personal meaning to me.  The counselor didn’t like the fact that I lifted the lyrics for my responses, but why reinvent the wheel when Paul Simon expressed it so well?

 I Am A Rock”

by Simon & Garfunkel

A winter’s day
In a deep and dark December;
I am alone,
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow.
I am a rock,
I am an island.I’ve built walls,
A fortress deep and mighty,
That none may penetrate.
I have no need of friendship; friendship causes pain.
It’s laughter and it’s loving I disdain.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

Don’t talk of love,
But I’ve heard the words before;
It’s sleeping in my memory.
I won’t disturb the slumber of feelings that have died.
If I never loved I never would have cried.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me;
I am shielded in my armor,
Hiding in my room, safe within my womb.
I touch no one and no one touches me.
I am a rock,
I am an island.

And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.

It’s how I coped.  I built walls, didn’t let anyone in.  I am shielded in my armor. I’ve  created such a tough shell exterior that very few people really see beyond that to the why’s. Sadly, I know there are many more people who have done the same.  The demons may be different but the symptoms are the same.

I think these lyrics sum things up astutely.  Now is the hard part, to fix me.

How about you?  What are your personal struggles?  Is there a song that has meaning to you?

Write on my friends, write on! And as my friend Misty says – L.O.L. (live it – own it – love it)

Don’t Poke Mama Bear


Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this image.  All rights reserved to artist.

Quotidiandose does not own the rights to this image. All rights reserved to artist.

I’ve gotten used to being excluded from family  gatherings over the years.  I suppose it started with the age gap – I’m considerably younger than my siblings.  I’m also older than my nieces and nephews.  My aunts and uncles are much older,  my father being the youngest in his family and me being a late life baby and all.

My sisters are close – they are a little over a year apart, grew up with each other and they have a bond that is amazing.  My brothers used to be close – they had each other growing up, with only three years between them. Then there’s me – out there on my own. I’ve sort of gotten used to it but there are times when the exclusion hurts.

Facebook is a remarkable tool to see what’s going on in the world, with your friends and family, and in your community. It’s also the devil’s bane to see what’s going on in the world, with your friends and family and so on.  I’m sure everyone is well aware of the horrors going on in Ferguson, Missouri by now; a neighborhood that is considerably closer than I am comfortable with.

Amidst all the wonderful pictures I see for back to school first day of school – I didn’t post any, my youngest is starting her senior year and glared at me with the death dagger stare at the idea of snapping her picture – I set my phone down and backed away slowly – I find a post on my wall that  not only excludes me but my kids.  REALLY?

I’m used to crap from my family, you know every family has conflicts, everyone has arguments but usually in the end when push comes to shove we are blood and we bond together even if it’s only for that brief amount of time. But now the  fecal mater is flying in my husband’s family.  I have to assume it’s me as I am the common denominator.

You can hate me all you want – I really don’t care what anyone beyond my husband and kids think about me anymore. I’ve had it up to my eyeballs with “better than thou” opinions,  the eye-rolls, the gossip.  Seriously, get a life!  But when my kids are slighted  – it’s ON.

Now here’s the thing, I’ve never met the offender in person.  I had the flu over the last gathering when my kids met her.  I’ve never said one word to her, never spoken on the phone with her but this woman just had strike 3 you’re  out.  I know  people talk, and when you’re not around you are the one that is most often talked about.

I’ve refrained any judgment up to this point. For those of you who don’t know  my  personality, let me give you a brief introduction.  I’m usually easygoing, can be the life of the party, spontaneous, laugh easily ( for which I’ve been criticized for laughing too loud, and being unladylike because I joke around),  am generally good-natured, and it takes a lot to make me angry.  I am a good listener – sometimes, other times I am too talkative.  I take life  as it comes and usually don’t get too bent out of shape by most things.  Slow to anger but once I am,  very reluctant to give that second chance.  I don’t judge others – I let their behaviour speak, and in essence they prove themselves one way or the other.  I have strong opinions but you know where you stand with me.

If you’ve read some of my rants here, you know when things set me off but to be honest,  those are rare.  However, having said that once you cross me and prove to be a gossip, talk behind my back, I’m done with you.  You cross my children or slight them – it’s on.  Hell hath no fury like a mother whose children are hurt. 

Like I said I’ve gotten used to being slighted by family.  It’s no biggie to me,  I am  in between the generations,  and don’t really fit into either very well.  BUT,   my kids are a different matter.  In a sense we’ve sort of gotten used to certain exclusions of them by proxy.  You aren’t hurting me or the kids.  What you are doing is creating the lack of a relationship between you and them.

I realize that the offending parties are too wrapped up in their own drama and self-absorbed to the level that they never see beyond the end of their own nose to even understand the full impact of those hurtful words.  Let me clue you in:  you’ve just driven a wedge between you and these beautiful young ladies who are  intelligent, have moral integrity, and more class than you could ever hope to have.   Cutting remarks made flippantly cause irreparable damage to tender hearts.

My heart?  I’m too old to care what they think or give a crap about whatever drama it is that  they feel necessary to create. My girls however are young, impressionable, and vulnerable.  It’s not my fault  that the offending parties are too stupid to realize they are burning down the bridge that they are standing on.  I know my children well enough to know that this will hurt them deeply.  I want to protect them, tell them it’s a mistake, but when it’s posted by the individual publicly on their Facebook wall, how can you deny what is said?  I also know my children well enough that this will be a line drawn in the sand that will not be easily forgiven or forgotten.

I’ve spent the past 20 years trying to teach my kids  to behave properly, have good manners,  treat people as you would like to be treated, watch your mouth, refrain from expressing your opinion when it might hurt someone . . . and then the people who are supposed to care about them, supposed to be there for them, stab them in the back with a butcher knife.

That can’t be undone.  What I can do now is offer my daughter’s this bit of advice, and I hope that you see some value in it as well.

Confront your path with courage, and don’t be afraid of the criticism of others. And above all, don’t allow yourself to become paralyzed with self-criticism. 

I need to work on that myself.  There are times when I let the criticism get to me. There are far too many times when I am my own worst enemy with self-criticism. I want better for my girls, therefore I must strive to do better with myself.

I hope that in some small way you have benefited from a motivational post, or something uplifting by reading my blog.  It is not my wish to create strife for anyone.  All of us are trying to live the best we can, and I know it’s  not everyone that finds it necessary to be  the vinegar of life.  Most of us prefer to be the honey. But when combined, they balance each other out – the one not too bitter and the other not too sweet.  I do hope though that my posts offer a pleasant sweetness to your day, and that you keep coming back.

Life is too short to let the opinion’s of others hold you down, or make you feel  less valuable than anyone else.  I am concerned for my children, but I am also confident that they are mature enough to see this for what it is.  However,  I also know that there will be many tears before they see it.

I remember when my youngest was not quite 2, and was throwing a bit of tantrum.  My friend looked at my daughter with the big gorgeous brown eyes,  long lashes, her lips curled slightly quivering as tears rolled down her face and she said, ” Oh my gosh, how can you ever say no to her?  No one could ever bring themselves to harm such a beautiful child.”

Sadly, not everyone was of that opinion.  It’s their loss for cutting  these precious gems from their life, it’s their life that will be lacking for not knowing their inner beauty, because I know after the dust settles that my girls are strong and they will do the right thing.  I  will never force a relationship on them with anyone that doesn’t value them whether blood relation or not.  This is just one of those hard lessons of life.

I hope that you value the people in your life.  they may have their faults,   they may be annoying even but we should be thankful for them, even for the hard lessons. Be the better person, don’t degrade yourself to their asinine behaviour.

Write on my friends, and live your life with grace!

 

 

 

The Grey Zone


Today  was one of those days that give parents grey hairs.

prevent hairs from turning grey

Mid-morning I got a call from the school to notify parents that the school was on lock down. Gun shots had been fired, the police called to the school.  It’s good to be informed, however it’s a rather helpless feeling.  I know that they are on lock down.  I can’t do a thing about it.

If I wanted to go pick her up from school they wouldn’t allow me access in – hence the lock down.  I turn on the tv – no report  on the incidence.  I pace, I try to stay calm, neither of which accomplishes anything  except raise my  stress level.

There are few things in this world that can set my day in a tailspin – but the potential danger to one of my children will do it.  After my concern for my daughter, then I think of the other kids, their parents, the faculty and staff and wonder if any of them are injured.  The world we live in today is  a dangerous place.  When I was a teen school was a safe place and the only concern a parent  would have would be a sports injury or if their child was skipping school.

With  tragic headlines comes an additional level of concern. I tend to be an overprotective parent anyway, this sort of thing really doesn’t help.   I’m not a helicopter mom, but I admit overprotective.  I’ve had other incidences  with  the younger daughter that have given me  grey hair.

When she was 3 months old she had a double ear infection, was critically dehydrated and they tested her for spinal meningitis.  I  was a nursing mom with sleep deprivation and postpartum blues – they had to physically remove me from the  room by force.  Two officers escorting me to an outside waiting room.  It’s not that I  was trying to create a scene – she was only 3 months old.  My baby and they were going to shove a needle in her spine.  I was already terrified for her life at the sudden  decline of her health which is why I had her in the pediatrician’s office in the first place.  It turned out no meningitis, but it netted our first stay in the hospital.   I stayed with her – except for the short time they removed me to do the spinal tap – because I was nursing at the time.

A second trip to the ER happened about 6 weeks later, this time a UTI.  Then a 3rd and a counseling of how to wipe a female child’s bottom.  Then a 4th and an ultrasound to detect a defect  that was causing the UTI’s. (urinary tract infection) I humbly sat through the  lecture of how to wipe my child even though I was pretty sure I had at least that much figured out.  When your child is sick, you’ll do anything for them, humbling myself was  nothing. Although now I think it was just ridiculous the way the nurse talked to me like I was a complete moron but  we’ll move on.

AT  10 months old she was sick again, this time  my husband and I swapped  who would take time off to stay home with her while she was sick as I’d used up all my leave on maternity.   Any day off for me was leave without pay, but my baby was sick and needed attention.  It turned out she had developed  RSV ( Respiratory syncytial virus)  something that she was exposed to at the daycare I had placed them in.  RSV is usually something that premature babies develop.  Both my kids were full term whoppers that were nearly 9 pounds each.   So there we are at the hospital again, this time she was under an  oxygen tent with an iv in her  temple.   It was at this point that I resigned my government job to care for my children.

Things went smoothly for a while then when she was in  5th grade, there was an incident with the bus.  It was time for the bus to arrive in the afternoon, I  am on the front porch heading to the bus stop when I hear screeching and a crash.  I look up to see my daughter in front of the bus getting ready to cross the road looking at the bus like it did tricks.  As I walked closer to the bus I see that there is a car  wedged under the back of the bus.   I motion her across and tell her to go inside and get my cell phone.  The 3 college students that were in the car didn’t fare well at all.  It was a  tragic day, yet Jim the bus driver held his foot on the brakes, the bus didn’t move at all and my daughter who was standing in front of the bus was safe and sound.  Don’t even tell me there are no miracles –   because THAT was a complete miracle to me and Jim is the biggest hero  that ever was!

Another time  one of those huge dump trucks came whizzing by the bus after topping the hill, and instead of  ramming the back of the bus decided to fly past.  My kids were both in front of the bus and felt the blow back as the dump truck raced by – close enough  to reach out and touch the truck. Two seconds later and they would have been flattened.  I lost it that day.  I couldn’t stop crying over  what almost happened.  I drove my kids to a different bus stop after that and half the time I drive them to the school.

In the past  4 years, I’ve had  these lock down calls.  Two of them were form  drug busts, but htis past year there have been two incidents with guns and ammo.   The phone call today  was this:  ” The school district has placed  the high school building under lock down. Gun shots were fired and the police department have been called  to assess the situation. You will be notified when the lock down has been lifted.”

Guns fired? OH, no no no no.  NO!  This  is a sick joke right?    I sit anxiously waiting to hear, preparing  for the worst.  I text my daughter. She doesn’t respond.  Never mind he fact that they are suppose to have cell phones off during class times. I need to know she’s ok.  I panic, I pace, I  scroll through Facebook.  Try to talk to online friends only to  be called stupid.  I down my coffee, get another cup.   Finally, nearly two hours later the school calls and says the lock down has been lifted that it was determined that 3 individuals were target practicing on the wooded  property adjacent to the school.  ( Yes, we live in a rural area.)

The shots weren’t actually at the school.  I can breathe again.    I break down and cry.  Relief floods over me.  These are the parenting moments that no one warns you about when you  want the cute cuddly sweet baby.  These are the heart wrenching moments that age you 10 years in 2 hours.  These are the times when you feel how truly helpless  you are.

These are the moments when you realize they are only yours for a short time anyway.  My greatest achievements have been my two wonderful girls.  Regardless of the angst, the drama, the lack of doing their chores I am so  proud of the young women they have become.

I go in the bathroom to wash my face before she arrives home. Trying to hide the puffiness of  crying in concern for her.  When she gets home  she says nothing and just goes to her room.  I want to hug her and never let her go, but I can’t.

Moms get emotional, they worry for their children, they want the best for them but at the same time understand that  they need to learn to stand on their own two feet.  I also understand that it’s probably not as big deal from her perspective as it was for mine.  GOOD!  I hope her and her friends  had a good day despite the lock down.

Life goes on as usual – THANK GOD!

She won’t know that  more grey hairs popped out in that 2 hour span.  She won’t know that 10 years of my life vanished instantly.  She doesn’t know the instant terror that something like this causes a mother.

When she came out of her room, I hug her and smile. ” Hey, wanna go for ice cream?”

I think I’ve earned it.

Write on my friends, write on! Remember there’s a remedy for the grey zone – it’s called L’Oreal.