Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Seat Swings Both Ways

Sigh.  Life with boys.  Plunged the toilet in the Master Bath twelve times, yes, TWELVE times this morning.  This is not a typo.  Pee on the seat this evening.  Unfortunately for me, I discovered this latest after I sat down (sorry…I’m all about transparency).  This is not Dad doing this.  This would be Teen Boy 2.  Dad grew up in a house on a farm with four sisters plus his mom.  Most of the time he was outside doing what needed to be done.  He knew the score.  Aim well, put the seat and lid down when you’re done, and flush.
Being a house of all boys save myself and Rabbit, this lesson has been lost, apparently.  At least on the youngest.
Part of this is my fault.  I have not wanted a tv in the living room, so the “big” tv is in our room (a smaller, less cool, less functional one is downstairs).  Teen Boy 2 is very much into video games, and this is where he plays them.  The lower level of our home (split level) is still under construction 9 years after moving in, and eventually videogame central will be down there along with a third bathroom (hence the unused, less cool tv being down there).  Until then, I guess I live with boys using my bathroom.  Unless they make a mess of things.  Then I may have to get a lock for the toilet to ensure cleanliness.

On the Importance of Friends

Wow!  Two posts in one day!  How's that for "trying" to do better?  Here goes:

I have always had a lot of people I consider friends.  I was a “floater” in High School, meaning that I had lots of friends in different groups:  the popular kids, the skaters, the nerds, the jocks, the outcasts.  My core group of “close friends” was much smaller.
Flash forward 21 years, and not much has changed.  I have 255 Facebook friends, and yes, I know them all.  Many are people that I’ve known since literally infancy, much of my High School (we were mostly all together in Middle School as well) class is on my page, and of course those I’ve met as an adult.  I still have a very small core group of people I consider “close friends”.  These are people that I trust implicitly with my children, and know that if I needed any one of them, they would be there for me and/or my family without hesitation.
In the last year, I’ve started having coffee every other Friday with three neighborhood friends.  A couple of us have had kids in the same schools and activities; one is newer (okay, six years) to the neighborhood.  These women have quickly become close friends.  It began as a “Hey, wanna come over for coffee?” with my next door neighbor.  Four hours passed like they were nothing.  We set a date two weeks later (works with both our schedules) and she asked if I minded having her other next door neighbor join us.  “The more the merrier!” I replied.  After that hours-long coffee, she asked if she could invite her college friend who lived around the corner for the next time.  A tradition was born.  We take turns hostessing, and have had a wonderful time together.  We discuss our families (husbands, kids, parents, and siblings), Church lives, Spiritual lives, health, and have lots of laughs along the way.  We are expanding our fun at morning coffee to a “Girl’s Weekend” in one of our campers.  We are a bunch of gals sitting around laughing, having fun, and sharing some deeply personal feelings.  Just as we all have in the past with our childhood friends.  Not much has changed.
Last weekend, my boys (husband included) were all off camping with our Boy Scout Troop.  I had a Tastefully Simple party.  There was more great conversation along with the great food.  One of my friends at the party was also sleeping over.  Her boys were also camping with the Troop.  A young lady, who is my honorary daughter, stayed until 11:30 that night chatting with the two of us.  We, along with another friend, had been discussing having a “Wedding Day” where we would share our photo albums, dresses, and cake with this young lady.  She is fascinated by history, and loves to hear family stories.  Since we had ¾ of us there, I decided to haul out my dress.  She tried it on, and we spent the hours sharing family stories along with lots of laughter, and some tears.  It was wonderful.
As she left, my “daughter” said, “Thanks for showing me that friends are just as important when you are older as they were when we were younger.”  That comment gave me pause.  I’ve never not had friends.  My core group of friends has shifted slightly over the years as adult responsibilities and locations have changed, but I’ve always had a core group of friends to rely on.  Friends are so important to who we are as a person.  Too often, I think, we get caught up in being our titles.  Spouse, Parent, Child, Aunt, Co-Worker.  It is easy to lose sight of who WE are.  Our friends help us remember that person, help us nurture that person.  Our friends when we are young help us get through school, dealing with parents and siblings, first crushes and first heartbreaks.  We grow older, get busy, and soon we find ourselves once again dealing with our parents, our siblings, our spouses, our children, our jobs, our health.  Having friends, and a good core group of friends is just as, if not more important as we get older.
So, ala Virginia Hanlon’s question in 1897 as to whether there was a Santa Claus, I say to my young friend, “Yes, my daughter, we do have friends as we get older.  They are ever more important, and just as sweet as when we were younger.”
Thank you to my friends.

Catching WAY Up...Again??

A year.  Honestly?  A whole year has gone by since I last blogged.  It's not like nothing has happened.  I just spent 10 minutes updating the title of this article, and the family information.  So much for daily blogging!

I can vow to try and be better at this, but who would I be fooling?

Let's see.  Where to start.  I guess with me since it's my blog!

I enjoyed a year at home with my boys, writing for a local online news service, gardening, camping, doing fair stuff, scout stuff and friend stuff.  Then I applied for a casual, on-call position at a local urgent care.

I got the position, and when I went in to do the paperwork, was offered the Nurse Manager job.  Their current NM had accepted a job up north where her husband had retired to their lake home 18 months before; she had been commuting.  Did I want the job?  I asked for some time, and in complete shock, called my husband and said "We need to talk, can you do lunch?  I can pick you up now".  I have since learned that this is NOT a good phrase for most husbands, "We need to talk".  My bad, sorry honey.  After discussing the pros and cons over a long but productive lunch, we decided that the best thing would be to get the boys' input.  This would, afterall, largely affect them.

The boys were surprisingly all for it.  I am less than 5 minutes from home, and it was not full-time.  I currently work two 12 hour shifts and every other Friday morning for 4 hours.  No weekends.  No holidays unless they happen to fall on my day to work...and then hours are shortened.  And it's management...something I've always wanted to get more in to.  So I took the job last August.

It has been amazing, terrifying, and humbling.  It is a small, owner-operated clinic that focuses truly on the well-being of each patient instead of the bottom line.  I came in having had prior management experience, but not to the extent of this position.  There is no nurse above me...I'm it.  When I joined, we were just gearing up for Flu Shot Clinics, something I'd never done.  I learned, and quickly.  I love my job.

Taking this job meant taking a back seat to some of the other things I do, such as attending weekly Scout meetings, and being the Troop's Activity Chair.  I didn't mind handing over the Activity crown; it's a lot of work.  I do miss attending the meetings, however.  I feel so disconnected to everything that is happening.  I played such an integral role, attending meetings, almost every campout etc.  I never thought they couldn't go on without me, but I feel very left out.  In that vein, I'm very much looking forward to our week-long Scout Camp this August.

I've started helping at Church once again.  I used to teach Sunday School and help with the Children's Christmas Program.  I got burned out and stepped back for a couple of years.  I am enjoying helping cook/serve our Wednesday night meals, and am looking forward to starting a teen book club this summer, and running a series on the Chronicles of Narnia for our teens.  It feels great.

Dad is no longer traveling.  He accepted a promotion that keeps him here in town.  After 15 long years of him being gone most of the time, it's been fantastic to have him home.  He's been elected to the Youth and Education Board at Church, and has just filed papers with the City to seek election to the Council's At-Large seat.  This is his third run.  One election was a special election to fill a vacated seat and the other was a special nomination to fill a vacated seat.  In both previous attempts, he came in second mainly because no one outside our circles of Church, Scouts, 4-H and his work know who he is.  We're not natives to our town (which, in a smallish town is a big thing), and this makes things more difficult.  As soon as he is allowed, we will be out distributing fliers, hanging posters, and distributing yard signs.  He'll be in the local parade, and blogging on the local news website that I used to write for (the articles I wrote didn't garner enough traffic so they were shelved for now).  I'm very proud of him, but a little daunted by the work it will take for this run to be successful.  Third time's the charm, however, right?

Dad remains as active as ever with Scouts, and just was lauded at our District's year end banquet.  A couple of honor awards, including a surprise as Scouting Ambassador.  He was very humbled, and still isn't sure why he won.  He doesn't know how amazing he is always.

Teen Boy 1 has begun driving.  I thought I'd be really uptight with it, but it's fantastic!  The day he got his license, I handed over the keys and said "Have a good bowling practice."  I can put money on his debit card and text him a grocery list, have him ferry his brother around...and sometimes me!  He had a job last summer, but discovered this summer that it is best to seek out summer employment early.  He has called some of our friends looking for odd-jobs, and I am very proud of him for doing that.  He's debating applying to Target...and I'm super excited for that.  DISCOUNT!  I can text him my list, and put the money on his debit card.  Yay!

He has been doing very well in school; making the "B" Honor Roll every quarter but one.  Having to pay Mom and Dad the $50/month that we lost by losing the "Good Student" discount on our car insurance quickly brought him back up.  That, and we sat down and showed him what sort of grades he'll need to get in to the colleges that he's talked about.  That really opened his eyes.  Dad and I had a talk with him the other night after supper about how this was "the" summer.  He needed to start narrowing down colleges, and taking ACT prep courses.  He will be entering his Junior year this fall, and we don't want him waiting until next summer to figure it out.  We told him that we know this is stressful, but that we're here to help him.  If he tackles all of this this summer, then next summer all he has to do is fill out applications.  He will have done all the leg work, and have his ACT done when most kids are just starting to get things filled out.  I can't believe that we had that conversation with him.  Where did the time go?  I was just teaching him how to tie his shoes, read a book and write his name.  Grandma always said that the older you get the faster time flies.  She really was a very smart woman.

Teen Boy 2 is finishing up 7th grade.  He is in advanced math classes, and thoroughly enjoys the engineering classes he elected to take.  He made the Honor Roll twice this year.  The kid just doesn't turn in homework.  It drives us NUTS!  Both of our boys are smart, but I think it's fair to say Teen Boy 2 is gifted.  He is "bored" in class, highly disorganized (hence the missing homework half the time), and "doesn't see the point" in doing "stupid, easy, boring" homework.  He wants to be an engineer, and has pegged several top schools across the country as those he'd like to attend.  I don't know if this was brought about because of the colleges we've had with his brother, but we certainly weren't discussing college with him.  So, today, Dad and I sat down with him and told him that if he wants to get in to those colleges, he'll need very good grades in High School.  We told him that he is very capable of getting those grades if he just would turn in the work.  We also told him that if he wants to take "harder, more exciting classes that will challenge you" (AP Classes) in High School, he NEEDS to be on the "A" Honor Roll all four quarters next year.  For him, that means simply turning in the homework.  He himself admitted that several times throughout the year he didn't study once for tests and got an A on them.  We pointed out that if the homework is so "easy", then it won't take very long.  If he sucks it up and gets through 8th grade with good grades, he'll be rewarded in High School with the AP classes.  We *think* he's listening.  It's hard to balance giving him the information he needs to know without overwhelming him.  The last thing we want him to feel is pressure.  Who knew this parenting thing just got harder as they got older?  Oh, right.  Grandma.  "The bigger the child the bigger the boss" she used to say.  Did I mention that she was really smart?

Oh, lastly, I suppose I should mention that Dad and I have joined Weight Watchers online.  Dad got a deal through work.  It's working very well.  I've stagnated lately...but I haven't been logging my foods and work outs...and haven't been working out (which for me is a 3 mile walk and weights/core stuff at home) as much as I should.  I'm still at about 15 pounds lost, however, and am happy so far.  I have dropped a size, and can do new amazing things like cross my legs again, sit cross-legged on the floor, and have more energy than I used to.  I need to up everything to get motivated again. Dad's youngest sister is getting married in October, and I want to wear a certain size dress to that wedding.  If I can't fit into it, I don't get a new dress and have to wear a boring dress from those that I already have.  I REALLY want a new dress...but I REALLY need to get moving in order to do that.  It's a totally attainable goal...only one more size...but I need to get moving to do it.

I think that just about catches everyone up from the last year.  See you next year for another update?  Haha.  I will close, however saying that I'll try to do better on posting more.  No promises, but I will try.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Catching Up

Once again, it's been longer than I would have liked since my last post.  Life has a funny way of creeping up on us, doesn't it?

Since I last posted, a new year started, winter sighed it's last frigid, icy sigh and spring has finally sprung in all of it's glory...albeit hesitant this year.  Tween Boy got another year closer to Teenhood, and sadly, Spotted Dog is no longer with us.  He got very sick, and we had a very difficult choice to make.  So, Red Dog is learning how to be a single dog again, and becoming very dependent on me for company.  Teen Boy became an Eagle Scout, and a beautiful Court of Honor was held.  Now Tween Boy is bent on becoming an Eagle Scout before his brother did.  Life goes on.

The boys are eagerly awaiting the end of the school year.  I always face the summer break with some trepidation.  I love my boys, but there are sure to be some very long days ahead filled with bickering boys, bored boys, and crabby boys.  Luckily, these days will be buffered by days filled with swimming, camping, gardening, lemonade stands, library programs, ice cream by the river, outdoor music concerts, picnics, bicycling, summer workbooks and reading lists, 4H Fair projects and the County Fair itself.

I've been enjoying working as a substitute nurse in the school district, and more recently, doing some freelance writing for an online news source.  I get to work when I want and where I want as a nurse, and I can write an article at 3 am in my pajamas if I would like...the flexibility is wonderful.  I have plans for a very large garden this year, in the hopes of putting up quite a bit of produce.  I'm also planning on canning salsas, and making lots of jams with our local berries.  I need to also decide what I'm going to enter for the Fair for myself.

I find that I am much more at peace than I have been in a long time.  I am confident in who I am, and through my couple of very, very, very part-time jobs I get a sense of fulfillment that provides balance to the SAHM part of me.  I am getting to the very center of myself, and evolving into the woman I want to be.

I guess I am looking forward to the lazy days of summer more than I realized.  Namaste.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas 2010

The snow is softly falling (again) onto the thick blanket of snow already on the yard, the tree is trimmed, the presents are (mostly) wrapped, and the menus are set.  Our little family has settled into our own traditions in the last several years, and I cherish them.  We’ll have a fun supper tonight, and for dessert, a birthday cake for Baby Jesus (complete with singing Happy Birthday to Him).  The boys will acolyte at the candlelight Service, and then we’ll come home and exchange one gift each.  Dad will read The Christmas Story, “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, we’ll leave some cookies for Santa, and go to bed so he can come.  The dogs will talk to each other and the rabbit at midnight (or so my German Grandpa used to tell me that all the animals talk at midnight on Christmas Eve), and we’ll wake up on Christmas morning to quiche, stollen, and coffee…oh, and presents!
My greatest gift this year, however, is that of my family.  I had ovarian cancer when I was 17.  Had I gone to a different doctor, my hopes of having natural children would have been lost (very important to an adopted 17 year old self).  The doctor I saw, however, helped me maintain my fertility and promised I’d have children someday.  I still was worried, and was thankful that I met my husband at a young age and he also wanted to be a young father.  We had our first miracle 11 months after we married; I was 22 and Dad was 23.  The second miracle came 3 years later.  We were blessed.  We had hoped for more (I wanted 6 children, but Dad, the eldest of 6 said “no way!” so we settled on 4), but they didn’t come.  For a long time, this upset me, and when I found out friends were expecting, I was both happy and sad.  As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I got exactly what I needed and was supposed to have.  They are the lights of my life, and without them, my life would be missing something.  With more, I might just have lost it, for those two boys whom I love can also drive me to the brink some days.
In August, a decision was made, and I was once again a stay-at-home Mom.  I am grateful for a loving and supportive husband who is able to provide for us so that I can be that at-home Mom.  Sure, the “gravy” money is gone, but so much more is there.  I am with my boys in the morning when they leave for school (when previously I left a half hour before they did), and I am home when they are home (when I was working it could be anywhere from 3-5 hours before I saw them).  I am there to listen to their day, help with their homework, answer questions, snuggle, make cookies, and be their comfort zone once again.  I made the decision to return to work when they were in elementary school because I wasn’t a very good “at home Mom” when no one was actually at home back then.  Sure, there were times I felt guilty, and at times now when I reflect back on how much of their lives I missed, I see that it was important for them to see that I, as a woman, can be more than just the Mom that is there to help with homework, make cookies and snuggle.  I can also be a vital part of the workforce, help others who are suffering, contribute financially to the household, and have others listen to me and respect me.  Because I worked, they know that women are truly equals to men.  This is very important to me.  I didn’t want them to grow up thinking that all women can do is “keep house”.  I am thankful for the opportunity to have worked, and for the opportunity to be home.  Through that, we’ve also taught them that with hard work on the part of both parents, there can be choices.  With love and support between both parents, both parents can be happy and fulfilled.
So, as we cuddle together on the couch (which, is getting harder and harder to do as they grow bigger!) tonight and snuggle while Dad reads to us, I will be thankful that God has seen to give me exactly what I needed.  My little family, tucked away safely in our warm and cozy nest, together building memories that will keep us warm for years to come.
May God bless you and keep you, and may you have the merriest of Christmases.

Monday, December 13, 2010


It has been awhile since I have posted anything, I know.  I have had friends asking when my next musing would come, and honestly, I thought this would be a daily thing.  Then I remembered that the creative juices flow when they want to, not when you attempt to summon them.  In short, I had writer’s block.

It is not that nothing has happened on my block ala “Nothing Ever Happens on My Block” by Ellen Raskin, but I think I have been so caught up in the holiday rush between being busy getting ready, and having so many more outlets for those secreted creative juices this time of year.  Or, I could simply be a Mom of boys that has been busy that simply needs to carve out 15-30 minutes a day to write, even if it is just random words or sentences.  That is how our Creative Writing teachers taught us to work through a block way back when, is it not?

I think as a Mom, I do a lot of blocking.  I try block my children from seeing and hearing too many horrible things that go on with the world outside.  The violence, the sailor talk, the overt sexuality of even today’s “Teen Idols”.  I try to keep their world as innocent as I can, yet try to discuss those things to try to ready them for that same world.  Isn’t that an exercise in futility?  We try to block our children from the very world for which we are readying them.

It starts with us, I think.  When our children are infants, we block our own exhaustion, hunger pains, body aches, and fears as we begin our fumbling attempts at care for this new life we’ve been given.  The baby needs to nurse NOW, s/he doesn’t care that you haven’t slept more than 2 hours in the last 24, your nipples are cracked and sore, you haven’t showered in 3 days and you *think* that you had an apple for lunch and it is now 8pm.  So, we hug and kiss that little babe, and put them to our breast.

Then, it is all of the blocking from the literal bumps and scrapes our little baby might encounter once they become mobile.  We cushion our homes within an inch of its life, and walk around behind the baby ready to catch them when they fall.  We are Moms, it is what we do.

At some point, however, we need to start blocking ourselves from blocking our children.  They need to learn to fall down, get hurt a little, and pick themselves up and try again or we will have failed them as mothers.  The older infant learns to put themselves to sleep instead of being nursed and rocked to sleep…they are nursed, rocked and loved for a bit, then put to sleep in their crib while drowsy, but not asleep.  The training wheels come off the bicycle; the newly minted driver is given the keys for the first time.

This, I think, is the hardest part of parenting.  Lack of sleep and endless diapers, teething, tantrums, and potty training are easy compared to the letting go, or the blocking ourselves from blocking our children.

Teen Boy became an Eagle Scout on November 16, 2010.  It was such a proud moment for him, and for me as his Mom (okay, his Dad was proud too).   It was a moment, however, that I was not always convinced was going to happen. 

He did a beautiful job on his project, and his paperwork.  It was the last couple of Merit Badges he needed to finish that I thought would be his undoing.  His father and I gently (and sometimes not so gently) reminded him that he needed to finish those before any paperwork could be submitted.  He “knew” that, and assured me it “would be just fine”. 

I finally told him that I was done reminding him, that this was not my Eagle Rank, it was his.  If he wanted to actually earn it, he knew what he had to do.  Months went by.  Literally.  His project was in April 2010, he finally submitted the paperwork in October 2010.  I cannot tell you how many times over the summer I heard “I’m bored, there’s nothing to do” and I had to block myself from reminding him of his work.  But, he did it.  Without anymore prodding (once he did pick up the work again I did continue to encourage him to not quit, telling him to keep his eye on the prize).

I have had my fair share of blocking myself with Tween Boy as well.  He went to his first Middle School “Fun Night” all by himself.  I did not walk him in, I did not stay to see how he was doing, I just dropped him off at the door and said, “Goodbye, I love you, have fun.”  It was very bittersweet for me on the way home.  Just a few short years ago, we were having picnic lunches on the lawn while waiting for the bus to come and pick him up for afternoon Kindergarten.  Now, he is off on his own adventures.

My children are growing so quickly, there is no turning back.  As I continue to release blocks from them, I think it is time I found some new blocks just for me.  I have always wanted to learn to quilt.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


It is late.  Almost another day, late.

Tween Boy tired himself and Spotted Dog out today by multiple trips outside in the snow.  Playing snowball catch (Spotted Dog did the catching), making forts, playing Mountain Rescue again (this time with Spotted Dog playing the part of a St. Bernard...the missing truck remains missing), then coming in for steaming mugs of hot chocolate and warm Cardamom-Orange Oatmeal cookies.  He managed to get the last of his homework done, and a lot of flute practice in.

Teen Boy slept, ate, and listened to music.  He had a full day too.

It is times like this, when the lights are low, and the house is filled with the sounds of my sleeping family that I sometimes appreciate most.  One could say I suppose that it is because it is finally quiet, however, I like to think of it as how lucky I am to have noise.  I am not alone, I have a snug, warm house to call home filled with two boys and a husband who love me and whom I fiercely love.

I also have food in my tummy (a really great homemade split pea soup with homemade rosemary bread and homemade apple pie), and my family can sleep safely thanks to our military men and women, and our local police force.

I may not have a magazine cover home (as I look around, there are stacks of clean undies that someone forgot to put in their dresser before bed, backpacks standing sentinel at the top of the stairs, and some stray glasses that were forgotten somewhere along the way today...contents not always finished), but my home is full of love.

When I got married, I thought I could never love another person any more than I did my husband.  Then, Teen Boy came and my heart grew.  A few years later, I was thrilled to discover that we were expecting Tween Boy...but also filled with trepidation.  How could I love another child as much as I loved Teen Boy?  Would I be depriving this new child?  Would Teen Boy feel neglected?  Then Tween Boy arrived, and my heart grew again.

It is in the quiet of late evening where I learn to appreciate my family even more, and look forward to what tomorrow may bring.

Good Night.