A glimpse into the love, lives and laughter that make my world go 'round!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Secret Santa Shop

After not blogging for seven long months I've decided to jump back in the saddle, but only in baby steps. HERE GOES NOTHIN'!!!

Yesterday when the kids got home from school, they were heavy laden with gifts a'plenty for the whole family. Every Christmas, their school has this thing called the "Secret Santa Shop" where kids can go and purchase relatively inexpensive gifts for their family or friends. Five dollars can go a long way, or only buy one thing, but the kids get to manage how they spend their own money. After opening one of the gifts that Abby got me, (because she can't stand to waiting until Christmas for anyone to open up their gifts) she started to tell me about her shopping experience and this was the highlight:

Abby walks up to where I'm sitting, leans over the arm of my comfy chair and says, "Mom! So today when I was shopping they had this really cool '#1 Sister' water bottle that was REALLY awesome, and I REALLY wanted, but it was $7.00 and I didn't have enough money to get everything for everybody else. So I had to put it back."

Not quite sure about this, I asked the obvious, "Why would you get something that says '#1 Sister' if you don't even have a sister?"

"Because I'm a really great sister and I wanted it!" *all smiles*

HAHAHAHA!!! Then, as a bonus, she proceeded to tell me about her conversation with the checkout lady in an Australian voice!

Seriously, who is this child?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My Alien Teenager; The Wheels are Falling Off

Blogging has fallen to the wayside in the last few months. It's not that I don't get all warm and fuzzy inside when I hit the little "Pubish Post" button, but there just never seems to be enough time or energy, and least of all, a feeling of creativity. This dry patch seems to be coming to an end, of sorts, and I now have a renewed desire to spill my guts, share, and purge my innermost thoughts and feelings on this here bloggy thang. This comes in the wake of the swath my teenager is cutting right through the center of my life. He's challenging me in every capacity, attempting to negotiate the impossible (according to the rules of our home), and he is getting me closer to what my mother refers to as "well deserved dementia". (FYI - My mom is awesome)

Conner will be 16 next month (Dear Lord, please forgive me of all my sins and shortcomings), thus shoving us down a new path in our journey through parenthood. In addition to the horrors of being on the verge of a three-driver-household, we are also encountering some erratic, hormonal behaviors that just make me want to pull my hair out. For instance, on any given day, he comes home from school with a forecast of "heavy winds and strong thunderstorms possible".

Like today.

He called me on my way home from work to let me know that his teacher had cancelled after school tutorials, and proceeded to growl, "these stupid people are PISSING ME OFF!". When I asked him who, exactly, he was talking about, he just says snarls someone keeps texting him "some bogus crap, and I don't know WHO IT IS". Okay.... So in a brief moment, this conversation gives me just a taste of what the rest of the afternoon is probably going to stack up to be - A NIGHTMARE.

When I walked through the door, the younger two bounced happily over, hugged me, and told me about the things that happened during their day. They were happy to see me, got a snack, and hit the routine of homework. Once I passed the pleasantries with them, I stepped into the room where the dark broodiness of Conner was almost palpable. He was sitting in the recliner, scowling at his spiral notebook, scribbling something down, and has nothing at all to say to me other than, "Everything's fine". Oh really, Mr. Sunshine? ...and then the slow spiral into hell began.

He's been grounded for his grades for a while now but he continues to only do a half-ass job at studying. Case and point, he had a Geography test today that he didn't study for. He says that he passed with a high C, but fails to see why I can't get on board with the fact that he obviously didn't NEED to study, since he passed without putting forth the extra effort. Duh. I'm just a stupid mom.

He broke out the water works when he asked if he could just have a break from being grounded and I said "No". He's "just so tired of being stuck in the house and not being able to go do anything", but he fails to see that it's his decision not to work his butt off to get his grades back above passing. Duh. I'm just a stupid mom.

By this point he's just a ragged mess, and sorrowfully pleads that he's dying to have his girlfriend to come over and "teach him some strategies for studying" because he's having such a hard time learning all the info on his own. WTH?!? Here's a clue. If you can't get your studying done BY YOURSELF, you sure as hell aren't bringing the tits and grins over to "help" you study!! Do we really have to have this conversation?! Duh. I'm just a stupid mom.

He sulked, cried, moaned, bellyached, pleaded, begged, and cried some more.

I'm tired of it.

And I am hoping that at some point he will get tired of it, too.

If he's not passing and obeying the rules of our house, then I really don't give a rip whether or not he does anything with his friends. It's up to him to make the most of his teenage years, or sit on the front porch and watch it all pass him by. It's also no skin off my teeth if he ever earns the money to buy his car so that he can get his license.**

**Yes, he has to buy his own car from his grandpa because he'll take better care of something that HE earns himself.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Needed: Inspiration & Will Power

I'm up at the butt crack of dark, browsing solutions on the Internet, and feeling like complete loser. Although that is just wishful thinking, because I am actually a successful GAINER.

I've managed to gain back all of the weight that I worked so hard to lose a couple years ago. I've let poor self esteem, horrible eating habits, our on-the-go lifestyle, and an addiction to high calorie foods sneak back in and take the driver's seat. These thoughts roll around in my head constantly, and my internal dialogue is always that "I'm going to do better". At different points in my life I've been better about disciplining myself and dropping the weight, but after existing in about ten years of chunkiness, the reality is that it's not just going to go away.

It's easy to look at the people around me and say, "Well, they're more successful because they've *fill in the blank*, but I *insert limitation here*". Regrettably though, as the scale continues to gradually climb, I must acknowledge that it isn't someone else getting on that scale every morning.....IT'S ME.

I've got to get my shit together.

I've got to overcome my own issues.

I've got to quit thinking that I'll always be fat.

I've got to pay attention to myself instead of comparing myself to others.

I've got to.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Broken Trust

This morning I woke up in a sea of jumbled emotions. I am upset beyond words with my brother's girlfriend, and am amazed at how she can possibly consider herself a good mother when all of the evidence says otherwise. She's a WRECK, and I now have no reason to trust her word ever again.

Yesterday we went to my dad's house to celebrate Ben and Margaret's birthday. The weather was spectacular and the pool was warm enough (to my kids' standards), so they spent the day splashing and playing in the water. Around mid afternoon someone dropped Mindy's kids off at my dad's so that they could spend some time with Mindy, and they all had a great time together - playing in the pool, consuming mass quantities of food, and just being kids.

Conner, Mindy, and [daughter] also spent a good amount of time looking through funny YouTube videos, listening to ringtones, music. There was a particular ringtone that Conner let me listen to on Mindy's phone (it was silly), and mentioned another one that he wanted her to send him, but felt that I would consider it inappropriate. They laughed about it saying, "It's not really that bad though, Mom". But when I asked her if she considered it appropriate for her own children, she said, "Weelllllll, [daughter] has heard it, but they aren't allowed to have it on their phones". REALLY!?! And you want to send it to MY SON?! Some people are just stupid to the core.

A bit later, after we had gone inside and were all congregated in the living room, the topic of what types of messages Conner can receive on his cell phone came up again. (I had seen them trading cell phone numbers outside.)

Mindy: What kinds of messaging can Conner get on his phone? I tried to send him something and it wouldn't go through? (Let me guess, it's a ringtone...huh, dumbass?)

Me: We have Conner's cellphone on "lock down", so he can't get picture texts, video texts, new ringtones. There's no internet - just straight alpha text and calling.

Mindy: rolled her eyes

Me: Do your kids have internet on their phones?

Mindy: Yeah, [daughter] has it. Her dad has set limits on the about of internet usage that she gets every month because she had a $700 bill one month. *laughing* But she doesn't do anything she's not supposed to.

Me: We don't allow our kids to get on the computer whenever they want to, everything is password protect in our house.

Mindy: REALLY? Wow!

There was more conversation to the tune of, her knowing that kids can chat with total strangers when they're on XBox, but her son "would never do that. He's already had one 'scare' from chatting, but he's good now and won't be doing that ever again". My dad walked by and said, "Mindy, EVERYONE always thinks that their kids would never do anything like that". This didn't sit well with her, but she was smart and shut her mouth - my dad doesn't take shit from anyone, least of all her.

After we got home and sent the kids to bed, Richard and sat on the couch talking about the scenario in it's entirety, and how Mindy had mocked the way that we limit our kids' access to different things. It bothered me enough that we called Conner back downstairs so that we could talk about it. I explained, once again, why we set such limits on his access to certain types of media - which he totally understands. After which, we talked about the events of the afternoon and I asked Conner if she had tried to text him after we left.

Me: Did Mindy send you any texts after we left your PawPaw's house tonight?

Conner: Yeah.

Me: Do you mind telling me what she wanted?

Conner: *sheepishly* She was trying to send me that ringtone again.

Me: Did it go through? *about to freaking EXPLODE!!*

Conner: No, it didn't.

All I can say, with 100% certainty, is that it is a damn good thing that there's a two hour drive time between my house and where Mindy lives. We told Conner that we do not want him to have ANY contact with her outside of the times that our family unit is together. There were also graphic explanations about why we felt this way, and Conner finally "got it". Mindy doesn't even have custody of her own children because of the decisions that she's made (and continues to make). As such, any criticism that she may have of my parenting approach makes me feel like I'm one step closer to being a saint! HA!

Conner deleted her from his list of contacts, along with all of the texts that they had exchanged - he even stood there and let me watch him do it. I feel confident that he understands where his dad and I are coming from, and why we are so protective of them.

I will never trust Mindy again.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Never Judge a Nerd

Today, Richard and I went to a local sandwich shop for lunch. It's a place that we discovered about a year or so ago, and we love to stop in and try something new on their fairly extensive menu every now and then. It also happens to be located near some of our other favorite places, so it also provides a nice variety of alternatives if one place is too packed for us to grab a quick lunch.

As we were walking towards the shop today, we noticed that there was an unusually high volume of patrons. There were so many people that the line was actually coming out the front door! Weird. But, since we were in the mood, we went ahead and jumped in line with everyone else.
After putting in our order and wading through the crowd to find a table, we started looking around at the clientele. Almost all of the individuals were very conservatively dressed - long sleeve button ups with a tie and slacks, urban jeans with a hoodie, cashmere sweaters and loafers, etc....and ALL of them were well groomed. LOTS of side satchels and backpacks. This was also about the time that Richard and I started noticing the general air of nerdiness. All of these people were serious - obviously left-brainers - and friendly, but reserved.

Upon further observation (thanks to our skillful people-watching-abilities), we noticed that they all had conference-type badges on.... Yeah, they were all attending a LUNAR & PLANETARY SCIENCE CONFERENCE!! Holy crap!! I felt like a complete imbecile as soon as I realized exactly HOW nerdy and smart all of these people around us actually were!

And then it dawned on me. Just as surely as I was sitting there judging their scholarly dweebishness, they were probably sizing me up as "the-mom-who-probably-can't-help-her-highschooler-with-his-homework".

And they would be right.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Failing Grades

This morning, as soon as I was generally coherent, I hopped on my laptop to check email, our finances, and Conner's grades. Conner has been grounded from everything but eating, sleeping, and breathing for the past few weeks because of his grades, so I tend to check out his averages online A LOT.

At some point after the Christmas break, Conner decided to let his grades completely plummet into the sewer. He was failing SEVEN classes out of nine. It's true. And just like always, all of his privileges were taken away...no time with his girlfriend...no cell phone...no hanging out with his buddies...no computer/Facebook...NOTHING. And, because I was so thoroughly disgusted with his ridiculous grades, I implemented and book report requirement on top of the hours of studying he wasn't going to weasel his way out of.

The good news is that he's brought up all of his grades to the passing level, with the exception of two.

The bad news.... When I checked his grades this morning, he got a 50% on a Biology test - he's still failing Biology. AND he didn't even turn in a homework paper in Money Matters....helping him to maintain his stellar average of 40%.

What does he think!?! I've been busting his chops for weeks! Sitting in the front room WITH him, where there is no noise or distraction, keeping him on task and accountable, quizzing him on content....and holding his feet to the fire!!! And this little buzzard has the cojones to produce a ZERO ON HOMEWORK?!?

His MP3 is now in my possession, and I am going to switch his radio/alarm clock out with a plain-jane alarm clock while he's at school.

I welcome any other brilliant idea or suggestions on how to get this kid refocused and prioritized.

Failure is NOT an option.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Getting My PURGE On

I think I may have forgotten how to blog. Or maybe its that my ability to multi-task on so many different levels has lead to the recent demise of my time to sit and blog? Whatever the reason, I feel like I am busy all the time, and STILL, my ability "to do it all" comes up short.

This feeling of scatteredness and mayhem has spawned an intense desire for organization. I like to have things neat and tidy to begin with, but it has further prompted me to open my filing cabinets at the house and at work, in order to organize and purge unnecessary paperwork that I've been holding on to for far too long. Richard has also mentioned said that he wants/needs to get our "Systems" binder updated with general company information, templates, etc. updated at the office - I do the bookkeeping for his company. So I've been going through....making notes....labeling....shredding....filing....and throwing away.

Last week, I decided that I was so tired of looking at my shelf of jumbled purses, that I pulled down all of my totes, handbags and carry-alls from the closet and laid them out on the bathroom floor. I let them sit there for about a week (we have a large bathroom) and took time to think about which ones I would really hate to get rid of, over which ones I couldn't stand to part with. Lastnight I put about seven purses in the pile for a garage sale and put the rest neatly back away. It felt really good!! Now, I'm sure that Richard would say that I really only need one or two good purses....but he's also a dude, and dudes only wear brown shoes, black shoes, and a pair of tennis shoes, right?

This week I've worked on cleaning out my filing cabinets at work. I have decided to essentially "go paperless" with the bookkeeping functions, wherever it's possible to do so. I've been scanning documents, policies, and information into the system, and as soon as my shiny red external hard drive is delivered this afternoon....the heavens will open and the angels will sing! The idea is to have a system where I scan the information into my handy-dandy computer and save myself time, space, and energy by not having to create or pull paper files. Maybe once the rest of the crew sees how it works they will jump on board....maybe.

Some of my neighbors are going to do a garage sale in a month or so, which is also helping me to get my purge on here at the house. There is sooooo much stuff that doesn't get used, has been grown out of, or has just rendered itself useless, and all this crappola just needs to move out and find a new residence! Whether it's old board games, PURSES, wicker baskets, clothes, dishes, or my seldom used elliptical machine....I NEED LESS. Maybe if I really make a giant push to get A LOT of stuff moved out, I'll be able to save a nice little wad-o-cash for our big summer road trip!? And who doesn't love a little extra dough in the pocketbook!

On days when I feel completely overwhelmed by the multitude of things that need to be done, it gives me a sense of comfort knowing that some little part of my "world" has been cleaned, organized, and purged. It is also comforting to know that I am among the masses who share this same feeling of grappling for a sense of harmony.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

School SUCKS!

I have a bad attitude this afternoon. I'll just be honest.

Today, as soon as I got home from work, Abby was waiting in the garage to hand me her Tuesday Folder full of school papers. She stayed home sick for more than half of last week, so there weren't that many papers to review and look over. Her spelling test had an unusually low grade, but after having a heart attack at the sight of such a horrible grade and thinking about it, I remembered that I hadn't even made her practice her words one single time! I don't know how I forgot about spelling, but I did, and she absolutely BOMBED her spelling test. Bombed it so bad that there was even a note from her teacher, written at the top, saying that since she had been out most of the week, her teacher wouldn't count the grade. WHEW! - that was an unexpected relief! (Thank you kind teacher!) After I got done looking at her papers, I noticed yet another handwritten scribble under her conduct grade for the week. The note read, "Please let me know when you are available for a conference".

Suddenly I felt JOY and HAPPINESS hissing out of my body. I was deflating by the millisecond. That type of note from the teacher never means anything but "Please come in so we can discuss what you AREN'T doing to help your child succeed".... or, "WOW. She should be WAY ahead of this by now".... And I always envision that these comments are also accompanied by THE LOOK. You know...it's akin to that face that your mother used to make when she was so ashamed and disappointed in your behavior that there weren't really words to go along with her swirling emotions.... This is also very similar to the look that she would shoot you, letting you know that you were in SERIOUSLY deep shit, she clearly had to THINK about what she was going to say before she opened her mouth because the tongue lashing was going to be a real scorcher, and your certain death (sarcasm people!) was not negotiable.



I hate that the teachers move so fast from one concept to another before the kids have enough time to really grasp each concept.

I hate that when my kids struggle, I feel like I'm the teacher's first line of their defense. Yeah, I said it. It's the CYA approach for some teachers - rather than spending more time with the student, they call home and get Mom to pick up the slack. (This isn't the case right now, but we've dealt with this phenomenon in the past)

I hate that school feels like the main focus for every school year is all about "meeting the grade" on standardized testing.

I hate it when my kids don't even want to do their homework because they didn't get a concept the first time and the teacher has moved on. Either keep up, catch up, or get left behind.

I hate it that my kids measure successes and failures based on a number grade at the top of their papers. There's more to learning than just a flipping number!

I hate it that I feel like such a failure when my kids are struggling.


All this being said, I absolutely DO to work with each of my kids and I encourage them to keep plugging along. One day they'll get it and it will all make sense, but until that day, we just keep working. Each of the kids has really good teachers, it just feels a little overwhelming so see a third grader bringing home basic algebraic equations to solve while multiplication is STILL a challenge.

Is there anyone out there who feels the same way?

Monday, January 17, 2011

Driver's Ed Starts Tomorrow *gulp*

I can vividly recall the day that I went down to the DPS office and took the test to receive my Learner's Permit. And I remember getting behind the wheel of my mom's mini-van for the first time to practice driving around our neighborhood. We were living in Alaska at the time and I was eager to get as much practice behind the wheel as I could possibly squeeze in. I felt so grown up! My rocket boosters had launched me into a whole new stratosphere.

There is one particular "practice run" that I will never forget though. My mother wanted me to get the feel of the road, so we got out on a long stretch of road would take us back towards the the Chugach State Park. It was a beautiful drive full of turns, hills, scenery, and changes in elevation. Some of these elevation changes included a mountain on the driver's side....and a steep drop-off on the passenger's side. :) My mom was incredibly B-R-A-V-E. It was pretty nerve wracking to be behind the wheel, but I thought I was doing a pretty good job!

As we drove farther out of town the road started to wind around a bit, and the hills got bigger. The real "action in the cockpit" started when we got farther up into the foothills. I remember driving up a hill and as we came around a corner, the terrain on Mom's side of the car dropped off into nothingness. There were no trees to block our view, and we could see for miles. We were probably having a conversation about something random, when all of a sudden my mother started beating on the door....her feet were braced on the dashboard......and the was yelling "GET OVER! GET OVER!! GET OVER!!!" I had gotten too close to the white line and my mother was seeing her life flash before her very eyes.

Fast forward about twenty years.....

Conner starts Driver's Education tomorrow through the high school. It's hard to believe that he's old enough to start getting behind the wheel, and even more inconceivable that I'm gonna be the one to get in the passenger seat at some point. EGADS!! I've known that this day was coming. I knew that I wouldn't be able to put it off forever - it's the natural progression of growing up!

Thinking of seeing Conner climb into the drivers' seat gives me flashbacks to that day in Alaska. In my invincible teenage mind, I'm sure that I thought my mother was totally overreacting and blowing things out of proportion...I mean, I wasn't really THAT close to the edge, right? Ugh. Just the THOUGHT of him behind the wheel makes me want to throw up in sheer terror. My mother had GUTS. I don't know how she managed to summon the courage to let me back behind the wheel to drive again!

Do we really HAVE to let them grow up?

Can't we just go back to preschool, play dates, and Happy Meals?

Pretty please....with sugar on top?!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Where Did the Time Go?

Talk about "taking a break", during the whole month of December I never got a single post uploaded onto my blog. There were a several drafts, but somewhere into my second or third paragraph I would get sidetracked and never get refocused enough to return and finish. ....Kinda like my kids and cleaning their rooms. :)

I won't do one of those lame, blow-by-blow, regurgitations on how life unfolded with each passing day through my lapse in blogging, but I will say that December was a whirlwind. A whirlwind of activities and parties for the kids, school plays and events, house guests for over two weeks solid, a house BURSTING at the seams on Christmas day, and a bazillion other things in between. It was wonderful, exhausting, and memorable all at the same time.

One of the biggest treats that we enjoyed over the Christmas break was the time that we got to spend with family. My sister-in-law, niece, and nephew drove in from Arizona and spent a few days with us. I've been estranged from my brother for a few years now, so being able to spend time with them was HUGE! The kids were all so excited to be together that they played and played for the duration of the visit with nothing but boisterous childhood silliness and countless hours of playing outside. We were sad to see them go, but feel so blessed to have had the quality time together!

Getting back into the swing of things today is going to be hard. After having two weeks to undo habits of getting to bed on time and waking up with the alarm clock, the kids will surely cross the threshold this afternoon cranky and near tears. I had intended to start easing them back into the routine a few days ago....but clearly THAT didn't happen! So we'll just make the best of it for the next couple of days and extend a little extra grace when fatigue and exhaustion get a little overwhelming.

I haven't really put much thought into any New Year's Resolutions for myself, other than the annual plight to get myself back in shape, and undo the last several months of no exercise and bad eating. Blah, blah, BLAH!! As a couple, Richard and I are really going to make a big push to finally get the last of our debt completely behind us this year. And just to clarify, the term "completely" means everything except the house and car. We got to this point last year and generally maintained our position, so we are ready to make the hard push to get it finished. Of course, this resolve is already being put to the test as we watch several of our friends/neighbors get new flooring, counter tops, and other "big ticket" home improvement purchases that we've longed to invest into our own home. Oh well....WE'VE GOTTA STAY FOCUSED!!

Wishing you a very VERY Happy New Year!