It's "Shoeville" once again. Right before Christmas break Miss 16 had a large group study session for an AP History midterm. They all crammed into her bedroom and crammed. Fortunately the kids in an AP History class also are the kids who want to study. I hear the test was very difficult. But I'm sure they all did well. Still, look at all those shoes... and the smell! Ew!
About the first week of December I set up our big table in the basement as a wrap station. That way when I get a chance I can run down and get a few gifts wrapped at a time. I set out all the essentials: wrapping paper, gift bags, tissue paper, tape, labels, scissors, extra boxes, packing material, etc. It works well for me, but ineveitably it is still set up the day before Christmas because 3 weeks IS NOT enough time for my husband and son to get their gifts wrapped. Yup, Mr 20 is still wrapping today, and he's only doing it now because I said I'm taking the wrap station down this afternoon. Otherwise, since he got home at 2:30 a.m., he'd still be sound asleep in bed. Nothing like a little motivation.
She's grown so. Miss 11, the last one Hubby had to lift up to put the angel on the tree. The past few years, the older two were almost always away from the house when it was Angel time. Miss 11 got to do the honors for many years in a row, the lucky girl. Last year we laughed as Hubby tried hard and begged me to hurry with the camera while he held her up to the tree. This year we all knew there was no way he could hold her up for Angel duty. She's grown several inches and is over a hundred pounds of solid muscle. Putting her in his arms and holding her up and out over the tree was something his back would not appreciate. Goodness but was she proud to step up on a chair and do it herself. Hubby and I hid our tears.
Out my kitchen window I have a couple of bird feeders and a bird bath with a small heater in it. It's so cold here in the winter that typically all I see is snow, and blowing snow, and the smoke from people's chimney's. Also near my kitchen window is my sink, I spend a lot of time doing dishes at the sink. I needed something to look at, thus the bird feeders. The birds give me a piece of life to look at while I let my hands turn into prunes. We've had all kinds of birds at our feeders, spring and fall provide a glimpse of very unsual birds stopping by while they are migrating.
Five years ago one of Hallmark's new ornaments was a bird, and each year a new one has been released. The quality is wonderful on these ornaments. They are a heavy weight and painted really well. I ask for the bird ornament every year for my birthday and since typically the ornaments at Hallmark are out by July, a September birthday works well. Plus, it gives someone a really easy birthday gift idea.
Excuse the bad photo skills in this collage as I needed to take these pictures against the window in the daylight, and the camera really didn't want to behave. I love the uniqueness of these particular ornaments. They hang right over my kitchen sink where I can see them (everyone all together now) as I do the dishes.
This tree sits in my bay window in my bedroom. I love seeing Christmas trees in people's front windows, unfortunately if I put our full sized tree in front of our north facing window, it looks as though we are living in Alaska and not seeing the light of day for months at a time. Instead I have had to settle for putting this one in the bedroom. Last year I had red lights on it, it looked fantastic with red lights. This year we changed our outdoor lighting scheme, so when I put the red lights on, it just didn't work any more. Darn it! But the white lights still lookd good. The frosted twigs around it show nicely through the window as well, it's a very wintery scene. I've got red and silver ornaments on the tree and another strand of lights in the red bowl beside the tree. It's not perfect, but it is romantic.
I don't collect Santa's, although I have ended up with several of them as decorations. Usually they are somehow related to something else I like, and it's not actually the Santa part that lured me in. This decoration is not something I purchased. My MIL gave it to me. I think, now don't hold me to this but I'd say the likelihood is high, that my MIL actually purchased this on clearance, after Christmas, to give to her daughter who does collect paper mache Santa's just like this one. I'd have to say that when she gave it to her daughter, she already had it, so it was re-gifted to me. Naturally it had the price tag still on it because every gift my MIL buys has been on sale or clearance and she always makes sure only the real price tag is left on it. True Story: One year Hubby got a Montana Silver ladies belt buckle on it from his Mom for Christmas? Why? Because it had an N on it, you know, because his middle name starts with N. It might be collectible some day.Yes, the price tag, before the clearance sale, was still on it. End of Story. So this Santa came to live at my house. At first I was tempted to just leave him in the box marked, "Gifts from insert MIL's name here." Yes, we actually have a box like that, typically after any holiday at least 2 o3 of us have something really strange to add to that box. Someday we'll look back through the things in the box and laugh hysterically. Right now we just look at the things we put in the box and say, "what in the world was she thinking?" But I knew that Miss 11 who was quite young at the time would love the kitty part, so I put it at a level where she could see it easily. My brother-in-law was walking by one day with Miss 11 and said, "Oh, look, Santa's fishing for kittens!" and it just cracked me up! Now whenever I see it I think of him, so it goes out every year so I can say the same thing and my girls can roll their eyes at me.
Hubby made this one. A few years back his sister gave it to him as a gift. It's something he had made for her when he was a kid, and she thought he would enjoy having it back. I can't recall what type of nail/thread project this is called, but that is how this was created. Hubby thought it was kind of a corny gift, but I love displaying it, not many people have one of these!
My Grandmother on my Mom's side made stockings for all the kids. This is Mr 20's stocking. It is a little different then the ones that belong to the girls, but the premise is the same. The background colors are all different and the images are all mixed up on each stocking. The kids have their name and year they were born at top of their stockings. They are made out of felt, sequins, thread and love. I'm terrified to actually use them for stockings because I'm afraid the sequins will fall off. Instead we put their stockings on their bedroom doors. (We have other stockings that Santa fills naturally!) The kids are very lucky as in recent years my Grandmother's arthiritis has really limited her ability to do many things of this nature. They are always a conversation starter when people see them because they are very unique.
I love Christmas books. LOVE them. As much as I love Christmas books I love pop-up books with as much detail as Robert Sabuda's. The are stunning. I have three of his Christmas books. Look at the detail in the pop ups. In the picture on the left the lights on the house actually light up. The cave above the fox has icicles hanging from it on the picture on the right. They are all beautiful books. I've given them as gifts to friends and family and I don't know anyone who doesn't love them.
I used to collect teddy bears. Don't ask me why. I was young, and apparently strange. Anway, shortly after Hubby and I got married I found the pattern for this bear in a magazine. I thought he was completely adorable and my Mom helped me to make him. She did some of the sewing on the machine, and taught me a few things so I could do some of it. We picked out the fabric together and stuffed the little pieces together. I sewed the ears on myself, you can see the lovely job I did with the stitching. (Ahem, fortunately I have improved considerably in this talent.) I can't remember the story of how my Papa Joe's (my grandfather) bow tie came to live on my bear, but I'm so glad that it did. Papa Joe Bear sits under out tree until there are too many gifts for him to fit there anymore, then he moves to a chair to watch all the Christmas festivities.
I've got a Christmas village, well, sort of. I am not a big fan of those ceramic all encompassing things that so many people have. My village is of a larger size as far as individual pieces, but I've got only 3 buildings, and some accessories. I'd take more, but it's one of those rare things that no one can seem to find. It's by Kurt S. Adler, and for the past 7 years or so i can't find anything to go with it. The buildings are all capable of having lights, but normally I'm incapable of finding a place to set them where they can all be plugged in. For a few years I had to put it up high enough that Miss 11 couldn't constantly be messing with it. This year it is back out, and the girls were excited. I love it for the little details each piece has, and the quirkyness that isn't typical of Christmas decorations. I enjoy the non-jarring color scheme as well. My girls like moving the pieces around to new places. Hubby won't touch it with a 10 foot pole though, because... OMG it's full of GLITTER!! (Say it like the characters in Roger Rabit say DIP!))
The picture quality here is lacking, and I could take the effort to run down the stairs, take another photo, get it in the computer and edited, and then re-do this post. But, I won't because I am lazy and I have a million things on my plate today. This is technically an ornament, though I have never hung it on the tree. I have about 10 of these, some are shaped like hearts, some like houses, some like stars. Some are with a black background and some are with a white background. They remind me of Scandanavian decorations, and I love the embroidery on them all. This year this ornament is extra special. Last week our cat, Decker, died from liver failure. We knew it was coming and had done all we can to make his last months enjoyable. When he refused to eat cat food anymore we fed him meat or cheese. When he started refusing those things we held each piece to his mouth for him to eat from our hand. When he started refusing them, I shared our steak with him, and cooked bacon for him, and fried eggs for him. The girls took any chance they could to have him on their laps, or snuggle with him in their beds. (He was no longer able to have free reign of the house so had to have a chaperone every where he went.) We watched him start to really slide away beginning on Thanksgiving day. He refused water and food from then on. We warned the kids that he didn't have a lot longer with us and we all gradually said our good byes and did lots of crying. By Monday we all knew it was only hours. I laid on our cold basement floor with him Monday afternoon for a few hours. The girls each sat with him after school. By night time Hubby had his turn in the basement and came to let us know the time was iminent. Naturally there were lots of tears. Decker was a great friend to our children and tolerated more from them than any other cat would have. We often said we thought his father must have been a dog because of the way he would follow us around, scrounge on the floor for scraps, come running if you snapped your fingers and greet us at the door when we arrived home. He is missed very much at our house. It's difficult to even go in our basement right now. What may you ask does this ornament have to do with a cat? For whatever reason last year at Christmas Decker had decided that these ornaments were his. This one in particular was in a spot that was low enough for him to reach and pull down. He didn't chew on it, he didn't scratch at it, instead he would rub his head all over it, then lay on it, then rub some more, and eventually fall asleep with some part of his head, legs or paws on this small heart shaped ornament. If you look closely you can still see his hair all over it. Happy Love Thursday everyone. If you have a pet, give them a hug from all of us.
Since my youngest daughter has been able to walk she has loved playing dress up. It all started with trying on whatever pair of shoes came in our door. It didn't matter who they belonged to, or what they looked like. We have scrapbook pages dedicated to her in cowboy boots, work boots, high heels, flip flops, men's shoes, women's shoes, slippers, and anything else you can imagine. It moved on to dress up clothes as soon as she was able to dress herself. She had a favorite yellow dress that was mine when I was younger, she loved it because when she would spin it flowed around her like a ballerina. Eventually we took to buying Halloween costumes, dance costumes and second hand dresses to keep her in gifts. She still plays with lots of them today. When her friends come over they drag out the giant tubs of dress up clothes and put on skits, model on the catwalk and just play. Miss 11 received this ornament when she was about 4 years old. To us it is her all dressed up in her yellow dress, fairy wings and wand, one of her favorite combinations. Although I never let her wear the fairy wings when we had to run errands, I do admit sometimes it was just easier to let her leave the yellow dress on over her clothes rather than fight with her about taking it off. She got compliments every where we went.
Another gem from my Grandmother. It's actually a tree skirt, I've doubled it over and put it on a chair downstairs where I have many of our hand-made items this year. I've only used it once as a tree skirt. It got water on it and I've been afraid to use it since. Plus at the time the cats really liked laying under the tree and chewing on the little ties between each square. I've used it on a table top, in a basket, over the back of a chair and at the end of a bed. I'm not a big fan of the traditional red and green color combination, but this is one of my favorite things, because it was made for me.
Miss 16 had an incredible opportunity a few years back. She was cast as part of the jungle people in Seussical The Musical. Yes, it was a local production, but we had an intern from a pretty impressive acting school here to take the lead and help with directing. It was an amazing experience for her. She loved all the rehearsals, all the set building and all of the performances. I had high hopes that it was the start of her wanting to be involved in the local theater all the time. Alas, it was also the point in her life where she became more shy and little more afraid to put herself out there, and so the next time auditions came around she wasn't willing to try again. That year she naturally received a Cat In The Hat ornament for the tree. I love seeing it each time we bring it out and remembering how much fun the show was for her, and for me to watch. I hope she always remembers that little creative spark she has in her, even if it means just going to the shows, instead of partcipating in them.
Pine cones, spray painted gold. Actually these pine cones happened to have been collected by my Grandmother. She died several years ago so these are quite special to me. She has given me ornaments over the years, and I still have them on my tree, but for some strange reason they don't mean as much to me as my pine cones. I spray painted them with just a light dusting of gold. I've got plain ones still hidden away in a box that she collected as well. I love putting these out in pottery bowls or woven baskets, they add a natural look to my decorating style. I have visions of Grandma out walking through the "forest" as we called it, and putting these in a big box for me, and remembering how much she loved taking walks with us makes me feel warm and fuzzy.
This is my favorite ornament from when I was younger. I don't think it had any special significance the year I got it. It's a Hallmark ornament. I got one each year while I lived at home, not always a Hallmark, but an ornament of some kind. I can't explain why this one is my favorite of those I received, but it is. Many years SuperSister and I got the same ornament. Sometimes Babybrother got the same one as well. I like knowing that we have a few similar ornaments on our Christmas trees even though we no longer live in the same house.
I have a snowman collection that no one but me loves. There are some snowmen that I have received as gifts and some that I have purchased on my own. Some are expensive and some are quite cheesy. Grouped together they look like a mess, apart they look lost, so I just leave them all together. The two featured snowmen were created by my girls. Miss 11 made the one on the left in Kindergarten, he's since lost an arm and his popsicle stick skis have faded. He has smudgy fingerprints where she glued on his eyes and earmuffs. The one on the right was made by Miss 16 in second grade. He's also adorable with a glove tip hat and sequin buttons. His face is hand painted and his scarf is tied and twisted all around his pipe cleaner arms. By far this is the most tacky of my decorating scheme, but it's also the place I stop daily and remember who gave or made me which one.
I've been debating a plan for the blog this month. I am considering posting pictures, hopefully daily from now on, of random decorating we do around the house each Christmas season. Why? I have no idea other than I think I am boring people with all the talk of the swimming, the whining, and blathering.
We'll start with this one. Several years back I found some gorgeous snowflake ornaments. This is one of them. And then, my Mom found the same ornaments and bought me several for Christmas. This might be one of them, we bought the same ones. I put them in windows all around the house. They are a little sparkle in what ends up being long dreary days here. I love the way they look massed together, and this year I tried a few individually in windows, they look great as well. When the sun shines just right, for about 2 minutes, we have rainbows sparkling all over our kitchen. When Miss 11 was younger she used to chase them around, laughing until she fell down.
Even though technically he became Mr 20 yesterday, I still intend to tout his virtues today. Why? Because yesterday my Internet decided to take a pre Thanksgiving vacation leaving me to actually have to work on things besides the computer.
Dear Son, 20 years ago today (yesterday) as I lay in a hospital bed, after waiting for 36 hours and missing Thanksgiving dinner, you were born. As with most things in your life you chose to make it difficult. You weren't coming out, period. You decided that it was warm and toasty where you were, and the contractions coming 5 minutes apart for the past 36 hours could not convince you otherwise. Finally though, the pitocin drip had just the right effect on you. But the pitocin drip made me want to scream and rip someones head off. The (male) Doc decided it was time. And we commenced pushing, and pushing and pushing, and you must have grabbed hold of my lower rib and held on for all you were worth because you were NOT coming out. We should have guessed then exactly how terribly stubborn you were going to be. The (male) Doc then decided to try forceps, but oh no, not one set of forceps, he went through 3 different types of forceps. In the end, I told him to knock it off, and you were finally born. Sometimes I do win arguments between you and I, and I won this one!
Hubby and I were exhausted and thrilled and at 21 and 23 had no idea of the path that was ahead of us. You were a cry-er, and not a sleeper, and the exhaustion over having a newborn seemed overwhelming. So what did we do? 3 weeks after you were born we packed up our small household and moved 120 or so miles away from our closest family. No one ever said 20 something year old parents were geniuses.
We spent 6 months in a lack of sleep induced stupor before finally giving up and moving closer to help. (And a college we could afford for me to attend!)
Son, you are stubborn, over the years we have had innumerable clashes of opinion. Our opinions weren't the same regarding curfews, privileges, homework, grades, girls, friends, chores, TV viewing habits... The list would be long. We fought, we fight. You have learned lessons from me, (I hope) and I have learned lessons from you, my oldest child. You taught me to be a better parent. You taught me patience. You taught me the value of a well written note instead of a yelling, screaming face off. You taught me that at times, if I just shut up, you'll talk, eventually. I've learned that things I never imagined you listened to me about have actually helped you in the long run and you have repeated them to others.
I've learned to text, and text well, because that is the only way you speak to me during those long, long months you are away at college. I have learned that when my phone rings, and you actually call me, it's because you forgot to do something, you have lost something or you need me to mail you something.
Even though we don't always see eye to eye, I have learned things about you from others. I have learned what an amazing friend you are, and how people rely on you. I have learned you are the first one to volunteer to help someone who needs you: whether it's to jump start a car, give a ride to someone who shouldn't be driving (even when you've been in bed asleep for 2 hours already), shovel out a stuck car, drive someone when they have no other way to get there, talk on the phone at all hours of the night to someone who just needs your ear, ask me questions that they are too scared to ask their own parents when they need advice, speak out for someone who is too afraid to use their own voice, etc. The list goes on and on. You have become an amazing young man, and I am very, very proud of you!
I am convinced that as life goes on we will still disagree, and I am ok with that. I hope you are too, because I've learned so much from you and even when we don't agree, I think you learn from me too. Mr 20, I miss you with all my heart and soul when you are away at college, but I know that moving forward with your life is your new path. But even then, I wish I could bring you home, curl you up in your aqua blanket and your Elmo and snuggle with you while we read "Where The Wild Things Are." Happy Birthday to my first born and only son. Enjoy your 20's!
When they were little I stepped all over Lego's that littered the floor. Now, I trip over dirty towels on his bedroom floor and random socks littering wherever he drops them.
When they were little I picked up little pieces of Polly Pockets that covered each bedroom. (otherwise the cat eats them and hacks them up!) Now, I pick up headbands and pony tail holders left wherever they are taken from their hair.
When they were little I poured them bubble baths and dumped in a mountain of toys. Now, I'm barely allowed in the bathroom when they are showering unless they need a razor, a new bottle of shampoo or a bar of soap.
When they were little I got hugs and kisses before bed, along with begging for one more story. Now, I'm lucky if I get a "Good night, Mom" from the older two, so I cherish the hugs, kisses and random rambling that I get from Miss 11.
When they were little I scrubbed stains out of underwear, grass stains out of knees and spaghetti sauce stains out of tshirts. Now, all of their bathroom towels are have bleached handstains where they've neglected to wash their acne medication from their fingers before touching them.
When they were little playing a game with Hubby and I was fun on a Friday night. Now, I beg for 15 minutes of their time before they head out with their friends.
When they were little a kiss from Mom cured all their woes. Now, a kiss from them, might cure mine.
Here is the weather we've been having of late. It's not just a one day thing, or a one week thing, it is what our skies have looked like for about 2+ weeks. It's not really all that motivating, but it is really cold!
It's been in the teens at night already, and we've had highs that are barely 30 degrees. I don't do well with cold temps, but I do even worse with cloudy weather. The clouds make me tired, lethargic, crabby, any of those unhappy words you can think of, I've been there in the last few weeks.
It doesn't mean that I'm not busy, and I'm not getting everything done that I typically do, it just means that I'm not feeling it. I'm not too excited about anything, I don't feel the joy that I usually do when I hear Miss 11 giggling, or when she throws her arms around me and gives me a sloppy kiss on the cheek. Mostly I feel like one of those clouds have moved into my head and put a damper on me.
It must be bad when even Hubby starts to complain about the clouds. Miss 16 on the other hand, loves cloudy weather. So I don't hear her complaining too much about the clouds.
Mostly what I hear her complaining about right now is nearly everything else. She's tired out, physically and emotionally, from the huge job that is school and a swim season. These early morning practices and thousands of yards of swimming are doing her in. (Plus, I think, the new medication she is on for her heart makes her really crabby... shhhhhhh... don't tell her I said that!)
Meanwhile we have a few busy days ahead and I'm hoping that it will pull all of us out of this bit of cloudy weather, even if it's only in our minds. We have 2 swim meets at our home pool coming up along with 2 performances of a play where we have Miss 11 as some sort of "octet" character. Although the clouds may be outside I hope the excitement of a good swim meet and the joy of kindergarten through grade 6 performing on stage is enough to put a bit of sun in our lives.
Miss 11 ran her final cross country race yesterday. She swears that next year she is swimming and next year she'll be in 7th grade and she will have to chose. Her favorite quote the day of a CC race that she doesn't feel like running is, "I'm a swimmer, not a runner!" Her coaches would beg to differ with her opinion as they often comment on her smooth stride and legs that carry her forever. There are days where she has a rough time with the race. Last week after a particularly windy and cold race she was in tears over how much her ears hurt. Also the fact that she chose to eat nearly 2 slices of french bread pizza about 40 minutes before the race and those pieces were threatening a return appearance. Yesterday she crossed the finish line, stopped short and ran to me laughing because her nose was dripping like crazy and she needed a tissue there was no whining and no complaining. Cross country is so far from a glamorous sport. The finish line is typically a mish mash of runny noses and other bodily functions that we'll leave to your imagination.
But I know, in spite of all her protestations that Miss 11 will really miss this sport. She knows she's good at it, she loves to run, and she has the endurance. But because the seasons overlap she has to choose. I've enjoyed watching her run. I'm proud that she can do something that I can't. She's got a faster mile time then I think I ever had in my entire life. Hopefully the skills and ability she learned here will stay with her, and she won't be scared to run for exercise or pleasure as she ages. Our goal with involving our children in these sports isn't for top billing at a state tournament and it's not for scholarships to college. Our goal is to give them the ability to exercise for their health and not hate or dread it.
Miss 11 took 2nd in this race with her fastest mile time yet. But most importantly, she had fun and we are proud of her!
God Is Great, Beer is Good, People are Crazy?? I think it's a Dierks Bentley song, not sure though as I have only heard mention of it, and haven't actually heard more than the chorus. But my point being, that it is so true! Well, the people are crazy part is anyway. The beer part I don't understand, because I can't drink it, and the God is Great part, well, I get that part.
Just today, I have dealt with the strangest things, making me think the world is falling apart.
1. It's homecoming week here. That means the band is having extra practices for marching in the parade and playing pep band music. These extra practices are early in the morning so as not to interfere with sports practices. Well guess what? Miss 16 has swimming practices in the morning AND the afternoon, so Miss 16 has had to deal with trying to figure out what in the world to do, which does she go to and which teacher/coach does she disappoint? The band practice is for points towards their grade and the swim practice is mandatory if they want to go to the State meet. So she talks to her coach, tells her she has to go to practice. And the coach chews her out (along with the other band students) as if it is their fault they have practice. This only happens for 1 week during all of swim season I think a little leeway is in order here.
2. Miss 16 is in a confirmation class which meets once a week, Wednesday evenings and has meetings on some weekends. For whatever reason the Church has decided to hold a retreat on a TUESDAY during the school day. Did you see that? During the school day... If your child is due to be confirmed this year, which Miss 16 is, they are "expected" to be at this retreat. Are they crazy? They want our kids to skip school for a day to go to this retreat? I and other parents have been calling the correct people at the Church and expressing our negative opinions on this subject. We've had these retreats before, always after school hours, but during school hours? What are they thinking?
3. Our USA swimming club has decided to extend their season. Normally it runs from November to March, and by March my kids are completely burned out. It is swim practice every night during the week for 2 hours each night. It's a long, long tiring season and most of us parents wonder why in the world it has to last so many months. For whatever reason the club has decided to add to this season by having a "pre-season" during October. The kids are to come, pay 100 bucks for this privilege mind you, and swim 3 nights a week from 7 to 9 and then again on Saturday mornings for 2 hours. So that they will be in shape for the regular swim season when it starts. Isn't that what the regular season is for? Am I misunderstanding something here? A pre-season for young kids swim team? What in the world?
I've got more, but for tonight that is going to have to suffice, because those are the only facts I can keep straight right now. I could list the other crazy things, like the fundraisers and party I am helping with for Miss 11's elementary school, and the strange little things going on with those, but for right now, my head hurts, and I need to sort all this out before I can comment any farther.
Just in case you thought that life was smooth sailing: God Is Great, Beer (Rum) is Good and People are CRAZY!!
It runs through my family, anxiety. It's something Miss 11 has been struggling with since she was 2 and we could not leave her with a babysitter, no matter who it was, believe me, we tried and tried and tried.
Inside though I know where her anxiety comes from. Once in a while, well, actually more frequently then I would care to admit, it builds up in me. I get to a point where everything makes me nervous or afraid. Typically my stress level has to be pretty high before I really start to feel it. Sometimes it's for no real reason. Sometimes it's for the little things that normal people don't even give a second thought. Most of the time I just let it bubble beneath the surface. I manage it just fine and the only person who ever knows how bad it is is Hubby. (And it drives him crazy, but he tries hard to be kind while letting me know that I am a lunatic!)
Yesterday Miss 11 had a cross country meet. I couldn't drive her there, so she was riding with her coach and 4 other girls. See a problem? Yeah, most people wouldn't, but I did. By noon yesterday I was shaking, I was scared, nervous and on the verge of tears. Miss 11 hadn't even left town yet. I knew, they'd be driving on a two lane road, through lots of rough hills and valleys, with a lot of oil truck traffic. I had just driven the same road last weekend and it was horrific with traffic, truck traffic. So my mind raced with possibilities and none of them were happy possibilities. My nerves were shot and I wondered how I let my mind travel to this place. I texted Hubby, who naturally reassured me, over and over and over again before he finally called. Then admitted he was at a loss to help me and I needed to relax.
Today I'm better, but I'm wired and worried about Miss 16 being on the road, going to a swim meet without being medicated for her heart and without me being there. (It will be the first this season, and only, Sunday we finally get to start her on new meds!) I feel my mind reaching for the same place it was yesterday, that place where all I can think about is the safety of my children, and the fact that I can not protect them and have them with me every second of the day.
I stew daily over Hubby being on the road, 30 minutes each way, to get to work. I worry about his profession and all the dangerous equipment he works with daily. Plus the fact that he insists on pushing himself beyond what most humans can handle.
I worry every day when Miss 16 backs out of the driveway. I worry about her backing into the ugly pick up that is CONSTANTLY parked right behind her car on the opposite side of the street. I worry about Mr 19 sleeping through his alarm at college, and without a room mate, who will wake him for class? I worry about Miss 11 and how difficult it is for her to make new friends. Worry.. worry.. worry...
I wonder where that line is, the one that runs between normal every day worries and the other side of anxious where there is that loss of control. I wonder if I am already on that other side and I just can't see it. Who decides what a normal amount of worry is, and what is worth worrying about? And when did I become this worrywart?
This week I was privileged to get to spend 2 days as the librarian at Miss 11's school. I've taught nearly every type of class there is at an elementary school at one time or another as a substitute teacher. I've been all 7 grades, I've been the PE teacher for an extended time, I've taught music, I've been in the technology room, I was the LD teacher for almost 5 months at one school and 4 months at another, I've even covered the secretaries desk now and then, though not a full day. By far my favorite job is the librarian. I get to see all the kids, I get to read to them, I get to talk to them about what interests them, there aren't too many discipline problems and I get to send them back to their teachers.
This week I had all 6 grades along with 2 classes of kindergarten in 2 days. It was busy, but not too busy and it was fun to see all of the students. My only complaint would be that it has been nearly 90 degrees out both days I taught, and there is no air conditioning in the library. There is a fan, but it's broken. So it was toasty and muggy both days. The worst came when the 5th graders, all 25 of them, came directly to library from PE, where they had been running. Oh, it was a joyous mixture of odors that afternoon.
I was fortunate enough to hear lots of interesting tales and help look for some strange book choices:
- "My mom used to have a shirt like that, but she thought it got really old and ratty so she put it on a rummage sale. Then she bought another one sort of like it, it's blue like yours." Thanks kid, this is a brand new shirt, second time I've worn it.
-"I've seen a snake this big on the road by my house, it was eating a pig or something." While looking at a picture of a reticulated python.
-"I'm pretty sure I could read this." A kindergartner scanning through a chapter book with teeny, tiny print and well over 200 pages.
-"Do you know where my grandma lives?" No honey, I'm afraid I don't. But I'm sure you could tell me in a reaaallllllyyyyyy long story.
-"Mrs. Librarian doesn't do it that way." Lather, rinse, repeat... again, and again, and again.
"Do I look like Mrs. Librarian?" They say no you don't and I tell them, "Then I won't do things exactly like Mrs. Librarian," and they are fine with that, but with the kindergartners, I was a little afraid to say that, because I was scared they would say yes, and the librarian is about 64 years old.
You know, all those little things... the ones that get your blood boiling, or make you feel overwhelmed. It's the ones that just irritate the begeeberz out of you and make you wish for a vacation somewhere warm, with a butler, and a maid.
Hubby has one of those days going today. He called this morning, half an hour after he left, in a tizzy about something beyond his control, cussed a blue streak, which made me mad, so we argued. Then, when he was finally able to get where he needed to, 2 more major things went wrong. He works alone, on a farm, things going wrong are stressful without someone to help with them, but the worst part is all the physical labor involved, by yourself. With no one to drive if something breaks down, he walks or more than likely runs, with no one to help he shovels bins by himself when augers fail, and with no one to help he does all the little things that keep him from doing what he really needs to be doing this time of year: running the combine.
Despite leaving early, the combine (harvester if your from down south) wasn't running in the field until after 1:30 p.m. and that makes one mad Hubby. There is nothing in his mind that should interfere with the combine being in the field, nothing. He doesn't think any of the extra work he has to do counts for anything if the combine isn't running. It's the same way in the spring when the seeder isn't going when he wants it to be. He works hard, way too hard, and with me needing to be where the kids are, I'm not a lot of help.
So this is my post giving kudos to my husband. He won't read here until after harvest is done, so I'm not trying to weasel my way out of trouble, or get a little extra cash or some other material thing. I just want it to be out here for him to read someday.
Hubby, we know you can't work less, we know you can't stop during certain times of the year and take a break. We all know that despite your desires there are many times you can't make it to a swim meet, an IEP meeting or a concert. You miss out on little day to day things that break your heart, and you miss out on big things and wonder why in the world things are scheduled during harvest or seeding. We chuckle knowing that in your mind you honestly think everyone elses schedules should revolve around seeding and harvest just like yours does. Your work is thankless and the world often doesn't see just how much of yourself you put into it (literally with all the cuts and head smacks you incur). But here at home we see it, we know how hard you work, we see how much you stress and we wish that there was a way we could help. We know that coming home after we have all gone to bed isn't an escape from us, but a necessity, and we are glad that most of the time we see you for a little while in the mornings. Even though there is little we can do, we want you to know that we appreciate every scrape, cut, head smack and stomping-up-and-down-throwing-your-hat-on-the-ground cussing-a-blue-streak-thing that you do to let the rest of us live the way we do. Try to relax more, try to control your temper, but know, that we love you anyway.
After a week of having 2 extra teenage girls around, we have returned to a more quiet household. Mr 19 and the girls have all left. Mr 19 returned to college 7 hours away and Hubby and I delivered the girls to one of their parents for the remainder of their trip home on Saturday. My house, though still disorderly, is very quiet. Hubby is also gone as harvest FINALLY got started. (Only 3 weeks and 2 days past normal)
Last week was organized chaos as Miss 16 and the two extra teens, Lolo and Sissa, had swim practice twice a day. If you know swimmers you know that after swim practice all they can think about doing is EATING, and eating a lot of food. My job was to keep them fed, healthily fed. Each morning before they got up I set out cereals, toasts, yogurts, juice and fruit. (you know nothing about the 2 loaves of monkey bread that I made for them... nothing!) At noonish I made lunch and had that ready and waiting when they got home from practice, and around supper (dinner if you aren't from my background) I made two meals, one for my family and one for the swimmers. They were the same meal, just ready at 2 different times to allow for better kitchen and table access. I washed towels when needed and once had to wash clothes as practice was in the middle of a just rained on football field that resulted in mud baths for all. Don't worry, I kept my family in clean clothes all week, I only meant that I only had to wash Lolo and Sissa's clothes once.
The girls were tired, exhausted at times, but enjoyed each others company immensely. They had friends over each night they were here, sometimes other swimmers, and sometimes, gasp!, boys! They made a mess of Miss 16's room which must have driven her crazy since she is such a neatnic. In fact she had her room cleaned within hours of the girls being gone.
Also last week Mr 19 packed himself up and headed east to start college classes again. I didn't think it would be hard to see him go again, but it was. I said goodbye just before I had to take Lolo and Sissa to meet their ride (45 minutes away) and I cried halfway there. It's a good thing Hubby was along to drive since I had a problem with my eyes, they kept dripping.
Hubby started harvesting today. It's a relief and a stress all at the same time. Last year harvest began on August 1st, this year it began on August 23rd. The rains, cold nights, cool days and lack of sun and heat led to a very, very slow maturing of the crops. In fact many aren't anywhere near harvestable even yet. It will more than likely prove to be a highly stressful harvest season for all of us.
School starts this week, so this gradual quieting of my household is probably good for me. At least it didn't happen all at once. My days are still busy but the literal noise in the house is much less than it has been. I'm not sure it's a good thing. A little chaos in a house is a sign of a busy, happy family.
Recently we have been looking to update my vehicle. We've been researching (and if you know my husband you know this is a HUGE project: must. research. everything.) and trying to make up our minds on wants and needs, and just plain like-to-haves. Of course price is also a factor, along with color, because I will NOT drive another maroon vehicle, I WON'T I WON'T I WON'T!!
Researching has led us to a few car dealers and with car dealers come car salesman. I have nothing against a salesman, my dad works sales, my husband used to work in sales and friends have worked in sales. Selling and being good at selling things is a job and a talent. Not everyone can be nice to everyone who steps up to their business. Being a good salesman means being a proficient actor. However, in our research I have come across people who I can definitely say are not good salesmen. (Yes, I said Men)
I am getting rid of a van, a mini van. I may or may not get another one, but that isn't the point of this post. Here is the point:
If you are a salesman and a husband and a wife come in, driving a van, and talk about purchasing a van or smaller SUV from you, and it is VERY obvious that this vehicle is going to be a vehicle for the wife, then I would recommend to you that you actually make eye contact with the wife, you should speak to the wife, you should find out what the wife wants, and you should behave as though the wife is actually in the same universe as you are. As the wife I have the power to completely refuse to buy a vehicle from you, there goes your commission. I would also recommend that you don't poo-poo what the wife deems important and not important in a vehicle. Once again, I have the power to refuse to buy a vehicle from you, and I will do it in a heartbeat.
We have a salesman we have dealt with for years, and although he is 120 miles away he has the salesman touch down pat. When he calls or when we stop by, guess who he talks to AS MUCH AS or more than he talks to my husband. That would be me. He realizes that in order to get a sale, I need to be convinced, and I need to know that what I want is what's important. I know he doesn't give a flying fig what my life is really like, he doesn't care how my family is, or what I will be using the vehicle for, but he acts like he does, and he listens when I speak. After I have said what I want/don't want, he doesn't show us things or recommend things that don't have what I want/don't want. Overall he's making me feel like my time is valuable and he's not going to waste it.
So to all you salesman I have dealt with recently who were more interested in Hubby's opinion and his thoughts and to the few of you who were more interested in my chest size, there is a very specific reason I am not buying a vehicle from you, and the reason is you. Get a new job because you are not going to make it as a salesman.
Bet you thought this post was going to go on and on and whine about how my children never pick up after themselves, and never do what they are told, right? Well, you are wrong, though there is one in particular who does that, this post isn't about him, oops, I mean isn't about that particular subject.
This post is regarding Miss 11 and her complete ability to baffle me. Or it could be my inability to understand her, one or the other, and who's responsibility it is to keep her moving forward.
Late last week Miss 16 and Mr 19 were fortunate enough to be at the lake with friends. Miss 16 was staying at a cabin with a friend and her family and Mr 19 was off gallivanting with his friends at a nearby lake. Miss 11 was stuck home with us, as is not unusual since she is only 11. We felt sorry for her, and decided to take her out for ice cream.
We drove to the ice cream place, actually it's a miniature golf place that just happens to serve ice cream, and stepped up to the counter to decide what we wanted. There were two people working, a mother and son I would guess, and they both started talking to us. Heaven forbid! Miss 11 was trying to make her decision when one of them asked, "What can I get you? Waffle cone, plain cone, dish?" She looked at me, clearly panicked to have people speaking to her, with a question in her eyes. I explained her options and she whispered the answer to me, I relayed it to the attendant. The attendant picked up the waffle cone, walked back over and asked what she wanted in it. Again Miss 11 got the panicked look in her eyes, and I just took over, telling the attendant what I wanted, Hubby then told them what he wanted and Miss 11 was still trying to decide. Finally she whispered in Hubby's ear what she had decided and he passed the information on. End of transaction, we got ate our ice cream (mine was licorice chip by the way, mmmmmm!) and walked to the van.
As the evening progressed I thought more and more about how shy Miss 11 can be, and I worried as mother's do about how we sometimes coddle her. I wondered whether I should have forced her to order her own ice cream, or if just making her life easier was ok.
Then yesterday I had one of those "oh my gosh my kids don't need me" moments. Miss 11 has volleyball camp this week. She attends for 1.5 hours every morning. It's in a building she has spent time in often for various other volleyball related activities. I have always had to walk her in to those activities, stay until she was comfortable with her coach, or sometimes stay the entire time, and if I left I always had to be back well before she was done waiting where she could see me.
Yesterday we got to the building, she opened the van door, hopped out and said "see you afterwards!"
"Wait," I said, "don't you want me to walk you in?"
"Nope, I'm good!"
"Um, ok, I'll be waiting in the parking lot when you are done, I'll park by the building, look for me there."
"Ok, bye Mom, love you!"
And off she scampered. I had added the wait for you in the parking lot part just to test her, and she was fine. She didn't care if I was coming in, or walking her in, she was completely fine being dropped off. It was strange, especially after the few days spent worrying about the shyness. She didn't know who was her coach or who was at camp, and none of it bothered her.
So now I wonder, what do I force her to do (order for herself) and what do I just wait for her to be comfortable doing on her own?
Last week we went to SuperSister's best friends farm. She raises mini horses and full size horses. We had a great time wandering through the mini pen with the new babies. My girls were in love and both begged to bring one home.
The best part was watching my Niece. Although she has been at the farm several times, and she begs to go, she still has a slight fear of the animals and spends her entire time wandering around with her hands over her ears. For some reason she has chosen this as her scared look, and she does it all the time. You can see her in the bottom left of the photo with Miss 11.
Yesterday was a big day for Miss 16. She was very nervous, but she persevered and passed her driver's license test! So now we have 1 more driver in the house, and because of that I am just a little less needed at home. Sigh. Though I love that I won't need to schedule my time around when both girls need rides, I am really going to miss the times I had in the vehicles with Miss 16. Not always, but many days when I picked her up from school I got a little glimpse into what her days are like, she usually had something to tell me, or something to complain about, and I will miss those few moments we had alone each day. Yes, we'll probably have times at home alone before Miss 11 will need a ride home, but it's not the same. There are too many rooms in the house, too many things that need to be done, and too much temptation to be in separate rooms. I'll miss those trapped in the car with mom moments of one on one time.
We are home from our vacation in Minneapolis/St. Paul. Although it really didn't feel much like a vacation, we didn't do a lot of touristy things, we didn't sit on a beach and relax, I didn't read any trashy novels. But, we did stay in a hotel, and the girls swam in the pool there, so I guess there is that.
Miss 16 had her Doc appointment with her surgeon, long story short, more monitoring required. So although it was a short to the point appointment, this way we have a direction to take.
Mr 19 went along and stayed at my Hubby's sister's place. He took over their basement for a while and hung out with his newly graduated cousin, SuperSwimBoy. SuperSwimBoy will be moving on to swim at Gustavus, a college close to his home town. The boys hung out, went to a Twin's game that lasted 16 innings and generally caroused for "hot chicks."
The girls have a cousin who is 15, she spent time with us doing some shopping, gossiping and driving. Miss 11 has run out of too many things in common with the girls at the moment, as they mostly talk about who's hawt and who's not... but they included her some, and I appreciated that.
My favorite part of the trip was a visit to Trader Joe's. I brought home a few bags of goodies and I am conserving them so I can whip out a treat now and then when I'm feeling sorry for myself and the fact that I live in a town with crap for grocery stores. (why, oh why doesn't Trader Joe's have an online shopping sight??)
I'll be heading out on Thursday for a birthday celebration with SuperSister where Supersister, Miss 16, Miss 11, SuperSisterinLaw and maybe Hubby and Mr 19 will be going to the new Harry Potter flick. I can't wait!
So just in case you wondered if I got kidnapped while I was in the big city, no such luck, I'll be around to bore you again soon!