Family 2013

Family 2013

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Crisis and the Pity Pool!

Ten days ago, Florida experienced a hurricane.  A massive hurricane.  A hurricane that covered our entire state, and then some.  It went over Carribbean islands as a Cat 5 and was a "mere" Cat 4 when it came ashore around Naples.  Irma was a Cat 1 by the time she got to us, which was a very good thing.

But, it is important to remember a few things--Houston was devastated by Hurricane Harvey beginning on 8/25/17.  Hurricane Irma,  although it didn't make landfall in the states until 9/10/17, was being closely watched by all media (all the time) from Labor Day (9/4) on. And we thought we were going to be hit by a stronger hurricane until a few hours before it made landfall. Hurricane Maria formed the following weekend, following an eerily similar (and for the the Carribbean islands, as devastating a) path as Irma .

All this is to say that being at DEFCON 1 (maybe 2, if you don't get easily ruffled) is a very wearing place to live. Yes, we only had minor damage to the house, but it took us a week to prepare and a week to clean up; we have a roof repair yet, and there is currently a large, partially separated branch dangling directly over our power line.  The only benefit over Hurricane Hugo, which we also went through, is that I didn't have to wait 2 days to find out if Cindy was OK at her apartment because we never lost our cell phones.

Which brings me to those cute little puppies in the pool.  Folks--we all have a pity pool.  Some are bigger than others.  Some are used more frequently; BUT we all have them.  They are not a bad thing.  They are a coping skill.  You'll notice that I did not call it a pity bathtub.  It is not for soaking in until your skin is pruney.   But, if life hands you lemons, then you deserve, and have earned, a dip in the pity pool.  You'll feel better if you acknowledge that life is not fun.  You'll feel even better if your friends honor your "pool time".

As God would have it, my Bible study is currently in Job.  Imagine if, instead of pontificating from their posteriors, Job's friends had acknowledged that his life currently stunk.  It wouldn't have changed his circumstances, except that he wouldn't have felt so alone.  And that, my friends, would have made all the difference.

They wouldn't have had to join him in the pity pool, just given him the right to be there.  And prayed for him.  And stood by him.  And, maybe even reminded him that the pity pool is not a spa.  When you go through trauma, you need your faith, your family and your friends.  Job had none of that.  We can do better for our friends.

If you need me, I'll be swirling my toesies in my inflatable pity pool!  Care to join me?
Feeling blessed, how about you?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

When "back to school" means "away from home"

I know you want to avoid it!  That "wonderful" rite of passage known as "taking the kiddo to college".  Move in day is a royal pain.  The kiddo packs everything they own, hoping it will fit into a room the size of a postage stamp.  And we pray that we parents don't have a heart attack lugging it all in!

Or...they forget to pack their underwear. Or...they've never operated a washer on their own and don't wash clothes until said clothes are able to walk to the washer in self defense.  Or what if they starve to death because they hate the dorm food?  Or if darling daughter needs thousands of dollars to pay for therapy after gaining the dreaded freshman 15 and her skinny jeans don't fit?  And maybe some professor will say something mean to them...or they'll forget an assignment is due because you're not there to remind them.

Yes, those things MAY happen (except the therapy.  I was kidding about that).  And your kiddo will do some growing up.  And it will hurt your feelings as much as it hurts theirs!  And you, dear parent, will need to cope as much as they do.

Since I am a very practical person, here are a few tips that have helped me to cope.  First, sit down with your kiddo before move in day and set some parameters.  For our son, each time he went back to school, he would send texts every day or two stating that he was still alive...for a week or two.  That gave me time to adjust to his departure.  Daughter (who is currently in college) generally calls or Facebook messages every day.  Our son really wanted to establish his independence, but as I told him, I had been "mothering" for 18 years and couldn't quit cold turkey.  And (this is VERY important), stick to your end of the bargain.  If you can do that, they WILL call when they need you.

There are a few things you can do to mother "long distance".

  1. Let them be adults.  You are now "hero support".  You have spent 18 years getting them ready for this.  They can do it.  Let them!
  2. With regard to any forgotten items, such as the missing underwear--Amazon does WalMart and any other retailers.  Please don't mention to the other parents at orientation that your kiddo forgot to pack something, just arrange for it's arrival and you will be Super Mom!
  3. If your kiddo is not used to operating household appliances, write the instructions for operation in a notebook.  Once written, trust that your young adult can take it from there.  This includes instructions to not wash reds and whites together lest you have a closet filled with lovely pink items.  This way they have access to your wisdom at any time of the day or night.
  4. Leave (or arrange for delivery) of a "Dr. Mom box".  We all know that you never feel as sick as you do at 3 a.m.  I always wrote the symptom (on an index card or in the notebook that you're writing your other advice in) and then the over the counter med that solves their problem.  The corresponding medicine should be in the box.  My daughter calls this box "a hug from Mom".  Provide meds for all the likely illnesses and general first aid.  Don't forget to provide for all of the symptoms discussed in the Pepto Bismol commercial.  Your kiddo may scream "Moooooommmm", but they'll thank you if the change in diet doesn't agree with them!  For example
    1. Stuffy Nose--1 Sudafed every X hours, use saline nasal spray as needed.
  5. Give your kiddo a "mail box" with stamps, return address labels, and greeting cards.  You may also want to include address labels for Grandma or anyone else they may want to send a card. Don't forget to give them a list of family birthdays.
  6. Mail matters.  Even if you talk to your kiddo every day, they love getting something that isn't a bill in the mail.  Drop a fun card in the mail every so often. (Hint: my mother mailed the first card BEFORE we left for move in day, because she knew I'd be lonelier than I thought I would be)  And don't forget to send a treat if your kiddo has a tough week ahead, such as midterms or finals.  We usually provide pizza money, but my kiddo is off campus. 
  7. Provide basic cleaning supplies.  And while you may prefer scrubbing on your hands and knees, a swiffer has a better chance of actually being used. 😄  We like cleaning wipes, swiffer clothes & mop handle (dusting/sweeping and damp mopping), daily shower spray and a simple vacuum (if your kiddo has roommates, you may not need to provide the vaccum). Don't forget the dishwashing soap!
  8. Don't forget close friends.  Our daughter is involved in a small campus group.  I usually provide Silly Putty for them all at exam time, because it is fun to beat up on and mash while you study.
  9. Don't forget to pray for them, each and every day!
And lastly, be available for what your kiddo wants/needs.  I am the preferred paper proof reader.  I do not understand the topic being discussed in daughter's papers (she's in a STEM major), but I can check for sentence fragments and spelling errors. She also likes lunch/shopping days.  For our son, we took him out to lunch, and helped with emergency car repairs.  It's different parenting an adult, but with a little practice this stage of life is a LOT of fun!

Feeling blessed, how about you!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Failure to Launch...or Wildly Successful?

As I've said in previous posts, I COULD be that mom.  You know, the one for advice for every scenario.  Oh wait, I AM that mom...but I don't need to be!

In fairness, I haven't been in the business office for either kids' university since they were registered full time (and only then because the credit card was in my name).  I haven't known my daughter's class schedule for 2 years.  The last time I was on campus was Parents' Weekend in October.  I've never met anyone at her internship.  And most importantly, none of her professors since she started at Poly would be able to pick me out of a lineup!

And today she handled her first car repair, armed only with the knowledge that her dad was a phone call away.  Handled it perfectly too.  We knew she would!

She does call almost every day.  I'm so glad she does, her life is MUCH more interesting than my account of which bathroom was dirtier.  Besides, I like being needed.  We had a big laugh last week about a "calls to Mom" meme that included things like "How do I make rice".  Don't you love it when your kids say the same thing that you taught them?  Her response was "follow the instructions on the box".

In fairness, we do have a system set up for the "weird and infrequent".  You know--illness, writing a check (which in this era of computerized banking is infrequent), and basic repairs.  For our son, I had an index card binder.  It only had cards for various illnesses.  There were things like "for itchy eyes or allergic reaction take 1-2 Benedryl  Warning--you will feel a nap attack coming on!".  I put it in a box with all the meds mentioned on the index cards.  For our daughter we had a more complete list of "likely questions"; so she has a binder.

If I had it to do over, I would have started the binder sooner.  I included favorite recipes, the "what to do when you're sick" instructions and a section on basic household maintenance.  For example, back in the day, my brother didn't know that the vacuum cleaner needed a bag (which created quite a mess).  Obviously, the binder isn't sufficient if your kiddo isn't familiar with basic household skills.  Take advantage of the high school years for basic practice. Do they know the difference between boil, simmer, brown, bake & broil?  Do they know how to check the air pressure in their car's tires?  Can they sort, wash and dry their laundry?  In our daughter's case, she left for college 6 weeks after she was accepted.  If we hadn't been prepping for years, we would have been in big trouble!

Lastly, it has been discussed in many articles that a lot of young adults are lacking in soft skills.  Do your kids know how to answer a phone in a business like manner?  Are they able to introduce themselves in a businesslike manner?  Do they know how to conduct themselves in a business setting?  And, by the way,  they'll miss out on some great instruction if they don't put the phone down during class.  These are all skills that will come in very handy during college and job interviews!

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Day that Mom was Wrong...

When we homeschooled, I had laser focus on the things my kiddos needed to work on.  Now that they are adults, I wish I had had laser focus on what they did well!

For our daughter, illegible handwriting was one of "those things".  I ranted.  I raved. I made her do it again...and again.  "Honey, handwriting is a form of communication.  If I can't read it, you're not communicating!"  It was a battle I never won.  I took comfort in the fact that all of her assignments in college were done on a computer.  And she could read her own notes.  And finally...she was over 21, and if it hadn't taken by now; she would have to deal with it!

Until yesterday.  Yesterday, at her internship (IT at a retail corporate office); she was complimented on her handwriting.  Apparently, messy handwriting is a thing for computer geeks.  Maybe it's a sign of intelligence.  Or maybe...just maybe...I was wrong...

Feeling blessed!  How about you?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Use that helicopter for SHORT hops!

This post was actually started several months ago, but I forgot to publish it!
We have just started year 3 away from home for dear daughter.  Her heading away to college came with very short notice in the middle of an incredibly busy summer!  The university was close enough for us to get there in an emergency and far enough away for her to need to move out.  She moved 10 days after her brother's wedding across the country and a mere 6 weeks after her acceptance into the university.

This meant that whatever prep we had done for her living on her own had to be complete already.  Those 6 weeks were full of finding an apartment and furnishing said apartment, hiring movers and getting ready to travel to/from the wedding.  In other words, as a "helicopter parent" my helicopter had better have already taken off...and landed!

You've heard about helicopter parents, right?  They're always all the rage in the news when kids go back to college.  These are the parents who hover above their little darlings, smoothing their path every step of the way.  I even read about one parent who was doing her daughter's homework in COLLEGE, because she wanted her to succeed.  I shudder to think about what she was planning to do to for her daughter's career.

The truth of the matter, of course, is that parents are trying to work themselves OUT of a job.  But our instincts are to make everything wonderful for our precious kiddos; like we did for the first part of their lives. But, don't you remember what it felt like when you were first on your own?  OK, not everything was wonderful.  There were burned dinners and missed opportunities.  BUT those opportunities...the potential-- glorious, wasn't it?

I am so glad that Cindy had her chance to take on the world.  She was starting at a brand new state university.  Even the professors were new to the campus.  The buildings were new, the classes were new.  So everyone had an equal opportunity to screw things up!  But she didn't.  She succeeded beyond my wildest dreams.  Clue #1--if your dreams have limits, don't tell your kiddo.  That way they'll really reach for their own dreams!

Instead, start teaching them to live on their own early.  Let them pour their drinks over the dishwasher door, so that the drips are contained in the dishwasher.  Let them mop your floors with the socks on their feet.  Let them try while they're in a controlled environment.  Clue #2--If it's not good enough, tell them...but gently.  You don't want to extinguish the flame, just trim the wick!

Think about what your little precious ones will need to know out in the real world.  One of the things that I did for Cindy was to put a section in her cookbook binder for those things that don't happen often and their remedies.  Let's face it folks, a cold/fever/flu is always at it's worst at 2 a.m...and I'm not at MY best then either!  And send them off with an "emergency meds kit" so that they are ready to handle it.  Clue #3--Set them up for success!

And lastly, give them room to grow.  A potted plant can't grow any bigger than the pot that it is in.  At some point, you have to let your plant grow bigger than your 4 walls.  Give them a chance to try.  Be there when they need support, but let them know that you KNOW they can do it!  Clue #4--Because, you know what?  They CAN!

Oh...and one last clue--THE EMPTY NEST ROCKS!

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Adult Mom-ing!

Moms--you will always be a mom. Don't be sad as your kiddos scream into adulthood (sometimes literally)! You may not wake up KNOWING that you will be "mom-ing" today. The stuff that you have to "mom" will most likely be bigger than Cheerios vs. Rice Krispies or playing "What's that Smell". You will have to be on your game instantaneously.

But, hey, you've been prepping your kid's entire lives for this! You don't get to stretch your Mom-ness that often anymore. So, when your kids call with a question, problem or concern; sit down and listen. Pay attention to them, because who knows when the next opportunity will come. If you're lucky enough to live close to your munchkins, put on a pot of coffee and have an adult moment. Personally, I'm not that lucky...but I did learn today not to try to eat a peanut butter sandwich during a "mom moment"!

And if you're really lucky, you might get to "Mom" ALL of your adult children in a 6 hour period! And then you will need a nap, I promise! So what did I get to "mom" today?

  • Do I try to graduate from college a semester early (since I'm only one class off) 
    • 15 credit hours + activities + job is enough in one semester 
  • Which class do I drop then? 
    • Mutually, we decided the one that she needed an override to take 
  • My car breathed it's last and won't move. How do I get rid of the carcass? 
    • I, of course, segued right in to buying the new one and how old is too old, etc.
  • Is this a good price for the car carcass?
    • Probably the best you'll do and you won't have to worry about it anymore. 
You will always be needed, Mom. Enjoy the "mom moments" and if your mama is still around, give her a thrill and call with a mom moment.

And kiddos? Call your mom!!! She needs to be needed! And thanks, kids, for letting me into your lives today!  Feeling blessed, how about you?

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Education Gaps!

A Facebook friend of mine shared a post on "getting your kids to want to help around the house".  I confess, I never had much luck with that.  I think that was mostly because my kids were too smart to see housework for anything other than work!

In the interest of keeping the house "less attitudinal", I abandoned "clean your room".  I opted instead for "keep it clean enough to keep DCF and pests away".  However, the common areas of the house were a different matter.  We parents had a right to live comfortably as well.  Additionally, my job titles did not include "slave to my children"!  Each child had "chores" to complete--mowing the lawn, emptying the dishwasher, (eventually) doing your own laundry, or cooking the occasional meal.

Now that the kids are out on their own, I see advantages and disadvantages to this plan.  The disadvantage is easy--now I have no additional help.  Although they would complain, they were a LOT of help.  And although we don't have as much laundry or as many dishes, the lawn is no smaller and the dust piles up just as much. I am also older...much, much older.

The good news for them is that, over time, they learned how to do all the basics.  They even learned some tricks.  So, we didn't have to have a last minute cram session before they moved out.  Here are a few tips my kids found particularly useful--

If you have the money for conveniences--

  • Laundry and dishwasher pods are particularly convenient
  • My son didn't like cooking initially, so he found frozen entrees to be the cheapest, most convenient way to eat.  It was still cheaper than a meal plan.  Bagged salad was a great side.
  • Swiffer dusters and sweepers are quick and easy for floor cleaning
  • Vacuum once a week.  Use the bare floor setting if you don't have time to swiffer
  • Windex and paper towels will clean countertops, kitchen appliances as well as the bathroom surfaces. (Remember that if you have natural stone countertops this isn't a good idea)
  • Toilet gel stamps will keep cleaning to a minimum.
  • Shower cleaning sprays will keep your shower "good enough"
But if you don't want to invest in a lot of consumable supplies
  • Socks are great cleaning rags.  Get a package of tube socks and turn them inside out.  Put them on your feet and use a spray bottle of windex to clean your floors.Add a little music and the job will be fun!  Put them on your hands and use windex to clean your mirrors, kitchen and bath.  I use a dry one to dust.  Then you can just wash them with your whites each week.
  • It's easier to clean as you go.  If you have a scrub sponge or shower scrubbie in your bathroom, it's easy to scrub your shower and sink with a bit of shampoo.  A spray bottle with a bit of rinse agent for your dishwasher (diluted with water) will keep the soap scum from sticking to the shower walls.  You can use your hand towel to wipe down the counters before you throw it in the wash.  One of those "touch up" bottles of cleaner on a bit of toilet paper with keep the toilet company ready...pretty much.
  • Try to keep the kitchen counters clean.  If you don't think the dishes are fun on day one, they really won't be fun on day 112!  If you are lucky enough to have a dishwasher, it's probably builder grade and not up to challenge of running it "over capacity" or with food residue that has been hardening for months.  Do yourself a favor and run it every few days.  You'll thank yourself!
  • Don't forget to vacuum regularly!
Household maintenance-
  • If you keep a supply of extra light bulbs, laundry soap, drain cleaner and basic maintenance tools (get a plunger before you need one)'ll be able to head a lot of problems off at the pass.
  • Parents- teach your kiddos basic maintenance on the house and car.  Write the instructions down in a notebook, along with favorite recipes and hints for what to take when they don't feel well.  My daughter calls this her "mom hug book".  I included a kit of basic over the counter meds and household items to get her started.  Remember that it's hard to remember all of those emergency things emergency!
  • In the "mom hug book", you can also include reminders on tipping or phone numbers for the pizza place and the insurance company or any other "adulting" things your kids may need to remember how to do/call.  If you put everything there, they will continue it and it will be a powerful resource.
  • Calendar reminders will keep you from forgetting to keep up with home and auto maintenance.
So, parents, how have you done preparing for this "education gap"?  I have found that a lot of my daughter's friends think that cleaning must be a marathon of perfection.  But they're busy studying and so they put it off until it really is a big job.  Remember, mom, good enough is good enough!  And if you have a child heading off to college in 2016, it's not too late!  Teach 'em how to wield a windex bottle now!

Oh and parents?  Remember that when the last little chick leaves the nest all the jobs come back to you. You might want to study up on the "easy cleaning" list now!  I invested in a bunch of "you don't have to bend over or crawl around on your hands and knees" cleaning supplies.  And I keep saying "good enough is good enough" (although my knees say it before I do)!
Feeling blessed, how about you?