Family 2013

Family 2013

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?

Friday, December 4, 2015

Jesus is Coming! Put down the duster!

I have a friend who says that "if you're coming to see the house, make an appointment.  If you're coming to see us, come on over!"  What a wonderful "Mary attitude"!

On the other hand, many of us treat the Christmas season as an opportunity to audition for the "Win a Chance to Host Jesus" reality TV show.  Every decoration must be perfect, everything must be homemade and every present must be perfectly chosen and wrapped.  How "Martha" of us!

Our children  will not remember what they got for Christmas ten years from now.  They will remember dancing to "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" with you.  They will not remember designer cookies, but they will remember standing on a stool helping you cut them out...if you're having fun.

And that's the key, people.  It's better to be in the living room, living rather than creating the "perfect Christmas" like Attila the Hun conquering the East.  I mean, really, who wants Attila the Hun as a mom?

And to relate this back to Martha's desire to be Martha Stewart--she forgot a couple of important details.  This was Jesus, baby!  How often did she get to spend time with Him?  And...they were guys.  Guys don't need designer cookies.  Give 'em a plate of nachos and they're happy.  And then she could have been in the living room with a smile on her face.

So, enjoy this season!  Make a mess, have some fun!  After all, Jesus is coming and you don't want to miss it!
Feeling blessed, how about you?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Christmas Letters

Over the years people have let me know how they feel about the infamous Christmas letter.  Some are for them, but many are against a "form letter".
My family has been writing Christmas letters for over 50 years.  I have a scrapbook full of them.  My mother would agonize for weeks over every word.  I do the same.  Does the letter hit the high points of each person's year. Is everyone equally represented?  Is it creative (some years I've been lucky just to finish the letter)?

But I have finally realized something about those letters.  They are a record of our family's history.  To you, they may be something to read and toss...but to me, they are a yearbook!

About 5 years ago, I started adding a photo greeting card to go with the letter.  Each year I save one letter for my scrapbook and one for each of the kids.  I have friends who are known for their creative letters.  I wish I was, but at least I have a record of each year!

So when you receive my Christmas letter, I hope you enjoy it.  But, if you don't, please understand that I am writing a love letter to my kids...and just sharing it with you!

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Adulting is not the hard part...

Yeah, you read that right!  You know how it think that each stage you're in is the hard part.

  • Kids wanna be grown ups
  • Teens are smarter than grownups
  • Young adults are gonna "do life" better than their parents
  • There's no way I'm doing this better than my parents
  • I wish my parents were here to tell me HOW to do this

And, somewhere in there, your kids grow up.  Now they're adulting...without you!  And do know what the hardest part of that is?  You don't know what is going on in their lives.  Oh, sure, you know they're still alive.  You might hear about what they made for dinner or that they went to a party with friends you've never met.  You might hear about a work project that, frankly, you don't understand.  But remember when their car was parked in your driveway and you knew that it had good tires?  Remember when they asked your advice on what to wear?  Remember when you drove to their university with a "flu care package" because you knew they were low on groceries?  You probably even remember sitting up waiting for the headlights in the driveway, so that you knew they made it home safely.  You don't have that involvement anymore.  In fact, they don't live in the same state as you do anymore.

Really, it's not about that involvement.  You've raised your kids to adult successfully.  You knew it was coming.  It's just that you don't like the feeling very much.  And you realize that you never gave your parents enough credit for adulting with adult children.  They were far better at it than you could ever hope to be...

Monday, April 27, 2015

It Takes 8 Months OR The Frozen Dogs!

We have only had rescue dogs.  They have all been wonderful dogs.  The first 2 dogs were puppies when they came to our house.  The last two were 3 year olds--they are "The Frozen Dogs"!

When you adopt an adult dogs, you're getting a dog with a that you may not get any information on.  When I say that, I'm not saying that they are "bad dogs", just stating a fact.  When these dogs come to your house, they'll use their "company manners" least for a bit.  We had Lucky for a year before she made a mistake...she was too afraid to.  Sheba spent her first month marking her territory in every room of the house.  I read an article yesterday that might have helped us to avoid some of that...but oh well!

In both cases, though, the dog needed 8 months to settle in.  Don't give up too soon.  If your dog has guarding tendencies or any sort of aggression, please get help.  A returned dog has a much harder time being re-homed.  It is definitely worth the investment to help "Rover" fit in to your house!  Which brings us to the "Frozen dogs".

Lucky was very much like Elsa.  When she was little she had been abused.  For the entire time (14 years) we had her she worried about making a mistake.  She was a truly elegant dog, very empathetic, wanted to be loved.  She tried not to ask too much of us.  It took my husband 2 1/2 years to get her to trust him (a man had been her abuser).  Because she didn't want to be a bother, she was very easy to have around!

Sheba is totally Anna!  She is now energetic, always happy and curious.  Sometimes she's clumsy.  She seems to think  that humans were put on the planet to love her.  If she's lonely at 1 a.m., of course you'll want to be woken up to be with her.  We needed every bit of that 8 months to settle her in!  Now she sleeps at night, I've learned to go for a walk twice a day.  Since she "marked" every room in the house, she does all her business outside.  She didn't bark when we got her, but now Miss Nosey alerts whenever someone is on our property...and she's so proud of herself when she does!  Since this was our year of the empty nest, she is really good company...and instead of talking to myself, people think I'm talking to her.

So...if you're looking at a rescue dog, good for you!  Please read the article linked above.  Then give yourselves 8 months while you watch your precious dog emerge.  You'll be so glad you didn't give up!

Feeling blessed, how about you?