Family 2013

Family 2013

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Hello My Name is...

Tis the season!  The season of holiday parties and events.  The season that causes all extroverts to shout "Yippee!" and all introverts to sigh "Dear Lord, no!" and all the lower functioning extroverts and high functioning introverts to say "If I must...".

We all have those situations that aren't completely comfortable because we're with a bunch of people we don't know; either because they are a new group to us or a group that we don't know that well.  We know we have to put ourselves out there, but the environment is new to us and therefore SUPER uncomfortable.

If my parents were ever uncomfortable in a social situation, they had perfected the "fake it till you make it" technique.  My mother would ask you all about your family...and then would remember each little detail for the next time she'd see you.  Dad had been known to walk up to perfect strangers and say "I'm Bill. I don't believe you've met me!".  I am not my parents.

Like most people, I do well in situations where I know the environment or the people.  But I have observed something that I think we all need to be aware of.  If you are in a situation where you are comfortable, look out for the one who isn't.

I have a sweet friend who is very social.  When she was the group meeting leader; she deputized a friend to handle the "nitty gritty details".  They weren't her strength and it freed her up to do what she did best--make people feel welcome.  When I was the group meeting leader, I was more about the details...but I forgot one very important one.  I should have deputized someone to make sure everyone felt they belonged.  This does not necessarily mean "icebreakers".  If you aren't an extrovert or part of the inner circle, those may make you want to run for the exit.  And, I'll be right behind you!

The difficulty, of course, is that if you are already part of the group, you want to catch up with the people in your group.  It's a lot more work to look out for the lost.  Besides, then you're missing out on your chance to catch up.

And...how embarrassing is it to greet someone as a newbie and then find out that they're not?  This is a particular problem in churches with multiple services.  You're never sure if someone is truly new, or if they're just at a different service.

Of course, we've all been at events where the newbies are "marked" at the entrance.  Cuz nothing says welcome like a 2 lb. mum on your shoulder marking you as "fresh meat" to all the regulars!  But, perhaps there's a way to cue the regulars without making the newbie feel as odd man out?  Maybe you could use blue nametags for regulars and red for newbies.  Maybe members of your group would walk alongside the newbies and introduce them around.  As long as the regulars "know the code",  and it doesn't make the newbies feel uncomfortable, any system will work!


Oh, and one last thing.  Someone who is new is probably not going to bare their soul to you, but they may have additional reasons for avoiding new situations.  Maybe they know they're not going to remember names (nametags?)  Maybe they've been treated badly in a similar situation.  My complication is that I have a moderate hearing loss.  I'm only going to catch about 50% of what you say, unless the room is very quiet or you speak very loudly.  And to hear that 50%, I have to listen very intently which can be a lot of work.  I'm always wondering what I missed, or misunderstood.

So, this holiday season, look for the newbie.  If you are comfortable with the environment, introduce yourself to people and bring them into your circle.  Many churches will have visitors over the next few weeks.  See if you can make a new friend every week.  Don't expect the newbie to come find you (that was actually suggested to me by a pastor once)! That's like expecting someone on their first cruise to captain the ship!  Be Jesus with skin on!

Feeling blessed, how about you?

Monday, October 30, 2017

Phases of the House...Life...Whatever!

I don't know what I expected adulthood to look like, but I'm fairly certain this wasn't it!  I was very fortunate that Mom paid for almost all the chores we did.  Of course, we didn't get a set allowance so if you wanted money, you did chores!

Then a miracle occurred!  I became a neatnik.  I don't know what cleanliness was next to, but neatness was necessary!  This carried me through college and the first few years of marriage.  In fact, I was such a neatnik that I actually polished the copper bottom off of a pan.  But momentum like that can only carry you so far.  Eventually you will enter the "higher levels" of household maintenance...

  1. How in heaven's name did my mother do what she did...and why can't I?
    • Somehow my mother raised 3 children, with no car during the school days, kept some sanity AND never missed an appointment or had an overdue library book.
    • Additionally, we were raised in an era when babies wore cloth diapers and bottles had to be sterilized.
    • Family vacations were taken to cabins, so Mom had to bring all of her supplies and rainy day entertainment for everyone (no electronics and no TV).  We rarely ate out, so she was taking the WHOLE show on the road.
       2. The children are alive, what more do you want?
    • I, on the other hand, barely managed with 2 kids.  In fairness, I had one who only slept 15 minutes every 2 hours and the other is an adult and still doesn't sleep through the night.
    • And...if you add in homeschooling, your new standard becomes "we either educate or we clean, we can't do both!
     3. Forget the tiara, this princess wants "staff"!
    • When the kids are little, their sweet little help isn't really helpful.
    • When they can help, they don't want to.
    • When they're teenagers, they would prefer to live anywhere but with you!

      4. In my defense, I was left unsupervised!
    • Then the children move out, and other than the cat/dog hair, the house stays "cleaner".
    • Additionally, you may develop a "what does it really matter" attitude.
    • And there are those Hallmark movies to watch...and don't forget social media...and hobbies and, well, "who has time for housework"?
I learned that the reason my mother was so organized is that she used her planner to the fullest, and didn't waste time.  Of course, she didn't have to contend with social media, but I still think she'd have done a better job than I have.

I've learned that a family can survive on pastries, bologna sandwiches and Stouffer's entrees when they need to.  Paper plates can be "fine china" if you want them to be!

I've learned that the relationship with your family and readying your kiddos for adulthood matters WAY more than whether the kids' outfits match or whether the shoes are on the correct feet.

I've learned that as long as your house is "good enough to avoid a visit from a social worker", no one will remember whether it was clean or not.  And friends who will remember need to visit with you at a coffee shop!

I've learned that it is more important for your children to know HOW to learn and how to ask questions than it is to "help" them so that you have honor students.  After all, what's the honor in that?  Additionally it is important to give them a chance to practice adulting!

I've learned that ALL of your family need to know that you believe in them.

AND, I've learned that I enjoy being unsupervised!

Feeling blessed, how about you?


Thursday, October 26, 2017

"I think I can!"

Do you think you can?

At the Family Weekend for our daughter's university, I was able to speak to the President of the university about predictors of success.  Since this is a STEM university; there are students who are exceedingly book smart, but not always successful.  This is not only because they are a STEM university;  there have been a number of articles written recently about young men and women who don't have the "keys for success".  Why do some students flourish and others fail?

The general consensus is that if a person is able to dig down and try again and even learn from what they did the first time; those are people who will succeed.  Call it grit, moxie or whatever ever you want; but be like the "little engine that could".


Did you notice that the predictor of success has nothing to do with intelligence?  It has to do with your hunger for success.  It has to do with your ability to pick yourself up and try again.  It has to do with your ability to say "well, let's not try it THAT way again" and try something different.  And it might have a little something to do with listening to those who have gone before you.  It has everything to do with SHOWING UP each and every day!

It is also important to remember that the person who crosses the finish line last...still finished.  Not everyone is going to be a shining star.  And that's a good thing, because slow and steady wins the race.

For example, our daughter worked her internship this summer.  She told the company that she was interested in any part time opportunities that might come up.  At the beginning of the semester, she hadn't heard from them, but a professor at the university asked her to be his teaching assistant.  Did you notice that?  She didn't apply for a job posting, he approached her BECAUSE she had been an involved, hard working student in his classes.  Six weeks after that, her internship company contacted her about a part time project that they need help  with.  You never know which contacts are going to bear fruit.  Always do your best.  Always show up.  And remember that you don't have to be THE best, but you do have to be YOUR best!

Feeling blessed, how about you?



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 delivers...as 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?