Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Roots and Wings

Growing up, I often heard that famous quote, “A parent’s job is to give their children two things, one is roots, the other, wings.” I believe my parents were successful in this endeavor. Suddenly, without warning, I find myself the mother of two girls, young adults, really, who want to spread their wings, and I am almost certain that only yesterday I was sending them off to pre-K and 1st grade! When you hit 40, all those clich├ęs about age, and wisdom, and fleeting time seem to come true, sometimes all at once!

My oldest daughter just finished her second year in the Americorps program. She spent the last year working exclusively with Habitat For Humanity in New Orleans. I flew down there last week and she showed me some of the houses she had helped to build, and I met her co-workers, friends, and house-mates. I also met a man whose house she had built. She got glowing reviews from all, and it made me proud and happy to see that she did so well. More importantly, I had a greater sense of who she had become since she left home two years ago. Who knew she would love construction? Who knew she would be so happy with so little ($)? I am so very glad she had the opportunity to enjoy the fruits of her labor, and that she has learned at a young age, how good it feels to do for others. She met some amazing people and had some great experiences. She has friends she will keep for life, I suspect. The idealism they all share is such a positive, wonderful thing to behold.

She is now home, trying to figure out how to continue having those experiences, within the confines of a real budget. Sadly, reality bites! She has not gone to college, but wants to do the things the people she graduated from high school are now doing: sharing off-campus apartments, working part time jobs, and attending school. She has committed to sharing an apartment in NC with a friend she’s known for 8 years. I think she expected to find a job in NC with ease, especially with her newfound skills and experience. In the meantime, she is begrudgingly living at home, slowly “smothering”, as she puts it. She continues to send her resume and has said she will do what she has to do to make this happen. Our concern is that she will not make school a priority if she heads to NC, either because she won’t have time with working a full time job to cover her living expenses, or because she just won’t be motivated. School has never been her favorite thing. She’s earned grant money to help pay tuition expenses. We’ve offered to cover her tuition at a community college here to get her started, but she insists that NC is where she needs and wants to be. Which means, if she does start school there sometime before next year, her grant money will go towards tuition that is 3x as much as we would pay for her to go here, since she won’t have a year’s worth of residency in NC. Sigh. The thing is, I totally understand her desire for independence! I admire her determination to do it herself. My husband is the logical one, the planner. I love that about him. But it certainly does not mesh well with her desire to be free! So, then, we bide our time. We will continue to make suggestions, drop hints, offer assistance (within our means and according to our idea of what is best for her). Because that is what parents do. And we PRAY that the right path will become clear to her, and won’t have so many potholes that she falls flat.

And then there is my 18 year old. My daughter who has had a marriage proposal. My husband and I really like this guy. He’s a kind, respectful young man. He has a plan for his life, and he loves and appears to be committed to our daughter. I am happy for her that someone loves her that way. I’ll be even happier if he still feels that way after he has graduated from high school, completed USMC boot camp, and started his career. And, after she has been to college, lived on her own for a bit and learned how to manage her finances! She called me in New Orleans last week to tell me that he had proposed. I asked her if he had formally asked her dad for permission to marry her. She said he had not. After our conversation, she gave the ring back to him and told him that he had to ask us, first. (Good girl!) He confided in me over the weekend that he was trying to make sure he had his speech ready to give my husband, and that he would be able to answer any questions my husband was sure to pose. My husband and I had been discussing the issue and agreed that it would be wise for the two of them to wait at least a year to get engaged, (and a few to get married) and I told her boyfriend this. Turns out, he pretty much expected that is what we would say, and told me he understood our reasoning. I think we are past this hurdle, at least for now. You know what they say about marriage: “You don’t lose a daughter, you gain a son.” As much as I really do like and admire my daughter’s boyfriend, I already have two teenaged sons, thank you very much!

All in all, life continues to be interesting. Parenting does not stop when your kids are legal adults. I am not sure it ever does! And yet, I wouldn’t trade these days, or these experiences for anything in the world. I am so very glad I don’t have to do it alone! Now, if I could just keep my husband from losing his mind……………

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dressing for the occasion

My baby turned 3 last Friday! Shane will be 8 on Easter. One of Kiley's presents was a dress to wear for Easter. Shane said, "Kiley, on Easter, you can wear your Easter dress, and I'll wear my Birthday Suit!" He did not understand why I thought that was so funny. Should make quite an impression at church.................I hope it's warm that day!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Clowning around

So today I got a phonecall from Mick's substitute teacher. She told me Mick was under a table in the classroom and he wouldn't come out. He was laughing and sticking out his tongue and being generally silly and obnoxious and hard to handle. She said she told him she was going to call me, and when she told him I was on the phone, he came out from under the table and picked up the phone. I asked him if he was being naughty, and he said, "Yeah". I told him he needed to listen to his teacher, and that he needed to tell her he was sorry. I heard him say "Sorry" to the teacher, and he gave the phone back to her. When the bus dropped him off this afternoon, the bus assistant told me he was licking his shoes, and was that OK with me? Um. Not usually. Unless of course, he has stepped in some particularly delicious melted ice cream or something.... ugh. So, he went to his room and had to stay there, without an audience, for 15 whole minutes before he could EAT (which is his absolute favorite thing to do in the whole world!). I do believe these silly spells are worse than if he was throwing a fit or having a tantrum, which he rarely does. It is hard not to laugh when he is performing these antics, because he can be funny. For about 30 seconds. But the noodle legs and the silly stuff gets old fast. Knucklehead.

Aging ~

I was paying for a sport's lace for Megan's glasses at the exchange yesterday. I heard the cashier say to me "Do you smell bad?" I gave her a blank (if not slightly dismayed) look, and when she returned it with the same look, I realized that what she had said was, "Do you need a small bag?" Megan and I were laughing as we left, and I was more than slightly relieved when Megan said she had heard the same thing. Because, hey, first it's bifocals, next the memory goes, and then the hearing. I am three for three.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Lots of it. Feet and inches worth. 4" from a record for Northern Va, in fact. I used to love snow. And snow days. That was before I had 9 kids. That translates to at least 18 pairs of boots, lots of mittens/gloves/hats. Wet socks, and snow pants in every size. Mick has been wearing pink snow pants with purple boots. Not because these are his favorite colors, but because they are what we have that fit him. The kids will have racked up at least 8 days off from school if they go back on Tuesday. Word is that they might have to go on President's Day. The state does not have enough resources to handle this much snow, so many of the side streets have not been plowed. Fortunately, our street is a bit of a thorough-fare, so they plowed it relatively quickly, this time. The school's parking lots have yet to be plowed, and the side streets are not safe for buses. We have all been watching way too much TV and spent much too much time plugged into our various electronic gadgets. The power went out for four hours a few days ago. We kept a fire going in our wood burning stove, cooked hot dogs on top of it, and we all played charades and hangman. It was fun, and made me realize that we don't spend nearly enough time doing fun family things. My husband has been off for the last couple of days, and will be off tomorrow. Since there is no snow predicted, the driveway has been shoveled, and the temps should be ideal, we agreed to get out there and really play with the kids in the snow tomorrow. After all, this is a historical event! I will not stress about the wet clothing or the puddles on the floor, and I will remember what it was like to be a kids and just play!

Friday, January 22, 2010


My husband came home one day last week and told me that he had just heard that a Sgt Major he knew had lost both of his legs in an IED accident in Afganistan just before Christmas. The next day, he called me from work and told me that a Sgt who had been on his provisional security detail team during his last deployment to Iraq, was killed in Afganistan that day. This same Sgt was on site when the Sgt Major I mentioned was injured, and was credited with saving his life. Right now, my husband is in New Jersey, at the wake of the young Sgt, and will attend his funeral tomorrow. Next week, he will go to Bethesda and visit the Sgt Major.

So much of what is in the news seems surreal, until you can put a face to a name of one of the fallen. Sgt Hrbeck and his wife were married at our unit ball in 2007. They were with us at the restaurant the evening that I blogged about on Feb 11 of 2007. They were friends with the couple I wrote about on March 7 of the following year. My husband thought highly of this young Marine, and his passing hit my husband hard. In reading the memorial site published in Sgt Hrbeck's memory, it is plain to see that he was a fun loving, hard charging Marine. And a true hero. In their grief, I hope his family will find comfort knowing that he died doing what he loved, and that his life, though short, was a gift to all who knew him.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

New Year, New Post

I did not realize that I haven't posted a single entry since September. My life is so boring and routine, that there has been nothing to write about. NOT!

On October 17th, I re-joined Weight Watchers. By December 17th, I had lost 20 lbs. I am more than happy about this, because that puts me just a little below the weight I was when I lost 20 lbs in the spring/summer of 2008, having gained 17 lbs back between fall and winter of the same year! I am doing the Firm workouts consistently, and determined to reach my goal ( 13lbs to go) by this summer. How nice it would be to not have to keep my towel right by the side of the pool so that I could drop it and pick it up before anyone can see those parts of me which need some work!

Speaking of the pool, we had a fire in the yard in November. One afternoon Jack had put the previous evening's ashes from the woodburning stove in a cardboard box, then put them in one of the trash cans. I went to pick Molly and her friends up at the shopping center a mile away, and when I got home, the trashcan was melted to the ground, there was a huge hole in the one next to it, and the leaves between the fence and the pool had caught fire. When the fire was put out, two of our bushes were toast, about 1/2 of the pool fence was melted, as well as part of the pool cover, which also damaged a small section of the liner. There was a small melted mark on the bumper of the van that was parked in the driveway, and the headlight is bubbled from the heat. I can't even complain about the damage that was done, because it could have been so much worse: if the fire had started at night, the van would probably have burned, catching the garage on fire (including Tim's Jeep). As it was, we didn't have anything damaged that can't be replaced (thanks to homeowner's insurance!), and no one was hurt. I am waiting for the pool guy to come and write up an estimate for the insurance company. We will likely get a new pool liner and hopefully, a better pool cover, when all is said and done.

After all of the testing Timmy had done, besides the dyspraxia, (which the school psych does not believe contributes to his school difficulties), they have determined that he has a processing disorder in math and written expression. My frustration with their "conclusion" is that he has a couple of years' worth of documentation to substantiate that, but only after more testing, have they decided he qualifies for special ed services. I have a meeting with his teachers and the special ed rep on Thursday to approve and implement his IEP. I do hope that this won't be another long process when he starts high school, but I am glad it is official.

We are waiting on the military Top Level School Selection list. If my husband is selected, he is hoping to get school at Quantico, which would make life a whole lot easier for him, at least for the year he's in school. He would hope to get a follow on job at Quantico, too, which could keep us here for at least another 3 years, after which he might consider retirement. It is the nature of the military that it seems like there is always a list we are waiting for - school, PCS orders, promotion, etc. Keeps things interesting!