Thank You!!!

I want to send a really big Thank You for taking the the time to look at my blog, read some of it, and decide to like and follow me.

I don’t have my blog linked into any social networking, because I didn’t want the pressure I would put on myself wondering how I was doing and what people thought of my writing.  I tried a blog before that was tied in with my Facebook page, and I found it so hard to write.  This time has been much easier because I don’t feel the pressure of being judged (and I doubt anyone was judging me, but still…).

There are so many wonderful blogs and bloggers on WordPress, and not enough time in the day to get to all of them.  The fact that you found my blog and wanted to look at it really left me speechless.  I just started writing and posting, and wasn’t checking to see if anybody had looked at what I was doing.  When I did I was stunned to see that people were following me and had liked my posts.  It was truly an amazing feeling.

I now have 39 fantastic people following, and that is just so incredible!  Since I decided not to actively promote it, but just to enjoy writing and see where this takes me it has been wonderful to see that I have resonated with people, enough so that they wanted me to know they liked what I wrote, and that they decided to follow me to keep seeing what else I came up with.

Thank You all for making this adventure in blogging so much fun!

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Ahh, College

Going through the college process with Oldest One brings back memories, and definitely has provided some interesting moments of how the teenage mind works.

Oldest One will be attending the university I started out at. The processes were completely different back when I was about to be a college freshman, and there is no comparison to how it is done now. But it is still bringing back memories of my excitement, and how ready I was to leave home and be on my own. Not that I was truly on my own, I just didn’t know it. Oldest One loves to tell us she is almost an adult, and gets quite miffed when I respond that it is due to Husband and me providing the money for her to be there that it is happening.

Oldest Ones best friend was not able to get into the same dorm because she was doing everything a month later than Oldest One had. So she was trying to convince Oldest One to move dorms. We looked at six or seven dorms during our visit last year, and there was one dorm that stood out that Oldest One loved. It is across the street from the rec center, there is a university store within walking distance, and it is at a good place on campus to access the student union, library and most classrooms. Luckily the housing website has pictures and video tours of all the dorms, so before any changes were made I suggested we look at those. We looked at my old dorm, and wow, as much as it has changed a lot was still the same.

The showers looked exactly the same, down to the white shower curtains across each one. The closet and dresser in each room were the same. The beds were new, and much nicer, and there is a separate desk for each person. When I was there my roommate and I had a huge table with a chair on each side and that was our desk, our refrigerator was under the table, and it was also a catch-all for stuff. The night the table came off the wall and fell on me we discovered someone had written “beware of the killer desk” on the bottom.

Oldest One stayed with her original dorm choice, and now needs to do roommate matching. I was supposed to room with a good friend who ended up not going to the university at the last minute. So I was put with someone who hadn’t requested a specific roommate. She was fine, but her boyfriend wasn’t, and when I walked into the room one night and found him going through my underwear drawer I was done (the last of many wrong acts on his part) and requested a new room with a new roommate. The new person didn’t have anyone who wanted anything to do with my underwear. So I hope the roommate matching system, which works with Facebook, is good. She’ll answer questions and then be matched with other people looking for roommates and they can find out about each other, message, and decide if they want to room together. If she matches with more than one person she gets a list of people. Almost like looking for a date, only if you don’t like this person after a couple of days you are probably stuck for a while.

One of the best parts has been applying for scholarships. I didn’t have any scholarships and nobody ever suggested I apply for any. My student loans will be paid off after my house is. So Oldest One is being seriously nagged about applying for scholarships. She is doing them now in her senior year, but after all I’ve learned Little One will start applying for them in her sophomore year. Oldest One is trying to find and apply for anything she qualifies for. I was so happy when she started asking me questions to help her determine what she could apply for, and to help answer questions for specific scholarships. I did have to point out that she shouldn’t mark that she is active military, but that she is the dependent of a veteran. And unfortunately nobody in any family is a licensed contractor, so that scholarship had to be skipped. We figured out that if we had been homeless, she had a kid, one of her parents was part of the LGBT community or any other number of categories she didn’t fit she would have a much easier time with the scholarships. Oh, and it would have helped if Husband and I didn’t have college educations. She was right, we didn’t plan well for the world of scholarships.

So as Oldest One gets ready to start making college memories I am remembering my college years. I had fun, it was a great learning experience for me, and I am so glad she gets to do this. I’m not looking forward to her being in a different city, because of how much I’ll miss her, but I was fine, and she will be just fine too.

The Amy Glass Controversy

I just read the Amy Glass article that has generated a lot of chatter.  She titled it “I Look Down on Young Women with Husbands and Kids and I’m not Sorry.”  I took it to mean she was out to generate discussion and cause controversy, because if she truly sees the world so black and white without many shades of grey then her world is awfully small.  I also don’t really like the term feminist (used in this article and others she wrote).  I know my girls can do anything they set their minds to, and they will be successful at whatever interests them.  I think the same for boys.  I’m glad we women have so many opportunities, and are limited only by our imaginations, and I am grateful to all the women before me who made it possible.  I also don’t see anything wrong with either gender staying home, having an important job, or choosing from the million options available to live life.  That said, here are some thoughts on the article…

I was 28 when I had Oldest One, and I’m not sure if I fall in the young mother category.  Looking back I was young and clueless, but I had no idea.  Husband and I had been married for a year and a half, and it just felt like the right time to start a family.  We have had no regrets because our family has brought us so much joy.

I have a good friend who decided not to have kids.  She and her husband travel, they both have jobs they love, and they dote on their nieces and nephews.  I don’t see her life as less fulfilling, just a different way of being fulfilling.  I don’t think she looks down on me for my choice to have kids.  We’ve known each other since high school, and what is important is that each of us is happy with our choices.

That wasn’t really the gist of the article.  She goes into why we don’t celebrate promotions for women, or women taking the trip of a lifetime.  Ummm, I’ve celebrated promotions.  When my sister traveled to Australia, New Zealand and Asia for a year on her own we all celebrated her return, and wanted to hear about it.  We didn’t celebrate these with a huge reception, but I’ve been to backyard wedding receptions with 15 people and wedding receptions with 300 people in a swanky setting  People celebrate what they choose and how they choose, and whether it is celebrating a wedding or birth, or a graduation or promotion, what really matters is who is celebrating it with you.  If you are alone, or had to grab people you barely know, well, personally, that is a sad life to me.  But if you celebrate with people you love, be it family, friends, whoever, then you have a wonderfully rich life.  I didn’t know until I read the article that there were limited life celebrations.  I’d better get under control and stop celebrating the wrong stuff in the wrong manner.

I also have to say that getting married and having kids may seem like easy tasks, but they really aren’t.  Yes, anyone can go to Vegas and get married pretty fast to someone they barely know.  But being in a marriage, and staying in a marriage and growing together in a marriage isn’t easy.  It takes work.  It is definitely more difficult at times than any job I have had.  And so very, very worth it.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for the biggest most important job in the world.  The same with kids.  Raising kids is hard.  When you first hold that baby you have no idea what you are in for.  You might think you do, and you’ll laugh at that later.  Again, I wouldn’t trade having my girls and raising them for any job.  It’s been hard, it’s been amazing, and it has hands down been the best thing Husband and I have done.

And it is hard to work, raise kids, and manage the household.  I don’t do it alone, Husband does it with me because we do our life together.  I think to say men don’t care to manage a household and equate it to being stupid and not important unfortunately makes the person spouting it seem that way.   “Real work” and housework are both equally important, whether you are married with kids, married, single with kids, single, have a partner, a roommate, whatever.  Maybe laundry doesn’t seem important, or paying those pesky bills, or fixing a leaky roof, or doing the sink full of dishes, but they are.  Little things also make life keep going.  Why is it okay to pay someone to do those things, including raising kids, to have a career, but it isn’t okay for a woman to do them as a career, or in addition to a career?  Looking at a clean kitchen after I’ve finished scrubbing it down is an amazing feeling (but don’t tell my Husband…he usually cleans the kitchen!).

Amy is entitled to her position, and again, I think she was looking to be controversial.  For me being a wife and mother has been the best and most satisfying job.  And I’ve had the big job.  I left it because it was the worst thing I ever did, and I was the unhappiest, most depressed and angry me I had ever been while in that job.  The job I loved best was staying home when the girls were babies and concentrating on them and making edible meals for everyone.  Right now I have a good job, by no means a big job, with interesting people, I smile a lot, and I get to be a wife and mother to the most amazing Husband and daughters in the world.  If it is possible to have the best of both worlds I am pretty darn close.  I hope Amy loves her life and the people in it as much as I love mine and the people who make it wonderful.

Out of Sorts

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit out of sorts.  Discombobulated.  More stressed than usual.  I just don’t know why this is happening.  Nothing has changed drastically, I still have a wonderful family with a crazy schedule, yet I’m not enjoying everything the way I usually do.

Maybe it is because we have one extra parent club, and that just sent me over the edge.  Maybe I’m worried about how to cover all the upcoming expenses.  Maybe I don’t eat enough chocolate.  No, I’m pretty sure I eat way too much chocolate.  Whatever the reason I am ready for it to stop.

Driving into work today I realized my supervisor stressed me out.  A few weeks ago my team was at lunch.  I am the only person who drives, everyone else takes the bus.  I really like my alone time in the car listening to music because it helps me transition.  The day we were at lunch I had been late due to freeway accidents, and so had one of my co-workers.  My supervisor actually said that if someone rides the bus and they are late it isn’t their fault because they have no control over driving the bus, but if you drive yourself you just need to leave earlier and plan better.  Because I have control over traffic, right?  This morning traffic was awful and I started to grip the steering wheel more and check the time more, which is not usual for me.  I realized right then that her comment really made my drive in a lot more stressful.

I leave at the same time every day, and today I actually left early.  If I am late because traffic is bad I stay later.  I don’t make a habit of coming in late and trying to leave early.  Yet now, even though it took me a while to realize it, I am suddenly hyper-aware of traffic, accidents, what time I leave and what time I make it in the door at work.  I really like my job, so this new piece of stress just makes me see my supervisor in a bad light.

That isn’t the only cause of course, but at least I identified something new.  I’m pretty sure the situation with my Mom is a major cause, but one I’m not yet willing to work with.  I can beat myself up enough, Thank You.  The girls, being teenagers, can of course be a part of my wanting to crawl in bed and hide under the covers, but they haven’t been too bad lately.  I hope I didn’t just jinx myself.

I know that everyone goes through cycles, and I am probably just in a down cycle as far as mood.  I still find many happy moments in my days, and I laugh a lot.  So I can’t be doing too bad.  I just feel that I lost some of my Pollyanna, and I’d like to have her back.

Reading

I love to read.  It relaxes me and calms me down, and just makes the world a better place.  I can’t remember not spending time buried in a book.  As a child I had two big bookcases in my room, both completely stuffed with books.  I like being transported into a different reality, and losing myself in a story.

Husband and I always read to the girls.  When I was pregnant with Oldest One we bought a big nursery rhymes book and would read that to my stomach, and I would sing the ones that had a tune I knew.  Little One adored nursery rhymes when she was little, and we own several books of them.  It was common for the girls to bring books to us and ask us to read to them.  As they got older I would tell them what books I used to read, and they enjoyed many of them.

So when I was talking to someone at my workplace that has a toddler and no books in the house it completely floored me.  How can there not be books in the house to read to a child?  No matter how young?  As the conversation continued it seemed like getting books and reading to her daughter just hadn’t occurred to her.  I suggested the library (my girls used to love going there) and it was an “oh yeah” moment for her, as she told me her family used to take her younger sister to the library, and that was always fun.

Oldest One isn’t much on reading outside of required class reading.  Not because she doesn’t like to, but because she is a slow reader; she may read slowly, but she remembers all of it.  Every summer she starts Little Women again because she wants to get through it.  I have faith that one summer she will have the time, and she will love the book as much as I do.

Little One is a huge reader.  She has a Kindle, she has a bookcase, and she loves having a book going on her Kindle and a regular book to read.  She is the person who reads more than one book at a time.  During the summer she goes to the library and brings home 12 or 15 books at a time.  Right now she is reading Little Women for school, and I just read it again in the last year or so, and it has been fun talking about it with her.

I think I might have to get a couple of Sandra Boynton books for this person at work so she can start a collection for her daughter.  I have a hard time if I finish one book and don’t have another one to read, and I just can’t imagine a house without books.  It sounds horrible.  And sad.  The world is a much better place because there are more books to read than there is time to get to them.

Moving the Furniture

My wonderful Husband took Christmas and Hanukkah down from inside the house on Tuesday. He did the outside right after New Year’s, but we just weren’t getting around to the inside. The girls said they would help, but in that mysterious teenage way weren’t around when I was. Then Monday night I had a meltdown about all the stuff that needed to get done right as we were going to bed. Not good. Not that I had a meltdown, but that I did it before trying to sleep. I was all riled up trying to convince myself I wasn’t so I could sleep.

My wonderful Husband took taking everything down a step further. Since I had an issue with my leg in late August that kept me from sitting or walking for a month I’ve been stretching out in our big recliner. Husband and I usually shared the loveseat because we like to be right by each other in the evenings, and it is easier to hold hands and touch feet. But the recliner wasn’t close to the loveseat, and I actually had to look back at him to share a laugh.

When we put the tree up Husband put our chaise lounge on the back patio and brought the extra recliner in so we didn’t lose seating. I said we should put the recliners side by side and move the loveseat so we could be next to each other again. So Tuesday when he took everything down he moved the chaise lounge back in, and it shares a wall with the loveseat, and the recliners are next to each other and we each have a side table. The couch stayed where it was.

It has been so great to sit next to Husband again! Last night we had a school meeting so we got home fairly late (for us), and after I showered we sat down for Husband to watch TV and for me to read (and watch TV…you truly can’t watch enough Friends no matter how many times you’ve seen the episodes). I could look over at him easily, we held hands, he had his foot on my recliner so our feet were touching, and my leg was still stretched out and elevated so I was comfortable. Life got a little better with that small furniture move.

Rah, Rah, Blah

Last weekend was the first cheer competition of 2014 with our cheer gym.  There was one competition in December, and the girls’ team placed last.  This time they were against two teams, and one was a really good gym that is often in first place.  So it was amazingly awesome when the girls’ team won not just first place in their category, but also division champions for their level.  They have worked so hard, and they were so excited, and all of us parents were excited for them.  With this being Oldest One’s last year (since she will be in a different city for college) it was especially great for her team to do this well.

We also had basketball games the same day that the girls cheered at and Husband and I did concessions for.  My bottom was done with bleachers by the end of the day.  This weekend is going to be easier because we don’t have club cheer, only 5 basketball games, of which Husband and I are doing concessions for three.  Piece of cake, right?

Unless of course the cheer gym adds in yet another fundraiser that is Mandatory for the girls to attend or they get branded somehow for not being good team members.  A fundraiser that really doesn’t seem like it will make much money, but gee golly it will help to get the gym name out to the public.  And make the weekend way more difficult.

Yes, I am quite burned out on club cheer, or maybe it is just our gym.  It probably doesn’t matter what the reason is, because the reason isn’t going to change my mounting frustration and resentment for what we have to do or have the girls do, or both.  I am pretty sure any parent whose child does any club sport for years gets to this point, where we still love to watch the girls compete, but don’t enjoy the forced schedule and activities that come with it.

When we joined our cheer gym seven years ago it was (still is actually) small, was not a travel gym, and was proud that the families could have a life outside of cheer.  Today that isn’t the case.  Last year there were four out-of-town competitions.  That gets expensive fast.  This year there are only supposed to be two, but a third one is already being tossed around by the owner.  I can’t afford the third, and the timing will be awful, so I’d have to pull the girls from that one.  Besides, this third one is really more so the owner can say she took the team to a prestigious competition for a second year…nothing is ever mentioned that the bid wasn’t gained from a first place win, or how many gyms turned it down until it got to us.

I am tired of how much money it is costing now.  I’ve been told it isn’t more than previous years, but I’m pretty sure if I went back through my old check registers (don’t laugh, they are a great reminder of what you were doing once upon a time) I would find I pay substantially more than I used to.  Uniforms alone went up 112.5% for the ones we had to buy this year, and we just bought new ones 2 years ago.

Then there are the extra practices that get scheduled the girls HAVE to be at, never mind what we already planned around the existing cheer schedule.  Or the fact that the third big fundraiser is being planned, with a fourth looming in the future.  These are in addition to the little fundraisers, like selling cookie dough or pretzels.  We don’t have family to badger into participating in these fundraisers, or workplaces where it is acceptable to bug people, and I’m not hitting up my neighbors who currently like us.  Oh, but the fundraising was going to be limited this year…we’ve already exceeded what was done last year.

Don’t get me wrong, Husband and I never tire of watching our girls compete, and we are always there to cheer them on.  We know that being in a club sport has benefitted the girls, and helped them grow into confident teenagers.  I would just like to be in the gym we originally joined, and not part of a gym trying to be something it isn’t.  My family has been proud of being in club cheer, and over the years we have had a lot of fun doing it.  So if it isn’t fun for us, the parents, and if one of the two girls isn’t having fun, maybe it is time to evaluate if this is really for us anymore.