One Bunny at a Time

Yesterday I picked Little One up from a youth group event, and she said the family whose house it had been at might be getting rid of their bunny. Little One wasn’t all that interested, because white bunnies have pink eyes, which is a little freaky to her. But, if they couldn’t find anyone to give it to she would want to take it and give it a good home, and not have it go to a shelter.

Little One has a bunny, a very spoiled bunny. She had been campaigning to get one, so last June Husband took her to the feed store by our house and let her pick out a bunny. She picked a grey and white one who has turned out to be very sweet, friendly, and a very good pet. We had bunny cages from previous bunnies, and also an outdoor bunny run. Little One spent her summer bonding with her bunny, and they were very cute together.

Little One still gives a lot of time and attention to her bunny. With her school and cheer schedule she does need help, so Husband puts the bunny in the bunny run several times a week so she can spend a day digging holes (which he will fill up so she can dig them again). Little One reads about bunnies on the Internet and has several pages she has Liked on Facebook. She is always asking to buy treats and toys for her bunny, to keep the bunny entertained and happy.

Husband recently expanded the indoor bunny cage in Little One’s bedroom with the second cage we own, so the bunny now has an L-shaped cage to romp around in. She was a little hesitant at first, but after Little One spent an afternoon pushing her between cages to get the hang of it the bunny was all about it. She has her litter box, food, and water in one cage, and hay and toys with room to stretch out in the other. It looks like bunny heaven, and she seems to be getting a bit bigger; or maybe it is just how I see her laying.

I’m not excited about another bunny, because it’s an extra cage (they would need to be kept apart) in Little One’s bedroom and an extra responsibility for a 14 year old that already has a lot going on. I wouldn’t say no if they were going to give it to a shelter, but I’m not saying yes until all other avenues have been tried. I really like our current bunny, and enjoy interacting with her when I can. I think a second bunny would require extra parent help, which I can give, but don’t know that I’m excited about. I think our new mantra needs to be One Bunny at a Time.

Auction Unfairness?

Well, the auction was awful, or the best, depending on what child was asked. I try really hard to treat the girls equally and fairly, but life doesn’t always work that way. Just because I make sure holiday gifts all have the same monetary value, and both Bat Mitzvahs were equally done for each girl doesn’t mean that other things happen that way. So there are many times I am trying to congratulate and be happy for one while trying to console the other.

Before I left work Friday I received an email from Little One that she was the lowest bid.  She was sad, embarrassed and upset.  Husband and I were thinking that was going to happen, but there wasn’t much we could do about it. We tried, but this turned out to be one of those things we had to let go. The auction was done by age, so Little One went first as the youngest, and the only cheerleader not in high school. We all know the first person auctioned goes for the lowest, and it turned out that the other cheerleader’s friends had banded together and groups bought the cheerleaders. Except for Little One, because her friends couldn’t participate.

Because Little One was the lowest bid, of course Oldest One was the highest. Really, she was the highest. 11 of the seniors got together and bought Oldest One. She will have a busy day on Monday catering to 11 people. Little One was also bought by a senior (one who pitched in for Oldest One), our neighbor down the street, and he is a great kid. He will be very nice to her, although he did say she had to complete his assignments for the day (this is allowed for one-day assignments). On the drive home when Oldest One tried to talk to and reassure Little One she was shut down, and Little One wouldn’t talk to her…after all, she had gone for the most money. I was able to let Husband know before they got home, but she didn’t want to talk to him either. I got her to perk up by offering ice cream. Yes, that is my answer when nothing else works, ice cream.

I’ve also dealt with the reverse, when it was Oldest One feeling slighted. Two years ago the girls both tried out for a cheer team, and they both made it. For some reason the scores were released right after the teams were announced, instead of just announcing and not giving scores away, which is to me the best way to do it. Oldest One was very excited when she came up to me, telling me she had the second highest score, but she didn’t know who scored above her. Right on cue Little One came running up screaming she had the highest score. Some days you just can’t win.

Auctioning Cheerleaders

Today is the day the girls are auctioned off. Definitely not a sentence I ever anticipated saying, but in this case it is for a good cause. The school Varsity cheerleaders are being auctioned to students, teachers or administrators, and will spend one day next week carrying books, taking notes, bringing lunch, bringing snacks, etc. They are raising money for their end of year banquet.

Since I wasn’t in sports I never participated in an auction, but I know people who did, and for the most part they seemed to have a good time. Getting ready to be auctioned took time, and it also completely glittered the sidewalk in front of my front door. Husband and I have been trying to avoid the worst of the glitter every time we go in or out of the house. Yes, we could sweep it up, but that isn’t our tradition. Or we are just lazy, whichever seems to fit best.

So posters were made and hung up at school, and today Little One straightened her hair (with very little help from me) and wore some make-up so during the last hour of school she would look fabulous for the auction. Oldest One had a field trip, so she actually was in business clothes when she left the house, and I’m guessing looked nice…I leave before the girls in the morning.

Little One was nervous because she isn’t a high school student, and none of her friends can buy her. She knows a lot of the high school kids, but I understand, it isn’t the same as having your good friends telling you what to do all day. Oldest One took care of her, and two of her good friends who consider Little One their little sister too will be bidding on her, and one of the teachers. Oldest One knew who she didn’t want to buy her, but who she thought probably would. Good luck to that person next week.

I have to say I think this is a good fundraiser, and not just because it will be fun (hopefully) for the cheerleaders and those who buy them, but it also promotes school spirit and community because it is helping the Varsity cheer team to accomplish a goal. Also, my involvement, beyond buying several sheets of poster board, has been minimal. Can’t beat that in a fundraiser!

So Done with Science Projects

I was so happy when Oldest One finished her science project in eighth grade. One done with the dreaded science project! My hopes were dashed her freshman year of high school when I found out our school required a science project through twelfth grade.

I know that science projects have merit, and kids do learn from them. But I have yet to see one that doesn’t require some sort of parental involvement, even if it is just running around town frantically buying needed items to finish it in the next 24 hours. This year doesn’t look any different.

I walked into the house after work to find Oldest One unhappily glaring at the computer because she couldn’t find a project she liked. She decided not to work with a group this year, but to do it on her own, and she wanted something exciting and big. I told her I didn’t see how she had time for a project like that, and maybe a scaled back one would be better. That was shot down. I had sent her, at her request, several websites with science projects for twelfth graders that had some (to me) cool looking projects that weren’t going to take the next two years. She didn’t like any of them. She left for cheer with no project.

Little One had wanted to do a science project determining what kind of food a bunny liked better, using from homemade to bought organic to bought bagged bunny food. Her teacher said that was too easy, and instead assigned Little One’s group of three the science project of seeing which paper towel was the strongest. What? For eighth graders? Apparently the teacher hasn’t seen what happens when food doesn’t agree with a bunny, and the bunny doesn’t quite make it to its litter box. Not pretty. I decided to let this go, buy every brand of paper towel there is, get some rocks from the yard, and let them have at it.

Last year Little One and her group did a maze and determined which animal, a dog, a cat or a chicken made it through with the best time. I had two kids and a chicken spend the night for that one. Husband helped with the maze to make sure it was sturdy, and I downloaded the pictures (and offered the visiting chicken some food). That was a fun one to watch; three seventh grade girls trying to herd a dog, a cat and a chicken through a maze several times.

Oldest One, with me sitting at the table for support (because the projects she was looking at were beyond this administrative non-science person), finally decided on two projects she would discuss with her teacher at 10:30p last night. She had realized that she didn’t have several months, and wasn’t trying to win a scholarship for her project. I admire she wanted to do something exciting, with anatomy or neurology or cancer (and Husband and I said no to doing anything with mice and cancer cells), but it wasn’t practical. She told me this morning she would be doing an experiment about blood coagulation. I even think I can help her, by ordering the materials she needs, and cleaning up after her.

Only four more years of science projects to go after this one. Well, if Oldest One does research in college, great, I’ll just hear about it, not have to live through it. This will not be one of the things I look back on sadly when it is over.

Score for Dr. Seuss!

When Oldest One and I were at Wal-Mart last Sunday we picked out a book for the daughter of the Receptionist at my work place. I wrote a while back about how she hadn’t thought to read to her daughter, and I told her how much my girls had loved being read to as little ones. Since our conversation she has started to read to her daughter, and she told me her daughter will often bring her a book so she can be read to. I know they don’t have many books right now, and Mom goes to school at night, so getting to the library isn’t easy.

Oldest One first grabbed a book that was not going to work for a two year old. I steered her towards the board books, and we started looking. Oldest One looked at the prices and said we needed to go to Goodwill and get her a lot of books. I said it was a great idea for next weekend, but right then we didn’t have time, and I wanted to get something because the Receptionist was such a nice person trying to do her best by her daughter. So we are going this weekend to look for books.

We bought the board book version of Dr. Seuss’s Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb. My girls had loved the full version of the book, and it seemed like the perfect one to buy, especially since Oldest Agreed. I put it into my lunch bag when we got home so I wouldn’t forget it, and gave it to the Receptionist on Monday morning.

Tuesday morning the Receptionist was very excited to tell me how much her daughter loved the book. Her daughter ran to get rings to put on her fingers, and had a drum she could use while reading the book. She was even saying “dum ditty dum ditty dum dum dum” and asking to have it read one more time, then one more time, then one more time…you get the idea. I loved hearing that!

I loved reading books to my girls, and one day 13 plus years away (I hope) I will buy up every board book I can find to read to my grandchildren, and then add to the collection as they grow older. I’d like to do volunteer work down the road with reading to kids, or reading for the blind, or anything around books. I can go on forever about how wonderful books are, and I love to share with others what I read, hear what they read, and keep a list (okay, maybe a binder) of books I want to read. I may not ever travel in space, or meet a werewolf, but I know I can do that and more every time I pick up a book.

Love Doing Nothing

I had such a good weekend! It was the first weekend in months we had nothing scheduled, which was wonderful. And, the girls wanted to spend time with me, which was the best part of the weekend.

Saturday I slept in, and decided not to tackle household projects, but to relax and read. I finished a book and started another, and it was so relaxing. I haven’t been able to read more than a few pages the last month or so, and I can get cranky if I don’t get my reading time. I did get the laundry done, but that didn’t require too much effort.

Saturday I also watched Legally Blonde (again) with the girls. We love that movie, and of course it brought up other movies we needed to watch together if we all find ourselves with no plans on a Saturday afternoon again. Little One watched Netflix DVD’s with Husband and I Saturday night, which again is a treat, because she only gives a movie about ten minutes, and if she doesn’t like what she sees she leaves and goes to her room.

Husband spent Saturday working on the pergola he is building in the backyard. I’ve already claimed it for my outdoor place to read when it is done. Because he was outside all day Little One and I decided to get chicken and frozen veggies from the store for dinner, and she talked me into some French fries because “she had been craving them.” She was happy to have time alone with me to chat.

Sunday I spent the day doing the things I didn’t want to do Saturday. Oldest One did her nails in the living room and chatted with me while I was doing some of it, and then she asked if she could go to Wal-Mart with me. Wow! Oldest One came to my work Friday and we had lunch together, and it was a really good lunch and we talked. Yes, ice cream was involved. But it was nice that she wanted to do a Wal-Mart run with me, and she asked me to go shopping with her next week. I’m on a roll!

I have to mention that Sunday Husband put a new clock spring in Oldest One’s car, which required (at least from what I saw) taking the entire steering wheel column apart and putting it back together. Without the air bag going off. Husband is amazing, because he can pretty much fix whatever is going on with the cars, he builds or fixes or paints or whatever is needed for the house, and he even sews. Really. He is truly a keeper, and I am so lucky he wants to be with me, when I am not a good cook (I can bake, but cooking meals, not so much), I can’t sew, I can’t fix things, and I don’t like to paint. Oh, and he is also an amazing Dad!

Barbie Table Memories

It happened on Mother’s Day when Oldest One was about 5 and Little One was about 2.  The Barbie Table had been problematic for several days.  The Barbie Table came about as a way to keep all the wonderful rooms Barbie lives in (and that Mattel realized was a much better way to go then a simple townhouse that took up a corner) along with furniture and clothes in one place and somewhat organized.  It was still messy, but a contained messy.

Oldest One was in a non-sharing mood, and kept getting mad at Little One for wanting to play at the Barbie Table with her.  So, about a half hour before Mother’s Day dinner with my Mom and Dad, Oldest One lost it and yelled at her sister again, at which point Husband was done.  He went into the playroom with two large garbage bags, swept everything on the Barbie Table into the bags, and told Oldest One she had lost the Barbie stuff until she could share.  That caused a meltdown, and Oldest One went into her room to cry, with my Mom following her.

I had no problem with what Husband did, we had taken toys away for not sharing before, it was just the timing.  Right before dinner on Mother’s Day wasn’t the best timing, but really, with kids, is the timing ever good?  Oldest One calmed down, we had a nice dinner, and a few days later the Barbie Table was back.  My Mom had a completely different take on this.

My Mom called me the next day and gave me a lecture about my supporting Husband over the girls.  She informed me that I should never choose Husband over the girls, and the girls were always going to be in the right.  She proudly told me she never sided with my Dad when it came to my brothers and I, and that she always supported our views instead.  That explained a lot about my parents relationship.  She wasn’t happy when I told her that Husband and I always tried to back the other when it came to the girls, and that we felt working together was the best way, and we weren’t going to side against each other.  Harder to do sometimes as the girls have gotten older, but we still strive for that.

Fast forward to today, when my Mom’s Boyfriend (we’ll call him MB) didn’t like me, or Husband, or the girls, and my Mom never tried to defend me.  Apparently I remind him of his deceased daughter who he didn’t get along with.  Pretty hard to overcome that.  And the things my Mom began to tell me about myself, my life and my family weren’t nice.  What she told my brothers about me was awful.  Never once did I hear her say anything good about me, just the bad.  What happened to siding with the child?  Not that I agreed with that, but it would be nice to think that a guy who has known me less than a year would at least get chastised a little bit for being mean, rude, and just not a good person.

My Mom wants to act like none of this happened, but it did, and it really upset and hurt me.  I know she won’t be here forever, and I know at some point this needs to be resolved.  Oldest One is inviting her to the graduation.  Little One isn’t, but after how my Mom treated Little One’s Bat Mitzvah, and then forgot Little One’s birthday, well, it’s understandable.  But when I think of having a conversation with my Mom about all of this I just get so angry at how she treated me, and how it’s okay for MB to think and say bad things without anything being said to him about how he acts.  I also feel childish thinking and feeling this, but at the same time I just can’t get over it.

This is on my mind at some point every day.  I try not to let it be because I do get so upset, but my Mom and I used to talk every day, and she used to do a lot with us, and was a big part of our lives.  We haven’t seen her since September, we don’t talk anymore, and she has missed everything the girls are doing for over a year.  At my Dad’s funeral an old friend of my parents, whose wife had died many years before, was there with his daughter, who is my age.  My Mom later told me that he had remarried, but was divorced, and during his marriage his 2nd wife hadn’t wanted anything to do with his daughters, so he hadn’t seen them during the marriage, two or three years, and was just building a new realtionship with them and his grandchildren.  She thought that was awful of him, and that he should have stood up to his wife and not abandoned his girls.  Yeah, I think that too.

It’s Easier to be Nice

I was a very shy child, and I had a hard time talking to kids my age and adults.  I was also awkward socially.  Shy and awkward, not a winning combination.  Because of this, or in spite of it, I tend to be one of those friendly people willing to talk to you anywhere I am.  Oldest One has commented on how I can have a conversation with a complete stranger in a line, and how she wouldn’t want to.  One day I’ll remind her of those words after she is done talking to the person in line in front of her at the grocery store.

I think the world is a better place when we smile and say hi to each other.  There are plenty of people I don’t know at work, but anyone I see when I’m walking between buildings gets a smile and a “hi”.  I always get the same back.  I’m not known for my anger, or negativity, or for being a difficult person to work with (thankfully).  I’m known for being friendly and smiling a lot, and for sometimes being too chatty.  I’m working on the chatty thing.

My Mom is known for being incredibly rude and nasty to anyone in a customer service position who gets the misfortune of having to deal with her.  She acts like she is better than someone assisting her, and as if they are the scum of the earth well below her notice.  She even gets a pinched look on her angry face.  I’ve pretty much apologized to any service person helping us when I’ve been along.  I know you can’t be responsible for someone else’s behavior, but it can sure be apologized for.  My Mom hates tipping, and doesn’t tip enough.  She also berates people, and complains about everything.

Little One tells the story of my Mom taking her and Oldest One out to breakfast one morning, where Little One ordered pancakes.  When the plate came the pancakes were huge, and Little One couldn’t finish all of them.  My Mom proceeded to yell at the waitress for not specifying how big the pancakes were and allowing a child to order them.  The girls have quite a few stories like this, and so do I.

I don’t care what a person does for a job.  I care about if the person is good on the inside.  Customer service jobs are difficult, and people are mean.  Husband and I always tip well for good service, and are as friendly as we can be.  There is no reason to be mean to others, and if the service is bad we’ll live through it, and not tip as well.  That rarely happens, and we enjoy talking to all the different people we meet.  I’ve been known to get exasperated while on the phone trying to get things done, but I do try hard to tell the person I’m not mad at them, I’m just irritated with the company, and apologize when I should.

Being angry and mean takes a lot out of me.  It’s stressful to hate everything the people around you are doing, and to yell at them for it.  I think your food would get spit in a lot also.  For me smiling and saying hello really does make for a better day, so it is something I’m going to continue to do, and enjoy.

On Edge, But Not Yelling

One of the tactics I use for coping with a teenage daughter who is frustrating me is to remove myself from the situation.  I really, really don’t want to start yelling.  My parents both yelled a lot, and with cuss words, and used name calling and that is a path I don’t ever want to go down with my kids.  Yes, I’ve yelled, but I haven’t called them names, or used cuss words to tell them what I thought of them.  That isn’t the kind of parent I want to be.

Yesterday I took Oldest One to get vaccinations for her trip out of the country this summer, and to get the college vaccination sheet signed saying she had all the required vaccinations.  I was chatting with her in the waiting room – well, trying to – about upcoming activities.  Out of nowhere she gets an attitude, and starts in on something that surprised me, and she wasn’t very nice about it.  I tried to answer nicely, but she set me on edge.  We were sitting in chairs next to each other with our arms touching, and at the point I was getting upset I moved my body away from her in the chair, and moved my arm away from hers.

I moved away without thinking, and what made me realize I had was Oldest One immediately looking at my arm after I moved it and suddenly backtracking on what she was saying.  At that point since I was irritated I think I answered “Okay” and then started reading a book on my Kindle through my phone.  I wasn’t trying to upset her more; I was trying to get myself away from being angry.  About a minute later she was leaning towards me and had her arm on mine.

Later in the evening Oldest One, who was now in a good mood after cheer practice and because she and her friends were going to hang out during the week since it is spring break, asked me for money.  She uses The Bank of Mom & Dad.  I looked at her and half-jokingly/half seriously commented on if she deserved money to go out after being rude and not nice in the waiting room.  I was going to give her the money, I just wanted to see what she said.  She said she was frustrated and apologized, and looked like a deer in the headlights.

When I am fairly calm and tell Oldest One that her behavior is not appreciated, and that she is being rude, not nice, and not showing respect I seem to get through to her.  I’ve only done this a few times, and usually after I’ve had several days of behavior I don’t like.  Recently Oldest One and Husband had a clash, and a few days later her club cheer coach told me Oldest One had told the coaches about it, and they had told her she needed to change her attitude and get a respectful tone and recognize all we do for her.  Go coaches!

I am not a perfect parent, but I try my best to be a good one.  I know Oldest One does love and appreciate all that is done for her, but she gets lost in the teenage world view, which is limited and small, and often shows the opposite.  I can’t always talk to her and get through, but I know that if I keep trying and don’t yell there will be a point where she will want to talk, and I’ll be available, and we will bond over ice cream.

Change of Heart on Cheering

Yesterday after I got home from work, but before the girls left for club cheer practice Little One and I had time to chat.  It’s their spring break, so she slept in, and cleaned my bathroom.  I gave her a list of cleaning and told her I’d pay her, cash or nail supplies her choice, if she did them.  Lovely child that she is my bathroom was tackled first.  It sparkled she had cleaned it so well.

The conversation got around to club cheer as it does so often right now, and she told me she thinks she will stay in club cheer next year, and with school cheer too.  She thinks she would be unhappy and miss competing if she gives it up after six years.  She has been talking with her coach, and she might go down a level to be able to do tumbling passes again while working on what she needs to be on the high level team and be a tumbler.

I am not surprised at this change of heart, and Husband isn’t either (although he was pretty happy at the thought of not doing cheer competitions next year).  I think this shows good reason for sticking to our rule of making them follow through on commitments.  If I had let her stop a month ago she’d be miserable with the decision she had made, which would have made life miserable.  A pouty, cranky teenage girl isn’t good for anyone.

Doing competitive cheer has been a very positive experience for the girls, and although a break would have been nice, I think she is making the right decision.  Granted, I am the chauffer next year, so it means a lot of driving again, but nothing I haven’t done before.  She has learned a lot of skills being part of a team at our gym, and I know continuing on for another four years will make her a stronger person better able to cope with what life throws at her.  If you can figure out how to get along with the snarky girls on the team, and avoid the drama mama’s you can pretty much handle it all.

It doesn’t mean she won’t cry at things, because she will, a lot.  She’ll still have to figure out how to navigate all the girl problems in high school, because no matter what high school a person goes to, there is always some sort of drama with girls.  But it will help her continue to learn how to stand up for herself, and to say no, and to take a stand on what is important.  I have watched Oldest One become a leader, a lot of it due to being in the cheer world, and I know Little One is going to evolve down that path too.  Plus, the gym is family to her, and she would hate to give up a part of her family that has been there so long.

So next year will be another year of running to various back-to-back cheer practices,  watching Little One cheering at school sporting events, going to competitions in and out of state, and making everything work when there are multiple commitments all happening the same day around the same time.  It sounds perfect, and I am up for the fun!