Let me preface this by saying that I think West Virginia is absolutely beautiful, and I mean that! Some day I hope that my kids really appreciate all of the traveling that I have done to attend their activities! This past weekend, "Pook" and "The Surprise" were in a remote part of West Virginia for a football game. Please keep in mind that with the exception of a few large cities, everything in West Virginia is remote.
I have come to several conclusions after traveling alone through this mountainous state. First of all, moonshine was clearly involved when the roads were built. The longest stretch of straight road is about ten feet. I took more hairpin turns than a NASCAR driver on Saturday. As an added joke they put up speed limit signs. As if anyone could go over 30 mph on these narrow roads with twists and turns on narrow roads on the edge of cliffs!!!! They also add a little notice at the bottom: "Speed radar enforced". Go ahead, but instead of a ticket give a trophy to anyone who can speed! Radar? My satellite radio continually lost stations!
Second, if anything were to happen illegally, West Virginia is a great location! As I said before, everything here is "remote". I would not have been surprised if the song from the movie "Deliverance" mysteriously played on my radio. I drove past more trailers and cabins that look like hunting camps than I ever saw in Pennsylvania! You know people are using them, but you never saw people. Everything is tucked into mountains and forests. I understand how moonshine thrived and how government agents struggled to shut them down.
Third, If I ever need to go "off the grid" or if war breaks out in the United States, I am heading to West Virginia. There are no McDonald's or Burger Kings on these back roads. I only saw a building called "The Hillbilly Inn". During this picturesque drive, I could easily imagine soldiers on foot hiding in the hills during the Civil War! At times, it seemed virtually untouched by modern times.
Thankfully, I made it to the football game, which is where another story begins. The dragon and I once again did battle during my texting attempts. It is my job to keep everyone up to date on the game if they cannot go. I knew it was bad when I was getting a lot of "What!?" in answer. "Calvin's" girlfriend even asked if I had been drinking. Sadly, no. Here is a sampling:
"Three plays, three pemties. Gonna be a long day." None of us knows what a pemtie is, probably should have been penalty.
"OMG! A mass to the right!" To which "Mommy" asked if it was cancerous. Very funny, that should have been pass.
"This place is Expedia sive. Mouse chased all of the women out of the bathroom!" Expedia sive should have been expensive and the part about the mouse was accurate! Thank God it was after I had been in there.
"Thank Zoe for the clouds!" Whether it was Zoe or God, the clouds were a blessing on this hot sunny day!
I swear I did not type any of those words! My phone is cursed, of that I am sure. Each week of texting/broadcasting to the family brings me face to face with the Dragon! Many times my kids are able to decipher the code by looking at the keyboard. Most of the time, they just get sick to their stomachs laughing and sharing my messages! Thanks guys! Stay tuned for next weeks game!
If you are a parent, you have heard that line from your child at some point in their lives in one form or another. it is either "I need to move out!", "I am old enough to make my own decisions!", "I need to get out of here!", or even "I can't wait to get out of here!". The interesting thing is that they say it like it is some big threat to you! Like you are going to respond with "Oh please don't go. Who will I spend my money on if you aren't here. Who will I buy all of the groceries for. How will I be able to pay the lower utility bills when you go?!"
The whole thing generally starts as they near the end of high school, when they think they know it all. It continues in college, especially if the transition home during the holidays and summers are rough. They forget quickly how many times you have bailed them or their friends out of trouble, financially and otherwise. If they live at home after college, it can get worse. I have tried to instill an idea that I have certain expectations at our house. Do they always meet them? No. But I address it individually with each one and sometimes I have to leave it with me being disappointed in their decisions. I definitely do not always like where it ends.
We have a few basic rules when you live with us. Out of courtesy, you are asked to let us know where you will be and that you have arrived safely. We expect to be notified if you aren't coming home or at least given a time frame of when to start searching ditches or calling the police. If you live with us, you are expected to maintain your living space. You are also asked out of courtesy to notify me of when the last item of something has been used. It is pretty tough to eat cereal without milk, or use the bathroom without toilet paper, or wash your clothes without laundry soap. For the most part the system works.
Occasionally, at a much earlier age, you get a precocious child who attempts to run away. Our first experience with this, was when "Mommy" was in second grade. We moved away following that school year. She informed us that she wasn't going with us. She had plans to get an apartment and continue in her school. We were not to worry because she knew how to make mac and cheese.
Our second experience came when I was pregnant with "Pook". Unlike today, we did not have tests to see if it was a boy or girl. We knew it would be one of those. "Calvin" was the only boy at the time, and had three sisters. I noticed that whenever we had adult friends over, he would start questioning people about their homes. He wanted to know if they had toys and other children around. I finally asked him what the deal was and he very calmly looked at me and said, "I am looking for a new family. If this baby is another girl, I am out of here!"
Our third experience was also with "Calvin" and I believe he was also in second or third grade. He did not like my rules or being disciplined so he was moving out. I told him that was fine. He proceeded to start moving everything he owned down the driveway. Needless to say, he did not get very far with that load. I got him to come back home and we worked through it all.
As the kids got older, I got a little smarter too. If they wanted to go, I told them it was fine and then reminded them that they get to leave the same way they came in - with nothing. Everything that they thought was theirs was purchased by us. It usually provoked a little more thought and a change of heart.
Not that kids listen to advice, but I find it necessary to give this a shot. Stop and think hard, even as a young adult when you decide that you are ready or want to move out. The expenses that you incur can be very surprising and it isn't the sweet deal you think it will be. It can get lonely and very expensive. Suddenly you won't have all that extra cash to "play" with. If your parents are gracious enough to let you live at home, offer to pay rent. It will give you a very small idea of putting money aside for living. Pay your own insurance. Take your folks out to dinner once in a while or maybe contribute to the groceries. Do your own laundry. Offer to help any time that you can and make sure you follow through. Your parents have provided all of this and so much more for you for 18 years and often more. It won't kill you and it might give you a little character. It will definitely put a big smile on your parents' faces!
Do you remember reading in the bible about John asking Jesus if he was the first among the Apostles? We have an ongoing debate in our house about who is my "John". "Pook" will flat out tell you that he is the favorite. And he is - some days. In fact, each of the seven is the favorite on any given number of days. There are also days when any one of them is in danger of being strung up and tortured. It just depends on the day and the circumstances.
It does bother me though, to think that any one of the seven believes that one of the others, usually "Pook" is the favorite. Now he has set them all up for it. He will regularly announce that "I am Mom's favorite." I never respond. If I am driving and I ask him to send a text on my behalf to "The Ninja" and she asks what I am doing, he will answer "oh, I am just hanging out with my favorite son." And "The Ninja" always replies "Hi Pook!"
Any parent with multiple children who tells you or even their children that they love them all the same is in my opinion a liar. Or, they are not a very realistic parent. It is impossible to love them all the same unless they are identical robots. I am not sure that you can love a robot at all. If you have done your job as a parent, then you have raised unique individuals with their own personalities, likes, dislikes, etc. There is a common thread that runs through all of my children, but that thread also holds together the patches of the quilt that is uniquely "Mommy", "Calvin", "Super Son", "Mini Me", "The Blonde", "Pook" and "The Surprise". I cannot possibly love them the same, because they are not the same.
Don't be afraid to tell them that. Don't be afraid to tell them your feelings either. You are raising human beings and they will hurt you, disappoint you and make you angry and make you cry. They will also make you proud of them, smile, laugh and enjoy each day more because of their presence. It's okay for them to know that you want to ring their necks some days. It is okay for them to understand that while you don't like them right now, you still love them with all your heart. They need that honesty and the security of knowing that your love is a constant. They need to be told when they are wrong, they need to learn how to correct that wrong. They need to know all of these things if they are going to continue on independently in their own lives and carry on healthy relationships. No one who grows up believing that the world revolves around them, can possibly maintain an adult relationship for long. At least not a good one!Your children are human. You are also human! All of us make mistakes.
The bottom line: It is not about the mistakes that you make, it is about what you do after you make the mistake.
I have always tried to teach my children how important it is to be honest and truthful. I can specifically remember conversations where they would say, "But if I tell you the truth, I will get in trouble." The answer to that was, "If you don't tell the truth you will be in worse trouble." It was kind of like taking them to the doctor. You never tell a kid that a shot won't hurt. They will justifiably hate and distrust both you and the doctor. You set the example by telling the truth. "It will hurt to get the shot, but only for a little bit and it will keep you from getting really sick."
I can remember "Calvin coming home from middle school one day and telling me how he found an Texas Instrument calculator (these cost well over $100) in the bathroom at school. He turned it in to the Principal's office. He was also totally confused by the fact that the Principal made such a big deal about him being honest and turning it in, rather than keeping it. I remember him saying "What's the big deal? Isn't that what you are supposed to do?" Sadly, I had to explain to him that there are a lot of people in the world, in his school that would have kept it, and who wouldn't have cared that it was someone else's loss.
I always drove the kids to and from school. There is a story behind that, but we will get into that later. At any rate, I picked the kids up and I always asked how their day was. One particular day Calvin burst out "Fine, I might as well tell you now because I know you are going to find out anyway...." He proceeded to tell me about some minor trouble that he got into. I don't even remember what he did because I was so taken back by his response.
It is hard to raise kids by principals such as truth and honesty and character. There are so many people who are succeeding here on earth by doing the opposite. Look around you. How many people do you see who are successful because they did the wrong thing?
I know I have been harping on professional athletes, but our kids look up to them. How many have become successful because of performance enhancing drugs? How many have broken the law as college athletes and had their infractions covered up or overlooked because their talent was more important to the coaches than their character? And for that matter, how about the coaches who do the overlooking and covering up and who break the rules of the organizations they are part of just to win!
Stick to your principles and teach your children that there are consequences to their actions. Help them understand that even though it looks like the liar and cheater is winning right now, eventually it will catch up to him or her. It always does. God has his own timeframe for that, and it is not our job to judge it is our job to do the right thing and teach doing the right thing. Hang in there parents. You are not alone, there are others trying to teach their children the same things. The rewards for you come when your child does the right thing without needing to understand that there was a wrong option.
I am not going to lie. I am opinionated. There. I said it.
So this morning as I am scrolling through Facebook, I see a post about Jake Plummer criticizing Tim Tebow for being so vocal about his love for God and Jesus Christ. SERIOUSLY? I have said all along that I really like Tim Tebow. I loved watching him play in college. I loved how he conducted himself when he won his Heisman. Whether you like him as a quarterback or not does not matter to me. This guy is not afraid of being true to himself. I wonder how many other professional athletes or politicians or Hollywood type people are secretly praying? This guy puts it all out there.
How many of the "stars" do you see thanking God when they win the big game or title. That's okay for people like Jake Plummer I guess. But God forbid (pun intended) that you would think of praying to God every single day, or every single moment of every day and not just when you get what you want.
Maybe for people like Jake Plummer it is better to continue to honor and reward the athletes and celebrities who beat their wives and children, or who abuse drugs and alcohol. By all means, let's continue to hold them in the spotlight and run down someone who walks the walk! Better yet, let's continue to allow celebrities to tell us how to think politically and socially. They are very good at doing that.
It has always been my opinion that Tim Tebow has cost himself a career in the NFL, not because of his abilities on the field, but because he is not ashamed to publicly proclaim his love for Jesus Christ. You keep going Mr. Tebow. Maybe if more celebrities would live like you do, the world would start becoming a better and safer place to live. We wouldn't have to see and listen to news stories about children who are beaten, wives who are punched, arrests for DUI's, celebrities in court for drug issues and going into rehab. What would we watch on television without shows following these immoral and disgusting people throughout the days of their lives. Let's continue to put them on pedestals along with 16 year old girls having babies!
Don't stop living as you do Mr. Tebow. I for one will always stand up for you. My challenge to everyone - will you also stand up?
For most of my adult life while raising kids; which is almost all of my adult life, things have been hectic. Our lives got crazy the minute "Mommy" was born. My time has not been my time ever since that day. I am not complaining (at least right this minute). For years I have done "Spring Cleaning" or at least made the attempt to get it done. While I am in the midst of doing that and moving furniture, Easter pops up on me. Everything comes to a grinding halt so that I can get the house decorated and get out all of our baskets and bunnies. Thank God, "Doc" handles the purchasing of candy and items to put in the baskets! But never fear, I will get back to the cleaning after the holidays.
When the kids were in school, I always got bombarded with end of the school year activities and banquets and athletic events. We were heading out somewhere almost every evening. Paperwork, cleaning, laundry and yard work get prioritized and squeezed in when possible but they are never completely done. Summer is around the corner and I don't have time to open the pool, so I now hire someone to do that! But as soon as Memorial Day has passed and everyone is home for the summer, activities will slow down and I will be able to catch up on things and breathe.
But then come the sports camps, vacation, and the Fourth of July! Lots of travel, running people where they need to be, entertaining guests for dinner and special events! I was looking forward to the kids being home from school, but now I realize that it has brought additional work and commitments. My grocery shopping has expanded almost as much as my laundry. There is still time to catch up on yard work and time to swim!
But then again, August brings its own set of obligations. The boys head back to college and football camp in early August. It's a good thing we squeezed vacation in ahead of that! It is a major event to move them in, especially cleaning the apartment! Finalizing all of the financial aid and getting all of the necessary supplies takes a lot of time. Suddenly, I remember that I have two Christmas stockings to make for the newest grandchildren. Well, Christmas is in December. I have plenty of time. Once the boys are at school, I will have extra free time.
But then again, football season starts and Saturdays are completely committed through November. "The Blonde" asks me to volunteer where she works which requires about 20 hours of training. Moms and Dads go back to work and I am now babysitting five days a week. Thanksgiving is coming, but I can get a break because everyone will be around to help.
But then Thanksgiving comes and it is a whirlwind of people and food. Right after Thanksgiving it is time to decorate for Christmas. It is one of my favorite times of the year and the house is decorated head to toe. It takes about one week to get it all done. The boys will be home soon and they can help. But they don't, at least not without aggravating me, so I finally do it myself while occasionally grumbling but trying to hang on the Christmas Spirit. I pull out all the old movies and watch and sing and try to do some cleaning while I decorate.
December is crazy preparing for the holidays and visitors and parties. It is festive and I love it. There are still so many things to do that I have been meaning to get to. I scramble to finish the final stocking. "Mommy's" Tree Skirt is probably not going to get done this year. After the holidays, I will have time to get to that and she can have it for next year.
After the holidays? The years have rolled by, sometimes too quickly. I am always promising myself that I will get to things after the holidays but I know now that there is no "After the Holdiays". There is just the next event!
There isn't a whole lot I can say about today. Like everyone, I can remember exactly where I was when I heard the news about the plane crashes. I was in the car on my way to the dentist with "The Surprise". There was disbelief, shock, fear. I cannot imagine what it was like for families who had loved ones in the area as they tried to find out if they were safe or not. I completely admire the police, firefighters and every person who risked their own lives trying to help.
I have always been taught that God does not give you more than you can handle. I believe that to handle something like that you have to walk hand in hand with God, because only his strength and love can see us through.
On that day and every anniversary of that day, I take the time to do what we so often forget to do. I stop and smell the roses. I remember to thank God for all the gifts that I have been given. I thank God for the wonderful husband that I have, the beautiful and healthy children and grandchildren that I have. I thank God for placing special people in the lives of my children. I take the time to look around and marvel at the beauty of the world. I take the time to smell and breath deeply the fresh air. Whether it rains or snows, is hot and humid or cool, cloudy or sunny I thank God for the beauty of the day.
I take the time to remember what so many people learned that day. It can all change in a heartbeat! control over our lives can be an illusion or a delusion. Many people had their lives forever changed just because they were where they were at that moment. Remember that the next time you are hurrying to get somewhere and get delayed by a school bus, or a traffic jam. There is a reason... The "Blonde" has a goal of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. She missed qualifying by minutes. That year, the bomb exploded near the finish line. It occurred right about when the "Blonde" would have finished and we would have been there cheering her on. There is a reason....
When you get those blessings and second chances, make the most of them. They are a gift. Memory eternal to those who lost their lives and may God Bless those who suffered.
Let's start out by saying that I am not a fan of newspapers. More often than not I have found that they "design" information so that you will follow their train of thought and ideologies. I say, give me the facts please. I am an intelligent human being and I am able to come to my own conclusions. And to take a totally left turn, which you should understand soon, I am not afraid to look at myself and laugh....a lot!
So several years ago, while the kids were still in school, I decided to get a newspaper subscription to the local paper. I wanted to read the articles about my kids and put them in their scrapbooks. I also thought that as a representative of the community, I should stay on top of things. A few weeks before that, my brother had decided to get the paper also. In rural areas, they do not bring the paper to your door. There is a box attached to your mailbox. In our case, that puts it a half mile from our house. But okay, I was usually going out every day and it was also a good opportunity to take a walk. A long walk, but a walk nonetheless. Delivery of the paper was not going well, somehow one or both of us were not getting our papers. But we were paying for them! After realizing what was going on, the amateur sleuth in my started creeping out. Love those detective and crime shows! I was able to narrow down the time that the paper was disappearing. It was being delivered but it was disappearing.
One morning, I went down to "Calvin's" room and told him that I was going to go wait for the newspaper to be stolen. He quietly turned and looked at me and said "But mom, you are wearing boxer shorts, a tee shirt and isn't that "Pook's jacket?" My reply, "yes, I know. But don't worry, I am taking the Gator and a blanket in case it gets chilly. I am going to catch the paper thief." In true form, he rolled his eyes and went back to studying.
So I drove down the driveway and hid in the bushes with the Gator. Sure enough at the estimated time, the neighbor came down their driveway. She looked in her newspaper box, then in my brother's box. Both were empty. She promptly went to my newspaper box and began removing the paper. Gotcha! I immediately jumped out of the bushes, so to speak. Remember, I was driving a utility vehicle and said "I believe that is my paper." I am sure that I didn't give her a heart attack but I will bet that she peed her pants a little. I just wish I had a better line to say.
I got my paper and drove immediately to my brother's to bask in the glory with the only other person who understood my motivation and methods! My kids were all deeply concerned with my behavior as well as the victory celebrations that ensued. I believe there was some talk of nursing homes again. But - GOTCHA!
At least for me, this past weekend officially opened football and of course all fall sports for colleges, universities and high schools across America. Every year I go in with high hopes and I am never disappointed. The athletes work hard in the off-season to prepare for this moment and the weekly games to follow. I know with football they go through two a days or camp and watch hours of film. The practice, and then they practice some more. The coaches never stop throughout the year. They are designing offensive and defensive plays, they are recruiting players, they check on all the details that effect their players. They meet with each other, they meet with the new recruits and their parents, they meet with administrators. They watch countless hours of film and plan for the season.
And then comes the first game. The stands are full of parents and friends who clearly know ,more about the sport than the professionals on the field who have spent hours preparing the team. Every coach is an idiot, a moron, cannot possibly know which play to call. Rather than keeping this information to themselves, the charming spectators cannot stop themselves from spewing comments that are belittling and/or undermine the team. And you have to love the parents that feel qualified enough to actually go as close to the sideline as they can to coach the players themselves! Well I guess somebody needs to since the professionals are so incompetent. I try to imagine a patient taking over surgery from "Doc". Now there is food for thought.
The next target are the players themselves. If you listened to the parents/spectators you would naturally assume that these young men (or women depending on what sport you choose to focus on) are doing everything within their power to deliberately lose the game. Much like their coaches, they are idiots, morons and totally incompetent. They deliberately miss tackles, drop balls, get sacked and get penalized. It is hard to believe that universities actually give them scholarships to embarrass themselves like this.
And before I go any further, let's talk about those penalties. Who in their right mind would ever become certified to officiate any sport! Nobody likes these guys! The cannot see, they cannot think, they clearly cannot make a respectable call. They play favorites and definitely don't know the rules!
I have spent about 25 years watching sporting events from the time the gang was about seven through college. I have watched people belittle and abuse the coaches and the referees. Do they really think that calling someone a blind moron endears them? I know, maybe it makes them think about getting a vision and intelligence test! Worse than that they attack the kids. Their friends' kids and the children of total strangers. They show no favoritism. Now that some of the gang is older and sitting in the stands with me, they marvel at what they are witnessing. I love it when they simply look at me and say "thanks". "For what?" "For not being that parent, ever!"
"The Surprise" has three years of eligibility left. I am concerned that as I get older, my patience grows shorter. If I don't snap on one of these bleacher buffoons before he graduates it will only be by the grace of God! I wonder if my kids will come up with the bail money or let me sit there to teach me a lesson?
There is a level of privacy that does not seem to exist in today's world. I cannot even say that it is a result of the communication superhighway. I think that common sense and a sense of privacy has been eroded over the years, but I do feel that in some ways technology and social media. Years ago, there were censors on tv who would not allow certain language or situations to be shown on television. Personal care products like tampons or medications for erectile dysfunction were NEVER advertised on television. Now I understand that some people feel we needed to come out of the darkness, but how much is too much?
On a more personal level, someone in our neighborhood is putting up a new home. It reminded me of when we were building. We lived in a small house on the property while we were building our new house. We got pretty used to seeing the builder and his subcontractors come up and down the driveway. No problem. And then . . . .
Suddenly, we found workers bringing their girlfriends or wives back to our new home to show it off. Neighbors felt like they had a right to stroll through the property and into our house before it was completely enclosed. It was something I never understood, but they saw nothing wrong with it. After all, they were just looking! We ended up shifting gears. It got to the point where we would jump into "Intruder Mode" whenever we would see someone come up the driveway, especially during non-work hours. Everyone had a job. "Doc" would grab his rifle. One of the older kids would man the phone in case we needed to call the police. Another one of the kids who could read and write, would get paper and pencil to write down vehicle make and license plate number. The others would act as spotters and of course I would just direct the group.
The kicker came when a car came up the driveway and headed back to where the new house was located. We flew into "Intruder Mode". "Doc" wasn't home so it was me in the drivers seat. Before we knew it the car came back down the driveway. I jumped in my van and followed it down the driveway and stopped them. There were two couples in the car. The average age of the passengers was 75. They were out sightseeing and had heard about the house. They were totally unaffected when I informed them that they were trespassing on private property and smiled as they blew me off and drove away! Time for the police. I gave the police all of the pertinent information and simply asked them to impress upon our visitors that what they had done was not only illegal but rude. Oh, and please don't give them a heart attack when you do it!
I have always been fiercely protective of our family's privacy for multiple reasons. The kids always seem to have been on display or under a microscope. Home was and is always the place where we can be what we are and need to be without judgement (except maybe from me). Sometimes I miss the "good old days".
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!