Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Bye-Bye, Baby

On-the-job training and lifetime experience count for a great deal in most instances, I think. If you're filling out a resume and you put down that you have twenty plus years experience on the job, that would be considered a major asset to the company doing the hiring. After all, there's not too much that would stump you after twenty years on the job.

That's true in most cases, but it's not true when it comes to the job of parenting. I've held that position for over twenty-two years now, and I still find myself stumped and faced with new challenges on a terrifyingly regular basis. The perplexities of new motherhood, including figuring out which way to put on the diaper and wondering if you're damaging your child for life because you gave him a pacifier, morph into the problems of wondering if your child is developing fast enough, talking when they should be, learning to walk at the right age, etc.

From there you move on to all the joys of potty-training, schooling, friends, dating, homework, teenagers, etc. And just when you think you have it all down, your next child presents you with an entirely new set of issues that you did not have to deal with at all when raising your first child.

It seems, too, that no matter how many kids you add, experience doesn't count for a whole lot. They each present new challenges and experiences that you never encountered before. And just when you think you might finally make it through the wild jungle of child-rearing, you face that inexplicable new animal:  the adult child.

Joyce, my blogging friend From This Side of the Pond, wrote extremely eloquently about the joys and complexities of trying to parent a child who has turned into an adult. One of the problems is that, when our adult children are not yet parents, they have no idea how difficult this job is for us. Perhaps we've made it look so easy, that they don't realize the struggle we have trying to figure out the right way to handle each situation that comes up. I've tried to explain this to our oldest son, who is twenty-two, but I'm not nearly as eloquent as Joyce is. Nor am I as refined. So my explanations follow something along the lines of this--

When a failure or error happens on my part and I absolutely can't explain or hide it, then I tell Matt that, since he's the oldest, we make most of our mistakes with him. He's the guinea pig. If he doesn't like it, he should take it up with God. God is the One that brought Matt into our lives first, so apparently He thought Matt could handle it.

I've had the additional uniquely challenging role of parenting five boys. It's been interesting trying to mother and train them while at the same time letting them develop into their own man, so to speak. It's not always been easy for their dad either, even if he is the original Indiana Jones. Occasionally, as Matt has gotten older, he and Indiana have butted heads. When he struggled with their obstinate and contrary wills, I tried to explain things to Matt. But rather than being elegant in my speech, I put it in terms any male could understand.

"Dad's marking his territory. He's Top Dog, and you're peeing on his tree."

He sometimes chafed at the rules, but he got the analogy. One time he told me ruefully, "Dad doesn't have a tree. He has a whole forest." True. His turf. His rules.

One week ago today, Matt moved out of our house and into the apartment that he will be sharing with Kylee after they're married. (Six weeks!) My baby has taken one more step towards being completely on his own. It could have been a traumatic day, but it wasn't. Mostly because I've seen him almost every day since then. And because he still hasn't moved all of his belongings out of our house.

In the meantime, I thought I should get him a housewarming gift. Something that would not only grace their first home together, but would commemorate his transition into a full-fledged man on his own. So I got them a plant.

Matt now has his own tree. Welcome to adulthood, Son.

Now when are you moving the rest of your things out of the house?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Glasses & Lingerie, Pirates, School and Non-working Toilets

Okay, that title covers a few of the things going on in the Boyd household in the last week. Just a little recap:

Our church had our annual Ladies' Luncheon last Saturday, meaning for two days before hand I got off work and then headed straight to the church to help with decorating. The night before the luncheon, I got home at 11:00, only to find out that one of my boys, who was supposed to help serve the next day, didn't have the required long-sleeved white shirt he thought he did. The one he assured me he had three weeks ago. Indiana bought him one first thing in the morning. He looked a little wrinkled, but he had a white shirt.

That night I also couldn't go to bed right away because there were things scattered all over the bed. In my absence, my husband had decided we needed to do some sorting and cleaning. He had started in the garage and then moved on to his closet (not finishing either project) before deciding to tackle my closet. Would any of you let your husband sort through and organize your things? If so, you're either a better woman than I am, or you're nuts. After my reaction, I doubt he'll be trying that again any time soon.

The luncheon went well, although the toilets stopped working ten minutes before the luncheon started. That made it interesting, with almost seventy women in attendance. Indiana spent the entire afternoon working on the plumbing problem, which did not help his mood. He told me later that he felt like he wasted the entire day because he spent it on the toilet. I found his phrasing quite humorous, although he did not.

I received an invitation this week to a personal shower for my future daughter-in-law. I can't go because she lives too far away, but I am sending a gift. I considered sending flannel pajamas, but since I won't be there and since no one knows me, I'm afraid it won't be quite as funny as I think it is. Guess I'll stick with something a little more traditional. I'm going to go with pretty, long and flowing.

My boys are in the home stretch for the school year. Unfortunately, being this close to finishing does not always translate into inspiring them to work harder or faster. Nicky's been ready to be through with school since February, and for the last four months, teaching him has had all the stimulation of pushing a wheelbarrow full of boulders uphill. Monday I pointed out to him that he would be finished by the end of the week, but even that didn't motivate him. I've pushed and prodded until finally, this morning, he came bounding into the room, happily announcing that today he will finish with school for the summer. Of course, today he stays at home with his dad so apparently he's going to be motivated for him. Figures.

One of the reasons we're in a hurry to be done with school is that we only have three weeks left before we start Vacation Bible School. With all the decorating and planning and details that have to be cared for, we have no time left for such mundane things as getting an education! Our theme this year is Adventure on the High Seas, and among other things, I'm trying to put together pirate costumes for all of our boys. Nicky (I think they voted to make him the challenging child for this summer) told me he doesn't need a costume because he's already put together his own. I've tried to gently point out the fact that, not only does it not look even remotely like a pirate's costume, but it also features a vest that is at least two sizes too small. Alas, the child is stubborn, and I'm not sure I can convince him to give up his idea.

And the child gets his stubborness from the leader of the pack--Indiana Jones himself. After much nagging encouragement on my part, Indiana finally went to get his eyes checked. Since we were pretty sure he would need bifocals, and since I was pretty sure that bifocals and/or progressives would not work for him for a variety of reasons (I know my husband well) I suggested that he get contact lenses, and then use reading glasses. Since he had contacts years ago, he agreed that this was a great idea.

Until the eye doctor talked him out of them.

I still haven't figured out the doctor's reasoning, but my husband ended up ordering progressive lenses. The prescription was off, so he returned to have them corrected. Then the progressive area was too narrow, so he had them widened. Then it still wasn't right, and the glasses were "pulling" at his eyes, so he returned them and went to a different eye doctor. There he got glasses he liked, but they were single vision lenses and he couldn't see to read. So he had progressive lenses put in, and ordered a second pair of single vision glasses. He thinks he will like these progressive lenses, but when he got home with them yesterday, he noticed that his frames weren't quite straight so he tried to fix them--and popped the lens out. He did that several times last night, and would not leave them alone in spite of my nagging urging him to take them back to the vision center and get them fixed properly. I finally left him messing with them while I went to bed--but only after pointing out that he had now gone through five pairs of glasses, trying to find ones that worked for him.

So there you have it last week at a glance. And upcoming? Three weeks of finishing school, working full time and VBS planning, followed by a week of VBS and working part time, then packing and preparing for our trip and working full time before we leave for the wedding. And somewhere in there I'm supposed to be planning the rehearsal dinner. Oh, and did I mention my dress for the wedding is too big? That's a nice problem to have except that now I either have to pay to have it altered, or I have to shop for another dress. That would be in my free time. Except that most stores aren't open between 2:00 and 4:00 a.m.

Good times. So what are you doing with your summer?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The All Important Hodgepodge

Who am I kidding? All the Hodgepodges are important. At any rate, here's this week's version and my own uniquely-me answers. Leave a comment, and then click on the link to go see Joyce. You can read her answers, too, and then see what everyone else had to say about this week's Hodgepodge. That's why you're here, isn't it?

1. What reveals more about a woman-her refrigerator or her purse?
In my case, both are crammed full, but nothing is molding in my purse (I hope), so I'm gonna choose that answer.

2. When was the last time you went to the zoo? Where? What's your favorite zoo animal?
I live in a zoo. We specialize in pigs and monkeys.

3. What social issue fires you up?
There are many to choose from, but I think one that really burns me is the double-dip. Get enough on your chip the first time 'cause that baby's not going in the dip again after it's been in your mouth. Right under the the double-dip is the fingerlick, which is equally disgusting. Well, one finger, done discreetly, is okay. But don't lick all ten digits. Use a napkin, for pete's sake.

4. Are you a coupon clipper? If so, are you extreme?
I am not like the TV show (which is not very realistic, if you ask me), but I am a clipper. I typically get $100-$200 worth of stuff a week that I don't have to pay for because of coupons. Recently I bought $65 worth of disposable razors, but I paid $2 for them. That kind of savings gives me a nice buzz. : )

5. What is one of your favorite souvenirs brought back from your travels?
When we come back from traveling this summer, we'll have a daughter-in-law. That's a pretty neat souvenir, I think.

6. Lemon meringue or key lime?
Key lime, unless there's chocolate around. Then I'll take that.

7. What is the most beautiful word you know in any language?
It's not a word, it's a phrase:  Time for bed!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Never sacrifice the permanent on the altar of the temporary.

Just thought I'd get a little inspirational today. Have a great Wednesday!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Moving On Up to the Hodgepodge

I'm running late, so I'm not going to spend a lot of time here explaining this. You know the drill. Seven questions and a random thought. Read and comment on mine, then click the link to head over to Joyce's blog and see what everyone else had to say. But read mine first since you're already here. Thanks!

1. How many times in your life have you moved house?
I've never moved a house, although once I did tear the door off the refrigerator.

2. What subject would you study if you had a year to devote to it?
I think I would study world geography--with lots of field trips and first class travel arrangements. Yeah, I could do that for a whole year. Or more.

3. What in this world breaks your heart?
Getting coupons in Sunday's paper for items that stopped being on sale the day before.

4. What is one item that symbolizes the times in which we live? Why?
Electricity. Because most everything else that symbolizes our times would not exist without it.

5. Share a favorite bumper sticker or t-shirt slogan.
I've mentioned this before, but I once saw a car that had an Obama/Biden bumper sticker on the left. On the right it had another sticker that said, "I reject your reality and substitute my own."

6. How do you like your spaghetti?
I prefer a plate, although when my children were little they liked seeing it on the walls and floor.

7. What is one piece of advice you would give a recent, or soon to be recent, graduate?
Get a job. It really helps to get by in this world if you actually have money.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
No matter how fit you are, tight white pants and a thong are inappropriate attire for the gym. Actually, they're inappropriate everywhere, but they're especially offensive when you're on the elliptical machine in front of me. Just sayin'.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

This is Not My Bucket List!

Okay, someone sent this to me in an email and labeled it Bucket List. Since a bucket list is supposed to be a list of things I want to do before I die, this list doesn't qualify. But it is fun to see what people have experienced. So I put an x by everything I've done. Feel free to copy, answer a few in comments, or whatever to tell me which things you've done.

As for my official bucket list, I don't have one. Dreams, yes, but a bucket list always struck me as a little morbid. So no list for me. What about you?

Have you ever ...

(x) Shot a gun (I own several)

( ) Gone on a blind date

(x) Watched someone die (only on TV. Seriously, why would this be on someone's bucket list?)

(x) Visited Canada

() Visited Hawaii

( ) Visited Cuba (Again, why would this be on someone's bucket list?)

(x) Visited Europe

( ) Visited South America

( ) Visited Las Vegas

(x) Visited Mexico

(x) Visited Florida

(x) Seen the Grand Canyon

(x) Flown on a plane

( ) Served on a jury

(x) Been lost (Too many times to count!)

(x) Traveled to the opposite side of the country (You didn't specify which country)

(x) Visited Washington , DC

(x) Swam in the Ocean

(x) Cried yourself to sleep (And this is on a bucket list because?????)

(x) Played cops and robbers (I've played both sides. And I always win.)

(x) Played cowboys and Indians (Again, played both sides. Still always win.)

(x) Recently colored with crayons

( ) Sang Karaoke

(x) Sang a solo or duet in church

(x) Paid for a meal with coins only (They loved me at the drive through!)

( ) Made prank phone calls

(x) Laughed until some beverage came out of your nose

(x) Caught a snowflake on your tongue

(x) Had children (I've done this a couple of times.) : )

(x) Had a pet (Two cats and a dog with an attitude.)

( ) Been skinny-dipping outdoors (If I did, I was waaay to young to remember it!)

(x) Been fishing

(x) Been boating

( ) Been downhill skiing

( ) Been water skiing

(x) Been camping in a trailer/RV (Not my favorite thing to do.)

(x) Been camping in a tent (Bet you never guessed this one, did you? Still not my favorite thing to do!)

(x) Flown in a small 4-seater airplane

( ) Flown in a glider

(x)Flown in a helicopter

( ) Flown in a hot air balloon

()Walked on a glacier

(x) Driven a motorcycle/been a passenger (Both. You might think I'm a little more adventurous than you imagined, but remember--I'm married to Indiana Jones!)

( ) Been bungee-jumping

() Gone to a drive-in movie

(x) Done something that could have killed you—but not bungee jumping (You know, I'm not even going to elaborate on this one. My kids might read my blog someday.)

(x) Done something that you will regret for the rest of your life (Ditto to above comment.)

(x) Visited Africa

() Rode an elephant

(x) Eaten just cookies or cake for dinner (I totally get why this would be on a bucket list. Except, doesn't everyone do this once in a while? Be honest!)

( ) Been on TV

( ) Stolen any traffic signs

(x) Been in a car accident (But it was seriously not my fault. Any of those times!)

() Donated blood (They won't take mine. Something to do with our having lived in Africa.)

( ) Bailed out of Helicopter/Plane (There would have to be something seriously wrong with the vehicle before I would jump. And I'd have to be unconcious.)

(x) Gone Curling (Only my hair.)

Favorite drink? Depends on my mood. Right now I'd really like a frozen lemonade. (But not that strawberry- lemonade junk from McDonalds. Yuck!)

Have Piercings? Only my ears.

Do you drive a 4-door vehicle? yes, but I'm a good enough driver that I can handle a vehicle with even more doors than that! : )

Favorite Number: Depends on what we're talking about. Desserts? You can never have enough. Trips to the emergency room? Even one's too many. 

Favorite Movie:  Depends on my mood, but usually something with a little mystery and suspense, a dash of intrigue and a healthy dose of laughter. Oh, and a hunky hero to look at doesn't hurt either!

Favorite dessert? Anything with chocolate.

And now it's your turn. Answer one or answer all. Don't feel like you have to include comments. I did because, well, it's what I do. : )

Friday, May 6, 2011

Coping with Mother's Day

Yeah, that's right. I said coping. For years Mother's Day was not my favorite holiday. But I think that's because I didn't know how to handle it.

Like most moms, I set myself up for failure by anticipating extravagant gifts and heaps of attention and praise. I expected everyone in my family to go out of their way to make it a fantastically special day for me--high expectations for an absent-minded husband and a handful of toddlers.

Most of the time I found myself getting frustrated as I waited for someone--anyone--to remember that it was a special day. Until it finally occurred to me:  I have to remind my husband of every other important day during the year. Why should Mother's Day be any different?

So I started sending out advance notices. They ranged from simple:  "Two weeks 'til Mother's Day", to slightly more subtle:  "I'm not cooking on Sunday." Unfortunately, my announcements had an unexpected side effect. Whenever I pointed out the advancing maternal holiday, inevitably my husband would turn to me and say, "Have we gotten anything for my mom yet?"

Once again I consoled myself. Obviously the thought of Mother's Day would trigger thoughts of his mother, not his wife. I should be grateful as some men actually seem to expect their wife to also be their mother. However, as I produced more and more children for him, it did seem like he ought to be able to remember to teach them to honor me one day out of the year.

I finally realized that, if I wanted the ideal Mother's Day, I needed to spell it out. Completely. Either that, or spend the day feeling disappointed and unappreciated. So now I inform everyone in our family of the date, and do occasional countdowns ("five days left to get something for Mother's Day!") so that they don't miss the date. I also point out gifts that I want so that I'm not disappointed and I don't have to pretend to like something on my day. Incidentally, my husband is pretty good at picking out jewelry and sending flowers, so I don't have to do that so much anymore with him. As for the boys, I strive to request things that will be easy for them to give. This year I'm getting my car detailed.

Hey, there's no downside to planning out your own special day. I even get to skip cooking twice that weekend. When our children were all little, waiting in line for hours for a table at a restaurant was not my idea of a great Mother's Day. So we ended up picking up burgers or chicken and taking it home to eat it. But as they got a little older, I began to miss the experience of us all dining out together. So I suggested to Indiana that we go out on Saturday night instead of Sunday. He was very agreeable to that, and we had a wonderful meal out together. But then I still requested that we pick up chicken or tacos after church on Sunday. After all, I still saw no reason to cook on my day!

So now I no longer cope with Mother's Day. I enjoy it. And the rest of my family actually enjoys it too because they no longer have to struggle to guess what I'd like in order to make my day special. It's a win-win for everyone.

I do have one other thing that I request from my children, but this is a request for all year round. And it's actually found in the Bible.

III John 4 says, I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

I'll take that gift whether I get my car detailed or not.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

May I Participate in the Hodgepodge?

Yeah, I know the title was corny. I'm operating at half-wattage today. But you'll stick around and read my lame answers anyway, won't you, because that's the wonderful kind of person you are. (Who would click away early after that kind of compliment, hmmm?) So after reading and graciously commenting here, click the link and see what everyone else had to say. Seven questions and a random thought. It's not as easy as it looks. Answering the questions, I mean. Clicking on the link is very easy. One tap of the mouse and you're through the rabbit hole and into the world of Joyce's Hodgepodge on From This Side of the Pond. But don't click it yet! You've still got to read my answers first. Remember? Because that's the sort of person you are?

1. Have you ever been served breakfast in bed? Do you enjoy that? If someone were serving you breakfast in bed this coming weekend what would you hope to see on the tray?
I've been there, done that, but it's not really my cup of tea. It's such a hassle getting the pillows adjusted so that you're sitting up just right, and then you have to balance a tray of some sort so that you're not spilling. And don't even get me started on the crumbs in the sheets thing. Big pet peeve there. Not that I'm hard to please or anything. If someone brought me a tray this weekend, I'd hope to see an invitation to Bob Evans on it. Just sayin'.

2. What is one piece of advice you would give a new mother?
The diaper goes on the other end.

3. When was the last time you wanted to scream? Explain.
How about the time we all screamed together because of the spider?
You can read about it here.

4. Can you hula hoop?
I used to be great at it until it got to the point that I could use the hoop as a belt.

5. What is something people do in traffic that really bothers you?
Get in my way.

6. What do you do when people don't admit they're wrong?
Point out to them that they are wrong because I'm sure that helps.

7. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word 'fun'?
The Hodgepodge, of course. And sprinkles.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I never liked Mary Poppins. Just thought you ought to know.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Wedding Education

I firmly believe, and I have often told my children, that my job from the time they are born is to train and educate them until they become mature, independent adults that are capable of functioning on their own and contributing to the world in which they find themselves a part. As they get older, every once in a while a situation arises with opportunities for learning and experiencing new things. I always try to take advantage of those situations because it's my job to make sure my children are as well-equipped as I can make them for life.

Since Matt's the oldest, we always seem to be breaking new ground with him, experience-wise. He was the first to graduate from high school, the first to go off to college, and now--the first to get married.

When wedding talk first started, I suddenly realized that Matt had little experience with weddings. Up to this point he'd been in two. Once as a ringbearer at the age of four, and the second as a groomsman his senior year in high school. Neither time was he involved in planning the wedding. He simply wore what he was told to wear, showed up when he was supposed to and did what he was told. And although sometimes that's all the groom is required to do, I thought he ought to know a few wedding planning basics before his first trip up to Kylee's and their first wedding-planning session.

The thing is, Matt--like his dad--is a big picture guy. Details are not his thing. Weddings are, of course, made up of hundreds of details that have to be decided and coordinated. Kylee is both extremely organized and creative, but I knew she would want at least some input and help from Matt in putting their special day together. So in preparing him for the months of planning to come, I started by asking a few general questions, just to find out if they'd already discussed any details. Matt's answers to most things were, "I don't know" or "whatever Kylee wants".

On the surface that might sound like a very generous guy who wanted whatever made his bride happy. While that is true of Matt, I also saw below the surface. It also meant "that's something I don't want to have to deal with." There were a few things he would have to deal with, I insisted. The tuxes, for instance usually fell in the groom's realm of decision-making.

"Oh, we're having tuxes," he told me, obviously relieved to have one decision made.

"But there's a lot of decisions to make about the tuxes," I pressed.

"Like what?"

"Tails, no tails. Color, cut, cumberbund, vest, tie, bowtie ..." I trailed off as his eyes glazed over. "It won't be that hard," I encouraged. "Has Kylee picked her colors yet?"

"Uh, yeah." He brightened at being able to answer a question. "Purple and green."

What she actually has picked is a very dark purple, almost an eggplant, and a much lighter shade of green. The colors are beautiful together. However, the way Matt said them made me think of a certain favorite children's dinosaur.

"Purple and green? You're having a Barney wedding?" I couldn't resist messing with him a little.

"No!" He explained the colors and I nodded thoughtfully. "So which color will the tuxes be--purple or green?"

"Neither!" He answered. A look of hesitation crossed his face, and then more forcefully, "Neither!"

I asked if he'd picked bridal attendants yet, and he stared at me blankly. "I don't know what those are."


"Oh. My brothers."

That was nice. Matt has four brothers. "How many bridesmaids is Kylee going to have?" He didn't know. "You do realize you're supposed to have the same number of bridesmaids and groomsmen, right?"

The conversation continued as Matt told me they were getting married at Kylee's church, something I'd expected, and that her pastor would be performing the ceremony.

Everything else stopped as I almost completely lost it. Matt's father is a pastor. Why would he not have his own father perform the ceremony? How could he do this to his dad? Didn't he realize his dad would be crushed? Surely Kylee's pastor would understand Matt wanting to have his own dad do the ceremony. Surely Kylee would understand that. All he had to do was speak up. His dad would never say anything, but it would just destroy him if his own son didn't ask him to do his ceremony! "How could you do this to your dad?" I demanded.

Matt looked uncertain. "I was going to ask him to be my best man," he answered. "But if you don't think  that's right--"

I assured him that his dad would be fine with that.

Sometimes I think we're raising that boy right after all.

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