When did it happen?

A couple weeks back on my way into the gym, I saw an elderly lady with two little kids. The little ones outran their grandma and entered the building with me. I got quite a few smiles and happy looks from strangers. People thought the children were mine and were giving me the ‘your kids are sooooo cute’ face.

When did my kids stop being cute?

I felt a little sad for awhile. I hadn’t realized that I haven’t gotten that mother of little kids look for a long time.

When did my kids grow up?

This past weekend, my nieces who are 8 and 10 stayed overnight at my house last minute. Angel was babysitting for another little girl at our house that was 8. We had a girl party. We played Just Dance and painted nails. Even my ‘baby’ was a big help entertaining the girls.

When did my daughters transition from girls to young women?

When it was bedtime, I put a show on to try to get the girls to settle down and fall asleep. But I was the only one that fell asleep. I really don’t know how kid movies can captivate children, they are soooo stupid. Who writes those shows??

When did we stop watching cartoons and kid shows?

The girls had a hard time sleeping at night. Little Gracie complained about the bass pouring out of my son’s room. It wasn’t that loud or maybe I’ve grown used to the noise of having teenagers in my house.

When did my kids stop being little kids?

The next day we had the family over for Christmas. The little girls were bursting with excitement over the presents under the tree. Gracie got this bird that cracked its way out of a shell minutes after she opened the gift. Then she was supposed to raise it as a baby, toddler, and then finally a kid. But not as a teenager nor adult. It glowed different colors to communicate based on some color code on the box or something. Seemed like a big waste of money to me. But boy was that the rage.

When did our kids stop waking us up on Christmas day?

My kids got mainly clothes. Clothes! Arabella got a waffle iron. Adult stuff! No more toys. The teens mainly looked bored. The kids squealed with delight. The adults sat around acting excited about the gifts of the little kids, but it really wasn’t all that exciting anymore…the transition from child to adult.

When did my kids stop playing with toys??

I was able to find some excellent gifts for my teenagers though..

For Angel, I bought her tickets to see Lana Del Rey in concert next week. We will be traveling quite a ways, so I got a hotel room. I also bought her a Lana Del Rey t-shirt. I am excited to go with her, but was instructed not to dress like a ‘mom’.

For Alex, I got him an Ancestry DNA kit to find his heritage. It was something that he mentioned over a year ago and was very excited to receive. Rumor has it that he might have Native American roots (my husband never knew his father). Now we will know for sure. There is some mystery in what will be found.

For Arabella, I took her in today for a makeover. She got blonde highlights and black low lights. She looks very pretty and grown up.

I do miss the wonder and excitement of the younger years, but there is a certain joy to be found in letting go…

Back to the past

Over Thanksgiving we played the game Loaded Questions. It is a great group get to know each other kind of game. Perfect Christmas gift idea. You’re welcome!

The main object of the game is to ask a question in a category and try to guess who wrote what response. Every player gets a chance to be a judge.

When I was a judge, I asked the question…If you could live in a past time period, when would it be?? Paul said it was taking him awhile to write a response because he was having a hard time spelling his answer..

Here were the answers:

1960’s

1970’s

1970’s

1980’s

1980’s

The Renaissance period (obviously Paul’s answer)

An hour ago so I wouldn’t have to play this lame game (obviously my son)

I found the answers interesting. My mom and Darryl wanted to go back to their teenage/young adult years…but what I really found interesting was that 3 out of 4 teens wanted to live in the time period that I grew up in…I was shocked..

But, but, but, but…there was no internet back then.

The teens said that they didn’t care.

I asked my daughter Angel about it later…Why did you pick that you wanted to live in the time I grew up in??

She had two answers. First, everything today is fake. She said that she knows of an ultra thin uTuber that spent hours posing with an ice cream cone that she never ate. She said that although she is a normal weight that it made her feel fat. Also, people only post good things about their life…which makes her feel like her life is boring or that she is not happy enough. (At this point, I should’ve shared with her about all of the personal posts here on WP but I missed the opportunity to tell her that other people’s lives do suck sometimes).

While we were in conversation, she took my picture with her a couple of times for snapchat. People were sending selfies back with little comments on it. She said I should join. Why would I want to send pictures of myself back and forth to people all day?? I don’t understand.

Second, my daughter said that all of her social contacts are on her phone. I guess that means instead of hanging out with friends in person, they send pictures back and forth all day or play games. She said that putting her phone away for a short time would mean that her social interaction is gone. She talked about a challenge at college that included giving up a phone for one day. Teens become a slave to their phones. Funny thing is…I never see them use their phone as a phone.

This is what it was like growing up in the 80’s…

 

The weekends always held a sense of adventure. After watching the Saturday morning cartoons, the neighborhood kids would ride around on bikes without helmets. Sometimes our chains would fall off or we would fall off our bike miles from home. We had to work together as a team to figure out how to fix problems. No one ever knew where we were.

I really loved the monthly trips into town to go to the library. Sometimes I could read a book a day. I would drool over the new releases that could only be rented for a few days. I couldn’t wait until that book was out on the shelves. I always checked the return pile for coveted books. I loved the silence and the smell of musty old books. Sadly, I haven’t been to a library in years.

It was exciting to hear a new song on the radio. I would listen for hours just to get the chance to pop a cassette tape in and record the song. Of course, I rarely got the whole song on tape. I had a weekly date with America’s Top 40. The weekly countdown was big excitement.

In the evenings, we would go on walks to visit with our grandparents or great aunt and uncle. I think I miss this the most…just walking in as if expected…unannounced visits. People just would stop in and talk for hours. People would drop whatever they were doing and listen. There was never a ‘let me check my schedule’.

We loved playing outside making forts out of wood or in the snow. We were never in a hurry. I loved going to the post office to see if I got a letter in the mail. We would pretend to ‘smoke’ candy cigarettes. We played in the sprinkler and drank water out of the hose. We ate raw cookie dough and ate homemade meals every night. We only had our picture taken on special events. I loved the big poofy hair and the big boxy cars.

We had a computer at home that I learned how to make my name scroll across the screen. It was exciting! Sometimes I would even change the color of my name. I loved to play Donkey Kong. We had an Atari and a VCR. I had a Michael Jackson record player from when he was still black. I spent hours playing with Barbie and Ken. I could spend hours watching a slinky go down the steps. I loved the game of Life. We never heard bad world news, unless things were really bad the adults didn’t tell us.

The strange thing is, although you might say that there was nothing to do, I can’t remember ever being bored.

I would challenge the young folks to spend a weekend without their phone to see what kind of adventures are out there..

What were your favorite memories growing up in pre internet era??

 

 

 

 

Magic Kingdom

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My favorite Disney park for rides is Magic Kingdom. To be honest, I am not a huge fan of roller coasters. I am a wimp! I did go on Space Mountain a few times years ago. Space Mountain is my limit for scary. The problem is sometimes the only way to see if you will like a ride is to ride it. It sure makes me feel a little braver when I see preschoolers next to me in line.

My favorite ride is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. We were able to get 2 fast passes for the ride which made me so happy. Then we were able to get on again right before the park closed for the night. I would say it is a moderate roller coaster, just the way I like it…it has small drops and doesn’t go upside down. The scariest time was when the ride momentarily stopped unexpectedly. I was afraid that the other ‘train’ might hit us, but it didn’t despite my fear.

When we stayed at Disney this time, we were given bracelets that allowed us to get into our room and into the parks. We could make purchases with our bracelets which allowed us to travel very light. We downloaded the Disney app to manage our meal reservations, get fast passes, and see the wait times for rides. Technology has really improved since we last visited a few years back. Of course, this also allows Disney to track you and send you surveys regarding the parks you visited. After we went on a ride, we even saw our names displayed which was a bit on the creepy side for me.

MK is also a great place for unusual attractions. We went on the Carousel of Progress which took us on a trip through several decades viewing how people lived in different time periods. We went on the small world ride which displayed hundreds of dolls. We went to a bird show in the Tiki room. We saw a live performance of the Pirates of the Caribbean and went on the ride which was scary enough to be fun.

When you are there, you can’t miss the Monsters Inc. Comedy Show. It is hilarious regardless of age. The only ride I didn’t like was the Lilo and Stitch ride.

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Also good to know, MK is a dry park. That evening we went to Narcoossee’s a fancy restaurant at the Grand Floridian resort. It takes two meals per person on the meal plan. Paul and I both enjoyed lobster. I got to drink a local Orlando beer out of a Mickey Mouse straw. Then we took the monorail back to MK for the fireworks show. It is cool to experience riding the monorail at least once.

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The fireworks and light show at the castle is a must see. I tried to take some pictures with my phone but only ended up capturing hundreds of other people taking pictures of the same event with theirs.

After the fireworks, the park remained open until 11 PM. We were able to go on a lot more rides since the park emptied out a little after the fireworks. Unfortunately, the wait time for the new Seven Dwarfs ride was too long and no fast passes were available…we will save that one for next time.

This is also the park that parents spend hundreds of dollars dressing their girls up as princesses for. You can see lots of little girls in fancy dresses with curled and glittered hair. You might even see the adult version walking around as well. There are many characters at this park.

It truly is a magical place and a must see with small children.

Animal Kingdom

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Animal Kingdom is my favorite park with kids. One of the best things to do there was go on a safari ride to see the animals.

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When we went with the kids, they got their faces painted. We did an African dance and played instruments. Each part of the park has separate continent themes to enjoy the animals native to that area. This time they even had an area dedicated to Avatar. It was over a 2 hour wait to go on the ride, so we didn’t.

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I think that this park was the hardest for me to tour without the kids. I felt sad that they had grown so fast until I saw the little kids cry. The parents seemed surprised that their children weren’t happy the whole time they were at the happiest place on Earth.

I had expectations at one time too. I thought that my children would get along. I thought that if I provided the right kind of environment for them that they wouldn’t argue as much as they do. It took me until my 2nd child was 6 months old to figure out that expectation wasn’t going to work well for me.

The evening we went to AK, we ate at the African restaurant at the AK resort. I loved seeing all of the animals, but I like to people watch too. I saw a couple with a small child at the table next to ours. When he got a little fussy, they handed him a cell phone. They relaxed instantly to know their boy wasn’t going to make a scene. But I thought ‘how sad’ in my motherly mind…they don’t know this yet, but in another decade they will be trying to pry the phone out of their teenager’s hand to have a conversation.

I have learned so much, but there is still so little that I know.

I really thought I had this parenting thing down. I mean, my oldest adult daughter and I are like best friends. She tell me things that I would never share with my mom.

But what worked with her did not work for my other 2 children. With them it is more of a struggle.

This week I had to tell my son that he needed to do his homework. He is a very smart guy but doesn’t care enough to do the work. He has been sliding by the last couple of years with C’s and D’s. He thinks that he will be able to get into a decent school by just having raw music talent. I also told him that he needs to wear his seat belt although he argued that he has never been in an accident and will not die because he is young.

My youngest daughter thinks that she is stronger than me. She said that she could beat me in a short race. I reminded her of the 5k we did a few years back where I placed in my age group and she came in last place overall. Seriously!

These are the types of conversations that I have with my teens.

But despite my insanity from parenting teenagers, I missed them when I went to the AK park. I missed all of our trips to the zoo when they were little. I missed their excitement and awe over seeing the animals. I wish I could recapture that again. Maybe with my grandchildren someday.

Animal Kingdom’s peculiar animals

…the herd is taken over by a younger male gorilla…the older male loses his family and remains alone…the staff member says as she waves her hand towards an older gorilla that we are gazing at. 

Two little boys (~6) slide in next to me by the gorilla display. 

Boy 1: That gorilla doesn’t look very happy. 

Boy 2: That is because he is an adult. All adults look sad. 

Boy 1: I think he is a female. 

Boy 2 turns to me and asks…Hey lady, is he a female? What do you think?

I turn to the boys with a smile masking an inward chuckle. I tell them that the gorilla is an old male. Look at his white fur. He is simply old and tired. 

The boys, satisfied with my answer, thank me and walk away. 

The old gorilla looks my way. I bet he thinks how peculiar the humans are that parade by on display. 

Enjoying the present

I decided to not audition for the next community theater musical. 

Oh, I am not afraid of being on stage. I have many fears, but that is not one of them. I find public speaking and performing fascinating. 

I decided to give it up to watch Angel perform in her first college concert. She told me that she was going to be given solos that are only typically given to seniors. Watching your child perform is as exciting as performing yourself with a lot less work. 

I wish my grandma was alive to see her perform. Angel and I got my grandma’s voice. I feel very sad that I don’t have a recording of my grandma singing. With an 8th grade education, my grandma never had the opportunity to use her gift. She never sang in a choir or sang a solo in public, but she could’ve been an opera singer. She just sang to soothe her tired or crying grandchildren or in church with everyone else. The only thing she was able to do was to pass it on to future generations.

This past weekend, I was looking through old pictures with Arabella. She wanted to know who was holding her in a photo. She didn’t recognize my grandma. My children don’t know much about some of the most influential people in my life. My grandparents, Uncle Harold, and Aunt Grace shaped me into the person that I am today. 

This weekend we took the dock out of water up north. It is sad to say good-bye to the cabin until next May. My great-grandparents built the cabin in the 1950’s. What a gift! But after reflection I found that I didn’t know a lot about the giver.

I know small tidbits about my great-grandparents. Little facts, but nothing about who they really were. I know for a fact that I couldn’t pick out the pictures of all of my greats if they were in a lineup with other photos. I might have their nose, but not know them..

How soon we are forgotten. Time moves so fast. When I was a child, a day seemed long. Now a day is nothing. 

These have been my thoughts lately. 

I am so thankful for the gifts passed on to me, but so sad that I know nothing of the gift giver. It is a strange type of nostalgia. I don’t want their memory to fade like an old picture in an album. But I can’t seem to grasp onto them anymore.

Instead, I will enjoy the present…the gifts we have been given. 

There will always be another play. 

Saying goodbye to Angelique Hope

It is finished.

I survived!

It wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be. 

The hardest part of dropping off my newly turned adult daughter at college was watching her say goodbye to her younger sister. They hugged. Angel told Arabella to call her if she needs any advice. She told her to enjoy having her own room. A few tears threatened to escape when they told each other how much they will miss each other. 

Now why couldn’t they get along that well before??

For the first time in over a decade, I will be actively parenting only 2 children!

We woke up before dawn to pack all of Angel’s belongings, including her beta fish, into our truck. It was an 8 hour round trip for Paul and I. I am totally exhausted tonight, so this will have to be quick.

It was an emotional day. 

Bittersweet. 

It was hard to say goodbye. Hard to keep things together. 

I wanted to keep her forever. Instead, I let go of her hand today. 

It was okay. I know she is where she was meant to be doing what she is supposed to do. She is happy, healthy, smart, full of faith, and makes good decisions. What more could I want?

It is going to take some time before I don’t expect a response when I call out her name. 

She is not here anymore.

But my house is not empty.

I still have other children to raise..

I know she will be okay.

I will be okay too.

Sibling bond(age)

My husband grew up as an only child. (How nice!!!). He made a comment that he would give anything to have had siblings. In which I retorted that I would give anything not to have siblings. As the oldest, there was a year and a half that I was an only child. Problem is, I don’t have any recollection of that time. 

I wouldn’t wish my siblings away, but I always wondered what it would be like.

Paul and I both have ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ mentality regarding siblings. Paul recounted being lonely and not having anyone to play with. My idea of being an only child is one of ice cream, candy, and all of the Christmas gifts. Never having to share. Getting all of the attention. Paul’s idea of having a sibling is like being with a good friend all the time that you can play with and talk to. There are a few sibling relationships out there like that. I totally envy them.

What I hear more of is all of the problems. It starts early… Fighting over toys. Feeling like your parents have favorites. Fighting over their time and resources. Who got more birthday or Christmas gifts. Even fighting over possessions after your parents are gone. Or petty fights and jealousies. Who has more money. Who is better looking. Who is smarter. Who is better. The list goes on for most families I know.

Deny it all you want, but we can never stop being compared to our siblings by ourselves or others.

Let’s just say that having siblings makes life more complicated and perhaps more interesting.

Our discussion last night about siblings was a hot button issue with me. I am not even sure why. I think it is probably because my siblings lives have had such a strong impact on mine. 

There have been some really good times. However, most of my strong emotions are tied to the disappointments and hurts. 

Paul has no idea what sibling relationships are like. A lot of times he asks me if our kids sibling relationship is normal.

When we had children, I hoped that my kids would be best friends. Even knowing what I already knew, I still longed for that. It didn’t happen. 

It is amazing how many different personalities can co-exist under one roof. Even though my kids were raised the same way, they are totally different. They even have temperaments or personality traits similar to that of our parents and my siblings which creates very interesting dynamics. Especially if your relationship with the person they remind you of is less than perfect.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I would have been an only child. 

I am willing to bet that most of you are like either Paul or I, wondering what life would be like on the other side. 

Or maybe, just maybe, you are lucky enough to have the perfect sibling (that you actually like). Or had the best of both worlds by being an only child long enough to enjoy having a way younger sibling.

  

Pick your poison- 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

Today we are going to talk a little about potential poisons a.k.a. reasons I had poison control on speed dial.

Maybe I should be happy that my kids were never picky eaters. Until recently, that is. Alex seems to have an aversion to anything green and particularly vegetable looking. He has an affinity towards junk food. Ah, teenagers…

My kids were always into trying new foods. Maybe it has something to do with Paul being a good cook. What worried me was that they were also into trying non food items as well.

When Angel was a little girl, I caught her nibbling on a house plant at my grandma’s house. It didn’t look all that appetizing to me. Maybe it was because I was lacking foliage. You see, I have a black thumb. Houseplants were taboo which might have made them alluring. I called poison control. What kind of plant did she eat? Well, how do I know? My house was the scene of many houseplant homicides. Thankfully, grandma left the identifier tag in the plant. Not poisonous! Phew.

Then there was the silica, the bag of little white beads in a shoe box. Why do they put that in a shoe box anyway? I’ve always wondered. Why would you need to preserve the freshness of shoes? They should make them so they stay fresh and don’t wear out after buying them not before. I can see how silica could look like a little bag of candy. Yum! Not poisonous, I called.

Then Alex ate a big handful of anti-bacterial foam soap. I admit, it does look a little bit like whip cream. I know that kids in history got their mouths washed out with soap. That was not a worry. What I didn’t like was that it was anti-bacterial soap which previously gave Angel a fierce rash. I called poison control. Not poisonous.

Arabella ate an Asian Beetle. It bit her tongue which swelled up a little. Not poisonous!

The kids broke out in hives from their antibiotics. Not poisonous!

I thought the dog got into a bag of dishwasher detergent. Phew, turns out that he didn’t. He did eat ant poison. He also ate a candy bar. Despite my fears, it didn’t poison him either.

Then the kids got older. They no longer were tempted by non food items. Then I started worrying about other things. I worried for a long time that they would choke on food when they were home alone. My mom told us of the time that she almost died choking on a grape when she was a kid. Worry.

Then I started to worry about them using the stove to cook meals. Would they leave the burner on and burn down the house??

It seems like children (and pets) bring on worries. They aren’t the same ones as when they were younger though. Are the kids eating enough? Too much? Enough good foods? Too much junk food? Can they afford to take their significant other out to eat? Hmm, that was a little pricey don’t you think? Maybe they should cook at home. Will they clean up the kitchen after themselves?? Will the dog get into their garbage?? And when am I going to stop spending so much money on food??

 

 

Something is fishy- 911, poison control, and other parenting mishaps

This morning while riding my bike, I thought of what I might write. I was so deep in thought that I almost hit a skunk. Of course, that would have been a very interesting story. The little stinker was two feet away in the ditch. It could’ve had a good shot at my legs if I would’ve screamed like I wanted to. Glad I avoided that bump in the road. Phew!

I was thinking about the time when Angel was a little girl. I had a friend over that had a little boy Angel’s age. The boy was a bit of a stinker. He still is as far as I know. They were playing quietly in the other room. That should have been the first indication that there was a problem.

When I entered the room, I noticed that they emptied a large container of fish food into the tank. I couldn’t even see the fish. A few of them died that day. It looked like a big tank of corn flakes that has been sitting in milk all day. It was a huge filthy mess. I spent the afternoon unexpectedly cleaning out the fish tank with my friend.

It made me think of other stories of fish tanks over the years. Like that time when my youngest aunt took her wild kids over to my cleaning freak uncle’s house. The kids were running wild and they knocked over the fish tank. They got kicked out of the house that day. It probably didn’t help that their parents laughed about it instead of offering to clean up the mess.

Then it brought me back to the time when I was a kid when our fish tank broke. We had our fish tank near a front door that was never used. One day my brother Luke came through the front door quickly. He flung the door open and the handle went straight through the fish tank breaking a hole in the glass. Water leaked all over the floor and was seeping into the basement which angered my dad.

I reached into the fish tank to save the fish cutting my arm on the broken glass. My dad grabbed me and threw me out of the house while swearing at me. It was a very painful moment in my life. I was just trying to save the fish.

As I was riding, I realized that a majority of my most remembered childhood memories are tragic. There is a little drawer in my mind where they are stored. They never change but are starting to fade away. The strange part is that all of the emotions that go along with those tragic events are stored in a different drawer. That drawer is locked, sometimes I can open the drawer and sometimes I cannot. I don’t seem to have control over whether the key works. Mainly, I want the door to remain locked with the key hidden away. Writing about these things sometimes unlocks the door. I can see why people don’t want to think or write about such things.

Then I spent some time pouring over other painful memories. Still no emotions at all. Nothing. Then I thought for awhile if there were any good memories in there from my childhood. Any at all?? Then I thought of all of the evenings that my mom would take us on walks to visit my grandparents and Aunt Grace whom lived nearby. Those were the best memories. I remembered the comfort, quiet, and peacefulness of their houses. I remembered visiting with them talking about nothing of importance. Those memories are tinged with emotion, more of a nostalgia that my grandparents and Aunt Grace are all gone now.

Then I put my bike and thoughts away, took a shower, and headed to work..