Gratitude week 127

  1. I was able to visit with Angel and Dan after not seeing them for a couple weeks.
  2. Opening the cabin up north for the season.
  3. Last minute my brother Luke came up north with his daughters. It was the first time I saw them this year. We played games, went for a hike, and sat by the campfire. It was too cold to swim yet.
  4. One thing that has taken some adjustment, my husband is gone a lot with our seasonal business. I do most of my work out of the house. That being said, I find myself alone a lot for the first time since all the kids moved out. The first night I spent at the cabin by myself. It was different. I was feeling this melancholy nostalgia. I missed my husband, the kids when they were younger, and my dog who went there with us year after year until this year since his passing. I started to feel sorry for myself. Then the next day, my brother came up with his kids and dog. The next door neighbors had kids and a dog. Kids were fighting, the dogs were always trying to get away, not to mention the noise and commotion. It was in that moment I became grateful for the stage of life I’m in. I don’t think I have the energy anymore to be chasing after kids and dogs that get away. I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone and I kind of like it.
  5. I’m grateful for the time to discover what I like to do. I really like going thrifting and to rummage sales. I did both this past week but no huge finds.
  6. Angel and Dan checked out some local city wide rummage sales and asked if there was anything I was looking for they could find, and they did! I have been looking for a motorcycle helmet for Alex’s girlfriend. He only has one and he has been taking his off to give to his girlfriend when she rides with him. Angel found a pink motorcycle helmet for Lexi, her favorite color. Her birthday is next month and I have the perfect gift. Win, win, win.
  7. My mom and autistic brother Matt went up north this weekend too. Matt is more on the severe end of the autism spectrum and is not very socially aware. Two things happened this weekend that are worth mentioning. Matt asked me if Paul was coming up north too. He didn’t ask about my kids. This tells me he somehow knows Paul and I are linked together but that the kids are grown up. I was impressed by his awareness when most of the time he is oblivious to relationships.
  8. The other thing that happened is this…We were sitting around a campfire. My mom asked my 12 year old niece Gracie to move out of grandma’s chair so she could sit there. A few minutes later my brother Matt wanted the chair, so my mom moved out of the chair to an empty chair so Matt could sit there. I called my mom out on it. My mom said she is just a really good mom to Matt. She always gives him special treatment which I am not keen of. Later, Matt wanted my chair and moved all my stuff off of it while I was tending to the fire. I told him I was sitting there and it was rude of him to take my chair when I got up to do work especially when other chairs were available. But he did it anyway and I was pissed. My mom did nothing. A few minutes later Matt came over and apologized to me. I was floored. I never in a million years thought he was going to do that. I actually thought he was coming over to me to steal the other chair I was sitting on.
  9. Matt has been involved in a day program for the last several years for autistic children and adults. It’s made a big difference in his life. I know they have been working with him a lot on social skills and how to interact with people. Matt noticed I was up north alone. But the big thing was he noticed I was irritated at him for his behavior and he apologized. My parents didn’t teach him that. My mom always wanted us to give him special treatment like she does without giving him the opportunity to learn what appropriate behavior is. I’m grateful for this program and that even though he is in his 40’s, he is learning how to interact with others in a way that is also healthy for him.
  10. I’m grateful for warm spring days and cool nights. No need for the heat or the A/C.

Gratitude week 126

  1. It’s the unofficial start of summer. Yeah! My favorite time of year in Wisconsin. Today the weather is perfect.
  2. We got Arabella TOTALLY moved out this past week. Her room is completely empty which was no small task. I really thought it would take weeks if not months to move all her stuff out, so I am grateful for that.
  3. I am going to make her bedroom into my office after summer is over. Her carpet is shot, so I am planning on ripping out the carpeting and painting the walls. I’ll put my desk in there and buy a futon couch if we have extra overnight guests.
  4. There are little kids in Arabella’s apartment building. One little boy, probably 3 or 4 asked if I was the landlord. When I said I wasn’t, he asked what I was doing there. I told him I was moving my daughter in. He had a really concerned look on his face when he asked me who was going to take care of her. What a sweetheart! Made my day.
  5. Paul and I signed up to do some volunteer work to help families in our community. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help others in need.
  6. Arabella found a new waitressing job!
  7. I spent the day Friday going out to eat and shopping with my best friend.
  8. Angel and Dan got their own cell phone plan. It’s hard to believe the wedding is 4 months away! It’s wonderful that my daughter is 100% independent from us now, has a great job, and is doing well. Plus I’ll save money on our phone plan.
  9. That being said, I upgraded to a new cell phone from an iPhone 8. I’m still saving money on our plan.
  10. I started getting WP notifications on my new phone. It’s probably been about a year since I received the last notification.
  11. We wanted to continue with our landscaping project. However, the quote for the little section we wanted done was $4,000. We decided to do it ourselves. Yesterday my son and some of his buddies removed the old landscaping rocks and took out some shrubs. It’s amazing to see the strength and energy of young men. I’m grateful we are still able to do the project at a fraction of the price.
  12. As tomorrow is Memorial Day, I’m grateful for the sacrifice of veterans who served and protected our country at all costs.
  13. I’m grateful for mid-week church services.

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.