upkeep

I cannot say that I have ever seen order come out of chaos without a whole lot of work.

My house never seems to stay clean. Even if we weren’t making messes, there would still be dust. The cabin at the end of the season is never as clean as we left it come spring.

With my kids going back to school, it is hard to keep up a great GPA. In fact it is even harder if you let your grades slip just a little. I recently heard that it is easier to turn a 3.0 into a 2.0 than it is to to turn a 2.0 into a 3.0.

Chaos just doesn’t turn to order. It is unnatural.

It is hard to blog. It is hard to come up with fresh new ideas day after day year after year once the initial excitement wears off. Bloggers come and go just like friends tend to.

It’s hard to stay happily married after the honeymoon is over.

It’s hard to raise children when the cute bubbly baby turns into a surly teen.

Something always needs fixing in the house. The lawn needs mowing. The laundry needs to be done.

It’s hard to go to work every day even if you love your job.

It’s hard to maintain a fast running pace. My husband always tells me to just compare myself to me. But, frankly, I would rather compare myself to people my own age that chain smoke and never get off of the couch. I could never compete with my 17 year old self. I probably couldn’t compete with my 35 year old self either.

Order takes constant work. There comes a point in your life when you really have to judge whether it is worth all of the upkeep.

That’s when you become experienced enough to put your time and effort into the things that really matter.

 

 

 

siphon

Last week my son was supposed to have his senior pictures taken. Supposed to is the key word…A couple of hours before the scheduled appointment, I noticed that my son had a black eye. Seriously??!? How did that happen? He said that he was boxing with his friend. That is just how things go with him. Some day I will look back in laughter, but today is not one of those days.

Last summer Alex had a full time job doing demo work for a flooring company. It was tough work and it paid well. This summer my son is unemployed. One of the main reasons for this was that he went on a school trip to Europe and was gone 3 weeks in the middle of summer break. That makes getting a summer seasonal job rather difficult.

My son also wants to hang out with his friends. He said this will be the last summer before they graduate from high school and go off into the real world. I get that, really I do. We have been very generous with our adult children. We pay for their cell phones, insurance, and gas for the cars we’ve given them to drive. I really don’t mind doing this as long as they are in school and are responsible.

But lately it has become too much. We feel taken advantage of. Paul said that we are no longer going to give Alex gas money just to run around with his friends. He is the only friend that has a car, so he is the taxi service to run around his friends on our dime. They never chip in for gas. They go to parties and have fun. They even went camping in Upper Michigan.

Maybe if he appreciated us or even kept his room clean, it probably wouldn’t be a huge deal. Yesterday he decided that he wanted to siphon gas from his car that wasn’t working to the car that was. I was totally against this idea.

We had another couple over at the time. They are newer friends, but have the potential to be really good friends since we have a lot in common. My friend asked about my hobbies and I mentioned that I like to write. She wants to write a book and also has a blog on WP. Most people reply ‘that’s nice’ when I say that I like to write, but she asked so many questions that I ended up telling her I have this blog. This is where things got a little awkward. Sorry, I only share very personal things about my life with total strangers and not friends.

She said that when I was ready, she would love to read my blog. I want to share my life with the people I care about, yet I don’t. It has been a real struggle over the years. The more followers I get, the harder it is to keep this hush hush and private. Maybe some day I will tell friends and family, but right now I’m too afraid. You see the things I write about! Why do I feel so guarded, so private about my life? It doesn’t feel safe to share these things. Sometimes I feel conflicted about sharing anything with anyone at all.

Anyway, they were over and my son’s friend comes over to help him siphon gas. I told him that I really had a problem with him doing that but still refused to give him money. I took time away from my friends to deal with the situation which immediately threw me into a bad mood. It ended with one of Alex’s friends saying that he could borrow some money for gas.

Our friends were joking around about the situation, which was fine. They said that if he tries to siphon gas and then smokes, part of his face would be blown off. I never thought of that! My anxiety went through the roof! A black eye and part of his face blown off really wouldn’t look good for the senior pictures.

Some day this better be good for a few laughs…But as of right now, I’m going crazy!

Fortune cookie wisdom #4

Good beginning is half done.

This one seems rather obvious.

It serves as a reminder that my life is half over.

Midlife.

Soon I will be 44. Will I make it to 88? I think so..

It is scary to think about. Death, decline..

 

I fear death. Maybe by the time it happens I’ll be ready for it.

I fear decline even more. I want to always have the energy that I have today.

Or maybe it means that my marriage is half over. We’ve been married almost 21 years. Will we make it to 42?

I fear the death of my spouse. He is 6 years older. Plus women outlive men by 6 to 8 years. So just doing the math, I should outlive my husband by 13 years. So if I live until 88, he would live until I’m 75 which would be 46 years of marriage. My estimates based on nothing makes it pretty close to being half over.

I worry about that, I honestly do. I have longevity on my side, Paul not so much. My parents already outlived Paul’s only parent.

Maybe if I find his real father, I will find longevity on his other side. But then again, maybe not.

The first half of my life went by so terribly fast.

I think this serves as a reminder to enjoy every day of breath we are given. Don’t take life for granted. Take time to listen and love. Remember what is really important.

You will not be here forever and neither will the ones that you love.

 

Rocking the boat

Yesterday I got a call from Sally. I didn’t recognize the number, but I answered my phone anyway. Sally was rather distressed. She is the mother of my son’s good friend Grant.

The first thought that came to my mind was…Oh crap, now what did my son do???!?

Sally told me that everyone thinks she is a horrible mother. Her son got four D’s on his report card. He told her that grades really don’t matter. She said that it didn’t make any sense because her daughter was upset that she didn’t get a 4.0. Thank goodness for our overachieving daughters or we would feel like awful parents.

My son has been struggling with his grades since 8th grade. He simply doesn’t care. We tried everything that we could think of doing. We grounded him from his computer, Xbox and friends. That just made his attitude worse and then he totally gave up. It didn’t work at all. He barely slid by without having to retake some classes in the summer. This semester he only got one D, so things are looking up.

I told Sally that I totally understand and that she isn’t a bad mother.

Look at my son! He has a brilliant mind if he applies himself. My husband Paul is a great chess player. I’ve never seen anyone beat him in person. Paul told the kids when they were little that he would buy them a car if they beat him at chess. Alex studied chess, played countless matches online, did tutorials, and joined the chess club at school. He worked hard and finally beat his dad.

Alex is also great at music. Last year he played an incredibly challenging piece for solo and ensemble. He received a perfect score at state. This year he decided to play a piece that is so challenging that he is having a hard time finding an accompanist to play this piece. One pianist said that the piece he chose would be something a doctorate candidate would play. It is very fast and extremely challenging. This is what he wants to do. But what great music college is going to accept a talented musician that has a GPA of 2.0?

Why doesn’t he take his A game to school with him? He has to decide that he wants good grades or it won’t happen.

When he was little, Alex sucked his fingers. We wanted to break him of the habit once he started school. I tried everything and nothing worked. I tried the spicy finger varnish that went on like nail polish. He stuck his fingers in his mouth and told me that he likes spicy. A couple months later he decided that he wanted to stop sucking his fingers and did.

I would call my son lazy, but I think he is just not motivated.

Both Alex and Grant worked really hard this last summer and made somewhere between $5,000 to $6,000. Sally and I both found out recently that the boys pretty much pissed away all of their money on fast food. There is no doubt that both boys probably paid for their friends to eat as well. Was there a lesson learned somewhere? What a waste!

 

Sally said that she didn’t know what to do. Ever since her son got his license he doesn’t want to hang around home anymore. Grant is her oldest child. What is she doing wrong? How could he do this when she has given him everything to help him succeed? The only advice her parents gave her in high school was not to get pregnant. She didn’t go on to school. She wants so much better for her son.

All of this is scary business for the first time mother of teenagers. I told Sally that everything would be okay. I told her that she is not a bad mother because her son was acting like an idiot.

The problem with being a parent of teenagers is that sometimes you have to watch them fail. Sometimes they make the wrong decisions and end up hurting themselves. It is heartbreaking as a parent to see this. I’m hoping someday that we can all laugh about this…like when they are parents of teenagers..

To think, I didn’t even tell Sally about the party at the cabin last summer.

It’s strange but I was able to use my own struggles to comfort another parent. We are in the same boat, I’ve just been in the boat a little longer to know how to respond to the waves that rock the boat.

 

Who I was..who I am..

Is distrust bad? Why does it have such a negative connotation?

When I was about 12, I went on a trip to South Dakota with my Aunt Grace, mom, dad, and one of my brothers. Aunt Grace wanted to go there for a church conference. Although she didn’t have hotel reservations, she had my dad as a driver. We loaded all 5 of us into her little 2 door Cutlass and we were on our way.

There wasn’t a hotel room to be found in the city of the conference. But I don’t think it mattered as Grace only stayed long enough to pick up her registration bag from what I remember.

I saw an ad for an indoor water park. I begged my Aunt Grace to allow us to go. I’d never been to a water park before. Aunt Grace said ‘yes’. So once again we loaded up the car and my dad drove 2 hours to get to the water park. I could barely contain my excitement as I grabbed my swimming suit and ran indoors. We took a tour of the water park. I saw kids climbing on ropes, going down slides, and swimming in the water. I couldn’t wait to get in the water.

After the tour, Aunt Grace said that it was time to go. Wait! What??

There was restaurant across the street from the water park that she wanted to go to. I refused to eat. I wanted to go to the water park!  I begged my mom to convince Aunt Grace, but she refused. Aunt Grace is paying for the trip so we will do what she wants. I was angry, frustrated, and started to cry. Aunt Grace yelled at me for being an ungrateful child. She wouldn’t stop so I told her to shut up which to her was like screaming obscenities. She never liked me after that day..

I don’t look back on this in anger. I really don’t think that Aunt Grace even intended to be cruel. In her mind, I think she believed that she was gracious enough to take me to the water park.

I learned a few valuable lessons on that day..

First, never trust anything that anybody says. Second, don’t trust anyone until they prove to be trustworthy. Third, don’t get too excited about things that might never happen.

If I trust you, it is the highest honor I could give you.

Do you think that distrust is a negative quality to have?

I would argue that someone needs to question, doubt, test, discern, and protect oneself and others from blindly trusting. I am that person.

My childhood was difficult…and my adult years have been easy in comparison. There is a part of me that feels if I let go of my past, then I will give up my grit and toughness that came from it which makes me who I am. I am afraid of that..I am afraid of losing who I was..who I am..

 

The accidental overnight sail

I originally posted this when I first started blogging two years ago…the mishap we had this week sailing was partially due to our adventures a few years back when we originally weakened the pin to the rudder…Enjoy! We sure did…many years later.

Last summer my husband and I bought an old 25 foot sailboat. After about a month of ownership, we decided to take three of our friends out for a 3 hour tour. The day before I bought brand new water shoes for the trip. But we had one small problem the evening of the cruise, not enough wind.

It was a warm July evening. I wore my capris and a t-shirt. After supper, the wind picked up out of nowhere. We were ready for the quick sunset cruise out to the lighthouse and back five miles from shore. Once we made it to the lighthouse, the wind was really whipping and there were three foot waves. We thought it would be a really great idea to see how fast the boat could go. We did get the boat to go fast, faster than we have seen it go since. The problem was that the boat went fast in the wrong direction. When we got done testing the speed, we were 15 miles north of where we were supposed to be and it was getting dark.

In the meantime, my friend and I needed to use the bathroom. We had a toilet on board, but we didn’t know how to use it. After using the facilities, we were supposed to pull a lever to empty the contents into a lower compartment. We didn’t do that. As a gracious host, I had my friend use the bathroom first. When it was my turn, I opened the lid as we hit a wave and spilled the contents down my legs onto my new water shoes.

Great, now I am soaked in my friend’s urine. No problem, I had extra clothes on board, right?! Well, no.

Now it was dusk and we were lost.

The depth finder was not working, the GPS coordinates did not take into account that there was land between point A and point B, we had no maps, and our cell phones all died.

To make matters worse, we were almost out of gas. We were in deep water! Every time we tried getting close to shore we would ground out, using what little gas we had left to get ourselves out.

When we went out to deep water we hit some big waves spraying us with water. I was freezing after being soaked with urine and water not to mention the drop in temperature after dark. I used the spider filled sail cover to stay warm.

One of our thrill seeker friends thought it would be a good idea to dance around on the wet bow much to his wife’s dismay. They ended up falling asleep at midnight.

My husband spent the night steering the boat while his other buddy and I worked the jib sheet. Our minds started playing tricks on us and we were afraid of hitting dark objects in the water. At 5 AM I couldn’t take it anymore and had to go to sleep. Geez, all that and I missed the sunrise!!

In daylight we were able to get back to shore. We almost made it to the harbor when we ran out of gas. My husband jumped into the water and had to swim the boat to shore.

We made it home at 7 AM the day after our three hour cruise. My body was swaying back and forth for the next couple of days. The day after we got back I decided to go for a 6 mile run even though I was still swaying and felt like crap. It was the hardest run ever because I ended up coming down with pneumonia that day.

What did we learn from our (in)experience? I am now toilet trained, we carry extra gas, extra water, food, and bought an additional battery charger. I have extra blankets, sweaters, sleeping bags, shorts, pants, coat, robe, and rain gear that stays on the boat just in case we are foolish enough to have another accidental, overnight sail.

We probably should’ve just thrown out an anchor for the night. But what fun would there be in that??

Parenting from my horse and buggy

A few weeks ago, I received a text from another parent regarding my son.

Surprisingly, it was not a late Friday night knock on the door.

She told me that my son was driving 15 mph over the speed limit on the highway with her son in the car. She knew this from an app and suggested that I get the app too.

I decided not to.

When I confronted my son about his driving, he became upset.

His friend got a ride with him to the band concert because his parents didn’t want to attend. No one bothered to show up on his behalf. But they complained about my son’s driving.

My son said that if they have a problem with the way he drives, then maybe they should take their son and be involved in his life.

I don’t want my son to speed on the highway, but I have to agree with him. What good is constant nagging without being an involved parent??

I already have the app that tracks my children. I know where they are at all times.

I have the app that tracks their grades. I know about every missing assignment, every time they were a few minutes late to class, and every bad grade.

Every night could be a nag fest.

Did you turn in that assignment yet??

How is it going to make them responsible for their own lives if they constantly have mom and dad telling them what they need to do?? How can they think for themselves if we already have a solution for every problem??

Sometimes I think parenting was a lot easier when parents didn’t know so much.

I remember bringing my report cards home and the screaming and threatening only lasted a day or two. Sometimes I was even surprised by my grades.

I remember going to the library (where people smoked cigarettes) if I needed answers to questions. Shocking, I know. This comment should almost give my blog an R rating. The librarians had all the answers or knew where to find them, kind of like Siri.

I remember my parents saying that I had it made in my day because a bus picked us up for school. They had to walk uphill both ways to a one room schoolhouse that didn’t have indoor plumbing.

Every generation seems to think that the next generation has it so much easier. But is it really true with this generation?

When I was a kid, I spent my summers riding my bike around town from morning to night. Sometimes the chain fell off or I got a flat tire. Sometimes there was a storm.

I didn’t have a phone to call someone to pick me up. I had to solve my own problems.

I feel like some of that is missing in today’s world.

I wonder when we convinced ourselves that it wasn’t safe for our kids to ride their bikes around all day.

Parents worry about sexual predators, but somehow we convince ourselves that having our kids inside on the internet is safer than riding a bike around town.

To think we didn’t even wear helmets. That would be considered bad parenting today.

Now my kids can’t live without their phones. My daughter called me from her friend’s phone this morning saying that she forgot her phone at home and asked if I could bring it to school for her. I said ‘no’. I told her that I lived my first 18 years without a phone. I’m certain that she could survive for one day.

The kids of today have phone separation anxiety. They are bored or antsy when they have to be without the internet or their phones for more than a few minutes. They run up huge amounts of data on long car rides. They don’t know how to get anywhere because they never look out the window, yet they are lost without their phones.

What kind of life is that?

I think that my kids are wasting their young years watching everyone else live online. But yet they need to stay up to date on technology if they want to have a good career. We’re damned if we do. We’re damned if we don’t. We struggle with them and ourselves over limits.

We don’t know what to do. We can’t relate. We never had this. More often then not, we need our kids help to make technology work. It can be very frustrating.

There is such a huge technology gap between what I know and what my kids know. I would need them to set up the parental controls. Why bother? They are always 10 steps ahead of me. How can I adequately monitor them?

It will be interesting to see how the next generation of parents respond to these issues. I think it will be much easier for them since there won’t be as much of a technology gap between the generations.

Forget helicopter parenting! I feel like I am parenting from my horse and buggy. Meanwhile, my kids are driving the fast snazzy automobile of technology. I can never keep up.

For the first time in history, I think that our children are teaching us more than they are learning from us. This scares me..

 

In too deep…again..

In 2016, I kept track of how many miles I ran and biked over the year. I’m sure glad that is over! Keeping track of it all was a lot of work.

Running: 794 miles

Biking: 298 miles

I also did Jillian Michael’s video No More Trouble Zones 15 times. I am happy to report that my trouble zones are now gone. Thanks Jillian!

This past year I achieved my goals of competing in one 5k, one 10k, a half marathon, a full marathon, and my first sprint triathlon.

Now I am looking forward to a new year with very challenging goals.

I tend to like to dip my feet in the water before jumping in all the way.

I am happy to start with a 10k or sprint because I have learned so much before moving on to bigger and better things. The first race I ever ran was a large 10k. The first mile that I ran I was so terrified that I wanted to run off the course and sit down with the spectators. I wasn’t expecting anxiety. I learned from that experience.

I also learned from my first sprint triathlon. I learned how to ride a race bike which is a lot different from the bike I tore around town in as a kid. I am still learning how and when to switch gears. I relearned balance and speed, but not without going into the ditch on a turn. I learned where to bike to avoid cars. I also learned not to hug the ditch after almost hitting a skunk.

I learned that I am not as good of a swimmer as I thought I was. My two months of lessons as an 8 year old never prepared me for this. At race speed, I had a hard time maintaining a rhythmic breathing pattern. I didn’t take into consideration needing to take breaths more often. I was the one floundering around doing the doggy paddle gasping for breath. I also noticed that my left arm is a lot stronger than my right and ended up taking myself into deep water versus staying on course. To go any further with this, I need swimming lessons and a lot more practice.

More lessons learned..

Yesterday, I signed up for my third marathon. I know that I told you to talk me out of it, but it is too late. I also signed up for my first trail half marathon. I am going to do these events with my cousin.

I also mentioned finding a wet suit for myself on clearance. While I was at the fitness store, I ran into the director of a triathlon on Lake Michigan. He said that last year the swimmers faced 1 to 2 foot waves. Half of the participants couldn’t do it. The ones that did felt like they were on a roller coaster ride and not in a good way. Then the participants had to bike in rainy conditions. It was very grueling and many didn’t make it. The sad part was that I didn’t cringe in terror. Something inside of me said sign up. Crazy!?!!

Yesterday I went on the triathlon’s website just for the heck of it. I noticed that the tri was open for less than 24 hours and was nearing full capacity. That is how I ended up signing up for my first half Iron. Now I am absolutely cringing in terror, but excited too.

Looks like I will have more adventures to share with you (lessons to learn)…

18. The most difficult thing to forgive

Day 18: What has been the most difficult thing you have had to forgive?

First of all, I don’t like this question. Thing? Really?? I have people to forgive, but not necessarily a ‘thing’. These questions are really starting to make me feel edgy. Some are just downright stupid. I mean, who really cares about my daily routine?? I will finish what I started, but I might change things a bit.

I am going to change this questions to…Who has been the most difficult person to forgive? 

The long hard thought out answer to that question is ME. Yes, me!

I have to forgive myself. For all the stupid things I have done. And even for the things that I didn’t do that I should’ve done. The hardest thing about making mistakes is the inability to go back in time and make the right decision. The regret over making the wrong choice or taking the wrong fork in the road. 

When I was younger, I used to worry and ruminate over mistakes. I used to berate myself for not living up to my expectations of perfection. I tried harder to make up for the times I didn’t try hard enough.

Now that I am older, I don’t think I am any easier on myself. But I realized as I aged that there was nothing I could do to change things that happened in the past. I had to move on or go absolutely crazy from it. I had to forgive myself…let it all go…learn from the experience…and move on…

Even though I strive for perfection, I cannot attain it….I realize that now…only God is perfect….so I can hand it all over to Him and He can figure the rest out… 

4. Ten things to tell your 16 year old self

Day 4: List 10 things you would tell your 16 year old self, if you could

  1. Spend as much time as you can with your grandparents. I hate to tell you this, but friends come and go. Your best friends now won’t even be at your wedding. Soon something is going to happen that will push the friends you have now away. Enjoy the times with friends in the moment. Remember that your grandparents won’t be around forever. They are the greatest source of stability in your life, not your friends.You will never regret spending a lot of time with them.
  2. Your strong work ethic will get you very far in life. However, don’t put work or your long to-do list above your relationships. Take the night off of work to go to your brother’s high school graduation. The $30 you earned that night will never make up for the regret you will feel for the rest of your life for not being at your brother’s only graduation.
  3. I know that you are dealing with some pretty hard things to handle and you feel like you are all alone. These are the hardest years that you will ever face in your life. Hang in there, soon it will be smooth sailing.
  4. Don’t think that you have to be perfect, or even good, at something before you are willing to try it. You don’t have to be good at something to like it either. You don’t have to be perfect. Quit being so hard on yourself. It was a big lie when you were told you had to be perfect. Put yourself out on a limb. Try something new even if you are not good at it.Who cares if you fail?
  5. Leave home when you turn 18 and do WHATEVER it takes to not go back. In fact, move far away. Do not take responsibility for your parents problems. Do NOT agree to be your brother’s caregiver. You should not be giving your brother a shower on a Saturday night. You should be out living your life doing the things that young people do. For once in your life, be carefree. You will already regret not having a childhood, don’t regret not living while you’re young too. Soon enough you will be tied down by your own responsibilities.
  6. Don’t be a caregiver for your brother or anyone else for that matter. Be a little more selfish. Do the things you want to do. Allow yourself to be stupid and make mistakes that you can learn from. Hold out for the library job you will be offered instead of turning it down to be a caregiver. You did enough care giving as a child. This will not be good for you.
  7. Buy an expensive pair of running shoes and start running. Trust me. You need a healthy way to relieve your stress. It is a lot cheaper than therapy and all those bottles of pills that never helped you anyway. Soon you will enter adulthood with enough baggage to travel the whole world. Once you realize their weight, you will have a lifelong struggle with depression, anxiety, worry, and anger. Running will help you get through all the years of repressing your feelings that you couldn’t handle.
  8. Keep writing down everything you experience and don’t stop. It is worth making time for. Some day it will make for a helluva story.
  9. You have to forgive the people that have hurt you for your sake. Pity their weakness. Eventually you will no longer be able to outrun all of the things that you are hiding from. It is going to take a long time to face your demons. You will spend a lot of time reflecting. But eventually you will have to let go..forgive..and trust that God has a bigger plan or purpose for your life. Be a beacon of hope for those that struggle around you.
  10. Try not to worry so much. It annoys me and the others around me. I don’t like it. I want you to relax. Please start working on that now so we can get over this someday.