- People are still complimenting my hair. I receive the most compliments after a sweaty workout or when I have unbrushed hat hair. What!!?!
- My son had a dentist appointment this week. As an adult, I passed along the reminder I received on my phone. I DID NOT tell him when to get up or where he needed to go (thinking he would know and I would be the annoying mother hen if I did so). He ended up getting lost and was going to be late. I called the dentist office as a courtesy…my son got lost and will be a few minutes late. The lady who answered was really snippy with me and said he needed to reschedule. This freaked me out because I worry a lot about my kids being late. Thankfully, when he got there about 10 minutes late they still took him for his appointment. Despite all of my worry, everything ended up turning out fine.
- My daughter Angel came home from college for a visit and spent the night on Friday. I haven’t seen her since Christmas Day.
- The big fight between Arabella and Estelle is over. There is relative harmony in my house right now. There was even a brief moment this weekend where all five of my kids were talking and laughing together.
- I am grateful to have a husband who is following his dreams. He is taking classes this weekend and starting a new career. I am really excited for him and proud of all his accomplishments. He really motivates those around him. It’s never too late to try something new.
- I was grateful to watch Arabella and Clara perform at solo and ensemble this past weekend. I love to watch my kids perform.
- I felt grateful to go on a date with my husband before he left. I was able to order a pizza with goat’s cheese and afterwards ordered dairy-free ice cream. The food was unbelievably good for being vegan/dairy-free. The ice cream was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. Plus it was nice to go on a date alone with my husband. It’s been awhile.
- I found a dress for my daughter’s college graduation. In a few months, my oldest will be a college graduate. I am excited for her future. She already has a job lined up and might be moving back to the area within the next year.
- I am thankful to live close to the store. As I was making supper Friday night, I noticed one of the ingredients was rotten. I opened an unexpired canned good that was moldy inside. Thankfully I was able to zip to the store and back without having to eat too late.
- I am thankful for my organization skills. I like to plan ahead and leave early. Although my mom and kids gave me some crap about it this weekend, things don’t always go as planned. I like to plan for that. You never know if you are going to get into an accident, hit a deer, or a random meteorite might hit the Earth (JK). The solo and ensemble event was at a school I was not familiar with. It took awhile to find a parking spot. There weren’t many signs directing us to the right sites. Then last minute, both of my daughter’s events were moved up to an earlier time. I got us there with less than 10 minutes to spare. You’re welcome! It takes a lot of organization to effectively manage a large family.
We decided to take our foreign exchange students for their first trip out of the frozen tundra. My husband had a conference in Chicago. We thought we would kill two birds with one stone. Now that I think about it, boy is that a strange expression.
Unfortunately, I had to break the bad news that although we were heading south it wouldn’t be any warmer. We took off after school on Friday. We were planning to stop halfway for supper, but decided to keep going after I saw the big blob of heavy precipitation on the radar. The temps were hovering around the freezing point.
The sooner we could get there the better. This caused some hangry arguments from our daughter. Tears were shed. In fact, all three girls cried before we even got to Chicago for various reasons. That’s life with teenage girls.
We got to Chicago in a torrential downpour during rush hour. Meanwhile, I frantically tried to scrounge up some green for the tolls. They don’t just nickel and dime you anymore. We checked into the hotel Fieldhouse Jones then found a place to eat. Our daughter said her culinary arts teacher raved over a restaurant which we were glad was close to the hotel. We ate an average meal there and left to see a sign that they didn’t pass their health inspection to find out later the restaurant was nothing special, just a chain. Thanks a lot!
That night the hotel didn’t have any open parking spots, so Paul had to drive around several blocks to find an open spot in the rain after dropping us off. I felt like we were visiting Gotham city.
I let the girls pick what they wanted to do in Chicago. The girls were interested in seeing Mean Girls, but the cheapest tickets started at $150. We all thought it was too pricey so we didn’t go. I suggested the aquarium to deaf ears. Estelle wanted to search for something called the bean. Then they wanted to shop until they dropped. Me personally, I would’ve preferred to drop shopping.
We set out late the next morning. Our first stop was the Hard Rock Café for an early lunch. While I was there, I started feeling very light headed. My body started to freak out like it tends to do when I break out of my normal routine. I thought maybe I was dehydrated and started to guzzle down globs of gross chlorinated city water. But after that I felt better.
Then we set off in the rain to find the elusive bean. We circled around the city blocks only to circle around again for another time. Skyscrapers sometimes mess with maps on country folks phones. I created my own detour when we got to a sketchy area I didn’t want to walk down. It seemed unsafe. I didn’t want my nightmare of the girls getting murdered to come true. I felt nervous worrying about their safety because I didn’t even know where I was. With all of the trafficking and crime, you can never be too safe with young girls unfamiliar with our culture. It was a big responsibility.
We finally made it to the bean which was like a huge mirror in the shape of a bean. (See pictures below). We walked and walked some more and shopped. It was a cold, windy, snowy, rainy type of day. By late afternoon we put on 6 miles. It was getting dark and the prospect of walking back to our hotel in the dark was not very positive. The girls wanted to take an Uber back. Again thoughts of murder crossed my mind. An Uber or walking back on the dark rainy streets?
We took an Uber back. Our driver was great. He was a philosophizing theologian. We had an extremely deep conversation about life which was right up my alley. Later that evening Paul, the girls, and I went out for Chicago deep dish pizza. Since I am dairy free, I ordered mine with vegan cheese. It wasn’t the greatest. Vegan cheese looks and tastes like glue when it melts. My husband still makes the best pizza. Sorry Chicago. Everyone else was happy.
Then the next morning we headed out, but not before Paul and I played a close game of air hockey at the hotel. I was very impressed with the hotel. The décor was very unique. Plus we were able to get an affordable two bedroom room. One on the rooms had two sets of bunk beds. The other room had a double bed with an outside wall a couple feet from the El. I thought I would be up all night with the noise, but it wasn’t bad. That says a lot from an insomniac who can’t sleep well in her sleep number bed set to her comfort in her perfectly dark, quiet, and cool bedroom at home.
We thought we were going to have to drive home through a snow storm, but thankfully it never showed up. It’s hard to believe that our time with our foreign exchange students is half over. In a few months I will go from having four teenagers in my house to zero. Our son will be turning 20 the same month Clara and Estelle leave. Then our daughter Arabella is applying to be a foreign exchange student in France living at Estelle’s house. I’m trying to enjoy every moment I can because in the blink of an eye it will be over.
I’ll close with a couple pictures…
It’s winter again in Wisconsin.
Since last winter, we had about 5 months of April. It rained, and rained, and rained until Lake Michigan was ready to overflow into Minnesota. We broke the record for wettest year ever. It was cold too. In July, summer finally arrived for about 6 weeks. Then we had a couple of weeks of fall. Now we are back to winter again.
The picture says it all. Actually it is rather deceiving. I took this photo in October. Since then it snowed 3 more times. We actually had wind chills below zero this past week. Can you believe it? Was it because I signed up to run 5 miles on Thanksgiving day?? Somebody is certainly giving me the bird!
Our foreign exchange student from France is beside herself freaking out in excitement about the snow. Her winter is like our October. I wonder if she will still be excited in April when the snow falls? I’ll let you know.
This year I broke down and started listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween when it started playing on the radio. In my mind, the holidays are very distinct. After Halloween you start celebrating thankfulness and Thanksgiving and all that stuff. Pumpkins are still okay. The day after Thanksgiving is when you start celebrating Christmas. Then it is acceptable to listen to Christmas music. Not before then.
It is so dark, dreary, cold, and snowy it feels like January. It’s like skipping the holiday season and going right into seasonal depression. I just cracked. Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Might as well accept it.
Today I ran on the treadmill. I know, I know. I was trying to run outside to get ready for the race, but the roads are so icy. I almost fell yesterday on my sidewalk. I will save breaking a leg for community theater.
My son’s buddy hit a deer and slid into the ditch already. But not to worry. My son always says if he sees that he is about to get into an accident, he will slide on his seat belt super quick. Why not just wear it?? Now it makes sense why car insurance costs more for teenage boys. I will be finding that out since my son got another car today. I also found out the DMV is a really popular place to hang out on a Friday afternoon if you are looking to find a new place to meet people.
I have to tell you that the car is a God send, literally. I don’t have to drop off and pick up my son from work anymore. Hopefully I won’t even be called to pick him up in the middle of the night when his friend goes in the ditch either.
Seriously though, God send. This morning I went to the mechanic to get new snow tires for my car. I figured it was time since my 16 year old daughter called me freaking out about driving on bald tires through the snow already. I was hoping to wait until actual winter. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, like all of this unexpected snow. While I was at the mechanic, I asked if he had any cars for sale.
Sure enough, underneath the glistening snow was a rusty old Honda. It was perfect. The last time my son got a car it was an overpriced piece of crap we bought for sale in someone’s driveway. It looked sharp, but was garbage inside. I seriously don’t even think the salvage yard wanted it. The good news was that my son’s car was technically totaled the same day we bought it because it stopped running 6 weeks later.
I can’t even make this crap up. He was out the day he got his car squealing around town with his friends when some losers my age chased him down and smashed his car with a tire iron. The good news was that the money he got from the court case pretty much covered the cost of his new to him car. I probably won’t see my son until spring now. Whatever, just as long as his car isn’t totaled today. That shouldn’t be too much to ask.
I told my son God was providing for him. We tried to find another car but don’t trust private sellers. Our friend that sells used cars didn’t have anything under $6,000. We didn’t know where else to go. But we trust our mechanic. If it didn’t snow early, I wouldn’t have needed snow tires and would’ve missed out on the car.
That’s winter in Wisconsin! My husband is thinking about ice fishing this year instead of hunting. I have a feeling that it is going to be a long hard winter. Time to wax my skis. But that it all since I celebrate no shave November.
It seems like I am blogging less and less. This is not what I want, but there are a lot of things that I don’t want happening right now.
Last week went by in a blur. It’s been a whole week since the salvage yard came by and picked up not one but two of my son’s cars. One has been dead for a long time, the other was at the mechanics half the summer and was deemed unfixable. The little bit of money we got for them was gone the same day because the dryer broke later that afternoon. Tuesday the dryer was repaired. Wednesday I dropped a weight on my foot at strength training class. Thursday I woke up to a flat tire on my car. The mechanic was throwing a customer appreciation party when I got there. I am suspicious that they were throwing it because my son’s car was towed out of there never to be seen again.
It’s a sad time here. The boats are coming out of the water this week for the winter. Last week was brutal. We got tons of rain and broke the record for the wettest year ever recorded in history. We still have 3 months of rainfall left on the year. It was a rough summer. A lot of people had to change plans because of all the flooding and rain. We only had around 6 weeks of warm weather. So we have to go into the dark days feeling like we didn’t have much of a summer this year.
I haven’t been feeling well. I think I am still anemic. I don’t have much endurance at all anymore. I’m still having insomnia and nightmares. Pretty much everything I eat goes right through me. I feel nausea and acid re-flux every day. I’ve been sticking to my diet too. I haven’t had dairy for 6 weeks and avoided all of foods I am sensitive to for 2 weeks.
It’s been killing me to watch my friends drink beer and eat pizza while I can only have the salad bar. A salad without cheese, eggs, tomatoes, and dressing. Plus I still feel sick. Some days I can barely eat I am so miserable. There is nothing I can eat that I want to eat anyway.
It’s been emotionally challenging being on a special diet too. I feel like an outsider looking in. I feel lonely and left out. I don’t want to go out to eat. I don’t know what to make for supper anymore. It kills me to make and serve dishes I can’t eat. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if I actually felt better. It’s been dragging me down. I’ve been having a hard time with this. I feel so angry and impatient with myself for feeling sick. But it is important to keep to my regular routine whether I feel up to it or not. I haven’t cancelled any plans, although some days I don’t feel like getting out of bed. Friends and strangers alike have been coming up to me and ask me if I am alright. I hate feeling weak.
The good news is that tomorrow I have an appointment set up with a health and wellness doctor. Maybe I can get my body back on track again.
Other than that, I have been doing a lot of running around now that my son doesn’t have a car. I have 4 teenagers in the house. In the morning I drop the girls off at school then come back to take my son and his friend to work. He practically lives here too. Then this afternoon I dropped my daughter off at work, picked my son and his friend up from work, and picked our foreign exchange student up from after school sports. Plus I went grocery shopping, have to make supper, clean up afterwards, and then go pick my daughter up from work.
Every day is a variation of picking and dropping off kids. I feel very busy but like I don’t get anything important done. It’s been frustrating and I feel like blogging has been the last thing on the long list lately. I am going to try to blog more and be more positive. We’ll see what happens.
It hasn’t been too much of an adjustment having 4 teenagers in the house.
Our foreign exchange students have been very quiet and friendly. When we told others of our plan to have 2 foreign exchange students, they cringed. Most shared horror stories of wild teen exchange students that made every effort to sneak out and party. So far there haven’t been any problems.
It’s probably because they are not comfortable being family yet. There aren’t any fights or talking back. We are all on our best behavior, no belching or farting. My husband has been giving them special treatment. He is buying the foods they like, taking them to places they are interested in going, asking if they are too hot or too cold. It’s hard not to treat them like visitors.
This is going to sound insane, but I felt a twinge of jealousy. It triggered something inside of me that reminded me of my mom’s special treatment of my autistic brother Matt. Everything in our house revolved around Matt and what he wanted. I honestly wasn’t expecting to feel that way.
Of course, the students paid a lot of money to have a great experience here. I want things to be wonderful for them. Things are going really well. The girls don’t seem to be too homesick. If anything, at times they seem a little bored. But I’m sure that will change once school starts and they make friends.
It’s fun because they get excited about all of the little things, like going to the grocery store. They eat differently than we do. They use their knife and fork to cut things more. They cut up grilled cheese sandwiches instead of just picking them up and plunking them in their soup like I did.
Today Clara made homemade German potato salad for our friend’s Octoberfest party tomorrow. Real German food!
I also didn’t realize how much Hitler and the nazi’s were the butt of American jokes in TV and movie comedies. Awkward! But none of us were alive when any of that happened. If anything, countries that were once at war can be friendly towards each other again.
Hopefully in the next couple weeks the girls will come out of their shell a little. As for right now, I’m really happy that things are going better than I expected.
Last night our foreign exchange students arrived, Clara from Germany and Estelle from France.
I felt anxious all day. I couldn’t believe it was really happening.
I worried. Would our new “children” like us? What will this next year be like?
My oldest two children are not as excited about it as I am. I think they think I’m replacing them. But maybe in a way I am. They are adults and don’t need me being a mother hen to them anymore. They are off living their own lives like they should be.
I am excited about this new adventure, but as with anything new a little frightened too.
I wonder what it would be like to see everything for the first time through their eyes. Maybe even for us, the old will become new again.
I hope it is a wonderful experience for all of us.
The end of the week was just as strange as the beginning of the week. I don’t think I want anymore signs.
I’ve been struggling this week searching for purpose and meaning. I’ve been depressed and clinging dearly to life by a small cobweb string. There have been fights and arguments. There was one where I pried off my wedding ring just to chuck it at my husband. Maybe we should separate. Maybe we should divorce.
Most of our friends have already been divorced. Some live with another and never remarry. Some are on their second or third marriages. They seem so happy. Sometimes it seems so much easier to throw everything you have away and start all over again.
This week we will be married 22 years and lately it has been more difficult than it has been before. We let our children become the center of our lives and have to learn to live with each other again. We don’t know what we are doing. We had a newborn on our first anniversary.
This week our baby got her driver’s license, first try. I honestly didn’t think she would pass. While she was taking the test, I was already thinking about when she could retake it.
My husband got his hours cut at the business we sold. He is only going to be paid for 12 hours a week. That has been very stressful. We should be okay with the money we saved up. Tomorrow morning, however, Paul is planning on signing papers to become a franchise owner of a new business. He wants us to work together again. Most of the arguments were about me not working. Although I am almost done with my book, I had to set it down for awhile because I promised myself if I got really depressed that I would set it aside.
We decided to keep working on our marriage and to go after our dreams. If it doesn’t work out we could always do something else. We have to trust that things will fall into place.
Paul and I had a good day together yesterday, but things gradually fell apart. Arabella had a friend over, went to drive her home, and had the windows fog up but didn’t know how to defrost the windshield. I kept my ringer on just in case she needed more help. Most nights I turn my ringer off before I go to bed. I’m a light sleeper and figure my adult children can take care of themselves.
I was tired, but left my phone on and stayed up late. I received a call from Alex saying that his car broke down and needed towing. We just had it at the garage the day before, but they said what he needed fixing is very expensive. The body of the car dropped to the ground and he can’t drive it unless it is fixed. He was distraught that he now has two cars that don’t run.
He asked what the meaning of life was if it only brought suffering and pain to himself and the people he cares about. I told him he has a purpose and his job in life is to find that purpose. Don’t listen to the thoughts in your head that tell you that you are worthless. Don’t be discouraged, yet at times I am.
Now we are waiting to see if the car is worth fixing or if it is beyond repair. We got home late last night, around 1 AM. We were ready for bed when my phone rang again. My daughter Angel was calling. Her friends took her out for her 21st birthday. She was rather intoxicated and called to tell me she loved me. I talked to her for awhile, but she wasn’t making much sense. At the end of the call, her boyfriend Dan came on the phone and assured me not to worry that he would get my daughter back home safe.
I knew she was going out. I did worry especially since I wasn’t sure if Dan was going because he had a funeral to attend on the other side of the state earlier in the day. His uncle died in a freak accident trying to clean up after the storm that hit.
As I was ready to finally go to bed around 1:30, my mom texted and said she got safely to her vacation destination out of the country. She wanted me to call my dad because he doesn’t text and it was expensive to call. I called my dad today. At the end of the conversation, he told me he loved me for the second time in my entire life.
I went in the house to eat lunch with Paul and a song was on I never heard that said you’re being weeded.
Although I’ve been having a faith crisis, I’ve been still going to church because I am able to find some serenity there. Last week there was a sermon about how the weeds are planted alongside the good seeds. But if you pluck the weeds too soon, the plant will also be uprooted and die. But at the right time, the weeds will be pulled out and the plant can flourish and grow like never before.
I think I’m being weeded.
On Sunday I received a phone call from the foreign exchange student coordinator a couple hours after my daughter moved out.
Sunday was a bittersweet day.
On Sunday, my best friend became a grandma for the first time.
On Sunday, it’s been a year and a day since my close friend lost her daughter in a fiery car crash.
On Sunday, my daughter moved 4 hours away and is not planning on living at home again.
I was feeling down as you can probably imagine.
My oldest daughter moved out, my son is off pet sitting this week, and my youngest daughter is volunteering this week as a camp cook. I’m feeling the empty nest kick in. I realized that I may have a harder time with this whole empty nest thing than I thought.
I’ve been a caregiver since I can remember. I was my autistic brother’s “second mom”. I also helped with my other two younger brothers.
In college, I was a caregiver for an elderly woman with Alzheimer’s and a middle aged man with Paranoid Schizophrenia. I took care of my brother Matt up until after I had several kids of my own. I also took care of my Aunt Grace when she had dementia. I provided day care for several children when my kids were little.
I don’t know what it is like to not take care of someone and the thought is a little scary.
As I was crying and feeling sorry for myself, the phone rang. The foreign exchange program coordinator called and said she had an emergency situation. One of the host parents for a student from Germany ended up getting into a serious motorcycle accident and broke her back. This student was really into music and needed a home.
I was wondering what to do with my daughter’s empty room. So we filled it. Now we will be hosting two foreign exchange students starting next month, Estelle from France and Clara from Germany.
I feel like my life has meaning again. I suppose most people get another pet once they start emptying the nest. Not me, I guess you could say I am rather extreme.
Even though it might be stressful having 3 teenagers in the house again, I am going to enjoy this last year of chaos before I have an empty nest.
By the time next year rolls around, I might actually be okay with only taking care of me.
I wonder if Arabella will ever get her license. She is 16 now, but I am hesitant to set up her driving test appointment because I don’t think she will pass.
My life is in danger. Just yesterday, she blew through a stop sign. She almost ran a red light. I had to yell at her to stop. Generally a relatively patient person, I screamed an obscenity as I watched my life pass before me as she changed lanes into another car’s path on a roundabout. The other driver pulled over as if my daughter was driving an emergency vehicle with sirens blaring. I simply screamed as I saw myself going towards the other driver as if in a nightmarish bumper car ride.
But that wasn’t all! Yesterday she cut off a driver on the highway almost causing an accident. The elderly man drove past her wagging his finger at her violently. He must’ve been a nice man. Most drivers lay down on the horn screaming what I can only imagine are obscenities while shaking their middle finger at her.
Maybe if she goes one week without someone flipping her off, then I will schedule her appointment. Even if she passes her test, I will worry about her driving. It doesn’t help that a close friend’s daughter died in a car accident last year when she was 16. Having a new driver is one of the most horrifying steps of independence for a parent.
To make matters worse, Arabella has zero sense of direction. I have to give her directions to places that she has been to a million times.
She also knows everything about driving and doesn’t want to listen to my 30 years of experience. Even though I never got any tickets or was ever in an accident. I didn’t even hit a deer which is unheard of around here. I did run into a septic tank cap up north a couple weeks back that I didn’t see which caused some front end damage to my car. But we won’t talk about that today.
I wish I could help Arabella be a better driver. It’s really no wonder I feel anxious. Maybe things will get better…
It happened on a rare perfect day in Wisconsin. The temperature 75 degrees with a light breeze under partly sunny skies. No rain, no muggy humidity.
I’m not sure why we felt so stressed out that morning as my husband and I snapped at each other. Maybe the perfect conditions was a sure sign to be cautious that something might go wrong.
Last minute Alex couldn’t find dress pants that fit and had to borrow a pair of Paul’s. I was worried that he would be late for school one last time.
We sat with family on the bleachers in the gym. I tried to keep an open mind, yet inwardly I judged.
Did the people in front of us manage to have some of the few empty seats because they purposely didn’t shower? I ended up sitting behind them because no one else could stand the smell.
Then there was the mother with the ripped jeans and crop top like she was attending her daughter’s graduation from pole dancing school. I was appalled. I am not big on fashion, but made sure to buy myself a new dress. There are some things that one must simply look respectable for.
There was the child that sat behind us with an incessant whine.
Well at least they were there showing their support which is more than my dad did. He decided not to attend.
I’m not going to lie to you. I was filled with anxiety.
I was worried all week that I would get that knock on my door with a certified letter stating that my son did not meet the requirements to graduate. I imagined myself full of shame as I explained why my son’s name wasn’t called at the graduation ceremony when people came bearing gifts at his graduation party. But I emptied that anxiety just to fill it with more.
I had irrational fear that my son would end up punching someone instead of shaking their hand as he received his diploma. I still thought that maybe he wouldn’t graduate as he received his diploma. There was a part of me that was very unsettled. I felt fear that there could be a school shooting during the graduation. Sadly, I no longer feel safe in large crowds of people.
I saw my son’s friends come in that attended another school. Included in the group was the boy we took into our home that stole from us. I felt uncomfortable.
My brother Luke asked my daughter’s boyfriend Dan if he was having flashbacks of his own graduation there. He said, “Yeah, more like PTSD”.
The graduation ceremony was boring. It was hard to see, the nearby projector didn’t work and the microphone kept cutting out if the speaker didn’t have their mouth right on the microphone.
The guest speaker was a doctor of neurophysics. She showed pictures of herself and spoke of all of her amazing accomplishments in a monotone voice. I thought to myself that I needed to get out of all graduation ceremonies I can in the future.
After the ceremony was done, I felt very happy and giddy. I was ready to go out and pop champagne in the school parking lot. Would that be against the law? Never mind, I didn’t have any champagne. I hugged boy B’s mom. We did it! We convinced our boys that hated school to graduate. I can’t quite explain the feeling. I felt like I almost got hit by a bus, but at the last second got away. That feeling of just escaping disaster. My son was also the happiest I’ve seen him in a long time.
Afterwards, we had family over at our house. It was so nice that we were able to play games outside and sit on the patio with a fire.
All in all, it was a wonderful day. We are happy that our son graduated. I can’t tell you how relieved I am.