Vegas, part 3

The first thing I noticed when I got off the plane were the slot machines at the airport. There were slot machines everywhere…not just in the casinos. There were slot machines in restaurants and in the hotels, pretty much everywhere except the bathrooms. TV screens with rows of sports games were open for bets in the casino. Everywhere we went was filled with bright lights, the ping ding of gaming machines, and the smell of stale cigarette smoke.

I decided that I would do something different in Vegas. I didn’t gamble. It’s not that I am opposed to it if it is done in moderation. Frankly, gambling doesn’t interest me. Plus I spent a lot of my time in LV with my daughter and her friend who were both underage.

We did walk the strip a couple of times. Las Vegas reminded me of a mix of Denver and Times Square in NYC. I know that is a descriptive cop out, especially since I am not posting any pictures today. My pictures of the strip did not turn out great and after all of the bad news I didn’t feel like being a camera toting tourist.

It was hot the whole time we were there. Hot as in 100 to 110 degrees…the highest temperatures that this Midwestern girl has ever seen. We watched the volcano at The Mirage and you could feel the heat pouring off of the fire. We saw the fountain show at the Bellagio and longed to take a dip in the water. We went to the Venetian for a nice Italian meal. They even had gondola rides, but I am saving that for when I really go to Italy.

The strip was bustling with people. I linked arms with Angel just to get through the crowds without getting separated. There were more lanes of traffic on the strip than there are in Milwaukee. Motorists in cars were honking at tourists trying to cross the street in hordes. Greasy men were handing out business cards with mostly naked women on them. Scantily clad showgirls were asking men to take pictures with them.

I saw what I was expecting to see…glaring neon lights…young ladies in short skirts and high heels…old men gambling…a few tourist parents with children in tow…young scruffy men smoking pot…a few homeless begging for spare change…men in expensive suits…hookers…foreigners.

I also saw what I wasn’t expecting to see…I thought that the prostitutes were going to be drug addicts and maybe on the seedy side. I didn’t find that to be true. We saw some prostitutes leaving a hotel room when we were on the way to our room. One of the women walked out putting on a cover up. The prostitutes (and even the showgirls) were some of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. Maybe things were seedier on the other side of town, I wouldn’t know.

It was nice to take in the sounds and sights of Sin City for a day or two, but this country girl could never live there.

 

Vegas, part 2

I had a lot of time to myself with not a lot planned on this trip…which equates to having a lot of time to overthink and worry.

While I was in paradise, my 3 closest friends were at home suffering. My best friend Cindy was getting attacked for standing up for something she believes in. My friend Lisa lost her child in a car accident while I was gone. My friend Jen has terminal cancer.

It wasn’t as much fun in paradise alone worrying about things I couldn’t control. I’m not used to being alone, but I think I will have to start getting used to it.

I spent time alone at the pool and watched people. I saw the lifeguard pick his nose and riffle through his emergency bag in boredom. Did he think he was invisible?

There was a man who was alone listening to his music on a speaker over the music that was playing getting drunk with a bucket of beer. Out of character, I really liked a song he was playing and approached the man asking what the song was. I didn’t know it would result in a deep conversation about the meaning of life.

Why are you here? Have you ever questioned your existence? Do you believe in God? If God exists, why does he allow bad things to happen to good people? What are your thoughts on other religions? I’m still waiting on a sign that God is here…

It felt good to have a meaningful conversation. I left the pool as the man was ordering another bucket of beer.

I was feeling anxious again. It was all encompassing. I called home and my husband said that he was having a hard time and wished I was home. We just moved and put our old house on the market. Both of my children were leaving that weekend on separate trips. I was not going to be home to help them pack.

My son Alex is going on a music trip touring Europe. He called me that night. He just turned 18 last week and is a smoker. He is planning on taking his vape on the trip. He was worried it would be against the rules and regulations of the trip. I have extreme paranoia that he is going to be kicked off the trip for being a dumb ass. But he is 18 and can legally smoke if he wants to. Then he said when he gets back he is planning on working 3rd shift at the vape shop. My daredevil hell raiser son will be the death of me! I started praying awhile ago that he has a kid just like him someday. I feel bad because he always dates the sweetest girls.

My daughter Arabella is on a church youth group trip out of state. The day the kids left, the youth director resigned. She recently got divorced and moved in with her boyfriend. It is tearing up the church. Some people are taking the stand that it is not Biblical for the youth director to divorce her husband and move in with her boyfriend…others are saying that her private life is her own business.

The youth director made it sound like she was forced to resign. No one asked her to. My friend Cindy was the one that asked if marriage was not sacred in the church anymore. She asked how the youth leader was going to explain her new relationship status to the children she was leading. Cindy never called her to resign. Now everyone is attacking Cindy for questioning. They are calling her judgmental. They are calling her a hypocrite because she is divorced.

What most don’t know about Cindy is that her ex-husband started another family on the side while he was married to her. This is very painful for Cindy because she has children with her ex and wants them to view marriage as sacred with the backing of the church.

Why can’t my life and the lives of my loved ones be worry free???

Next time it will be more about Vegas, I promise..

Vegas, part 1

I am always filled with worry the first day…being so far from home and feeling less in control of the things I am not in control of anyway…

It was rough leaving. Paul had to slam on his brakes for a motorcycle in his blind spot after I screamed STOP on our way to the airport. It was stressful because at that point we were already running late in my book.

My youngest daughter Arabella blindsided me on the way out. She was starting a new job that same day and apparently didn’t fill out the online paperwork right. Mom, please help me… But I couldn’t miss the flight.

I was going to LV with my daughter Angel for a national singing competition. I didn’t want her to go alone…but to be honest, I always want to go somewhere I’ve never been.

On Friday morning, Angel and two of her college classmates competed against some of the best singers in the country. We had plans to meet up together at the swimming pool once everyone was done to celebrate their hard work and relax. Her friend did not pack a swimming suit so they were going to buy one and meet us at the pool later.

Angel and I were poolside for 2 seconds when my phone rang. It seemed odd that Cori would be calling me out of the blue in the middle of the day. Immediately Jen came to mind, our mutual friend that was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer. It couldn’t be a good call and it wasn’t.

Cori called to tell me that the daughter of a best friend of ours was in a car accident and didn’t make it. What?? It couldn’t be true! I cried the words in disbelief into the phone as the people surrounding me were smiling and having fun playing in the sunshine.

Lisa’s daughter just turned 16 a couple months ago and recently got her driver’s license. She was driving with a friend to work that morning when she missed the curve. She hit a tree and her car became engulfed in the flames that killed them.

Death! How unfair you are!

The police came to the house that morning to tell Lisa something that no parent ever wants to hear.

I couldn’t believe it was real. I still can’t believe that it is real. Maybe Cori was mistaken. These kind of things just don’t happen.

I checked the Facebook page of Lisa’s daughter. Nothing. Just a new profile picture of her looking away, staring out beyond the wooded hills. Prom pictures. Quotes about love, how fast teenagers become adults, and future dreams…

I thought of the fun times we shared…Sitting next to her on the roller coaster when I was so frightened I screamed the whole time, she was so brave…Sharing a passion for running and going to races with her mother and her. Her bright smiles and warm hugs..

Gone. She’s gone and it is so unfair. She was a beautiful young adult with a bright future. She truly was a good person. I wish I could take away Tom and Lisa’s pain. I couldn’t get it out of my mind..

It wasn’t long before Angel’s friends met us at the pool. I felt like I had to keep things together. It was a happy and exciting day for them. I had to try my best to keep it that way, but inside I was a mess. You just can’t be fine when you hear the news of a close friend’s child dying unexpectedly in a horrible way even if you are sitting poolside in the sunshine.

Ten minutes after Angel’s friends arrived, a kid puked in the pool and it was closed…

 

 

Moral dilemma 5

It happened at a college party the weekend before finals. She thought he was a friend when he invited her in his room to tell her something he didn’t want anyone to overhear. They knew each other for almost two years. She trusted him.

Maybe I was at home saying my prayers for her continued safety as I was going to bed that night. Her roommate walked in looking for her as she struggled to get away. She left the party crying, her trust broken.

The party continued on…He had another secret to share in his room. This girl had too much to drink and wasn’t feeling that well. He gave her something to make her feel better…Xanax. This time he was smarter. He found a way to lock the door. She wasn’t able to fight him off. She couldn’t get away..

My daughter asked…why her and not me? I can’t believe he would do something like this. He was my friend..

She couldn’t concentrate on finals. She just wanted to go home. She felt so sad. She found it hard to trust again. She told her professor who called the campus police.

She told us that she didn’t want to tell the police about the other girl. She thought it would be too painful and wanted to protect the girl. Plus she wasn’t there when it happened. We argued. You are not protecting her by not speaking up, you are protecting him. What if he does this again? After my daughter escaped, he drugged and assaulted a girl. He needs to pay for what he did, even if he was a nice guy before all of this happened.

Thankfully the police found out about both incidents after all of the interviews. It is so terrifying that it could’ve been my daughter.

This is why I worry all of the time…

 

Moral dilemma 4

This past weekend my son celebrated his 18th birthday. I was probably naive in thinking that absolutely everything was going to go smoothly after his friend sleepover Friday night went pretty well.

Recently my daughter Angel started dating her brother’s friend Dan. It’s complicated because Angel and Dan graduated from high school together and were friends until Angel’s ex boyfriend put the ax to all of her male friends.

Then Dan and Alex started hanging out. They played a song together for solo and ensemble years back. They built a computer together. Alex rode motorcycle with Dan. But then Dan stopped coming over to hang out with Alex.

I was hoping with Dan and Angel dating that they would all be friends. I was hoping for once in their lives that Alex and Angel would get along. But….Alex feels like he lost a friend. Dan is siding with Angel. It started a whole new war in my house.

That takes us back to Saturday night, Alex’s birthday.

Meanwhile, Paul and Arabella sailed to Door County to see a music festival for Father’s Day weekend. The weather was volatile and they had to dodge between storms to get there. It was supposed to be in the 90’s all weekend, but it barely made it up to the 70’s Friday and Saturday. No one on the cruise had proper clothing for the weather.

I made the mistake of inviting Dan and Angel to go to the festival with Alex, his girlfriend, and I. We were going to head up after Angel was done with work. Alex, his girlfriend, and I were going to attend a graduation party until then. It was on the way to the graduation party that Alex told me that he really had a problem with his sister dating his friend. He didn’t want them to go with later in the day.

Now I felt really bad because I asked Angel to come with. Dan was coming to our house after Angel was done working and we would all leave together from there.

Since it was Alex’s birthday and he felt hurt about the relationship, I had to call Angel to tell her that she should not come along with Dan. I felt really torn about making that decision. I don’t like making choices where I have to side with one of my kids. It was awful!

We were at the graduation party when Angel got done with work. Alex and his girlfriend were tubing and I was riding on the boat. It was too noisy to call her so we had to communicate via text which was awful. Maybe you shouldn’t go. It’s your brother’s birthday and he is upset that you are dating his friend.

Alex, his girlfriend, and I met up with Paul and Arabella at the music festival without them. Angel was very upset with me because I invited her and then uninvited her. She sent me texts the whole evening about feeling excluded from the family.

When we got there, it was getting pretty cold out but I had extra warm clothes on the sailboat. What I didn’t realize was that Arabella did not pack any warm clothing and she was wearing mine. I was freezing.

I was also under the misconception that the music festival was outdoors like a fairgrounds where you can listen to music and buy concessions. It was not the case. We walked around to find that later in the day the music was in the bars. You had to pay a $10 cover charge to get in. Everyone hanging out in and around the bars was drunk. It was not what I expected at all.

I didn’t feel comfortable taking Alex’s girlfriend in the bars with us. The whole thing was awful, not what we were expecting at all. So we turned around and drove back home after we found something to eat.

Alex’s birthday was a real dud. Angel was angry with me. Dan felt like we didn’t like or accept him. A lot of it was my fault for having too high of expectations…that the weather would be nice, that the festival would be nice, that my children would magically get along by my daughter dating my son’s friend.

I suppose it could be worse…I have a couple of friends whose moms married their sisters husbands. From what I heard, that really didn’t turn out well.

I always thought it would be nice to be friends with someone that my sibling is dating…

Given some time, maybe Alex will get used to it.

 

 

Father’s Day

Father’s Day…it’s always been a difficult day for me.

I see the posts online of you with your dad smiling and happy. I wonder why my dad never cared about me. I don’t think I have any pictures of us like that, dad.

I just remember you laughing at the TV in some distant room while my autistic brother hit me yet again. You could have held me while I cried. Why didn’t you?

I remember the time that I was afraid of weeds up at the lake. You took my tiny little body and planted my feet in the slimy weeds. You laughed at me when I ran back to shore crying. You threw weeds at me and called me names.

I am not afraid anymore, dad. I push myself so hard. I run myself ragged.

This one day of the year, I wish for just one picture…one memory…of us together smiling and happy. It is so painful to see the things I didn’t have.

What is wrong with me? Why didn’t you love me dad?

 

Moral dilemma 3

We recently found out that our youth director at church moved in with her boyfriend. She divorced her husband a couple of months back and shortly thereafter moved in with her new boyfriend.

This has been tearing the church apart.

There are those that say it doesn’t matter what she does outside of her job. If she leaves, then this group will leave with her. There are others that say they don’t want the moral leader of their children showing them that it is okay to leave your husband and take on with another man. If she doesn’t resign from her position, another group will leave.

I am not judgmental or a prude, but I personally believe that the person who is getting paid with my tithe money should ascribe to the moral teachings of the church.

I personally do not care what two consenting adults decide to do in the bedroom, I don’t. I could care less about the living arrangements of my child’s math teacher. But they better be good at teaching math.

I wouldn’t expect a drug and alcohol counselor to be out getting drunk in the possible presence of clients. There are certain things that are expected when you take on certain job positions.

So the battle begins…the ripping and tearing starts.

I feel so torn. I really like our youth director. She is great with the kids. I even like the guy she is living with more than her husband. But that is beside the point. I can’t make decisions based on feelings.

To make matters worse, our choir director and organist recently resigned from their positions due to an unrelated matter. I have become close to the organist. She has been teaching my son how to play piano the last couple years. My son has always been a difficult teen to raise and she has been a very positive impact in his life. It pains me deeply to see her go.

Maybe it is time to find a new church home. It has gotten to the point where I don’t even want to go to church anymore. I feel so much sorrow over this.

If my children decide they want to be in a relationship, I want them to marry one person and stay married. I don’t want them to be like our youth director…several broken marriages with children from each marriage growing up in broken homes acting like everything is rosy living with a new guy.

Would I still love and accept my children even if they don’t live the life I want for them?? Absolutely, without a doubt!! I made the decision to raise my children Christian. It is not easy and I want a church that will back me up on this. Is that too much to ask?

I am not even opposed to people cohabiting, or am I? Last weekend Angel’s best friend from out of town came home with her live in boyfriend. They wanted to stay at our house for the night. I really struggled with what to do. My daughter Angel is an adult and today my son is an adult. I have a really hard time seeing my adult children and their friends as adults. To complicate things, Angel’s friend also belongs to our church. I told Angel that her friends were welcome to stay but I would be setting up separate sleeping arrangements for them.

Would I respond differently if the adults living together were my age? Would I respond differently if I didn’t still have a child in my house watching every decision I make and using that as a moral compass?

Honestly, I really don’t care what other people decide to do. It is no concern of mine. But if that person is tasked with the paid position of teaching my children Christian morals, I feel really uncomfortable with that person not practicing what they preach.

Is nothing sacred anymore, even within the church??

Moral dilemma 2

I had another moral dilemma recently…Oh believe me, the topics are only going to get progressively worse..

Recently my daughter Arabella celebrated her golden 15th birthday by having a sleepover with some friends.

I’m going to give the disclaimer right now that my kids are I are very open and honest with communication which oftentimes means that I hear a lot of things that I don’t want to hear.

Last year, my daughter wanted me to contact her friend’s mother whom I am a good friend with because her daughter was sharing with my daughter that she was very depressed. This is right around the time that her daughter came out of the closet with her close friends. It was a really hard time for her. Arabella was really worried about her.

I called her friend’s mother and told her that Arabella was worried about how depressed her daughter was. I left it at that. As of right now, I am really the only adult besides my husband and adult daughter that knows about her daughter’s orientation. It really isn’t my place to tell her parents.

But here was the moral dilemma…Arabella’s friend was in a relationship with another girl that was invited to the sleepover. I told Arabella flat out that I did not want anyone in a relationship sleeping together in my house. But remember, I was not supposed to be privy to the information.

Arabella told me that the weekend previous to her party that her two friends in a relationship were having a sleepover together at her friend’s house. Again, I felt that it was not my place to tell their parents.

Arabella told her friends that I knew about their relationship and that I did not want them sleeping together at her party. They were afraid that I would contact their parents.

It is very difficult sometimes to be a carrier of knowledge, the keeper of secrets. Sometimes I would rather be oblivious to what today’s teens are dealing with. Some days I would rather bury my head in the sand…everything is fine and dandy in la la land..

But I also want to be the adult that understands, cares, and listens. I will not break that trust unless, like previously mentioned, I feel like someone could be in danger.

Everything ended up turning out fine in the end. One of the girl’s in the relationship could not attend the sleepover, so that was one less thing to worry about.

Tonight I am hosting a sleepover at our new house for my son’s 18th birthday. What could possibly go wrong??

 

 

Moral dilemma 1

My daughter Angel has a new love interest who I am going to call Dan. Now Dan is also a friend of my son Alex. Alex and Dan ride motorcycles together. Maybe you can see where this one is going…

Angel thought that it would be fun to ride on the back of Dan’s motorcycle for her first motorcycle ride..

Here comes the dilemma…Alex, Dan, and Angel wanted to go for a ride but only had 2 helmets. So my son decided to sacrifice his helmet for his sister. Sacrifice is probably pushing it quite a bit since I think he wanted to have a good reason for us not to be angry that he was riding without a helmet.

I don’t think the ride went all that well. It rained a bit. Alex bought a piece of junk motorcycle with his tax return money from working all last summer. While they were riding, a piece of Alex’s motorcycle flew off and hit Dan in the leg. Dan has a huge welt on his leg but kept control of the bike. But Angel loved it and has been riding ever since.

Alex and Angel have been exchanging the helmet and apparently now the current status of the helmet is lost. Wonderful! Now what should I do?

And I thought worrying about one kid on a motorcycle was bad!

 

On emptying the nest

My son didn’t come home last night.

It’s not that I was angry. I felt worried. He was planning on going to a late night movie with a friend, but he arrived too late as is customary of him. So he ended up spending the night at his friend’s house after the whole movie idea didn’t work out.

I had no problem with his plans…except the part where he didn’t tell me which wasn’t like him.

I told him that I was going to bed when he left last night. But I woke up several times during the night and started to text and call when he wasn’t home by 1:45 AM. When are you coming home? Are you okay?

He didn’t answer my calls or texts. I fell asleep on the couch near the front door with my cat. At 4:30 AM I awoke to the wheezy sound of my cat starting to puke with the projected target being the back of my head. I woke in a flash hurtling my cat away from my head and towards a carpet free patch of flooring. At 4:35 AM, I was stumbling around cleaning up cat puke in the dark. My son still wasn’t home.

I hardly got any sleep at all. As the operations manager, I had a lunch meeting scheduled along with our sales guy with one of our biggest clients who is expanding to several new offices. This would be my first time meeting this client in person and I would have to make sure I was on my feet the whole time after a sleepless night.

I went to work, still no son. I texted his girlfriend for clues. Finally after 10 AM, I heard from my son. PTL, he was alive! He said that since he got to the movie too late that he just decided to sleep over at his friend’s house instead. He didn’t want to bother me because I said I was going to bed when he left. He didn’t want to wake me up. Ha! He didn’t receive all of my calls and texts because he was already asleep.

Someday maybe he will learn that a parent can never fully sleep while waiting for a child to come home.

Soon he will be a child no more. Three more days until he is an adult.

My friend asked me if I had the talk with him yet…the talk about him being an adult with an underage girlfriend. I had a dream the other night, a dream that his girlfriend was pregnant. I awoke from the nightmare at 6:16, the date of his birth 6/16.

Ah, if only I could be so lucky to have one worry at a time!