Archive for April, 2013

27
Apr
13

Contraband 101

Last night, I had a much needed night out with a girlfriend. We had a blast! And, thankfully, I am not hung-over this morning. See, miracles do exist.

Being that that I really do not like beer, I wanted something different to drink. We opted for sneaking in our own liquor. I know, this is not one of my shining mommy moments, so don’t tell the other PTA moms.

We learned a few things last night that I thought were worth sharing.
1. Everything is overpriced at the civic centers. We all know that. But, where people were paying $7-$9 for a beer, my drinks were around $5 each. My airport bottles were $2 each and sodas were $3 for a medium (roughly 16oz)
2. The key to bringing drinks in is to get past security. My purse had two pockets that are hard to see on the front of the bag because of its print. My friend put hers in the zipper pouch inside hers.
3. Get plastic bottles. Unfortunately, this was not an option for what I chose. Why is this important? One of my bottles shattered inside my purse. I discovered it when I noticed the purse was dripping and then cut myself on the broken glass.
4. Go incognito. Wait until the lights go down to mix your drink; you never know who is watching and do not want to get thrown out. We had families on either side of us and did not want an angry mama confrontation.
5. Of course, it goes without saying, but do not drink and drive. Have a plan for if you do go a little overboard. We walked ours off as we went to a local bar for the after party and from there walked to get food and back to my friend’s apartment. Now, I just have to find a ride to go pick up my car….

Really, the most important lesson of the night is one we call should remember. It does a person some good to let loose now and then. I cannot wait until our next night out!

25
Apr
13

Teaching Through Debate

My daughter's team after the debate.

My daughter’s team after the debate.

My younger daughter is very intellectual and a Type A kind of a girl. She is also a giving, kind child and doesn’t have a selfish bone in her body. Personally, I love it. It is a lot of what makes her who she is.

Earlier this year, my daughter wanted a new activity. She was not selected to be part of an elite math team at her school despite her strong grades and she wanted something for the smart kids that were not on that team or pulled from class to participate in gifted programs. She, and one of her friends, approached the principal and, shortly after, they started a debate team.

Initially, the debate team had a pretty large group (over twenty kids) and it was all she talked about but, as time passed, it became more like work. The kids began to fuss with one another. Eventually the team dwindled to a much more manageable group of nine and they began to focus on participating in the school’s district debate.

As excited as my daughter was, part of her was very apprehensive with getting in front of the other schools for the district debate. She researched the debate’s topic, prepared a speech as she was supposed to, and went through all of the motions unsure of if she wanted to actually be one of the three chosen speakers.

The day came to present her speech to the group and for them to decide on speakers. Somehow, her speech managed to disappear before the group met and my daughter was sorely unprepared. Despite not being able to share and showcase her own work, the team voted for her to be one of the speakers. She declined the opportunity to speak giving the spot to another girl on the group that she felt was better prepared, but was not as strong with public speaking.

I was not initially told about my daughter being selected or turning the spot down. I actually heard about this after the fact from the team’s coach. When I spoke with my daughter about her decision, she indicated that she would have liked to do it, but the other little girl was more prepared and was getting upset over not being selected. My daughter did not want to upset her friend.

For the next week, as the team prepared, my daughter stressed over her decision. She did all she could to help her friend prepare by practicing with her during down time at school.

The big day arrived and my child was a ball of nerves. She was really worried about how the other girl would do and that the team would not win. Her worries were not unfounded. The team lost their debate.

My daughter was very upset as we left the debate. Thankfully, she maintained her composure until we were alone. She was very critical of her team members, especially the girl she allowed to take her place. I tried to remain objective and point out that she could have been on the stage but chose not to. I told her how nerve racking being in front of a large group is for some. I encouraged her to remember that she is still a team member and needed to be treated with kindness as she probably was kicking herself over the loss.

As a parent, the debate day, and weeks leading up to the debate itself, was an emotional roller coaster. I was so proud of our team, the other teams, and the work that the kids put into it all. I hated the way that my daughter handled the disappointment of the loss. But really, my main issue came from my daughter making the decision not to participate. She wanted to participate and could have done so. But, she selected not to rather than upsetting another child. I do not want my child to be a doormat for others to walk all over. I do not want her to put her own wishes on the backburner.

How do you teach a child to share, give, and care for others, but not to take it too far? Really, I have no clue. I tried to talk to her about it letting her know it was okay for her to accept if she really wanted it and that her friend would forgive her. I guess time will tell if any of my words got through to her.

23
Apr
13

Loving an Elevator

Riding in the car this afternoon, I got quite the earful from the teen. She had been home about an hour when I picked her up, but she was in rare form.

I enjoy my car rides with the kid. We enjoy singing loudly off key and dancing to whatever song is on. However, we rarely can start the ride without a fight over the radio station.

As I mentioned before, my child was in rare form. She was particularly pushy about the station. So, I fought her on it and I won. We were listening to a local rock station and I was singing alone to Aerosmith’s Love in an Elevator.

Now, I consider my kids to be fairly well rounded. Especially when it comes to music, but, apparently, I need to educate them more on rock because my daughter started laughing as I sang the song. Between the giggles, she asked, “Why do you love an elevator?”

I explained the lyrics which, obviously, made more sense. From there, we moved to another station. Maybe it is better if we stick with Bruno Mars, our local pop station, or country outlets from now on.

19
Apr
13

Feeling Thankful

This evening was one that I dreaded for a while. Generally, I get very lucky and my kids, despite having busy schedules, generally do not have overlapping commitments. Tonight, was opening night for my teen’s play and my younger daughter had a debate.

Thankfully, I had some help with orchestrating getting kids where they needed to be and the timing worked out so that I could catch at least part of my teen’s performance. I will be able to catch the show in its entirety tomorrow night.

Now, being a mom, I know my kids are brilliant. But I was struck by just how great the other kids were at both events. These young people have spent months preparing for the events and it showed. The kids at the debate had researched, prepared speeches, and had to speak in front of a huge group which is hard for many to do as an adult. The teens had to memorize lines, songs, and choreography.

Both of the events were truly extracurricular events. Although, the debate team did get to work during school hours since it is still elementary. I was struck by how dedicated the team leaders were, teachers that gave their own time to work with the kids. But I think I was more impressed with the teachers and principals that were there that didn’t have to be, but chose to support our kids.

Tonight, despite the running around, I am feeling very blessed. I am so thankful for those individuals that give of themselves to better our kids.

10
Apr
13

A Father’s Love

If you follow my blog, you know that I have a large, close family.  I am very proud of us-even if I do not always agree with the decisions of the other family members.  I attribute most of our awesomeness as a family to our mom.  She has always been the glue that keeps us together.  Our father, while he is in the picture, is not always the most warm and fuzzy, supportive parent.

I think of all of the siblings that I probably have the best relationship with our father.  I get him; he has worked for everything he has gotten.  He wanted us all to be able to do the same.  He expected us all to walk the straight and narrow.  If you stayed out of trouble and were low maintenance, the old man was happy.  Otherwise he rode you hard until you shaped up.  We each have a strong work ethic thanks to him and are each independent adults today, for the most part.

The poor old guy got more than he bargained for with his two daughters; we are both just as stubborn as he is.  I figured him out early.  I kept a low profile, worked through school, kept up my grades, and asked for very little.  My sister, while also being fairly low maintenance, has not always seen eye to eye with the old man.  While she has always wanted to make him proud, she also wanted to spread her wings and sow her oats.  Eventually, she moved out (a decision that was not ideal for my parents).

My sister has been on her own for about a year.  She lives with her boyfriend and their son.  She works and does her best to make ends meet with little to no support from the boyfriend.  Unfortunately, things have gotten very tight lately.  My sister let her car insurance lapse and her tags expire while she has been waiting for her tax return to arrive.  Her boyfriend received his return and bought a new four wheeler.

I was not aware of how bad things had gotten for my sister until earlier today when I ran into my mother at lunch.  She said that my father was saying my sister should move back home since she was struggling and not getting any help.  I was surprised that he was open to letting her return home.  He was part of the reason for her moving out initially as they were constantly butting heads.

What my father did next surprised me; he went to their insurance agent and paid her bill without her knowing.

Then, he ran into her boyfriend.  Or, her boyfriend ran into him.  It was shortly after my father paid the bill, so he was still fuming.  Her boyfriend, unaware, strolled over to say hello and got quite the talking to.  Our father is a man of few words, so when he speaks, you listen.  He told the boyfriend to man up and start helping.  He also told the sorry boy that he now owed my father $100.

I spoke with my sister earlier and she relayed the encounter that her boyfriend had with our father.  It was pretty awesome.  She was unaware of his desire for her to move home until I brought it up.  It upset her because she looks at is as a failure on her part; I hate that she became upset and that she looks at his comment that way because I am looking at it very  differently.

I love the fact that my dad was willing to step in without being asked.  He was trying not to make her feel bad, and to help her in his own way.    I like knowing that he is there if we need him, no matter how old we get.  I appreciate the fact that he was willing to bypass her altogether rather than hurt her pride.

Hopefully, things will improve for my sister soon.  At least now she knows that she is welcome back at home and has been reminded that the old man loves her.

04
Apr
13

Black and Blue

My office is fairly casual most days.  Honestly, it was a huge selling point when I accepted the job.  I love being able to throw on jeans and a top and head out the door when I am having a particularly rough day.  I still try to dress up a few days a week.

Today, we have someone from corporate coming and were instructed to wear professional casual.  Not a huge deal, really.  Most of us are not super casual during the week.

So far this morning, there are five guys in the office all wearing button down shirts.  All are white/blue; two are stripes, the rest are plaid.  If I could find a way to take a picture for you I would.

The women are all wearing black.  At least all that I can see without walking across the office to see what my Work Buddy has on; she snuck in on me without saying hello.

What am I wearing?  Black slacks and a yellow/black/white top.  I like bright colors.  I never thought a lot of it until the last time we had corporate in for a few days training; on the last day, the trainer mentioned the colors I selected.  I hadn’t given it a lot of thought again until this morning.

Apparently, I missed the memo on professional casual only being limited to black or blue.  I am going to stick out like a sore thumb when we all go to lunch.

03
Apr
13

Lesson In Forgiveness

Earlier today, we had a doctor’s appointment.  As we talked with the doctor, he was talking about how funny sibling relationships were.  One of my kids would say something and the other would try to outdo the first, or remind me that they were also doing that particular thing.  Apparently, it is a pretty common dynamic; same sex sibling relationships often end up being competitive.

My kids do compete.  Not on everything, but they do tend to compete on grades.  Recently, they were learning a new activity and one was determined she had to learn faster.  Often the competitions are very random; they cannot walk to the car in a parking lot without it becoming a race.

The problem with being competitive, there is usually only one winner.  Chances are, someone is going to have feelings hurt.  Not always by losing, but by the gloating of the other sibling despite my constant warning and correction.

If you are a parent, chances are you can relate, and know this is not always a pleasant thing to watch.  It can be downright ugly at times.  But, what struck me today is how quickly they both move on.  They do not hold grudges against one another.  Sure, they may need some time to cool off.  Heck, one might even have to do the unspeakable and apologize.  But, in the end, they make up and move on.

Friendships are often very similar.  Especially with girls.  There is something about the tween and teen years which puts girl against girl.  Sorry, folks, but I do not know much about boys.  Many of our conversations are all about what another girl did or said and who made who cry.  The worst part about these conflicts is deciding when you, as a parent should intervene.

Honestly, I stay mad longer than the kids do, most of the time.  For example, I will decline to let certain kids over for the way that they have treated my kids in the past.  My kid will say they are best friends again, but I am leery.

I am even worse when it comes to my own relationships; I have a very hard time forgiving others.  I cannot help but think of the old saying, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.”  But really, how much better would the world be if we could all just forgive and forget?  I think I am going to have to try doing better and apply the lesson that I learned from my kids.

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.  -Mahatma Gandhi