College Boys

Return Home (2)I am now the parent of two college boys.  My older son, Nick (age 17), recently got started at New Tribes Bible Institute in Wisconsin.  My younger son, Jared (age 16), started at the local Junior College (West Valley College). As a homeschooling mom, my job is done.

To settle Nick in, my hubby and I flew out to Waukesha, Wisconsin.  I was a typical mom.  I walked around campus taking a million pictures and making his new college friends pose for my camera. In restaurants, every waiter knew I was in Waukesha to settle my “amazing son in to school”; I would beam with pride and share my son’s story of how he wants to be a missionary (somehow, this got us some free drinks, desserts and fried cheese).  The whole experience was exciting and fun.  Because Nick had a lot to do at the college for orientation, the hubby and I enjoyed local restaurants and got to know the area a little better on our own.  By the end of the weekend I was completely at peace leaving my son in this place.

My younger son started this week at the local Junior College.  In the past, I have sometimes treated him like a little kid when he’s not.  This summer, I clearly felt God giving me encouragement to let go of seeing Jared as the “baby” of the family and acknowledge that he’s a man, like his brother.  I have started taking a step back from always helping him and speaking for him (yes, I would annoyingly answer his questions for him ~ I am not anymore).  I have seen him step up to the challenge.  He has had some obstacles in his first few days of school (like getting lost ~ and found ~ driving by himself to one of his classes, that is off campus), but he handled all the situations with grace.  He is truly becoming independent and he’s showing me he’s very capable.  This introvert has chosen to take a public speaking class.  He says, “It’s an important skill”.  I couldn’t be more proud of him.

Here are some pictures of the campus that Nick is at:

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Here’s a picture of Jared the day he got his driver’s license:

 

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Now for me to go out and find that job that will start my next phase in life…how exciting.

Wet Blankets and ALS

Nick with Pop-pop and Grandma Lita

Nick with Pop-pop and Grandma Lita ~ Nov 2007

It was about 10 years ago when our family first heard that my hubby’s dad had ALS. We didn’t have a clue what it was. We didn’t know that this was basically a death sentence. We didn’t know he would probably only live 3-5 years on average after diagnosis. We didn’t know that all the muscles in his body would slowly shut down. We didn’t know that his mind would be clear as a bell trapped in a body that didn’t function.  But we started reading about it.  My hubby doesn’t cry, but as we read about his father’s diagnosis, I saw something I’ve only seen my hubby do once since we’ve been together; he sobbed.

Pop-pop (That’s what we all called him) died with dignity and grace.  He continued to make an effort, when he could, to participate in his grand-kids’ lives.  He came to plays and sports events if it meant seeing his family in action.  He told the kids jokes, even though he was uncomfortable physically.  He showed the family what humility looks like.  And most of all his faith in God was strong until the very end.

One reaction our family had (especially my hubby and his brother) was a sense of mortality.  They say ALS is not hereditary, but really they don’t know what causes it.  The guys had fear.  They worried, “Can this happen to us?”  We still don’t know what caused pop-pop to have ALS.  No one does.  But wouldn’t it be grand if they figured it out.  Right now I have hope with the way things are going for the ALS association.

Recently, ALS is all over social media.  I can’t even explain how awesome this is.  This Ice Bucket Challenge is a game changer.  Last year ALS was unknown to most and they only raised 1.2 Million.  This year everyone is talking about ALS and they have raised (as of today) 41.8 Million.   This is mind boggling.  So our family took the Ice Bucket Challenge:

As a person who has seen ALS up close at a time when people’s most common reaction was, “What is ALS?” this is great.  What troubles me are the wet blankets at the “party”.  Why is it when anything good is happening, there are always people that have to put a damper on it.  I see posts about people being upset about “wasted” water.  As a drought savvy Californian, which all Californians should be, we took precautions to account for that.  We did our challenge over our dying lawn and I chose to skip my next shower.  We even used water that was going to go to the lawn anyway (not potable water). If people weren’t water thoughtful while making the video, they probably aren’t drought thoughtful in their life in general (although that’s an assumption).

I don’t care if you don’t accept the challenge.  A challenge is something you can accept or decline.  I have no ill feelings towards those who choose to decline.  People have all kinds of reasons why this is not something they are going to do.  This doesn’t upset me.  What is upsetting is when people start making up lame excuses and accusations to make them feel better about not doing it.  It really is an awesome movement and there really isn’t a good reason to be a negative wet blanket.  So stop it!

If you do take the challenge you are in good company.  Many famous and not so famous people (Including George W Bush, Oprah, Bill Gates, Jimmy Fallon…and hundreds more) are taking the challenge all over Social Media.  If you can’t afford a donation, that’s ok.  If you don’t have time for the Ice Bucket Challenge, that’s ok.  But please, remember ALS and don’t be a wet blanket.

 

Do You Kiss Your Spouse With That Mouth?

Oh gosh, here we go for another rant.  I’m getting out my soapbox for this.

On TV, in books, on Facebook, in real life…I don’t care where it is; I can’t stand when people speak ill of their spouses in public.  It is probably the thing that makes me most uncomfortable.

If you are having issues in your marriage and you are still in the “I need to vent” stage, then you need to keep that for the therapist, your best friend in a private conversation or for your significant other.  When you are ready to share in a more public setting (to help others perhaps), I think it’s important to be careful how you talk about the other people in the relationship, because it reflects on you.  Being rude about other people doesn’t make you look much better.

It’s not just the “speaking ill” that bugs me either.  I hate the eye rolling, sarcasm, joke digs (especially if it’s an inside joke that no one else is in on), rude name calling…

One of the things I love most about my hubby is that he accepts me completely.  He has never made me feel bad or weird about how nutty I get.  I often catch him smiling at me from across a room when I’m at my silliest.  When I see him doing that I feel so loved.  An eye roll would be like a dagger to my heart.  Why do we do that?  Don’t we all want to be loved for who we are and not who someone else wants us to be?

The only thing worse than doing this in public is teaching it to our kids by example.  I was talking to a friend once about words that really hurt me.  I told her “Shut Up” makes me really sad inside.  She asked, “What do you do when your hubby says that to you?”.  I was stunned.  I said, “He never has”.  She went on to tell me that not only did her spouse tell her to “Shut Up”, but he did it in front of the kids.  I didn’t even know what to say.  This broke my heart.

I want my boys to grow up and be kind and generous with their words to their spouses.  I want them to stand up for them in public when others might be trashing their own spouses.  I want my boys to speak loving words (isn’t that Biblical?) so that the woman they love knows without a doubt that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (psalm 139:14).  It is my job to be my hubby’s cheerleader and be public enough about it so I can teach my kids.

So curb your habit of unkind words or gestures.  Try not to be publicly judgmental with something that might be better saved for a private conversation.  I know TV makes it seem like the norm (“My hubby is so…” or “My wife is such a…” kind of stuff).  Or maybe you learned it from your parents.  But I would suggest you make a change and try to uplift the people that you love…in public!

I love you Hubby!!!  You are the best.

 

Expert Mom

When I started parenting, I didn’t really know what I was doing.  I did pick up some things when I was growing up, but I also came from a broken home where stress was sometimes the norm.  When my kids were small I often resolved things by yelling.  I had no patience (my dirty little secret).  I was on edge a lot and sometimes at a loss for what to do about certain behaviors.  When the kids were in preschool someone suggested homeschooling to me and I said, “Are you nuts? I just don’t have the patience.” and at the time I was right.  My friend also said, “You don’t think God can teach you patience?”  She was right.  So I started homeschooling and I began my career becoming an expert MOM.

I spent a lot of time praying for my kids and my parenting.  The gift God gave me was a teach-able spirit.  I became a voracious reader of parenting books.  Let me give you an example of how I function…When my youngest was little he had a lisp.  I was told that as a homeschooler I could use the speech therapist at the local public school.  I really didn’t want to do that.  I decided instead to ask a friend who had gone that route what they do.  She said the speech therapist gives them exercises to practice speaking correctly at home.  So I went to the library and checked out 4 or 5 books on speech therapy.  I read like crazy.  The plan was to sit everyday in front of a big mirror and practice our speaking skills (If this didn’t work, I’d consider the specialist.)  Soon he was speaking clearly and without a lisp.  No specialist needed.

People ask me for tips on parenting or what I did to raise such good teen boys.  The truth is I prayed and read ALL the time.   I think I read, on average, 3-6 parenting books a year throughout my kids lives.  Even in the teen years I found books to help me through the difficult “individuation” process (that’s the process where your kids start to disagree with you and think most of what you say is bogus).  I also worked on healing my past hurts and dealing with my yelling (that was a priority).  I knew if my personal struggles were healed I could be a better example.  I also read books on marriage so that my relationship with my hubby would be grand (and it is!)

If my kids turned out great, well, I have God to thank for giving me teachable moments and a heart that pushed me to understand what I didn’t already.  I also learned to listen to God’s promptings.  He called me at one point to let go now that they are in their teens, and I have.  He’s in charge of them now, I’m just here for love and support.

I’m not writing this blog to tell you to be like me.  I am just suggesting that we all become experts of our own families.  I read books to deal with a strong willed kid, my anger in the early years, healing from my broken family, understanding an introvert, and many more issues…I read books that were specific to my situation.  You need to find the books (on audio if you don’t like to read) that suit your situation.  Here are a bunch of books I loved (I can’t think of them all), but maybe if you are struggling one of these will get you started at becoming an expert.


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Freaky Friday

Sometimes the s0247entence “If I were you…” strikes me as rather funny. One night I was in bed trying to sleep, at the wee hours of the morning, when I started pondering this. What if I was…

If I were my hubby.

  • I’d see what it’s like to actually know how to work on a car
  • I’d use power tools without fear
  • I’d kick my kids’ butts at video games, well maybe not the younger one, he’s too good
  • I’d eat all the shellfish I could get my hands on (I’m allergic)
  • I’d sing the song Boris The Spider by The Who (if you look it up, wait for the chorus…you’ll see)
  • And. of course, I’d pee in the woods all the time

Then I started wondering what I would want him to try if he were me.

  • I’d want him to go for a pedicure, because you know guys want to, but my hubby says he’d lose his “man card”.
  • I’d want him to watch a marathon of cry movies so he could just let it all out.
  • I’d want him to take a nap every afternoon for a week.
  • I’d want him to ask someone else to kill the spider or bug that’s over the bed.
  • I’d want him to have the dog follow him EVERYWHERE in the house and feel loved
  • And I’d want him to try and pee in the woods wearing long PJs and not get any spray on the hems.

Brilliant Ideas by Me

My hubby and I sometimes like to come up with crazy ideas and imagine actually following through on them. I want to share a few examples today of some golden ideas I have had recently.

  • A restaurant named 360.  The idea is that every meal is around 360 calories.  The title of the restaurant would not just be about calorie intake (although that is a main part of it) it would describe our attitude about food.  It would be about turning how we eat on its head.  The food would be from all over the world and even some fusion ideas.  There would be suggestions for the Gluten Free diets, sugar free diets, Vegan diets, Paleo diets, etc in the menu.  Ideally the room would be round and have round tables.
  • A school called Unbroken : The Med Free ADHD School For Boys.  The school would be designed entirely around the idea of fostering an attitude change about ADHD.  Besides teachers we would also have a nutritionist and a therapist on staff.  No kids would be allowed to be medicated.  There would be mandatory parent classes once a month where they would learn skills on how to guide their “energetic” son.  There would never be detention (at least we wouldn’t call it that); instead they would have work classes and therapy for kids who have trouble controlling their behavior.  Ideally it would be set on a ranch, but I think as long as you have trampolines around, you might have a perfect setting.   I insist on it being for boys, because 10% are medicated in this country.  You could open a separate girl one, but I would not allow a co-ed version.

Feel free to steal any of these ideas.  You’re welcome.

P.S. Do you have any wild ideas that you came up with?

 

Talk to Your Kids!

I need to rant.  My hubby and I recently went out to a lovely Thai place for dinner.  As we were enjoying our conversation we hear “beep, beeeeep, beep” and we look to see the kid next to us playing video games on a tablet.  My hubby leaned over and asked him kindly to turn it down a bit.  We then got to suffer the death glare of his mother for the rest of the meal.  I really think if you are going to let your kids play video games in public places you really should get them headphones for the sound or turn it way down.  Apparently this mom didn’t agree.

Then I looked around and saw 3 other kids in the restaurant at 3 separate tables playing on some kind of electronics.  I was baffled.  Why take your kid out if you aren’t going to talk?

My teen boys still only have flip phones that they can text and call on…that’s it.  No one is allowed to bring a phone to the dinner table even at home.  We believe in the art of conversation.  I say art, because I believe it’s something that is taught and practiced.  Most people who meet my boys are usually surprised at how nicely they speak to people of all ages.  They stand confidently and can carry on a conversation with adults.

When they were young and we were stuck in line at Costco, or waiting for our order at a restaurant, or even sitting in the doctor’s waiting room (you get the idea), we played a game called 3 Words.  The boys would give me 3 words and I had to tell them a story and incorporate those 3 words.  I would tell crazy stories that involved aliens, bears and corn or spaceships, dragons and bacon. One time at Costco the surrounding people started listening to my crazy tale and everyone laughed when I finished.

At some point the boys started asking for words so they could tell a tale of their own.  I remember my youngest’s first try went something like this, “Your 3 words are pig, tornado, and pool”.  My son said, “There was a pig in a pool who died from being sucked up by a tornado.”  For months he couldn’t make it past one sentence, but we loved it and always encouraged him.  A lot was happening in these moments.  We were developing their composition skills, practicing listening, learning to speak to each other, spending quality time with the kids, encouraging creativity, teaching them that stories have a climax and an end (not all kids know about the climax and end thing.  They will sometimes just talk without purpose)…I feel sad for these kids that are most often just shut down by being given a computer game.

Don’t get me wrong.  I understand, at the end of a long day, when you’re trying to cook dinner, to put a movie on.  I get using a game once in a while, especially at the doctor’s office.  Try not to over use this though (and turn down that volume in public).  Don’t miss out on opportunities to spend time with your kids.