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Monday, August 26, 2013

The Half Assed Company

So it seems my parental prowess from last week has slipped a bit.  Last week I told the story of how proud I was that I kept my cool when Claire bucked up against me and my reward was a sweet apology.

Well...things change on a dime around here, as I'm sure they do in most families.

I'm trying to stress to my kids the importance of doing good and thorough jobs around the house so they can translate that back into the real world.  Every night the kids have kitchen duty.  I cook, and I clean as I go, but the kids are responsible for making my kitchen sparkling clean after dinner.  I love, Love, LOVE a clean kitchen.  Counters shiny.  Dishes loaded in the dishwasher.  Appliances free of finger prints.  Kitchen sink scrubbed and polished.  Floors free of crumbs and dog hair.  The kids know this and have been assigned these chores for years.  Well, lately their idea of a good and thorough job cleaning my kitchen is about as half-assed as you can possibly get.

I've come into the kitchen after they have supposedly finished cleaning to find sticky counters, crumb laden floors with copious amounts of dog hair thrown in, finger print filled appliances, dishes in the sink and a sink so full of germs and disgustingness that science experiments could be conducted with ease.  After the third or fourth or fifth time of finding my kitchen looking like a bio-hazard waiting to be condemned I may have lost my temper a little and told the kids I was tired of the half-assed jobs they were doing.  And yes, I did use the term "half-assed," and I used it a number of times in rapid succession.  I was trying to prove a point.

And I think I proved it...

When my tirade was coming to an end Lucas said, "You know, Mom, since you say I always do things 'half-assed' when I grow up I'm going to start a new company called 'The Half-Assed Company.'  I'm going to hire Zach and Claire and we're going to make millions by starting something, completing it  in a half-assed way and then we'll send it out to another company to finish."

Well, I'm not sure about you, but for me it's hard to stay mad when I'm about ready to burst out laughing at Lucas and his ridiculous company name.  That's his game.  Keep me laughing so I don't have a chance to stay mad.  He's charmingly good at it.  I do have to wonder, though, if maybe he might be on to something with his company and the name he came up with.  I'm thinking he needs to get to work on his "Half-Assed Company."

Oh, for the love of my children...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Just a Blur

Maybe it was because I was highly under caffeinated.  Maybe it was because this morning I was out and about far earlier than I have been in months.  Maybe it was because three years ago at this time I was focused on getting a freshman to his orientation, our senior exchange student settled in and I wasn't focused on the enormity of the day.  Or maybe it's because now I know.

This morning hit me far harder than I ever anticipated.

At 7:45 I woke Lucas up so I could take him to his freshman orientation.  As we drove to school, we talked about orientation and the upcoming school year.  Lucas was not his usual bubbly, goofy self.  He was withdrawn and very quiet.  I asked if he was nervous.  He said, "No, not really."  The mom in me sensed something different than what his answer told me.  I didn't push or pry.  But my heart cracked a little for my blond boy who is now going to a different high school than half of his friends.  His big brother is at a different high school as well.  I know that going into high school without an established group of good friends (or a big brother to look out for you) can be beyond daunting and my heart hurt knowing Lucas was starting a new year at a new school with only half of his group of friends.  What he said to me as we got closer gave me further insight.  "I don't think I'm going to see anyone I know today."  That sealed it.  I knew his nerves were jangling and I didn't know how I was going to be able to pull up to the curb and let him just walk inside to his orientation, alone.

Thankful is what I felt as we pulled up to school.  My sigh of relief must have been audible to half of Richmond when I saw other parents parking their cars and walking their new freshman into school.  Lucas didn't resist as I turned my car into the parking lot, found a spot and put the car in park.  Lucas gave me no push back as we walked into school side-by-side.  I think he wanted me there.  And walking him into orientation was where I wanted, and needed, to be.

I decided I needed a little something to document Lucas' first day at his new high school so I whipped out my phone and snapped a quick picture of him as he signed in to his homeroom.  He either didn't see or didn't notice, but got no resistance from him about the phone and the picture.  Or maybe it was because he was a bit more nervous than even I imagined.  I have to tell you, I think I gave my hugest sigh of relief yet when Lucas' gave the kid in front of his a quick, friendly smack on the shoulder and they greeted each other with smiles and handshakes.  I knew he would be OK.  His friends would start appearing and Lucas, well, he'll make new friends fast.  As I began to pull back a little, I overheard the volunteer tell Lucas that he and his friend were in the same homeroom.  This mama was breathing easier for her sweet, blond boy who was ready to head off to his new homeroom.
Lucas and said a quick, "Bye, Mom." With the map of the school in his hand, he turned and began to walk further into his new school.  I snapped another quick picture of him walking away and it was then that it really and truly hit me.  Lucas is in high school.  A teacher saw me snap my picture and we talked for a few minutes about needing to document these times, even and the expense of possibly embarrassing our children.  I could only talk for a few minutes until the enormity of this school year smacked me up side the head.

As I walked out to my car, tears spilled onto my cheeks.  And as I took out my phone to look at the pictures I took I realized why today was so much harder than it was when I walked Zach into high school for his freshman orientation, or even paying his fees for his senior year.  It's because now I know.  These years race by and are just a blur...

 Oh, for the love of my children...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Class of 2014

Flashback to August 2000...

I had a five and a half year-old little boy, an almost three-year-old little boy and a nine month-old baby girl.  Zach was the five and a half year-old. He was ready to leave the world of preschool behind and head off into the big, wide world of elementary school.  In early August of 2000, Stan and I loaded all three kiddos into the car one evening for kindergarten orientation.  I remember sitting in tiny desk chairs next to my 230 pound husband, who looked like a hulking giant in those tiny chairs, and as we sat listening to Zach's soon to be teacher speak I held onto a wriggling baby all while trying to keep the two boys from disrupting the entire evening.

Zach was a bundle of nerves and energy as his teacher talked about the upcoming school year.  And as I listened I heard her say something that hit a sharp nerve and brought tears to my eyes.  She said, "From now on, I will have your children by my side for more waking hours than you will."  That was the brutal truth.  All of those baby years I thought were so tedious, and wished would go more quickly, were suddenly at an end.  Zach was no longer a baby.  He wouldn't be by my side, under my feet, annoying his brother and sister all afternoon.  Now he would be in the care of his teacher until 4 in the afternoon and it made me more than a little sad.

In the blink of an eye Zach went from chubby newborn....
 To Precious baby...
 To curious toddler...

 On to a crazy three-year old

He moved on to the four-year old...
and turned into a big brother twice over.
     Before I knew it, he was a big ol' kindergartner

But a goofy and fun loving one at that!

Fast forward to August 2013.

Yesterday to be exact.  Yesterday, I went with Zach for the final time to pay his fees for high school.  This year, Zach is a senior.  He will graduate in June of next year.  And while I though time went fast from babyhood to elementary school, I have to say the entirety of his school years have flown by with nary a thought for me wanting to halt them, just a little.  Yesterday, I saw a young man who will do big things, go great places and leave me all too soon.

I have to say, though, I enjoyed every single minute he let me have with him yesterday.  You see, it's now gone from me wishing the baby years would go a little faster to me wishing I could spend just a little more time with them before they all leave the nest.  I've learned to not wish my time away with any of them.  So yesterday, I surreptitiously recorded my day with Zach.  And as I looked through these pictures, and watched Zach interact with his friends, I saw a young man who is still so much like the little boy above.

A little goofy.
Posing for the camera (and it wasn't mine)
Studying his schedule intently
But also a very mature, sweet, kind, responsible kid who tries his hardest to be best person he can be.

This is where the tears stung my eyes for a second.

The Cap and Gown Table

After we finished paying fees I had the pleasure of going to lunch with my favorite kid from the class of  2014.  He never fails to impress me with his wit, wisdom, humor and compassion.  I couldn't be more proud of Zach and how grown up he really is.  I just wish time didn't go by so quickly.

Oh, for the love of my children...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Moment Worth Noting

It's not often that I feel I have the right to say, "I just had a perfect parenting moment."  OK, so maybe it wasn't perfect, but it was darn good.  Because, more often than not, I feel like I'm the world's biggest screw up, goof-off, wacky mom ever.  I've won "Mother of the Year" awards for my lack of parenting skills more often than most mother's could ever hope to have.  So, for me, it is more than a little thrilling to be able to document a moment in time when I didn't screw up, and I was more than rewarded for it.

Let me set the stage....

We just got home from a wonderful week at the beach.  It was full of friends, food, fun, sun, sand and corn-hole out the wazoo.  It was also full of days of rainy weather.  But all 17 of us persevered and made the best of the bad weather.  We brought the corn-hole boards indoors.  We had a pool table.  We played darts.  We played ping pong, which then morphed into water pong. Yep, I said water pong.  We had far too many underage kids to support the playing of beer pong, although I'm sure many of them have already been indoctrinated into the beer pong world.  Anyway, we were lucky...there were all sorts of different ways to keep us entertained.  But after two and a half days of being cooped up inside there was a more than a little discontent in the house.  Everyone needed a little bit of breathing room and fresh air.  Luckily, the clouds cleared and the rain went around us.  Our last day there gave us one more day at the beach.

It was a full day of sun, sand and fun.  All 11 of the kids stayed in the water nearly the entire time, boogie boarding, surfing and just having a blast.  They did come out to grill hot dogs and hamburgers and inquire what was for dinner.  We told them, the last night was going to be a smorgasbord of food.  We'd have fish tacos (with freshly caught fish thanks to the boys).  We'd finish up what was left in the refrigerator.  And for the finale we'd throw in some Philly Cheesesteaks, if anyone wanted them. Claire's cheer was loud and impressive when she heard the words Philly Cheesesteak.  

Our time at the beach ended far earlier than we all wanted, but we knew it was time to pack up our beach set up and head toward our house.  But before we could go home we needed to stop  at the market and pick up the little bits of things we needed to make our meals complete.  We turned our cars toward home with flour tortilla's for the tacos and buns for cheesesteaks.

Preparation began for our feast and we realized we had been a little overzealous in our dinner planning.  Oooops.  Something was going to have to be cut from the menu.  The first thing to go the Philly Cheesesteak...

UH-OH...Time to cue dramatic music.  Claire's love for my Philly Cheesesteak sandwiches and the lack of them being on the menu brought tears to her eyes and prompted her to march off in the direction of her room.  I tried reasoning, explaining and begging her to try the fish tacos.  Did I mention they were made with freshly caught fish, courtesy of the boys?  She was having none of my cajoling.

"But you promised Philly Cheesesteaks," she whined at me.

I answered with an "I'm sorry, but I'm not making them tonight.  There is too much other food to be eaten and I'm not adding more," continuing on with, "You can have fish tacos or you can have cereal but I'm not making cheesesteaks tonight.  I'll make them tomorrow night when we get home.

She huffed off back to her room and shut the door.  I followed her with anger brewing in my brain.  She was being difficult and more than a little bratty.  I wasn't sure why I was following her, but somehow I managed to keep my composure and convince her to come and try a fish taco.

My reward for not letting my anger get the best of me was great.  Not five minutes later Claire came to me with tears in her eyes and apologized for being rude and disrespectful.  I think you could have blown me over with a feather at that point.  My gratitude and love for my daughter must have shone out of me like a beacon.  Hugs were given.  Kisses exchange and forgiveness granted.

To me, this was a moment worth noting and a way of saying to me, "I must have done something right."

Oh, for the love of my children....

Friday, August 9, 2013


A year and a half ago I posted a blog called I Married a Jersey Redneck about Stan, his upbringing and how vastly different it was from mine.  Well, last night I just got hit full force by the future and the upbringing of one of a new generation of Redneck....Zach.

He is now a Redneck himself, through and through.  And he's damn proud of it.

I don't fault him, although I am a little surprised by his sudden interest in hunting.  He was the kid who bawled inconsolably when an orphaned, baby bird died in his hands.  This was a kiddo who cried and cried and cried when the baby chipmunks we rescued from our cat died one after the other.  I didn't think killing things would ever be on his radar and now he is talking about going duck hunting with my Jersey Redneck.  So I have to say that although he comes by the redneck thing honestly, the hunting and killing of animals is far outside of what I expected from Zach.

We moved to Louisville, Kentucky when Zach was three and a half.  Before that all he knew was the German country side and a German kindergarten.  When we first got to Louisville and Zach started preschool his word pronunciations were very European.  He said "ele-phaaaaant" with the emphasis on the "phaannnt."  And he called me "ma-MA," emphasizing the MA at the end (he still sometimes slips and calls me ma-MA and I love it.)  Soon after Zach started preschool his pronunciations changed.  One day as we were going for drive Zach said, "Da-yaddy, what's tha-yat?"  It was not a pretty pronunciation.  It was completely and totally redneck.  I worked hard to keep him, and his brother and sister, from slipping too far into the realm of sounding like they lived in the deep, deep South.  I know Louisville is not deep south but there are some who can make it sound like it's deep in the heart of Dixie.

On to Richmond...

We moved here when the kids were 10, seven and five.  They have each grabbed on to Virginia and claimed it as home.

Zach now identifies very clearly with being a Southerner.  And I smile.  I love that he's claimed Virginia as his own, for the good, the bad and the ugly.  He knows the ugly side.  And he stays away from it.

Recently, the Richmond Times-Dispatch published an article titled Confederate flag will fly along I-95. Zach was mortified that anyone would think it was a good idea to fly that flag along the Interstate.  And he was embarrassed for those who think it's a good idea.  So he may be a redneck. But he's a good redneck just like his da-yaddy.  I'm OK with that, truly.  For the time being, I now have a Jersey Redneck and a Southern Redneck in my life.

I'm not sure whether Lucas will go down the redneck road but it looks like Claire might be heading that way.  For her first car, she'd love to have a pick up truck and one of her favorite songs is "Boys 'Round Here" by Blake Shelton.

I may live with a bunch of Rednecks and wanna-be Rednecks, but they all make me smile with their Redneck ways.

Oh, for the love of my children....