Is this thing on?

There are days when I feel like no one is listening.  Crickets.  Silence.  Just nothing.

Sure, I should be used to that.  I have teenagers.  Most everything I say goes in one ear and out the other…IF it reaches their ears.  If they have their faces in their electronics, then you can bet they probably didn’t hear what I said. I get grunts and uh huhs as responses.  Typical.  And expected.

But what I didn’t expect is to get the same silent treatment from their teachers. No grunts or uh huhs….just total silence to questions. This has been quite typical for the past 4 years that the older ones have been in high school.  And let me just clarify….its not all the teachers.  No, its mainly the male coaching staff.

I realize that coaches are busy – they have classes to teach and they have sports to direct.  If I had my choice, you’d have teachers in the classroom and coaches in the field house – both doing what they love most. But school budgets being as tight as they are these days, some people have to pull double duty.  Thus we have coaches teaching classes.

That being said, if you sign on for teaching a class, and you tell the parents  if they have any questions or concerns, they should email you …then you’d damn well better respond when they do email you with concerns.

I appreciate that these teachers are trying to make little independent thinkers and learners of our children.  To a point. They have self appointed themselves as the tough love committee….the ones that will train them up and make them fly right.  And they don’t need no parents questioning their tactics. Well I have news for you coaches.  Before you appointed yourself to that committee, I was given that right by God when he chose me to be their mother. It is my job to make sure they are brought up right and that they are succeeding in school, or getting the help they need when they aren’t. So if I have concerns about what is going on in your class, I expect you to answer me.

While I appreciate that you are busy, if you have the time to respond to an email from my kid, but you can’t afford the same respect to me, we have a problem.  If you think you know better and that you are just helping my kid mature by answering him and not me, you have thought wrong.  If I take the time to send you an email regarding a concern, I damn well deserve a response.  Just as you would expect a response from me, not my kid, if you emailed ME.

Its gonna be a long year coaches, so you might as well start responding when I email you.  Because I have another kid waiting in the wings to take on high school next year. Which means I’m not going anywhere any time soon.

A real pain in my ass

Anyone who knows me knows I like football. I was not a fan in high school, because I didn’t know what was going on.  But being an Aggie and having a front row seat for the Jackie Sherrill/RC Slocum era, I became a football fan real fast in college.  That love has continued to this day, where I’ve gotten to watch 2 of my 4 kids grow up playing ball in high school (and 3 of them supporting the game in marching band).

This year will mark our last year of having a kiddo on the high school football team.  Austin will be playing wide receiver for the varsity team every Friday night, hopefully until late December (state playoffs). And for the first time, I am not looking forward to those games.

Oh don’t get me wrong, I will have tears of joy when I watch him walk by the first time and when he takes the field. And there will be more tears when Ben and Anna march by playing the school fight song. And even if I see D chugging along on the sidelines with the Pit Crew.  I’m proud of all 4 of them and what they’ve accomplished.

I’m just not looking forward to sitting through the games.  Because sitting hurts.  I don’t mean “my butt is a little numb, need to move around more” kind of hurt.  I mean burning, searing pain that goes up my lower back and straight down the back of my leg.  Kinda feels like a lightning rod hit me.  And the pain in my lower back….that feels like a kidney stone the size of golf ball.

I can take about 45 minutes to an hour before the pain sets in.  Then there’s nothing I can do to resolve it. I can walk around and stretch….that brings about 10 minutes of relief.  Then the pain comes right back.

I stupidly consulted the doctor again today about it.  You would think after 18 years, one would get tired of going to doctor after doctor, trying one solution after another, some you wouldn’t subject your enemies to.  I’ve done physical therapy, steroid injections, had saline solution injected into my tendons (prolotherapy), chiropractic adjustments, deep tissue massage, and have had the nerves in my SI join fried, not once, but 3 times.

Either I’m too stupid to know when to give up, or I just keep holding out hope that someone is going to be able to fix this pain.

Of course, today was not that day.  Doc said that the pain I’m having is muscular and I have a misalignment….which caused which, he doesn’t know.  The solution?  Go see a chiropractor multiple times a week ($45 a visit) for endless weeks.  The last chiro type doc I saw did wonders….as long as I kept going to him about every 4 days. See above – I have 4 kids…..which means I don’t have money.

As I drove off, a thought occurred to me.  I wonder how much better I could have felt over the past 18 years if I wasn’t always dealing with chronic pain.  How much better of a person could I have been?

You see, chronic pain sucks the life out of you.  I try to keep mine to myself as much as possible, because at some point, people just get tired of hearing about it. There are just days that are tough, like this one, when you hear yet again that there’s really nothing that can be done. If you have recurrent strep throat, they take out your tonsils….and you’re fixed.  If you have a herniated disc, they can take that out….and you’re fixed. You at least have hope that you are going to feel better.  But when you are told that there’s really nothing that can be done….you start to run out of hope.

That’s kinda where I am today.  And it sucks.

But I really have no room to complain.  At least I’m still able to get up and go to football games, right?  My dad is still fighting to get better and out of the hospital.  So this Saturday, I’ll be there for the first game of the season, cheering for Austin, Ben and Anna, pain or not.

Parents, don’t buy your college kids BMWs

The college kids are starting to return to town, an event that happens every year around this time and coincides with my mood taking a nosedive for the worse. It’s only Aug. 2 and school doesn’t start until the 28th. So, how do I know they’re already returning?

Well, let’s see….there’s the long lines at Wal-mart, full of young people accompanied by their parents, buying everything for their kids from Aisle 7-33. You’d think it was the Destin, FL. Wal-mart during summer.

Then there’s the increase in car accidents.  Hell, just yesterday we had two separate drunk driving accidents on the news (one ended up in the middle of a restaurant and one landed another car on the median of Highway 6).  One of those was at 7:50 in the morning. What the hell? Both 20 year olds….bored with nothing to do, so let’s get drunk?

Come January, I will have lived in this town for 30 years.  I’ve been on campus for 20 of those, first as an undergrad, then as an employee.  (And FYI, as an employee, I’m obligated to tell you that everything I write in here is my own opinion and not that of the fine institution that employs me). I figured it was time to impart my wisdom to the parents who are sending their children to live in this town for the next 4, 5, 6, hell 30? years. Today’s topic will be on transportation.

First, parents, I know you love your little rugrats and you want to keep them safe, but for the love of all things human, STOP buying them BMWs and Lexus and the like.  (By the way, what IS the plural of Lexus…Lexi?) Let them have a nice Ford or Chevy that’s several years old at least.  Odds are, they’re going to ram it into one of us locals and you’re going to have to replace it anyway.  There is NO reason a 19-year-old needs to be driving a luxury car.  Let them earn it the way everyone else has to – by old-fashioned hard work.

Now let’s speak to those of you that don’t care so much about your kids’ safety and you went out and bought them a Scooter.  If you are going to let your kid drive around these streets in a scooter….first have your head examined.  Second, come drive the streets yourself in a nice armored car the first 2 weeks of school  Bet you’ll change your mind.  And all that gear that you bought Sissy…the helmet, the gloves, the jacket…and Sissy swore she’d wear?  Well, mom, she ain’t.  I see gals and guys flying down Texas on their scooters with shorts, a tank top, flip-flops and their hair blowing in the breeze.  I guarantee you, they will not look pretty smacked up against the side of their fellow student’s BMW.

And since we’re on the topic of transportation, remind your kids that when they drive their luxury cars to class, make sure they can read their hang tags so they can park in the correct spot.  Those poor dear kids that have a parking spot in lot 51 somehow end up in my lot.  Now I’m sure it’s not at all because my parking lot is closer in to campus than theirs is. I’m sure it’s just because they didn’t read the lot sign…or their hangtag….or they got lost driving…..or got distracted by a scooter.

Also, remind them that they aren’t handicapped (unless they are….if so, skip this paragraph). Every semester I watch students pull up in my lot (the one closer to campus – see where I’m going with this?) and park in the handicapped spaces.  Now sure, some of them are handicapped….at least I’m gonna give them the benefit of the doubt.  But the ones that jump out of their car and physically run or skateboard to class….well, those have me doubting them a bit.  Especially when they pull out a hangtag from under their dash and stick it up on their mirror.  Then when they leave class, that handicapped permission slip comes down and gets hidden in their car again.  Coincidence? Remind them that they are healthy young adults that are fully capable of walking an extra 500 yards. And that one day when they are old and broken down, they may just need one of those spots for real.

Alright, I think that’s enough tips for today.  Tune in next time when I’ll discuss etiquette and dress.

Facebook is like high school all over again

Wow, what a crazy month this has been. As anyone who is Facebook friends with me can attest, It has been a whirlwind of 3 kids’ birthdays, Easter, our anniversary, Mother’s Day, as well as various concerts, bike races and awards ceremonies.  We still have another concert as well as a spring football game this week. Next week is the last week of school, and all of us are due for a little break from the craziness.

As I looked back over all the postings from the past month, I am blessed by the friends and family who liked and commented on the photos I posted of the family, of the crazy daily activities that keep us from being able to stop and take a deep breath.  Then at the same time, I look back and wonder: why didn’t so and so like that picture?  why didn’t this person wish the kids happy birthday?  why didn’t that person like any of the prom photos?

Then I realized….Facebook is like having to go back to high school all over again.  You worry about trying to be popular, getting the most friends, hoping every single one of them likes you.  You smile warmly when your friends like the photos of your family.  You frown to yourself when someone doesn’t like a photo you’ve posted, yet you know they’ve seen them because they are on Facebook daily, liking other random stuff.  Then you start to wonder…..do they not like me? do they not like my kids?  do they not approve of something they see on my wall?  If you say the wrong thing, you get unfriended….or vice versa, you hit the unfriend button. And BOOM, right there, you are living your life worrying about what people think, just like it’s high school all over again.

I should have caught a clue when our high schoolers ditched Facebook for other social media venues. Sure, 2 of them still have FB pages, but they don’t post on them.  The only time something new hits their wall is when a parent or grandparent posts something or tags them in a post. I try not to do that too often, as I know it drives them nuts – unless of course I post a cool photo of them excelling in some sort of sport where they look badass. Heck, even the youngest one didn’t want to get a Facebook page when he turned 13 and we gave him the option.

Sometimes I could actually learn a thing or two from my kids.  Scott left Facebook quite a while ago, around the time everyone thought it was ok to spout their filth and garbage about how their side of the political spectrum was right and everyone else was stupid. Me, I stayed on, quickly scrolling by the political crap and not reading. But there in, I was doing the judging high school thing myself, not liking or commenting.  In retrospect, I could have commented, and hoped to start a well-rounded discussion where both sides of the fence are treated equally.  But in most political posts, the poster doesn’t want to see both sides….they want to convince us that their side is the only side.

I try to stay away from  politics on Facebook, because my feelings are that your views are your views and my views are my views.  They may be similar, or they may be polar opposite.  We’re all entitled to our views.  We’re also entitled to keep them the hell to ourselves.

I thought about walking away from Facebook many times, but so far I have decided to stay on.  I like keeping up with my friends that are not near anymore. I love seeing photos from the people  I grew up with who are now parents and grandparents facing the same issues as me – I know I’m not alone in this aging boat!  I also love to see the photos from the younger people who I’ve worked with over the years who are just starting their families – all the new little babies coming into the world reminds me of when I thought that was a terribly hard age and how I miss it from time to time.

No, I’ll stay on Facebook for now….I just won’t worry about whether anything I post gets any likes or comments.  I realize this is not high school and I don’t have to care about how others feel. I’m proud of each and every one of my kids and my husband,  If someone chooses not to like a photo of them, that’s their problem. They are the ones judging.  If they comment on one kid, but not the others, that’s also their problem.  They should get to know all of them – because each one is interesting and different in their own way, and frankly, they are a blast to talk to.

 

When I grow up, I wanna be like D

Went to the first meeting of my book club at work this morning and was quickly reminded that I had made a vow to write daily.  Well, here is it almost a month since my last blog.  Guess I need to check my calendar more often.

I have plenty of stuff rolling around in my head, but today I’d like to brag on my youngest, and why I’d like to be more like him.  And not just because he’s the only one of my children that is a faithful reader of this blog.  Heck, I would render a guess that the other 3 don’t even know this blog exists.  Maybe if I was on SnapChat, I’d get their attention more.

D was my surprise baby.  When my doctor told me there was a 99.9% chance that I would never have another child, I took him at his word.  I mean, he’s the expert right? Well, Doc was just as shocked when I showed up for an appointment pregnant with Mr. .1%.

It was so early in the pregnancy, that the ultrasound couldn’t confirm whether I was pregnant or losing the baby…I was sent home with the instructions to come back in a few weeks to confirm.  Seriously? Who tells a mother-to-be that?

Then later came the full ultrasound at 16 weeks – you know, the one where mom has to drink 3 gallons of water an hour before and then try not to pee yourself while the ultrasound technician is rolling an ultrasound monitor over your bladder. The joyous one where you get to find out the sex of the baby – should you be so inclined.  Imagine my horror when the technician spent most of her time measuring this black circle in D’s brain.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know something is not right.  But of course the technicians can’t tell you anything.  They just send you off to wait to talk to your doctor.

Fast forward to the doctor visit.  Yes, the black spot was something.  It was a blood clot on his brain.  Something not uncommon in utero, but not always good news.  Doc said not to worry about it, and to NOT go home and Google it.  There were 2 outcomes….either it would dissolve on its own before he was born, or there might be some brain function issues.

There is one more thing anyone that’s been around me for any length of time can tell you – I am a worrier.  I worry about things that may happen, things that probably could never happen, and things that I just totally make up in my mind.  I would spend then next 20 weeks worrying about this spot.  The doc would not agree to go back in and ultrasound it again – it would do nothing more than fuel my worry.

Next came 19 weeks preggo and I started having contractions.  Some might call them Braxton Hix, “practice” contractions.  Well, I was only at 19 weeks, I’d already been through this before, and I did NOT need to practice contracting.  I knew this would not end well if this continued.  I did my homework – good ol’ Google – and found out from the March of Dimes that a weekly hormone shot would not stop the contractions, but would keep me from dilating and going into premature labor.  Thank God for March of Dimes.  If you don’t support them financially, you should. I have 3 beautiful children alive and driving me nuts because of the work they do!

I talked to doc and he agreed to give the shot a try.  If we made it to 36 weeks, we would stop the shots at that time. So every week I would drag poor Ben and Anna (4 years old at the time) to the doc so mom could get a big ol’ shot in her butt. I put myself on modified bedrest – meaning, I would lay on the couch most of the day and watch as Ben and Anna played together when they weren’t in preschool.  I only had to physically be at my job on Sundays, so this was not an issue.  Come 36 weeks, we had made it! My next shot was due on Monday, but doc said we’d made it far enough to be safe, so no shot.  Damned if my water didn’t break that night at 1 a.m. Baby D was on his way!

This bundle of joy made his way into the world at 8:30 that morning, with only a half hour of me pushing. He came out weighing more than his brother and sister combined.  And most of all, he came out perfectly normal – no long-term effects from the blood clot.

I used to say that D was the complete opposite of his siblings, but as he grows, that changes.  While Ben and Anna were always painfully shy in elementary, D would make friends with strangers. In fact, he’d try to force his brother to make friends with them also.  From the get go, he was the talker, the socializer, the extrovert.

D is a crazy mix of ADHD and gifted & talented.  I like to think that both help him to think outside the box, to see solutions to problems that other people can’t. I am also aware that it makes it hard for him to see things the way we see them some times – making for some long discussions and arguments among his siblings and parents.

Every day I look at D, I am more and more impressed by the young man he is growing up to be. Yesterday he had track practice at 6:45 a.m., then a full day of school, including athletics, then mountain bike practice from 5:30-7 p.m..  After that, homework kept him up until almost 10.  This morning he was back up at 5:50 to get ready for track practice.

Not once in any of that time did he ever grumble in the slightest. He didn’t make an excuse to skip out on early morning practice today.  In fact, after a gentle wakeup call, he was up and smiling and popping his back in a manner that makes me jealous every day.

He didn’t skip out on ANY of his homework that he had to do, including drawing pictures for a history assignment.  He never complained that there was too much to do. He just put his head down and got his homework done, working for more than 2 hours.

His daily schedule is almost more strenuous than mine – I would venture to say I couldn’t do early morning practice, then sit through 8+ hours of school. And he always goes through life with a smile on his face, not matter how packed his schedule is.

I would love to be more like D because he faces every morning with a smile.  Ask most anyone that’s been around me for any amount of time – I am not a morning person.  I don’t normally greet the day with a smile (though I do hear some snap, crackle and pops coming from my aging joints). If I had had a full day like him, I might be looking for an excuse to sleep in a little the next morning.  I might not act on it, but I’m sure I’d be a lot happier if I was sleeping in!  He has never once asked me if he could skip out on practice because of his schedule the day before.

I would love to be more like D because he is always challenging himself physically.  This summer, he joined me at CrossFit.  His class was 4 days a week and he showed up for each and every one of them, in 100 degree heat.  I wanted to skip out and stay in the air conditioning. In the fall, despite having never run more than a mile, he signed up for Cross Country.  Right out of the gate, he was getting up to practice at 6:45 in the morning, running 2-3 miles daily.  And he improved his meet times by several minutes by the end of the season.

I would love to be more like D because he is a crazy mix of caring, social, extroverted energy.  He cares about the feelings of those around him. He empathizes with those being bullied.  He looks out for the underdog. And he’s not afraid to talk to anyone.  Just make sure you aren’t talking to a crazy nut job there, D. I tend to keep to my introverted self and don’t make friends easily.  I could take page from D’s book, for sure.

I’m so excited to see what the future holds in store for D. His path could lead anywhere. I have not doubt he will do great things.

 

 

 

Why I Try

I have joined a bookclub…yeah, you heard that right….I have joined a bookclub.  Some of the communicators in my group at work decided to form a bookclub, reading various books that will help us become better communicators.  While I love to read, I don’t have time in the day to do it.  But I’m making the effort to expand my horizons here.

The first book we’re reading is “Everybody Writes.” While I haven’t gotten very far, the first point made is that to write better, you must write often…as in daily.  So I figured this is as good a place as any.

Last night I did something I never thought I’d ever do.  I entered the CrossFit Games Open.  This is the first step towards the CrossFit Games, open to anyone and everyone who is willing to try.  It is 5 weeks long….they announce the workout of the week on Thursday and you have until Monday to complete the workout and upload your scores  Then you can see how you compare against people doing the same workout across the globe. Even better, you can compare your progress to where you were a year ago.

I completed the first workout last night, which consisted of 10 20# dumbbell snatches, 15 burpee box jump overs, 20 snatches, 15 burpee box jump overs, 30 snatches, 15 burpee box jump overs, 40 snatches, 15 burpee box jump overs, 50 snatches and finally 15 burpee box jump overs. And I did it under the 20 minute time cap allowed.

To say it was difficult is an understatement.  The last 2 minutes were brutal trying to finish the last 15 burpee box jump overs. But my coach kept pushing me, telling me I could do it. To say I’m proud of my accomplishment is also an understatement.  To attempt this kind of thing at my age is a feat in and of itself.  I watched people less then half my age not finish the workout.

This morning I got up and mowed the yard – yes, I realize it’s still February, but hey, it’s Texas.  As I was mowing our little ranchette, I started to think about what my kiddos think about this.  I wonder if they wonder why I do CrossFit, why I learned to ride a motorcycle, why I’m mowing the yard when I could just wait and let one of them do it tomorrow.

I do these things first to continue to improve myself.  To show them that you can learn new things, try new things, at any age.  In fact, when you stop trying new things and learning new things, you grow old and stagnant.  I want them to try new things, even if it scares them.  Ok, maybe I should preface that by saying I want them to try new LEGAL things.  Don’t go trying drugs and say that “mom said I should try new things, even if it scares me.” I’ll rip you a new one.

When I do the yard, I do these things to show them that they can do the hard work. They don’t have to hire someone to do a job they are thoroughly capable of.  I want my daughter to know that she is capable of mowing the yard – that she doesn’t need a man to do it, that she can do this just as much as the next person.  I do it to show my boys that should they get married, they need to marry someone that is willing to pitch in and help.  Don’t marry someone that isn’t willing to do their fair share and more; someone that just wants to go take a nap. Today I’m pitching in because Scott is sick, Austin is at a track meet and Ben and D are getting ready for Night of Percussion.  With rain coming tomorrow, I wanted to make sure it got done.

And truth be told, I like to do yard work.

I want my kids to look back be be proud of their mom.  I want them to learn from me that you never quit, that you keep trying, keep learning, keep fighting for what you want.  And I don’t do this by lecturing.  I do this by being a good example.  Am I perfect?  Heck no. But I try to give my best effort, because I know, deep down, they are watching and learning from me daily.  So I’d better be on my A game.

How I learned to ride a motorcycle

This past weekend I passed the Motorcycle Foundations Safety course, an endeavor that should only take 3 days to complete, but for me, stretched on for 6 months. I have given birth to twins (no c-section here), I’ve obtained my concealed carry license, and I’ve been a single parent…but I can honestly say that this was one of the hardest things I’ve every done.

Last spring motorcycles became part of our family. Scott had mentioned how nice it would be for the two of us to be able to cruise somewhere on a bike, kinda see the world (well, as much of the world you can see while being roped into the Brazos County region and having 4 kids still at home). He had ridden motocross and quads all his life, so street bikes were the logical next step for him.

I, myself, had never pulled in a clutch. My mom drilled into my head how terribly dangerous motorcycles were, so I avoided them.  A buddy in high school had a sport bike that he rode – my bestie Annie took a ride around the block with him one day and burned her leg real bad when she pressed it up against the hot muffler.  Case in point.  Well, not really…we were the stupid ones back then to climb on the back of a motorcycle in shorts.

Fast forward to this May.  Having spent many months on the back of Scott’s motorcycle (it’s called riding bitch, but I can’t say that because my youngest reads my blog), I thought it might be nice to learn how to ride myself.  Give me a greater understanding of what he’s doing up front, and possibly be able to help should we ever get in trouble.

They don’t have any “learn to ride” classes in these parts, and I was not ready to try to learn from Scott. I’m not a patient learner, and I tend to yell when I get nervous….Scott wanted no part of that.  The best choice was to sign up for the Motorcycle Safety Foundations course.  This course is required before you can get a motorcycle license.  Its touted to all skill levels – from brand new beginners to those that have been riding illegally for years.

After hemming and hawing about it for weeks, I decided to bite the bullet and sign up for the next available course, which was in June. That was my first mistake, because in Texas, by the time June rolls around, the temp is in the mid-90s with the heat index easily over 100.

Scott took me out to a newly forming neighborhood before the class so that I could sit on the bike and get a feel for its power.  My job was to just walk the bike feeling the friction zone pull me along.  That’s when I got my first taste of how much power this bike really had.

So I show up for my class – there’s a classroom portion Friday evening, then an on-the-bike portion Saturday morning, back to the classroom Saturday afternoon and you finish with more on-the-bike training and a riding test on Sunday. Friday went as well as expected.  I was one of 2 girls there – the other was an older woman who had bought herself a Harley, but hadn’t had the nerve to start it (she’d never pulled in a clutch either). The others were all college age boys or younger, ready to tear up the streets. 4 hours of book learning and we were given our marching orders to meet at the high school the next day.

Saturday morning started out warm….and only got worse. We were required to wear long sleeves, long pants and boots that came over our ankles (as well as gloves and a helmet).  This was going to be a long day. I jumped on a Honda CBR250, since I knew I would eventually be riding a CBR500.  We learned how to walk the bike using the friction zone, then progressed to riding across the short portion of the parking lot with our feet on the pedals.  I was officially a motorcycle rider….even if I was only going 8 miles per hour. My lone female friend got on a small 250cc bike and couldn’t figure out of to walk with the friction zone.  After several attempts, the instructor took her aside and quietly dismissed her from the class.  I was now the token girl.

As the day wore on and the temperatures rose, the maneuvers we had to execute got increasingly harder (at least for a newb). We rode in circles, getting into 2nd and 3rd gear; we did cone weaves, with the cones getting farther apart to produce tighter weaves; and we practiced emergency stops. The farther along we went, the worse I felt about myself. I kept getting pulled aside by the primary instructor.  He was very nice and patient, but I was not getting the hang of it. I almost dropped the bike once (he caught it for me). I killed it some many times, I lost count.  Every time I got pulled over, the tears would start to well up in my eyes. I knew I just wasn’t getting the hang of it. The secondary instructor kept yelling at me….speed up, go faster, stop covering the brake. I was growing more and more defeated, and the heat was tearing me down more. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he stopped me while practicing emergency stops.  He said, “you should be doing better than this by now.” Thankfully that was the last exercise before we broke for lunch.

I got in my car and bawled all the way home.  You would have thought my favorite aunt died, as hard as I was crying.  Luckily all the kids were gone and Scott was flying UAVs, so I had the house to myself.  I got in the shower and cried some more.  I got out and made some lunch and couldn’t stop crying. Y’all, I haven’t cried so much in one sitting in forever. Big fat ugly crocodile tears. My soul was crushed.

But I cleaned myself up and headed back for the 2nd portion of the classroom training after finishing lunch.  I remember sitting in class, so depressed, wondering why I was still there.  Somehow I listened and learned throughout all of it.  At the end of the day we had to take our written test and I passed missing only one question.

That evening I went home and cried some more in my chair.  I told Scott that I just didn’t think I could do it.  I texted our teacher and told him I was thinking about quitting.  He said that he thought I was doing a lot better than I thought and that I could definitely handle tomorrow’s portion, but it was up to me.  After crying and crying and talking to Scott, we decided it just wasn’t worth it. If I didn’t feel ready, it wasn’t the right time.  Scott said he would work with me for as long as it took and I could take the test again when I was ready. I decided to not go back for Sunday’s class, to quit, and I was pretty damn sure I was never going to take that course again, much less get my license.

We spent the summer tooling around when the heat wasn’t just ungodly.  Scott kept trying to get me back on the bike to practice, but my confidence was still shot. I think it took until fall before I agreed to try.

We went back to the scene of the crime, the high school parking lot, and he had me get on the bike.  I sat on the bike and sat on the bike…..I didn’t want to move. I was downright terrified. He gently talked me through it, and finally I was moving forward. This is how it went weekend after weekend….we would practice when we had time, but not every weekend and not often enough for me to get comfortable. But little by little, my confidence started to return. Little by little he would have me do more on the bike, practicing different and new maneuvers.

In late October I was doing pretty good.  Scott started having me work on the exact skills I would need to pass the test; we did weaves, we did emergency stops, we even did the box (a 20’x80′ box in which you have to ride a figure 8). Weekend after weekend Scott would drive me up to the parking lot, get off the bike, take off his helmet and watch me ride around.  Every now and then he’d give me a task to accomplish. But he’d sit there patiently for and hour or more just watching me do my thing. We finally got to the point where we both felt I was ready for the test.  I signed up for the weekend of Nov. 18-20.

Wouldn’t you know it, the week before the test, I got sick.  Nothing serious, just your run of the mill head cold. But then I was slated to go on a business trip to Philadelphia on Monday.  The plane ride and the conference didn’t help my health, and by Tuesday I was feeling worse. I contacted the riding school and somehow convinced them to let me move my training date to December 9-11. Scott and I spent the extra couple of weeks getting in a couple practice rides, but as the date grew closer, my nerves got worse.

Fast forward to Dec. 9. I showed up for the classroom portion Friday night – yes, I had to take this part all over again even though I had tested and passed. To my thrill, there were 3 other girls and plenty of newbies who had never pulled in a clutch.  This was a crowd I could ride with. I was also very happy to see my old instructor Mark – the friendly one from the last go-round.  Even happier when I found that the grumpy old instructor was not there – in his place was a new guy – Phil, a retired police officer.

Saturday morning rolled around to the temp of 32 degrees. The polar opposite from June’s class.  I had on 2 layers of pants, three layers of shirts, a neck warmer, along with a jacket….and I was still freezing.

They rolled out the bikes and I knew I was going to grab the same CBR from the last class…it was most like my bike and this is what I had been practicing on.  Of course, when the Mark told us to go stand by the bike we wanted, another guy took off and got to my bike first.  So I went to a CBR300F….also the same type bike I was used to.  Markcame up and quickly asked how tall I was.  I told him 5’3″ (ok, maybe a stretch).  He suggested I might prefer one of the small Suzuki 250cc bikes.  I told him my reasoning behind wanting the CBR.  He understood, but didn’t think the 300 was going to be small enough for me to maneuver. He took me over to the 250 I had wanted in the first place, checked my size on it, then told the guy who had claimed it to step off, that he was giving this one to me. Whew.

We learned how to start the bikes and feel the friction zone – I was already familiar with this, but we had people in the class who had never done this. I was feeling cocky, thinking this was gonna be a breeze.  THEN we started walking our bikes across the parking lot with the friction zone.  And all my insecurities came back.  Especially when we got to the end of the lot and had to turn the bikes around.  You don’t do that with any engine power – you have to turn hard right and then circle the bike around to the left…all under the power of your own 2 legs.  It was then that I started to question my choice in bikes.  I couldn’t maneuver this bike around at all – it felt much heavier than the last time I took the class.  I was the last one to get my bike turned around each time….and I was huffing and puffing by the time I got the feat accomplished.  I have been doing Crossfit for almost a year now and I can’t push this bike around?  Maybe I SHOULD have taken the little Suzuki.  Another newbie girl who was much tinier than me was riding one of them, and she was turning that thing around on a dime. What have I done?

We then learned to pick up our feet and ride across the parking lot.  My fears came back and I was shaking….and not just from the cold.  And so it went for about 10 minutes.  Ride 40 ft…stop, turn the bike around manually….ride 40 ft.  This was a simple task that was making me feel less confident, not more.  I was deep inside my head with all sorts of negative thoughts.  But someone else was in my head as well…it was Scott.  He kept telling me to stop it, that I had done all this and more and I was going to be fine.  So I took a deep breath and wiped my mind clean and went on to the next exercise.

The riding portion of the class was actually quite easy with a little experience under my belt. I had no problem weaving in and out of the cones, doing the 135 degree turn; heck, I even got commended for keeping my head up and actually looking where I was going (that’s the number one thing you learn….your bike goes where you look….so don’t look at that tree). I did have problems with the wider weave, so Mark pulled me over. Not to yell at me, but to give me some advice on how to approach the maneuver better.  I asked him if he recognized me, that I was his quitter from June.  He said he did, but he wasn’t going to say anything unless I did. He offered up words of encouragement and I was off to work on the weave again….no tears in sight.

We finished up the riding portion for the day and parked our bikes.  Mark asked me how I felt I was doing.  I said, “much better!” He said he agreed, that I was riding much better than the last time. I took off for lunch with a big ‘ol smile on my face.

We did the afternoon classroom portion and took our test.  This time I made 100. Yeah baby.

The next morning I woke up with a sense of peace, which I thought was weird, because I had not done this portion of the class. We started right away working on the figure 8 in the box.  I had had trouble with this maneuver when I worked with Scott, so I was not surprised when I still had trouble.  This time I didn’t let it frustrate me, and just did the best I could.  Did I stay inside the lines? Nope. Did I put my foot down? Yep.

We took a break and Phil asked if anyone was heading to the gas station – the only place available for us to pee.  I told him I was and he asked if he could ride along.  I figured if I took the instructor, they couldn’t very well start the next session without me.  As we were driving over, Phil said that Mark had told him I had taken this class before. I told him yes, that I had made it through Saturday and then quit.  He said that that surprised him, as I seemed like a real natural on the bike. He said he had been watching me and I seemed very comfortable. Wow, it was really visible.  Confidence boosted.

Along with the box, we practiced the emergency stop.  You have to get up to about 15-20 mph, and then after passing the cones, come to a stop as quickly as possible. I had practiced this with Scott, but was nervous about locking up the wheels.  My bike has ABS brakes, so I had never experienced that before. First run at it, I got up to speed, passed the cones and hit the brakes….and locked up the back tire. Phil said, good job…next time just add in some more front brake. I came back for another pass and stopped on a dime.  Phil said, “just like that, every time.” I had this one down and it didn’t scare me anymore. It was actually quite fun.

I headed back over to the box, ready to practice again, when Mark stopped me at the cones and told me to shut it down.  He then proceeded to have everyone line up behind me. We got off our bikes and he asked for everyone’s first name in order of the bikes lined up.  Yep, you guessed it, he was making a roster for the riding test.  And I was up first.

The worst maneuver in the test was up first – the dreaded box.  It was actually combined with a second test, which was the swerve.  So we were to do the figure 8 in the box, then immediately speed up and maneuver a swerve. You got points off if you crossed a line in the box, if you put a foot down, if you didn’t speed up prior to the swerve and if you hit a cone during the swerve.

I started my bike up and headed into the box.  I ended up putting my foot down on the first part of the figure 8 and I touched the line on the second part of the 8. But I survived! I sped up, made the swerve and came to a complete stop as instructed.  I waited for my instructors to give me the thumbs up and I moved over to the next cone to wait for the third test.  I shut the motorcycle down and took a deep cleansing breath.  I had made it through the hardest part and knew the rest was going to be a piece of cake. I got to watch as my fellow classmates went through the same test as I  did.  I saw plenty of foot touches, people riding way outside of the box, and one even got called back to try again because he didn’t speed up enough for the swerve.

The next test was the emergency brake stop.  I was excited for this one, because it was actually fun.  You got points off if you didn’t get up to about 20 mph, if you touched the clutch or brake before passing the cones, and then if it took you too long to stop.  I started my bike up and took off.  I got up to 20, hit the cones, and hit my brakes, stopping in 8 ft. Mark waved me on to the next cone. I shut the bike down and tears started welling up in my eyes.  Not because I was upset, but because I knew there was only one test left, the 135 degree turn, and it was going to be fine.

For the 135 degree turn, you had to get up to 2nd gear at a speed of about 15 mph and go through the 135 degree turn as quickly as possible.  You got points off for not getting up to speed, using your clutch in the turn, not getting into 2nd, not looking where you’re going and not being fast enough over all.  I started my bike up, got into second, did the curve, came to a stop and Mark waved me off. I was done. I had survived and was pretty sure I passed the test.

I had to sit and watch while my 10 classmates completed the last test themselves.  Then we lined up the bikes and waited while Mark and Phil conferred.  They came over to where we were standing and said that Phil would call each of us over one by one to discuss our scores….in REVERSE order.  Which meant that even though I went first, I was now going to have to wait until everyone else had gotten their scores.

With just me and another girl left, all of a sudden I heard my name called.  They were calling me up before her (I think because she failed the class).  I walked over to Phil and shook his hand.  He said that I had done exceptionally well and had actually placed 2nd in the class. I got points off in the box (putting my foot down and touching the line) and the 135 degree turn (not getting through it fast enough). I made a 92 overall. I did a little fist pump and said “YES!!”

He handed me my certificate of completion and congratulated me. I had actually done it!  I thanked Mark as well for being so patient and helping me through this. He said he could see huge improvement and that I was ready to ride.

I texted Scott a picture of the certificate, then headed home to celebrate with the family. I was greeted at the door by the entire family who smothered me with hugs and high fives. With a cheering squad like this, who can fail?

This is something I never thought would accomplish. I honestly thought after the first class that I would not go back. I figured I was going to be a back seat rider. But Scott was kind and patient and slowly helped me get my confidence back. Because of him, I accomplished one of the hardest things I’ve ever tried. And now comes the time for him to patiently teach me to safely ride on the streets. I’m sure there’ll be a story to tell there!

July 13 – A good anniversary

I got up this morning and looked at my Timehop app….something I do every morning while I’m waiting for the shower to warm up.  Thankfully the app takes 2 seconds to look over, because water warms up quickly these days when it’s 100 degrees during most of the day. Anyway….Timehop reminded me that today is a very good day, the one year anniversary of us closing on our house.  While I would not recommend moving to anyone living in Texas during the month of July, it was well worth it. We now have enough space for everyone, and a place to truly call home.

I also realized that this was my 6 month anniversary of joining Crossfit Aggieland. I looked back at my post from February regarding my start of Crossfit to see how far I’ve come.  Yes, I’m well aware that 6 months is not that very long in many cases. I will definitely feel more accomplished when I can say I’ve been giving it my all for a full year.  But I can definitely say changes have come in 6 months.

The saddlebags I wrote about that went kaboing kaboing?  They’re gone.  I still run slower than a turtle in peanut butter, but I’m running. Granted, I run for warmups and if a run is included in the WOD (workout of the day)…not for pure joy anymore. I have developed what the doctors are saying is exercise-induced asthma. I have a new-found respect for Ben and what he has had to deal with his entire life.  There are days when I’m not sure I can get any air into my lungs after a particularly hard WOD. An inhaler has become my new friend.

I’ve found it’s even harder to breathe when you are working out in an oven.  Did I mention that our gym is a metal building with big garage doors?  And that the doors are always opened?  So basically we are working outside with a roof over our heads (and a big ass fan turning the hot air). That’s not so much a problem in the spring when it’s a beautiful 70 degrees outside.  But come July in Texas, it’s 95 in the shade and feels like 110 (don’t believe me? check The Weather Channel). And there we are, working out in the middle of that – running, lifting weights, doing burpees, you name it. I am amazed every day that I work out and don’t die of heat exhaustion. I actually think it’s helping me acclimate to the Texas summers.

The pesky little breathing problem aside, I have found that I am getting stronger, little by little.  No, I can’t compete with the college kids, but I’m not trying to. I can now Snatch 65 lbs.  When I first started, I couldn’t heave 45 lbs over my head. Box jumps – I can now do a 20″ box jump.  When I first started out, I couldn’t jump on top of that box to save my life (and I have the scar on my shin still to prove it). I have increased my deadlift from 45 pounds to 210 pounds (max).  I’d say that’s a marked improvement in strength. Every week I am pleasantly amazed at what my body can do that it couldn’t do last week or last month.

Which brings me to the best benefit of Crossfit. I haven’t stepped on a scale in about 4 months. The scale is a tool I used to use to beat myself up. It didn’t matter if I felt great….if the number on the scale said something different, my mood and my view of myself instantly changed.  I am no longer a slave to that stupid machine.  The only time I get on a scale now is when the  doctor’s office makes me – and we all know those scales are wrong.

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I now measure my success in how my body feels and how it performs at Crossfit.  Yes, we all have off days, this I know and it happens to me too.  But most days I’m there pushing myself to go a little farther than I have before.  There are days I just can’t, and I scale it back. Then there are days that I’ll surprise myself and actually get my toes up to the bar during a toes-to-bar WOD. I feel stronger, and more importantly, I feel better about my body than I have in a long time. Yes, I’m fighting the uphill battle against aging, but I’m doing my best to slow it down to a crawl.

Did I drink that Kool-aid…am I addicted to Crossfit?  I guess I’d have to say yes. Many people think our workouts are nuts.  I’d say, unless you’ve tried it, don’t judge.  You too would be amazed at what your body can do if you just try. I’ve even passed my addiction on to my youngest – Daniel started Crossfit for Teens this summer and is excelling.  One of the coaches told me he has the best squat in his class and that he’s a natural.  I think even he’s excited about seeing his improvements and what his body will do.

Will I continue with this path?  Heck yeah.  I’ve enjoyed the past 6 months of exercise more than all my gym time over the years combined. I’ve done more in the past 6 months than I have with any trainer pushing me. I’ve done more in the past 6 months than all my spin classes combined. And all I have to do is commit to one hour several times a week. And the bonus? It’s a hell of a lot cheaper than a therapist.  Ask my husband…if I haven’t worked out in a couple days, he can tell, as my mood changes….and he quickly reminds me that it is time to go work out.

Marriage advice from me?

On my drive in to work this morning, the radio show I was listening to asked their listeners for marriage advice.  I didn’t get to hear much, as my commute is a total of 10 minutes when the college kids are on break around here (one of the perks of living in a college town). It did get me to thinking – what advice would I give? And who would want advice from a divorced woman?  Obviously I am not the expert at marriage.  Or perhaps my insight might help, because I know what it takes to keep one from failing at this thing we call matrimony.

First and foremost, make your spouse a priority. Put down your phone, iPad, gaming system….insert name of the electronic you are always on. My husband is laughing right now, because I am always on my iPad or phone. When you are with your spouse, put down the damn phone. Look up and actually look at your spouse. Make them the first priority. If the person that is texting you, emailing you is more important than your spouse, if you are more focused on answering them….there’s a problem. If the game you are playing is more important than turning around and talking to your spouse…there’s a problem. Your spouse deserves your attention first, before others.

Make time to be alone together.  Got out on a date, at least every other week. Be it lunch, or a nice dinner, a movie, or just a long walk…..make the time.  If you have kids, someone is pulling at your attention 24/7. Getting away helps to refocus on the core of the family…the 2 of you.  And equally important, find time to get away together every now and then.  Whether it be a single night in a different city or a week away at a fabulous resort, take that vacation together…alone.  Yes, you want to take family vacations and make memories with your kids.  But in just a few short years, the kids will be gone and you’ll be staring at your spouse. Take the time to travel together and make your own memories…before life gets in the way and you can’t travel no more.

Never take each other for granted.  If your spouse does something you appreciate, tell him/her.  When you leave for work in the morning, remember that there is no guarantee they are coming home that night.  Accidents happen, lives are changed.  Look at your spouse like it’s the last time you’ll ever see them.  All of a sudden, all the petty shit falls away.

Never lose touch.  And by touch, I mean the physical.  Hold hands. Kiss. Brush his arm as you walk by. Hug her from behind to say good morning. And yes, the obvious touch….make sure that remains a priority (won’t spell that one out because I have at least one child that reads what mom writes). When you touch, you stay connected. And by touch, I also mean contact.  Talk during the day…if you are apart, which most hard-working couples are during the day, text, chat, message.  Just check in to let them know you are there for them if they need you. Its nice knowing that while you are struggling with a project at work, there’s someone out there rooting for you, that has your back, that can’t wait to see you again.

Make time to listen to your spouse.  If they are babbling about something going on in their life, no matter how boring, you should be happy that they want to share this with you. Think of the alternative…silence…or worse, them sharing their day with someone else who will listen. Make sure you are the safe zone that they can bounce their fears and concerns off of. Don’t be so quick to negate something your spouse says.  If it worries them, there’s got to be a reason behind it.  Take the time to try to understand, rather than just blowing them off because it seems stupid to you.

Those are just a few of my thoughts on the subject. Am I an expert because my first marriage failed? Nope. Am I an expert because I’ve now been married 5 years to the love of my life? Nope. Just a simple girl trying to make it work in this crazy world. Take my advice or leave it.  But let me know how things end up if you ignore every piece of advice I just gave and do the opposite.

Reflect what you want for your children

I’m beginning to think there is something in my psyche that gets me all philosophical on Tuesdays!  Here’s yet another random rambling for Tuesday.  A while back, we were all headed out the door to school and work.  I kissed Scott goodbye as usual.  When I got in the car, D said, “You and Scott kiss more in a day than dad and “name withheld for privacy” kiss in a year.” I said, “Is that a good thing?”  He said, “Yes!”

It got me to thinking, which I do ALL THE TIME because I don’t have a NOTHING box like my husband does.  Don’t know what a NOTHING box is?  That’s a story for another Tuesday. Anyway…it reminded me that our little ones (no matter how little or big, young or old) are always watching our interactions. They see when we are kind to each other and they see when there is sadness, hatred, or even animosity in the mix.

Yes, Scott and I kiss a lot.  Our wedding photographer even mentioned that in a Facebook post when she shared our wedding picture.  It’s just one way we connect daily.  And I’m not talking just a hurried peck as we run out the door.  We take time to say I love you and I’ll miss you. I think these are good things to be reflecting to our kids.

Don’t we want our children to see loving parents who deeply care for each other?  Or do we want to model that a man and wife live under the same roof, but share no affection (at least in front of the kids).  How does that affect them when they look for a mate later in life….hear me kids, LATER IN LIFE. Don’t we want them to know what a loving relationship looks like?

You each have to answer that for yourselves.  As for my house, we will continue to model love worn on our sleeve.  The kind where it’s out there for all to see. Nothing to be embarrassed or ashamed of. My wish is more of you do the same.

Someone finally explained cheating

I’m thinking of making Tuesdays “Random Thought Tuesdays.”  I know it’s not as catchy as Throwback Thursdays, but oh well….I didn’t put much thought into it! I’ve just found that there are times I have random thoughts swirling through my head that need to move on out, because, let’s face it, there will be more random thoughts coming.  So here’s my random thought for the day. Sidebar….I wrote this back in February, but just realized that I posted it wrong!

And let me just preface this entire blog by saying, this in no way, shape, or form pertains to my husband.  If you want to read something into this and try to surmise that truth, sorry…there’s no drama going on here.  Move on.  The fact that I’m leaving any and all names out of this is to protect the idiots and the innocents.

I was talking recently with a guy friend about a mutual acquaintance who had cheated on his wife.  He told me that while he didn’t condone it, he understood it.  I’m only going to speak from the female perspective…hell, maybe it’s only my perspective….but I can not for the life of me understand it.  I never have been able to.  Where and why is it ever justified?

That got me to thinking….what is wrong with the wife?  Did she freeze him out? Did she pack on the pounds?  Does she scream at him daily?  Being the victim of being cheated on in past relationships, I can look back and say, no, I hadn’t changed in any horrible way that would make my man go running to the arms of another.  I did always wonder…was I not skinny enough (at 96 lbs)….was I not giving enough….what did I do wrong?  My guess is I’m not the only one who has tried to dig deep into her soul to figure out what was characteristically wrong with me that it would drive a man to cheat.

Y’all I read a blog yesterday that slapped me right in the face.  I mean, it was fabulous.  You can check it out here for yourself. http://www.scarymommy.com/why-men-cheat/ I love the Scary Mommy blogs….some of these ladies are hilarious…and some are just downright spot on! So I was reading the daily blog yesterday and paragraph after paragraph, it sounded like the same ol same ol.

But then, the paragraph that slapped me in face came up.  I had to re-read it twice.  It made so much damn sense, I’m kinda embarrassed to say it’s taken me 48 years to see it from the perspective.  But damn, is it spot on.  She says:

“Of all the people who are likely to boost his self-esteem, it ain’t gonna be you. Why? Because he thinks he’s crap and you’re with him. So how could he ever trust your judgment? He needs to be good enough that other women want him, too.”  Go ahead, re-read that one.  There’s the answer I’ve been looking for for so many years.  HE thinks he’s crap….so he needs the validation of other women. I mean, hell, like she says, we ALL have self-esteem issues.  Most of us with an ounce of maturity deal with those issues without hurting others, without looking for external validation, without crushing the soul of the one person that’s trying to make you see that you aren’t crap.

It doesn’t matter how much you tell him he’s phenomenal, it doesn’t matter how many times you tell him he’s handsome…and it sure as hell doesn’t matter if you’ve put on a few pounds or are bikini ready.  Nothing YOU do controls the fact that he feels like crap about himself.

So what do you do? How do you fix it?  She gives 2 options….to forgive him, let it go and stay, or decide you’re worthy of a more mature, confident man.  I really don’t see it as two options.  A man who thinks so little of you that he’ll go out and cheat is not worth hanging on to, because frankly, once he’s gotten away with it once, he’s gonna do it again.  Don’t live your life wondering if or when it’s gonna happen again. Live your life with your head high, smiling, knowing that there is something better out there than being with a loser who truly doesn’t have your interest at heart.

Told you it was random thought Tuesday. Can you imagine what it’s like living with this brain?

Confessions of a Pre-menopausal Hypothyroid Crossfitter

Scott started this blog as a way for us, mainly me, to jot down whatever comes to mind, to keep our family across the country apprised of what was going on in our lives.  As the title above says, I have a little confession to make.  In addition to this blog, I have my own journal that I keep on my iPad, one that no one reads but myself.  It’s where I can jot down whatever thoughts are going through my head at the time.  I don’t share it with anyone because, frankly, you’d think I was cuckoo if you knew what was going on in my head at any given moment.  You must be this tall to ride this ride.

During the week, I’m up before 6 am so that I can get boys off to football, get myself ready and wake up the rest of the house (except Anna, who manages to get up before me). I have lots of quiet time….which means lots of time for my brain to fire up.  At any given moment, I’m having several different conversations in my head. A touch of ADHD?  Probably.  Are they crazy voices, the kind that require a jacket that ties in the back. Nope. Just random thoughts that fill my head.  Thus the journal – I can jot them down and that frees up valuable space in my brain. Let’s face it, as we get older, we need all the capacity we can get.

So why am I telling you this?  Well, I thought, just for one day, I’d let you in on the musings going on in my head.  If you’re still here after that, you’re either family, or your just as cuckoo as I am! Hang in there, because the rambling starts now. This is how the thoughts in my head went this morning:

I am a 48 year old pre-menopausal hypothyroid crossfitter.  No, that is not a type of transgender person.  I am all woman. My choice of exercise is Crossfit….and biking with my husband. I started Crossfit a month ago….and have stuck with it despite the brutal workouts….so I think I’ve earned the right to call myself a Crossfitter (maybe a newbie will suffice).

Crossfit, for those of you that aren’t familiar, is defined by Wikipedia as “a strength and conditioning program consisting mainly of a mix of aerobic exercise, calisthenics (body weight exercises), and Olympic weightlifting.  If you look it up in the Urban dictionary, you’ll have laughs for days. One defines it as “A bunch of rich white people paying $250/mo. to have an un-credentialed coach instruct them to have spasms with PVC pipe and seizures on pull-up bars until they vomit. They generally do this for a period of 10-30 minutes and call it a workout.”

Ok, first of all, I do not pay $250 a month for anything that doesn’t involve upkeep on my house…not to my hairdresser, not to my chiropractor, and certainly not to Crossfit.  Do I work with PVC pipes? Yep, to learn proper form.  Do I sometimes feel like I want to vomit?  Sure.  These workouts are hard as hell. Weightlifting, plyometrics, running, rowing, pull-ups, push-ups….you name it, each day is a different form of torture.  And I love it. Each day challenges me, which is why I keep going back. Am I gonna sign up for any competitions?  Heck no….I’m in competition with myself. I’m one of the oldest people there – I work out with mainly 20-something college kids.  They can lift more, run faster, and jump higher than I can probably ever hope for again.  But I keep pushing on, because I’m not trying to compete with them, I’m doing this solely to better myself.

I have found that in just the past 4 weeks, I am getting stronger and I am able to do more each time I walk into our box (that’s the word for a Crossfit gym). My oldest made me flex my biceps and said, yep, they are coming back. I have a long way to go and a lot to learn still. That’s all great but now I have a new problem.  Every day for warm-up, we start with a 200m run, just to get the body warmed up before we start stretching.  Well, for the FIRST time in all my running years, when I ran my warmup on Sunday, I felt my butt bouncing.  And not in a good, Beyonce booty bumping, way. No, I could feel saddlebag fat going kaboing kaboing kaboing with every step I took.  What. The. Hell??  I haven’t had the perkiest butt, but it’s been a nice regular shape, not too wide, not too flat.  All of a sudden I’m busting my ass (literally) working out SIX days a week, and for that I develop saddle bags??? Now when I walk around during the day, I am consciously aware of this badonkadonk following me around.  In no way do I want a butt with a life of its own, one you can sit a glass on when you’re standing still….I do not want to look like Kim Kardashian…sorry lady, but you are just down right nasty.

So this morning as I was going through my morning routine of turning on the shower, taking my thyroid medicine and pushing the cat off the counter, I started to think (who would have guessed that). And since we live in this wonderful modern world, I started to Google the questions that came up in my thoughts.  Seriously…I Googled “Why am I developing saddlebags after Crossfit.”  And guess what?  Google answered. I’m not going to bore you with the details that I sat and read for 20 minutes while the shower got cold….on a website called Some FAT Truths…but basically, it said that saddlebags are subcutaneous fat….which is the most stubborn type of fat…and women are more predisposed to such fat.  Well that’s just great.

It goes on to say that stubborn fat is impacted directly or indirectly by many different types of hormones….and that dieting doesn’t help.  It said that eating less and exercising more makes your fat parts fatter.  Now, that’s just fabulous…if you want to grow fat. So where am I going wrong?  Eating too little?….not sure when it comes right down to it that I can really be accused of that. I put part of the blame on the upheaval of hormones that comes with pre-menopause, coupled with a whacked out thyroid (Hashimoto’s to be exact). What is a girl to do?  The article suggested 2 avenues…either eat less and exercise less, or eat more and exercise more.  So I can sit on my butt and eat lettuce, or I can go to Crossfit and eat steak?? Somehow I doubt that is the answer.

See this is where you figure out I’m cuckoo….here we are at the end of this blog, and I don’t have the answer. That’s just how my mind works!  But now that I have gotten all of this empty information out of my head, I’ve made space to find the answer. I am on a quest to figure this one out.  Not because I want to diet….let’s face it, diets don’t work and they don’t make you any richer or happier in the end.  No, what I want is for my body to feel better, and be fueled better so I can continue to get stronger.  I’m sick of chasing a number on a scale, thinking it defines whether I’m a good or bad person, whether I’m happy or sad. This is about making my body better….and getting rid of those damn saddlebags so I don’t go kaboing when I run. Stay tuned, because this journey is just beginning.

I killed Christmas

**WARNING: Not for younger readers**

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I love it all, from baking too many cookies, to driving around just to see the lights in the neighborhood, to finding the perfect gift for my family. I LOVE the smell of cinnamon and walking through a tree lot with Noble Firs.  I hope for cold weather so we can light up a fire in the chimney (which we can actually do in the new house). I wait to catch all the old Christmas shows on TV, like “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and I look forward to finding the most obnoxious Christmas cards in hopes of shocking my family come Christmas morning. It’s all the little things that add up to fun! And of course, PRESENTS!  Who can forget that?

It doesn’t hurt that it also means I have 2 weeks off of work. Hey, what’s not to get excited about? You don’t work for a church or university where you get the luxury of 2 weeks off at Christmas?  I apologize, really.  But my guess is that 2 weeks is more than made up in the size of your salary and bonuses. Throw me a bone.

Anywho, as I was saying….I love Christmas. That is until this year, when I killed it.

Last week I pushed the issue and decided it was time to have “the talk” with D about Santa.  He’s in 6th grade, and he’s still waiting on his growth spurt, and frankly, I was afraid he might say something about Santa at school  and get teased or worse, get the snot beat out of him.

We sat down as a family for the discussion….I couldn’t pull the plug, so Scott helped me find the right words. D was sitting on my knee, and when the truth came out, I looked at him and saw tears welling up in his eyes.  That’s when I knew I killed Christmas. Or at least the magic of it.

One of the things I love about D is his joy for life and his belief that the world is filled with good. He is very literal and thrives on learning “facts.” Christmas was one of those magical things that he didn’t know the real “facts” about, yet the season still shined bright in his excitement and innocence. There was something joyous about knowing the magic of Santa could still happen in our house.

A few days later, when he was at his dad’s house, I looked around at all the decorations I had put up and wondered, would D still have the same excitement for Christmas that he did?  Or would he, like the other cynical teenagers, just view it as a day to get stuff? I don’t mean that in a mean way, more in the fact that they don’t see it as a magical day anymore. They are 16 and 15 – magic would be if their smart phones went on and on without ever needing to be plugged in.

I’ve baked dozens of cookies already.  I’ve watched Elf, The Grinch and Rudolph. I keep moving Stevie the Elf, as if there’s still magic in that little freak. I do all this, all the while worrying that I’ve killed Christmas for D. Or maybe I’m worried I’ve killed it for myself.

This year’s been a hard one. My dad is still battling cancer, my best friend lost her brother recently to cancer, there’s been a lot of sadness. I think we all deserve a little Christmas magic.

So, I will continue on in my quest to keep the magic alive.  There will be baking galore – the beauty is, my family eats as fast as I bake. Hopefully some of the kids will want to sit down and watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas, National Lampoon’s Christmas and A Christmas Story with me (ok, they might not have the patience for all 3). And maybe I can drag them out of the house to go look at lights, be it in our neighborhood, down at Santa’s Wonderland, or, stretching it, in my sister’s neighborhood where they go all out. And of course, there’s Christmas Day and PRESENTS!

Now, if the magic will just hold out and keep everyone free of illness for the holiday!

We should be united

I don’t normally post political stuff  I have my opinion and you have yours. I’ve watched people get so worked up over trying to prove that their position is the only right one, with no gray areas, that they end up angry at friends and family for no good reason. Probably why I didn’t post this on Facebook, as I know no one reads it, I can get it off my chest, and not cause a great national debate amongst my family and friends, who have widely varying views.

I am deeply concerned at the direction this  country is going. We are no longer a united people, we are becoming more and more divided.  I guess if you read your Bible, you know that this has to happen, things have to get pretty ugly, before Jesus returns.  Well folks, we’re getting there faster than we thought possible.

Another mass shooting occurred this week in California.  And just like in Paris, it was part of a terrorist regime, called ISIS.  When the terrorists hit Paris weeks ago, the entire country rallied around them.  You saw Americans everywhere paint their Facebook profile pics with the French flags.  They were all praying for France.  France meanwhile, swore to pay ISIS back, and immediately launched attacks against their camps.

This week, ISIS hit in California.  Not a large group like in Paris, but a scum of a husband and wife. This man met a girl online from Saudia Arabia, went there and fetched her back here.  She was vetted by our country on a fiance visa as posing no security risk. Meanwhile at their sweet little humble abode, while they raised their 6 month old child, they were stockpiling weapons, guns, bombs, to use on us.

Do you think they got those guns legally? Do you think they walked into the local gun shop on a daily basis and asked to make ANOTHER purchase? No.  When they killed 14 innocent people, it was reported they had 2 handguns that were legally owned by them, and 2 assault rifles that were NOT registered in their names.

After the shooting, do you know what I saw on Facebook?  Was it a call of solidarity like France?  Nope.  I saw very few people change their profile pic to an American flag.  I saw very few people praying for America.  What I saw was a call for gun control.  Not blaming the horrid excuses for human beings that want to kill as many Americans as possible.  No, instead blaming the whole thing on guns and calling for all of our guns to be taken away.

Do you think gun control would have stopped these scum from getting their hands on weapons? The building these people were killed in was a gun-free zone.  Guess the terrorists didn’t read the sign.  France has some of the strictest gun laws around – guess they didn’t get that memo either. And if you are gonna call for gun control, you better call for bomb control too, as I hear they had a ton of those amassed as well. The plain fact is that evil doesn’t care about laws.  In fact, these scum would love to see citizens with less guns in their hands – they’d kill a hell of a lot more with no one to stop them.

What I’m most disappointed in is the reaction by this country to divide themselves when we need to be united.  When these scum took down the twin towers and thousands of lives were lost, we united like never before. Now instead of looking at the real enemy in the face, we want to make our neighbor the enemy? I’m sure that was not the intention when our forefathers founded this country.

That being said, this country was founded on the principal that we all are entitled to express our opinion. I just wish I saw more people trying to support each other and our nation than trying to be right above all else.  And we say around here, the highway runs both ways.  You don’t like living here? Then don’t.  I understand Canada is a bit chilly this time of year so you might wanna go south to Mexico, I hear they have some cheap rent,

A Letter to Me

Driving home from work last night, I turned on the country station and heard Brad Paisley singing his song “A Letter to Me.” Basically it’s a song about him writing a letter to his younger 17-year-old self.  It got me to thinking (because everything gets me thinking), what would I say if I wrote a letter to me.

I definitely wouldn’t want to tell myself about each and every mistake I made so I could change course and not make them.  If it weren’t for every step, I wouldn’t be where I am today, and I wouldn’t have the amazing husband and 4 wonderful kids I have. That being said, there are some things I could tell my younger 17-year-old self. No, this will not be in song verse.

Wear the bikini.  Stop obsessing over your weight, because at 105 lbs, you are THIN.  Don’t let other people’s problems with their weight be a reflection on you.  Ignore the comments about putting on a couple of pounds.  Trust me, it will set you up to obsess about it for life. And when you’re pushing 50, you’d kill to see 105 again (only if it’s healthy though, not cancer 105).

Travel while you can.  You say that you are gonna travel and see the country one day.  But life gets in the way.  You get to be too busy making a living, raising up a family.  Time slips away and money is tight and the dreams you had to see the sights go down the tubes.  Get out and see the beauty of this world while you can.

Don’t pick a college because of a boy.  Ok, that would change my future, so I’ll have to let that one go.  But maybe that’s a note for my kids – do NOT pick a college based on a boyfriend/girlfriend.  This is your life, your choice.  And what happens when you follow the boy to college, then break up?

Stop and take your time picking a career path.  If you don’t know, don’t just choose Liberal Arts cuz you’re gonna figure it out eventually.  Put some thought into it, because you live with the consequences for the rest of your life.  And if you don’t have a passion for what you’re doing, it’s soul-sucking to go to that job every day.

When your high school friend dies, go to the funeral.  Even if your spouse at the time tells you no, get up off your ass and go say goodbye.

Listen to Gram’s stories.  Take notes, write them down.  She’s telling you the history of the family.  Some people don’t know their history.  Ours is a rich one.  Listen to her stories about raising her family on the farm, baking loaves of bread daily, feeding the ranch hands.  Because one day she’ll be gone, and the farm will be sold, and all you’ll have is the memories.  Good thing you took pictures! For that matter, talk to Jane more.  She was more like a sister than an aunt.  Talk to her while you still can.

I know it’s cliché that people tell you that life goes by too fast, but it’s true.  One day you’re in high school and the next day you’re coming up on your 30 yr reunion.  As Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Take the time to look around, don’t miss out on the best years.

Find Your Passion

Yesterday morning started off like every other weekday.  I got in the office, grabbed some water, and heated up my not-so-tasty frozen breakfast choice of the day.  There was the obligatory greeting from one of the admin secretaries.  I asked her how she was.  She said, “well, it’s almost Wednesday, so only 3 more days til the weekend.”  I agreed.

Later that morning I had the privilege of sitting in on an orientation class for some undergrad students who are here for the summer to do research.  One of our professors said something that has stuck with me.  It’s not a new concept, but one that keeps getting drummed into my head. He told them that their main goal this summer was to find their passion.  He reminded them that as juniors and seniors, they had very little time left to find what they really love.  He said, “if you don’t find your passion, what you really love working on, then you’re gonna spend the next 40 to 60 years coming to work hating it, and that’s gonna suck.”

He’s absolutely right.  But I thought to myself as he was speaking….who are these lucky ones that find their passion and get to do what they love for a living?  Do you think all these admin secretaries that come in every morning and count the days til the weekend, or til a holiday or vacation, are really pursuing their passion?  Do you think they went to school and said, when I grow up, I wanna be a secretary and take orders from others?  Somehow for the vast majority, I doubt it.

So where did they go wrong? Where did the vast majority of us go wrong? My guess is money.  We were too broke to take the time to find what really drives us.  No, we were too busy paying bills, tuition, car payments, and believing that eating Ramen noodles for the 7th month in a row sucked too much.  So we grabbed the first job we could because it offered some sort of financial security.  One day, we said, one day we’ll find our dream job and love what we do for a living.1aa92e8abaf356065d5bf45b1ed9bfb4

The funny thing about one day….it never comes.  Life gets in the way.  You have a family, then you’re tied to that job to keep food on the table, tuition, car payments, and something a little better than Ramen noodles. I guess there are some success stories out there.  Some veer off the career path they’ve been on and finally find their calling.  You read about it in the blogs all the time.  But what about the others?  Do they stay in the same stale boring job, ticking off the days til retirement?  What kind of life is that?  Because by the time you can retire, more than likely, if you’re anything like me, you’ll be 75 years old.  I don’t know about you, but I’m guessing my get up and go won’t be the same in 30 years. Doesn’t sound like a great way to spend the final years of your life.

What is your passion? Can you find it while there’s still time?

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Life with 4 Kids

One day last week, I had dinner in the oven and dishes washed and in the dishwasher before 6:30 pm.  What is wrong with this picture?  Well, three of our kiddos were at their dad’s house…that’s what’s wrong with this picture.  I looked at my husband and said, “what the hell do people with only 1 or 2 kiddos do with all their time?”  Oh yeah, they have time to go to CrossFit and work out.  They drop by Starbucks and pick up a latte on a whim. They still have money left at the middle of the month.  So I thought it might be fun to explain what it’s like to live with FOUR kids.

Let me first say kudos to families of 5, 6, 7+ kids.  I don’t know how you do it.  Except for the Duggar family with so many they’ve lost count.  In her case I have just one suggestion: close your legs. To the rest I say bravo!

Now for those that have one or two and think it’s just as hard, let me ask you this….does your child have a mental or physical disability?  If so, then yes, you probably have it harder. No disabilities?  Just smiling perfect children?  Then perhaps you’d like to take ours for a month. That’s right, a month.  A weekend won’t cut it.  You would just be the fun aunt or uncle who gets to hang out with them for a couple days and send them home.  They wouldn’t be around long enough to make a dent in your wallet or your sanity.  Nope, you must keep them around for the entire month to get the full effect.  Name the month – Scott and I haven’t been alone one day since last July, so we’re more than happy to make the sacrifice.

What is it like to have 4 children…..three of them in the 9th grade and one in 5th?  Let’s take a look.  First off, groceries.  I am well known at the local groceries stores, as I am there multiple times a week.  And not just one grocery store.  No, when you spend close to $2,000 a month on groceries….yeah, let’s just stop for a pause and let that one sink in….$2,000 a MONTH….moving on…when you spend that much on groceries, you damn sure have to know what is on sale where.  This requires a trip to an average of 3 stores in one day.

And since you’re wondering, NO, we don’t eat steak at every meal.  In fact, the last time we had steak was Christmas Day, and that was a treat from my dad!  No, its just hamburger and chicken for us on most days.  Of course, that means THREE pounds of hamburger or 2 packages of chicken breasts (because chicken breasts usually come in packages of FIVE….do you see the problem here?).

Why so much meat? Have you even seen how football playing boys eat?  Let me tell you, the first time it happened in our house, I yelled at them.  I mean, they hoovered food up faster than a Dyson vacuum cleaner.  Growing up with one sister, I never saw anything like that in my life.  My husband quickly corrected me and explained that this was normal.  Now granted, “normal” means hoovering up a 10×15 casserole of meat and pasta in less than 20 minutes. And the youngest boy hasn’t even begun to start eating like this.  Lord have mercy when he does. This weekend, when we only had the 3 teenagers, they went through 2 gallons of milk all by themselves.  My husband pointed out that J.J. Watt went through a gallon of milk a day in high school. I quickly pointed back that ours boys are no J.J. Watt.

How about we talk about our phone bill?  Yes, I realize the kids don’t HAVE to have cell phones.  But two of ours will be driving by themselves in less than 2 months.  I want the ability to track them (thank you inventor of GPS) and get a hold of them at a moment’s notice…..cuz I might need them to run to the grocery store!! So the convenience of having cell phones in each of their hands is in part my fault.  What does it cost you to carry your iPhone 6 around? $120 for your family (saw that price on an AT&T commercial)? Try $380.  And that’s because I get a discount through my work.

How about school supplies?  Ever try shopping in August for a 24 pk of pencils…times 4?  Do this with a list of 20 items per kid.  It will make you pull your hair out.  Those cute little school pics….you grab the deluxe package so you can send copies to every relative to show them how stinking cute your precious is….$35 bucks?  We go for the small package….just enough so we have incriminating pictures to show their significant others years down the road…..that’ll be $150 please.  But wait, there’s more…..foootball pictures, band pictures, choir pictures, orchestra pictures, soccer pictures….you get the idea. And of course, those pictures go in the yearbook…gotta have one of those…time FOUR.  This year we dropped $265 on yearbooks.

Do you get your laundry done in one day?  Because you have 3 loads?  Four in the winter because everything is bigger and bulkier?  If I start early enough in the morning, I can get all 9 loads done in one day. That’s just Sunday.  There will be more washing during the week, as the boys come home with workout clothes that smell like something that’s been rotting in the corner for months.  Yes, there will definitely be more washing during the week.

Have you ever stopped to consider how much it costs to insure these 4 little precious things?  Texas A&M has very good benefits when it comes to health insurance, thankfully.  Now, car insurance?  That one is looming on the near horizon.  3 teenagers will be on our insurance bill within the next year.  I’ve only spoken to moms of girl teenagers.  They say their car insurance went up $150 a month when their darlings started driving.  And we all know that boys cost more to insure at this age.  This should be fun. I think instead, I’ll just buy them all bus passes.

No, I shouldn’t complain.  I have 4 wonderful (most of the time) kiddos.  People do a lot more with a lot less then we do, and kudos to them. Perhaps it’s the lack of sleep from waiting til midnight to finish that last load of laundry.  Next week, I’ll have to start on Saturday.

Mom’s Christmas List

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all through the house, not one little child was cleaning my house; The stockings were hung by the chimney, but who cares, the kids are all stuck on their electronics, unawares….

Ok, so I suck at the poetry.  We are a week away from Christmas.  Is my shopping done?  Heck no.  Why panic? We have seven more days to fight the disgruntled crowds.   Everyone made a Christmas list in our family and passed them around.  After thinking twice, I decided I could have come up with a much better list….though I’m not sure any of these are deliverable!  Here’s what mom wants for Christmas this year!

1.  Just ONE six weeks where we don’t have to chase down ZEROS because of missing papers or assignments not turned in.

2. No strep, flu or stomach bugs in the adults or children in our house.  All you little typhoid Marys, stay away from us.

3. Self-cleaning dogs.  Rainy winter days (and diarrhea episodes) make for very dirty dogs.

4. Never having to touch raw chicken again.  My kids will tell you there is no food substance I hate more than raw chicken.  Bleck.

5. For Stevie the Elf on the Shelf to be involved in some horrid accident.  Yes, I’m a sicko.

6. A day with my kids to just sit and watch Christmas movies and eat cookies.  Alas, 3 of my kids go to their dad’s tomorrow and don’t return until after Christmas.  And they won’t sit still that long anyway.

7. For my pants to fit at the end of the holiday season.  I have given up wishing that they were too big.

8. To have my 19 year old boobs back.  TMI?  Hell, why not the entire 19 year old body?

9.  For my SI pain to magically disappear, never to return again, without the intervention of needles and drugs or RFAs.

10. A body that actually looks better after busting my ass at the gym with a trainer for 5 months.  If I’m gonna put in the work, the least I ask is to be able to see it.

11. New shoes…..a girl can never have enough shoes.

12.  A new wardrobe to go with the shoes.  After all, these pants from 5 years ago aren’t going to last forever. An unlimited VISA card will do just fine.

13. A trip alone with my husband anywhere out of this city, even if its just for a weekend.

14. A break from the mortgage, big fat college funds and no credit card bills.  I know…put down the crack pipe.

15.  Just 5 more minutes of sleep.

What are you wishing for this Christmas?  Whatever it is, I hope Santa brings it!  Have a very Merry Christmas!

 

Random Questions for the Universe

There are days when my mind can’t focus on one thing, not one darn thing.  And then there are days when it tries to focus on 15 things at once. I don’t know which is less productive, but I can tell you, either way, I’m not getting much done.  Since I’m having one of those days, I thought I would throw out some random questions that have been swirling around in my brain. Welcome to the world of my brain….hold on, its gonna be a bumpy ride.

1. Where the hell did my metabolism go?  It’s like someone took a switch and flipped that buggar off.  I work out 3-4 days a week.  And I’m not talking a leisurely stroll around the block with the dog in hand.  No, twice a week a trainer kicks my ass, making me do 40 reps of 55 lb barbell chest presses, moving on to 40 burpees on an upside down Bosu ball, then 40 walking lunges with 25 pounds and on to 40 pull-ups.  And that’s just the first 5 minutes of a workout folks, seriously.  Another couple of days, I hit a spin class where we come out dripping in sweat after 50 minutes.  So after all that punishment, tell me why the scale still says the same thing it did 3 months ago.  I’d like my 19-year old metabolism back, pronto. I can’t even eat  a damn cookie or a bowl of ice cream like my husband and kids.  If I dare eat more than a mini Chips Ahoy cookie, the number on the scale goes UP.  I mean, what the frack?  No, it’s salads for dinner and egg whites for breakfast, just to keep the scale from rising.

2. Why is it so damn hard to get up off the floor?  I would like to think that there is something wrong with the gravitational pull and it is getting stronger world-wide.  But alas, I think it has more to do with my advancing age.  But I still don’t understand, given the fact that I workout quite a bit, that at the end of the day, whether I’m finishing up my last set of ab exercises or on the ground tying my shoe, I can’t even get up off the floor. I feel clumsy and slow and I’m beginning to find a new appreciation for the sloth.

3.  Why at age 46 am I still getting pimples?  I can tell you it’s not sympathy for my acne-laden teenagers.  Ok, secretly I want to pin them down and pop all those nasty little whiteheads on their faces….probably too much information for ya there.  That’s probably because I don’t get those lovely little whiteheads.  No, I get those nasty ingrown pimples that won’t come to a head, but end up looking like Mt. St. Helens getting ready to blow. I passed puberty, got the t-shirt and the emotional scars to prove it….don’t need no acne on my face reminding me of those years.

4. Will my children be diagnosed with neck arthritis at age 25 from staring non-stop into their cell phones and various electronic devices?  How I wish I was kidding.  I can’t even get them to look up at me when I’m talking, unless I yell real loud or have some yummy treat they want.  Nowadays kids don’t even talk to each other….just a bunch of silent texters walking around with their faces in their phones trying to avoid walking into a pole. Trust me, I see it in the college kids on campus daily. They never look up.

5.  Speaking of…when did social media become the acceptable norm for communication?  And will our children know how to form a string of cohesive statements into a full conversation when going on an interview?  These days its acceptable to wish someone happy birthday via Facebook – it takes the place of a card or a phone call.  Hell, even Twitter confines you to only 140 characters in a tweet. I think it would be fascinating if my grandmother could come back for a day and see how things have changed.  I would love to hear her opinion on social media.

6.  Why can’t I be more like my husband, dynamic, extroverted and full of life. If I could bottle that shit, I’d be rich. He has friends from all walks of life, young and old, near and far. On a daily basis he has various friends calling, texting, emailing or instant messaging him just to chat.  The unlimited text and talk plan on our cell phones is not only for the teenagers, but also for him. Sometimes being introverted and scared to go out on a limb just plain sucks.

So there you have it folks, just a few of the random questions swirling around in my head all at the same time today.  Some call it ADHD, some call it just plain nuts. Call it what you want, I’m tired. I think I need a nap!

 

 

Mommas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Creative

It’s mid-July, but I’m already starting to think about school.  You see, we have 3, count them THREE, children entering high school this year.  If I hadn’t started going grey at the age of 26, this would most certainly start the process off with a bang.

We have already been through the fun of choosing courses – they had to fill out a degree plan, choosing what they would study for all four years.  I mean, really, I think its a little beyond ridiculous to choose 4 years of high school courses in one Spring evening.  But no one called me up to ask my opinion….so you get it here!

The course selection is not like it was when we were kids. Back then you took math, science, English, history, a foreign language, the dreaded PE course if you weren’t in athletics or band, and if you were lucky, an elective or two that you actually enjoyed.  These days, at least at our kids’ school, you have to choose a “track” from which to select your courses. This track is supposed to follow along the lines of what you want to be when you grow up.  Depending on what career “track” you choose, you are afforded a host of different elective classes geared towards preparing you for your future career.  And let me tell you, these aren’t electives like “yearbook” or “home ec”.  No, you can choose from, among many others, Landscape Design & Management, Equine Science (where the hell was that when I was in high school), Architectural Design, and Principles of Information Technology.  Their course catalog is 78 pages long, front and back!

Of course that warranted the discussion with all three of the older kids…the dreaded “what do you want to be when you grow up?”  Anna has already decided…she wants to be a teacher.  My grandmother would be so proud.  She always wanted to be a teacher, and several of her grandkids ended up taking that route.  I didn’t take that route, because, let’s face it…I do not have the patience of Job. That and the fact that several people point blank told me I just wouldn’t be good at that.

Ben doesn’t have a clue what he wants to do.  Understandable because he’s only 15, and hell, at age 46, I still don’t have a clue what I want to do.  We discussed with him what might work best for his demeanor, which is, he is an introvert and prefers not to have to talk to people.  I’m thinking Sales is not in his future. He is going to take a couple courses in engineering and information technology to see if either of those float his boat.

Austin of course wants to play football.  That is all.  Just play football.  For the Dallas Cowboys, of course.  And make millions. He’s promised us a nice, new fancy big house when he gets his first check.  I’ll start drawing up the designs right now.  His fall back, should he not make it to the pros is graphic design.  All I want to do is scream NOOOOOO, DON’T DO IT.

You see, its a curse to be creative.  I didn’t get my dad’s engineering/math brain.  No, my sister was lucky enough to get it.  She works as an accountant doing very well for herself.  No, I got the left-handed, right-brained creative gene.  I would encourage anyone that is blessed/cursed with that to try to overcome it.  Shove it down deep inside and try to find a nice, normal desk job punching numbers or something.  I’m sure if you enroll in Khan Academy, eventually math will make sense to you (at least I’m working on that).

Sure, there are those that are phenomenally blessed with the creative gene.  You know the type…you’ve seen their work in magazines and billboards and ad campaigns.  They just have this gift that is unstoppable.  More power to them.  Yes, let them continue to pursue the creative field, as they make everything around us prettier.

But then there are those of us that are marginally gifted, meaning, we can hold our own churning out half decent stuff to engineers who really don’t know or care about design but it looks ok to them.  We are one step above the secretaries who think they can design because they have clip art on their Microsoft Word program.

Being creative, your entire career is based off of what other people think about the look you design.  It’s not like adding 12,384 + 5,635 .  No, it’s drawing or designing a piece, only to hand it to the client and they wrinkle up their nose and tell you how many different ways THEY could have done it.

Maybe for those with thick skin, this doesn’t bother them.  But for those of us who invest our heart and soul into our work, when others judge it as not good enough, it says “hey, you’re not good enough.”   Yeah, I don’t want that for my kids.  Yes, I realize there will be people throughout their entire lives that will tell them they are not good enough for one reason or another.  But if they can eliminate that extra rejection that comes with a creative job, more power to them.

Will all three remain on the track they have penciled in for the high school?  Who knows?  Maybe they will get through the first year and do a 180 on career choice.  Only time will tell. Hopefully in the end they will each find a career that truly means something to them besides a decent paycheck and good benefits.