It gets better. Right?

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The older my kids get the harder it is to be a parent.

People with small children ask “It gets better, right?” and my answer is always “No. No it doesn’t.” And if they ask that same question about girls my answer is “No, it gets worse.”

Just for clarification, some things do get better. You don’t have to wipe their butts anymore. That part’s way better! If they’re hungry they can get food and feed it to themselves. That gets better. They can bathe themselves, it won’t be done very well and only when you tell them to, but they can, so that’s better. They can pretty much care for themselves. Which is better.

Other than that, not better.

When kids are small it’s a physical game. You are just wiped out. Every. Day. You’re up at the crack of dawn after you’ve stayed up half the night trying to get him to go to, or stay, asleep. There’s never any rest because you’re constantly chasing a toddler to make sure she doesn’t get into anything and try to keep her safe. You’re always feeding someone else then you forget to eat. You’re always taking him to the bathroom for the 5th time in an hour and answering the call to ‘come play outside with me’. And do you really want me to start talking about grocery shopping with three kids under the age of 4?

When those cute little ones turn into teenagers it’s a whole new ball game. It turns into a strategic mental game that will leave you emotionally exhausted for days on end. And they are ruthless. Teenagers don’t back down. They push and push until you back down. Then once you do it, even just that one time, they will never forget and push even harder to get you to back down again. Not to mention that the struggles with teenagers are bigger. Now it’s trying to get her to wear real pants, not leggings. Prying them away from electronic devices so I can remember what their face looks like. Not to mention the boyfriends and girlfriends and every unfortunate thing that goes with that. There’s riding in cars with other teenagers and worrying about road conditions and weather. Attitude and disrespectfulness, anyone? Watching them make decisions that you know aren’t the right ones. And let’s not forget the fact that they know everything and are never wrong.

So no…it doesn’t get better. It just gets different. Harder and different.

I have to admit though…As difficult and draining as it is to be parents of teenagers there are rewarding moments. Like little gems nestled in between the jagged edges of the cliff you want to jump off of on a regular basis. I enjoy having good conversations with them that were impossible when they were small. I look forward to sharing a meal with them every night and hearing about their day. I love going to their ceremonies and celebrating their artistic talents and accomplishments or watching them play sports and celebrate wins with them. I always watch in awe as they build a bow and arrow out of a rubber band, a pencil and shish kabob skewer or design and create an elaborate rubber band bracelet. And my favorites are family movie nights, going to the fair and spending holiday mornings together. Those are all the moments that make it worth it. And keep me from running away.

running away

It’s A Revolution! Wait…What?

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It’s time for those pesky New Year Resolutions.  You know the ones you make and then promptly break by the end of January.  That is if you ever really start it in the first place.  My daughter calls them revolutions.  She may not be all that wrong.  I mean, people tend to revolt against the whole resolution movement every year.  It seems she’s on to something.   

I’ve decided that I will be making a revolution resolution this year.  It’s so simple yet delicately intricate.  It’s broad yet absolutely specific.  My New Year resolution is to just be a better me.  Yes, it sounds a little Dr. Suess-ish and a lot cheesy but it’s perfect.  And I know you’re all exclaiming to yourself “Why didn’t I think of that?”   Don’t be too hard on yourself.  We can’t all be geniuses.

The root of this brilliant resolution is simple.  I wasn’t feeling all that great about myself at the end of 2013.  I just wasn’t taking care of myself.   And taking care of myself encompasses so much more than just losing weight or buying the better make up.  It means doing things to look, feel and be healthy.  It means not stressing out so much about whether or not I’m being a good parent and just be the best parent I know how to be.  It means doing things to be the best wife I can be.  It means reading the Bible and spending time with Jesus.   It means being joyful while working, both at work and at home.  The list is endless, honestly, but these are all things I want to be better at this year.  And just saying I want to be a better me is much easier than keeping up with all of the specifics, because if I strive to be a better me all the specifics will just happen on their own.  It’s going to take some work on my part.  Not hard work.  Ok, maybe a little bit of hard work.  But I’m ok with that.  That makes me a better me too.

So now it’s time for me to not feel so guilty and start spending a little time on myself.  I’m excited about this journey to a better me.  I’m excited about feeling better about myself.  Mostly I think I’m excited about being a better me for my family.  They deserve that.

 

 Maybe you can be a better you too.  What do ya say?  Wanna join my revolt?   

         

 

 

Momma Bears and Sleeping on the Ground

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So we’re going camping this weekend.  Just me, Gary and the wilderness.  Roughin’ it, miles and miles away from civilization, using survival skills I learned from Bear Grylls, fending off bears and….Ok, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.  We’re sleeping on a blow up mattress, near the ‘comfort station’ with water and electricity access.  We’ll be near a town with plenty of fast food choices and a zippy mart.  I will however be fending off bugs and rogue raccoons that are smart enough to open a can of mandarin oranges. 

   This isn’t my first time camping. I grew up camping for vacation.  Really roughing it.  Like taking-baths-in-a-cold-river-and-carrying-your-own-toilet-paper roughing it.  I’ve camped in the Smokey Mountains and we blazed our own trail in the Rocky Mountains.  My parents, and grandparents, were the best at camping.  I have a lot of fond memories of camping actually.  Like the time dad saw a momma bear and her cubs and swore that they were going to murder us in our sleep.  So he made us all run to the station wagon [you know the old kind with wood paneling on the side? Yeah, that one.] and nearly gave my Aunt Virginia a concussion because he was already lowing the window on the back before she was even in the car.  Then after maybe 5 minutes in the car he decided it was safe to return to the tent.  Then there was the time in Colorado when we about froze to death. In the middle of July.  It rained one night, the tent leaked and it was about 12 degrees.  However, I was nice, toasty and dry in dad’s army issue sleeping bag…on a cot.  And just for the record, do NOT wash your hair in a river that’s fed from the Rocky Mountains.  Not even in July. 

     As adventurous as those camping trips were this one will be too.  Not because of momma bears and freezing rivers but because this is the first time Gary and I have been camping together.  And the first time I’ve been camping in ages. 

     Gary is already teasing me about this trip.  You see, I grew up a tom boy.  Bugs, frogs and climbing trees were my thing.   As an adult I’m still kind of a tom boy.  I climbed a tree just a few months ago to get a geocache.  I’m the only one who’ll pick up the frogs in the garage and put them back where they belong.  And I don’t mind [most] bugs.  But thanks to all those fond childhood memories, my idea of roughing it was staying at a hotel without cable.  I do enjoy the outdoors though.  A lot.  And Gary and I have become quite the outdoorsy type.  Kayaking in the summer, hiking in the winter.  Geocaching all the time.  Although we have limited the bush-whacking-all-up-in–the-woods geocaching for the fall and winter months.  The chiggers can get out of control!  Anyway, I’m ready to give camping a try again. 

     However, I’m not that fond of the dark and I really do prefer not to sleep on the ground because spiders live there.  I’m not too girly but just girly enough to make this trip quite hilarious for Gary. 

    So I’m really looking forward to our first camping trip together.  As long as I don’t have to sleep on the ground, fend off momma bears or pee in the woods.  And we have plenty of flashlights.          

Four Channels and Pong

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My son asked me the other day if we had TV when I was little.  All I could think was “how old do you think I am?”, but then I remembered how old I thought my parents were when they were my age.  So I knew the answer already and decided it best not to ask that question out loud.  My response to him instead was “Yes, we had TV.  But we didn’t have VCRs”.  His reply?  “What’s that?”  [insert eye roll here] I may as well have asked how old he thought I was.  Sheesh.

It kind of blows my mind to think that so many things have been invented since I was a kid.  When I was my son’s age we didn’t have cable TV, VCRs, or microwaves much less DVDs/BluRays, iPods, and tablets.  Of course, technology has come so far in the last 14 years that there’s already things my kids can say weren’t around when they were ‘kids’.

Here’s a comparison between technology when I was a kid and technology my kids have now:

Me- I was the remote control and only had 4 channels to choose from, sometimes 5 if I could get the rabbit ears just right and held my mouth just so.

My kids- can flip through NetFlix and watch whatever they want whenever they want.  The only problem they may have is if the internet goes out…or restriction

Me- decide to watch movie, get in car, go to video store,  rent  VCR, lug VCR home, hook it up, put in movie, rewind movie because the previous viewer wasn’t kind, return movie because tape was broken and wouldn’t play, see step one

My kids- decide to watch movie, turn on NetFlix.  OR Pop in DVD or BluRay.  Enjoy high definition presentation, bonus features and skip to favorite part of the movie.  No need to be kind or rewind; can even be enjoyed in the car

Me- record songs from radio onto a cassette,  have to wait another three hours to try again because the DJ didn’t stop talking in time and ruined the beginning of the song; use pencil to turn the cog in the cassette to un-jumble the tape so it would work again.

My kids- plug iPod into computer, two clicks later iPod is full of music.

And this is just the tip of the ice berg.  Don’t even get me started on video games!!  I started off with Pong.  Two little lines and a dot going back and forth.  Now we have two Kinects in our house that you control games full of extremely realistic graphics with your body instead of a hand held controller.   That is crazy. And so cool!  Then there are computers.   I didn’t get my first computer until right after my first child was born.  And that was only 14 years ago!  And it was a huge desk top.  Even the desk tops are super small and compact now and my kids have iPads instead of textbooks at school.

It’s nice to think back to how simple things used to be.  And you know what, we all survived it.  Sometimes I even wish we could go back to those simple times of 4 TV stations and Pong.  But I have to admit, I love technology [and I sure was happy when the Atari 2600 and 5200 came along].  I seriously would not know what to do if I didn’t have my cell phone!  Or the Internet.  Or my iPod.   I don’t think the world would know what to do without technology now that we’ve had it.  It certainly has made things much easier.  And faster.  Technology has made the world impatient though. Everything is at your fingertips.  You can Google anything, anywhere, any time and instantly.  I think I’m one of the most Google-ing-est people out there, too!   How do you cook tilapia? Google it.  Is this movie ok for the kids to watch? Google it.  Where’s the best place to go hiking? Google it.  What!? There’s such a thing as nude hiking?  Google it. [I’ll pause here while you actually go Google that one.  You know you want to.]

As much as I love technology, my cell phone and Google it is nice to take a break from it here and there.  Focus on the friends and family that are in the same room as you and not the ones on your Facebook friend list who you never even see.   Or maybe even go outside and see the beautiful landscapes that God created for us instead of looking at 2-D images of them that people forwarded you in an email.    Gary and I try to keep technology in perspective around our house with unplugged days, limiting xBox and Wii time and sending the kids outside for some fresh air and sunshine.   We also enjoy family night once a week where we all pile in the living room and watch a TV show or movie.  We can’t seem to find any good family tv shows these days though.  I guess that’s another thing that’s changed since I was a kid.

So, get off that laptop, put away your cell phone and spend some time with actual people.  You can even go for a hike.  Just don’t go naked.  Unless that’s your thing.

Give Me Back My Summer

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Summer time around here is awesome! I love my job because it gives me the summers off with the kids.  Well, until now that is.  They “eliminated” my position at the high school I work at because half of the student body will be going to the brand new high school in the fall.  Fewer students eliminates the need for an athletic secretary apparently.  I don’t understand it but who am I to say anything?  Anyway…I’m no longer a Bengal.  I’ll be a Redhawk come the beginning of the new school year in the fall on August 20th.  Which is technically still summer, but whatever.  I’ll be the athletic secretary at the new high school. 

Wait…what?  Yes, that’s right.  They eliminated my position at one high school because of the small student body only to give me the same position at the new high school who will have the same size student body.  I try not to think about it too much.  It makes my head hurt.  I’m thankful that I’ll be doing the same thing though.  At least I won’t have to learn anything new. And I do enjoy my job. So that’s a plus.  The down side to helping open a new school is additional responsibilities.  They can’t fully stock faculty and staff until the student body increases.  Therefore I will have not only one responsibility but two at my new post.  I’ll be the athletic secretary and the public relations person.  I don’t even know the proper name for it.  But it makes me sound important.  I’m actually really looking forward to working at the new school.  I loved working at BHS! Great people, fun working environment!  Even though it was all those things, after five years a change of scenery will be nice and refreshing. 

The one down side is I’ll have less time off in the summer.  The up side is I’ll get paid a little more.  In the school district you work by days.  The students attend school for 180 days.  Teachers work 190 days.  The rest of the staff works anywhere from 180 days to year round.  At BHS I was 185 days.  That was absolutely perfect for us. I worked five days before school started and then I was on the exact schedule the kids are on.  It’s the best of both worlds really.  I was a working mom when the kids were in school and a stay at home mom when they were out of school.  Best. Job. Ever. 

Well, when I met at the new school about my job there (when the ‘let me go’ at  BHS I was guaranteed a position at the new school) I was asked to work 215.  That was a tough decision.  I absolutely adore my time with my kids when they aren’t in school.  I love being a housewife and taking care of our home and family while my husband works.  The schedule was perfect for our family.  The money was enough.  Now they are asking me to give up a lot of that time with my family.  I was torn because I knew the extra days meant extra money.  Of course the extra money would be nice. But was I willing to give up precious time with my kids in exchange for that? Money is a necessity to live I know.  We were living just fine on what I was contributing to the household income.  We’re not rich by any American standard, but we’re filthy rich by the majority of other countries around the world.  And we’re stinkin’ filthy rich by our standards.  Money isn’t everything you know and in our house you don’t need money to be rich.  After much thought we decided that working 215 days of the year won’t be that bad.  I’ll still have the major holidays the kids get such as Winter Break and Spring Break.  And I’ll still have about a month off during the summer.  Sometimes I feel kinda bad for complaining about only having “about a month off during the summer”.  But I can’t help it that you didn’t get a job in the school district, that’s your fault.  Everyone should have a month off in the summer!

So this is my last real summer with the kids.  I’m attempting to savor every minute of it.  The first week was crammed with physical therapy for me, cleaning the house, and not much fun stuff.  The second week wasn’t fun either because Emma decided that would be a great time to contract Strep Throat.  I mean really, she’s around 100 plus kids for 180 days of the year and stays perfectly healthy (not counting a broken arm and a cat trying to scratch her eyeball out but let’s not get technical about it).   She’s home for a week with her family and gets Strep Throat.  How does that even happen?  Once the fever finally went away we went swimming one day and headed to the zoo another.  Which by the way, if you want to go see the new Komodo Dragons at Riverbanks, keep your expectations low.  They’re cool and all but look like over-sized yard lizards.  Not hideous and terrifying like I was hoping for.  Maybe in a few years.

Gary and I are planning some awesome adventures for ourselves and the kids this summer.  More swimming for sure.  Definitely more trips to the zoo (maybe the dumb Komodo Dragons will grow fast).  A few trips to the museum are in order as well.  We’ll be hitting the nature scene a lot this summer too! I guess geocaching has given us a new appreciation of the outdoors.

   Do you get much time off work in the summer? Maybe you’re a stay at home mom.  What adventures are you planning for this summer?  We need some new ideas!

Now get out there and have an adventure!!

  

 

Tongues Aren’t Suppose To Do That

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I know my kids are talented, but this is just insane. I mean really! I didn’t even know tongues could do this. I know there are people who can tie cherry stems in a knot with their tongues. There’s even more people who can roll their tongues. But how many people can do this? It really is kind of freaky looking if you ask me.  Maybe I’m just jealous I can’t do it.  I tried, but I just got a cramp in my tongue.
So tell me, what kind of weird talent do you have?

If You Can’t Find Your Tupperware…Check The Woods

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Gary and I like to do a lot of fun things together. We have more things in common than not I think. We just love spending time together (and with the kids) so we are always searching for things we both enjoy and we do them. We’ve recently found a new hobby that we can’t get enough of! Finding Tupperware hidden in the woods! What? You don’t?

It’s a high tech treasure hunting game using GPS devices and multi-million dollar satellites floating out in space. Yep, that’s our new hobby. Tromping through the woods acting like pirates looking for hidden containers with kids’ dollar store prizes and a log book inside. At first I had no idea how this got started. My guess was some friends were sitting around drinking beer one night and one of them said “You know what, I’m gonna go hide a Tupperware container out in the woods, give out the coordinates and see how many people can find it”. And his friends looked at him and said “You’re crazy. Let’s do it”. And here we are with a gazillion Tupperware containers hidden all over the globe. Ok, so that’s not how it really happened. But I was close. Ok, I wasn’t close. It’s way more geeky than that. You can read the real history of geocaching here. I for one am super happy that this whole selective availability thing happened and GPS is now available to all of us Regular Joes. Because I just don’t know what I would do with my weekends if it wasn’t for searching for Tupperware in the woods.

I had heard about this geocaching thing years ago but just never did anything with it. Then Gary and I talked about it and thought it would be fun to do with the kids but never did anything with it. It took finding one by accident while my brother and his wife were visiting from Florida to ignite the fire and begin the obsession. When the kids headed off to their other parents’ for the weekend a few days later us adults had date night Friday and date day Saturday. Guess what we did? That’s right. Searched for caches! Gary and I were hooked. The day Yancey and Kristen left we had to distract ourselves from our sorrow so we spent the day geocaching. It was the best day! Wait….not the best day because Yancey and Kristen left. That made it the worst day. The geocaching made it the best day. Phew, glad we cleared that up!

Yancey and Kristen with one of our finds.

Our first find on our own!

I have to say that geocaching isn’t for everyone. In order to enjoy geocaching you have to enjoy the outdoors. And a good challenge. Not all caches are hidden in the woods, on walking trails or in parks. A lot are found in very urban areas such as restaurant parking lots or a stop sign in a shopping village. I enjoy all types of finds. My favorite kinds are the ones hidden in the woods though. I really enjoy a good hike through the woods. It’s so relaxing and beautiful. And it reminds me of my childhood when my best friend Brian and I would play in the woods and the only worry we had was getting home before it got dark.

Once Gary and I had some good finds under our belt we took the kids out to give it a try. It was a school night so we only had a chance to find one but they loved it! Couldn’t wait to get back out and do it again. We were thrilled because we love having cool, fun family things to do! So the weekend came and we planned a day full of geocaching. We were all excited! Gary and I learned a few things that day.
1. Paige is not an ‘outdoorsy’ type of person. She loves playing outside. In the yard. The woods, not so much. She jumped at everything and every five seconds it was “watch our for snakes”, “be careful!”, or “don’t stick your hand in there!” in a very high pitch concerned voice. It doesn’t help she is petrified of spiders.
2. Emma would rather be home playing soccer. Or doing anything else for that matter.
And
3. Kids get mad when other kids keep finding all the caches. But there’s a schedule for that.

Our first find as a family!


So Gary and I decided that the kids will go on abbreviated geocaching trips. And we’re definitely taking steps to insure that all kids have an equal opportunity to find the hidden caches. In the mean time Gary and I are going solo. Wait…it’s not solo if there’s two of us. Well, whatever. We’re on a mission to find as many caches as we can. Or at least more than my brother.

Are you a geocacher? If you are tell us your Geocache username so we can be friends! If not, leave a comment and let us know what you like to do for fun in your free time!