Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting Ready

We went shopping last weekend.  One more time in eighteen years that I have been ever so grateful to have a boy.  "Do you need hangers?"  He threw a pack in the cart.  "Do you think you might need more than a dozen?"  He threw another pack in the cart.  "Do you need a laundry bag?"  He grabbed the nearest one and put it in the cart.  The Mister pointed out that maybe Flash would rather have a bag than a plastic hamper that may or may not fit in his closet.  Flash put the plastic hamper back and we found a bag.  He threw it in the cart. 

And so the day went.  We bought clothes, shoes, dorm supplies, laundry supplies and lunch - with Flash and his new girlfriend (also off to State).  We made lists and we crossed things off and we added more and we grabbed things on the fly we hadn't even thought of.

Isn't that how it is, this parenting thing?  We prepare and we think and we parent with a certain integrity and set of morals but then we cross off what doesn't work and we add in new things that do make a difference and we add a whole lot of things on the fly. 

And we wonder, as we look at it all, packed up and ready to walk out the door, is it enough?  Is it all the right things?  Is this all unnecessary?  Is the balance between necessities and fun things in check?  Does he have what he needs to be successful or will he be scrounging to catch up when he's on his own? 


In a week, we will finish packing it all up, and we will drive him to his dorm and help him arrange and unpack (I suspect it will be much like shopping - toss this here, toss that there, call it good!) and we will leave him to fend for himself and to forge his life down his own path.

The Mister and I have big plans when he is gone.  Much-needed repairs and rennovations to the downstairs bathroom, reorganizing of the bedrooms, cleaning out cabinets and making the space our own again.  I'm doubled up on grad classes in September and the start of a new school year is always a busy time.  The Mister has a couple projects he's gearing up for and has been looking into maybe taking a cooking class to fuel his passion.

I wonder if I am ready!?  Do I have all the right things to handle life without the teenager?  Do I have enough of the necessities and enough of the fun things to keep a good balance?    Are we prepared for this next chapter in our life? 


I suspect, just like Flash, we will be making up new lists of things to do and try, and crossing off things that don't work or we don't like along the way.  And there will probably be a whole lot of things we add on the fly.  Sometimes, those are the best kinds of things. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

In Search of Majesty

We set off on our "Bucket List Vacation" with a cooler of snacks, cameras and a general sense of our route.  We had reservations in Maine, but our stops along the way were left to the spur of the moment.  And what moments we had!

 The Mister had been to Niagra Falls as a child, but neither Flash nor I had ever been, so we turned left and spent a little time soaking up the view.
 We drove across upstate NY, up through the adirondacks.
  It made us all miss Pennsylvania with all the hills and trees.  

We took a ferry across Lake Champlain. 

The view of New York behind us...

and the White Mountains of Vermont in front of us was stunning!

The Mister loved the view.
 There was beauty everywhere we looked.
 A beautiful New England town.

We stumbled upon one of the tallest observatories in the world. 
So, we had to go up, of course. 

And when we stopped again when we crossed over this waterfall. 

 When we arrived in Maine, The Mister tried out his moose call.
(It didn't work.)
 Sunrise from our balcony.
 Starting the day looking out across Frenchman's Bay in Bar Harbor, Maine can't be beat.
 The view from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park was breathtaking.
 We stopped to take it all in.
 The boys I love and the view I was longing for.
We loved watching the waves crash at Thunder Hole.
And everywhere we turned in Acadia, there were amazing things to see.
We saw puffins...

...and whales...
...including a mother and her calf! 
 We saw lots of lobster boats!

Which sure made two boys happy!!

 There were lighthouses everywhere...

 ...and an eager photographer ready for the next best shot!

We took a tour of Fenway Park...

 ...where we sat in some of the most famous seats in baseball...

And we wrapped up our New England vacation with a "slice of heaven" from Mystic Pizza!

I cannot say enough about our trip.  We set out to "see something majestic" and filled our hearts, souls and photo albums with more scenes that fit that description than we could have planned for!  We savored every moment of our family time, filling the time with laughter and joy at every turn (well, except maybe when we were all freezing on the whale watching boat!) 

Thanks to both of my boys for such an amazing time together!  
And thanks be to the One who made it all!!

Saturday, May 03, 2014

What do you call a dinner conversation that involved hearing about how your husband can identify which guy in a parking lot will have tools so he could crawl under his Jeep and fix the starter?  Or when Flash talks about some punk kid that goes to school with him flippantly calling Flash "buddy" at the tux shop, and your son's equally sarcastic response?  Or learning that your husband may have been on speaker phone instead of hold at Auto Zone when he said, "Man, I have to piss like a racehorse?" Or how Flash had to think of how to delicately remind The Mister about the button in the Jeep that he had just recently told us about when The Mister couldn't get it into neutral?  Or when the boys try to explain why The Mister smells a little perfume-y.  Or when the teenager starts singing along to Bonnie Tyler's "I Need a Hero"?  What do you call conversation over dinner where your husband and teenager have you laughing so hard you cry, recounting the events of their afternoon?  Well, at my house, we'd call it, "typical."


If you're stopped at a light and some guy in the lane next to you jumps out of his car and walks over to you and unexpectedly slams the hood of your car shut and then gets back into his car and drives off, do you try to catch up so you can thank him or do you laugh thinking about how odd the whole scene must seem to everyone else on the road, when you know that guy was actually your husband shutting your hood  after you had to jump start his Jeep?  

Friday, May 02, 2014


I remember birthday parties and themes over the years.  A construction cake, sleepovers, building a stand for a new fish tank.  Giggles and smiles and celebrations of an amazing child.  But this one is different.  This one is hard.  This one is eighteen.

I think about it every year, the drive to the hospital, the complications in delivery, the  blue of his little feet and his cry, when it finally came.  I remember missing my mom with an ache that hurt more than giving birth.  The days following are the proverbial blur - summed up by saying I had never before felt so unprepared.  For a girl who had graduated with honors, I had no idea how to get this child to stop crying - something that seemed like it should be so fundamentally easy at that point.

We've journeyed through life - through divorce and relocating, through the Year of the Death Glare (12 was tough on us both), through first girlfriends, hard classes, learning to ride a bike, then drive a car; and most recently applying for college.

We have yelled, cried, sobbed, laughed, held grudges, forgiven each other, hugged, smiled, winked, smirked and wrestled.  We've consoled each other, made tough decisions together and forged our way through life together.  He's been my constant companion for all the years.  

His nickname has never seemed as appropriate as it does today.  Eighteen years?  They've gone by in a flash.  It isn't possible for me to be the mother, a woman in her early forties trying to balance college money and retirement savings.  And when I look at him, it doesn't seem possible that he can be the same boy as the little blonde boy walking around the house with an audio cable - "plugging" into the couch cushion and speaking in martian to the other end.  It's easy to say, "Where did the time go?" but if you're a parent, you know the answer.

It was spent holding a crying baby with tears running down your own face because you can't figure out what's wrong and you just wish he could tell you.  It's spent trying to figure out what your preschooler is trying to tell you from the back seat and finally realizing he's talking about a yo-yo - something you've never shown him or talked about - realizing he's now learning without you for the first time in both your lives.  It's spent holding onto the back of a bike and lying to your child when you promise you're not going to let go, you're not going to let him fall.  It's spent pouring over a math textbook that might as well be written in Greek knowing that despite your education degree, you cannot figure our your middle schooler's math assignment.  It's spent worrying about him letting him in to the house and staying safe until you get home from work.   The time is spent shopping for new shoes and new sweatshirts (red when he was seven, orange when he was a teen, and now green).  The time was spent in parent teacher conferences wondering if you've put too much on his shoulders at such a young age - is freshman English too much for a seventh grader?  The time is spent driving to the apple orchard, the strawberry patch, Bowman's Tower, the shore, Tennessee, Michigan, back and forth to Cleveland so he can meet up with his grandparents... the time has been poured, moment by moment, hoping that everything you did would amount to something.  More than making memories together, you prayed all along that you were making a man - helping to create a human being that would be loved deeply for all of his life (by more than you just you!)

It's not that he's not ready to be an adult and to move on.  It's not that I think he's not prepared, or that he'll fall flat on his face. No, it's that he is ready.  That he'll do just fine.  He's going to be better than fine.   It's just that he won't be here.  I won't hear about his day every night.  I won't sit around the dinner table with him and hear about all his friends, his Calc test, his work schedule or his plans for the weekend.  I won't have him around, cracking jokes at my expense or wrestling with The Mister.  He won't be here playing cards, mowing the lawn or riding with me on our drive to school every morning.  I'm going to miss him so.  We are going to miss him so. 

And so today, we will celebrate this milestone birthday.  Tomorrow is prom, next month graduation and in the fall - well, let's not even talk about that today.   For the one thing I've learned over all these years is that as painful as giving birth was, as much as I cannot truly think too hard about all that happened that day or how truly terrified I was, I know this: giving him wings is proving to be as painful and as terrifying.

Happy birthday, Flash.  I love you!! 

Sunday, April 27, 2014

We don't make waffles very often around here, but this morning I thought they sounded delish.   I made up the batter and then pulled Mom's waffle iron down from the top shelf in the pantry.  I set it on the counter, plugged it in and just stood for a moment, thinking about Mom.

Julie and I got her this waffle iron for Mother's Day or Christmas or her birthday, I don't remember now the occasion, just that we knew she'd love it.  And she was so excited when she opened it up!  Somewhere in the cleaning up of all the wrappings and the box, however, the instructions were accidentally thrown away, and Mom wasn't sure how it worked.  She didn't know how long to cook waffles.  And so the waffle iron sat, in the way back of the cabinet for years.  

After Mom died, Dad asked Julie and I to take anything from the pots and pans that we might be able to put to use.  When we came across the waffle iron, I decided I would take it home and see if I could figure it out without instructions.

It was probably weeks later when, as a young bride, I decided to try my hand at making waffles.  I followed a recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and then plugged in the waffle iron to preheat.  I was looking through cookbooks trying to see if any of them said how long to cook a waffle, when a loud chirping sound came from the waffle iron.  

The tears just rolled down my face.  I couldn't stop.  My husband came in to the kitchen to find me sobbing.  He couldn't understand why a chirping waffle iron would make me cry.

So every time I get it out, and especially when I hear the chirp, my heart aches for Mom.  Especially today.  

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Jim vs. James

There is quite a difference between Jim Nantz calling the Matser's golf tournament at Augusta this weekend, and The Mister's running commentary...

Nantz: "...that ball needs to slow down...slow down...."
Mister: "...that ball needs to f'ing stop!"

Nantz: "That shot came up woefully short!"
Mister: "What the hell was that?  Hit the ball!"

Nantz: "That was definitely too much wood."
Mister: "That's what she said!"

Ahh, The Master's will never be the same.

But Mom, why did you have to fertilize the lawn today?!?

Thursday, March 06, 2014

How I Came To Give Up Tropical Fruit for Lent

Arriving home at quarter to ten after a very long day at work, I lamented to The mister that I had yet to figure out what to give up for Lent.  "I thought about giving up soda again, but I had a Diet Coke at ten this morning, so that idea is out.  I thought about giving up sweets, but I grabbed a candy bar on my way to the basketball game tonight in lieu of dinner.  I thought about giving up flour, but I had a leftover dinner roll with my salad at lunch today.  Sigh.  I don't know what to give up this year!"

"How about giving up popcorn?  You love popcorn!" suggested my non-practicing Catholic husband.

"Yeah, well, I had popcorn at the basketball game."

"Ah, well, there goes that idea.  How about grad school?!" he joked.

"While I would LOVE to give up grad school, that' snot very feasible at this moment.  But I like your thinking!   I guess the only thing left for me to give up for Lent!" I teased back.

"Sex?!?  Wait, there must be another option!" he quickly replied.  "Have you had an orange today?"

"An orange?" I asked.  "Um, no.  But I don't eat a lot of oranges, so that wouldn't really be much of a sacrifice..."

"Well, then, how about all tropical fruits?!"

"All tropical fruits?!?  You think I should give up tropical fruits for Lent?!?"

"Well, it's a better option than giving up sex, that's for sure!"

"So when I get to the Pearly gates, I am going to have to look my Maker in the eye knowing that I gave up tropical fruits for Lent."

"I think He will be very proud of you."

I can always count on The Mister to make me laugh, and tonight he did just that, just when I needed it most.  It' swell worth the sacrifice of pineapple on my pizza or a clementine in my lunch to laugh with The Mister.

Tropical fruits?!?