Friday, April 29, 2011

Friends in High Places

The husband gave me a call last night saying a friend of ours had extra tickets to the Viking Draft Party and would I mind if he and the boy went.  Of course I wouldn't let him pass up this opportunity.  Especially since I knew, given who he was going with, they would provide me with material.  And fodder they gave me.
Apparently, Sasquatch put in an early appearance:
Not many even saw him, he moved so quickly.  Hence the blur.
I thoroughly enjoyed my boys showing the cheerleaders how to do "toe pops" as they called them.
Um...boys...they're called "digs".  Any father/brother with sisters involved in dance for 11 years would know that.  And I'm sure the cheerleaders found your "toe pops"
But I doubt it was as amusing as the "Forrest Gump" wave.
Oh, to have a bubble cartoon over those cheerleaders heads...the fun I could have.
All in all it was a fairly early night.  They left after the Vikings chose FSU's Christian Ponder (which some say was a bad move.  Given the Vikings NEED for a QB and the fact that this was the first time since 1999 that 3 QBs went in the top 10, I'm going to say we're lucky to have him.  Brains AND brawn...UFF-ta!) and were home by 930 with t-shirts, Vikings glasses (the drinking variety) and various paraphernalia.
With apologies to Mel Brooks..."It's good to know the Kings". 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Bank of Mom

Ever feel like an ATM machine? too.  And the next few weeks are going to get SO much worse.
I'll start with the boy.  A week from Saturday is prom. At least he didn't wait til the last minute to ask someone but still, it is NOT a cheap night. Tickets=$120 (pair). Tux=$130(and that was with a $40 coupon). Bus=$30@ (his date is buying those...bless her heart). Corsage=$30.  That's the MUSTS.  I'm sure I'll be nickeled and dimed the week before.  We agreed to split the cost of his expenses.  Then there was the second ACT test with the writing portion=$48 PLUS $10x3 for the three additional reporting fees to scholarship programs.   And while we have sent his ACT scores to desired colleges, those colleges will require an application with a $35-50 fee...x4. This summer, we have senior pictures which I believe will be a MINIMUM of $400.  Those are the expenses I KNOW about.  I'm afraid to think about the ones I don't know about.
Then there is my oldest daughter.  The 15 year old.  Yes...that means Drivers Ed this summer=$340.  Plus her dance workshop=$45 (which is actually CHEAP), the overnight dance camp=$300 (maybe less, depends on the result of fund raising).  Doesn't sound like THAT much but I happen to know that come fall, I will have TONS of dance line (school) related expenses.  She'll HAVE to have a new warm up suit as they changed the style this year and last year's she will not be able to wear except as scrubs.  And new shoes, one in nude, one in black.  And I'm sure there'll be other accessories.  
Next is the middle daughter.  We're sending her to a YMCA camp this year for 5 days.  That's $525.  Then there is basketball camp=$65.  And softball=$97. 
Finally there's Beanie.  She will be participating in a swim camp to improve her stroke technique=$185.  And softball=$97.  And dance camp=$100.  And FROG (church) camp=$50.  We're still debating basketball camp.
Can you say cha-CHING?
So, my husband and I are, AGAIN (this is an ongoing experiment), attempting to find a way for them to help out around the house to off set some of the costs and learn how to manage money.  My oldest daughter...can't keep a dime in her pocket that she doesn't spend it and this actually scares me.  So, here is the plan:  starting May 1, the younger two will be receiving weekly allowances but I will have debit accounts set up for the older two.  They will be paid 2x/month based on chores they have chosen (I have a list) to do.  From their accounts they have to pay for ANYTHING they want.  I'll make sure they have their summer basics, but beyond that, they'll have to buy it.  Movies?  Their account.  Caribou? cha-Ching.  Birthday gifts?  Their responsibility. get the picture.  Now, my goal here is two fold.  One is to teach them to not just budget, but to figure out what is a "want" and what is a "need".  And the second is that I want them to find a way to save (by save...I mean save for the future, not for next week).  But I think there needs to be some incentive.  So, I have agreed to match any amount of money they choose to transfer to their savings, with the understanding that once it is in their savings, it is no longer "touchable".  They want to save for some expensive piece of electronics (Itouch) or a ridiculous piece of apparel (yes, that would be the "Miss Me" jeans), then it is on THEM.  No help from this front.  The other key to this will be payment on chores performed.  They don't do them, they don't get paid.  This is how the real world works (or should).  Our house is NOT a welfare state.  Hopefully an added benefit that will shake out of this will  be that the older two learn how to prioritize and time management, two skills that BOTH are lacking and BOTH will need in the not too distant future.
We'll see how the great experiment plays out.  I am determined to make it work.  And really (no REALLY) not for my benefit but for theirs.  Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How Quickly the Face Changes

Last week, it was the face of happiness...braces off. 
Today, this is the face of strep. :-(
Just breaks my heart seeing them sick.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two Down, One to Go

It was a banner day yesterday.  My middle daughter did what my oldest son couldn't:  She got her braces off AHEAD of schedule. son went over his prescribed 2 years, mostly because he didn't (wouldn't) wear his bands consistently.  Need a refresher?  Click here.  She however was VERY good at wearing her bands and as a result got the braces off 3 months ahead of schedule.
As a mom am I allowed to say wow?  No I mean WOW!!!
She is one happy camper.  I would be too if I was minus all that hardware in my mouth.  I never had braces so I wouldn't know.  I just know that I honestly don't think I could go a two years without popcorn (well neither could she).

So, we're left with Beanie.  She's the child I was positive wouldn't need braces because her teeth came in PERFECT.  Ah...but...she chose to forgo a soother (binky), opting for her index finger.  When she decides to quit her finger, we'll be working on the third set of full mouth braces.
And since today IS Good Friday, I'm going to post another Sister Act 2 song.  This one is Joyful Joyful...mostly because it's one of those feel good songs that make me a little (OK, alot) weepy.  But it's a weepy glee.  Enjoy!

Fill us with the light of day INDEED!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Do Overs

I love our church.  I love the pastor.  I love how I can walk out of service each week and feel like the sermon was for me.  All me.  The current series is on praying and how it can change your life.  And how little of it we do and when we DO pray it is usually during times of duress.   Two Sundays ago, the lead pastor made a comment that has forced me to really turn introspective:  he said are you living a life filled with bitterness and unable/willing to forgive?  Why yes, I am.  But the question was WHOSE forgiveness did I need?
About 18 months ago, friends of 8 years severed their friendship with us.  While we had had some recent difficulties, assurances from them that "we have this connection" and "everything was back to better than good" seemed to diminish as we pushed for a reason why.  The reason?  "Other people" wouldn't like it if they continued their friendship with us so they were taking the path of least resistance.
I spent several months digging through my memory and pulling up each of my transgressions, some real, some imagined and apologizing for them, because I simply couldn't wrap my brain around who outside of 7th grade allows someone else to dictate who their friends can be?  When that didn't change, I sat back to examine our friendship and came to some startling (for me, for my husband not so startling) realizations.  The fault lay completely and totally with me.
You see,  I wanted the friendship so badly that I ignored that voice in the back of my head that said something was not right here.  It was mostly character issues where each time a circumstance happened, I shrugged off the voice, convincing myself that it was an aberration without considering that there seem to be A LOT of these aberrations.  It was also 8 years of being the house that hosted dinners and parties, being the one to buy concert tickets or play tickets, of making the vacation reservations with little reciprocation.  But here is the thing...THIS was who they are.  They never hid this or pretended differently so how can I be surprised when something "better" comes along that we are dropped like a dirty diaper.  Am I sad at this?  Sure I am.  But I think my bitterness and unforgiving attitude is more self directed.  I CHOSE to place a higher value on the friendship than they did.  I CHOSE  to ignore the warnings my head was giving me.  And my choice cost me.
Oddly enough, my sister in law was with us for the church service and commented that there was a really good article in a recent Oprah magazine on Letting Go that references Frank Luskin, a PhD from Stanford in counseling and health psychology and cofounder and director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project.  I just needed to know who I was seeking to forgive.  The mirror helped.
But while forgiveness concepts are simple, executing them are a little tougher.  "Forgiveness requires you to let go of your anger and hurt by being mindful and focusing on gratitude and kindness."  Tough?  For me, you bet. Aren't we our own worst critic?  But with Easter being this Sunday, I have decided that this is what I am going to do.  Because I NEED to.  I simply cannot continue to berate myself.  Since Spring and Easter are times of rebirth, I decided that this will be my time to emerge as a forgiven soul.
Back to do overs.  I know everyone always wants the opportunity to do something over, because we usually learn from our mistakes.  But I understand why we can't.  Those mistakes make us who we are today.  Even if we did have the opportunity for do overs, while we probably wouldn't make the same mistakes, we'd still make other mistakes, and hopefully we'd learn from them as well, and then our life would become like the movie Groundhogs Day.  Then where would we be?  No.  I don't need a do over.  What I need is forgiveness.  And I'm in the execution process of that.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Competition 'Dos

It's that time of year again.   We are quickly approaching dance recital day.  We've already had dance picture day (and I saved Beanie from having to wear curlers to school by using my hot rollers after school and thanking GOD I had 2 hours before her pictures), and today was her dance competition.
Since we had to be up and out of the house by 8am, dressed, make up and hair done, I knew I didn't have the time to get enough coffee in me AND curl her hair (yes, it's all about ME) so I curled her hair last night.
We have two options when going with the overnight curls: blue sponge rollers (the smallest ones Goody makes)
If I use these I count on using  about 40 for Beanie's hair.  My other option is pink bendable rollers:
I actually prefer these as they are easier to work with.  I just thank God *I* am not the one who has to sleep on them. 
So, I'll share how I do this.  First and grossest.  DO NOT WASH HAIR.  Seriously.  Don't curl hair freshly washed, or even wet.  Hair needs to be dry and, yes, dirty for the curl to hold best.  My goal is to have her hair washed the day before I intend to curl.  Second...put the hair in the style that it is going to be worn.  For us, it is usually one of three options:  a high pony, a high half pony (front half of hair is pulled up and the back is left down and it's all curled), or a low pony.  Yes, there will be little wispies that escape when they sleep but IMO it is much easier to take a comb and spray them in place than it is to attempt to wrap a pony about curled hair and have it be secure.  Third...section the hair in SMALL sections.  Run hair gel through the section, making sure the entire section is coated but not drenched or the gel will never dry.  Roll hair as tight as you can.  Repeat.  About 50 billion times (no, not really, it just seems like it).  When done, it should look something like this:
This was probably about 25-30 rollers.  My oldest daughter usually requires about 45-50.  At this point, I do NOT spray the hair again.  If done correctly, there should be enough gel to hold the curl when they rollers are removed.  This is what they looked like (this morning) just out of rollers:
This costume required a scrunchie so I put it in now.  Then I combed back and sprayed all those little wispies that fell out of the pony.  I DO NOT SPRAY THE CURLS (typically hair spray has enough water that will pull out the curl). Then I separate the curls with my fingers so that it's fuller and pin down the curls in front.  Here is the end result:

These curls will last probably a good 2-3 days.  But she'll be washing her hair tonight.  She can handle dirty hair that long.  I can't.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Can You Miss What You Never Had?

Ah...the question du jour.  I had a friend give me one of these on you have one?
To the ordinary eye, it would appear to be a pancake turner.  NO...not a spatula, as my oldest daughter who took FACS, Family and  Consumer Science...AKA Home Ec., learned last year and will tell me each time I request she hand me a spatula that I am calling it by the wrong name.  Well, the ordinary eye would be correct.  It is in fact a pancake turner.  And no, with all the Pampered Chef gadgets and tools I own, I did not, before Friday, own a pancake turner.  I had always made due with the other turners in my gadget arsenal.
I made my daughters and their cousins pancakes this afternoon after church.  Now  I know what I have been missing.  No pancakes dripping over the edge to spill their batter before the pancake was turned.  It's lovely.  And to think, I didn't know what I was missing.
My mom was born 3 months after her father died.  Having an AWESOME dad myself, I remember asking my mom, when she was alive, if she ever missed not having a father.  And her response was always, you can't miss what you don't have.  And like the pancake turner, I can understand that.  Oh, she had an uncle who stood in the place of her father and even though he was much older than her father would have been,  I'm sure he was an adequate substitute.  But he wasn't the real thing.
Are the real things important?  Yes, I believe they are.  Like the friend who gave me the pancake turner.  It was thoughtful.  It was silly.  It was useful.  It made me laugh.  And each time I make pancakes now, I will think of that friend.  I will think of what I had before she came into my life and KNOW that if she wasn't in my life, you can bet I would miss her.  Before I had substitutes, but they can't compare to the real thing.
Can you miss what you never had?  No, I guess you can't.  But once you have it, you definitely will know what you were missing.