Saturday, November 30, 2013

Christmas Chaos

     From the week of Thanksgiving to the end of Christmas Break our entire family is in a state of chaos.  Since we are a blended family, my three older kids travel to their dads for a couple of days over our Turkey Break.  Now the fact that they go down is not the problem since my oldest does the driving; it is the planning of when they will go down.  I will ask every child and their dad at least 3 times before things are finalized.  This year they had Thanksgiving dinner with us and then drove to their dads...however where they were going to leave from was not clearly decided until we were walking out the door.  This one of many things that drive me insane during this holiday month.

    Up above I posted what has to be one of my favorite Christmas Parodies - The 12 Pains of Christmas by Bob Rivers.  I can relate to every single one of the days he brings up in the song.  The first one being finding a Christmas tree.  When I was younger, cutting down the tree with my kids just seemed like the natural thing to do.  Now it is fake all the way, and if you are smart, you buy a pre-lighted one in order to avoid the irritation of going through the lights.  However, you can have issues with a fake tree as well.  Unpacking a fake tree for the first time is easy because it fits nicely in the box making it easy to remove.  What is still a mystery to me, is why the damn tree that fit so well before refuses to go back in the box the way it came out.  This is where duct tape comes in handy because whether it wants to cooperate or not that tree is going to be contained.  A downfall of forcing the tree back into the box is the chance of screwing up the lights causing the next year to have a tree lit at the top and at the bottom while the middle remains dark, which is why we had to get a new tree this year.

     Next is putting up Christmas lights.  We live in a 3 story house, not including the basement, so putting up lights is not a tradition we partake in.  We do however have two columns leading up to our front door, which we do put rope lights on.  If you have ever seen the movie Christmas Vacation where Clark Griswold is attempting to out do every one in the neighborhood by putting lights on every inch of his house than you know that people can get crazy over lights.  I have even known it to become such a battle that two battling neighbors would sabotage each other.  One time in particular was when one took a bulb out of a large string of lights causing all the others to malfunction - just like the song.  The neighbor with all the lights out had his wife and two kids out going through every string with him until the culprit was found, which is a good reason to have rope lights.  I wonder if the person who came up with string lights has ever received threatening letters or calls?

     I am going to skip over three in the song because I have not had a hangover for over 10 years, another casualty of becoming parents - no life and you become a light weight. .  On to four - filling out #$@#% Christmas cards.  Now as the woman in the family, this seems to fall on me...which I absolutely hate.  It has to be one of the worst jobs at Christmas time.  After one year of not doing it at all, and of course getting scolded for it...I discovered a much easier way to do it - HALLMARK! Hallmark has all of my addresses and after I get done creating my card with the kids on it, I pay and hit send.  They make the cards and send them out.  It is so worth the cost because I no longer have to hand write each card and lick the horrible sticky stuff on the envelopes which I have learned can contain insect eggs.  BLECH!  Now if you don't want to pay to have them sent another option would be emailing a card you have made with a short letter underneath.  This way the only effort comes from making the card and typing in the note.

     Since I brought up spending money let's dive into number five - the bills you are stuck paying after Christmas.  All I have to say is I am very happy that tax refunds come out in February because if it were not for that extra money...our kids would be opening underwear and socks every year.  While I am on underwear and socks - both of my boys are extremely picky about these two things.  It has to be Under Armor for underwear and Nike socks, which after buying three of each item for each of the boys, I have to take out a small loan just to cover the cost.  Whatever happened to those huge underwear and sock bins where each pair was no more than $2?

    During every Christmas we try to spend time with both sides of the family (mine and my husband, Shawn).  I have never really struggled with this as I have been blessed with amazing in-laws.  No really they are great and I believe my hubby feels the same way.  The only thing I would say is that neither one of our dads is still living and we greatly miss both of them.  Now that being said I have friends who dread a day with the in-laws because, to put it bluntly, they treat them like they are less than worthy of being a part of their family.  As a matter of fact this brings to mind one of my dearest friends, who has to be one of the most giving, loving, and overall amazing people I know, yet her in-laws are horrible to her, which is also effecting her kids.  Her wonderful son even took it upon himself to stand up to them and defend his mother...yeah they still did not catch on.  I realize that there are people out there who, as parents, we may feel are not suitable for our kids.  However, once they have been married for over, ohhhh let's say 15 years it is time to pack up your ill will and get over it because eventually you may alienate your child's entire family including your grandchildren.   

      Now normally I do not mind putting money in the Salvation Army Ringer's kettle, however there have been a few that get a little pushy.  Throughout the holiday season I try to keep some loose change in my purse so my two youngest children can feel as if they are helping out.  On a couple of rare occasions I have been coinless and actually had the ringer tell me that cash works and even managed to explain to me where the nearest ATM is located.  At that moment I wanted to give this young man a lesson in manners using my foot but instead I quickly walked into the store and silently cursed him in my head.  Now I don't know if you have ever taken two girls under the age of 12 shopping with you, but it is kind of like jogging with high heels can't go as fast as you would like, you have to stop and rest a lot, you seem to get side tracked quite often, and when it seems like you are almost at the finish line...your heel breaks off and you have to limp the rest of the way.  By the time we got to the check out line, I was swearing revenge on their dad.  I bet you can guess what is coming - so as I walked out of the doors with one of the girls pouting and the other girl weeping that moron bell ringer approached me again asking if I had change now (in a very condescending tone); I happily looked at him and said "why yes I do but I need it to put into the offering plate at my Coven meeting, we are buying supplies for a new spell." Yep that left him speechless.

     We are getting close to the end of the song; number 8 is referring to kids and the blight that strikes them during this beautiful holiday season (insert sarcasm). I don't know if any of you out there have kids who have contracted this disease but I have to say the only cure comes at the end of Christmas Vacation.  What is this mysterious disease you ask?  It is called "I Want" and normally strikes kids under the age of 10.  Just when you think they have it all figured out what they want under the tree some parent-torturing commercial comes on with the #1 toy on the market and they want that too. However there is good news, when it comes to this disease it seems to disappear once they hit the tweens.  Instead the list consists of things that are far more expensive -the cost actually puts your car payment to shame. 

     I absolutely hate parking lots during the Christmas season because people are insane...kind of like the middle school drop off point with the psycho parents trying to push their kids out the door while the mini van is still moving.   Parking is also one area where my husband and I disagree.  I say park closer and he prefers the back.  We live in Iowa, in December it is very cold... I hate being cold.  The closer we are the less time I spend freezing my ass off.  Did I mention I HATE being cold. 

     Speaking of being cold...okay batteries not included has nothing to do with the cold but I could not think of a good transition into number 10 in the song.  Now sometimes toys do have the batteries included but more often than not they are those kind that last a whole 5 minutes after removing the toy from the packaging.  Now my mom will give our kids batteries as a stocking stuffer, which I love but once the batteries are in the "battery drawer" (yes we actually have a drawer in the mud room solely for batteries) it is first come first serve.  My boys have actually come to blows over this...any other time they will steal, yes steal, batteries from remotes, toys, and whatever else they can find that may have what they are so desperate acquire.  9 times out of 10 it is for their gaming controllers.  Little do they know that I have figured out their game and managed to switch the desired logs of energy with ones that are almost dead.  Yep I can be evil sometimes. 

     If I have not mentioned it before, I will confess it now...I am a T.V. junky.  I would attend a support group but I am afraid I would miss a show.  Anyway every year around the Christmas Season T.V. in inundated with Christmas specials.  Some are great and some make me want to throw myself into a frozen lake...and you all know I hate being cold.  Now my all time favorite special is A Christmas Story.  There are so many great one liners and mishaps that even after seeing it at least 100 times, it still makes me laugh.  However there is one I do not like and many of you may see this as horrific but It's A Wonderful Life is like nails on a chalkboard.  I have never liked it - every so often - I will give it another shot but it never works.  I could go on and on about this and the numerous shows that come on during this season but I will save you pain for fear that I might seem to resemble Scrooge.

     And now we are on the last day of the song...caroling.  To be completely honest, I really have never had an experience with carolers.  So I am not sure if this is something that would be annoying or not.  I guess if they were out of tune and had the words wrong I would be apt to throw the nearest item at them but if they were in tune and knew the words I may just join them.  I do really like the Christian Christmas songs, with my favorites being: Do You Hear What I Hear, Emmanuel, and Noel.  The beauty of these songs, if sung well, can make me tear up - but so can the stress of the season. 

     I know I have spent this whole post poking fun at the Christmas Season, but I really do love Christmas.  Watching others open the gifts I have given them and seeing the look of surprise on their faces has to be one of my favorite memories of all time.  It is hard to believe that this Christmas will be celebrated without my dad.  I have been with him on Christmas for 43 years; this one without him will be tough.  I want to end this post wishing all of you the happiest of holidays and a very blessed New Year. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Signs, Symptoms, and the Insanity of Getting Older and Facing Menopause

     Menopause is time in a woman's life when her periods (menstruation) eventually stop and the body goes through changes that no longer allow her to get pregnant. It is a natural event that normally occurs in women age 45 - 55.  Naturally occurs?  There is nothing natural about breaking into a sweat while standing still in a cold shower.

     I am a 44 year old woman in what medical experts call peri-menopause.  Which seems to be a test run of menopause.  I kid you not, when I go to bed at night in a room that is kept at a chilly 62 degrees in the winter, I will wake up in a pool of my own sweat having to change my t-shirt and underwear and put a dry blanket down.  This on top of the fact that it took me a good two hours to fall asleep!

      One of my favorite symptoms is the moodiness...I can go from perfectly happy to tears in less than one second.  My two older sons, I believe, may be plotting with my husband to build me a padded room with no sharp instruments and a built in air conditioner (which actually sounds quite peaceful and calming).  Give me a fridge and a TV and I won't come out until menopause is over, unless, of course, I have to pee.  That leads us into the next symptom, urine leakage.  Now I don't believe this is really a symptom of menopause but instead is due to the fact that I have squeezed four melon sized heads out of a very tiny opening.  If I cough - I pee, if I sneeze - I pee, if I laugh - I pee, if we hit a bump in the road - I pee, cry - pee, yell - pee, go upstairs - get the picture.  Just a word of advice have lots of extra underwear on hand or buy stock in panty liners.  You would think that after all the peeing and sweating that women would end up dehydrated - no such luck.
     Let's chat about fatigue or being dog tired, which is kind of a pain because you can be extremely tired and still have an issue falling asleep.  I am not completely convinced that my weariness has anything to do with menopause but more instead due to 9 pets, a husband, and 4 very busy children.  However, I can say that I can be seriously tired and still struggle with falling asleep.  This is why I always have a bottle of melatonin on hand as it is a natural supplement that assists one in sleeping.  Since we are discussing sleep, which normally takes place in the bedroom bringing up sex drive seems to be the next symptom to discuss.  I have not experienced this at all but I do have friends who are dealing with this problem.  My suggestion is to go see your doctor and let them know because there are supplements that you can take to help you get this drive back, that is if you are not too tired to actually go to the doctor.

     The last symptom I am going to discuss is irregular periods and worsening premenstrual syndrome.  I have really never dealt with the latter but the irregular periods are seriously annoying. It is like a practical joke your body plays on you.  You are in your room picking out your clothes for the day; you grab the light colored skinny jeans because there is no bloating and the white lace undies with the matching bra.  You decide against the bulky sweatshirt and go with the form fitting shirt - while looking in the mirror you decide to wear your hair down.  When you go to grab your brush you realize that your "lady drawer" is running worries you feel great and your friend just left a week ago.  Time to hit the mall with your bestie!  As you are walking into your favorite store - IT HITS!  The cramps come and you race to the mall bathrooms, which are clear on the other side.  You shuffle your feet because you are trying to hold it in by squeezing your legs together.  Once in the bathroom you dread what you are going to find.  Your whole demeanor changes as you wash your hands after dropping your undies in the trash.  At home you take off the skinny jeans, put your hair up, find your sweatpants and the bulky sweatshirt.  Let the moodiness begin!!!!


     On top of all of these lovely symptoms you also have to deal with getting older which includes gray hair, whiskers (yes you read correctly) on your chin, difficulty losing weight, having to stop for a break after going up a flight of stairs, making those noises older (face it you are the older) people make when getting out of a chair or bed, choosing the comfortable shoes instead of the stylish ones because your bunions are sore, and straining a muscle while you are sitting absolutely still.

     There are days when I am in my third hot flash, crying at the insurance commercial in front of me - tired and bloated - that I think all of this is due to the fact that Eve just had to take a bite out of that damn apple - if it had been chocolate I would be a tad more understanding but an apple is so not worth it. 


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

12 Things I Despise About Today's Politics and the People Involved in Them (REVISED)

I have started this post out several times - some with long drawn out explanations but I have since deleted and decided to make a list with just a little humor to go with it. On pictures I display I will have them linked so you can find where they originated from.

 12 Things I Despise About Today's Politics and the People Involved in Them

1. Birthers - no this is not another name for midwives but instead people who question our president's citizenship.
2. Gun Control - An issue that only becomes a topic right after a tragedy strikes, unfortunately all the control laws only really affect those who follow the laws and not the criminals who commit the horrible acts.

3. Marriage Equality - I cannot put it more perfectly than this illustration.
Cartoons By Jim

4. The Tea Party - Yeah not the one that was led by the Son's of Liberty back at the beginning of the American Revolution.  Instead this is a group that has no real platform other than reducing spending and taxes.  It has also split into several different tea parties, where some extreme ideas are coming into play.

5.Anthony Weiner - His name befits his actions as this New York congressman was found to be sexting selfies of his junk over social media.  Then after claiming he had ceased his carnal activity it was discovered that he had just created an alias by the name of Carlos Dangerous.  Still he decided to pursue the office of New York City Mayor but to the satisfaction of the political pool he was not able to rise to the occasion.  When asked how he felt about his loss - he proceeded to flip off the press. 
Anthony Weiner on Hannity.

  6. Rob Ford - I am still trying to understand why the Mayor of Toronto is such big news for us, other than it seems to be quite the distraction from the political storms blowing across our own country.  This rotund man has acquired several bad habits; smoking crack, drinking, and of course paying for sex.  I am thinking that he should befriend Weiner and throw one hell of a party.  Imagine the selfies being taken at that bash! The best part is that Ford refuses to step down from office and when the scandal became public his approval rating skyrocketed.  Oh Canada!

rob ford

7.Obamacare - where do I begin... First I have not and will not read the immense amount of pages in this piece of legislation (2000 I believe). I have, however educated myself on the main points.
a. After the extension those who do not have insurance will be paying a penalty.
b. If you already have insurance through your employer, Medicad/care, or veteran's plan there is no need to worry.
c. If the plan does not meet the bare minimum requirements of the ACA - you will need to seek out a better plan on the federal exchange. - side note here: this is what everyone is up in arms about as Obama said if you liked your plan you can keep it. Well apparently there are several plans that do not meet the minimum, therefore causing people to be dropped from plans, which would end up dropping them eventually if they fell ill...
d. If you already have a health condition no insurer and I mean NONE, can turn you down or charge you more.
e. When your child decides to, oh let's say go to medical school, you can keep them on your insurance until the age of 26.
See future posts for more info....There is one thing about this whole exchange system that really irks me.  If you are going to open it up to the country on a certain date please make sure you have given the system a test start up so you don't end up in the clusterf#@k they are stuck in now.  It does not take a genius to figure out that computers are not always cooperative.  The breakdown of communication and the push to get it ready on time took something that could have been successful and made it a failure in the eyes of those who were relying on it. Get it together Obama or my support on this will be fading away fast.

8. I have been an educator for well over 20 years and I have to say that NCLB and the addition of the Common Core are by far the worst pieces of legislation to exist.  Sure it all looks great on paper but in reality we are leaving kids behind and we are not teaching a room full of robot kids. Differentiation and Collaboration should be the main focus of every single class.  Curriculum maps are the perfect way to to build a class starting from the end goal and working your way back to where it begins.  This gives teachers a way to inject their own teaching personalities into the subjects they are teaching.  By creating one single curriculum that is supposed to follow at a certain pace does not allow much time for reteaching.  And to be perfectly seems as if we are trying to shove more information into the kids when they are still in elementary causing some of them to fall behind because their brains are not developed enough to take in so much.  This of course leaves them behind.  I could go on and on and on...but I will stop for now. Well except for the perfect cartoon drawn by Rob Smith Jr.

Nationally syndicated cartoonist Rob Smith Jr

9. The tapping of Angela Merkel's (the German Chancellor) cell phone - okay my opinion on this is "HOW IN THE HELL DID THEY GET CAUGHT"?  If you were shocked by this tidbit of news than you obviously don't realize that they are probably listening in to a few people in our country as well.  We are supposed to have one of the best foreign spy programs in the world and they get busted tapping the phone of an ally.  Seriously people the professional hackers out there are laughing at you!

10. While we are on the subject of someone listening in to our calls and reviewing our emails - I am not a big fan of the Patriot Act and I am not all warm and fuzzy about someone checking into or hearing what I am saying to others.  However (yes there is a however) I am doing absolutely nothing that would concern our government unless sending an email to my son's teacher about a test he would like to retake is a red flag for them.  Look I realize that there are things we like to keep private and if you are sneaking around behind your SO's back to see the neighbor down the street I can almost guarantee that the CIA is not going to tell your spouse what you are doing.  Now if you are communicating with someone from your work place than be prepared to deal with the crap storm coming your way because THEY can read your emails and texts if done on computers and phones they pay for.  So watch your words and don't say things that could be found out that you prefer to keep secret.
A cartoon by "America's Most Wanted Political Cartoonist" - Khalil Bendib

11. Conspiracy Theories - We did not land on the Moon, the Holocaust did not happen, there was no plane that hit the Pentagon, The New World Order, Aliens live under the White House, Obama is a Muslim extremist, Bill Clinton having associates assassinated, and my favorite being the fact that the Bush family had some part in JFK's assassination.  My annoyance is with the people who believe these things and then suck others into their craziness.

12. It didn't even take me one day before I would find another gripe to add to this post.  So we were watching the news this morning and the anchors were discussing two stories that were somewhat similar but the consequences are far different.  So the first was about Representative Trey Radel of Florida, who had just finished pleading guilty for the purchase of some cocaine and then was given one year of probation.   Radel does not plan to resign his office, even though several of his constituents have asked him to step down.  Obama even commented that this was a personal issue and did not seem to feel a resignation was in order.  Now this is all fine and dandy except that the federal government also involves itself in the cases where professional sports players are accused and put in front of a federal grand jury for the possible use of steroids.  There is not always evidence against the players they accuse.  Take for example A.Rod - who had to sit out for part of the season  because they believe that he has been using performance enhancing drugs.  There seems to be a double standard... a Representative buys cocaine and is allowed to handle it personally, where as a baseball player is accused and may lose everything including any recognitions given him and a chance at the Hall of Fame.  How is this fair? 

I could go on and maybe I will add to it in the future but for now I think it is time to put this post to rest.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Had it Up to Here With Yolo

YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE - this is what YOLO stands for and is probably one of the most misunderstood phrases out there.
As a matter of fact it may be easier to explain what YOLO is not!

YOLO is not going out and partying every night
YOLO is not getting so drunk that you pass out in the bathroom nearly drowning in the toilet you just happen to be puking in. 
YOLO is not smoking so much weed that you begin to see dancing objects in front of you.
YOLO is not attending your first ever pill party in hopes that you don't ingest drugs that should not be taken together. 
YOLO is not trying cocaine for the first time - telling yourself you will never do it again. 
YOLO is not getting behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of whatever you chose to take or drink.
YOLO is not going to a party and having unprotected sex with several partners and then 2 weeks later waiting to see if the stick has a negative or a positive on it. 
YOLO is not taking a gun and shooting it at drivers as they pass by.
YOLO is not taking your clothes off at a party because you are so wasted you have no clue as to what you are doing...that is until you see the pictures the next day. 
YOLO is not chatting with a complete stranger in a chat room and then offering to meet them.
  YOLO has become an excuse to be make horrible risk your life and others. 

What do you say to a doctor in the emergency room, while you are sitting next to a close friend suffering from severe alcohol poisoning - YOLO DOC?
What do you say to the paramedic implementing CPR on your boyfriend because he overdosed on drugs at some party - YOLO?
 What are you going to tell the family of your girlfriend who was killed in the car you were driving while wasted - YOLO?
How are you going to explain pictures of you bare ass naked to all the kids in school - YOLO?
What will you say to your parents when you find out you are pregnant and you have no clue who the father could be - YOLO?
Or standing in a court room being charged with the death of an innocent person because you thought it would be fun to shoot at their car - YOLO?

It may seem like all fun now but in the end the only thing this type of YOLOing will do for you is either cut your life short, another person's life short, or put you in a cell for a long time. 

The true essence of You Only Live Once is to take and make a positive difference in this world; create a life that is worth living for a long long time.  Life is truly precious, not something to be taken lightly.  In the words of Mary Oliver, "Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?"  Plan wisely, live long, respect yourself, and leave a legacy others will learn from. 

You only have one life to live...make it an honorable one. 

The Heart of a Football Mom

     It ended as quick as it began.  How did we get here already?  Was I prepared for this? Was he? I walked a little slower that night knowing it would be the last time.  With blankets and camera in hand, I walked through the stadium gates one last time.  Up the ramp, up the steps to my seat with the other varsity parents.  It was senior night and our son was being introduced along with 14 other players, honoring them on their last night.
Zachary Ryan Anderson, #81, and my amazing son
    The freshman team was still playing, so all the senior parents began reminiscing about getting to this moment.  Zach, our son, number 81 had been playing football since he was in 3rd grade.  First it was flag, next, in 5th and 6th grade, it was tackle.  He barely fit into the uniform.  Weighing in at a whole 50lbs, he was by far the smallest on the team.  Most moms would be panicked about their son being crushed, but not me.  I was one of the loudest parents in the stands.  Zach continued to play in 7th and 8th where they divide the boys into the heavy weights and light weights; he, of course was on the light weights and still one of the smallest and still not fitting into his pants.  He played some but not as much as he would have wanted.  Coaches loved him because he worked hard and one skill he had over all others was learning the plays.  It took him maybe a week to get them all down and then he was set.  He would take plays in to the QB play a couple of downs and then back out again.  Not exactly what he wanted but he would live with it for now.  There was still high school.

    While in 7th and 8th we discovered another skill Zach was blessed with...running fast.  When he was younger, Zach had the awful habit of walking on his toes.  No matter what we did or said he just could not stop.  At one point he even went through some physical therapy due to the fact that while toe-walking he had managed to shorten his Achilles tendons.  But, to no avail, he just could not remedy this problem.  It did, however, provide him with very strong muscular calves (which is his nickname), giving him the gift of running fast.  We knew that this would come in handy for high school football.  Being one of the fastest on the team, tends to give you an edge.   He dreamed of being a receiver - reaching out and snatching the ball from the air and taking it to the end zone.

     Zach's biggest obstacle was his size and being a tad worried about being flattened on the field.  His first two years in high school he still rode the bench a lot.  His fears seemed to be coming to life.  Getting bigger seemed to be the goal, so his dad had him work with a trainer working on lifting and stamina.  Zach sucked down protein shakes and lifted on an almost daily basis.  And then it happened, almost overnight - my son was taller, stronger, and faster.  His junior year he was the back-up receiver and towards the end even began starting.  His blocking still needed work but he had proven he could catch the ball and run.  In track he was running the 4x4 relay and the open 400 (meters).  While he really liked the relay, he would have much rather ran in the 200, but his coach had faith that he could make the 400 his race.  And he was right!  Zach went down as an alternate for the state track meet.

    Senior year, Zach was one of the two starting receivers for varsity.  My husband, Shawn and I decided we would get to every game - home and away.  His dad did the same.  We wanted to savor every second of his last year of Dodger football.  The year began with frustration; he was not getting the ball as much as he wanted but giving up was not his nature.

    It was time for the parents to report to the field and take their place next to their sons.  "Zach Anderson number 81" went out over the intercom.  God, this can't be his last game...please let him score...give him that one shining moment.  This field has been his second home for 4 years and this will be the last time he runs onto it with his uniform on.  After announcing the seniors, all the parents take another minute to hug the other players and wish them luck.  These are our boys, our sons, Zach's brothers and even though this is their final game the bond they have formed over the years will remain with them for many years to come.

    We made a line on either side of the tunnel, Zach was at the front of the line ready to lead the team onto the field one last time.  I held the tears back; it was hard but I managed.  We were only a few minutes into the first quarter - the QB steps back, looks down field and throws the ball.  My heart stops and I hold my breath.  Zach catches it and runs the remainder of the yardage for a touchdown.  The tears come.  A friend comes up the stairs and hugs me along with all the parents sitting with me.  One taps me and says, "that is the one he will remember".  I could not have been more proud.  The moment was bittersweet.  Our boys lost that night but I still walked away smiling.  A few weeks later Zach shared a little more about that moment.  He told me that he had put tape around his wrists with my dad's initials written on it.  My dad had passed away earlier in the year and Zach was very close to him.  When he hit the end zone he pointed the ball to the sky, giving my dad the ball.  Yep...I cried again.

    Now Zach is visiting colleges - a few that are recruiting him for his route, running and catching skills.  It is hard to believe that he will never dress in the Black and Red of the Dodgers again, but maybe, just maybe my time as a football mom will continue.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Beauty of Fall...Sometimes I Want to Kick it in the Teeth!

      Ahhhhh fall - football, bonfires, sweaters, and cool breezes! Shades of green, brown, yellow, orange, and red paint the trees.  The beauty autumn presents us is sometimes breathtaking.  And then............. the cool breeze turns into a strong wind, which causes the leaves to detach from the branches.  You all know what that means - yard work.  Now I don't mind dragging the rake and lawn bags out but the thing about leaves is they do not drop all at once.  I also swear that all our neighbors leaves blow into our yard - ON BOTH SIDES.  We also have a burn ban in our town so we have to bag it all.  Last year at this same time we had raked up a huge pile of leaves after my husband came home from work.  It was getting dark so we left the pile vowing to bag it in the morning.  However, when you live in Iowa the weather is very moody. When we woke up the next morning there was 5 inches of snow on the ground and the leaf pile was completely covered; it was not until spring that we were able to finally get to the leaves. Of course there was a huge dead spot where they sat.
   Before we moved here we lived in a newer area with no trees. Then we find this beautiful colonial home with trees and a huge yard.  We loved the trees until fall.... I sure miss a yard with no trees. 


Monday, November 4, 2013

A Confession of Some Sorts
Okay we have direct TV with hundreds of channels and yet there are times when we can find nothing on that we want to watch.  I am a guide flipper... I put the guide up and skim through it 2-3 times before I settle on something.  Well one day I decided to settle on A&E, which just happened to be showing an episode of Duck Dynasty.  I am almost embarrassed to admit this but I was hooked in less than 10 minutes!  Once I was hooked, I passed the addiction on to my husband and children; we have officially become Duck followers.

I have never been a fan of reality TV but for some reason this show is different.  No one is being voted off, running a race, facing horrible fears, or trying to be the ultimate hero. There is no money to win or fame to gain.  Just a close knit family who hunts, plays, works, and cooks together.  So since I managed to get my family addicted...I thought I would tackle a bigger audience.  Mwahahahahaha!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cleaning Your House While the Kids are Home is Like Brushing Your Teeth While Eating Oreos

My House will never be clean!!!!!!!!!!!
 I have found that having kids and a having a clean house are like oil and water - THEY DON'T MIX!!! I find myself apologizing to people for my messy house constantly. My worse offenders are my oldest and my youngest. The two in the middle TRY to pick up after themselves. This Lens introduces you to my world and the attempts I have made to keep our house fairly clean. I am still on that journey but love to talk about it.
You should have been here last week when   the house was clean....
 I remember clearly taking my daughter out to a friend's house to stay a while back; right outside the door was a sign that said "My House was Clean Last Week...Sorry You Missed it!" This made my husband and I chuckle to ourselves because that could be our family motto.

We live in a 5+ bedroom colonial brick home. Everyone has their own bedroom equipped with a dresser, TV, a place for their shoes, toy storage, and yes, a laundry hamper. Now within this household lives two adults (my husband and myself), a 16 year old boy, a 13 year old boy, a 9 year old girl and a 5 year old girl. If that isn't enough we also have 6 dogs (border collie/lab mix, vizsla, German short hair/lab mix, border collie, mini long-long haired daschund, English lab) and 3 cats. Insanity you say? Well for the most part we love living with a full home, fur and all. However trying to keep the house organized and clean is a task that would drive most people crazy and I do have my moments of wanting to crawl up in the fetal position and suck my thumb until the house is spotless.

Now my husband and I have done several things to keep our house somewhat systematic. When we first moved in to our house we had a closet in our entry way that could hold four jackets and two pairs of my husband’s size 14 shoes. We also had hooks for the kids to hang their coats and book bags on. For 5 years I dreamed of having cubbies built in place of the closet. Each kid would have their own cubby to store coats, bags, sports equipment, and a couple of pairs of shoes. I just knew that this would cause the kids to be more orderly with their belongings.  


My house is clean enough to be healthy but dirty enough to be happy

As I was saying I believed that this would keep the kids more organized, as well as, keep my floor clear of shoes, coats, and backpacks. Unfortunately I did not take into account that my kids have some sort of a blind spot on their left side. The reason I say this is because when they walk in the front door the cubbies are to their left, so you would assume that they would walk in the door and place their things in their cubby. Wrong!!! My kids walk right past the cubbies and begin dropping whatever they are carrying, leaving a trail behind them. As this happens I follow behind saying "You have cubbies!"

Now I know what you are thinking...we are the adults and we need to lay down the law. However, we are clearly outnumbered with 4 kids, 6 dogs, and 3 cats. Each kid has their own issue when it comes to picking up.

First there is the 17 year old boy. He is the stripper in the house. What I mean by this is that from the time he enters the door, after whatever sports practice he has been, he begins removing articles of clothing. His shoes, socks, sweats, sweatshirt, and last his shirt are scattered throughout the main floor of the house. After eating supper (leaving the dishes where he ate) he will take a shower forgetting about taking the clothes up to one of the 6 hampers provided for him upstairs. Now besides being a stripper, he is also has some sort of disability that keeps him from putting the towels he uses into the hamper in the bathroom. It is not unusual to find a plethora of wet smelly towels littering the floor. We have tried several attempts to cure him of this habit but to no avail he still cannot seem to find a normal place for his laundry. I would like to say that when we do point it out to him, he will immediately pick up his droppings and put them in their proper place.

Next we have the 15 year old boy...he has a condition called extreme laziness. Unlike his older brother, he does normally put his things into his cubby. However, he is plagued with the attitude of why clean up when it is just going to be a mess again. This belief applies mostly to his room and the kitchen. Just last night he was asking me to wash a bowl for him so he could make some soup in the microwave, claiming that he is just not good at washing dishes. I laughed and told him that if he wanted soup, he needed to clean his own bowl. He finally did but not without some groveling to get me to do it first. As for his room...have you ever seen a person walking around picking up cans to take to the redemption center? Well lets just say that if they somehow found their way in to my son's room, they would hit the bottle/can jackpot. He claims that he forgets to throw them away, but we know that it is the fact that he has to walk downstairs and throw them away in the kitchen. He has even used the I am waiting until I have more than one thing to throw away excuse. One thing? It is more like a whole garbage bag full - hefty size. He also has an aversion to making his bed, which he claims he does not know how to do. Now I realize that every morning when he gets up it looks like he was in a wrestling match with five WWE stars, but to pull up a sheet and comforter really is not that hard, yet he still rarely makes his bed. He also contributes to the towel chaos in the bathroom but tries to convince us that he does not use towels. The one thing we do not find of his around the house or on the floor of his room are clothes. He does somehow manage to put them in hampers strategically placed throughout the upstairs of the house.

Thirdly we have the 11 year old diva, I mean girl. She is the forgetful one...or so she would have us believe. If you ask her why her things are not in her cubby the answer we get is "I forgot", if you ask her why the game she got out 10 minutes before is not put away she will say "I forgot", if you ask her why her clothes are still in her clothes basket waiting to be put away, yep you guessed it "I forgot". Out of all the kids she is the one who will get out something to play with, use it for 10 minutes, then get sidetracked, and move on to a whole new activity forgetting about the one she had just gotten out. By the end of a Saturday you will be able to locate all the areas in which she occupied because of the items she has left throughout the house. Now while she is by far the largest contributor to our organized mess, she is also the one who helps the most when it comes time to clean it up.

Last is the 7 year old girl. Everyone has heard of the terrible twos, but let me assure you that a seven year old trying to become her own boss is far worse. Her idea of picking up is picking herself up and walking to another room. She has the attention span of a gnat, like many her age. She will start playing in one spot and end up in another with a whole different set of toys. She loves to help me clean but when it comes to picking up her own mess you would think that the sky is falling. It is something we work on daily.

While this whole article seems to be geared towards my personal experience, I want to take you back to the beginning and the sign I read "My House was Clean Last Week...Sorry you Missed it" that was on the outside of the door. I told the mom of my daughter's friend that I loved the sign and needed to find one for my house as well. She laughed and then passed on some advice; she told me that there would be plenty of time for a spotless house when the kids were grown and that she would much rather spend her time having fun with her kids instead of making sure every thing was off the floor, dusting, vacuuming, and making beds. Little did I realize that her time would be cut short. She passed away 5 months later.

The advice she gave me was right. I have watched people become so immersed in keeping their house spotless that nothing else matters. My house is a home, better known as an organized mess. I have learned to walk past the book bags on the floor, the shoes on the couch, and the empty plastic pop bottles left around. I do ask them to pick up after themselves but I also realize that kids make messes and when there are four of them plus whatever friends are over for the day, spending all my time following after them is time taken away from just having fun. So when you feel like screaming when things are not just so, realize that there will be time later, when the kids are grown, to have the perfectly clean house.

I'm not short, I'm Fun Sized

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