Dear Cody,

Recently you told me about something that happened at school. A group of the boys were teasing one of your female classmates, and so you stepped in and stood up for her, telling them to knock it off and leave her alone.

This is not the first time you have told me this kind of story. In fact, your continual sticking up for this particular classmate throughout the years is a lot of the reason why she has had a crush on you since kindergarten. Because you’re nice to her and you see her as a person, not a joke.

I want you to know that I admire and respect you for defending someone who couldn’t defend herself. What you did wasn’t easy, but it was good and it was right, even though it must have been hard. I love that fitting in is far less important to you than someone else’s feelings.

Doing the right thing, the good thing is often the harder road, but I think you somehow innately know that. These choices will continue to get more difficult as you get older and are faced with more and more seemingly gray situations and a variety of temptations.

Keep choosing right. Stand up for the defenseless, listen to your conscience, treat everyone you meet with kindness and respect, always keep your word, and do what you can to be a blessing to others. You are strong, much stronger than I ever was as a child, and for that I am grateful. You are kind, thoughtful, honest, sincere, and sensitive to others’ feelings. Don’t lose that. Keep doing what you’re doing and I promise, you will go far in life. I am so proud of the young man you are becoming and blessed beyond measure to be your mother.

All my love,

Mom

I think after last week’s disastrous movie choice of Labyrinth, the kids, with possibly the exception of Logan, were a bit wary of what I would choose next. “Hey, at least there was some entertainment value in making fun of it,” I defended.

When I announced that I had chosen The Neverending Story, another 80s classic, there was some skepticism from a couple in the crowd.

“Is it going to be as good as Labyrinth?” Cody said in a sarcastic tone.

“I promise, you’ll like this one,” I said. “No kid of mine CAN’T like this movie!” Which is true. I have tried hard to instill in my kids a sense of wonder, imagination, creativity, and an ability to believe that absolutely anything might be possible within the realm of fantasy. One of my kids is just too practical to have picked up this somewhat innate way of thinking, but the rest have a serious appreciation for the creative.

The opening credits, as those of us who know and love this movie remember, began with the decidedly old-fashioned 80s song of the same name. Groans filled the room. “Does this have SINGING in it, Mom?” asked Logan, who, despite enjoying Labyrinth, did not enjoy the ridiculous music. “No, this is the only music,” I promised.

I could tell right away Cody and Logan were fascinated by the story, if only because the protagonist was a boy around their age. As the movie went on, they were more and more absorbed, and I was enjoying watching their excitement over the story line even more than the actual movie, thinking of my first viewing around their age and how much the concept tickled my imagination. The girls had seen the movie before, but years ago, so Rachel was remembering it as it went on, while Andie had absolutely no recollection of it and didn’t seem too excited by it in any case, as she spent most of the time on her phone. Teenagers.

When we came to the part where Atreyu and Falcor are flying through Fantasia, all the kids started laughing. “Wow, great special effects, Mom!” Cody said. “It looks SO real!”

“You kids are spoiled by the amazing special effects we have these days,” I said grumpily, sounding scarily like my crotchety great-grandma. “This was just fine back when I was a kid.”

Despite the proclaimed horrific special effects, the boys in particular absolutely loved the movie, as I knew they would. Rachel liked it well enough, though she remembers loving it when she was much younger, and Andie thought it was “fine.”

Movies like this really separate the practically-minded from the fancifully-minded, don’t they? The practical just can’t enjoy this type of movie very much because it couldn’t really happen, while the fanciful are awed and inspired by the depth of creativity and imagination behind such a story, no matter their age.

How amazing would a well-done modern remake of this movie be?

Cody and Logan have been working with their dad for the better part of the last week. It has been a big adjustment for me because I am used to them being here all the time, unless they are at school. Now, they are working long days building fences, getting sunburned, and acquiring muscles.

I miss them. I miss their scrubby little faces, their noisy play, the way they make this house sound like a playground with their enthusiastic laughter and excitement. It’s like a tomb here now, with just the girls and me meeting in the hall or the kitchen every once in awhile, all doing our own thing. Yes, my working hours go by almost completely free of interruption, and no, I don’t miss the frantic knocking for things like, “Cody keeps calling me a baby,” or similar, but when I see their empty bedroom or go downstairs in search of some food or water, I feel a lurch in my stomach when I think about them being somewhere else.

Their dad got them a phone yesterday, which has been my saving grace, since last week I barely even talked to them. Since they got the phone, Cody has sent me no less than 2 videos, 3 pictures, and 31 texts. He even called me this morning. Here’s my favorite picture:

6-2-14

I love that, for now, I’m the main person on their minds and in their hearts while we’re separated. The sheer volume of contact confirms this.

I also have a feeling that by the end of the summer, my young sons aren’t going to look so young anymore. Sniff.

OK, so the kids and I had our weekly Family Movie Night tonight. I have been picking the movie since we started this little ritual because A. It’s extremely difficult to find a movie that we will all like with the fairly large age/gender ranges we have and B. If I don’t pick it, there will be arguments over what we watch that last the duration that an actual movie would. For now, it works.

My pick tonight: Labyrinth. I had vague fond memories of watching it at my friend Elisabeth’s house when I was 12 and, yes, I’m now embarrassed to admit, I LOVED this movie. Come on, I was 12.

Obviously I didn’t notice how weird and strange it was at that age.

My daughters, now almost-16, were giving me looks of reproach from the opening credits, which, of course, had the obligatory 80s electronic soundtrack. When the first horrifying David Bowie song came on, we girls rolled our eyes. “Yeah, the music is bad,” I said. “It was the 80s.”

The movie was mildly entertaining, despite the poor acting (I love Jennifer Connelly in, say, A Beautiful Mind, but her performance in this movie was stilted and robotic), until David Bowie, robed in all of his Goblin King glory, broke into gratuitous cheesy song with his goblin minions.

“Uh. UH,” I said. “If I had remembered this part, I would not have watched this movie ever again just BECAUSE of this part.”

“Seriously?” said Andie. “Just because of this part?”

I looked back at the screen and Bowie’s big hair and second-skin pants. “Oh, yeah. Seriously.”

From that point on, it went screaming downhill. We could not, nor did we ever, figure out the name of the big, hairy Muppet that Jennifer Connelly saved from the mob of biting stick wielders. Was it Luto? Bluto? Pluto? Gluto? We kept hearing all of these names. Even Jennifer herself didn’t seem to know. By the time Bowie showed up again with things ever so, um, NOT discreetly framed (did I mention the second-skin pants?), it was officially a 0-star in my personal movie world. And when, toward the end, he told the teenage Jennifer that all she had to do was “let me rule you,” I think I threw up a little. Ewww.

At the end, when the Muppet-esque weirdos showed up in Jennifer’s bedroom and they engaged in some unnatural, giant hug fest on her bed, I simply said, “I’m really sorry,” to the room in general.

“What? I LOVED it!” said Logan.

Evidently this movie’s suckage factor is in proportion to the viewer’s age.

I blame Facebook

Because, you know, Facebook is the source of All That Is Evil.

Seriously, so much time has gone by since I last posted, I can only chalk it up to the fact that I seem to now post the little things in my life to Facebook instead of to my blog. However, today’s little Facebook update seemed to me to warrant an actual blog post, and so here I am. (As an aside, when I decided that I should blog about this, I was actually excited about the prospect, since I seem to do little actual writing these days.)

Ha! I wrote the above in November. I have no clue what I was going to blog about. I must have gotten distracted.

I actually came over to my blog to share the awesome video that one of my friend’s posted on my Facebook wall of today’s school assembly. I still haven’t gotten the exact details, but evidently, Logan was one of the kids chosen to drum. He’s the one in the orange sweatshirt, the one jumping around like a crazy person, the one who gets REALLY INTO IT.

Imagine this…I didn’t know a thing about this assembly or Logan’s 3-minutes-of-fame until my friend posted the video. But when I asked him about it, Logan declared today one of the best in his entire life. =)

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=3649715301470

 

I was asked by Better Homes and Gardens to represent South Dakota in their State Fragrance Contest, going on now through the end of the month on their Facebook page. 51 bloggers, one from each state + Washington D.C., were given gift cards to purchase a Better Homes and Gardens wax warmer and wax cubes to invent a scent that represents our individual states. The blogger who receives the most votes for his/her fragrance receives 10-$25 gift cards to give out to blog readers, plus a trip to the Better Homes and Gardens headquarters. I’m sure the trip to BH&G is great, but I agreed to enter the contest on behalf of South Dakota just because it sounded like so much fun to play with different scents! (I’m also hoping to be able to get enough votes to be able to give 10 of my readers one of those $25 gift cards…so go vote!)

First of all, it had never even occurred to me to mix different scents of wax cubes. What a cool idea!

Secondly, although I knew the general theme I wanted the fragrance to have, I also knew that another sniffer would be helpful. With that in mind, I enlisted my friend Jo to help. It actually didn’t take us long to come up with the scent we named “Prairie Breeze,” which is made up of 1/2 cube French Lilac Flowers, 1 cube of Country Sunflower, and 1 cube of Line Dried Linen. The result is an outdoorsy, fresh, crisp, flowery scent that I’ve had going every day in my warmer since we made it. I love it!

Light blue = Line Dried Linen, Purple = French Lilac Flowers, Orange = Country Sunflower

I wanted to create a scent that represents the wonderfully clean, fresh air and wide open space we have here in our mostly rural state. We used a full cube of the Lilac at first (see picture), but it overpowered the other two, so we decided half a cube would be better. At just $2 a pop for a package of 6 wax cubes, scent creations are inexpensive and easy!

There are a variety of fragrances and warmers to choose from,

but this is the one I chose:

So go ahead and vote for your favorite fragrance, even if it’s not mine. There are some really yummy ones posted, i.e., Oregon’s “Oregon Berry Pie,” that I’m anxious to try out. Voting also gives you a chance to win a wax warmer and a 6-pack of wax cubes. You only get one vote though, so spend it wisely! Official rules can be viewed here.

Be sure to pass this on to your family and friends and/or post the contest on Facebook, if you want to help.

Blog block

I sat here for a couple hours this morning trying to decide what to write about. I have so many topics swirling around in my head, I couldn’t decide which one to go with. Should I blog about the 5-week-old Yorkie puppy we have been dog-sitting for the past week and how sad I am that she’s supposed to go home today because I’ve always wanted a Yorkie puppy and we were supposed to get one of her siblings but they all died? Maybe I should write about how crazy this summer has been with extra kids around for much of it (Andie has been baby-sitting). Then there’s the whole “I-can’t-wait-for-school-to-start-again” aspect as my kids tire of each others’ constant company and bicker more every day. Or I could talk about how having bigger kids really does mean dealing with bigger problems and how often I have been scrabbling for good ways to deal with said problems lately. I might explain why I haven’t posted in so long — lack of focus, uncertainty about the direction in which I want to take my blog and how to get it there — or the facelift my house interior received in the last month, thanks to my friend’s college-age daughter and some paint.

The truth is that I can’t decide which topic to focus on, and I need to get another post up yet today.

So, enjoy this picture of the adorable puppy we’ve been watching, plus Logan’s latest Mommy creation, complete with horrific spelling errors:

Puppy at 4 weeks old.

Translation: “It’s a beautiful day, time to have fun. It’s a beautiful day, the sun is bright, the flowers bloom, the trees grow. It’s a nice day, the butterflies flutter, the air is good, but I care about Mom. I care about you, your my mom. I care for you, you’re my mom, the best mom ever. I love you!”

There. I do believe I’ve given you your sugar fix for the day.

I knew the time would come. I really did. Still, secretly I hoped that maybe, just maybe, I’d be one of the few lucky ones to pass through this era unscathed, admired and adored, like I always was.

You see, I have become inexplicably, ridiculously, embarrassingly stupid.

And annoying.

Just ask my nearly-14-year-old daughters.

Rachel & Andie, age 6, when they still thought I was pretty cool

I’ve never subscribed to the idea that teenagers will absolutely have a phase of being disrespectful, rebellious and generally awful; I think this is just one of the many myths of our society. The number of times I’ve heard, “Oh boy, just wait until those girls are teenagers. You’re going to have fun with TWO teenage girls!,” is countless, as if cohabitation with teenagers is expected to be a recipe for misery.

I agree that teenagers can be miserable to live with. I certainly was a lot of the time. But teenagers or not, I still expect my kids to be kind, respectful and responsible. Of course they’ll have their moments; they’re going through a lot — hormonal changes, establishing independence, mood swings, mountains of homework, friend drama.

To be fair, my girls are sweet, thoughtful, helpful, caring, considerate and usually just all around lovely. But when they’re not, they’re really not. The sighs of disgust, eye rolling and general snippy-ness have become more frequent, especially this summer, as they’re forced to spend inordinate amounts of time with me and their younger brothers, all of whom evidently cause them a general feeling of annoyance.

It’s difficult adjusting to this new phase of life, one in which what I say is no longer unquestionable fact; where what I do is no longer openly admired; where my faults are becoming glaringly obvious in the eyes of teenagers trying to establish independence. Yes, it’s all part of the stretching and learning and the discovering of who they are and who they want to be, but it’s still hard for me to go from SuperMom to StupidMom.

I have a couple letters from each of the girls hanging above my desk, remnants of my glorious Mom-past. A snippet from Rachel’s long missive detailing why I’m a good mom, written when she was probably 6, in cramped, tight handwriting: “Your a really good mom I think your the best mom in the world I wish I had another mom wich makes 2 I want another mom just like you. I Don’t want any other mom in the holl world I want you your the best mom anyone could have you are really specle to me Love Rachel.”

Andie’s sweet little poems, written on a huge, hand-drawn picture of the sun and flowers: “You are the best mom that I know; I know this because you love me so,” and “I wrote this poem today; Just to make your day.”

As I was just sitting here trying to decide how to wrap this post up, Logan came in with his hands behind his back and said, “Mom, I love you so much, I brought you a surprise,” and presented me with this:

My surprise from Logan

“I pulled it out by the roots so we can re-plant it and it will turn into beautiful blossoms,” he told me, giving me a hug.

Beautiful blossoms picked by my youngest child = a reminder that my glory days aren’t quite over.

Once upon a time (yesterday), Logan and his mom (me) were going to pick up his sister (Andie) from her friend’s house.

As they drove down the gravel road that led to Scatterwood Lake, Logan’s mom noticed something on the road.

“Look!” she said. “There are some geese down there!”

“Where?” asked Logan, sitting as far forward in his seat as he could.

“Right there!” his mom said, pointing and slowing down, as their van came up slowly behind the family of waddling geese.

“Oh, they’re so cute!” said Logan, watching as the mother goose (at least, one would presume it was the mother goose) flew into the opposite ditch, clearly screeching something at her oblivious offspring, who proceeded to take off running as fast as their fat little bodies could go.

The babies, there were perhaps 7 or 8 of them, kept running, staying on the side of the road, all in a row, while the mother goose flew alongside in the other ditch, riled up and scared.

All of a sudden, the gosling in the back of the line tripped and fell, feathers fluffing everywhere. It picked itself up and took off running again, only to fall down again. This time, it didn’t get up.

Logan and his mom coasted up beside it to see what the problem was. The baby goose didn’t move.

“We should help it,” said Logan.

Logan’s mom saw the other babies at the intersection nearby, where their mother was herding them into the water in the ditch.

“I think we better wait to help it. We don’t want the mama goose to not help it because we touched it,” she said. “We’ll be right back here in a few minutes and we’ll see if the baby goose is still here. If it is, we’ll help it.”

“OK,” agreed Logan, and then he began to talk about all the things he would do with his new pet gosling.

A short time later, Logan, his sister and his mom came back to the place where the baby goose had fallen down.

It was nowhere to be seen.

Logan’s eyes filled with tears.

“It’s good that we can’t find it,” his mom told him. “That means that it’s with its family, right where it should be.”

Logan didn’t agree that the gosling should be with its family. He thought it should be going home with him. He got out of the van to walk down the road and double check that they hadn’t overlooked the would-be pet.

It still wasn’t there.

By this time, Logan had reconciled himself to the fact that the baby goose was, in fact, gone for good. He sighed as he climbed back in the van.

“I’ll just have to look for a cricket today so I can have that as a pet instead,” he told his mom. Privately, his mom thought there was quite a big difference between having a baby goose and having a cricket, but she simply nodded.

Unfortunately, no crickets seemed to be in the vicinity and/or available that day.

The next morning, when Logan went outside, he caught a toad. He promptly named it “Toady,” put it in a tall, white bucket, and fed it a moth that he found in the bathroom and 2 ticks that he found on the family dog, whose tick collar had evidently ceased to do its job.

THE END

Logan's new pet

My new table

I’ve had the same old cast-off, ugly table, complete with mismatching chairs, for about 13 years now. I’ve lamented its existence many times and wished for a new table and chairs, but it was just never in the budget.

I was finishing up some work this evening when Andie called up, “Dad’s here!” My jaw dropped as I came down the stairs and spotted this in my dining room:

My new table and chairs

I’m so ridiculously excited. Glen found this set at a rummage sale today and, knowing I have wanted this for years, he picked it up and had it all set up for me. It’s in excellent shape and sooooo much nicer than what I had before, which was bordering on embarrassing. Glen does so many thoughtful and generous things for me, despite the fact that we are divorced. Thank you, Glen, for making my day/week/month/year!

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