Just wake me when the ball starts dropping…..

celebration-horn-300x243I love the week between Christmas and New Years; the world just seems to slow down. I think I am going to spend the last few days of this year chilling out – maybe read some. Maybe sleep. One day we will visit family from out of town who came to see all of us after my father-in-law passed away last week at the age of 91. I am emotionally exhausted and I need to take a breather.

I want to wind the year down quietly. We were supposed to go skiing in Western Maryland this week and those plans have been put on hold. Not only because of my father-in-laws death – we still may have gone for a night or two- but also because there is only one slope open at the resort – and it is supposed to rain for the entire time we booked our place. If it happens to look more promising in the next couple days we can make the two-hour trek up to the resort and stay a night. I don’t ski anyway – I was hoping for snow tubing – which isn’t open. It is almost like the universe is saying, “just take a breather Anne”.

I have never been a big New Years Eve celebrator. That is not to say I haven’t tried to celebrate it but it always turned out flat- I never felt the elation when that clocked clicked into the New Year.

Maybe going from 1999-2000 was kind of exciting as my mom, my husband, and I sat up waiting for the some catastrophic event to happen because someone forgot to re-program the clock in some important computer somewhere. Nothing happened- which was reason to celebrate- I suppose.

I can recall yet another New Years Eve memory – one of me puking out the passenger side window of my boyfriends car… it was one of the rare times my parents allowed me to go out on New Years Eve in high school. That didn’t end well.

New years Eve is too forced a night for me – and there are too many nuts out drinking and getting behind the wheel. These days, Kevin and I don’t go out – the entire family falls asleep watching TV -after eating some yummy but not good for us food and I normally wake to the countdown of the new year and then wake whoever is piled on the couch and we sleepily cheer and hug and then we head to our respective beds and sleep away the first hours of the new year. It is lovely.

A couple years ago I awoke at 12:02 am and jumped up. I missed the turn of the new year! I always wake up. And as I woke from my haze of dismay I looked over to see my son, Luke, staring at the TV.

“Why didn’t you wake me?” I asked.

“Oh sorry.” He said “I didn’t want to wake you.”

“I told you to wake me before the ball dropped!”

“Oh – but your were really asleep…”

Gah! You can’t win with teens. I woke Kevin up and we went to bed – maybe just a little off kilter – amazing how our night of not celebrating still had a small iota of celebration in it such that if we missed that ball drop it was still a bit disappointing.

I hope someone wakes me this year if I am asleep. Wake me when the ball drops peeps!

As for resolutions, I stopped making them a long while ago. They never stick with me. I have resolved to quit cussing many times – well that didn’t work at all – my world loses a little color if I cant use salty language from time to time- ok it is more often than time to time but I like a lot of color in my world.

One year we had a cussing jar. We set it in our family room if Kevin(who rarely cusses) or I cussed we would have to put fifty cents in the jar. I think we collected a few dollars – not because I didn’t cuss- I just got plain irritated at the jar and the kids telling me I cussed- so they stopped telling me. Cuss jar forgotten – resolution forgotten.

Then there is the eating better resolution. I already eat pretty well and the things I eat that aren’t great for me I really enjoy eating. Like bagels.. I love them. I eat gluten free bagels most of the time and usually I only eat a half at breakfast. So on the days I want to eat one really super-good gluten filled bagel I am going to do it – and I am going to like it- ok maybe I have a bit of guilt but it’s short-lived. This same thing applies to cookies, ice cream and chocolate.

Do not deny me chocolate when I need it (I am feeling the urge now as I write…I think there is a piece of Ghirardelli in my freezer- Kevin is checking – God love that man. Yes – score – a hidden treat has been found.).

In the past I have resolved to pray more, read the Bible more, meditate more, better serve my fellowman, love more. More, more, better, better – those words just cause too much pressure and undo stress I think. So now I don’t make resolutions.

Eating better or praying more or being more loving aren’t bad things in themselves. They are all good things but there is something about these things when they come as a resolution in the new year that makes it seem required and for me that is too much pressure – what if I eat badly, what if I don’t pray for a few days, what if I am in a really crummy mood and not very loving for a day or two? Have I failed because I didn’t live up to my resolution?

Face it – most of folks who don’t make a resolution don’t live up to them. We are only human after all. I have realized that there are areas where I could strive to improve but if I don’t -I haven’t failed…I have just been human.

So this week I am going to be thankful for the year I am leaving behind. It was a tough year in many ways but it was also a year I learned much, and it was a year where I had much joy and many blessings.

I will look toward the next year with hope. Hope for a good year financially, and a good year for my teens -that they face their own challenges with strength and fortitude because being a teen these days is really hard.

I will pray for health and safety for my family. I will pray for my friends and for this world that seems riddled with anger and hate. I will hope that-though quieter- that love will win over loud nasty hate. I will always hope for peace…maybe it is lofty and a pie in the sky dream but I hope for it anyway.

In 2016, I hope I have more joy than hardship. I hope that when I am faced with the tough times I have the strength to get through them in one piece – and I pray that I will have my eyes wide open enough to see and cherish the many joys that will surely be part of my days. I hope that I will end the year a bit wiser then when it began. For that I will be grateful.

And I will always be grateful for chocolate.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Goodbyes and love  – Ball of sad

On Sunday, we took two of our three teens –my daughter and one of my sons- to Casey Hospice House in Rockville, MD to say goodbye to their grandfather -my father-in-law. We pulled up to a well-manicured building that looked pretty new. I could see in the summer the grounds would be quite beautiful.

I had given my three children – my boys, age 15, and my daughter, age 17, the choice of going to see him or to stay home. It’s a personal choice and I told them it was ok whatever they chose. Two of them felt like they wanted to say goodbye. One of my sons didn’t feel like he could handle seeing his grandfather. I could tell that he was anxious about it and I told him it was ok that whatever he decided was the right choice for him and there was no pressure for him to go.

It’s one of those things you don’t want your kids to have to face but I also know death is as much a part of life as living is. If they felt ready to see it then I was ok with that.

I don’t do well with death. I have lost a number of people in my life and it has never gotten easier but I have learned that the more I open myself to feeling the sadness and grief instead of running from it the more I am able to face it.

We had been losing Dad for a number of years to Alzheimer’s.  His condition has gotten much worse over the last 6 months. He is now in what is called late-stage Alzheimer’s. Last week he lost the ability to walk, eat on his own, and communicate clearly. He didn’t know his home anymore and became agitated and would try to ask if someone could take him home.

Dad and my mother-in-law have been being cared for at home by my brother-in -law who made their care his full time job 3 years ago. He gets relief from 2 other brothers regularly and the rest of us try to pitch in when we can. It has been a blessing that he has been able to be home for so long. Recently in home hospice care had also started at their primary doctors recommendation so they had a number of nurses, aides, and social workers coming in as well.

With six sons it has been possible for Dad to have home care until this past week when he took the big turn downward and the social worker that visited them a couple times a week recommended he go to a hospice house to be evaluated to see if he should be moved to a nursing facility or if he could go back home with 24 hour nursing care. Sadly, in hospice he began declining and it looks like he will be leaving us soon.

This was my first time in a hospice house and I was nervous wondering what it might be like.  Would my kids be freaked out? Would I? But I found the place comforting and warm. There was a big fireplace and sitting area. There were quite a few people sitting on comfortable looking couches by the fire. The staff was very nice and before we went into the room they updated Kevin on his fathers condition. She said he was declining but couldn’t give a timeframe of when he might pass.

We walked into a nice private room with a lounge chair and a window bench. My eyes went to the bed where the man I’ve know as Dad for 18 years lay sleeping soundly. He looked peaceful but that’s when reality hit me that he was really going to leave us soon and the tears began.

Though we had been saying goodbye to him for so long as his memory slipped away we still had his body- now we were really going to lose all of him. It is so final.  I wanted to hide my tears from my kids. But I couldn’t and I realized it was ok. Kevin and I could show our grief because that is part of life too.

I think in some ways I am relieved that he will be released from the clutches of Alzheimer’s that has taken away much of his quality of life. But the other part of me wants to keep him here because I love him so much and I am crushed by the reality that he will be physically gone. I also am so sad for my mother-in-law because she is losing the man she has been married to for 68 years.

My father-in-law was resting peacefully thanks to medication. Gone was the agitated and confused man from a few days before when he didn’t know his home was home anymore. I was glad my kids saw him like this – peaceful. I think seeing him upset would have been harder.

I leaned over and rubbed his warm shoulder and prayed for a bit and then I began talking out loud to him. I wanted my kids to feel free to speak to him if they felt like it- but they didn’t have to do anything. This was the first time they had ever been to a care facility such as this. I was worried they would be afraid. I wanted to somehow put them at ease but they were handling it ok.

We left my husband to be alone with his dad for a while. My kids and I sat together on old rocking chairs in the hallway- we cried and we talked.  I kept asking if they were ok. My son said he was shaken because he “hadn’t done anything like this before”- (saying goodbye to someone he knew that was going to die). He and my daughter both said they were glad they came to say their goodbyes but that it was very hard.

When Kevin came out of the room to get us I asked the kids if they wanted to go back in and they both said yes. I’m glad they wanted to – I think they’ll always know they got to say goodbye. I think it is closure for them.

I leaned over the man that has loved me like a daughter and whispered a few things in his ear – then I kissed his head.

I thanked him for loving me like his own child. I thanked him for raising the most wonderful son. I told him I would take care of Kevin, and I asked Dad to visit me in my dreams to let me know he is ok.

My son hugged him – tears flowing. He is my sensitive kid and I worried he would hold it all in. I’ll try to talk with him often over the next week. My heart hurts for my kid’s pain.

My daughter stood crying in the doorway – I can tell she was scared but didn’t want to be. She was faced looking into the hall and she would turn and look at Dad and then turn away and try not to cry but it wasn’t working. She’s pretty tough and I think this tug at her emotions threw her off a bit. She doesn’t like to cry but she let the tears come and I think this was good for her. It hurt me to see her so saddened but for her to let that out is a big deal.

We went to leave and my heart dropped. This may be the final goodbye. I could hardly step from the room. I kissed him again and I walked out – my heart breaking and my eyes zooming in on the exit door. I needed to get out before the dam broke.

I pushed out of the door and the sobs came. I turned around and looked at the rest of my family and realized we were all crying too. When we got back to the car we sat there for a little while trying to get it together. We were one ball of sad – but we were sad together.

I didn’t feel like going home right away and I felt like doing something happy. So we drove to see a big Christmas light display in a park not far away.

I think it lightened my kids’ mood and it did lighten mine. Kevin seemed glad for the distraction.

Sometimes the blend of sadness and happy and grief and joy that can exist in one day astounds me. They all exist at each second of the day. When we are sad and grieving we want life to stop and wait because we are so consumed with it but the world still throws some happiness and joy in there. Sometimes we experience them all in one day – it’s quite amazing.

I think Dad would have liked those lights. I remember when we all went to walk through a Christmas light display when we had just one small baby boy.  Dad picked our little son up and walked through the light displays reliving the wonder through a little boy’s eyes.

I’ll miss that man.

I told my kids that this is one of the hard parts of life – the part that we often want to avoid. But really this sadness is also a gift. This sadness comes because we loved someone so much. Love is a true blessing and when we feel grief it’s because we opened ourselves to connection and love.  The grief is hard  -but how great was that love. The pain is worth it.

 

  
  

Split trip- Gettysburg

In the run around whirl that is a life with three teens it is sometimes hard to stop and smell the roses. On any given day we are usually driving at least one teen to and from some activity. Last weekend it was a soccer tournament. It was being held in Gettysburg. PA – one of my favorotie places…but for 2 days of a long weekend? Blah!

My to do list at the farmstead was piling up. And another weekend away was not on my radar. It turns out I must have jinxed myself bc we got a reprieve and didn’t have to go on the first day of the tourney. But that was because my husband, Kevin, was getting over a terrible stomach flu that he had for a week and he ended up in the ER one stormy evening. On Saturday, he was still not feeling up to spending all day watching soccer- there were 4 games that ran all day. I got Luke a ride (thanks Coach!) and we stayed home and tried to tackle a few things on the long to do list despite my husband not be quite recovered. Half a day in and we reached our limit of outdoor work and decided to relax on the deck or nap. Even though we didn’t get much done it was nice to just do nothing for a bit. ALL the kids were out doing something – it was so quiet at home. I had a tiny bit of guilt that I didn’t watch the soccer games- but Luke broke his arm and is in a cast so I wasn’t sure how much playing time he would get – so skipping it for the day seemed ok.

But on Sunday we got up and packed the car and Kevin and I, and our two boys(my daughter opted out), headed out to Gettysburg College. There were swarms of soccer players and fans out there. I was shocked at the number. Gettysburg College is a beautiful college. I looked up online the cost to go there (hey I have three teens- gotta consider these things) and WHOA! It was pricey! Well – kids enjoy it today or get a scholarship! Of course the 14 year old boys were not as taken as we were. To them college is 100 years away. The homes surrounding the college are gorgeous. We would get excited seeing the greek letters on the outside of some of the homes. My boys werent a bit excited. Well they acted a tiny bit excited when asked -“Do you see that building? There’s the quad…look at the dorms”… I would get a slight peak of interest but not much. Oh well  – Kevin and I had fun.

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Luke and the soccer ball

 

We watched about 2 hours of soccer – the games had a huge break in between so we decided to grab Luke and head over to the battlefield. (stopping to smell the roses- get it?) Again the interest from the boys wasn’t quite there. They did enjoy the cannons and Ozzy seemed to like looking at the grave markers in the cemetery. The cemetery is my favorite place. I feel so calm there and I love that Lincoln stood there and gave the Gettysburg address. It gives me chills.

Site of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address

Site of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address

I am not a Civil War buff – but I do find the entire place interesting.  The history of that place (51,000 casualties in that 3 day battle) and what those battles meant can’t be lost even on the least interested in civil war history. Driving along the battlefield is cool but can get a little tedious if you aren’t into every detail of the battle.The views are worth it though. I pictured in my head what it must have been like for the soldiers on those fields way back in July of 1863. It is quite overwhelming. The rock formations of Devil’s Den are so awesome. So much fun to climb on. We did not have time this trip to do the battlefield drive nor did we do a Devils Den visit.-which may have been a smart thing to skip when you have a kid in a cast that needs to play another soccer game!

Devils Den

Devil’s Den Gettysburg, PA

The old Battle Map – it has been moved to Hanover PA

I know my fondness for Gettysburg began as a kid. I remember taking field trips with school and coming up with family. Way back when I recall a room where there was a giant map that lit up as a man talked about the battle. That map was moved in 2012 to Hanover, PA in York County. More info on that here. The Battlefield visitors center now is huge and modern. It houses a great museum that we toured a few years ago with all three kids. I hope to get back soon and tour it when there is more time.

The one thing you notice when you are in Gettysburg is it is so clean. Everywhere is clean. It reminds me of being in Disney and how you never saw a piece of trash- it was like little hands would come up out of the ground to swipe even the tiniest wrappers away…how did they do that?  The town itself is so inviting. Lots of fun shops and restaurants. Years ago Kevin and I stayed at a lovely B&B in town called the Brickhouse Inn. This place was great and still boasts great reviews I see. This time it was just a day trip as we are only about an hours drive from Gettysburg…but I fell in love with The Gettysburg Hotel and I hope to get back there for a night with Kevin maybe in the fall. This hotel is old but is renovated to add modern touches. If you want truly authentic old places stick to the B&Bs. There are many to choose from.

We dropped Luke off to get ready for his late afternoon game and we headed over to town to grab some lunch. We ate at the Pub Restaurant. It was really good. It was hopping too. Games on in the bar, seats filled indoors and out. A gorgeous Sunday will get the tourists and shoppers alike out and about I guess. The food was very good. Kevin and I opted for the same thing- a turkey club on pretzel bread. I had leftovers – it was pretty big. Ozzy had a burger which by the sheer fact he inhaled I know he enjoyed (or maybe he was just starving as it was a late lunch!) I think it was both. It was nice to get such good service and good food with a place that was so busy.

Because I take photos of the games, I brought my heavy Canon because it has the longest lens. When we decided to walk from the visitors center to the cemetery and back I was a bit bummed I brought the heavy one. I wish I had thought to put my Fitbit on so I knew how far we walked that day. It was a good clip. I did end up getting some nice photos from the camera. I am drawn to nature and kept stopping on the path through the woods that leads to the

IMG_6596cemetery to take pictures of tree bark and wildflowers. The boys were very patient! On the way I heard a man complaining about not having the right lens and Kevin looked at me and said “every photographers complaint”. Yes it is (he has heard me say this many times), unless you lug all your gear or two(or more) cameras with different size lenses with you. I too had my complaints wishing for a shorter lens in some places and a wide angle in others.  I had my phone with me too which I used a bit.  I could have taken my second camera but with a bad shoulder I may have been pressing my luck. My lovely sons and hubby did carry things for me though. Had I known that they would do this so willingly I may have added that second camera to my arsenal.

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Somehow the last two times I have been in Gettysburg it has been on Memorial Day weekend. The flags marking each grave are really something.

 

We watched a little more soccer(we won the last game-consolation game but its a win!) then headed to get some ice cream. We happened on a Mr. G’s home made ice cream shop right across from a beer garden and next to a wine garden…hello are we in heaven? I know where I am headed next time we come to town- hint they serve sangria…yes you know!

Line for the ice cream! You know its good stuff when there is a line out the door!

 

Artists along the street… and wine garden on the other side of the fence!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have to say trying to do stuff soccer and a visit to some of the historic sites in Gettysburg is a lot to take in a day – but it was fun. I hope my sons got a little something out of it. It is hard to impress a teen unless there is food or money dangling in front of them- but I enjoyed spending time with them and I enjoyed being in such a cool town. Gettysburg, PA is definitely worth a trip to see. There is a lot to do. You wont be bored – I promise (ok I cannot say this when it come to teens but the rest of you wont be bored…).

I created a photo gallery of the day (no soccer pics). You can find that here. ( a couple photo credits go to Kevin and Luke!)

Thanks for reading….

 

Beer garden and restaurant..

 

I loved the trees in the cemetery…

 

 

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Triumphs

I realize the longer I am a parent the less I know about parenting.   I wonder if other parents feel this way. I remember being a younger mom and getting in discussions about  the best child products like diapers and sippy cups, and I had my opinions on proper kid bedding,potty training, and how to handle tantrums. I would freely sit in those conversations where moms sometimes try to one-up each other on all things kid related – the pow wows where moms bond (and we did – we needed each other)…but I don’t do this anymore. I don’t have any opinions for you I have no clue what I am doing!  What I lack in knowledge I make up in tenacity.  I keep on trying.

My son Ozzy who I have written about on occasion has some special needs.  We adopted him when he was 2 1/2 yrs old. Early on we saw he was brilliant and he was different. He was more difficult than my other two kids who are also adopted. You couldn’t direct him the way you might direct other kids.  He is wired differently. He has had me baffled for years on how to motivate him, how to effectively discipline him, how to be the best parent to him that I can be. Frankly I was at my wits end last fall. I had no tactics left – nothing seemed to be motivating this very smart 14 year old kid. He had some bad vices that he liked very much but were not good for him – but at 14 you just don’t see the big picture. He was not trying in school. A child that consistently scored on the high school level on testing in grade school was now in high school and didn’t feel motivated to get good grades. He was angry – and showed it. I was hard pressed to find things about him I liked- but I did love him. Take away all my frustrations and hurt and anger and there was love.

I know God brought this child to our family for many reasons. I have often looked up at the sky and wondered why did you pick me to parent him? I am not equipped. My husband felt the same. But God knows what he is doing even when we do not see it..and I trusted in that knowing. I turned to my blog to vent and to reach out. Some of my venting was not well received but some people who had been in the same trenches as I reached out and helped me. And it is amazing what a little support can do. Realizing you are not the only person who sometimes doesn’t like their kid and sometimes want to throw your hands up and just give it all up is so comforting in an odd way.

The support was manna from heaven. God knows what he is doing. With a sense of renewal and some information in hand I moved forward to get some help for my son. As parents, we know that sometimes all we can do is present our children with opportunities but they are not always going to take them…it is the old you can lead a horse to water adage. With Ozzy I felt like my husband and I  had dangled the proverbial carrot in front of his nose thousands of times to no avail. We then resorted to consequences and had gotten little improvement. I just wasn’t sure what else to do but I was not prepared to do nothing…so I figured out that maybe we hadn’t dangled the right type of carrot in front of him.

Most teens know when you are trying to manipulate them as they typically have learned the art of manipulation as they have entered the world of social dynamics beginning probably before the 5th grade and by the time they hit high school they know when someone is trying to use reverse psychology on them. Ozzy was immature for his age and once in a while I could use reverse psychology on him but you just never knew how it might turn out. I really had nothing left – I was so lost on how to help him-I was tired of yelling and tired of threats  and lectures.  I figured I only had one thing left – honesty.  I began to use honesty…not brutal in your face honesty – which  am very capable of. I did not want not put him on the defense. I decided to just talk to my kid with compassion and respect and to see where that got me. It’s hard bc it can become a lecture especially if you sense the child isn’t really listening.  I had to temper myself and try not to get mad if he wasn’t receiviing what I was saying. I’m not patient so this was a good lesson for me. Let me tell you that these occasions are when I am on my best behavior – I still have my bouts of anger and frustration but I have learned that that really does nothing but make the people involved more angry and nothing gets fixed. Basically I am just a parent who is trying to be a better parent -not a perfect one.

In the long run Ozzy has to decide what he wants for himself in his life. I can lay out opportunities and I can be honest with him about his choices and possible outcomes – and he can choose whether to receive it. I can introduce ideas to him and hope he takes bite.  He has huge potential but he needs to see that. So I began to help him to see it. I can try to show him opportunities that he might take but the rest is up to him. Any triumphs are his and his alone though I will bask in the light of these triumphs as a proud mom should do – and any failures are also his…but he will never fail alone because as every parent knows we feel every single one even if they don’t.

And Ozzy has been triumphant and he has had setbacks. But I think we are seeing the triumphs outweigh the setbacks. I see that something has shifted in him. He isn’t as angry – he isn’t as closed off. He smiles more. He goes down to our gym and worksout bc he wants to be strong. He got on the honor roll last quarter. He joined a club that he loves – Robotics. It really made his experience in high school thus far bearable. He is becoming my kid that will try new things that might be out of his comfort zone but he jumps in anyway. He is quite amazing. He just joined the Civil Air Patrol and he is elated. With his interest in Engineering he wants to learn more about Aeronautics. 

He still has to balance that ying and yang. He maybe has matured enough to recognize that  some of his vices could have long term issues for him. The more he realizes we worry about his choices bc of how it can effect him and not because we are mean and don’t want him to have fun the more he will realize that to rebel is really hurting him.   He’s trying to learn impulse control and that is hard for a person who has attention deficit problems. 

I joked the other day to his Civil AIr Patrol leader that I am Ozzy’s manager.  But it’s a position I’m proud to have. It’s been a journey and I am a changed person because of it. God puts people in our lives for a reason -he thinks my husband and I are up to the challenge of raising this boy – and it has been a challenge on many days but it’s also a joy.  I pray every day that Ozzy will keep having triumphs that encourage him. I hope that he embraces love in his life and he realizes how much he is loved -even when we are upset with him.  I hope he sees that we are his biggest fans even though parents may seem to be buzz kills sometimes. 

It can be hard being a parent. I have reached the end of my rope many times with Ozzy and I have been baffled by what to do next- but somehow God has brought me support and love even though I’m not the perfect parent.  I don’t know what the end of the story will be for Ozzy. But I’d do know that I’m going to try to make the chapters I am part of building blocks for later chapters that  I hope will include more triumphs than setbacks. 

Thanks for reading. 

   
 

My Like/Dislike Relationship with Social Media (Part 1)

Ah the wonders of technology. When the clocked ticked over to the new
Millennium I had a cell phone and a computer but never would I have guessed that we would have access to phones that could get on the internet, tell us where we are on earth at any given moment, and let us play games to our hearts content. When I got my first smartphone -a blackberry- I was in love. A techie at heart I was enamored with the things these phones could do. And then we got tablets. I was falling all over myself happy!

Then came a little website called Facebook. I wasn’t sure what it was at first. I had seen highschool.com and also knew of MySpace I figured it was much like those sites and neither of these held my interest so I didn’t take much interest in Facebook at first. At the time I lived in a neighborhood and as other moms began signing up I decided to give it a try. Very quickly I was hooked. As the years have progressed I’ve developed a like/dislike relationship with social media.

In the infancy of social media my kids were too young to be on it. As more social media sites have been born and have blossomed so have my kids. Now I have teens and two use various forms of social media. Many kids flock to social media where they can quickly post a picture or snappy comment and then troll for likes from their friends. What if they don’t get enough likes? Will they be upset? What if someone stalks them or bullies them? It happens- as we know- and I’ve seen it firsthand. It’s exhausting as a parent to try and keep up with protecting our kids. Chatter is everywhere. Pictures fly back and forth like little cyber birds. It’s mind boggling. How do they keep track of it all?  Why are they so brazen with things they post? I don’t even think the answer is that complicated. They have never lived in a world without social media.

It seems the norm these days is to “talk” with friends over text or on social media and I think this isn’t teaching our kids how to deal with things face to face.  My daughter told me that one of her friends was upset with someone at school and I asked her if her friend was going to talk to her friend. “She will text her I guess”. She said. These are people who see each other in school every day. Why not sit down for a chat at lunch? I suppose it is easier to deal with an issue sometimes if we can just type our words and not actually have to look at a person in the eyes. But that is not teaching our kids true communication. We know it’s easy to type something and hit send before we consider our words. It’s easy because you don’t have to face the person you are communicating with.

I feel kind of sorry for our teens today. They aren’t learning certain social skills because social media is their virtual social life. That world has much different “rules of etiquette” than the real world.  You can be hurt because your friend blocks you from her account without telling you why, people can share your pictures, your private texts, and say unkind things at the touch of a button. Our kids can get hurt. We want to protect our kids from being hurt by others and from hurting themselves. I feel like I am running a race and sometimes I am a step ahead of my kid but lots of times I feel a step behind.

This is where my relationship with social media turns to dislike. The very thing I love -technology- has become a menace to me because I have children and it is another place where I need to try to protect them. I have seen the good and the bad of social media and as an adult I hope that I am mature enough to filter out the bad things, not get caught up in nasty conversations and I know I am not sending out questionable pictures of myself. But our kids are just learning…they don’t have the skills yet to always make the right choices. Hah many adults don’t either!

I know I have choices. I could choose not to allow my kids to have access to social media. I even have one teen that is not on it yet. He is not ready and thankfully is not interested. But I take the approach that when I think they are ready I will allow them to signup for one account on some form of social media. I know their user names and passwords and I tell them I have the right to check up on them and if there is a big issue I will remove their account. As they use their account wisely I allow them to get other accounts on social media…which means I have an account too!

I want my kids to learn how to use social media appropriately. I want them to see what is good about it and what is bad. I don’t think it is going away anytime soon. They are going to get hurt sometimes and sometimes they will make bad choices- it comes with being a teen – no parent is going to be able to stop it no matter how hard we try. But darn it I am going to try…darn social media! Bah humbug to technology!…nah just kidding – nothing can take the love of technology out of me…not even my teens!

Thanks for reading…(Part 2 – why I love social media – coming soon)

Some info on social media for parents (written by teens):

Part 1 https://lifecounselingcenter.wordpress.com/2015/01/03/becoming-informed-a-parents-guide-to-the-dangers-of-social-media-part-1/ 

Part 2 https://lifecounselingcenter.wordpress.com/2015/01/12/becoming-informed-a-parents-guide-to-social-media-part-2/

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Ozzy’s Sonnet

Ozzy wrote this sonnet as part of his Honors English class this week. He has a very low grade in this class and we are hoping his final exam and this sonnet might help his grade. Ozzy is gifted in language Arts. His grade in this class, and in most of his classes , are not representative of his ability. We know many factors play into this. Some if it is boredom, some maturity, some a result of his inability to focus and organize. English was hard – he had many assignments. Some he just didn’t do. Some he did partially. As a parent sometimes we can help in every way we can think of but in the end they have to want it more than we do. It’s their life after all.

I’ve exhausted myself trying to help him this first half of ninth grade. Now we are done. At times I felt like I was back in school. I have two other high schoolers to help too. I helped write an essay on Imagery last week for my son L. (“We” got a 90). Pretty good -but It is a lot sometimes.

Ozzy starts an entire new set of classes next week. We have teacher agreement for the next half of the year to have them assist me in helping him get homework handed in. I don’t know if this will happen. In honors classes there is an expectation and the workload is harder. Teachers aren’t accustomed to having to “hold a kids hand” in these classes. But they said they would work with Ozzy and me so I am crossing my fingers. We could put him in regular academic level classes where the workload is less but the feeling is he will then be too bored. I agree with that.

Sometimes I ask myself do I stop working so hard if he doesn’t really seem to care? He would rather be in robotics 24/7. There would be a lot less arguments, angry outbursts and much less strife for me if I just didn’t help him. But I can’t walk away bc I can see what he can’t. I can see the future and his potential. So I dance the dance because I can’t walk away. I can’t pretend not to care. My tactic is to work with him calmly and reward him when he gets things done. Sometimes it goes well and other times it doesn’t. This week it went pretty well. It was a big final exam week and for some reason there was a sonnet due in English. (His teacher is pretty hard ). I kept it positive and encouraged him to get something written. If he could get an idea going he would run with it. Ozzy is a very good writer and I’m finding he’s a pretty good poet too. He got it done! He handed it in!

His sonnet is below. It’s pretty great in this moms opinion. I might have made my last two lines a little different but I think this sonnet shows great creativity. I have no idea if this will pull up his grade but I find it a victory that he got it done and handed in. That’s an A in my book.

The Ant Hill

The ones at the bottom want for the top,
And the ones at the top kick their lessers;
But those who stayed away, they laugh and scoff.
For they alone can see the true message.
The endless struggle is all that they know,
They are ensnared in their beastly desire,
But when fed the beasts appetite just grows :
Like a greedy all consuming fire.
To kill the fire you must make it starve,
you must not play anyone else’s game.
For why climb a hill and be left with scars,
when walking around would be all the same?
So take the easy way through life,
or go your own way and do what you like.
—–
The Sonnet in its original form. (His handwriting is terrible-I know)

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Mommy Tantrums…

IMG_8353If a mommy has a tantrum when she is alone did she make a sound? This mommy did. I had a mommy tantrum this morning and it was loud -but it’s ok -nobody was here to feel my wrath except my dogs but they aren’t talking.

Have you ever just had one of THOSE days – then you snap? In my case it was only morning and I’m not at my best in the morning. I’m cranky and with the husband away and poor sleep it gets nasty. So, have you just had one of those days, minutes, seconds where you just lose it? Sometimes you are in the throes of the mommy tantrum and your like “dang-where did this come from?” I was ranting and yelling and swearing. ( I’m going to work on that during lent). I texted my kids bc I was mad at them. All of them at once. I hate being mad at my kids all at the same time. It’s yucky.

In this case I was mad about things that didn’t get done and I physically cannot do them. Which then makes me realize that living on this much land isn’t working like it used too. I know it’s the frustration that gets to me and especially at 6am!

I think it’s ok for a mommy to lose it sometimes as long as nobody gets hurt. It not easy being a mom. Nobody ever told me how hard teens were and I have 3 of them all at once! I am more exhausted now than when I had little ones. Back then it was my body getting tired –now it’s my brain.

My little children who thought I hung the moon- or at least they thought I was the boss -have become surly aliens who are developing their own ideas and habits. I’m loving this growth except for the surly part and the self-centeredness and some of the habits. Well sometimes I don’t like their ideas either but that’s what’s supposed to happen – right? L told me the other day in response to a comment I made about people eating dogs in South Korea that we should let them do their thing bc that’s what they do in that country -eat dogs. I guess if you looked at his statement fairly he’s right. We eat cows in this country and aren’t they sacred in India? But I can’t look at this fairly bc I adore dogs. In my home dogs are revered and gushed over. I can’t imagine wanting to eat an animal that needs us in the way a domesticated animal needs us. But I need to respect my child’s idea. He’s growing and getting his own opinions. Wonder how he will react when I tell him tonight that that round steak he’s eating is really dog. Nah! I’m kidding I wouldn’t do this – we aren’t even having round steak. But I’ll never get my mind around eating dogs. But I will listen to my child’s opinions. We might not always agree but I will always listen.

My kids who once liked to help out around here have become like sloths that you can’t get moving. Where is my little boy who would haul chicken feed and wood chips into the barn without attitude? Many teen parents can relate I am sure. And it is not only the ‘tude it’s that the quality of the work is really bad. That’s where my mommy tantrum rooted from this morning. Stuff left undone that effected our animals. Gah! I’m right to be irritated but probably the tantrum wasn’t helpful to anyone. But I’m going to own it. I had one and it’s not the last one I am sure. I’m not proud of it but I’m not going to pretend I’m this perfect mom. I’m so far from it!

This time nobody but the dogs witnessed my tantrum. They are mentally unscathed. One has his head on my foot as I’m writing this. The devotion of dogs. How can anyone eat them? I digress. Anyway aside from the very irritated texts my kids received from me they have no idea how bad I lost it. Once I recovered over some hot chocolate (bc I couldn’t rationalize wine that early in the day), I went on with my morning in ok spirits. I was just getting out of the shower when I got a text from Ozzy ( he just got the use of a very locked up phone) saying that he would come straight home after school today to complete all the stuff that hadn’t gotten done last night and this morning. Then he wrote “I’m in an exam. “.  I texted “ok.” He wrote: “bye, love you ” – and just that fast it was all ok.

Thanks for reading.

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