Friday, February 18, 2011

Changes

I realize my writing is all over the place lately. I can only say I have so much jumbled up in my mind right now that things just spill out and remain in their messy order.

After my last post about Elder Boy and his upcoming graduation, I remembered one major thing. It's something I had come to realize several months ago before ever moving to Colorado. My children are spoiled.

I remember my grandma saying when The Boy was born, "You can never spoil a child with too much love." She was correct. I love my children. They know I do. They're not spoiled in that way.

Mr. LH and I live on the cheap. We bargain shop, hunt for deals and make a small salary stretch. We've done that together since we were married and even before we met we were "thrifty". That will probably continue even when the kids have all grown and we aren't trying to raise a family of five. We can't afford to give the kids lots of things or take them to a lot of places (at least not the ones that cost money). They're not spoiled by getting too many "things".

What I mean is we do too much for them. Simple things.

We wake them up in the morning. How are they going to wake up in time for college classes or for work if Mom & Dad aren't there to get them up in time? Both boys (maybe even The Girl, too) are old enough to be able to use an alarm clock to wake up on their own.

I make the "Pickles'" breakfasts and lunches, fix their after school snacks, do their laundry (wash, dry, fold and put away). For a long time, everytime I would go to sit down, one of the kids would ask for something...food, a drink, even a pencil sharpener! They are all old enough to do all those things. Elder Boy is responsible for his own laundry, but even now I have to hint around about him doing it.

Homework time is a constant struggle with the "Pickles". They can't play until their homework is done, but then they take so long doing it, moaning and groaning about it most of the time, that most nights it's almost dinner time when they've finally finished - too late to go outside and play.

It's rare that any of the kids will do something on their own like making the bed, washing the dishes, cleaning their bathrooms, taking out the trash. They want a dog so badly, but they can't remember to feed the pets we already have. But why should they do any of that when Mr. LH and I have been doing it for them for so long now.

Elder Boy is constantly asking for money but he won't go get a job. And though he's submitted a couple applications, he doesn't take the next step to communicate with the companies. It's like he's expecting people to line up to offer him a position. So he has no job and asks for money. And though we tell him he needs to get a job, we say it while handing over the last 5, 10 or 20 dollar bill we have. Why should he be in a hurry to get a job when he gets money for nothing right here at home?

After mulling over all this in my head and discussing it with Mr. LH, we decided things were going to have to change. Doing less for them didn't mean we loved them less. It meant we wanted them to be able to take care of themselves and to grow into responsible, capable adults. So at dinner last night (without Elder Boy - he was with his girlfriend), Mr. LH and I discussed some things with the "Pickles". We explained the little things they could start doing on their own.

This morning, before I ever woke up, the "Pickles" got up on their own (The Boy set his alarm clock), they fixed their own breakfasts (I still made their lunches) and they had an extra hour to play before it was time to head off to school. That made them quite happy and they were very proud of themselves. We'll need to work on keeping track of the time because it was still a mad rush to get shoes and coats on and bookbags packed, but we can start small.

We're going to go back to (a variation of) the "chore chart" which was a very short-lived item in the house several years ago. We'll start assigning a day of the week for each child to assist with dinner prep.

Eventually, they'll be responsible for keeping track of their savings account registers (right now I just show them the interest they've earned from their savings). I've always told them we would take care of getting them the things they NEED. They would have to get the things they WANT on their own.

I'm sure it will take a lot of work in the beginning to get everyone following a new set of expectations and responsibilities, but I'm hoping, if Mr. LH and I are diligent about it, the "Pickles" will be much better prepared for adulthood than I feel Elder Boy is right now. I can only hope Elder Boy will learn a lot in the next 3 months about responsibility and doing what you have to do now so you can do what you want to do later.



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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Snow?

Sometimes the "Pickles" just make me laugh with the things they say. This morning, after several beautiful days with temperatures reaching the high 50's and low 60's...


The Boy: "Is it supposed to snow this weekend?"
Me: "I don't think so. Why?"
The Boy: "We're running a bit low."




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Growing Up

Yesterday, Elder Boy brought home his box of graduation announcements. I won't go into the details of how we were FINALLY able to obtain these announcements. I'll just say the school seems to leave communications up to the teenager and in this case, that wasn't the best route to take.



I've known about these announcements for the last several months. Shortly after moving to Colorado and enrolling Elder Boy at his new high school, we were bombarded by notices about "senior dues", cap and gown fees, class ring orders graduation and senior schedules and, of course, graduation announcements.

It was a running joke for awhile that we may have an extra year to take care of the senior requirements since his grades had more ups and downs than a roller coaster. On top of that, Elder Boy's plans for the future are so non-existent right now that I've stopped questioning him about them. For the last several weeks, I ceased nagging him about jobs, careers, college and grades. But the arrival of those graduation announcements brought it all back. That huge milestone is only 3 months away.

I hope he realizes what's coming. I worry that he's not ready. There is only so much explaining that can be done to a teen that has a deaf ear turned your way. You can't teach someone that doesn't want to be taught (or feels he doesn't need to be taught). Life right now for him is still his social circle.

I don't know if it's the thought of him leaving or the thought that he's not ready for it that bothers me. Whatever the reason, he is growing up. I don't mean his maturity. His mind and his attitude has matured sporadically for years now. I mean his age. Whether or not he or I or anyone else wants him to, he is going to be a legal adult soon and will have to face the challenges of adulthood as an adult. He'll have to sign up for the draft. He'll be able to vote. He'll need to choose his path in life. He will be held completely accountable for his own actions.

It's an exciting time. Part of me can't wait for him to learn the ways of the world. The possibilities for him are endless, but he'll also get a dose of the reality he has been refusing to acknowledge. I'm hoping life will teach him valuable lessons without being too harsh. I'm hoping he'll learn to look toward the future. To plan. To weigh his options instead of jumping at the easiest and most convenient solution.

He's looking forward to getting out from under parental rule. I can understand that. I've been there before. But I also remember the times I had to make those hard life decisions for myself. I had to take responsibility for making the wrong choices. I had to learn that in certain situations it's better to think more with my head and less with my heart. But my oldest son is all heart. What decisions will he make? What path will he choose?



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Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Hydrangea

Mr. LH knows how much I love Hydrangeas. My favorite flower. My favorite shrub. And when they bloom purple, I love them even more. I was so heart-broken to leave one behind in North Carolina. I had picked it up at the local Lowe's Hardware store at an end-of-season sale, planted it and babied it for the first couple of years. Then suddenly it started to thrive! The blooms grew bigger and more beautiful every year.

One of the first things I did upon learning of our move west was to see if Hydrangeas could survive here. I was thrilled to find out there were certain types that could. However, until we buy a home and plant our permanent roots here in Colorado, I won't be doing much gardening. No hydrangeas for now. But Mr. LH apparently had other ideas in mind.

Valentine's Day came. That morning, I was bringing laundry upstairs and happened to glance into the office (I always head for the office in the morning after the kids are off to school). I saw the huge blooms sitting on my desk.

At first I thought it was a bouquet with hydrangeas in it. Then I saw it was a potted plant! Oh, they were beautiful! Huge flowers in a pale blue lavender!


I'll need to move it to a bigger pot because I'm certainly not going to plant it at our rental house. It will look funny when the plant goes dormant. It will look like I have a potted stick in the house. But I'll have a hydrangea to place in the ground as soon as we find our new home where we can plant our roots.



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Saturday, February 12, 2011

Enjoy the Weather! It's the Only Weather You've Got

I remember years ago I would listed to WSJS talk radio in North Carolina and Joe Bastardi would always finish up his weather reports with "Enjoy the weather. It's the only weather you've got." I remind myself of that every time I go outside now and the temperatures are below freezing - almost below zero most mornings this time of year.


A couple months ago we were all wondering where the snow was. After the last few weeks, we've stopped wondering. Snow seems to be almost a weekly thing. And when the temp start to climb upwards and we get a couple of sunny "warm" days to enjoy, we know that just means more cold and frozen precipitation is on the way.

The Pickles seem to take it in stride. With the exception of a few bitterly cold morning walks to school, they gaily make their way with me down the road - stepping lightly over the icy patches and kicking balls of snow along the sidewalks. We take our time walking home in the afternoons and they'll dig around in the snow, make snowballs, look for animal footprints or just take in the scenery.

They wonder sometimes why schools closed so much in NC for snow. "Because so many people drive to school there but a lot of people here can walk if they have to," I would tell them. Then they would ask why we didn't walk to school in NC. We did live practically next door to the school. The truth is, I don't know. Most of the time, I just hopped in the car and drove around the corner to the school. On really nice days, I would walk up to their school to pick them up and it just caused all sorts of confusion with the kids and the staff (Who walks to the school to pick their kids up?). Again, I think it's just a different mindset.

When the temp dropped well below zero here a couple weeks ago (27 below), the Pickles were out of school for a couple days. We only had a couple inches of snow on the ground so they didn't understand what the problem was. I told them, "So many children walk to school here and it's just too cold to even go outside right now." It was my first experience with temperatures so low and I was worried about keeping them warm on the way to school (and myself warm for the trip back).

As soon as the extreme cold ended and they went back to school, the snow came again. It snowed so much, classes had a "biggest snowman building content" at school.

Looking at the size of the boulders they rolled, I think they got wrapped up in the "biggest" part of the contest and forgot they had to actually create a snowman. It made for a great photo opportunity that afternoon, though.



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