Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Exercise Fun

You all know this is my most favorite time of the year.  I wish summer could last for oh-about 11 of the 12 months of the year!  I have so much energy at this time of year.  I have been walking 2 or 3 miles in the mornings. It is fun looking for rabbits, checking out people's gardens as I cruise by, and seeing the occasional hawk or turkey.  And because the kids don't have some of their regular commitments I have been able to fit in some Zumba classes a couple nights a week. I adore working out to good music and while I could use a video at home, a group is way more fun.

Doing such things for myself is a summer treat.  I don't walk when it is cold and dark out. My body says that smart people are in bed then.  Also with transport duties for Rob for college I would have to get up significantly earlier than 5:20 if I wanted to hit a gym.  No thanks, 5:20 is early enough. Likewise, I am on the road with the kids during the school year when the Zumba class takes place. So I am treasuring these opportunities for indulging myself.  Admittedly my wife thinks I am a tad touched in the head, that I consider this all fun, but I do!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Room changes and parental needs

It seems like every few years, we have to re-think things.  Sometimes it is the way we do things. Sometimes it is the way we use our spaces.  This year seems to be one for dealing with changes in how we use our space.  Rob and KC have shared a bedroom for a long time now.  And Rob has been incomparably gracious about this.  But it seems unfair to me for a 20 year old to share a room with a 12 year old space hog.  KC just has no compunctions about usurping space!  Right up to leaving things on his big brothers bed!

And then there is Rob's increased work schedule with many late nights and the occasional early morning.  It has been hard to make sure that the younger guy's sleep was not disturbed.  So the past few weeks have seen us decluttering so that Lissa could move into a small room previously used as storage.  KC moved into Lissa's old room and Rob has his own space. It has been a lot of work, but the end result has been worth it.  I think the shared space was good for a long time.  I don't really buy into the American concept that everyone needs to have their own private room. But given the age difference the schedule differences between the two, it seemed only right.

Now that the hard parts were done, we have done the "fun" stuff, which involved decorating.  I refused to pay for painting Lissa's room over for KC  It had been painted a pale blue several years ago and is in great shape.  Green is his favorite color though, but since the room DID need new curtains I ordered some nice ones that combine both blue and the green he loves.  We let him choose Star Wars wall clings to put on the room and are moving his knick knack shelf over which is also green.  He is very happy.

Lissa also was told no repainting to the space. Again, wall clings to the rescue. Here, she just blew me away with her sense of style. The walls had been sponge painted a variety of colors that give the small space a funky boho feel. She chose silvery filigree clings with faux gems to accent the swirls, black leafy branches with bright silvery flowers and black and white butterflies.  The effect is stunningly beautiful,and it will be a space that I think she will enjoy for years. It does not look like a little girls room, but definately reads a young lady lives here!

In the midst of all of this, my mom who lives two states away is beginning to feel less capable of living that far away.  In her mind, she thinks she might want to live with us.  I listen to her talk of her days--taking naps when she wants and needs to, orderly meals and I confess to feeling terror.  Sheer unabashed terror.  I love my mom.  And if she needs to live here, she can and she will. But I deeply worry that her need for order and quiet will be unable to be met here.  Long before kids, my mom lived with us and I know she is remembering back to long candlelit dinners where we sat and talked for hours.  A house that was sparkling clean, all.the.time.  Order reassures her.  My house is more along the line of a happy hurricane with occasional calm when one is in the proverbial eye of the hurricane.  It is normal for us and I am --we are--used to this. To try and adapt to this in mid 80's?  That could be really hard.  I also want her relationship with my kids to continue to be the positive experience that it has been.  My mom can be harsh. She sees my kids at their best, but if she lives here, it will be seeing them warts and all.  The things that I expect to deal with will shock her and anger her.

Sooooo..... I am also working on helping mom to apply for senior housing. This would be the best of all possible worlds. Though the apartments are very small she could still bring more belongings than she could if she moves in with us permanently.  Also the locations for the housing in our city are very close to our home and she could spend as much time with us as she wants, yet still leave when her need for quiet and order arise.  I know many people are dealing with aging parents.  Yet I haven't got friends doing that who are also balancing the needs of a younger family, so I am feeling my way along this new road without a lot of guidance and support.  Life's journey is always going to show something new to explore, I guess!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

KC and Fathers Day

On the way back from our city's downtown festival, KC and I had a chance to talk. I knew something was bothering him. I could tell this morning.  It's just that thing you sense as a parent. Nothing specific, Just a set to his shoulders, a quietness that is at odds with his personality.  I had asked him earlier if things were okay and he said he'd talk to me later.

Walking was a good way to talk. It was just us. But we were moving, yet walking meant staying sort of in synch and step with each other.  It was sort of a way of being connected without looking and touching much. So with his hair brilliantly pink--a breast cancer fundraiser thing he did at the festival--we walked and talked.

He wanted to tell me how hard this weekend is.  Fathers Day advertising has apparently been beating him over the head the past week and it has reached the point where it was very painful.  If I listened to ads, I would have noticed that.  As it was, I was late buying my card for my FIL so clearly I was off my game.

For KC we know nothing about his dad. We have been able to find Mom Y and make contact but there are painful circumstances surrounding his father.  I have not shared those with KC.  I know someday I will have to.  I know I have read that our kids are more resiliant that we think and that they would rather know even a bad thing (and in this case it is a REALLY) bad thing than what they imagine.  But I am absolutely positive that this is not a level of knowledge this guy is ready for.

What I am grateful for is that he was comfortable sharing. My kids all understand that I have no relationship with my father.  My FIL is 'Dad' to me. But KC wisely said that his pain was different.  "At least you know what your dad looked like" he said.  "And even though he was a jerk and doesn't love you, you know that."  "I don't even know if my dad is black."

And he is right.  There is pain in the lack of love that my father has for me.  But I have a sense of identity.  I know my father's family, at least vaguely.  I have a sense of my heritage. For him, there isn't that.  He has decided that he does not want to ask Mom Y if she can share anything about his father.  He is afraid that it might be painful for her and that it would in his words "ruin any chance of a relationship" with her.

It really was a time when all I could do was hug him and tell him I knew he hurt and that I loved him.  It's not the kind of hurt I can heal, but I can be with him while he struggles.  I hope that helps.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Just witness

I have a friend at church who is fighting breast cancer.  She is a young mom, making a serious situation that much more serious and emotional.  She has just had her final infusion of chemo, with some form of surgery and radiation up next.

She has had an on line blog about her fight through a site called Caring Bridge.  I have read her posts and commented,as our paths don't cross that much in real life. (I go to church in a city rather distant from my home and she also lives in a different city from our church.)  So if she wasn't in church, I was not likely to see her.

She has been often in my thoughts, and I have struggled with what to right in the comments area of her blog. What to say when I do see her.  I am a "fixer" by nature.  I always have been.  If there is a problem, I'll map out a solution or a work around, something that makes things better.

Except that of course, I can't with this.  And it has left me feeling awkward and useless.  At which point I get furious with myself because clearly this situation should  not  be about Lee.  Come on!  My friend has cancer.  This is about her. Really, it is, and I truly get that.  But I felt like I wasn't being a good enough friend.  That the occasional cards, the hugs at church and the blog comments were not enough. There should be something more I could do.

Till I read her most recent post.  And she thanked us all, for being with her, for being present and a "witness" as she put it to this journey. I have been thinking of her words ever since.  I will have to work at reframing my concept of "helping."  Clearly you don't always need to bring the perfect gift basket, or find the perfect card, or know the perfect thing to do.  You just need to be there.  It was enough. I was enough, as were her other friends.

I need to really take this lesson to heart because my sense is that it translates to many aspects of my life.  It is good to fix. It is good to plan. It is also good to be present and do neither of those things.  I hope I can remember that.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Party like a Chef Star?

Another fun and busy weekend at our house!  Friday night the littles spent play time with our former neighbor.  Their "KLB Club" was together once more and they had a blast.  Lissa spent the night.  KC is still fearful of sleeping away from home, so I just said that he was still getting over his cold. But at least he had a big chunk of time with his buds and that was a good thing.

The next morning after KC and I did our usual errands, we picked up Lissa from the sleepover.  She had a Girl Scout trip Saturday afternoon so we dropped her off at that.  While she was gone, KC and I made fondant creations to decorate Rob's family birthday cake.  We made a big fry pan, a couple of plates, a hamburger with buns and cheese, and eggs. Oh and some cooking utensils.  Painted them with food coloring and froze them. It was super hot here Saturday and I had visions of squishy fondant puddles instead of our little art project!  That night after I got everyone to bed I finally made the cake.

Sunday morning was church and when we got home, my wife made her delicious frosting and I frosted the cake and put the "bacon and eggs" on the plate and some "eggs" to cook in the fry pan and set up the faux burger plate.  If I do say so, it looked amazing.  Rob had to work till 3.  It was pouring so I picked him up and when we got home we had his party.

Lissa's contribution was helping me find decorations and helping to put them up in the dining room. Rob had said he did not want a theme this year so we went with birthday banners and  all manner of glitzy stuff.  She had a blast doing it and felt super important to be in charge of the decorating.

The party was filled with laughter and silliness. It was especially poingnent as we know that next year he is turning 21. I am really sure that party will be with friends and coworkers and that family will have a smaller role in the day. But I hope that he will know that we are always here. We are the safe place to launch from, the familiar place to return to when life is crazy, the place where you can puzzle out the next step.  And where you will always get a hug.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Rob is 20

Today Rob turns 20.  20!!!! Wasn't it just last year we were planning that birthday party with the dinosaur bounce house?  No, I know it wasn't.  But the years have flown by in a blur.  A blur of wonderful memories.

Today he has decided that he wants to have over two good friends.  One is a young man he works with. The other is a young man he has known since the dino bounce house years.  He wants to cook a BBQ for he and Chris and Drew and sleep out in the back yard in the tent.

I have had to do little to prepare for this other than give him some money so he could shop for what he wants to cook.

Sunday afternoon when he gets home from work we have a tiny window where we will celebrate him with our family birthday party.  He leaves again at 5:30 because he wants to go to church and be part of this years youth group bridging ceremony.  Youth group alumni go back to wish the new graduates well and he would like to be there for that.  I love that he wants to do that.  His connections to the folks at church remain strong and important to him.  I am grateful for that.

In many ways I can see that this birthday is a portent.  He is on the edge of stepping more fully away to live his life independently.  Not quite there yet, wanting a separate gathering with friends, yet knowing that loving family are near.

But soon, I know that my birthday greetings may only be by text or Facebook.  Gifts mailed.   Today though, I celebrate the young man he has become.  Thoughtful.  Still quiet, but helpful.  Kind.  Young kids gravitate to Rob because he will nearly always find time for them and help them.  He will stop his soccer practice and dribble the ball with a little fellow.  He will take his sister and brother to the park for a bit after he gets home from work, just because their faces light up when he says he will.

I am so lucky to be able to say I am his mom!