Friday, December 28, 2007

A New Year To Come

Christmas is passing, a new year is closing in. I think I am glad. This has been a year of growth for me and both of my children. Next year will be also, I'm quite sure. But this was a hard year. I hope that next year's growth opportunities are easier won.

Zack has learned so much this year. About relationships, about work, and about himself. He is stronger than he thinks. He found a job he likes and at which he is good. He ended a relationship that was never going to work and is trying on a new one. He is trying it on his own again and it looks good. He is growing up.

Casey has a new relationship after ending a long term one. They have struggled with getting to know each other's limits and personalities. They have both grown so much and it looks like they may make this long term. They are young but love is wonderful when you're young. Casey also learned a lot about consequences. She slacked off for the first two years of high school and is now paying the price. She will be transfering to another school in order to graduate on time. It has been a rude awakening but she is accepting and ready to do the hard work to catch up. Hard lessons but she is such a great kid, she is handling it well and with new found maturity.

I learned this year that I have to be true to myself. I cannot do things the way other people tell me to do them. I must do things the way they work for me and go with my gut feelings. I also learned that I have wonderful friends that are brave enough to tell me that I am not being myself. And that I should ask those brave friends for help long before I get to a breaking point.

So here's to the coming year. Easy lessons would be great. We will see how it goes.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas Eve

Just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas Eve. I plan to spend mine with the kids, opening presents and hanging out together. Santa still comes to our house so Christmas morning will be early. Once we see what Santa brings, we will head to my Dad to join my sister and her family. It will be a quick trip, there and back in the same day.

So I hope your holiday is filled with family, friends, and fun. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Britney's Mom's Parenting Book???

For those that do not know the latest breaking news . . . Britney Spears' little sister, Jamie Lynn, who is 16, is pregnant. And keeping the baby. This comes to light as Lynn Spears, their mom, is in the midst of writing a parenting book. The publisher's have now postponed the publishing date until ?????

So . . . you think I am going to, as many others are doing, criticize Lynn Spears? Absolutely not! There but for the Grace of God go I. I am not here to criticize other parents. I learned a long time ago with my own parents and siblings that you can do everything "right" as a parent but children/young adults have their own personalities and they make their own mistakes. The good/bad parenting comes in when you try to help them through the mistakes they make.

I think the problem is that a publisher thinks that anyone is qualified to write a parenting book giving other parents advice. Families are not the same. A married couple with 4 children will parent differently than a single dad with 2 children. Every parent makes mistakes raising their children. It would be better to write a book on how NOT to parent. Or to pull a number of parents dealing with different situations and create a collection of stories. Lynn Spears can only talk about her family and what worked or didn't work. But would people listen? Who knows? I cannot relate to her at all as a parent. I read many blogs written by moms. The blogs are about their lives as parents and the moms are funny, sad, challenged, and very successful. I can relate to them even if my children are not the same ages.

So this whole thing got me thinking. Again. If I were to write a parenting book, what would I say? I came up with 3 things, kind of short for a book. But here they are:

1. Parent The Individual. The most important thing I could say. Every child is an individual with their own personality. You cannot parent them the same. You can be consistent and fair. But you cannot decide on a parenting style with your first child and stick with it. Just when you think you have this parenting thing down, the second or third one comes along and it all goes straight out the window.

For example - As 2 year olds, Zack stayed right by my side and didn't wander. Casey was independent and all of a sudden I would realize she was gone. Sometimes out the front door. As teenagers, Zack was quiet and behind-your-back defiant. Casey was straight up, in-your-face defiant. Zack lied so he didn't get in trouble. Casey told you what she did and told you it was worth whatever punishment she would get. I could "talk" to Zack, he would be remorseful, and probably wouldn't do it again. Casey - talk, talk, talk, do it again, talk, talk, talk, do it again, ground her, she escapes, talk, talk, talk, do it again until she learned her lesson and decided, herself, not to do it again.

I learned quickly that each of my children needed me to meet their needs in their own way. Not just with discipline but in all areas of their life. I stumbled along the way but through trial and error, I learned to do what worked with each child.

2. Have A Sense Of Humor. You gotta laugh. Sometimes to keep from crying. Kids are funny. Laugh with them. Life is stupid and hard some times. When you can, laugh about it. Show them that there are funny moments in every situation and that sometimes, that is what helps you deal with the difficulties in life. When their dad died, it was devastating to us all. While we dealt with funeral arrangements, during the funeral service, on the trip home, there were the most bizarre moments - and we laughed. Sometimes through tears. But those are our strongest memories about that week, the ones we still laugh about over 6 years later. And their dad would have been laughing too.

3. Say Yes Some Of The Time. As a parent you find yourself saying NO a lot. It kind of becomes a habit. You might even find yourself saying no to see if they will argue you into a yes. That causes whining and a misunderstanding of where the limits are. How do they know you really mean no if you don't say yes every now and then? And who cares if it is something stupid? As long as they won't get hurt, say YES, even if you need to qualify it. "Can I play in the rain?" "Yes." "Can I play with your makeup?" "Yes, as long as it goes on your face, not the furniture." "Can I climb the tree?" "Yes, as long as I can help you so you don't fall." "Can I go to the party?" "Yes, as long as I speak with the parents." It's okay to say yes!

In a nutshell, there's my parenting book. The one no one should write because as soon as you write about how everyone should parent, one of your kids does something to prove you are not a great parent and should not be giving advice. Hope I haven't jinxed myself!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

I Am Calm

It has been a few days since I was able to post.

The garage door won't open. I pushed the button to open it, it went up a little and stopped. I tried again. Nothing was blocking the door or the motorized arm. Something was stopping the motor from completing the track. I pulled on the cord attached to the door thinking it would release the door and allow me to operate it manually. Nope, it slammed the door shut and I cannot lift it at all. It won't budge. Must call a repairman. But I have Christmas shopping to do.

I must be missing that shopping gene that most women seem to have. I hate shopping. I don't mind it if I know what I want, where to get it, how much, etc. but I am not a mall girl or one who "browses" until I find something I "need". So I try to Christmas shop with a list. I order a lot of things online. But inevitably it takes some browsing to get it done and those are the gifts that I never feel great about giving.

So this weekend I had to do shopping. It really wasn't so bad, I had just filled my weekend up with other things. I had some friends that wanted their holiday family photos taken. We set it up for Saturday. And last week I was asked to photograph a wedding. I have never, never done anything like that. But it is a situation in which I will be helping out a friend's brother and they know I have never done a wedding. I have a lot of practice to do before July. But they need their engagement pictures re-done so we agreed to meet on Sunday to shoot them by the lake.

Saturday went well. We took a lot of really cute pictures of both Robin and Matt as well as family pictures with the kids. They let me practice and I learned a lot about posing, looking for background details out of place, lighting problems, etc. that will really help me with the wedding.
The weather was supposed to be bad on Sunday and it was quite yucky - cold. windy. rain turning to snow flurries. Not an ideal day for photography. It turned out the engaged couple had a family emergency out of town and the weather wasn't really an issue for rescheduling. But that gave me the opportunity to do some research online for weddings and to set up an information sheet to use with the couple with choices of must get shots. I really want to do a good job for them.

Then the computer messed up Sunday night. I spent most of the evening trying to fix it and gave up around 11pm. I started at it again Monday morning, made some progress, but could not really get much accomplished before leaving for work. Before I left, I kicked off a diagnostic program that takes several hours to run so it would be done when I got home from work. When I arrived, Casey had restarted the computer and I had to do the whole thing over again. Worked on it until about 11, kicked off another program and went to sleep. Finally got things working this morning but I lost some photos I transferred off my camera Sunday evening. Arrgggghhh.

But I am calm. I will not let myself get stressed out over all of this. It is the holidays and although I am not terribly in the Christmas spirit, I am going to enjoy the holidays. I sat down yesterday to make a list of what I have. I'm glad I made the list. It made me realize I am farther along than I thought. So I am calm. I am choosing to enjoy myself. I will call the garage repairman later.

Friday, December 14, 2007

10 Pearls of Wisdom For My Kids

I was thinking the other day (hmmmm, imagine that!) and as I was discussing things with myself, I realized that while I have always tried to make experiences with my children teaching experiences, I have not always shared my hard won wisdom with them. I don't mean "Momisms" like "If all your friends jumped off the bridge, would you?" or "Wear clean underwear". I mean the things that are truly important to be a successful human being. Things that I have learned the hard way and the easy way. Things my parents and others taught me. Things I learned on the way to becoming a grown up. So I thought I would share 10 things here in the hopes that, in case I forget to tell them, they can look here.

1. Live by the Golden Rule - treat others the way you want to be treated. I am not just advising it because it sounds kinda wise, I really do this, every day of my life. With people that work for me, in a restaurant with a frustrated server, in dealing with the cable company, with my family. It doesn't always work but 9 out of 10 times, it does. In almost every situation, I stop and ask myself "How would I want someone to say this to me?" or "How would I feel if someone did that to me?" It causes you to stop and check yourself before you do or say something you might regret. And I believe that if more people would practice it, the world would be a much nicer place to live.

2. When you don't practice the Golden Rule, say you're sorry. And truly mean it. If you don't mean it, don't say it. But when you mean it, the gesture goes a long way to reconciling the situation.

3. The glass really is half full. Get rid of negative thinking. If you think you are going to have a bad day, you will. Whatever you believe is what you will get. So keep it positive. This is a really hard thing to do at times. Keep trying.

4. If you are going to do it, do it right. Don't waste your time and everyone else's by doing a half-*** job. Give 100%. Finish what you start. Do it right. Or don't do it at all.

5. Be aware of your limitations. No matter how much I fancy that I can paint or wallpaper, I just really am no good at it. I accept that. I hate it, but I accept it. This is not the same as saying "I can't" and never trying. I've tried several times and many other people have told me I am no good at it. So now, I accept the fact that if I need something painted or wallpapered, I find someone else to do it and pay them. It's not a character flaw. I really think it might be some missing gene or something. Just accept it.

6. Listen. What you have to say is important but what you can learn from watching and listening is much more so.

7. Learn to like things about yourself and work at changing the things you don't like about yourself. No one really likes themselves when they are young because they don't REALLY know themselves. You have to learn about YOU and figure out what you like about yourself. Work on those things. And some people never change the things they don't like about themselves and they end up miserable, curmudgeonly, lonely old people. Don't be one of those.

8. Do something you love. You can do it for work or for a hobby. It's great if you can do it for a career and you will never have to "work". In your life, you always need something you are passionate about. Sometimes that changes and that's okay too.

9. Always be learning. Learn about your passion, learn about yourself, learn about painting, learn about bowling, learn about earthworms, just keep learning. "Interested" people are "Interesting" people. Always be curious. It keeps your brain working and strong.

10. I will always be here for you. No matter how old you are, no matter where you live, no matter what you did or didn't do, I will always be your Mom. I will always love you. I will always help you - maybe not the way you want me to help but I will always try to do what's best for you. Because I love you.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Truth About Christmas Photos

My kids are at the age that we have to "schedule" our holiday photo. Both work, Casey is still in school and Zack has moved out on his own. But they humor me and we work it out. We "scheduled" Sunday night as THE night. We took so many photos and there was something wrong with every one. One of us was turned funny, one had a fake smile, you know what I mean. So then one of the kids started making faces on purpose. The other joined in. Then it got silly. I finally stepped back and just clicked the shutter. It started with this:

Then it got really weird and turned into this:

Then I joined in and it got less violent but still cheesy:

While this is not our final photo that friends and family will see (unless they read my blog!), it was great fun and it reminded me that it's not about the way we were dressed, the camera settings, the composition or the lighting . . . it's about having fun. And we really had fun.

Monday, December 10, 2007

A Downtown Stroll and My Baby Is Gone

So Zack really did it. He moved out of our house on Saturday. I have not yet seen his apartment Casey has and she says I would love it. She loves it. I hope to see it soon. It is in an old, old building downtown in the heart of The Old City. It is in kind of a scary area, down an alley, close to several bars and restaurants, one street over from the Mission of Hope Shelter. But Zack used to work in The Old City and is not naive about the need to be prepared and safe - don't leave anything in your car, don't talk to the crackheads, etc. I hope to visit soon and take pictures. And I will post them for all to see. But even though I don't see him that often now, I miss him already. Empty nest syndrome is starting.

On Sunday, Casey and I headed downtown. The main goal was to eat at The Tomato Head on Market Square. Yum, it's one of our favorites. And we love to shop downtown, especially Market Square and Gay Street areas. There's Mast General Store, funky boutiques like Earth To Old City, Abode, and Bliss. And there are plenty of opportunities for me to take pictures. This picture, and this one, and this one too, as well as this one were all taken on Market Square, some a while back, some just yesterday. The picture at left is me! It is a huge tree on Gay Street with huge reflective ornaments. I took a picture of me taking a picture. Pretty cool, huh? Casey and I walked, browsed, looked around, talked to family members on the phone, and ate yummy food at Tomato Head.

Once we got home, we took our holiday family photo. What an ordeal! But that is for tomorrow's blog. Come back then.

Friday, December 7, 2007

She Is Redeemed!!!

First, you have to read the post below. Casey called a few minutes ago. She asked what I was doing. I said "Eating my special lunch" in a mildly sarcastic manner. So then it went something like this:

Her: I just wanted to tell you thank you.
Me: For what?
Her: My lunch.
Me: Oh.
Her: All my friends think it's cool. I said "My mom loves me!". She made this all in a heart theme and everything. Nat Nat loves the carrots. I just wanted to tell you thank you.
Me: Dang it! (I really said the other word) I have to go back to my blog and update it 'cause I already talked bad about you. Now I have to make sure everyone knows how nice you really are.

So everyone, she really is sweet and grateful. And I feel better. Okay, I will try again on Monday.

My Bento, So There!

I was on Flickr the other day and saw this really cool picture of someone's lunch in a bento box. Well now I know all about bentos and the possibility that exists. I was inspired by a mom who creates these really creative lunches for her young girls. See them here. So I went a little crazy yesterday. I bought a bunch of cute containers and supplies. I went to the grocery store and stocked up on fun food. And I came up with a plan - I made a deal with Casey.

The deal with Casey is that if she will attend school every day, no laziness, and try her best, I will get up every day and make her lunch. This may not seem like much but she leaves the house at 6:30am and I am not a morning person. And neither is Casey. She HATES to get up in the morning. And she drags around, always managing to be running just a little late. She rarely has time to grab anything for breakfast, let alone make her lunch. I give her $20 for lunch money at the beginning of every week but the car needs gas, she wanted to buy breakfast, yadda, yadda, yadda.

So this morning, I was going to surprise her. I decided on a heart theme. I cut her ham and cheese sandwich into a heart with a large cookie cutter. I used a small bright green silicone baking dish and added grape tomatoes and sliced carrots. I used red and pink heart baking cups made of silicone and I filled one with ranch dressing to dip the veggies. In another heart cup, I put pineapple and sprinkled it with red and pink candy confetti hearts and stuck in a bright green skewer to eat with. Another, I filled with cheese cut into hearts with a tiny cookie cutter. In another heart, I added little cookies. All of these were wrapped with plastic wrap and placed into a large plastic container. In between everything, I scattered chips. Wow! It was beautiful, fun, and it looked really appetizing.

Then Casey came downstairs. She looked at it and smiled. I was proud of myself!!! Then she said "How am I going to carry that?" "I will have to throw it into my purse and it will get messed up." "Where am I going to put it?" "Can't I just take it all out and put it in ziploc bags?" And that is what she did.

I was kinda crushed. Not unusual for a mom, right? So I did the next best thing. I made my own cutsie bento. I think I might do this every day. Just for me. Me and my bento.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Happy Birthday Brother Boy

He is my baby brother. It's his birthday today. He is almost older than dirt. And he is still younger than me! But he is a grandfather. So that makes him seem older anyway.

The picture of us when we were wee little babes is one of my favorites. It reminds me of my Mom telling me that I would take his hand and say "I hold he yittle hand". For those that don't speak Tere, that is "I will hold his little hand". He was always my bestest buddy. But he is not little anymore. He is kind of a giant now at six foot six. Now he is my grown up brother with lots of children. He has five, ranging in age from 3 to 23. And he is a grandfather. A snowboarding grandfather. He has 3 boys and 2 girls and I am sure that they think he is pretty cool. He really is a great dad.

And he is so funny. I say all the time that he reminds me of a white Will Smith. Cool, smart, and funny. A story: We were visiting at Dad's about a year ago and I had just gotten a new bra. You know ladies, when you get a new bra with all it's support mechanisms, it sometimes stands on it's own. Well mine was standing on it's own across my suitcase. He saw it. There was no living it down after that. So when I left to go home and he went to the airport, I received this email:

Top 6 Uses For Tere's Bra
6: TeePee for miniature ponies.
5: Homeless shelter for midgets.
4: Jock strap for Andre the Giant.
3: Caution cones for Golf cart path.
2: Dirty pillow covers for big beautiful fembots.
1: Dunce hat for siamese twins.

So Happy Birthday Baby Brother. I love you and I will always be there to hold your not so little hand.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

I Love My Camera

I really, really, really, love my camera. I carry it with me everywhere I go. It is a little weird. And it gets on my kid's nerves sometimes. It is my passion. I am not really that great but I am learning more every day. Flickr has really helped and I love the challenges and seeing what creative things other photographers are doing.

Last weekend, Casey and I went shopping and to lunch. While we were waiting for our food, I pulled out my camera. She is always willing to smile for me. EXCEPT when I have the flash on. That draws attention to the crazy lady behind the camera and she doesn't want people to notice that she is with a crazy person.

If I am bored, I take pictures. Usually of my feet. If I am happy, I take pictures. Today we raked leaves. After raking up a big ole' pile, I called Casey and asked her to jump in and let me take some pictures. She called Chase to come out with her and the madness ensued. It started with him tackling her and then moved on to a leaf fight. Chase won. Then they buried each other. Then they tossed our 3-legged Pomeranian, Cleo, into the leaves and she tried to "swim" out.

The whole time, I was snapping pictures. I took 92 before it was all over. Then I moved inside. Casey wanted to do some more decorating. I wanted to take some more photos. I have been trying this new technique called "bokeh" and wanted to practice. This is an example:

So I practiced and she decorated. Zack joined us and hummed Christmas carols. Casey told him she was going to rip his head off if he didn't stop. Don't you love the holidays?

So yes, I love my camera. Photography is my passion. But part of the reason I love it so much is that I use it to document our life. My children will one day be able to look back on and recall everyday things, not just special events. That's my excuse today anyway.