Wednesday, October 30, 2019

This Post Is Proof That I Am the Absolute Worst

Hi. I don't know if there are any of you left these days. Do people still read blogs?

If there are people who still read them, my apologies. I haven't been around in a long, long, long time. I mean, it isn't because I don't want to write or that I don't need to write or that I don't absolutely crave writing. I could pretend that I don't have a list of things I have been meaning to write tucked away for months now, but you and I both know that would be a lie.

The cold hard truth is a simple and un-glamorous one. I've just been really busy.

Like, imagine whatever you think is busy, then probably multiply it by a whole bunch of times or even exponentially and then eventually you'll arrive at how busy I have been lately.

And no, this still isn't some glorification of busy thing, sanctimommies of the interwebs. (You all have really sucked the fun out of writing, btw, you and the manufactured competitions you try and force everyone to enter and hashtag. I miss the days when writers and bloggers and parents and people who had interesting stories to tell could JUST write them and people would just read them without being such jerks about it. Seriously, my fellow writer types.....secret conventions. I swear.)

Nope, I'm just busy and not in any glamorous way.

I'm working 4 jobs at the moment, and that's not including all of the volunteer positions I have taken on, some of which eat up as much time or more as the paying gigs.

I've spent months and months and months sending out job applications for things I am somehow ALL both over and under-qualified for. I have been laughed out some of the interviews I've gotten, passed over for people with simpler lives.

But then I got a(nother) job and a county council appointment within days of each other, and just tacked them onto my to-do list that I already barely had time for.

Consequently, I am busy AF.

I keep telling myself that it will calm down next week, but I know I am just lying to make it all seem more temporary than it is.

Anyway.

Maniacal laughter.

I didn't get around to writing birthday letters in the last few months, which sucks. I could say that I will get around to them soon, but that would also likely be a lie. I will just try really extra hard to do it next time around and make up for my abundant failures at...well....everything....right now.

It hasn't been a good few months for me.

No. No it has not.

Nearly all of the stuff going on is stuff that I won't write about here, though, even if I had time.

I don't even know why I am bothering with this aside from the fact that I had 13 minutes of uninterrupted time between all the other things.

Blows air kisses at all the people who used to read my words and all the writers I used to share these interwebs with not so long ago even though it seems like forever now.

I miss you.

Maybe someday we'll recapture that magic.

Or we will just have a secret convention.

Either way.

xo

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Before You Go To School This Year, 2019

Exhale.

I know, I know. Technically, three of you are AT school right now as I am finally sitting down to write this, but two of you haven't officially started yet, so it's fine. Everything is fine. This is fine.

Insert dog fire meme here. Seriously.

This week. Ooof. It is a rough one for us as parents. One kid leaving for college. Baby starting Kindergarten. Kid starting high school. Kid finishing elementary school. Kid getting driver's license any second.

It's a lot. And I know that it is hard for you all too, for all your own different reasons. Some of you are more worried about class loads and needing to advocate for yourselves, some of you are unsure of what the future holds, some of you just know that you are really, really, really going to miss one another.

And it's so big and there are so many feelings that I can hardly stand it at times.

So much that I almost just didn't do this. I almost "forgot" to write this letter, but I knew that eventually one or more of you would be asking where it was, so here I sit.


GOD, just looking at that picture from last fall has me tearing up...because this year, only four of you will be in it.

To the Oldest: You are leaving for college in two days. Less than two days at this point. One day and 19 hours. Not that I'm counting.

You aren't finished packing quite yet. You've got some loose ends to tie up. You want to try and hang out with a few friends before you go off into the big big world. And, like everything lately, it seems, you're running out of time. It's part of life, I suppose, that lesson. The truth that there are always going to be more things you want to do and see, more places to go, more people to spend time with than there are hours in the day. You've got to learn to figure out where your priorities are, and do it in a hurry. Always make sure that you schedule downtime for yourself in there too. It's hard, and I won't pretend that I have mastered it. I'm still serially over committed.

You have you whole dang life out in front of you, and I know that it all seems so overwhelming right now. I hope that we're prepared you as much as possible for the things that are going to happen. I hope that we have given you the tools you're going to need to navigate life. I hope that you know when to ask for help, and I hope that you know that we will always be there if you need us. We will.

Go and do amazing things. Have fun. Be smart. Make good decisions. When you make bad decisions, try to make them manageable. Don't ever hurt other people on purpose. When you hurt other people unintentionally, own it. Apologize. Do better. I could go on and on and on forever with all the things I want you to know, with all the things that I hope for you. But I won't. Neither one of us have a whole lot of time to spare this week, after all.

Just know this: I love you. I believe in you. I trust you to make good decisions.

And I sure am going to miss you. 

I will have to adjust my cooking volume at dinner time for sure, not having to feed the bottomless pit that is your stomach. It's going to be weird around here. Quieter. Check in every once in a while. Come say hi on game days, give your Dad a hug, and know that your crazy big loud family is cheering for you in the stands every time you step on to that field. I'm so proud of you. And I can't see the screen anymore because I am crying so much...so I'll stop here. Lean if you need to. I'm always here. I love you.

To Freckles: You've grown up so much this year, and are taking on so much more responsibility. AP classes, special programs, culinary arts, honor society, sports, and trying to work. It's a lot. You'll be getting your license pretty soon, and all the added responsibilities that come along with it. I've wondered, a lot, if it would all be too much. I worry about that for you, especially since you're also stepping into your big brother's giant shoes as he moves on to college. You'll be the oldest sibling here, the one all the rest of them look up to...and it's a lot.

My biggest hope for you this year is that you know when to say no. That you know if you are getting overwhelmed or too exhausted or you have too much on your plate. That you learn to step back from things, that you let me know if it gets to be too stressful. I want you to have fun, I want you to be a kid, I want you to go hang out with your friends and do all those teenagery things. I also want you to have your quiet down time to sit and draw when you need a break from everything else. Lean if you need to. I'm always here. And I love you.

To Mini-Me: You started high school this week, with a pre-existing group of friends thanks to drumline. It's not the worst thing in the world, knowing a bunch of people in different grades already, right? I'm still so happy that you did that last year with your brother and it gives me too many feelings to think about your doing it this year and going to world's without him. So, I'm not going to think about that for as long as humanly possible.

You rolled the enormous sousaphone case into the school this morning for the first day of marching band, not caring at all what anyone says or thinks, and I love that about you. You do what you love, regardless. Keep doing that. Keep being your 84 year old grannie self with your slippers and your blankets. Keep loving your friends big giant love all the time. Try not to stress out so much about school. It's just school. Honest. Have fun this year, live in the moment as much as you can. Lean if you need to. I'm always here. I love you.

To Chicken: Oooof. Big kid now. You're in the last year of elementary school, starting off the year with a long term sub since your teacher is still on leave. In some ways, I'm actually happy about it (even though I know you aren't), because it will force you to learn to advocate for yourself with more people. It is going to make you reach out and tell people what you need to learn best. And you're going to need that so much more next year in middle school.

Be kind, listen, don't always be the goofiest one to get the laughs. I'm totally signing you up for those auditions coming up in the next few weeks because I know how much you love being on that stage, even if you really are the "don't make me sing" dude. Lean here if you need to. I'm always here. I love you.

To the Little Ass Kicker: I really need to come up with another nickname for you. I know I said that last year and here we are, still without a new one. Oh well. I have been busy, I suppose. You are starting kindergarten tomorrow and I'm not even sure how that is possible. I swear you were just born, just clinging to your older siblings from the second they got home in the afternoons. I blinked and we ended up here. You are so ready for school though, and you love to learn.

Just please, please, please listen to the teachers when they tell you not to climb on the top of the play structure...you aren't actually Spider-Man, even if you think you are. I love you.

Friday, July 5, 2019

9th Annual 30 Day Photo Challenge Contest!

It's time for all that hard work to pay off!!! Before we get to the contest this year, I wanted to take a minute to thank you all for participating. Every year, this challenge gets bigger and bigger...and YOU get more and more talented. It is always hard to choose photos for the contest with so many wonderful submissions! Thank you, everyone!

These are the 15 nominees for the contest this year.  Each will be captioned and then numbered, at random.  To vote, please click on your favorites in the poll at the LEFT of this post, in the blog margin
.

<======= over there

ONLY VOTES REGISTERED THERE WILL BE COUNTED.


You can vote for more than one picture if you'd like, I will set it up so that you may vote for one or all of them. The only way for votes to be properly counted is to register them in the poll. Leaving a comment isn't enough. The poll may only be visible on web editions, not mobile. If you are on a cell phone, click the link at the bottom of the post to "view web version", which will allow you to vote. The voting will end at Noon MST, Wednesday, July 10th.

Anyone who visits this page can vote, so get your friends to join in the fun!

Also, if you're on a web version, you can click the images to enlarge them and scroll through them easier.


The prizes you are all playing for are listed at the bottom, with links to the amazing sponsors. Please show them some love and good luck!


CONGRATULATIONS to Gayleen Plakunov, this year's winner!
Second place will go to Susan Porter!

1. AJ DeBie. Angry Sky.

2. Christy Cline. Looking Up.

3. Gretchen Chateau. Ladybug.

4. Jeannine Frechette. Rainbow Fish.

5. Gayleen Plakunov. Morning. 

6. Glenda Hughes. Canyon.

7. Jennifer Green. Determination.

8. Kelly Acker. Inception.

9. Ally DeBie. Happy Accidents.

10. Melissa Keen. Liberty.

11. Paula Gill. Splash.

12. Rhi Jordan. Pole.

13. Ruth Murphy. Hibiscus.

14. Sheryl Hoolsema. Flight. 

15. Susan Porter. Bloom.


Here are some of the prizes you are playing for!!! Please visit the links and show the prize contributors some love! Thank you so much for your participation and enthusiasm every year!

Prize combinations and packages are always subject to change, because life happens! I do try and spread the love to the top winners each year, so I will notify you individually at the end with what you're going to receive. 

Local winners (Boulder County only) will be eligible for a Henna 
prize pack generously gifted by Henna Me Healing

A handmade custom sign, generously created by Paula Gill! 

An essential oils prize pack, thanks to Athelas Oils.

A gorgeous handmade nest pendant from Oak Tree Jewelers

A Color Street prize package from Nicole Murphy

A Rodan and Fields gift package, with bonus leggings from Lydia Barry

A handmade CACTUS pendant from Magnolia Avenue


A shop voucher from Penny Jules.

A prize package from Mom Cave Designs.

A package from NuSkin and Avon by Leslie

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

To The One Who Made Me The Parent Of An Adult

I really haven't been stalling writing this entirely. I have been actually busy, I swear. I have also been stalling, because let's be honest...this is the birthday letter I have been the least excited to write since I started writing them all those years ago. Terrible idea, that was, by the way. Great way to make me cry in a predictable fashion, anyway.

So, you're officially 18 years old. Officially an adult. Responsible, at least in the eyes of the law, for the things you do, even if you still can't do a lot of stuff like drink or rent a car. Ah, our bizarre system of tiered adolescence.

I was thinking for a long time about what I was going to write. I could go on and on and on about all the things that have happened in the last year, and there are a lot of them. Instead of dwell on that stuff, I figured I would just do it quick and dirty style, then get to what I really wanted to write about this time.



You made drum major and had an absolute blast, doing your trademark dance up on your perch every time the marching band performed their field show. It earned you a few nicknames, that dance did, and I'll never be able to listen to Take On Me without seeing the butt shimmy in my head. You joined the jazz bands, as in plural, and made combined league honor jazz band on your first try, playing an instrument you'd barely even touched before this year. Which is crazy. You made district honor band too, played snare in the winter drumline and won another first place medal...although to be fair, this year, you all were only competing against yourselves, having gone up to a more difficult classification in competition, albeit one in which there wasn't any.

You went with the band to Disneyland, and although I know that you were disappointed that you didn't get to march in the parade there, you did eat the cheapest food you could for the entire trip to save up so you could buy yourself the Indiana Jones whip you've been dreaming of since you were about 9 years old. And you still haven't figured out how to use it without whacking yourself in the face, Dr. Jones. (Inside joke bahahahahaha)

You finished the year by winning both the Spirit Award and the John Philip Sousa Award, which is pretty freaking amazing when you really think about it since the Spirit award is nominated and voted on by the students, and the Sousa award is chosen by the faculty. They all really do like you. A lot.

You're still probably getting your name spelled wrong half the time, though. And while we're at it, it's going to be mispronounced most of the time, even by people who know better. At this point, though, I am sure that you're used to that.

You graduated from high school on Saturday, already planning the future at college. Away but not too far away. Close enough to come home if you really had to, but far enough that I know you won't do that very often at all. I told someone yesterday that this summer was a bittersweet one, because you are absolutely the kind of kid who goes away to college and might never actually come home. I could see you traveling and doing summer programs and getting jobs far away just for the experience...whether I would want you to come home or not. It isn't about what I want. It never really was.

You can always come home, though. Always. I'll be cooking enough food to feed a small army for a while after you leave anyway, most likely, since I'm conditioned at this point to feed you.

You've accomplished a lot, and like I said, we could go on and on about that, but I don't want to. You've never really cared all that much about that stuff, and we never expected any of it, so even if we live in a society that only rewards certain things, they often aren't the things that really matter.

Let's talk about the things that do matter, then.

Like how you know that you can come to me and quietly ask for help. Still. That you trust me enough to help you navigate this process, knowing that you'll be going away in just a few months. That makes me so proud that I can't really even describe it in detail. I'm glad that you are mature enough, self aware enough, to recognize when you need to lean, and that you know that if you aren't sure how to do that or where to go, you ask.

I cannot overstate the importance of this life skill, my dude. I cannot. It is enormously huge, and in this world there are millions of people my age who 100% have not figured this part of life out. Just imagine how much of an advantage that gives you in the department of shit that really matters.

You learned to let go of the things that weren't meant for you, even if it hurt, without resentment or anger. Yet another life skill that most adults haven't nailed down yet. You saw that those times were opportunities for growth, not just another door slammed in your face. And let me tell you...the real world really fucking sucks sometimes, and there are going to be a lot of doors slammed in your face, especially in the career universe you seem headed towards. You're almost always going to hear more nos than yeses. How you cope with rejection will shape you far more than the times someone said yes.

You have kept your kind heart and open mind and you've kept on telling people that you love them and that you care about them. You scream it at them sometimes, which is gratifying for me, the parent who has often yelled things like "make good choices" out the window at you. It's hard, loving people as much as you do sometimes. Don't let any one person dim that light inside you. Don't let heartbreak or false friends or betrayal change who you are. Who you are is pretty freaking amazing, and unfortunately, there are people out there who will take advantage of that truth. And when they do, you have to make choices about whether to forgive, about whether to allow them to remain in your life...just don't let them dim that light. It's yours, and it is rare and beautiful. I wish that there was a way to protect you from the awful things that people will do, but I know that I cannot. I have already failed at doing so.

I can't keep your heart safe, but I hope that I have taught you resilience. I hope that I have taught you that listening will always teach you more than speaking. I hope that I have taught you to defend those you love, to stand up against the things that will harm them, and to do so with honor and integrity. I hope that I have taught you to keep an open mind, and to always always always consider the perspective of others before making up your mind about anything. I hope that I have taught you to advocate for the rights and interests of the most marginalized person in the room, and if everyone in the room looks the same, you've got to find a different room or make the one you are in inclusive. I hope I have taught you to follow your passions, to ignore what other people say when they believe they are being helpful but are actually trying to control you. I hope that I have taught you to be patient and kind to yourself, to learn from your mistakes, to apologize without reservation when you've harmed someone else, to grow and do better. I hope that I have taught you to allow yourself time to mourn, time to cry, time to scream, time to run, time to heal. I hope that I have taught you to force yourself to find downtime, and then to make sure that you make yourself a priority.

I hope all these things and so much more, just as I have spent the past 18 years hoping that I was making the right decisions, that I was doing the right thing for you, that I was giving you the tools you'd need someday.

Because the honest truth is that I had no idea what I was doing. I was winging it the whole time.

I was.

And I think we did okay. I hope we did okay.

As a parent, I have always tried to be consistent. I've always tried to make my choices out of love, not fear. I have always tried to keep my mom's advice in mind, because she told me when you were very little that if it wasn't going to matter in ten years, it shouldn't matter today. And although she was wrong about a lot of things, she was absolutely right about that. I've always tried to keep my focus on the long game, not the minutiae in the present.

And you've already shown yourself to get it. You even chose to forgo a year of drumline because there were other things you wanted to accomplish. So you did them, and you found your way back. Then you drug your sister along for the ride.

They all look up to you so much. They really do.

And if I'm being completely truthful, so do I. You're so much more mature than I was at your age. You've accomplished so much more. You are far more self aware than I was when I was twice your age. You know what you want, but have never once been willing to harm someone else to get it. You are kind and considerate. You are always the perpetual older brother, checking on your friends.

I asked too much of you over the years, with your siblings, with your friends, with so much. I asked too much of you, and it wasn't fair.

And you were always there, ready to help, ready to scoop up a baby, ready to be my eyes and ears on drives to school and home. You were always there.

I hope you know that I will always be here for you too.

I'm so proud of you, and I love you to infinity and beyond.

Go do amazing things. Well, go do more of them. And do some fun stuff along the way too.

Love,

Mom

Thursday, April 18, 2019

To The One Who Proved She Could Do It, Over and Over and Over

It's entirely unsurprising that the second I sat down to write this, I got text messages from you. You are constantly sending me emails and texts about all the things all the time.

Then there is the leaning and the lap sitting and the neeeeeeeeeeding.

Always.

You are not a low maintenance child, not by any stretch of the imagination, but I wouldn't have you any other way.

"Can we get something to eat?"



It has been such an intense crazy busy year for you, and you just keep signing yourself up for more and more stuff. More commitments, more responsibility, more opportunities, more. MORE.

I have had the conversation with you only about a million times this year about how you need to make sure that you don't over-commit yourself, that you have time for just you. And you say you know...just like I say I know. I KNOW.

And then you sign up for something else.

"I'm not jumping, Mom. Gosh."
You played on the travel team for volleyball, missing the middle of the season with a strained Achilles, but came back at the end for the tournament (we won't talk about what happened during it...), then shagged balls at state. All the sports.


It seems like you just turned 13. I don't even know how we already got to 14. I don't. Time doesn't make sense anymore and I have given up trying to understand it.

Just after you turned 13 last year, you were running track. Now you're one of the team managers. This time last year, you were training for the triathlon. You keep telling me you aren't going to do it this year, but I'm not sure that I believe you honestly. You know you can make the distances, and you know that your brother will do it with you if you harass him enough.


You were the HBIC for Comic Con, and made your brother (made, ha. he wanted to) dress up as Archie. You've watched every episode of Riverdale at least 4 times I think and when Luke Perry died last month, it devastated you. Me too. Oof.

You practically begged me to let you help shoot the wedding I took on over the summer, and you did a great job. It was awesome having you there as another set of eyes, and I think it made you fall a little bit more in love with photography.


When I decided to drive to Kansas at 3am for a wedding, you were the first one to hop in the car. You're generally the first one to volunteer for anything like that. Still. I keep waiting for you to outgrow wanting to be so present all the time, but you haven't shown any sign of it yet.

You're always the person there in the stands, cheering for your siblings. You show up for people, whether they realize it or recognize it. You show up. That means a lot, trust me. It will matter more and more the older you get.


You're been cooking and baking more and more, are hoping to start the culinary program in the fall...but only as long as it doesn't interfere with marching band. Because you want to play this...


Yep, that is a big giant sousaphone. You played it in the Halloween parade. As much as I thought that experience might scare you away from continuing to play this instrument...nope. You love it even more now.

Unless you decide to try out to march drumline, though...

Bahahahaha.

I blame your brother.



Speaking of music, you have played with the orchestra several times. You've played with the Denver Brass at Brass Fest. You played at Tuba Christmas. And then there is the matter of drumline.

Oh, drumline.

You have been waiting years for this, knowing that when your brother was a senior, you'd be eligible to join as an 8th grader. You knew it was going to be hard and time consuming...on some level. I don't think you really realized how hard or time consuming it would truly be. But you did it. You stuck it out. You got moved around on instruments several times. The show evolves constantly throughout the season, and your natural proclivity to resist change was tested. You had to learn how to go with the flow. And that mistakes really and truly are opportunities to learn. Bob Ross was right.


You had to get up early and stay up late to finish homework. You had to forgo things with your friends, you had to skip basketball season altogether. You had to power through illness including crazy high fevers during state. You dealt with all of it, you did it. And I am so proud of you. SO PROUD.

And I know that you and your brother have a much stronger bond for having done this together. I think you understand each other a little bit better now.



And, seriously. You played the freaking cowbell for the first time in a show in front of the entire high school. That is badass.


Bad. Ass.

I cannot imagine being brave enough to do anything in front of an entire high school when I was your age.

You've worked hours and hours for NJHS, put together a project for it, volunteered at the Humane Society. You've babysat, offered to make random cakes for just about anyone for just about any reason. You've put together care packages for friends. You worked pride and other events with me. You baked cupcakes and brownies for the drumline so many times that I think they are just starting to expect you to keep bringing something. You helped take over the GSA your big sister started at the middle school this year, and have watched as it has grown bigger and bigger at every meeting. You are handing it off to a larger group of students than we could have ever imagined.

And you know who did that??? You and your sister.

GSAs are proven to make schools safer for all kids. And you and your sister are doing that.


You'll be finished with middle school here in a few weeks, moving on to high school. You bought yourself a sweatshirt months ago you were so ready to be there. Always in a hurry, you are.

You'll be starting high school with a bunch of friends in every grade since you've already been doing drumline, which is a huge help...not that you've ever needed help finding your people. We've already got the fall sports parent meeting on the schedule, and I don't know how you're going to manage it all...but I know you will. You prove that you can, over and over and over.



Your Dad and I are so proud of you, of who you are becoming, of who you've always been. Keep being spicy. Keep being 87 years old. Keep wearing your slippers and carrying your blanket everywhere. Keep showing up for your people. Keep doing that laughing thing where you don't make any noise, just make that super uncomfortable face until a snort sneaks out. Keep doing that.

Keep loving everyone and everything as much as you do. I know it is overwhelming to feel so much all the time, but know that even if it hurts more sometimes, it also makes you amazing. Your big giant heart is a superpower. Never ever forget that. And don't let the world change you. You're perfect just the way you are.


I love you, baby girl. Happy Birthday.

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