Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A tale of two restaurants

It's barely 1:00pm and I've already ordered two iced teas from two different establishments today.  The dichotomy of the two struck me so profoundly I figured I'd take a stab at writing about it.  This morning seven of us theatre moms went across the street to the local coffee shop to make candygrams for this weekend's shows.  Candygrams are little bundles of candy that can be sent back to the kids in the show during intermission, it's 5 cents worth of candy sold for $1 that make the young actors feel priceless.  Anyway, we have the very nice little coffee shop/ restaurant in a prime location to do this.  The food and drinks are yummy and they have various tables and comfy couches to sit at.  Sounds great right?  Here's the catch... they are mean there!  The owner and namesake has always been mean in a quirky sort of way, but today, even the usually nice waitress was terrible.  Here we are seven people buying drinks and at least 3 people ordered a full breakfast as well, but they showed us in no uncertain terms that our presence was not wanted today.  The theatre kids who frequent this place all the time are used to this treatment, and it's just not right.  It's not just us young people who feel this way either (I'm young..ha!), a few weeks ago I got into a conversation with some of the geriatric volunteers at the theatre and they feel strongly that the owner/ namesake is a "not nice woman".  It's annoying because this place is so convenient and pretty yummy.  I gently made my opinion known today, the theatre supplies this place with tons of business, and it would be wise for them to show us a little respect.  I left a tip larger than the cost of my dumb drink and didn't even use my 10% off discount card because I had already felt so put off by them.  I don't feel like going there anymore.

Fast forward a couple of hours, while out running errands I realize that today is the last day of the month, ie the last day of a free large soda at everyone's favorite fast food restaurant. (I use the term everyone loosely because we all know about the controversy, but this is not about that!)  Never one to pass up free stuff, I pulled into the drivethru where a smiling young girl tells me it will be her pleasure to serve me.  This is not through the machine, the smiling young girl is actually standing outside in 95* weather waiting to relay my order to the people inside.  I ask if I can substitute my free soda for an unsweetened iced tea, of course it would be their pleasure.  In no seconds flat, my free drink is ready at the window and the people inside thank me again for letting them give me a free drink.  I can bash corporate America with the best of them, and love to be able to give business to the small town locals, but sometimes big business is a little nicer than regular people, and other times, as in this case it is A LOT NICER!!  Interestingly enough Jonathan just turned in his first big project for college.  It is a five page essay on the positive side of the fast food industry.  He will be happy to hear this story. 

If I were smart and eloquent I could turn this into a whole thing about the teenagers (who so often get a bad rap in our society) at the fast food franchise who were so smiley and friendly versus the middle aged crabs at the other place.  Or perhaps I could point out the Christian business practices of said fast food place as compared to the very unChristlike behavior of the mean people, but my time and braincells are running low, so you'll just have to think about those things for yourself.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I feel like (at least I hope) that I come across as fairly normal, and almost maybe a little laid back.  This is not usually what the inside of me looks like though.  When day three of parenting brings jaundice followed by a seizure and a stroke, you kind of kiss laid back parenting goodbye.  After a week in the hospital we continued on as almost normal parents right up until #2 was born and on the day she was to be baptized, #1, now 2 1/2, had another major seizure and a blood glucose reading of 21.  (there had been one other incident of 19, but no seizure that time).  We still managed to be almost normal parents with all of this except for the part about hounding the poor little boy to eat all the time (finish that cookie, eat some more ice cream) and waking up of every night in the middle of the night to give him a sippy cup of chocolate milk until he was about 5 years old.  Speaking of five years old, when #2 approached that age, in spite of never having a sick visit to the pediatrician in all her life, she threw us for a loop when she developed an auto immune scary condition that necessitated an ambulance ride and two nights in the big city hospital.   This was all before the scariest of all of which my husband was the culprit.  You can go all the way back to the beginning of this blog in 2007 to read about that one, I don't want to talk about it. 

In the last year Madi has twice had a freaky hives, vomiting, allergic reaction thing that we cannot figure out the cause of.  The only thing in common about the two incidents was that she was doing something completely new and was a little nervous.  This girl can sing and act in front of hundreds of people without even a flutter of butterflies.  As part of operation enter public school, she had to go to said school this morning to take a really annoying Algebra test.  This girl who doesn't get nervous was a little nervous, this mom who does get nervous was freaking out!  I was convinced that she was going to end up with hives and vomiting (part of me imagines anaphylactic shock).  The text that said "I feel a little sick, but I'll be ok" didn't help me.  Long story short, she was ok, she is done, and now back at theatre where nerves don't ever enter into the equation.  And I feel such relief.  I am used to this relief.  In the days of toddler Jonathan when I expected every second that something horrible was going to happen.  I would get myself so worked up that then when he'd wake up from a nap just fine, I'd celebrate an unbelievable feeling of relief.  I am weird and a little bit like the movie What about Bob?  Bob fakes turret's syndrome and other neurosis because "if you can fake it you don't have it".  My version is if I expect my kid to have some crazy weird illness, then they probably won't.  I might be sharing too much of my messy insides here, but since only about 3 people read this anyway, I think I'll take my chances.  Plus I'm not really as crazy and I'm making this sound, and I know that prayer is much more helpful than expecting something bad to happen.  Believe me I utilize prayer ALL THE TIME!!  Here's another part of it though, I have learned that sometimes bad things happen because they happen to us, but like that without darkness we wouldn't appreciate light kind of thing, I am so genuinely happy, when we jump another hurdle and nothing bad ended up happening.  With Jonathan driving everyday and Madi eager to drive as much as possible too, I get to practice this kind of thing all the time.  I pray, partly knowing everything will be fine, and partly preparing for the absolute worst case scenario, and then when I get that "I'm here" text or see the car pull in the driveway, I am so happy and celebrate the relief.  Without nervousness, we couldn't celebrate relief. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Parent is a verb

I recently read an article about the "verbing" of nouns.  How nouns like friend, google, and photo shop are often used as verbs and some linguistic purists take offense to that.  I've been a big fan of verbing for years.  I was parenting when parenting wasn't cool.  How could parent possibly only be a noun if it is so much work and stretches you beyond your wildest dreams.  A word that huge has to be a verb.  The same is true of mothering and homeschooling as well, but since those words are more specified, I'll go with the more general parenting.  As I have mentioned in recent posts, I am hooked on some really good toddlermom blogs (and yes blog is most definitely also a verb).  A common theme is please don't tell a mother who is home with multiple toddlers all day that it gets harder as they get older or that time flies too fast.   Of course over here we are living proof that time indeed flies much too fast, but if you told me that when Jonathan was 3 and Madi was a baby it would not have helped me.  As for the 'they have little problems when they are little and bigger problems when they are big' adage, I'm not so much a fan of that one.  For one thing, Jonathan had a stoke at 3 days old, very little baby---big problem.  Here's what I know though, when they are little they have DIFFERENT problems (let's just say issues) than they do when they are bigger.  It is a whole new minefield to parent through.  Yesterday Madi rode with a teenage friend to a fairly far away mall in a fairly big city.  While typing this I just exhaled as the text came in that Jonathan made it safely to his class once again.  Daily I am facing new challenges as I parent these teenagers, daily we are making big decisions about what is ok and what is not ok.  It can be exhausting, no doubt.  There's a tradeoff though.  I am blogging in a completely quiet house, no one is climbing all over me.  No one is requesting a drink or a game of candyland, or to nurse for the 15th time that day, and even when everyone is home I can go to the bathroom all by myself for as long as I like.  So moms of toddlers (though I know you don't read my lame blog, even though I read yours), the exhausting part of parenting doesn't really go away, but the change makes it ok.  I get to sit and chat with friends over coffee or whatever, for hours on end with almost no interruption (except sometimes the occasional text) for a mom who couldn't go to the bathroom or to bed alone for years and years, this is an unbelievable luxury.  The other benefit is that teenagers are pretty cool.  Mine are anyway.  When they finally get back home from their latest adventures safely, we can have really good conversations.  Parenting is a hard job, Mike and I used to say if it's not the hardest job you'll ever have, you're doing it wrong.  But parenting teenagers is a different hard job than parenting toddlers.  I have the feeling parenting adults will have it's own challenges.  My kids are getting older and older everyday, time is most certainly flying, but I'm pretty sure I'll be verbing this parent thing for years to come.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Theme Thursday: Rooms (A work in progress)

I love how theme Thursday always fits right in with what's going on in our lives (all two times that I participated).  In less than a month, actually on the day of the last performance of The Little Mermaid (where Madi will be Ariel!!!!!!!! and Jake will be Scuttle!!!!!!!), we will welcome "Mary" from China into our home for the whole school year.  To prepare, we are moving Jake into the loft for the year, so Mary can have his room.  It makes more sense that a teenage girl from another country should get the room with the door!  Because I am a big fan of keeping it real, this is what both rooms currently look like.

Go visit Cari for some much prettier rooms.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Another word about high school

Because I'm lazy, foolish, ignorant,  who I am, I never added labels to my posts.  Now when I'm looking for something I have to try to remember when it was and go back to the year, then the month, and see what I can find.  I consider this my way of warding off Alzheimer's.  Well in going back looking for cow pictures I found this post from the year before Jonathan started homeschooling high school.  It was from my blogging hay day when I actually had commenters!  I would say we've learned a lot since then, yet our basic philosophy hasn't really changed very much.  I'm getting a lot of, "I can't BELIEVE that Madi is going to high school!!"  "I can't BELIEVE that Jake is going to public school", and of course my all time favorite, "WHAT are you going to DO with all that free time?"  I usually just smile, and then think all day about all of the clever things I coulda shoulda said.  Really these decisions, for these kids, for this year is what homeschooling and our educational philosophy is all about.  Madi thrives with competition.  She also very much a typical teenage girl, who is very excited about having a locker and going to Friday night football games.  She glows with excitement and is ready to share more of that light with the world.  (Not that she hasn't already been out in the world, she has!  This is just another part of the world.)  Madi loves to make new friends, homeschooling has in no way held her back in the friend department, but now she'll meet even more!  She is a questioner, when I read Science or History with her, she's all about "WHY?"  I'm ready for her to direct those questions to someone else once in a while.  She got a 99% in the English Honors class that she took at the high school this fall.  She's gotten regular A s on all her virtual school classes.  The two classes that she did this year as a plain ole homeschooler, still aren't completely done.  She is much more motivated when she has an audience.  Lastly, Bright Futures is the state of Florida's way of making college affordable.  The requirements for homeschoolers are considerably harder that those in a brick and mortar school, we want some of our kids to get this scholarship!  Each of these factors alone might not  be a good reason to choose public school, but right now all of them combine for the right reason for us for this year. 

Five Favorites

1. Ben and Jerry's Coffee Heath Bar Crunch
Buy one get one free at Publix, sale ends today.  I think this is my all time favorite ice cream.  I spent a summer in Vermont when I was 21 and ate Ben and Jerry's every single day.  Those were the "Perspective" days from the last post when I thought I was fat, and I wasn't!  Maybe I should try eating this everyday so I can look like I did then?!  {I'm pretty sure I will be until it's gone from the freezer}

2. Speaking of frozen confections, I am on a serious popsicle kick.  I have eaten more popsicles this summer than I have in my entire life.  As far as treats go, they are pretty low-cal (unlike #1 above).  My current favorite is...
3. Ok that's enough frozen treats, let's change the subject.  Last night Jake and Jonathan had their homeschool evaluations.  We have had the same person do them every year since Jonathan was in kindergarten.  He's going into 12th grade!  That is twelve years in a row that this same friend has come over and discussed schoolwork with my children.  Some years we don't even see her at all except for evaluations.  I like that we are loyal that way.  Our family has gone to the same church, pediatrician, dentist, dermatologist, and orthodontist since we moved here 14 years ago (well I supposed we didn't start with the orthodontist until Jonathan was about 7, so that was only 10 years ago).  When we find something we like, we stick with it.  Madi's evaluation had been done earlier (by another friend...who may or may not read this blog :) ) because I wanted to get a jump on the high school registration (smart move), so we've already changed things up a little bit, but basically we are a loyal family.  Are you wondering where the favorite is here?  They're all favorites... our church, our doctors, our evaluator, my kids, homeschool evaluations done (and already in the mail) all kinds of favorites packed in to #3!
4. Audition day!!  Today Jake and Madi had auditions for Little Mermaid.  Parts should be up tonight.  If not, they will find out at camp tomorrow.  Madi would love to be Ariel and Jake wants Sebastian... we'll see.  Jake doesn't feel like he had a great audition, but he's been sounding good to me.  He hurt his toe the other night (doing a cannon ball into out 4ft pool), so he's not walking terribly comfortably and he feels like that messed up his game.  I didn't hear much from Madi about how she feels she did, she had to go right from theatre camp to work, and will basically go right from work to theatre for another performance of Hairspray.  She doesn't have time to keep checking facebook for parts, that's for sure.
5. Friday is one of my favorite days of the year... dress like a cow and get free food at Chick fil a!
Here are some pics of past years...

Monday, July 8, 2013


I'm pretty sure I've had at least one post a year with this title.  Am I the only one that has such trouble with perspective?  I'm also quite sure that most of my posts and stories about perspective start with me and some friends around the lunch table in Miss Chinigo's fourth grade classroom over 30 years ago.  The topic was if our mothers were fat or thin.  My mother had been on a diet or talking about dieting much of my childhood, so she had convinced me she was fat.  I certainly didn't want to say that my mother was fat, but she had been telling me she was so I sat there in a 10 year old quandary wondering what to do.  It came around to me and three different kids at the table all said, "Julie's mom is thin,"  at least this is how I remember it.  Now I probably should state that a couple of these kids had moms that were pushing 300lbs so, but still this was very enlightening to me.  "She is?" was my first thought, followed my "oh yeah, she is (even if she doesn't think so)".  This story is always my introduction to the topic of perspective.  If I were a good blogger who labeled my posts with topics this one would show up a few times.  Before I continue with my thoughts on perspective I must say that anyone who knew me in fourth grade would see the irony here because it was definitely my chunckiest year as a child.
Aren't you glad I included that?  If that doesn't boost my readership, I don't know what will.  The funny thing about being 43 is that this doesn't even embarrass me!  But anyway... on to today's thoughts on perspective. 
But wait the more I look at this picture, ugh, maybe I'm a leeetle bit embarrassed, the angle that I took the pic of the pic with my phone actually makes me look obese, but I wasn't actually obese, just chubby.
Now I think I've lost my train of thought.  Actually I have a few subjects in my brain that are confusing me perspective-ally speaking.  One has to do with summertime and boredom.  I don't get boredom.  I see all kinds of facebook posts and hear all kinds of comments about kids and teens and moms being bored and I absolutely cannot relate!  I am always tempted to invite them over here to clean my kitchen floor.  I was just recently reading an article by a fairly well known mom writer who had a very common end of the schoolyear blog post that went viral and landed her on the Today show.  The article I was reading was about summer and how to keep the boredom etc away they go somewhere exciting every Thursday.  First I think most of her kids are younger than mine, but seriously we can barely find the time to go camping for two nights this summer with everyone's schedules, I can't imaging having a free day to randomly go somewhere each week.  Now maybe I've just answered my own questions right there.  Clearly we are a little too busy to be bored.  But even before I had teenagers who had jobs and mainstage shows and classes and and and, we were never a bored family.  Jake is only ten, has no schoolwork, no job, no real set chores, and no girlfriend, and even he isn't bored.  Last week every single one of his close friends was on vacation and still he never uttered that word.  Now I must admit Jake has said the 'b' word before, but not very often and not in the last few years.  Granted he might be watching super heroes shows on his ipod or playing the Wii, instead of finishing Tom Sawyer or vacuuming the floor, but the bottom line is, he's finding something to do.  I haven't even gotten to my perspective thing yet.  Let's see if I'm even capable of tying this whole thing together.  As we sit on the brink of a whole new adventure in schooling, I am reminiscing on our full time whole family homeschooling years.  I can never figure out if we've been the busiest people in the world or the laziest.  Well, I'm quite sure we aren't either, but where on the continuum did we lie?  If my kids have almost never had to be awakened by an alarm clock, if they've almost always had the opportunity to take their time eating breakfast and lunch (and often have the TV on at the same time), then we're not so busy right?  On the other hand if they are spending hours upon hours at the theatre, if Madi and Jake are two of only three cantors at church that are under the age of 55, if we commit and over commit to things that are important to us we can't really be considered lazy can we?  It's funny.  The general consensus is that Jake will have less free time when he starts public school, but Madi and I are thinking she will have more.  She'll only have four (or five) classes at a time.  When school and homework are over they will be over, this has not been the case at home at least for the last few years.  Homeschooling high school (and late middle school) never ends, there's always more to learn and when your teacher lives in your house, she is bound to tell you to do something else, go do more math, go read some more history, go take your science test.  I'm pretty sure none of her high school teachers are going to show up here in the evening and tell her to do some more work.  The great thing is I won't have to do that either.  Come mid August, I get to just be the mom.  The one with cookies on the counter ready to hear about her day instead of the nag ready to point out what she has left to do.   
I hope you know I was just being funny when I said Jake is ten and doesn't have a girlfriend, of course he does.  No seriously of course he doesn't.  I was saying that because Jonathan is 17 and for the last six months he has had a girlfriend.  I am good with that.  There's a common way of thinking in the conservative homeschool community that dating is taboo.  There's a popular link on facebook right now about how young kids going in and our of relationships is going to contribute to more divorce.  I read those things and look for ways to disagree.  How can you possibly learn about relationships without being in them?? (I'm not just talking about dating relationships, I'm talking about any relationships).  But of course I'm also reading these things thinking about my almost 18 year old son.  There are eleven and twelve year olds out there who think they are dating and I definitely think that is ridiculous.  It's perspective again.  I often read those things thinking the authors and the people who shared them are fairly ignorant and then I remind myself that I generally agree with about 90% of what they are saying, it's just the 10% that I'm choosing to focus on.  Perspective.
I have a lot more to say, but that will have to wait for another time.  In the meantime, don't worry about my chubby young self because I slimmed down by 5th grade, and here's me in 6th grade.
I didn't really become chubby again til I had a few kids.  Of course between 6th grade and getting pregnant with Jonathan I thought I was, but looking back now I was not...Perpective!!
I may or may not have written this post before, but I guarantee I never included such visuals!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013