Tag Archive | summer

Changes

A lot has happened since I have last blogged and hopefully with time I will get a chance to document it all.  But at the moment, my mind is on Marie and the changes that has happened in the last month.   Don’t worry, all the changes have been good, but they have been changes all the same.  On the second week of May, my first-born celebrated her 8th grade graduation.  I know that 8th grade graduation is not a real huge life changing thing for most people, but for our family it is.  Graduating from 8th grade means that Marie will be leaving the small, Catholic-based, safe haven that she has known for 10 years and continuing her education at a much bigger, public school setting.  However, that is a topic for another blog.  The only reason I mention it here is because that event was the beginning of the many changes in Marie’s life…and mine.

My mother-in-law was able to fly out for the 8th grade graduation and when she flew back home, she was not alone.  Marie was given a special 8th grade graduation gift, thanks to her grandparents.  She was given the chance to spend a month of her summer with her grandmother on the East Coast.  This was partly thanks to Frank’s father, who passed away in October 2016.  Months before my father-in-law passed way, we had visited the East Coast and Marie had expressed her hope to spend some time with them during the summer.  It would give her a chance to spend time with her grandparents plus an uncle, aunt and two cousins, whom she does not see often.  So my father-in-law made sure that our daughter got to have that wish come true, even if he had to watch it from Heaven.  So my 15-year-old took off on a new adventure, many, many miles away.  The fact that she has never slept away from home for more than one night, with the exception of the week she was in the hospital, is HUGE!  Which is what leads me to this new series in my life called ‘Staying Connected’.

The Secret Revealed (Confessions of a Middle-Age Mom – Chapter 8)

Yesterday was the big day I had waited for.  Time to go bowling, time to get our photo session done and time to tell the kids about the One Direction concert.  It was a day full of emotions.  Not just for the kids, but for me too.  The day started out like every big day does.  The kid’s excitement was overflowing to the point that I wanted to kill them.  I had butterflies in my stomach just thinking about what would take place at the bowling alley.  Plus I was doing my best not to stress out over the photo shoot.

As I said, I had butterflies in my stomach.  The kind that make you want to vomit.  (Sorry for that graphic image)  It was from a combination of excitement and fear.  I wanted to share the surprise with the kids, but at the same time I was afraid their reaction wouldn’t be what I was expecting.  It was like waiting for Christmas day to arrive to see if the kids liked their gifts, but multiply those emotions times 10.  Believe it or not, I actually told Marie that if she played one more One Direction song on her tablet that morning, I was going to kill her.  Here I was, getting ready to break the news to the kids that we were going to see One Direction in concert and I was telling Marie that I couldn’t handle hearing one more of their songs.  Man, nerves really do funny things to people.

I feel like I did a pretty good job of not stressing out over the photo shoot.  Or should I say, getting prepared for the photo shoot.  I had purchased some sleeveless shirts for the kids and I to wear at the concert.  My plan was to attach some glow-in-the-dark iron-ons to them for the concert.  But first, I was going to use them as our outfits for our photo shoot.  The shirts are all different colors and Frank has a sleeveless shirt that he wears to work that matched.  So sleeveless shirts and shorts were our choice of clothing for the family pictures.

Did I freak out when Ann picked a pair of shorts to wear that had a little stain on it?  No.  Did I freak out when I noticed Frank’s work shirt looked a little faded in the back?  No.  Did I freak out that Patrick was still sporting an overgrown  mo-hawk, that I was in need of a trim and that Marie’s hair had decided to tangle?  No.  I decided that these family photos weren’t about the clothes we wore or the style of our hair.  It was about our family documenting a fun, once-in-a-lifetime event together.

I decided that we should look the way we normally do.  My hair might be a bit unruly, but that’s the way I usually look.  The stains and fading on the clothes probably wouldn’t be noticed by anyone but me and even if it did get noticed by someone, who cares?  These are the clothes that we normally wear.  Even the fact that my shirt was a little snugger than I would have liked didn’t bother me.  This is the shirt I bought and this is the way I look right now.  I want these pictures to show what my family is like.  If that means showing off my WHOLE imperfect self, so be it.  I want the kids to look back at these pictures down the road and be able to remember this day like it was yesterday.  Even if that means Mom’s body takes up more of the pictures than I would like.

So we made it to the bowling alley and the photographer was waiting for us.  The kids did very well, getting along with each other and with the photographer.  We bowled like we normally do, we ordered and ate food like we normally do, we even stopped at the game room afterwards like we normally do.  There might have been a few extra smiles than normal, but I believe they were genuine smiles, not fake ones.  Along with the smiles, there were some moments I had the traditional stressed out look on my face, but that’s okay.  That will give the kids a chance to remember the many faces of Mom.

By the time the little kids and I bowled one game, the others had finished bowling their second game.  Then it was time for the unveiling of the secret.  I had made a sign that the photographer printed out for me to use as a photo prop.  So we gathered the kids together and shot a few posed photos and then we announced to the kids that we were going to the One Direction concert.  Marie was the most animated, however she did not scream or cry like I thought she might.  Patrick was acting like a typical boy, not wanting to show his enthusiasm.  Ann was all smiles and Christopher was jumping around with the sign…once he figured out what it meant.  🙂  I was pretty pleased with their reactions and I think I’ll be very pleased with the pictures the photographer took.

After getting home and answering five million questions from the kids, Frank took Christopher and Marie to watch a local baseball game.  Patrick and Ann stayed at home with me and we worked on getting the glow-in-the-dark iron-ons attached to the shirts.  I realized, during that evening, that after I had told the kids the secret I had been hiding for a month, my feelings had changed.  I was still excited, but I also had this feeling of remorse or relief or something.  My excitement had decreased a bit after I shared it with the kids.  Like I was giving them part of my excitement when I told them the secret.  So now I was only carrying around 1/5 of the excitement level than I had before.  It was weird to feel like it, but it did.

So now that the kids know and tomorrow is Monday, I guess I need to get busy and get things packed up.  The kids are excited and want to help.  I just hate packing, because I know that I will forget something before it’s done.  As long as I don’t forget the tickets to the concert, I’ll be okay.  🙂

Sound of Silence (Life After Layoff – Chapter 20)

My last post made me realize something exciting and scary at the same time.  There are only 3 weeks left of summer for my kids.  Woo Hoo!  I’m on the downhill slide and I haven’t killed them…yet.  Is my first thought.  Then a minute later I am thinking, Oh crap, I have so much to do in a short time.  Where has the time went?  They say that time flies when you are having fun.  Of course, in our family some of the time has flown while we slept in…a lot.  However, that is about to change today.

I am going to do my best to get my kid’s sleeping pattern back on track.  We have too much to do and too much fun to have in the next three weeks to sleep through it.  Boy, do I sound confident, as I am sitting in my house enjoying the peace and quiet of four sleeping kids.  🙂  That beautiful sound of silence is too good to let go of by waking my kids up.  Yes, silence has a sound.  When you live in a household of 6, you learn that silence is a sound, a sound that doesn’t happen that often.

So as I sit here in my infamous green “sleeping” chair, blogging away, I am enjoying the sound of nothing.  No whining, no fighting, no giggling (Giggling in my house = siblings going overboard and not listening to mom), no begging, no angry words, no “MOM” being hollered out by each and every one of my children.  Just silence.  Before I had kids, I never knew how wonderful silence was.

As I was saying, I’m sitting in my infamous green “sleeping” chair, which has some hypnotic powers that makes old people (like Frank and I) to nap at the drop of the hat.  However, it makes the younger generation bounce off the wall (or should I say cushions).  Go figure!  So my strong stance on reversing the habit of sleeping in late is weakening as my body forms into the comfy chair and I feel calm and relaxed, due the sound of silence.

For a mother of four kids who has been with them 24/7 for the past 6 weeks, this time is rare and too good to pass up.  It is what I live for.  However, it also makes it hard to get things done around the house when you sleep in late every day.

It’s hard to make doctor’s appointments for school physicals when you can’t be conscious enough to make a phone call during business hours.  Not to mention, actually getting to the appointment if it ever gets made.  Oh, this battle of wanting to sleep a little more and yet wanting to feel like you have accomplished one thing today.  It’s a difficult battle that could go either way.  To nap or not to nap, that seems to always be the question.

But not today!  I am going to do my best to fight that urge to go back to sleep.  I’m going to fight my urge to want to tip-toe around the house, in hopes to keep my kids a sleep a little longer.  I need to do this for them.  I need to get them back into the routine of going to sleep sooner and waking up earlier.  I need to get off of my rump and get things done around here.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I’ll make a few phone calls and then drift off to Sleepy Land for a while.  That is until one of my kids wakes me up, wanting something to eat for brunch.  Yes, we eat brunch now.  Because we are normally eating our first meal of the day around lunch time.

I’ll get them up early…tomorrow!

I’m Not Your Mom, I’m the Maid (Life After Layoff – Chapter 16)

Okay, there is something like 48 days left before school starts again and I’m ready for it to get here.  I have had some fun times with the kids, but when we try to focus on school work it gets sticky.  Ann is willing to work on the worksheets from her teacher.  Christopher is excited to help Ann count things.  Marie is willing to do things she likes to do and Patrick refuses to do anything but Science experiments.  Boy, do I feel like a great teacher…NOT!

Earlier this week I had one of the worst days yet.  Part of the reason is because the kids had gotten in trouble the previous day and they were all grounded to the house.  They were also grounded from their tablets.  Now I ask you, who is really being punished here?  ME, that’s who!

Considering these factors, it’s no wonder why I snapped.  I was trying to get some housework done and get some school work completed.  But the kids were more interested in fighting with each other, making messes and being a pain.  I had told them at 5:00pm that we needed to clean up the house before their Dad arrived.  However, instead of cleaning they continued to fight.  I’m not sure what the last straw really was, maybe when Patrick hit me in the head with a plastic ball.  He said it was meant for Christopher.  Like that makes a difference, it was my head that got hit.  At that time, I knew I had to leave the house before I killed them all.

I walked out the door and sat in my van.  I didn’t have my keys, so I couldn’t go anywhere.  However, the kids didn’t know that so they chased after me.  Yep, even Christopher, who was only wearing his underwear, came outside.  So then I had to yell at the kids and tell them to go inside.  They did and I followed them a minute later.  However, I didn’t stay inside.  I told them to get busy cleaning and then sat down outside on the porch.

Within minutes Ann came out the door crying.  She said that Marie said she was going to throw away her Barbie dolls if she didn’t clean.  That is when the light came on up in my brain.  I walked in, told them all to stop cleaning and go to their beds.  I told them I would clean it up on my own.

With a stern look on my face, I grabbed some headphones and plugged them into my cellphone.  I put on the headphones, turned on some music and started cleaning.  When the kids tried to talk to me, I would tell them, “I’m sorry, but I’m not your Mom.  I’m the maid.  Your Dad will be home soon to care for you.”  Then I’d go back to cleaning.

This little exchange went on for a bit with all the kids.  All the while, I continued to clean and ignore any fights or crying.  What happened next was interesting.  As I was picking up balls that Christopher dumped in Patrick’s room, Patrick came along and started helping me pick them up.  I just went on my way, not making any recognition of his help.  When I was picking up a mess in the living room that Ann and Christopher made, Ann came along and helped pick things up.  As Ann was cleaning by me, I noticed that she had found an old cellphone she plays with and had attached a set of headphones to it.  She too was cleaning with headphones on, just like the “Maid”.  The only difference was that Ann didn’t have any music coming out of her headphones.  LOL  It was pretty funny, but I didn’t let it show.  The more I cleaned and ignored the kids, the less fighting they did.

By the time Frank got home, I was in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher and singing to the music that I was listening to.  The kids probably thought my singing was bad, which made me sing even louder.  I told Frank about the day and my break down and after crying some more Frank gave me a hug.  Then he handed me my keys and wallet and told me to go for a drive.  I grabbed the keys and ran out the door.

After I got away, I calmed down more.  I don’t know what made me madder, the fact that I let them get to me or the fact that it took me ignoring them to get their attention.  I don’t know what Frank told the kids while I was gone, but when I got home they were a lot better.  So the next time this sort of thing happens, I’m going to tell the kids the following:

“You can either spend time with your Mom and have some fun times or you can have a Maid clean up and ignore you.  It is up to your actions.  If you see your mom put on headphones and turn on the music, you know you’ve crossed the line and gone too far.”

Hopefully it won’t get to that point, but if it does, I will be happy to just be the maid.  At least that way, I won’t have to hear all the crying, because the music will drowned it out.”

Adoption of the Heart

Thanks to my unemployment status, I had the chance to work as a substitute teacher at my children’s school and attend a variety of school functions this year.  I read a friend’s comment on Facebook the other day about “adopting her bible school class into her heart”.  I like that phrase, so I’m going to borrow it.  It is a good description of what has happened to me this year.  I have adopted the students at my children’s school into my heart.  So you can imagine the melancholy feeling I have as the school year comes to an end.

I know that the 8th graders will be moving on to High School next year.  But I also know that some of the younger students might not be coming back to this school next year.  It’s sad to see these kids spread their wings and fly from the nest.  Plus, there is a possibility that I won’t be as involved in my children’s school next year.  As I pursue my dream to be a teacher, some of the opportunities of helping at the school next year might be a little limited.  So I know, in the back of my brain, that the end of this school year is an end to some great times.  Ones that can only be replayed in my memories.

That is why I wanted to be present at the yearbook signing yesterday.  I wanted to have a chance to make my ‘mark’ in the children’s yearbook, since they made a mark in my heart this year.  I have memories of each and every one of the children at that school, in one situation or another.  Whether it was during a substitute teaching job, an inter-session, after-care or on a school function.  During this year, I have been given the privilege to share a conversation or an event with each one of those children.  During that time, without me realizing it, I had adopted each one of those children into my heart.  Whether they realize it or not, they made me a different person.

So since I have four children and can not afford 4 yearbooks, I had to do some creative thinking to make it “fair” for all my children.  (God knows we don’t want to get my kids started on the “It’s not fair” game.)  The school protocol is to give the yearbook to the oldest sibling in the family.  Which meant that Marie would be getting the yearbook to use during the yearbook signing.  This was not going to make Patrick happy.  In fact, when I tried to use the yearbook signing as a motivation for going to school yesterday, it backfired.  Instead of getting him out of bed faster, it made him upset and declared that he didn’t want to go to school.

That is what caused me to find away to make the yearbook signing a happy memory for all the kids at their school.  First I created and ordered a special photo collage of Patrick during some school events.  This would be his autograph page to gather signatures on.  During that time, I noticed a sale on reprints, so I decided to make a copy of a class photo for all of Patrick’s classmates.  I figured I could get some card-stock and attach the 4 x 6 photo to it for an autograph page.  Some of the kids in Patrick’s class would have an actual yearbook, but some would be like Patrick, since they had an older sibling in the school.

Thankfully, as I was on the road to pick up my supplies to make Patrick’s day memorable, I started wondering about my little Kindergarten and Preschool child.  Would they be involved in the yearbook signing?  Would they feel left out too?  And how many other kids in that school would have the same scenario happening?  I am the type of mom that tries to buy a small gift, like a coloring book, for younger siblings if we attend a birthday party.  My mom always did that and I’m proud to carry on the tradition.  So that is what prompted me to be awesome yesterday.  Yep, I had to get my ‘Awesome’ cape out of the closet for the day.

I had purchased a package of white card-stock to mount Patrick’s class photo on.  So I decided to go one step farther and print off some labels that said “AUTOGRAPHS” on it and placed them at the top of a card-stock.  I handed out enough pages to all the classroom teachers so that no one would be empty-handed that day.  I figured it would help my younger kids not feel so left out if their classmates had similar Autograph pages.

Come to find out, the Preschool and Kindergarten classes did take part in the yearbook signing.  Since I had a 4-year-old in my house, I could imagine what some of those yearbooks might go home looking like.  I can picture the conversation now:

A parent would ask one of the Pre-K students, “Honey, why is your photo blacked out of the yearbook?”

The child would answer, “Because the teacher gave me a marker to sign my name, so I decided to color the photo instead.”

At least, that is what my kids would probably do.  🙂  So that is why I gave the Preschool teacher enough Autograph pages for all of her class to use.  That way the yearbook could be tucked in the child’s backpack for their parent’s to enjoy…marker-free!

As I said earlier, I wanted to be present at the yearbook signing and I was.  I got a chance to put a note in some of the kid’s yearbook.  I made sure to sign my daughter’s friend’s yearbook with the quote, “Good Luck With That!”, because it was a comment I made one day in class that seemed to become my quote for the year.  Some of the kids asked me to sign their yearbook and for some of the kids, I just took it and signed it without them asking me.

What can I say, I may be a 45-year-old, mother of four, but in my heart and mind I’m still young.  I hope that as years go by, those kids will pass over my note in their yearbook and it will make them remember a time we shared this year.  Whether they know it or not, each and every one of them has been adopted into my heart and I can’t wait to see them grow into the wonderful human beings that I know they can be.

What Does My Future Hold? (Life After Layoff – Chapter 6)

Great news, I finally got signed up for unemployment benefits and have actually received a few weeks pay.  However, to get my unemployment benefits, I need to apply for two jobs every week.  No problem, right?  This is the day of technology and a few clicks of the mouse will give you the power to send your résumé to a number of jobs.

So that is what I’ve done.  I’ve applied for one substitute teaching job and one accounts payable job a week.  I’ve applied for 4 jobs in the last two weeks.  Since the school year is almost over, I know that getting a substitute teaching job is probably not likely.  However, it might help me get my foot in the door for next year’s school year.

I applied at a cell phone company the first week.  I was interested in an Accounts Payable position.  However, after I had submitted my résumé, I realized that the job I applied for was Financial Analyst – Reporting.  This is a position I could do, but I don’t WANT to do.  My last position pushed me into a job like that, because all the things I enjoyed doing was taken from me.

So the following week, I applied for the Accounts Payable position at the same cell phone company.  If I had to go back into an Accounting job, which I really don’t want to, Accounts Payable is the one area of Accounting that I still enjoy.  However, I have decided I don’t want to go back to a desk job.  I want to be a teacher.  I want to help kids learn about studies and about life.

Sounds simple enough, right?  Well, that’s what I thought too.  However, something in my résumé has caused a recruiter from the cell phone company to want to go to the next step in the process.  A phone interview.  I know what some of you are thinking.  ‘Good job, you could be back to work in no time.’

Great!  But what will I do with my kids this summer?  I can’t leave them home alone and I can’t afford to send them to summer camp.  Believe me, I did the summer camp thing last year and I had to get a loan at the end of the summer to pay for the remaining weekly tuition.  Not to mention that most summer camps will not take a 13-year-old.  Most camps are for kids that are in the 2nd grade and younger.  However, I don’t feel comfortable leaving my oldest daughter alone during the summer.  I would feel better if my oldest son was at home with her, however, they couldn’t get through a day without fighting.  So what do I do?

Not to mention that I want to go back to college in the fall to get my teaching degree.  I plan to go back to school full-time, while the kids are in school.  So how do I go to school and work at the same time?  See my predicament?

I was told from the unemployment office that I could get my unemployment benefits and not have to apply for jobs if the college classes I was taking were “Approved Training”.  However, I can’t get my college classes approved until I register and start to go back to school.

To some people, this whole thing would not be an issue.  They might fix their job search log so it appeared they were searching for a job when they really weren’t and continue to get unemployment.  But my conscious won’t let me do that.  However, I don’t want to purposely screw up my interview with this cell phone company.  Because there is no telling if it will come back to haunt me later.

So what do I do?  I scheduled my phone interview for Friday around 9:30am.  This way I can go to mass with my kids Friday morning and pray to God that he will get me through this phone interview the honest way.  No, I’m not going to ask God to help me not get the job.  I’m going to hand it over to God and let him guide me in the right direction.

Maybe this opportunity will lead me in a direction that I would never expect.  Only God knows what I am capable of.  Only God knows what I am supposed to do with the rest of my life.  So I need to trust that God will put the right words in my mouth and lead me in the right direction.

I know that my words may sound like I am the bravest person alive.  Truthfully, as I am typing this, I am SCARED TO DEATH!!  Because I think I know what my future has to hold for me and what if God has different plans?  Why did my résumé have to be so darn appealing?  Why couldn’t I have been more of a screw up in my last job?  I know you are thinking that I’m joking, but I’m not.  These are the things that are going through my mind right now.

I guess you could say that I learned two lessons today.

  1. Applying to the same company for two different positions might have made them think I REALLY wanted to work for them.
  2. What I have planned for my future and what God has planned might be two different things.

What will happen at my phone interview on Friday?  I don’t know.  But I do know one thing, I am going to do my best to not worry about it.  I’m going to leave this in God’s hands and trust that he knows what is best for me and my kids.