Giving Twitter Another Chance

I’m going to try again.

About a year ago, maybe longer, I had a Twitter account, but I shut it down, because it got so snarky.

On social media, I’m all about finding my happy place, and Twitter, at that point, was definitely NOT my happy place.

Pinterest? Happy.

Instagram? Happy.

WordPress? Mostly happy, you just have to know how to use it and avoid the trolls.

But I couldn’t seem to navigate the Twitter World without running into snark. Every where I turned, and it didn’t seem to matter who I followed. So, I closed my account. It was just too much.

But now that I am an officially published author, I figured I’d dip my toe in the Twitter pond one more time and see what comes of it.

Through Instagram and WordPress, I’ve managed to find a fairly docile community. It seems we’re all trying to connect on in a positive manner, and I can get into that.

If you have an account that you’d like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below. I’d be happy to find some friendly people to follow. Just click on the Twitter icon to follow me.

Here’s to holding my breath. Any advice for a Twitter newbie?

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Where Did the Time Go?!

Christmas is only 5 DAYS AWAY! How did that happen?!

Since about October, I feel like I’ve been going non-stop!

To begin with, this (picture at left) prompted a full replacement of our roof. Thank goodness for insurance coverage! Between rain and wind delays, and contractors treating me like a “girl,” I thought it would never get done. But, praise God! The new roof is holding!

Next was NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I spent a good part of my free time (between roofing phone calls) trying to finish 50,000 words in the month of November. I didn’t quite make it (I think I’m somewhere around 38,000), but I did get a good jump on my next novel…women’s fiction with a side of clean romance. It should be out some time in February if all goes as planned.

I also started a side project which I’m having a blast doing. In a past post, I talked about how I wish I would have asked more questions of my Dad before he passed away. It’s a big regret in my life. Also, my dad died from complications with Alzheimer’s, so he didn’t remember a lot. There’s a good chance that either me or my two brothers have that gene, and I want my kids to know the grandparents and great grandparents they never really had a chance to hang out with. So, I started writing down the stories of my childhood with family dinners, and holiday celebrations with extended family. Even the smallest funny stories that have stuck with me over the years suddenly seem important.

I started asking my Mom (she’s 80) about life before kids and life when she was young. I also reached out to my Dad’s brother (who didn’t get Alzheimer’s) after I realized that he had ALL the old pictures of my Dad’s side of the family. He’s been sending me documents and pictures that I’ve never seen before. My brothers have also been a big help. And the Family History Project Told through Stories has taken on a life of its own.

Add to that teenager issues, work issues…you know how it is…LIFE…and suddenly Christmas is next week! Whew! No wonder I’m so exhausted lately! LOL

Needless to say, this family project has really put life into perspective for me. Suddenly, the news doesn’t really make me mad anymore. Except for weather and local happenings, I rarely watch it. I now steer clear of controversy when I can because, well, it’s just not that important anymore.

I hope my followers can forgive me that I haven’t been blogging as much. I’m still writing. I’m still struggling with being a parent and a wife. And I’m still finding my way to church now and then, even if it means watching the live stream from home in my pajamas with a cup of coffee and my husband by my side.

I hope you all enjoy the holidays! Remember what Christmas is all about. Enjoy the craziness of family, and don’t forget the joy that comes from giving.

I hope you’re getting through the holidays without too many hiccups along the way. And don’t forget to talk to your relatives, especially the older generations, and really listen. Those stories are your history.

God bless and Merry Christmas!

When You Don’t Fit in the Box

Have you ever felt different than everyone else? Guess what? Everyone has felt that way at some point in their lives.

I’ve talked before about the area where we’re living. It’s super competitive. Which is good when you’re talking about having good schools. Our schools don’t just want our kids to strive for excellence. Sometimes it feels like they demand it…even if you don’t fit into the Excellence Box as defined by their terms.

Our school districts encourage…nah, that’s not the right word…they PUSH for excellence in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education. And there’s nothing wrong with that, in fact it’s quite admirable.

Except for one thing: NOT EVERYONE FITS IN THE “STEM” BOX.

I have at least one child that fits that description.

She would rather get a root canal than sit through a math class. Okay, that might be an exaggeration. But she hates math with a passion. She’s a “creative” down to the depths of her soul. She can tolerate science because it’s kind of fun and creative in its own way. And technology, so long as she’s using her computer to create some elaborate artwork, then, yeah…she’s in. But engineering and mathematics…forget it.

Almost every day I get an email from the school district about some new opportunity for a STEM camp or Advanced Placement Exam or Advantaged Student Experience (whatever that is). But rarely does something come across my email for “Regular Kids.” You know, the ones who fall through the cracks because they don’t fit in with the AP kids and don’t fit in with the Athletes. They don’t fit in “the Box.”

We used to send our kids to school to prepare them for life…ALL parts of life. To teach them to be well-rounded, to expose them to culture and history (and some reading and writing), and to teach them how to work together in a controlled environment. Oh, and to have some fun along the way. Now it seems, we’re sending them to school to prepare them for “a Job.” But that’s what College is for. There’s plenty of time for that.

I can’t tell you how many high school kids are depressed or experiencing crazy amounts of anxiety. Oh, and I get emails about classes to help your teen manage those emotions too.

Look, I’m not saying that striving to be the best you can be is a bad thing. I’m just saying that maybe we’ve become a little too one-sided. Maybe we need to lighten up a little bit. Maybe we need to not panic so much when our kindergartner gets held back a year because they aren’t ready to move forward just yet. That’s okay. Everyone is different.

I’m also not knocking the kids that are excelling in STEM. More power too you! Good job! I sometimes wish I had those skills, or even that interest. But I’ll tell you that the adults that have their Master’s Degree and the ones that barely made it out of high school both buy their groceries from the same store. Their basic needs are the same.

I’m just saying that there are a lot of different paths to get to the same goal…being a healthy, fulfilled, responsible, contributing member of society.

Maybe we should consider that ONE BOX does not fit ALL.

Because at the end of the day, all we want is for our kids to be happy and our educators not to be exhausted.

And if your kid is one of those that doesn’t fit into the Box, relax. They just haven’t found the right Box yet.

I’m raising Average Kids and I couldn’t be more proud.

I Really Hate to Cook

I don’t use the word “hate” lightly, but when it comes to making dinner on a nightly basis, it’s the perfect word to use.

Unless we’re talking about baking a box of Duncan Hines brownies or a batch of chocolate chip cookies made from a tub of Tollhouse Cookie Dough, then I don’t want to make it.

All the meal planning websites and menu organizing tips won’t inspire me to actually put food to pan and cook the fool thing. Even the best meal kits services won’t help me find the motivation it takes to prepare a healthy meal for my family night after night. Now if it showed up at my door, ALREADY COOKED, then THAT would be a service I could get used to. But not a service I can afford.

And yet, somehow, I feel like I am all alone on this.

I want to WANT TO cook, if you know what I mean. I WANT to feel the desire to provide for my family. It isn’t that I’m a bad cook necessarily. My food is edible. No one has ever complained of food poisoning from eating one of my meals. I can follow a basic recipe. I can even time things so the side dishes finish at the same time as the main dish. So, it isn’t that I’m a terrible cook, or that I don’t know what I’m doing.

I just DON’T WANT TO. I know…I’m whining here. But I really can’t get past it.

When I met my husband, my mother-in-law bragged to me that all three of her boys knew how to cook, clean, iron, and even sew on a button. In fact, on our second date, my husband made me a beautiful pot roast dinner from scratch.

If I was a smart woman, right then and there, I should have pretended that I couldn’t even boil water. Then we wouldn’t be in the mess we are now, because then he would be the one cooking dinner. He’s better at it than I am. It’s a fact. (Messier, but better). But he is the main bread winner and works full time, so it isn’t fair that I ask him to cook as well. He has enough responsibility. I can’t ask him to cook when he gets home from a long day at work.

It’s become a running joke with his co-workers when I text him at 5:45 asking to pick up dinner (usually fast food). They hassle him to no end.

When I go to the grocery store, I buy for the whole week, including leftovers. But by Wednesday evening (if not before) I’ve lost all motivation to prepare any of it.

I don’t know what is wrong with me!

I’m not depressed, I’m not stressed out (unusually), I’m not even particularly lazy, except when it comes to cooking every day.

If anyone has any suggestions on how to get motivated to cook dinner, I’d love to hear it. Or if anyone would like to commiserate, I’d love to hear that too.

Thanks for listening.

Letting Go…but Not Giving Up

My life with my children has been a series of “letting go.”

I let go when you didn’t need me to rock you to sleep when you were an infant.

I let go when you didn’t need to hold my hand to stand and walk on your own.

I let go when you could hold the spoon to feed yourself.

I let go when you walked into preschool that very first day and waved goodbye.

I let go when you learned to write your name all by yourself.

I let go when we took the training wheels off your bike and you balanced on your own.

I let go when you started choosing your own friends in school without my help.

I let go when you stood on the stage in your first Christmas play and sang your heart out.

I let go when you spent the night at your first sleep over and didn’t need me to tuck you in.

I let go when you got on the bus your first day of middle school and rode bravely without me.

I let go when you didn’t get the grade you wanted and learned you had to work a little harder sometimes.

I let go when you had private conversations with your friends.

I let go when I learned I wasn’t necessarily privy to every corner of your life, and that privacy didn’t mean secrecy.

I let go when I gave you the keys to the car and you drove out of my sight only to return safely.

I let go when you went on your first date, and I prayed you’d make wise choices. You did.

I let go when your choices weren’t necessarily my choices, and that was okay.

I let go when holding on tighter would only strangle you and make me crazy.

I let go just far enough so that you would know I am always here, waiting, when you need to come running back, no matter how far you wander.

I let go in so many ways, but my love for you will never lose its strength.

Confession – I’m Guilty of Enabling My Kids

“I’ll just do it myself.” Even if I don’t say it out loud, I often think it. Not out of martyrdom, not out of self-pity, but just because I can do it faster, and get it done when I want it done, whatever the “What” may be.

Am I alone on this?

I wouldn’t say my kids are spoiled, not in the traditional sense. They don’t have the latest iphone, they don’t get showered with unnecessary gifts, I don’t buy them brand name clothes. They aren’t spoiled in that sense. But when I step back and look at what I do around the house in comparison to what they do around the house, I realize that I am an “enabler.”

It started because I was a stay-at-home-mom, and my only job was to take care of the kids and the house. But the kids got older (12 and 16) and yet I still do almost everything.

I do their laundry, I make their lunches for school (except the 16 year old makes her sandwich), I make dinner AND wash the dishes AND put them away when they’re dry. Our dishwasher is broken, so I hand-wash everything. I dust, I vacuum, I clean the bathrooms, I empty the trash and take the bags to the garbage…I do way too much.

And it isn’t helping them AT ALL.

These are vital survival skills they need. But rather than engage in yet another argument, I just do it myself.

But ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.

With my back being injured this past couple of weeks (it’s getting better), it’s become very apparent to me how I’ve cheated my kids out of figuring things out on their own.

Please don’t misunderstand, they are good kids. Put to the test, I’m sure they would survive. But I’ve made it really easy for them to sit back and not have to take responsibility.

But this week, due to necessity, I’ve been forcing myself (and them) to take on some more responsibility. Doing the dishes without pushing back has been the biggest change. And when they argue about whose turn it is, I’ve stepped back and let them figure it out for themselves.

Tonight was a big step forward for me and the kids. We decorated the Christmas tree (we have an artificial tree and it’s our tradition to set it up the day after Thanksgiving). And for those of you who “re-decorate” after the kids have had their shot at the tree (you know who you are), you know this is a big one.

I didn’t hang a single ornament…not a single one! I couldn’t. The mere act of getting up and down off the floor and bending and stretching hurt my back. I even passed the torch of arranging the lights on the tree to my oldest and she did a fabulous job. It was my job to take the ornaments out of the box and hand them to the kids (and my hubby) to hang.

Somewhere along the way, I lost track of time, and forgot that they weren’t babies anymore. I forgot where my responsibilities ended and theirs began. I forgot when “helping” became “enabling.”

My hope is that I can keep it going and not slip back into my old enabling ways when my back is better. Maybe everything really does happen for a reason.

Can you relate to this? I’d love to hear that I’m not the only one.