On Becoming “That” Parent …

reid and andy regionals 2017Four kids. Three grown(ish). Through it all, I’ve prided myself on not becoming “that” parent. The parent that makes excuses for their kids. The parent that takes their kid’s successes and failures too seriously. You know – the “high-road” parent? This weekend, at least in my head, I became “that” parent.

Andy’s rowing team went to Regionals. I did not even anticipate Andy going to regionals this year so had not planned to attend. However, when the coaches put him in a pair (2 man boat) he was excited and their times were good. I booked a room and headed to Lake Lanier, GA. First day was time trials and they took third. I was so nervous and excited for Sunday’s finals.

Never mind that our team mainly rows 8-man boats year-round. The boys had a week and a half to practice in a two. They finished fourth. Fourth in the entire Southeast. A normal parent would have been thrilled, even if she knew the boys in the boat would be disappointed. Me? Nope. I finally snapped. I’ve never been so sad at the result of anything any of my boys have done. Part of my brain knew I was crazy but, the other part was insanely disappointed, sad and kind of angry.

I’d like to take a moment to thank the sane part of my brain for taking charge. I really only lost it internally and only for a few minutes. But, as the Talking Heads famously asked, “Well, how did I get here?”

I think if you have a kid that starts out strong and does exceedingly well in a sport it’s hard when they change categories – Andy went from lightweight to the big time this year. But, the thing is, that’s HIS fight. Not mine. My fight is to feed him, make sure school’s a priority and to nag him about brushing his teeth. His accomplishments (or lack thereof) are not about me. I know this. I’ve always known this. Funny how I forgot so late in this “race” called parenthood.

I’m back to sane again thanks to a long drive home fueled by caramel M&Ms and a great audio edition of Anna Karenina. Funny how a “hard” book forces you to focus and move on.

No point to this. Just sharing. No matter how sane you are and no matter how long you stay sane, you’re always vulnerable. Take it from me, you don’t want to be “that” parent. I’m just grateful that my experience happened entirely inside my head. 😉

All or nothing!

10898The past couple of weeks have been a whirlwind. A rowing state championship followed the next weekend by a college graduation!

This weekend? Mike was able to get away early and we drove up to Tallahassee to celebrate Ian’s graduation from Florida State University. Mike and I are Gators through-and-through but, we once again (Danny also graduated from FSU) sucked it up and left our blue/orange clothing at home. Ian was working Friday night so we planned to check into our hotel and head over to his restaurant (Bonefish Grill) to visit and let him serve us dinner.

So . . . we checked into our hotel. First, it’s my own fault. I should have booked a hotel back in January. But, back then, Ian was waffling about whether he wanted to participate in the ceremony. When I went to book a hotel a week ago, everything was booked or $400/night. In Tallahassee people. NO. WAY. I found a room for $250/night. I knew the location of the hotel and we fully expected to spend the night in a 70’s time capsule. What we did not expect was to be given the keys to hell. Seriously. We are not terribly demanding. We walked into the room. Looked around. Cracked open a beer from our quick gas station stop. Mike rarely gets mad. After 27 years of marriage I can count on my fingers the number of times I’ve seen him really angry. I’m running out of fingers. Insanity. After a lot of back and forth, the manager suddenly found us a perfectly lovely room with a king-sized bed, a real bathroom  and everything else. If you’re planning on going to Tallahassee anytime soon, let me know, I’ll tell you what hotel to skip.  Gah!

During the great room debate, we were texting with Ian – who had graciously made reservations for us – to keep backing up our reservations. No small feat on a graduation weekend! When we got to the restaurant, Ian’s co-workers were waiting for us. We had a wonderful dinner and even had a chance to talk to Ian. As Ian was not closing the restaurant that night, we decided to find a cozy pub and meet him after work. Oh my. The fact that people keep letting us wander unsupervised is so wrong.

I looked on my phone and found what looked to be a charming Irish pub close to Ian’s restaurant. We found the place and were busy talking as we walked in, not paying too much attention. We sat, ordered drinks and kept talking. Once settled we started looking around. Mike pointed out a woman in a sequined dress saying how rare it is to see a woman well over six feet tall. Yep. That woman was a man. The Irish pub is now something else. I’m not sure what exactly it is but, everyone was having fun, including us. When Ian finally turned up, he was hysterical. “Do you even know where you are?” he demanded? I don’t know about you, but I hate to disappoint my children.  And, if I’m going to freak them out, I like to do it in a big way.

This morning, we picked Ian up (woke Ian up) at 7 am. We found a good parking spot and I was thrilled when we saw Ian’s old roommate, Alex, coming to join us. We dropped Ian off and went on a hike in search of coffee. The ceremony was long but fun. So many happy people in one space. I knew Ian’s grades were good but, I was so thrilled to see him come up to the stage with his Summa Cum Laude “decorations” on his robe. In his entire college career, I think he had one ‘B.’ We’re so very proud of him.

After the ceremony, we went for lunch (well, mostly caffeine but food was involved as well). Afterwards, Ian took us on a tour of the college radio station where he has been a DJ for the past couple of years. So fun. I could have stayed there all day reading the posters and graffiti from the past three decades – the walls are completely covered.

I’m proud of Ian but his graduation is yet another reminder that my kids are grown ups (mostly) and part of me would love to go back to when they were 8. But not really. Mostly, I’m looking forward to what the next chapter of Ian’s life will bring – I know it’s going to be amazing!

The last weekend of April involved a trip to Sarasota with OARS for the FSRA State Championship. It was, as always, an exciting and exhausting weekend. Mike and I help with the “food team” and keeping 150 kids fed and hydrated for two full days on a shade-less race site is no small feat!

In an effort to save some cash, Mike and I split an Airbnb apartment with our most excellent friends, AJ and Maria. Thus far, my Airbnb experiences have been very positive. Last weekend? Not so much. Fortunately, the reason we get along so well with AJ and Maria is the fact that they have great senses of humor. We laughed until we cried and made the most of a very strange apartment. In addition, we each saved about $600 for the weekend. The a/c worked and the weekend will go down as a fun, memorable one!

Andy’s boat took second place. The boys on the boat were not at all pleased to take “first-place-loser” but, it was a hard-fought, exciting race. I’m proud of them.  Next weekend, the team heads to Georgia to race on the course that hosted the Atlanta Olympics – you know, in the last century? I’m still debating whether to go or not. Mike won’t be able to make it. I know Andy doesn’t care one way or another.

But, Andy’s days are numbered and I’m starting to get that feeling that I want to be there for all I can. Stay tuned . . . and if I do go, cross your fingers I pick a good hotel. 😉

 

Philosophizing . . .

99689970While I have absolutely NO desire to be 17-18 again. Part of me hopes that at least one of the young people in these pictures recognizes how fabulous they are and how big the possibilities available to them are. There is no going back. But, oh, how I wish I had appreciated who I was each and every year of my life rather than constantly looking ahead for what’s next. Yep. Bedtime for me. Still . . .

And the beat goes on . . .

Tonight Andy and his friend-that-is-a-girl are at the prom. It’s not at her high school and it’s not in our living room (aka homeschool prom). Instead, some fellow rowers issued the two of them invitations to the prom at their high school as it’s being held on one of the very few weekends there is not a race. Tim dropped by in time to go with Andy to take pictures, pre-prom. The other young man is Andy’s official “date.” But, let’s face it, they’re all accessories to the friend-that-is-a-girl. You can’t tell from the pictures but her earrings are butterfly wings that match the dress! (I’m sure the wings were donated and no actual butterflies were harmed in the making of the earrings.)

In other news, we were happy to see Ian Thursday night. He stayed here before catching a flight to Minneapolis. He’ll be back again Sunday night. Sounds like he’s having fun so far. Don’t know if he’ll end up there. I don’t know if he appreciates what living in such a cold climate entails . . . like shoes on a regular basis.

20170409_135535While I was (ahem) in Paris, Mike did the kitchen counters with concrete. The counters are awesome. However, they looked awful with the gray of the cabinets. Now our kitchen looks like this.  The backsplash is pallets – easy enough to change when we get tired of them and can afford what I really like. 😉

Other things I have neglected to blog about . . .

  • 20170401_123224Mike’s parents came down to see one of Andy’s races. They didn’t realize they had signed up for hard labor. They helped us with food for the race and to get ready for a party after the race. It all worked out. Andy’s boat won by a huge margin – which is especially fun for people watching who have never been to a regatta.  The party was equally fun. We are so lucky to know such a great (sometimes weird) mix of people! There was food, a birthday celebration, more food and occasional bursts of singing. Andy’s friends made clean up easy – there was NOTHING left over. (Andy is second from the right in this picture.)

 

  • We celebrated our one year anniversary in this house. Believe it or not, Mike found NEW garden sculptures just last week. I think that puts us up to about 25 hidden gnomes, creepy children and a barn yard full of “found” statues. The newest ones include a terrifying duck with dead, glass eyes and a dragonfly thing whose wings flap in the wind and make a creepy sucking sound. (Notice how Mike is wearing his falcon gloves to handle them.) 20170422_153047 My mom insists that the neighbors are sneaking in at night to hide them in the yard to scare us away. Not going to happen. Sure we’re scared but we’re not leaving.
  • And, finally, just because it was SO hard to find a suit to fit Andy – a picture of him all gussied up. This picture represents hours and hours of work culminating in me pitching a small fit that he put on the jacket AND shoes AND socks so I could take a picture. I don’t care if it IS 89 degrees. The smile is the result of Tim standing behind me as I  took the picture shouting “She is The Queen of the Harpies.” I relish the title.

 

 

Hope all is going well in your worlds. Next weekend we head to Sarasota for the state championships. I’ll try to take pictures. I’ll definitely collect stories.

Twin Milestones

242c2-imgp0190
2011 – Ian (L), Tim (M), Andy (R) – Interesting to note that Andy is taller than Tim now!

Okay, I googled for synonyms but “milestone” seems to be the word I want. The past couple of years have been kind of whirlwind – good and bad. So much has changed and so much keeps changing. Again, good and bad. Having grown up kids makes blogging harder. Their stories affect my life but they aren’t my stories to tell. And, so, I’m stuck, quite often lately, about what to blog about. As I’ve said before, I use this blog as a record of things in my life. If you have been along on this journey (since 2006!) THANKS.

Soooo . . . back to milestones. Ian will graduate from Florida State on May 6 with degrees in Literature and Economics. He’s busy researching cities he’d like to live and work in as a grown up. (Nashville, Minneapolis, Baltimore are on the list) This afternoon, I was in Target. I crossed paths with a woman who had a baby in the cart and who was shouting for her 3-year-old-ish son, Murphy, to get-back-here-this-instant. Flash back to when we first moved into our last house. Ian was four? He introduced himself to all the kids in the neighborhood as “Murphy.” For months, neighbors asked me if I was Murphy’s mom and I had no clue. Murphy is all grown up now and . . . milestone.

This morning, Andy and I helped Tim move into an apartment close to UCF. His own apartment. Well, his own apartment with his lovely friend-that-is-a-girl who I won’t name as I think we (as a family – okay, maybe just me – a friend recently informed me that I might be a bit intimidating – not true) still scare her a bit. Tim, after two years on his own, has been living here the past year. I love Tim. I think I will love him more now that I don’t have to worry about what time he’s coming home, waking up mad every morning at the coffee/breakfast mess and all the other stuff that pisses off parents of adult children living at home. So we moved Tim today. There were delays. I was grumpy about wasted time.  I moved on to the rest of my day feeling happy for Tim and for me.

I didn’t get home until after 7 pm. Like many of you, my first goal was to get out of my grown up clothes and put on something comfy and loose – for me, this is always my overalls. Before heading back downstairs, I stopped in Tim’s nearly empty room to assess the damage.  I was not prepared when I opened the closet and saw Tim’s two beyond-loved teddy bears flopped forlornly on the floor. Sucker punch! Tim and the bears ALWAYS stay together. I scooped up the bears and cried. Not a lot – I’m not a crier. But, wow. Tim is grown up too. I’ll keep the bears for the day when Tim has his own kids. But . . . the bears.  Milestone.

These are the things most on my mind. I won’t lie and say it all flashes by in a minute. It doesn’t – I think you feel every age in real time the entire time your kids are growing up. What I find scary/fascinating is how quickly the things that made you crazy cease to even be on your radar. For me, that’s why I love having this blog. I wish there had been internet sooner. It’s a way for me to keep track of things in real time and have access to my real-time thinking years later. It’s fun to look back at my worked-up self and try hard to remember WHY whatever it was was such a big deal.

My goal is to catch up on all that has been going on and to stay caught up over the next couple of weeks. Mostly for myself but you’re more than welcome to come along. 😉

 

 

Where was I again???

Holy cow! I still feel like I just got back from Paris. (Did I mention my recent trip – you know, the trip I took across the pond, to PARIS???????) And, yet, almost an entire month has slipped away.  I have so many thoughts and pictures and, as if to spite me, our internet provider seems to be conspiring against me. Our phones work fine – the computers? Not so much. I have ginormaous thumbs and doing this stuff without a real keyboard defeats me. Spectrum (aka Bright House) wins this round.

As my life has been marching on since Paris, my plan was to just put up an album of my favorite (and we all know I’m a terrible photographer) pictures and call it good. Most of my blog is for me anyway. (I’m certainly happy if you like sharing my weird life but I love being able to go back over the years and be reminded of crazy stuff that I would never have written down anywhere else.) I’ve put comments on the pictures but if you have questions I’d be happy to tell you the whole story!

27 Years

27th anniversaryThat equals 9855 days, 236,520 hours, or 851,472,000 seconds that Mike and I have been married. We’ve certainly filled each and every on of those years! I can’t imagine life with anyone else. Here’s to the next 27.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Green beer for everyone.

 

Part I: Sooo … did I mention my trip to Paris?

champ
Me and Tony doling out champagne on a tour of the Seine River. I may never drink Champagne again this was so perfect!

So, yeah, I did go to Paris. Got back around 10 o’ clock last night. It’s midnight (US) now and I’m not sure what planet I live on. I wanted wine with breakfast this morning and now I feel like I should be making breakfast. It’ll sort out, I imagine.

Paris? Awesome. After a full day of travel (18 hours total to get home) and then weird today, I’ve been trying to figure out how to blog about my trip. I didn’t bring my lap top and I’m glad. Sometimes, trying to stay in touch takes away from the actual experience. That said, I missed my lap top.  The biggest thing for me about any kind of vacation or break is who I am with. For Paris-week – I was with my mom, Judy (my mom’s cousin and someone who I’ve always thought of as a cool aunt) and Tony (Judy’s husband who has always been my cool uncle).

nd2
L-R – Bing, me and Judy. What you can’t see is us shivering! So cold and rainy waiting outside of Notre Dame to see the Westminster Choir.  What you also can’t see is the laughing and snorting we were doing while waiting. So. Much. Fun.

Judy and Tony lived in Paris for several years when I was a little girl. They’ve always gone back for a few weeks at a time and have always encouraged all of us to come visit them. I finally did! (My mom has been to Paris a few times before). We stayed with Judy and Tony in their real Paris apartment in a real neighborhood in Paris. That alone made the visit different than had we stayed in a hotel.

The apartment was in an old (19th century-ish) building. There was a small (incredibly functional and storage-savvy) kitchen, a small bath, a lovely living room with HUGE ceilings featuring gorgeous molding and two small bedrooms. In Paris, you can’t beat it. The owners of the apartment have kept it the same since they bought it 30 years ago. I love it. Old, old floors, awesome high ceilings and all over perfect. Sure,  some HGTV stars could bring it to life but it would lose its charm.

Short story? I loved Paris. I loved the opportunity to stay in an apartment in a real neighborhood. Mostly, though, I loved getting to spend time with Bing, Judy and Tony. I don’t know that I have ever spent time with all three of them without crazy kids.There were ups and downs but mostly there was a lot of laughing going on.

20170302_143510
Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley. Judy and Bing.

I think it’s the laughing and just being comfortable that I will remember more than anything we did or saw. Judy and her napkins. Tony trying to herd the three of us through the Metro and beyond without actually stamping his feet.  My mom putting her hood up in the rain only to further drench herself. These are the real things. These are the things most of us don’t photograph (because there is no need). I have so many of these wonderful “snapshots” in my head.

I have so much more to share about our visit. But, to me, the biggest thing about my trip to Paris ended up being the time I spent with people who have known me always and who have been so integral in making me the slightly-off person I am today. At 51, it’s kind of nice to be treated as a 12-year-old again by people who you love and who love you.  I imagine we would have had as much fun going anywhere. BUT, I’m glad we had THAT much fun in Paris. Thank you – Mom (Bing), Judy and Tony ❤

20-20-20-4 hours ago . . .

The Ramones . . . they wanna be sedated. I can relate. It’s countdown time until my mom and I leave for Paris. Less than 36 hours!!!!!!

My mom came today to help me figure out what to pack. I had an idea but I had stacked up about twice what I needed. There’s just something about your mom telling you “No.” that makes you focus.

Anyway, I’ve been wanting to blog but we’re back into the big rowing season which means weekends are full as are a few days during the week. I am in awe of the families who are participating in rowing with more than one kid. NO. WAY.

Also, the days of just popping on to spew whatever is in my head are gone. Having grown kids limits what you can talk about and also limits explaining yourself sometimes. But, for now, I’m going to Paris. In less than 36 hours.

Never, ever thought I would get to Paris. And, I worried about being able to get there and get dressed. That’s one advantage to traveling when you’re young – you can get away with wearing almost everything. Over fifty? What you wear will definitely have an impact on how you are treated and how you feel. (At least that’s my impression.) In my online searches for what to wear in Paris in winter, I keep finding cute 20-ish people and cute 65-ish people. I don’t fit into either category.  I also don’t have money.

So, I’m sharing what I’m going to be wearing in Paris – including where I found it and what I paid. What works in Paris is not what I normally wear in Orlando, FL. (That would be overalls and a tank top – sometimes shoes) I had time to do some scouting and searching. I like black, you’ll notice. But, I think what I’m packing would work in any major city. And, if you are willing to spend the time (yes, time = money so do your own math) you can get a great travel wardrobe for next to nothing. I despise having my picture taken but I will get my mom to take a picture everyday so you can see if what I packed works or not.


travel-dayTRAVEL DAYS:
 Repeatedly I’ve read that you should wear your bulkiest stuff when you travel. It lightens your suitcase. We’re traveling in winter so I’m okay with that.

I found this Jones New York leather jacket at my favorite thrift store (thanks to Ian’s help) for $16.16. The blue pashima is something I picked up at a thrift store years ago for about $8 – it’s silk and big enough to use as a blanket on the plane. Underneath the jacket is a man’s cashmere turtleneck from Theory that I found for $8. It’s soft, squishy and the cashmere makes it less sloppy than a sweatshirt. Skinny jeans are Levi’s and the Born boots (most comfortable shoes EVER) were both from Goodwill. Total $12.

I will wear this outfit coming and going from Paris. I’ll wear individual parts of the outfit throughout my trip. $44.16 (or $22.08 each way)

awesome-sweater-dressFANCY DAYS:  We are figuring on a pretty casual trip. However, there are a few things that I think might be more comfortable if I’m a little more dressed up. This dress was the find of the century. I had two dresses marked on Ebay and ThredUp (both over $60) when I happened on this one in Goodwill (I was there looking for a frame!). Add some dark red tights from Big Lots and the awesome $6 Born boots?  A necklace or a scarf. It doesn’t get much better. In fact, it’s kind of like looking really good and fooling everyone because you are essentially wearing your pajamas. I think this outfit might turn up a lot in pictures.

 obligatory-striped-shirtMUSEE DAYS:  There is sooooo much I want to see in Paris. We have it narrowed down to several museums. I think this will be my uniform. The striped shirt that is apparently de rigeur if you’re in France and these awesome Parker pants I found at Walmart. The pants are seriously amazing – especially at about $15. They run big so try them on. They have tons of prints. The fabric is lightweight, wrinkle resistant and they hold their shape all day. Tossing in the Banana Republic driving loafers for a bit of red. Found these shoes at a now closed consignment shop. I think I paid $18 for them about six years ago. Love, love, love them. I would actually pay full-price for them when these die.

night-outNIGHT OUT:  I picked up a great travel skirt ($2 b/c of half off color)  before my mom and I went to Costa Rica. I didn’t bring the skirt to Costa Rica but hung onto it. It’s a jersey knit and is easy to roll up or down depending on how long you want it. I love skirts and dresses. I think they are so much more comfortable than pants – even yoga pants. For this skirt, I’m thinking of dressing it up for a night out with as crinkly blouse ($3), fun necklace ($7) some ribbed tights ($4)  and my granny boots.

scarf-and-jeansRANDOM DAYS: We have a couple of mornings and afternoons that are not planned.  For those, I have my v-necked cashmere cardigan (again from the men’s department at the thrift store – $11) and a couple of extra t-shirts. I have extra scarves and some black skinny jeans that will work will with any of my shoes.

Now, we wait and see what goes wrong and what I regret. For now, I feel like I’ll look okay without being too young or too old.

Did I mention I’m going to Paris and I can’t believe it and I keep squealing? Pity the cab driver that we get at the airport. He/She’s going to have to absorb all of my excitement and endure me practicing French on him as well. My hope is that he/she will leave thinking, “She was weird but, sheesh, what a great outfit.”

Remember my friends . . . It is better to look good than to feel good. 8)  (I can’t post video on this site – Google Billy Crystal if you need a reminder!)

 

Hey! Look! Shiny Things!

tony-sketchYes, it’s been over a month since my last post. I’ve been busy-ish. It’s weird now with Andy at the community college. Technically, I’m still a homeschool mom but in reality, my planner is dusty and it’s unlikely a mummified chicken is in my future. ( Was that really 16 years ago?)

January was time for me to regroup and think about what’s next for me. It was also busy with rowing starting up again, Andy turning 17, a visit from my sister and my usual insane list of projects – painted our bedroom, bathroom and closet. This house is giving me major ladder skills.

The good news? It’s no longer January. I still have no real plan – just vague ideas. The biggest thing going on right now is my upcoming trip to PARIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Yes. France. Baguettes. Berets. Fromage. Wine. You know, Paris. My mom and I are going to Paris and will be staying with Aunt Judy and Uncle Tony in a totally cute apartment. IN PARIS!  Judy and Tony lived in Paris when I was little. They know the city and visit every year or so. The link will take you to their blog that shows snippets of some of their Paris (and beyond) adventures. (The sketch above is Tony’s. It won first place in a recent show. Look at his other work here.)

I’ve been working hard on my French, studying what people who are not total geeks wear when in Paris (no sneakers, lots of black), and trying to not bounce off the walls. I cannot believe I’m going. I’m so not a romantic but since my first French class in seventh grade I have loved all things French. Art, of course, but especially books. The Little Prince, Madame Bovary, Les Miserables (the musical is great but the book will make you sob) and even A Tale of Two Cities.

Since I’ll be there with veterans of the city, I’m counting on them as far as things that must be seen. I’d be happy wandering the streets and trying to eavesdrop of people. I don’t care that much what we do – I just want to be there. (Quick break while I run around the house squealing again.) Of course, if you have been there and have suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

Hope everything in your world is going well. Stay tuned for more frantic “I can’t believe I’m going!!!!” posts.