Rainy Day

I love rainy days.  I love stormy days even more.

Rainy/stormy days take me back to my childhood.  Until I was seven, we lived in a house with a porch swing and Dad would take my sister and I out on the swing to watch storms.  We lived on a one mile stretch of country road which only contained four houses (at that time three), and we were all on the north side of the road while the south side was farm land sloping away from us.  It was especially beautiful in summer when the wind would play through the wheat, making it look like an ocean.

At the age of seven, we moved into a house up the hill which my parents built.  The original house (a Sears Roebuck catalog home) was sold with eight acres and we kept the other 72.  That house had an even better view of the fields.  I remember storms rolling through while Mom worked on her latest quilting project and I made Barbie doll clothes.  More specifically, Dawn doll clothes, if you are old enough to remember those.

My mom’s clan is full of crafters.  Pretty much everyone can sew and many other crafts are represented as well: crocheting, needlepoint, embroidery, quilting, etc.  Both of my mom’s parents were from large farm families, which should explain enough right there.  That’s probably also why so many in the family can bake from scratch and have at one time or another preserved food.  My aunt was an accomplished enough seamstress that she made jeans for her four kids without anyone knowing they weren’t from a store.

I can’t imagine being one of eleven or one of thirteen children, I can never remember which number goes with which grandparent.  They were close clans – until a child left to pursue their own interests.  I learned the story of my grandparents just within the last ten years, and not from them.

Grandpa and one of his brothers wanted to travel, so they would go where they liked until money was low, then stay put and work until they had earned enough to travel further.  One of those stopping points brought Grandpa to my grandmother’s town.  They met at a church social.  Later, my grandma moved north to be with grandpa.  He was ‘kicked out’ of the family for leaving for a while, and she was kicked out for moving north to Yankee territory.  Apparently, Grandma missed out on her portion of the sale of the family farm (all but a portion with the house) to developers.  Love over substantial money.

The estrangement from the south didn’t carry too far forward, and I always loved when Grandma’s sisters would come to visit.  They were graceful ladies and of course I loved listening to their accents.

From rainy day crafting to part of my family history.  This path could continue on to just about anywhere, so it’s best to stop and find a porch swing.


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Odds and Ends

Today I didn’t really feel like working, but ended up getting some things done anyway.  One of the tasks I hadn’t planned on was organizing supplies in the bathroom cabinets.  This doesn’t happen often as my arthritic knee makes it tough to get down on the floor, then back up again.

The kid’s bathroom still had bath toys and some headbands from elementary school.  (Way too small now!)  Why these things have remained this long, I don’t know.

I like to keep several bottles/containers of the items we use on a daily basis.  I grew up in the country, and although it was not the vast expanses of the Plains states, we were snowed in for four or five days in a stretch more than once.  Keeping a good supply lets me wait for sales, coupons, and specials to get the best price possible as well.

DD1 heads back to college in a week and a half – her job takes her back early – so it was important to find out what needs to be replenished….before she raids my cupboard!

It’s time to start making mini loaves of bread for my son’s school lunches.  I have a bunch of small pans and use them all.  He’s not a sandwich guy, but does love his bread.  There were also a couple of forms to be turned in before schedule pickup day.  That had to be done before DD1 headed out for work.

My mom has decided that she needs to give up her dog.  It bit her last night, not for the first time, and got aggressive again this morning.  It’s wrenching her heart, but this has been an issue she’s been trying to correct for several months – the dog is one year old- and she almost gave her up at the beginning of the summer.

This dog is like her grandchild dog.  We had German Shepherds growing up and they were wonderfully behaved.  The first never set a paw on the carpet, the second got to come on the carpet when she reached about five years old, neither of them were allowed on the furniture.  This one has had the run of the house, getting on all the furniture except the bed.  Mom had a trainer come to the house twice a week for several months and took the dog to the vet to rule out physical problems.  It’s just too much for her and as much as I like the dog, I don’t want Mom to get hurt.  She’s been bit a few times – I suspect more often than she’s told anyone.

Now I worry how Mom will do (emotionally) without her dog.  This dog meant the world to her.  Dad was the cat person.  I wish we lived closer to each other, but DH’s job is here and Mom will never move.

DD1 is thrilled to be heading back to school.  She had a one day training session yesterday for her TA position, and was in Heaven being on campus.  Her last day of working in the fast food industry will be Monday.  She won’t miss it.  Now I just need her to figure out what she needs as far as toiletries and cleaning supplies go, or she can purchase them.  The dorm she’s in has four rooms which share a bathroom and small kitchen area (microwave, fridge, sink, shelves).  It’s helpful to have a microwave when you move in before the cafeteria opens.  We’ll take her shopping for food once the car is unloaded.

DD2 is getting nervous about college.  She took a year off after graduation – the right decision for her – and will be taking two classes this fall.  She has three classes planned for winter term, and will decide about adding more classes after she settles in this semester.  She’s smart enough, she’ll make friends easily enough, she just needs to believe in herself and breathe deeply.  I’m hoping it will go reasonably well.

DH has begun his second term of on-line grad school.  He’s working to shave one term off the recommended path to save money and to get back to normalcy.  His photography hobby has been mostly shelved while he’s in school.  It will be nice to have his company in the evenings again, but that’s a year away.

Our local walking program finishes tomorrow night, and I’m ready for it.  We participate three of the six sessions each week.  The tough part is that the walk begins at 6pm, which is when we’d be sitting down to dinner.  Instead, I’m starting to make dinner at 7pm, still cooling down and feeling quite tired.  The kids don’t always join us, so I’ve put them to work several of the nights and had them stick things in the oven for me and occasionally had them make a side dish.  Those nights were the best, even though I’d still done the prep work.

This summer has flown.  It’s been mostly good.  It’s a challenge to share a car and have to work around my daughter’s work schedule, but there are worse things.  I’m ready to have full use of the car back.

Don’t tell DD1, but I’m also looking forward to setting the drying racks back up in her room for the laundry.

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Growing Pains Update

So glad we talked to our daughter!  It turns out that she’s been experiencing anxiety and some other emotions.  She’s been looking back through her childhood and recognizing that she’s always had anxiety, it just manifested itself quietly and she thought it was normal at the time.

It took some work to draw things out, but she did let us in.  Now we can go forward together, looking for solutions which will work for her.

Please, parents, pay attention to your kids and encourage communication.  We only saw signs of anxiety in this child at one small point in time.  She was afraid of walking down the stairs for a short while at the age of four.

We’ve got a long road to travel.  Our philosophy is to go through the hard work of therapy first (through many different approaches, not just a counselor).  Medication, for us, is an option which only comes in if therapy isn’t enough or a situation is severe enough to need immediate results.

Time to get to work.

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Growing Pains

Our oldest will be in her third year of college this fall.  Due to AP/IB tests, she’s been a Junior for a semester, but her program is five years.  Period.  No way around it.  Many universities have engineered their programs to make AP/IB credits worthless when it comes to shaving time off from earning the degree, but I digress.

The first part of the summer with our eldest was painful.  We were walking on eggshells around her, waiting for the attitude to fall.  It frequently did.  For DD1, spending time at home is now an evil she has to put up with.  The first Christmas break she came home, she cried at least half of the way home.  Her home is now campus and her life is made up of her college friends.  We are the crappy youth hostel she’s forced to stay in when the school is closed.  This is how it feels to DH and I.

In May, before she found a summer job, DD1 did some classroom observations at the local high school.  She plans to become a high school teacher, and although she claims I never suggested such a thing, I encouraged this very activity before she graduated from high school, when she was planning her college years.

My father taught high school, I was elementary, and a good third of my relatives are/were teachers.  I grew up visiting my dad’s classroom at the high school and even sat through some of his college classes while growing up.  The math department teachers came to our home for cook outs.  Dad’s honors geometry class would come out to our home at the end of each year.  I attended part of a math conference with my dad.  I heard lots of educator shop talk through the years.  My own experiences in the schools added to what I’d taken in growing up.  I was interested to hear what she was seeing.  I thought this would be something we could share, but DD1 wouldn’t talk to me at all.  She responded with annoyance when I tried to engage her in conversation about the observations, then just stopped talking (we were having dinner as a family).

DD1’s friends all live a minimum of an hour and a half away, and the roads to get there are frequently filled with scary drivers.  I’m not always comfortable driving the routes myself.  The first gathering DD1 went to was at night.  Before leaving, she turned off the location sharing on her phone.  She loves to keep track of us when we’re traveling to visit her at school, but knowing that we were worried about traffic, she shut us out.

Now, we understand that this is the time of pulling away from the nest and growing up.  What is going on with DD1 feels miles beyond that.

We barely see her, even when she’s in the house with us.  She barely speaks to us.

We are not constantly asking where she is, who she’s with, rarely ask her to be home by a certain time, etc.

The other night she took off on foot to a nearby park – at 10pm – not telling us.  We saw the outside light on from our bedroom window and pieced it together.  She came home around 11:30pm.  Our parks close at dusk, and it’s never a good idea for a girl to be out alone that late, especially in a park, especially on foot or on bicycle.  DD1 went for a bike ride last night, leaving around 8pm and staying out until 11pm.  DH texted her around 10:40 to ask her to come home.  She ignored him then slammed the door when she returned.

We’re in a relatively safe town, but it’s not smart to be out alone in the parks that late at night.  She doesn’t know it yet, but we’ll be talking tonight after she’s home from work.  I’m not looking forward to it.

We’re tired of the rudeness being flung at us.  The beginning of the summer had her rolling her eyes and giving exasperated sighs when I would ask for her work schedule.  We’re sharing a vehicle.  I have to know her schedule so I can plan my errands and such.  It’s also just common courtesy to share the schedule with us.  At least the eye rolls stopped.

We had about a month in which the tension eased, but it’s fully back.  She has a countdown app on her phone counting to move-in day for school.  Her job takes her back mid August, and it will be a relief to us all.  (DD1 and DD2 have tension every break as well.)

DH and I will have to choose our words carefully tonight.  There are several things which we would love to say, but which would only make things worse.

I don’t know what the future holds here.  I’m worried about a previously good relationship with our daughter being flushed down the toilet – mostly by her.  I’m hoping it’s just rebellion to be more of an adult and that we might be able to clear some air tonight.

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Summer Life

Society assumes that Moms hate the day school gets out.  That may be true for others, but I love the end of the school year.  It means I don’t have to watch the clock, make sure homework gets done, check the school website (you get lightly reprimanded if you don’t check the grade books often enough), and all that goes with school.

I enjoy having one less lunch to pack and sleeping in an extra half hour.  I enjoy watching my kids read stacks and stacks of books – I have a stack too, but have to go slower to also get other work done.  I was very purposeful in raising readers.

I enjoy our vacations.  Some are bigger than others, some have scary weather, some have annoying things happen, but we always find the joke and a way to laugh at any misfortunes and have a grand time together.  One parent at church once observed that everything fun her kids had done had been with other people.  (Our church has a very active youth group with frequent outings, a yearly youth conference, and every other year a missions trip to Peru where a friend of our youth pastor runs a children’s home.)  We had children to enjoy our time with them, and summer is a great time to enjoy our kids.

For Father’s Day weekend we went bowling and did an escape room.  Our oldest was working, but the rest of us still had a great time together.

DH and I waited up for DD1 for the first time on Saturday night.  She asked to get out of work early to attend a party with college friends – an hour and a half away – utilizing a busy and crazy highway – getting home late.  DH asked her to leave by 9:30, which is early but because of the reasons listed above.  She got home about 45 minutes later than she ought to have.  She walked in to find us, commented that we were up late, then I went to bed.  DH soon followed.  She’s actually been pleasant since then.  She even gave me her schedule for the week without an eye roll or groan.  (We share a car, so I need to know, but it’s also a courtesy.)  We didn’t even say anything to her about coming home late – just waited up unexpectedly.  I would love to have her remain her old self the rest of the summer without any big discussion.

This morning I went out to trim up the property line to one side of us.  It’s the neighbor’s weeds, but they never bother about it.  I trim up to a foot past the line, but in doing so I cut the brushy trees at a point that’s healthier for the tree.  They’ve never said anything to us about the yearly clean up.  They may just be happy to get free yard work.

I’m trying to stay on top of house and yard work, but am barely treading water.  The kids help as they can, but I want them to enjoy their time off as well.  What I really need is to dedicate a couple of days to sewing.  I got a few things done in recent weeks, but there are many projects to do.  I have to keep pushing myself in all of the tasks, and some days all I want to do is sit with an ice pack on my knee and a book in my lap.  Some days that scenario wins, if only for a few hours.

The local walking program started up at the beginning of June and runs through July.  It’s beating us up, especially my pesky knee.  I’ve been a ball of pain (feet, knees, you name it), but it’s good for me.  This is our fourth year participating, and for the first time, my name was drawn last night for the give away.  They’ve given out t-shirts in the past, and this year it’s a cooling towel, drawing after each walk.  It’s always fun to win, especially when you don’t expect to.

Tonight the walk takes place around a small, man-made lake, and the kids are most likely to go along.  They are so happy to be old enough to choose for themselves.  Dinner is a bit difficult as the walk starts at six and DD2 cannot eat first or she gets nasty cramps.  I’ve been working on getting as much prepared before we leave as possible, and if kids are staying home, trying to plan something that can just sit in the oven while we’re gone.  I really need to get back to menu planning.  One more thing for the to-do list.



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Good and Bad

My son is in his first week of summer vacation and he has been cleaning like a whirlwind.  He’s been promising to clean ‘when school gets out’ for weeks, but we didn’t know if he’d follow through or not.  His room is looking awesome!  He’s happy with his clean room, and the cats are happy to be allowed in to hang with him.  There is more work to be done, mainly the surfaces.  He started with floor space, which is always best.  I hope he keeps going and then makes a point of putting things away as he’s finished with this or that so he can keep his neat room.

It’s an absolute joy to watch this boy growing into manhood.  He’s been maturing as a student, which was confirmed by one of his teachers who had him for both freshman and sophomore years.  He told me that he’s been ready to practice driving since the snow melted but forgot to tell me.  He was nervous about driving, so that’s a big deal.  Now, he’s hopefully maturing in personal responsibility.

DH started working on his master’s degree in January and it takes most of his evenings. The grass is now growing and many things outside need to be tended to, but it’s become apparent that this help-meet is going to need to take charge of outdoor care for awhile.  Tuesday I grabbed my two youngest and we got to work.  They picked up sticks, I mowed, DS weed whacked, DD2 swept millions of maple seeds off of the deck, DS and I trimmed trees and got the branches stacked for waste pick up.  Much more needs to be done, but we were all whooped.  DH noted that I hadn’t asked DD1 to help.  She’s working at least 35 hours a week and as stated in a previous post, is in a state of perpetual annoyance this summer.

DD1 was making comments about dreading work before she left this morning (fast food) and I observed that she felt much the same way last summer (clothing retail).  She replied that it’s more a thing of not being at college.  I think this girl turned sixteen instead of twenty.  College age kids today are in near daily contact with all of their friends.  In my day, we wrote letters to the closest friends, and once in a while paid our parents for a phone call, keeping an eye on how many minutes we were on the phone.  It’s something to stop and think about the days when calls were charged by the minute and it mattered what time of day the call was placed.  It feels eons in the past, although it’s within the life of my marriage.

DD1 wants a car of her own, and it would make life easier for DH and I.  I don’t enjoy giving up my car to her work schedule, but it’s only for a few months.  Reliable used cars are pricey.  She doesn’t have oodles of cash for a car and neither do we.  Even if we could afford to buy the car for her, we wouldn’t.  She needs to sweat about where the money will come from.  She needs to take a good look at her finances and figure out where insurance premiums and gas money will come from.  She needs to think about having some cash in reserve for repairs.

We took DD1 to a couple of used car lots recently.  Her budget is out of touch (too small) and she needed a wake up call.  Those don’t come from parents.  Her college is an hour and a half away and most of the trip is on busy highway that I don’t always feel comfortable driving.  Drivers tend to go up to twenty miles an hour over the speed limit.  She needs a car that isn’t on its last legs and that isn’t a tin can in build (she’d be a pancake in an accident).

Last night DD1 was looking for ideas on how to earn more money.  She knows, but isn’t ready to admit, that she really needs to wait one more year before taking on a car.  DH asked her to list her reasons for wanting a car now.  Not one of those reasons was a real need.  It was all social, and tears were flowing.  I’ve seen more tears out that girl over this car issue than all of her previous nineteen years of life.

In the same conversation, she mentioned that she feels like she loses independence and steps back in a child role when she comes home.  Yeah, that’s what happens.  Any of us who went away to college had that feeling to some degree.  But those tears she’s shedding…well, I don’t think she’s ready to hear that grown ups don’t generally cry because they have to delay purchasing a ‘want’.

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Oh, What a Day!

My dryer decided that it no longer wants to blow hot air.  Okay.  I pulled out the drying racks and put them wherever they would fit (my daughter’s room is the place of choice, but she’s home for the summer).

The first day available for repair is Monday, and DD1 was already whining that she has laundry to do tonight.  I pointed out that she could wash it, hang it overnight, then finish drying it at a laundromat in the morning before work.  That suggestion was met with annoyed silence.  As if I’m thrilled to not have a functioning dryer.  She’s been annoyed to varying to degrees since she came home.  We may have to deal with that soon.

My son’s high school decided to cancel seventh hour due to graduation (why Wednesday?)- only they didn’t tell the parents.  They told the students….yesterday.  My son forgot to tell me.  The main drive, where I normally pick up my son, was blocked off and my son was waiting somewhere completely off the grid.

Our school system is horrible when it comes to communicating with parents.  They sent an e-mail out today about the grad’s schedules and that the drive would be blocked, but didn’t bother to mention the early dismissal.  I want to rake them over the coals, but am instead venting here first.  After all, my son has two more years.

There are things about the school that are really good, and others that irritate me no end.  Two more years.

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