I see London, I see France

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My husband has not had good experiences or memories from France, so you can imagine his response when I suggested that we visit Paris as part of our upcoming vacation to commemorate our 20th wedding anniversary. As I pleaded for a romantic afternoon strolling along the cafes, wonderful pictures by the Eiffel Tower and a visit to the Louvre, he reminded me of the last time we were in France. We visited Cannes for a day on a Mediterranean cruise 2 years ago. After browsing the much too expensive shops, we decided to head to the beach. To access the beach, we had to go to a “beach club,” which luckily provided rental umbrellas and lounge chairs.  As we approached the small stand, I realized that the young man didn’t speak English and we don’t speak French. I did my best gestures and spoke extra loudly (because that helps) as I said UMBRELLA and TWO CHAIRS. It became apparent that the young man didn’t understand and my husband was instantly annoyed. I continued pointing and over enunciating, determined to prove my husband wrong about the French people. This continued for a few minutes and then a lightening bolt hit me and in my excitement I screamed, “PARASOL!” The young man seemed relieved as he got one and then he motioned to the chairs and I nodded and held up two fingers. Victorious, we followed the young man to the beach where he proceeded to set up our chairs and umbrella. After my husband handed him a tip the young man looked at us and said, “Thanks, have a great day,” in perfect English; I couldn’t believe it. I laughed and  my husband gave me his I told you so look. Later that afternoon we were heading back to our ship and stopped at a mobile stand for a snack. My husband asked for two Coke Zeros (which were on display) and the salesman just stared; he didn’t understand. My husband said it again and pointed to the can. The salesman looked annoyed and said, “Oh, Coke Zzerro!” (imagine it with a French accent) at which point my husband was about to strangle the man.

So, in a few weeks we will be heading to Europe again and we will be visiting Paris for a few days before heading to Greece. I am hoping that I can turn my husband’s heart to favor the romantic city that I have always wanted to visit. So if you know anyone in Paris can you ask them to be super nice to us?!

What I learned in 9 months

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This isn’t about pregnancy. I think that would be a lot more fun to write about. After all, it has a beautiful ending.

My last nine months were unbelievable. After being somewhat estranged from my parents for years, I was thrown into a tailspin after receiving a phone call notifying me that my father was in the hospital in New Mexico. He had developed an infection from surgery to fix a broken leg. As an only child, I carried the burden of making all the decisions. My mom is disabled as a result of a stroke and has some cognitive limitations and is unable to cook or drive.

So at the beginning of the school year I found myself leaving unexpectedly and had no idea when I’d be back. I flew west to the land of enchantment (fancy word for desert) and had no idea what to expect. I went right to the hospital to meet the doctors. After seeing the man who sort of resembled my father, I was reunited with my mother. A few hours later I had to tell her that my dad had passed away. My head was spinning as I realized all that needed to be done and that I was the only one who could do it.
I had no idea if my parents had any money, mortgages, or loans. After going to the house, I became a detective searching for clues. I had the mail forwarded to me and when I got home I made files that covered my entire dining room table. I took a leave of absence from work and made a total of 3 trips to NM before moving my mom to an assisted living facility 10 minutes from my family. Looking back at the entire journey I’ve taken, it’s surreal. I sold my dad’s car, had an estate sale, sold their 2 houses, and am now the conservator and legal guardian for my mom.

It has been an emotionally draining experience. My mom is 69 years old and suddenly I’m in charge of her. It has also been a big adjustment for her.

As crazy as all this has been, now that all the hard stuff is over, I am able to think about the future. I know there will be more bumps in the road, but for now I’m going to focus on the good that has come out of all this. My mom is in my life again and my children know their other grandmother!

The view from the backseat

My family and I went away for the long weekend last Friday. As we headed to our friends’ river house, I had a new experience. My son was driving and I was in the back with his younger brothers. As I listened to my husband give him directions and gentle reminders, I shook my head. How is it possible that the baby who blessed us 17 years ago has grown into this man who is driving my family? I looked at my other 3 sons who were laughing at a joke and tried to imagine them in the drivers seat. We will have 3 in high school next year and I am a little freaked out. I remember the long afternoons trying to entertain them without TV, wishing the hours away until my husband got home from work. Most days all I wanted was to go to the bathroom alone! I must’ve blinked, because those days are gone now. College is looming for our oldest, which is very surreal because that is where I met my husband almost 24 years ago. As I was full of mixed emotions in the 2nd row seat of our minivan, I was also filled with pride. Somehow, our 4 rambunctious, messy, loud little boys are turning into wonderful men. Time to celebrate!

Lucky Me

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I am a teacher from Late August-June and have enjoyed having the summer to do whatever I want to (well, actually it’s usually what my kids want to). This summer is different; I am working. And when I say work, I mean exhausting work….I am a camp counselor at an amazing program at our church. From 8-3:30 every day I am with over 100 kids ranging from 6-12 years old. We sing, dance, play, swim, pray, go on field trips, and get very sweaty. This is the BEST work I have ever done. It is also the most physically exhausting. I have to take a shower each afternoon and usually take a nap.

As adults we forget what life was like before jobs and responsibilities. It’s refreshing to be with those who are carefree. I am feeling so lucky to have this opportunity to spend the summer with these kids and get to see summer through their eyes! I love how excited they get when they win a game or get to lead the line to lunch. I have learned many new things during my long six days on the job: four square isn’t as easy as I remember, never give a small child a microphone, and hand sanitizer is an amazing invention. The cherry on top is that my own kids are at the camp- my oldest is a counselor with me (so strange- wasn’t he just a little camper?) and my 15 and 13 year olds are Counselors in training, while my youngest is a camper. I’m so thankful for this job!

Today is good

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My husband and I have been parents for 17 years. We have four sons that span a total of 7 years apart. We had diapers and strollers for a very long time and
I remember going to a park or the pool and looking at moms with older kids. They seemed so relaxed and were able to read a magazine and I wondered when that time would ever come for me. Our sons are now 17, 15, 13 and 9 and our life is totally different. My husband and I went to the pool together today. We found ourselves watching the young families with their strollers, toys, diaper bags and other paraphernalia and were transported back to those days. As I watched a toddler have a tantrum as the parents tried to leave, I looked at my husband and then picked up my magazine and smiled.

A summer resolution

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This summer I am going to try to be content with my life as it is right now. In the business of working and raising 4 sons, I forget to enjoy what’s happening now. I find myself looking back to simpler days of playing with my young children, or looking forward to retirement with my husband. I will not long for the next vacation, pay raise, or milestone. Instead, I’m going to enjoy my family and my life TODAY!

When did we start needing constant entertainment?

imageAs a kid, I loved rollercoasters. I recently went to an amusement park that I frequented in my youth. I felt the familiar twinge of excitement as we got in line for the newer, faster, and scarier rides. I remember standing in those lines many years ago, but something was different. Thirty years ago we waited in line and talked to friends. Today there are monitors posted to entertain patrons as they wait in line. As I looked around at the others in line, hardly anyone was talking. Faces were either looking up at the monitor or cast downward at a phone screen.

I found myself thinking about this as I was recently pumping gas and staring at the monitor on the pump that was playing clips from The Tonight Show. What if I hadn’t gotten gas? I could’ve missed it! Not to worry, there are entertainment monitors over the coffee at 7-11, and TV’s in the orthodontist office, dentist, and car wash lobby.

So I ask: When did our culture become one that needs constant entertainment?

It is a tool

 

Thanks to old man winter, our school year has been extended by 3 days. It’s hard to tell who is more bitter; the students or the teachers. Technically, it IS summer, but here we are in school…..waiting. Final exams are finished, books turned in, grades are completed.

Over a nine month period, the students become a part of my life. I’m a teacher, counselor, nurse, and part time parent to the Freshman. I’ve taught these young people about ancient cultures and religions. I’ve shared stories from my travels. We’ve discussed the importance of having a goal, helping others, and being a nice person. I’ve sent some to the administrator for being disrespectful, taken away countless phones, and shared my view on appropriate clothing.

Today’s youth are smart. They can text faster than the speed of sound. They know the lyrics to millions of songs, countless sports statistics. So why can’t they get this one thing?

IT’S A TOOL (not an adjective!)

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