Monday, July 28, 2014

Top 10 Things I Want My Children to Know when They Turn 10

This fall, my children turn 10. Double digits! I can hardly believe it. In just a couple of weeks, they will enter the 4th grade (yes we start VERY early here, but we get out just before Memorial Day). I am school supply shopping this weekend and the kids are anxious to find out who their teachers are. I was thinking of the age of 10 and that it is indeed a milestone of sort. I have talked to several parents who have children older than mine and they say ages 8-11 are their favorite. They are still young enough to want to be with you/around you; they haven’t yet completely abandoned you for their friends, and they aren’t officially tweens or hormonal dickheads (although the pushback is evident in our house – and we are trying to nip it in the bud). I was thinking of how “wise” I thought I was at 10 whereas today I feel like I don’t know a damn thing, LOL. So, then this list just started coming to me and I decided to write it down. I think I will give it to the kids on their birthdays. (*I am still working on most of these myself).

Top 10 Things to Know at Age 10
10 – Do your best. We are already so, so proud of the people you have grown to be. All we ask is that you always try to do your very best. In school and academics, in sports, in other activities, in interacting with friends and with classmates and teachers and parents…we don’t expect you to be perfect; you’ve figured out that we certainly are not. But we try to do our best every day too. Some days we miss the mark, but the good news is, we get to start over and try again tomorrow!
9 – It’s all about perspective. When you are in elementary, middle, and high school, the school world becomes your world. It seems like it’s the only thing that matters. Like it’s the only thing out there. But it’s not. It’s just part of your world, and a tiny fraction of the bigger world around us. When you are freaking out about something, step back and take a moment to think, “Will I remember this in 1 week? 1 month? 1 year? Is it WORTH this much emotional energy? Or can I shrug it off and move on?” Remember, there is ALWAYS someone out there who is better off than you, and there is ALWAYS someone out there who is worse off than you. Maintaining perspective will get you farther in life than those who cannot manage that type of vision.
8 – We have been there. Even though we are “old” and “uncool” (J), we have been there. We were 10, 12, 14 once too. We have probably experienced similar things you will experience in middle school and high school. Please give us some credit and talk to us. We promise we will do our very best to withhold judgment. We will offer advice when asked and will try to withhold it when all you need is for us to listen. Hugs and ice cream help tooJ
7 – Be a leader, not a follower. It is always better to lead than to follow.
6 – Look up! Instead of worrying about which text message you might miss, LOOK UP. Look at the world around you. See what you are missing when you are too busy with your phone or iPad or whatever other electronic devices they invent by the time you are old enough to own one (No, you are not old enough yet).
5 – Stand up for others. If you see someone getting picked on or bullied, stand up for them. Chances are, they did nothing to deserve it and they might not have the confidence or the skills to stand up for themselves. Your act of kindness could literally save their life.
4 – Be kind, even when people aren’t kind back. This can be hard to do. People will say unkind things; some people are jerks. But the kindness you put out into the world will come back to you 10x. This doesn’t mean “be a doormat” or that you can’t stand up for yourself. You can, and you should stand up for yourself. Just do it in a way that doesn’t stoop to the other person’s level.
3 – Always be true to yourself. What does this mean? How can you be true to yourself when you are still growing up and might not be sure who you are or who you want to be? It means be true to your core beliefs. Your values. Your morals. Listen to your gut (it is often your guardian angel guiding you). If you think something feels “off” or “wrong,” it probably is. If you feel it is the right thing to do, it most likely is.
2 – We love you – always, forever, no matter what. Yes, like God does. Our love for you is unconditional. This means there is nothing you can ever say or do that will prevent us from loving you. This does not mean that we won’t correct your behavior or discipline you. But even when we’re doing that, we still love you, the person. In fact, parents who discipline do it because they care – we care about the people you are growing up to be, and it is our job to help you become the best version of yourself. You’ve made us both incredibly proud over the past 10 years and we expect that you’ll continue to make us proud over the next 10J
1 – God loves you – always, forever, no matter what. That’s called unconditional love. Even if you stray from Him, you can always come back, and He will be waiting with open arms. He will never, ever leave you (and neither will we).

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Generous Souls

A few weeks ago, Sophie was wandering around the house, bored and looking for something to do. I suggested she get her rainbow loom down – you know, the toy she hadn’t played with since October/Nov after begging for it and finally receiving it for her birthday. (Oh but it was all the rage last fall!)

So she started making bracelets and then said, “Hey! I could sell these to make money for Summar & Sapphire!” I swear she came up with that idea all on her own – I had nothing to do with it. She worked on the bracelets with her babysitter all day, sitting out in the sunroom, having a grand old time. Ethan came home that evening and naturally Sophie’s supplies were still spread out on the table. Sophie told Ethan her plan and he got right down to work with her!

They worked on their bracelets for a couple of weeks and then the next time Ethan came back from his mom’s, he brought some supplies and inventory with him. Sophie is amazed at the complicated bracelets Ethan can do and decided to charge $1.50 instead of $1 for special designs like “starburst.” (I only know how to make the most basic one).

Then one Friday Jeff and I took off the afternoon to hang with the kids and they asked, “When can we have our sale?” So we decided the very next day to do it and started making flyers. Sophie suggested adding a lemonade stand.

Then later Sophie and I went shopping for lemonade and pitchers; I made copies of the signs, and me and Sophie and her BFF Taylor went down to the pool to hand them out, put them on neighborhood doors, etc.

The next day we got ready by moving tables into the garage, posting our flyers, making the lemonade, setting up fans as it was HOT HOT HOT…and Sophie got out my old cash box and we were ready!

Since I did help with the flyers and did all the set up, I let the kids get to it in the hot garage once the sale started. Hey, I did my part! Besides, they were excited. We used our “Team Sapphire” poster from last year’s “Lightthe Night” walk (for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society) and the kids took turns holding the poster and flagging down cars. They also partook in the lemonade – Sophie said it was the best she ever tasted. Taylor helped with the sale as well, and none of the kids would drink the lemonade free. They kept coming back into the house to get change from their piggy banks to pay the 25cents per cup.

Sophie ended up donating $50 from her own piggy bank and of course most of our friends/neighbors who came wound up giving us $20 for just two $1 bracelets. The kids even extended their retail hours by staying open later then we all jumped in the pool, and ended up selling a few more bracelets there. If we were smart, we would have had the entire sale at the pool but oh well – lots of folks didn’t have money with them anyway (or so they said). All in all it was a pretty big success, especially after Sophie and I took the bracelets to church and Ethan’s final tournament game after that. We ended up raising $240+ for the Ruelle family. Sophie and Ethan picked out special bracelets for each Ruelle family member and we sent them along with a check for the total amount. They sent us this picture back with a heartfelt thanks:
I’m so damn proud of my kids!

If you would like to help out the Ruelle family, and/or would like to read more of their story, please visit their website at

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It’s Time

Our hearts are full of sadness this morning as it is Chloe’s last morning with us. We have been preparing ourselves for over a month now and have talked to the kids – they knew it was coming. Naturally we expected Sophie to have a harder time with this than Ethan, as Sophie has known Chloe since she was born and Ethan has been through this before with other dogs. But I have to say, Sophie is doing exceptionally well, considering. She just told me this morning:
“The bright side is that when Chloe gets to heaven, she gets to see Penny. And we will have another guardian angel watching over us. And when we get a new dog, we will have someone else to love.”

It has really been me holding out. I wasn’t ready yet. I was waiting, watching, praying for a sign. Chloe was still eating and drinking and wagging her tail and getting into the trash and begging for human food and doing those types of things that Beagles love to do.

Well, I finally got my sign. Monday night was really, really rough for Chloe. She woke up at 4am panting and shaking in pain. Later that morning she laid on her bed, still shaking in pain. Grandma Sue and Sophie were home with her most of the day Tuesday and said she did not have a good day. Jeff checked on her at lunch and she was still shaking in pain. This is despite repeated doses of medicine throughout this time. I spoke with the vet yesterday at work. I explained all the Beagle things she does. I explained her pain, straining to pee, leakage, and all of the tumor-related things. He agreed it was time. He told us again – this was my regular vet now – “You have done EVERYTHING you could for this dog. You put her through chemo; you’ve altered your lifestyle for her…don’t you want her to go out while she is still a bit happy, instead of completely uncomfortable?”

We told the kids when we got home. Sophie snuggled Chloe and had tears in her eyes but held it together. We took some pictures; Jeff wanted no part in it because he didn’t want to chronicle Chloe when she was so miserable. I cradled Chloe in my lap many times last night – she never lets me do that. Despite additional doses of medicine, she still shook with pain. She looked miserable, and sad. Her head was down. I knew she was ready. I was ready for her to be rid of the pain.

Jeff made sloppy joe’s last night and gave some to Chloe in her bowl. She ate a bit of it, but not the whole thing. She made it through the night and is still shaking in pain this morning. It is time. She is a great dog who helped complete our family and I will always be grateful for her love.

Ironically, Jamie’s younger brother Ryan and wife Tiffany had their second child on Monday. A baby girl they named Chloe. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


So this morning I was working from home while waiting for Grandma Sue (Jamie’s mom) to come over and watch Sophie (our babysitter is out of town) and Jeff was already at the office and I log into my email account and see a bitchy email Marcy sent Jeff and cc’d me on. It was all “Blah blah blah you don’t communicate with me; you don’t respond to my texts; you should have been at Ethan’s orthodontist consult appointment yesterday; I’m sick of being treated like crap by you” (I have NO IDEA why the kid is going to see an orthodontist; the first I heard of it was yesterday morning and Ethan has a beautiful smile and perfectly straight teeth but ANYWAY). I told Jeff right away, “I don’t know what she has up her butt but she CANNOT involve me” which of course he agreed, and sent her an email to that effect I later found out.

Marcy drops off Ethan for a couple of hours before his basketball camp and Grandma Sue still isn’t there and I saw the email so I know what she wants when she looks at me and says, “Can I talk to you for a minute?” And I say, “No, it’s between you and Jeff.” Then she says, “Not in front of the kids, here, just a minute,” and steps onto my porch. I should have never gone out there but I did and duh, no shit not in front of the kids which is why I was attempting to shut it down before it even began.

Anyway, we are trying our best to whisper-talk and she is going off about Jeff and how he never returns her texts or her phone calls and blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.

First of all, it’s not true. What happens is Marcy texts Jeff on a weekend when he has Ethan and says “please have Ethan call me.” And then if five minutes go by in silence, she calls Jeff’s phone. Five minutes after that, she texts him again. Five minutes after that, she texts ME: “I can’t get a hold of Jeff, will you please tell him to have Ethan call me.” It’s not that Jeff is staring at his phone plotting an evil plan. It’s because the boys are outside playing catch or the kids are swimming together or Ethan & Sophie are playing or we are all doing something together as a family but because Marcy is apparently a toddler who expects it NOWNOWNOWNOW, she flips out.

She talked for a while; blabbed on and on and finally I look at her and I say, “Marcy, I don’t know what you are wanting or expecting from me right now.”
Marcy: I want your help getting Jeff to talk to me. It’s for Ethan. Don’t you want to help Ethan?
WTF is she talking about? Ethan is an emotionally, physically, mentally stable kid who doesn’t need any help. I mean, does she REALLY think I’m going to go off on the man I married just FOUR months ago and say, “Oh yeah you’re right he’s a total douchebag let’s go get coffee and chat about it.”????
Marcy: Jeff says you don’t bug Jamie like I bug him; but I bet Jamie actually RESPONDS to you.
That’s when I kinda’ got up in her face a bit and:
Me: Marcy, Jamie left me when I was 7 months pregnant…
Marcy: I know that.
Me: …Believe you me, we have had plenty of disagreements, differences of opinion and communication issues of our own over the past 10 years but we found a way to work it out. And let me tell you that I have never, nor would I ever, involve Sophie’s step-mom in a disagreement that me and Jamie were having. It’s completely inappropriate.
Marcy [throwing up her hands]: How? How did you work it out?
Me: We figured it out; we are both mature adults.
Marcy: Well I’m mature but Jeff isn’t. He isn’t a good dad.
Me: I beg to differ. This conversation is OVER.
And I walked inside.

About 2.5 seconds after she pulls away, she texts Jeff (I know because he read me the time when I called him about the cat fight he missed) “I’m going to call my lawyer and get a mediator!”
He doesn’t get all rattled up about it which just pisses her off more. Then, for my own entertainment, he forwards me the five emails she sent him (and his responses) between 9:19 and 10:52am where she tells Jeff he is mean and treats her like crap and threatens the mediator again but at least she’s not copying me in on these. But then! Then she just starts saying (in the emails) stuff that is completely untrue like how “Ethan knows you and Farrell don’t like me, you talk bad about me and Mike [her boyfriend/fiancé] and it affects him tremendously.”

First of all, her accusation is simply not true. Neither Jeff nor I talk bad about her or Mike in front of Ethan. We don’t talk about either of them much at all, actually and I’m sorry if that’s an ego blow to her. Also, she needs to remember who I am and where I came from. I have not said a bad word about Jamie or TT in front of Sophie EVER and if I can do that, I’m CERTAINLY not going to talk about Marcy and her boyfriend who I’ve met twice and don’t know well enough to have an opinion about him one way or another in front of her son.

Jeff thinks Marcy interrogates Ethan when he comes home to her place after a weekend with us – i.e. “What’d you do? What’d you eat? Did you eat at the table or in front of the TV? What did you talk about? What did Sophie say? What did Farrell say? Where did you go? Who were you with?”

Marcy is a drama queen and obviously she is either (a) fighting with her boyfriend/fiancé or (b) bored.

Jeff took Ethan out to lunch since he had to drop him off at camp anyway. They had a chat and Ethan has never heard us say bad things about his mom or her guy and he did mention that his mom was in trouble with her boss.
Ah ha.
So she’s taking her anger with her boss out on us.

JEEZ LOUISE, what a way to start the day.

Jeff kept apologizing to me and he said, “Well I guess it was inevitable that you two would eventually have a run-in. It’s a testament to you that it hadn’t happened until now.”

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

I Feel Like a Teenager…

…and not in a good way. I am 37 years old and I still break out before “that time of the month.” And I can’t resist picking them even though Jeff & Sophie “yell” at me about it. And I get wicked PMS – where I like to wallow in my depression and everything is woe and nobody likes me and why don’t I go eat some worms. It’s bad, people. It’s not surprising because people who suffer from depression/anxiety do tend to get more emotional/depressed during that time but this is ridiculous. I’m old enough and I’ve been doing this long enough that I should know nothing I am feeling during that time is reality. Other than staying away from alcohol and eating healthy and taking my vitamins, does anybody out there have some other PMS emotional home remedy relief?

Of course, it was all this past weekend – 4th of July weekend – when we were kid-les and my diet mainly consisted of fried chicken and beer. Oops. But I didn’t gain any weight which is…bizarre. And even though “they” say you should stay away from caffeine, sugar, and alcohol during that time, those are the things I crave, during that time.

I tried cleaning with coconut oil – no go.
As I write this, I have a zit on the top part of my ear. That’s fun.
What works for you? Am I the only almost-40 mom who still gets breakouts?

Have I just committed myself to oodles of spam spouting skin care remedies with this last part?

Thursday, July 03, 2014

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener

A lot of married people with kids are jealous of me and Jeff, and other divorced parents, because we get every Wednesday night free, plus every other weekend. We don’t have to plan date nights; they are built in to the schedule for us. I remember our Pastor talking to us (and seeming jealous) about it during our required pre-marital counseling.

However, what people don’t realize is that we would rather have our kids full-time, like “regular” parents. In addition to splitting weekends, we also have to split holidays. That means there are some years when I don’t get to wake up on Christmas morning with Sophie. (Jeff always gets Ethan Xmas eve night bc Marcy’s Jewish, even though she celebrates Christmas too). There are some Thanksgivings we don’t get to celebrate with the two people we are most thankful for. And - can you imagine NOT being able to wake up your child – the child you gave BIRTH to – on the morning of their birthday? It’s heartbreak I tell you.

Yes I am looking forward to this kid-free long weekend – we try to make the best of it and have lots of fun things going on – birthday parties and graduation parties and parties at the pool, etc. – but we don’t get to watch fireworks with our kids.

Try planning a weekend getaway during the summer. Any baseball weekends are out, so that means May/June is out. (Ethan plays on two teams; Sophie on one). That leaves July, and the beginning of August. Take away half those weekends when the kids are at their other parents; add in work travel; and that leaves us with exactly ONE weekend to schedule our weekend at the lake.

There is a young couple (age 30) in our neighborhood with two great kids. Yet they ship their kids off to Grandma and Grandpa’s every single weekend because they would rather party with their friends. Immature, selfish. They voluntarily give up their children when I would do anything to not have to give up mine.

And yet when Jeff teases me about having another baby (NOT going to happen. Pregnancy was hard enough for me at age 27; I cannot image at age 37!), I think, “Jeez. If we did that kid would like, NEVER LEAVE. We’d never, ever get a break!” I’m kind of kidding but it would certainly be a MAJOR lifestyle change.

It’s hard enough when your kid gets older and they have this whole school life outside of you. And you don’t really know their friends because you work full time and don’t really have an opportunity to volunteer at the school. And then they want to have these strange kids over and you don’t know them at all and you don’t know the parents. Coupled with the fact that they have a whole other family on the other parents’ side; with entirely different experiences, vacations, etc. It’s just a weird, disconnecting feeling sometimes even though when Sophie comes back from her dad’s I constantly ask for funny Sutton or cousin stories so I can get a glimpse in.

This post has no point other than to say the grass isn’t always greener.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Kitchen Remodel: We Have Plans! Now All We Need is a Money Tree

Last week, we met with our contractor friend/neighbor who took us to his “for contractors only” supply place – where he gets all of his materials at contractor pricing – to pick out countertops, cabinets, flooring and a backsplash. His designer showed us the proposed plans. It is much like what I talked about

This wall is the major issue:

We are going to cut that in half to create an island/eat up bar. In the new plans, the sink & dishwasher are going to switch places with the stove & microwave.

The sink & dishwasher will be on the island, along with a covered and divided trash receptacle – one for recycling, one for trash; it will look like a cabinet. The dog will no longer be able to eat our trash (unless we leave it open).

The stove & microwave will be on the far wall.

As you can see (above), we are extending the counter and cabinets pretty much all the way down to the bay window, where the baker’s rack currently sits (below).
At the contractor place, everyone was really helpful – I told them I would be easily overwhelmed with all of the choices. But the designer said, “OK, here are the cabinets in your price range.” And then granite: “Top row: Not your price range. Bottom row: your price range.” So that was really helpful. Like an idiot, I didn’t take pics of the backsplash or flooring and Jeff and I both want to go back and re-assess our decisions (my mind was swirly with all of the possibilities) but here is the granite we chose:

We didn’t think we could ever afford granite. But it came to only $1,000 more than laminate, and that price included installation (the laminate pricing did not), AND we’ll never have to replace it AND we’ll definitely get our money back on that investment if we ever have to sell. So really, in the big picture, it was a no brainer.

As for the cabinets, I wanted to save our current ones because they aren’t bad- I wanted to resurface/restain them or whatever but Jeff & Jared (our contractor friend) said no. But we need to go back and look at the cabinets more because the designer showed us this, on the left, which is…hmmm…almost exactly what we have (see right).

I am unwilling to pay this much money (the cabinetry is the bulk of the expense, other than installation) for the exact same thing. I want something deeper, more cherry, less brown, like in my dream kitchen photo. And a different style, like this, which we also saw and liked (also in my dream kitchen photo):

We also picked out a nice porcelain/ceramic tile floor (18” squares) and glass backsplash that I am in love with, though I neglected to take pictures of either one.

Now when we watch House Hunters or Property Brothers or Love it or List it, we are seeing “our kitchen” everywhere. “Open concept; granite countertops; stainless steel appliances!” Now we “just” need the remaining funds needed to get the project started!