The Year of Letting Go

This begins my official year of letting go. You see, my oldest has officially started her senior year in high school. Next year at this time we will be driving her to college. *sigh* 

Actually, this year is a big one for me because all three of my kids are experiencing transitions – Ray is a senior, Maddie entered high school as a freshman (I have two kids in high school, acckkk!) and my baby entered the world of junior high as a 6th grader. You’ll have to excuse me, but I’m a bit melancholy these days.

The college thing will be my first major, major transition involving one of my children (of course, besides actually bringing them into the world). I will need every bit of this year to prepare myself for day when we drop her off at college and then just drive away.

I do want to assure you that it’s not like I’m new to transitions and I do handle them pretty well:

~First day of daycare: I bawled like a baby that first day when I returned to work full-time (and every morning after that for about a month).

~First day of first grade: I sobbed like a fool after driving her to school for her first day of 1st Grade. When I dropped her off at her classroom door, she marched right in and never looked back. I wanted to give her a final smile of encouragement, but apparently she didn’t need it (I needed it more than she did. She was ready and I was not).

~First time at sleep-away camp: She had just finished 2nd grade and she was going to be gone for two nights. I cried on the way home after dropping her off. She was 90 minutes away for goodness sake! 

~Freshman year: What about the day I drove her to the Freshman Kick-off at the high school? On the way home, I cried so hard that I nearly blinded myself with tears and almost didn’t make it back to the house.

Um, after taking this stroll down memory lane, I’ve been reminded that maybe I don’t handle transitions well at all. I’m doomed.

This next milestone in both of our lives will be different from those previously mentioned. She won’t be coming home at the end of the school day.  There, I said it.

Man, you think I’m a worrier now, what is it going to be like when she doesn’t have to text me when she gets to her destination? Or ask permission to stay later somewhere or spend the night at a friend’s?

I do realize that with texting and skyping it will be easier to keep in touch with her which will ease my worry a smidge. As my parents can attest to, I rarely called home once I got to college and they couldn’t text or email me to find out why I wasn’t picking up my phone!

Wait, wait. What? I’m sorry my hubs is whispering something in my ear –  “Babe, she’s not gone yet!” Oh, yeah, right.

Did Mike and I teach her all she needs to know? My mind will be churning this year trying to make sure we’ve covered all of the important lessons. What are the important lessons? Does anyone have a list I can borrow? I’m starting to hyperventilate and I can’t think properly.

I mean, I think we’ve covered the biggies: Treat others as you would like to be treated, Be cautiously skeptic (mommy, I’m not cynical like you!), Believe in yourself, Use your common sense, Have a good work ethic, Respect yourself and others, ummm, any others? Come on, people! Help me out here.

It’s the stuff that takes a lifetime to learn that I’m concerned about (not laundry or budgeting training). Did we do her justice? I sure hope so.

I need to know if something is lacking in our life skills training at home. I’ve got two others in the queue for the push from the nest and there’s still plenty of time to amend the lesson plans!

What IS that sound?

“What is that noise?”, I say to myself. “Where is it coming from?” And, then silence.

“Ah, I must be losing my mind”, talking to myself as I meander back to my office. Then, “What? That noise is back. What IS it?”

The resurgence of the noise confirms that I’m not losing it – there is a strange noise afoot in my house!  I start wandering around the house looking for the cause of this mysterious sound. It sounds like a cat in agony just after a cat fight or maybe an elephant dying. Maybe we have a strange animal wheezing its last wheezes in our basement. (It really wouldn’t be that far-fetched as we’ve had baby possums in our basement ceiling before – long story).

The noise seems to be emanating from the basement so I cautiously wander into the depths of the house to put an end to this insidious sound. Then……I see it.What? What is it? Something so shocking so as not to be believed.

It is my son practicing the trumpet (without being asked). Yep, the trumpet.

The mystery sound story happened during early June – about the second week after having his instrument.

My son (my baby) is entering junior high this fall (actually next Tuesday!), can you believe it? I sure can’t. I don’t want to talk about it or I will start blubbering. As Jack and I were walking into the middle school this past Tuesday to pick up his schedule and get his locker assignment, he looked at me and said, “Mommy, please don’t cry.” He knows me so well.

Anyway, to explain the trumpet in our house, I have to take you back to the end of this last school year. During this past May 2011 (the end of his 5th grade year), his 6th grade schedule had to be determined. At our middle school, they have to take all of the usual subjects and then, there is the tough decision whether to take band, orchestra, choir, or a study hall. Study hall was out of the question and he immediately said, “No choir!”

Why so adamant about choir? Both of his sisters elected choir at the middle school so he had attended many a choir show. I think remembering the boys (especially the 6th & 7th graders) in shiny shirts and ties doing the choreographed dance moves somewhat awkwardly (I thought they were adorable!) sealed the deal. No choir. Also, unfortunately for him, he inherited my strong inability to carry a note.

So, orchestra or band? Well, at the end of this last school year, the middle school had a “try on”. It’s really pretty great. The kids got to go and literally try on any instrument they wanted. What instruments did Jack choose?  The cello, clarinet, percussion (drums), viola and the trumpet. The band and orchestra teachers watched the children individually at each instrument selected for their “try on” and made notes. I think at this point, the teachers try to narrow it down to two instruments for each child and in doing this they will also take into account the child’s opinion.

Case in point:  Jack had been hounding me about viola lessons and I, being the good mother that I am, essentially ignored him. We had just finished 2 years of piano lessons which also included parental nagging about practicing (or lack thereof). He was gung-ho at the beginning, but then his interest diminished (maybe some of you have experienced this with your own kids). Well, long story short, he “tried on” the viola and decided that he hated it (so even if he had viola-potential, the band director would not consider this instrument for Jack).

Side note: Lesson learned for me? Listen to your gut. NO viola lessons was a good decision.

It was determined that he had the best potential with trumpet or clarinet (SO glad it wasn’t the cello). The band director really wanted Jack to pick the clarinet – apparently his try out went really well. But, Jack picked the trumpet instead. Why?  Well, it has fewer buttons! Duh! Kids crack me up – especially mine.

After practicing all summer (20 minutes a day), the trumpet-produced sounds coming from the basement no longer resemble the moanings of a dying animal. They have improved – now his music resembles the sound of someone blowing his (not hers) nose in a cartoonish, loud, exaggerated way. This is a definite improvement. Trust me.

I’m really looking forward to attending my son’s band concerts – it will be a definite change from the lavish choir shows (costume changes with each song and choreography) we have been attending since my oldest was in 6th grade (she is now a senior. sniff, sniff).

Here’s to my budding band geek! xoxo


How to Set Goals & Reach Them ~ 5th Grade Style

If you’ve been reading my posts regularly, you know that I have funny, interesting kids (at least in my opinion). They can and do say some funny stuff.  I really need to keep a journal with me at all times so I can jot stuff down as we go through our day (I’ll put that on my To Do list).

The funniest kid this week was Jack. Last night it was just me, Jack and Rachel at the dinner table and we were discussing Jack’s last Track & Field Day ever (sad face):

Me: “Jack, what are your events for Track & Field Day tomorrow?”

Jack: “Best of 10 Free Throws, Cone Quickness, Soccer Kick & the Relay. I hope that I get 5th place.”

Me & Rachel (confused): “Why do you want 5th place?”

Jack: “I need a 5th place ribbon for my set. I don’t have a 5th place ribbon.”

Me & Rachel (laughing really hard now): “Hmmmmm, Okay.”

Me (still giggling): “Hey, buddy, how about you go for 1st place and then see what happens.”

Jack: “Hmmm….Okay. That makes sense.”

I’ve NEVER heard someone say that they wanted 5th place, have you? Who says that? Well, my son apparently.

God, I love that kid. He’s a nerd through and through! I keep telling him that nerds rule the world so to keep on keepin’ on! [Bill Gates, for example.]

Today, he comes home from school and I ask him, “How was Track and Field Day today?” He says, “I got 5th place in ‘Best of 10 Free Throws’! I also got a 6th place ribbon and a Best in Class ribbon.”

I’m thinking, “Really? What are the odds? How weird is that?” The 5th place ribbon is the green one in the picture.

It’s nice to have dreams and goals and actually attain them! What’s the next goal for Jack? With one week of school left, it would be not to forget any more homework assignments for the rest of the year. I’m hopeful with this one 🙂

As a side note, I want to clarify something for all of you, from the dinner discussion last night, both Rachel and I were under the impression that he needed the 5th grade ribbon to complete the entire  ribbon set (honorable mention through 6th place). After further discussions with Jack on the subject today, I discovered that he is still missing the following ribbons: 1st, 3rd and 4th.  So, why was he shooting for the missing 5th place, when he still needed a 1st, 3rd and 4th place ribbon for his set? What’s wrong with 1st place?

As an extremely competitive person, I’m a little perplexed by his goal-setting this week. What’s going on in that 11-year-old brain of his? Hell if I know. I’m going to have to defer to his father on this one since the boy is an exact replica (down to the last molecule). Mike will be able to explain Jack’s line of thinking to me – I’m sure there is a good explanation, an ultimate plan.

Since Mike is on his annual fishing trip, I will have to wait to get the answers to my questions: “What is driving our little man? Why didn’t he want to go for the 1st place ribbon? What does this mean? Is there a bigger plan that Jack has set into motion that I can’t comprehend?”

Maybe I should just leave well enough alone. Maybe some things are supposed to remain a mystery. . . . like origin of the universe and the enigma that is my son. 🙂

Mother’s Day 2011 Revisited

This is a bit late –  I’ve been busy! We have had to be somewhere every night this week for one reason or another. My life is truly not my own anymore. When it was my own, I didn’t take advantage of it (why didn’t someone tell me?).

Anyhoo, I had a nice Mother’s Day, but it only lasted until for about 3 hours and then it was back to real life. We had a soccer game, family Mother’s Day/Birthday cookout and then a basketball game. Somewhere in there I had to make mac & cheese for the family gathering and pick up a cake. It was non-stop crazy, but we got it done.

I told Mike that we should celebrate Mother’s Day on the sunday after the real Mother’s Day so they can actually serve and pamper me properly all day long! I deserve at least one whole day (instead of 3 hours), right?

Mother’s Day did start out awesome! I got a homemade breakfast made by Maddie and Mike – french toast, fancy bacon, strawberries and coffee. This is my favorite breakfast.

I also received very thoughtful gifts – my family is really good at this. Among the CSA cookbook, Sketchers Shape-ups and hand-crafted coffee cups, my favorite gift was my handmade T-shirt ala Modern Family (if you don’t watch this show, you are missing the funniest show on TV!). Did I wear it? You bet!

However, the best gift I receive each year are the latest entries in my Mother’s Day Journal.  In 2004, Mike started this wonderful tradition of having the kids write something in this journal each year. It’s a snapshot of my kids over the years – I love this journal.

In the journal this year is a Top 10 List in David Letterman style written by my son:

Top 10 Reasons I Love Mommy

10. Laundry

9.  Driving

8. You’d watch sports with me

7. You let me watch what I want

6. Reciting the schedule

5. Cooking

4. You think I’m awesome

3. You love me

2. Fun

And, the #1 reason I love my mommy:  You’re awesome!

Isn’t that sweet? I do want to interject that regarding item #7, please interpret this as that  I suffer through yet another episode of SpongeBob Squarepants or iCarly! I have to say that #6 cracks me up too!

One of Maddie’s contributions:


Definition according to Webster:  [muTH’ er] n. A female parent.

Definition according to Kids:  [Mommy] n. A person that teaches you how to manage time; always brings you things you forgot; loves you forever; NOT your best friend!

I would include one of Rachel’s entries, but she expressed herself with drawings and not poems or lists. She expressed herself in a very artsy, cool way.

It’s nice to know how the kids really feel at least once a year! Thanks to my awesome hubby, I have it documented 🙂

I hope all of the Moms out there had a lovely, memorable day! I know that I did 🙂


The 2011 Poetry Cafe – Oh, Snap!

Can I say that kids are amazing? They are really quite capable of doing more than we give them credit for.

This morning I attended the 2011 Poetry Cafe held by my son’s class. Each of the students worked in a group of 2 to 5 kids to perform an established work and then each student individually read an original work. As in the tradition of Poetry Cafes of the 60s, we snapped in appreciation instead of clapping after each performance. Very cool and hip.

By the way, the poetry created by these kids was really, really good (they are 10 & 11 yrs old!) and they deserved all of the snaps!

The following work is an original poem by Jack.  He did not perform this particular work this morning, but it is my favorite from his poetry book (see above) that he has been keeping since 4th Grade (all of the students in his class do this).

Self Poem

by Jack / Sep 22, 2010

My skin is like a ghost, pale and drifting.

My eyes are like the ocean, calm, blue and green.

My eyelashes are thick and ink black like a crow’s feathers.

My smile is like a daisy, it brightens people up.

My heart holds a happiness that burns inside me like a roaring fire.

I live in a steakhouse and eat everything. 


I don’t remember doing cool stuff like this when I was in grade school! Do you?

I’m really glad I was able to attend this morning. It was a real treat.

Inappropriate Dinner Topics for Children

Well, well, well. We had an interesting dinner tonight – it was just 4 of us ’cause Rachel had to work (we decided that this conversation would have taken a completely different turn had she been present. A lot of “Oh My God-ing! This is not appropriate! I’m leaving!”)

We were just shootin’ the breeze about my husband’s work  and I was joking with him that the only reason he invites me to work social functions is because I can talk to anyone (I mean it. If I can’t get you talking about something, then, well, you just might be boring and hopeless). I’m the uber-social side of our twosome. 

Then, Maddie (14 yo) chimed in with, “Mommy, he invites you because you’re his trophy wife.”  Awe, isn’t she sweet? After Mike and I stopped laughing, we explained that I’m not really a trophy wife.

Maybe you’re wondering, “What is the definition of a trophy wife?” Mike shared with the table that, according to ESPN (apparently experts on trophy wives), the age of a trophy wife equals half of the age of the husband plus 5 years.

Thus, AofTW = AofH/2 + 5

I thought to myself,“Okay, I’ll buy that.”

Are you “Modern Family” fans? We are! Maddie, starting to get the gist of a trophy wife, wondered if Gloria counted as a trophy wife. Mike reflected that Gloria was probably 35 years old and Jay was likely 6o years old, so the math would work. Maddie nodded her head like, “A-ha”.

Then, the kids started calculating the age of Mike’s actual trophy wife. Daddy confirmed with the kids that he was indeed, 46. So the kids started doing the math….”Hmmm…half of 46 is 23 plus 5 equals 28. Daddy’s trophy wife would be 28 years old!”.

Thus, confirming that I’m not daddy’s trophy wife.

Then, the kids started calculating how old my husband would be if I were the trophy wife.  Whoa, the head calculators were humming!  Jack was talking through the math process aloud along with Maddie and came to the conclusion that my got-rocks hubs would be 80 years old (I’m 45).

We were all giggling and laughing about my “old hubs” and then Jack (11 yo), while snorting and guffawing, asks, “What are we talking about?”

Then, we all started laughing!!!

We, again explained the concept of the trophy wife to Jack. And, then he says, “Mommy, are you going to blog about this?” I was already two steps ahead of that boy!

Mike told the kids that they will likely never encounter a story problem like this one on their math tests. So, true.

But, we did come up with a story problem for all of you based on the premise that the age of the Trophy Wife equals half of the age of the Husband plus 5 years. Here it is:

Hubby and Wifey divorce and both are age 45. Wifey remarries and becomes a trophy wife to her New Love. The Hubby remarries a Trophy Wife of his own. What is the difference in the ages of the New Love and the New Trophy Wife?

The person with the right answer gets a free subscription to The Engledow Chronicles!

By the way, my son came up with the title of this post. Kinda sad, right?

Mommy, I Already Looked in There!

Yesterday was one of those days. Yep, it was my monthly “What if I just ran away?” day. Does everyone have these days, or is it just me? If it’s just me, don’t tell me. I’d like to think I’m not alone. I just picture myself getting in Mike’s Sporty Acura (leaving him the Minivan) and driving off into the sunset….

I’d been on the run from the time I got up until the time I got home from work. I usually get home about two minutes before Jack gets off of the bus, but some days he beats me home.  When this happens, he’s supposed to call me. I got a call yesterday:

Me & Jack:  ‘Hey, Bud!” “Hey, Mommy.”

Me:  “I’ll be home in 4 minutes. What’s your homework like?”

Jack:  “The obvious project (reading journal), math and spelling. Uh, mommy?”

Me:  “Yeah, Bud.”

Jack:  “Uh, well, I lost my reading journal. I got to the bus stop and my backpack was unzipped. It might have fallen out.”

Side Note: Ah, the reading journal. It’s our twice-a-quarter torture. He is required to read two books a quarter and write about them in a particular composition notebook (there are rules and a required structure). He has to write almost 3 pages each time. He LOVES reading and HATES writing. So, he usually waits until the last minute (like this time) and it’s about a 3 hour ordeal. BTW, the due dates are stated at the beginning of the school year – these are not surprise assignments.

Me:  “What??? You walked out of the house with a completely unzipped backpack on your back, and you think that the composition notebook fell out?”

Side Note: Really?  How in the hell do you not notice that your backpack is unzipped and splayed open while you’re putting it on your back!?

Jack:  “Yeah, but I noticed it was open when I got to the bus stop (it’s two houses down).”

Me:  “You zipped it up then, right?” {Please say, ‘yes.’}

Jack:  “Yes.”

Me:  “Well, it couldn’t have gone far. It has to be in the garage or somewhere between the house and the bus stop. When I get home, you can go hunt for it.”

Jack:  “Okay, Mommy.”

When I got home, the Great Composition Notebook Hunt was on! While he searched outside, I searched the backpack (even though it had already been searched “thoroughly”). OMG – that backpack looked like a bomb had gone off in it. I’ve been trying to take a somewhat hands off approach this year to try to ease both him and me into his first year of junior high next year. If you haven’t read my prior posts, I can be somewhat of micro-manager. In this spirit of being “hands off” I haven’t been checking his backpack (this is HUGE for me). He needs to learn be responsible, right?

How’s that hands-offy-thingy working out for us? Apparently, not well! There were lots of papers in there – some graded (all A’s – darn good thing) and some informational items for the parents (that are past due). {Silent Scream} Guess what else was in there? Yep, the reading journal aka composition notebook. When he said he looked in the backpack, who’s backpack did he look in? Did he even really look? I guess we need to go over the definition of a “thorough search”.

Crisis averted. Jack began working on his journal entry.

Then, I had to pay the bills. Ugh. It always makes me grumpy. I’m getting into the groove and then….everyone else started coming home. “Mommy, can I go workout at the Monon? Mommy, when’s dinner because I’m going to walk the dog. Mommy, what’s for dinner? Mommy, what time do we need to leave for my band meeting?”

The hubs came home early to save me (okay, not really). It was just my good fortune. Could he please take Jack to the band meeting? Yes, he will. It’s a damn good thing because I’m on Mommy overload and he just brought home my get-a-way car. I could have been gone in a blink, but I had decided to scrubbed the escape plan for the time being.

Since I decided to stick around, I made Jack and Mike scrambled eggs and toast for dinner so they could skedaddle (you don’t hear that word very often do you?). Then Rachel came home from working out and Maddie walked in the door with Jasper. “When’s dinner?” “What’s for dinner?”

Before I could answer, they took one look at their poor mother and volunteered to make their own dinners (smart girls). Sometimes it takes awhile, but eventually their Spidy-senses kick in.

Tomorrow is always another day 🙂