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Thursday, May 23, 2013

NOLA update: Hard work in the Big Easy

Here's what happening in New Orleans...
The intrepid 2013 SACS volunteers at United Saints Recovery Project.

Dad's on the left in the back, my kids are (of course) front and center petting the fawn colored pup.

My boy has been stripping off rotten siding...
and pulling nails...
and unloading new siding.
My girl didn't just supervise, either...
she got into the siding business, too.
Hot work deserves a break...but still smiling.
Dad got to work hanging siding...
and measuring and cutting.
So proud of all of my family! The ones in NOLA and the ones here at home. It takes effort to keep the home fires burning when almost half of us are away from the nest but we're making it happen. Everyone is working hard, doing their part, and making a difference. Love it!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

We're separated...

Yesterday, my husband left me...and he took my two oldest kids with him, leaving me with our three 15 year olds. Oh, don't worry, our marriage is just fine and he'll return to me just in time to celebrate our 20th anniversary at the end of this month. So where are Dad and the 17 year olds off to? Well, they've headed to the Big Easy for a little service learning adventure.

The awesome charter school that our kids attend does a lot of community service work both here and in other communities. The school has done trips to New Orleans the past couple of years where the students have worked with a group called United Saints Recovery Project. A group of 15-20 students and staff spend a week repairing homes that were damaged in Hurricane Katrina in 2005...and yes, there's still an appalling amount of work to be done even 8 years later.

This year Ms. Senior wanted to make a difference by joining the service trip to NOLA before she graduates. Her brother was motivated both by service and the tempting prospect of a week away from school when he signed up for the trip. Craig was also interested in the service work and sharing the experience with his kids and volunteered to go along as a chaperone/skilled laborer. They flew down yesterday afternoon, spent today touring the hardest hit areas and becoming familiar with the work ahead of them. Tomorrow they'll be up at 7:00 AM and headed to the work site. They could be painting, cleaning, renovating, or planting a community garden. Whatever they do, it will be hot and dirty...and appreciated by the folks they're serving. I'm so proud of them!

So what about the rest of us?  Well, I have to report that I'm equally proud of my other 3 kids. While I was at the airport yesterday, my youngest mopped the floor and washed the windows at home...totally unsolicited help that was a lovely surprise. Then my girl helped with dinner and we all watched a movie together. This morning, my first boy had to have blood work done, not his favorite thing but he did it without complaint and was very brave. After that, Tanya and I headed to the mall for some early birthday shopping...she turns 16 next weekend! It was a real treat to spend one on one time with her today. Everyone managed to complete homework, do chores, and catch up on laundry and it's not even dark yet...gasp!...and I taught Tanya how to make Asian Fried Rice for dinner so we're all well fed. It's still daylight and I have downtime, a rare occurrence. I'm planning an early bedtime, some extra rest for my poor weary body...but my heart is happy and full of gratitude for the kids who have been trying so hard to be good to Mom. Service is happening here at home, too.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

When I was 3...almost 4...

I had chicken pox. I don't remember much about it, just some itching and an image of me in my parents' 1950 something Pontiac, watching our small town Memorial Day Parade from the car while I scratched my spots. Fast forward a decade or 5 and here we are...this week, I was diagnosed with shingles. This is a blast from the past I could do without but I'm actually wicked lucky. I sought treatment early and am maintaining as long as I stay on my anti-virals and pain meds. Not lovin' it but we'll cope. Better living through chemistry... the pain is manageable and I'm still upright.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day and accomplishments

Eighteen years ago today, I celebrated my first Mother's Day. I wasn't officially a mom yet, I was 6 months pregnant with our first child and my DH and I were pretty excited. My sweet husband bought me a lovely rocking chair as my first "mom" gift and it got plenty of use over the years. The baby I used to rock to sleep in that chair will graduate from high school next month...and over the years, we've been blessed with 4 other kids who make Mother's day one of my favorite occasions.

Why is this day special to me? Yes, I love the breakfast in bed that my kids serve me annually with their Dad's help. I love the flowers that Dad snuck in the house and arranged for me last evening. I love the cards and hugs and carefully chosen gifts...but what I love best of all is looking back over the years, seeing how far my kids have come, and knowing I had a part in their journey. Their gifts reflect their love and their accomplishments and that's the very best reward any mom could ask for! Here's what I mean:

My oldest gave me victories. She worked in secret. She swiped my tablet, downloaded pictures of her siblings and herself to her own computer, and formatted them onto one page into a photo collage of milestones. There's a pic of one sib learning to ride a bike, another sib proudly showing off his driving permit, a pic of a sib reading to a class of pre-schoolers, a pic of herself in front of her college's admissions office on acceptance day. Probably my most cherished pic of all is of our boy grinning broadly as he celebrated his 15th birthday at home...the smile on his face says it all. I now have a framed reminder of the hard won accomplishments of my kids...thank you, Miss Senior!

My youngest grew me a flower...and grew so much himself! He gave me a snapdragon in a wee little pot that he decorated himself. He wrote a Mother's Day message on it...and he is justifiably proud of his ability to read and write on his own these days. Thank you, sweet boy, I love the flower you grew and am so proud of what you wrote just for me!

My monkey gave me her heart! I got a lovely floating heart necklace that says "Every day is better with you by my side", also a note from my girl that said, "I'm glad that I'm yours." Me too, baby, every day...even on your sassy teenage days...thanks for letting me be your mom!

My first boy gave me a hug and that's huge....because this boy spent last Mother's Day in a locked pediatric psychiatric unit but this year, he's home where he belongs. He also gave me a pretty reed diffuser and a sweet card, helped make breakfast, and is being so kind today...so much progress from a year ago! Thanks, squirrel, for making my day extra special!

My oldest boy is giving me his time. This past week, he sold some of his favorite videogames to get some extra cash, then told me he wanted to take me out for Mother's Day. He offered to take me to lunch or to a movie, my choice. I picked a movie....then he offered to take me to see "The Great Gatsby". For a 17 year old boy who would rather have a root canal than see "The Great Gatsby", I figured that was a gift in and of itself...but I told him I'd rather go to a film we would both like. This afternoon, he'll be taking me to see "Ironman 3" with his own money. Thanks, my wonderful son...I am truly honored that you want to hang out with Mom!

Best Mother's Day gift of all? My kids....my awesome, wonderful, maddening, funny, frustrating, hormone-soaked, courageous, challenging, awe-inspiring teens who are growing into such interesting young adults. Love you all...thanks for another amazing year as your mom. The adventure continues!