Summer 2013 In Review

It’s been quite a summer. So much going on that I took a bit of a break from blogging for the past couple of weeks. Haven’t had as much time or energy to commit to it lately. But now that it’s the last day of summer, I’d like to take a few minutes to wrap everything up. Tomorrow, another school year starts, and there will be another major shift in our daily routines as a family.

One of the joys of being a stay home mom is having ‘time off’ to take care of the kids during the summers. Early mornings rushing to get to school on time turn into lazy mornings, sleeping late, and mostly unstructured days. The kids have activities, but it’s hardly stressful because there is nowhere else they have to be. I also structure learning into their days, but all in all we have a laid-back, relaxing time during the summers. Staying home with them and being with them all day in the summers also means I’m busy with them all day and taking care of all of their needs. So, it means a busier mommy with more to worry about.

My youngest is a joy. He is eight years old, starting third grade tomorrow. He is so easy-going. From the minute he wakes up, he usually has a great attitude and does whatever he is told or asked. He is still at that innocent age and has such a nice life with both parents who live with him and love him without measure. He has been taking swimming lessons and doing Taekwondo lessons over the summer as well as having private baseball lessons. My husband coaches his baseball team, so he also has lots of daddy time playing sports.

My middle daughter is thirteen years old and is starting eighth grade this year. While parenting a teenager is certainly a tough job, luckily I’ve done it once before. She spent the summer mostly dancing, attending intensive day camps as well as evening classes. After eight years of gymnastics, age 3-11, she switched to dance but was behind the other girls her age. After two years of training and practice, she officially made the Elite competition company at her dance studio this summer. We are super proud of her and recognize all the hard work she’s put into reaching her goal of becoming a competitive dancer.

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Oh yea, and she also dyed the ends of her hair hot pink again this summer (with my help).
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My oldest daughter is twenty and is starting fifteenth grade this year as a junior in college. She recently changed her major to business accounting, and this was her first summer staying at school during the summer, living, working, and taking classes. I took two trips to visit her there this summer, and she also came home for a week. How nice! When I was her age, I also lived and worked away from home, but I didn’t also stay and take classes, so it really was a new experience. Both weekends I was there, I had a blast, but I also had my first introduction to parenting an adult child. We moved her into her new apartment, and I helped her out with several other logistical aspects of her young adult life. It really made me realize how much time and energy I spend running other peoples’ lives. Just being away from the two little kids for the weekend left me with a feeling I wasn’t used to, and then of course, all the different ways of mothering an adult child were new experiences to me. I’ve never helped one of my kids move and decorate apartments, made a resume, or helped with the logistics involved with finding a job and living independently as an adult. She and her fellow classmates are living a lifestyle where they have almost everything provided for them, and all they have to worry about is themselves and their classes. It’s an amazing window of time on the verge of adulthood.

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My visits both made me reflect on my experiences as a twenty year old and on the kind of mother I am trying to be. I aim to be a different kind of mom than I had. I want my kids to be able to talk to me about anything going on in their lives. Kids are going to do what they want to anyway, so I would rather accept that and guide them than to hide my head in the sand and be an unapproachable parent. I would rather have open communication with my kids so I can try to help them navigate the waters of life. However, knowing what the kids are doing can also be quite stressful for moms. We worry about safety and well-being. We want our kids making safe, smart decisions that usually come from a lifetime of experience and a brain that is fully developed; two things that twenty year olds don’t possess. So we worry. Then we communicate and brainstorm solutions, so I think we are on the right track. I loved having the chances to get to know her friends and be part of her life for a few days!

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I’ve had a really rough summer with my food allergies. I got diagnosed with gluten sensitivity in May and have been off gluten three months now. But, I keep accidentally getting corn in my diet, ‘corn poisoning’ as I call it. I haven’t been diagnosed with a corn allergy, but I react and get sick every single time I have it, so I think allergy or not, I really need to completely eliminate it from my diet. This summer, it was a margarita (corn in the lemon/lime mixer), a gluten free pizza (corn in the dough) and a protein smoothie powder (xanthan gum – which is corn – used as an ingredient). Each time, I get sick for a couple of weeks, so put those three together and you can see that I’ve been feeling pretty sick all summer unfortunately. I’ve had such bad swelling and eczema that I finally saw my allergist the other day and got a steroid shot to make it all subside. When I have reactions to foods, my stomach hurts, I get joint and muscle pain, and I have a bad rash of eczema. So, it makes me really grumpy. Unfortunately, I’ve felt grumpy for a long time recently.

We did do some fun things too: we took our annual beach vacation in Destin, Florida. I’ve written about this place and the beach in general before. I love what the beach does to my soul. I wish we could live at the beach, but I’m thankful we get to take a yearly trip.

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I also went to some fun concerts. My husband and I saw Kid Rock, and my daughter (13) and I saw One Direction. Great times.

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Last week, we went to the Perot Museum of Nature and Science as a family. We bought a membership, so we can go back anytime we want to for the next year. There are also special events and other perks for members. I was fascinated by the architecture and impressed by all the interactive activities. I especially loved seeing the dinosaur bones, gems/minerals, and the human body exhibits. There were even slices of real people, one man and one woman, who had donated their bodies to science. They were embalmed, frozen, sliced and displayed in plastic with a light behind them. It was FASCINATING to say the least. We could see all the anatomical parts and compare the younger, healthier female to the older, less healthy male.

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I continued guitar lessons over the summer, and my son also started taking weekly lessons. We are learning “Carol of the Bells” to play together at Christmas. He loves the lessons and can’t wait to start rocking out! I am still working on improvising and have been working on a couple hard songs this summer: “Uncle John’s Band” by the Grateful Dead and “Over the Hills and Far Away” by Led Zeppelin.

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Watching the MTV VMAs on the last night of summer. Mine was Miley Cyrus “Can’t Stop.” “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke was my second favorite.

What was your favorite song this summer? How was your summer?

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30 Day Photo Challenge: Day 10 Season

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My daughter’s summer dance season started yesterday, June 10, the day of the ‘season’ prompt.  This is a picture of her getting fitted for her first pair of pointe shoes.  She’s taken two years of ballet lessons and had eight years of gymnastics before that.  We thought she would grow up to become a gymnast, but in sixth grade she made the switch to dance.  She is so excited to be going en pointe and even wants to take French in school because of her ballet training.  She loves her new dance studio and spent sixteen hours a week there during this past school year.  This summer she is taking fourteen hours of evening classes and five weeks of day camps.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

31 Day Music Challenge: Day 9 A Song You Can Dance To

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“Suit and Tie” by Justin Timberlake is a song I can dance to. I can probably dance to most any song, and I kind of got stuck on this one (as you can tell since I’m posting this a few days late). This is a song that makes me want to dance, that’s for sure. It’s just too bad I can’t be dancing with Justin Timberlake! Love how Jay Z joins him to mix it up a bit. And I love JT’s big band ensemble. He’s all grown up, dressed in a suit and tie, and he’s still got the killer dance moves. Not only can I dance to it, he can dance to it too, and I sure love watching JT dance!

Read the whole music challenge list at DeBie Hive.

Thanks for reading this entry. Peace out!

Daybook 4/2/13

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Outside my window…It’s getting dark. The sky is a soft pale blue gray with clouds and the sun peeking through as it sets. It rained lightly today, so the ground is a little wet. Yesterday it was sunny and 80 degrees! It’s still warm today, but it’s cloudier. It’s warm enough for the outside pool to be open at our gym. I fell asleep outside there this weekend while I was waiting for a lap lane to open up.

I am thinking…my foot hurts. There comes a time during the day when I have to sit down. We just got back from Thomas’s Taekwondo class. He goes twice a week. Zoe is at dance for five hours tonight.

I am thankful…for life, for my husband and my kids and my relative health.

In the kitchen…dinner is almost ready. Tonight, we are having chicken, vegetable, and rice noodle soup. I roasted cauliflower, broccoli, red pepper, and asparagus then put it all in the food processor. The soup is very thick and chunky with veggies. Yum!

I am wearing…light blue sweats and a black t-shirt from Painting with a Twist (that I won from the weirdest thing in your purse contest during ZTA mom’s weekend).

I am creating…this week’s fiction episode. I have the prompt and am thinking about where to go in the story with it. This week, I compiled all thirteen episodes in one document, Handle with Care, and it was over 14,000 words. I also entered a fiction contest with a $1000 prize and publication with just under 5,000 words.

I am going…to PT twice a week for my knee. I hurt it a few weeks ago. Apparently, my kneecap isn’t tracking right. It hurts to walk and to move it, so I’m focusing on it for a couple weeks to see if it will improve. I’ve learned that kneecap tracking issues can be related to quadricep insufficiency and to stretched ligaments. Although it also hurts on the back of my knee, the surgeon said there is no more meniscus left on the lateral posterior side to tear. He should know because he did the last two meniscus repairs (out of five total on the right knee).

I am wondering…how Zoe did on her STAAR writing test today. She said she thinks she completely misunderstood the prompt. But it’s not like her to be off base during testing. In fact, she generally scores in the advanced categories and sometimes has perfect scores. She said she wrote a personal narrative, and other people told her they wrote expository pieces. Not sure what to think about that.

I am reading…fiction written by other bloggers in our group, Friday Fiction Friends. There are thirteen of us now, and we all write fiction based on the same prompt. It’s interesting to see the different interpretations of the prompts and to meet all the different characters. I’ve also been reading some non-fiction about music theory. I’ve been learning about key theory and what chords go in the different major keys.

I am hoping…we are able to go to Virginia this summer. Our friend is getting married, and we would like to have beach week there attached to that trip instead of going to Destin, FL this summer. We haven’t made any plans yet, but I sure hope we are able to make the trip! It’s been five years since we’ve visited Virginia.

I am looking forward to…summer. I hate getting up early in the morning. It will be so nice to get more sleep in the summer time. I also can’t wait to spend time at the pool with the kids and lying in the sun. The kids can take swimming lessons at our gym too. They’ve done it in the past, but not every summer!

I am learning…the solo for “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC. I can get through it, but not as fast as the recording and not as good at all. I need to work on speed and techniques like vibrato. It’s hard, but I enjoy it, and I have a guitar teacher who comes over for a lesson every week.

Around the house…got caught up on the laundry today. Rescued a remote-control helicopter from the roof this morning. Refrigerator is majorly full. Sierra’s room is empty again; she went back to college yesterday after spending Easter weekend with us at home. Lots of pictures to frame and hang.

I am pondering…how to get more sleep. Took a nap today, and it was wonderful. I think I need to do that more often. Once I have coffee, I’m usually up for the day and don’t ever try to go back to sleep once everybody leaves for school and work. Bedtime is usually after ten (sometimes I crash earlier) and when the alarm goes off in the morning, I am never feeling rested. Weekends I do sleep in, but getting through the week is rough. I don’t know how some people function on less sleep. I’m just one of those people who needs more than average.

A favorite quote for today…”Seduce my mind and you can have my body. Find my soul and you can have me forever.” ~Anonymous

One of my favorite things…massages (had a sixty minute one today).

A few plans for the rest of the week: gym/pool tomorrow, PT Thursday, tutoring Wednesday through Friday.

A peek into my day…

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Being a Mom

It’s nice to be needed. My son who is eight years old loves school but says it’s hard on him because he is away from me. I wonder how long that will last! He doesn’t like being upstairs alone and frequently showers in our bathroom and falls asleep in our bed because he doesn’t like being alone upstairs. When college-aged sister was home for the holidays, he slept in her queen sized bed with her. It’s a good problem to have that our house is big enough that being upstairs alone is an issue. I get it that he is old enough to be in his own bathroom and bedroom full-time. And my husband usually takes him upstairs to his own room after he falls asleep in our bed. But most of the time he comes back downstairs either to our bed or to one of the couches. When I ask him why he won’t stay in his bed all night he answers, “I don’t like being far away from you.” He’s good about keeping his room clean and doing chores and ‘mommy homework’ (math, reading and writing Mon-Thursday excluding holidays). In many ways, he is learning some responsibility and independence. But in this way, he is still my baby, the littlest kid whom blessed to have stayed home with until he started school at the age of six. These years while he still feels little enough to want to be near us will pass quickly, so I cherish them now with gratitude.
My twelve-year old daughter needed my help on her science project today. She did the plan on her own and got a 70%. I like to let her go on auto-pilot as much as possible with her work, but when her grades tell me she isn’t working to potential, I step in to help. And she accepts it. She knows having an educator for a mom has its rewards. The main advice I gave her was about measuring the data. You have to have a way to quantify the experiment. I helped her figure out what graphs to make, how to measure her leaps and jumps, and took videos of her experimenting with dance using different kinds of dance shoes. She also learned how to make a sandwich this week. I know that sounds silly, but apparently she didn’t know how to make one because I always make them for her. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t believe she said she don’t know how to make a sandwich (figuring it is so easy that of course she knew how to make one). I thought it was ridiculous that she wants to be mothered to that extent, yet she also thinks she is old enough and responsible enough to go to public places without adults. She does her own laundry and has chores so she can learn responsibility and independence. As I said, I also don’t micromanage her school work, and most of the time she gets As and Bs on auto-pilot. She is at that age when she wants me to bring her lunch from subway to school, but she doesn’t want me to stay while she eats it in the cafeteria. (On the other hand my son wishes I would join him for lunch every day)! She hugs me and asks for my help on her own time. When she needs me, I’m there, and I feel lucky.
Even my nineteen-year old daughter at college still needs me for this and that. Of course, she needs financial support, but I’m also there for her as a mom in many other ways, for emotional support and to lend guidance and advice about the many facets of her life as a college student. I haven’t been able to visit her since moving her into her freshman dorm. In fact, last year I was injured during family weekend, and she told me not to come for her sorority’s moms’ weekend because it wasn’t a big deal, just a brunch. I was also really busy last year working as a teacher. Well, it turned out she missed me when all the other moms were there, and I wasn’t. I promised her I would attend this year and just booked my flight and hotel reservation yesterday! I’m excited to visit her in her world and am proud to be her mom!
Little things like these remind me that while they aren’t so little, they still need me for different reasons. Or at least they want me to be there for them as their mother even though they might not technically need me.. I Being a mother changes over the years, but it is wonderful to be reminded of the fact that there are certain things that mothers can do for their kids that soften their worlds. And I am grateful for all of those little things that remind me what an important job being a mother really is. It’s not glamorous. The hours are grueling. It can be a thankless job. But I wouldn’t want any other job in the world!