Sunday, December 25, 2011

That perfect gift.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly my kids are growing up. I feel like it was just last year that I was chasing kids out of the tree decorations and rearranging my baking schedule to happen around nap time. Now they are decorating the tree and baking the cookies.
My middle child never was really interested in helping my in the kitchen until this year. She followed the recipe and made the various cookie doughs while my youngest rolled out the chilled dough. My oldest would run in and decorate the cookies before they were baked and my husband oversaw the baking. I was busy trying to get all of my recipes ready and keeping this all organized. Our new church had family Christmas Eve service at 4:00 so that made my day short. We had been out of town earlier so my baking and cooking schedule was way behind.
We traveled to Indiana last weekend to honor my son in his Boy Scout Eagle Court of Honor. He wanted to have his ceremony with his old troop because of all of his friends. The Order of the Arrow Ceremony team that I built and made costumes (regalia) for performed his ceremony. I was proud of all of them and especially proud of my son. My proudest moment was when he read his thank you letter to everyone. With his autism, that was quite a feat. He could have spoke up more but I thought he was perfect. Everyone tries to label kids with disabilities and he has fought to become just one of the boys. His Scoutmaster even pointed out how much he has grown. When he first started with the troop, he needed to know where I was at all times. We even tented together a few times. Now he is quite independent and shows quite a lot of self confidence. However, he still likes to keep me at arms length. I think I can live with that.
This has been a difficult year for my kids. They have earned their highest awards for their levels in Scouting, moved from their friends, started new schools, made new friends, and started new Scout troops. They have shown their independence. We asked a lot of our kids and they have come through.
I had to laugh this morning. My husband and I beat our kids out of bed - on Christmas morning. They were very calm about the presents under the tree. In fact, they opened their stockings first - which was basically candy. We spent the day as a family doing what most families do on Christmas day. I can't say that it was the most exciting Christmas day but it was still perfect. We snuggled up on the couches and watched Christmas movies and ended it watching football.
This has been my day of reflection. I still remember when my kids were toddlers exploring the Christmas tree and learning about the true story of Christmas. Now they decorate the tree and still explore the story of Christmas. They have grown quite a bit this year. However, we were still able to be together and enjoy each other's company. That is a wonderful gift to receive on this day.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Thanks Friends.

It is said that absence makes the heart grow fonder. I think that is probably a pretty accurate statement. Since our move, I have been trying to keep in touch with all of my friends but it's just not the same. Several of my friends have been with me through thick and thin and their physically being by my side now is greatly missed.
I put a call out to my friends on Facebook asking for help for my son's Boy Scout Eagle Court of Honor. As always, my friends jumped up and offered to do anything that I needed. It would be too difficult to transport food for nine hours for the reception and I will be getting in too late in the day to cook anything. As one friend stated, we are here and let us help you.
Not often is a person blessed with special friends. These are people that I have met while my kids are involved in activities like Scouting. They stood by me when I broke my let at summer camp and again they amaze me at what they are doing.
Some people judge worth by how much you own or what you do for a living. I am a housewife with a treasure of friends. They have all done a great job of keeping in touch and offering words of support. Moving to another state is frustrating enough but feeling like you are alone is another thing. My friends have made it clear that I am not alone and they have offered support whenever they could. They know me very well and they know my limits. It's nice that a friend can send a quick message or email just to let me know they are thinking of me. It always seems to happen when I am the most frustrated.
As I raise my children and continue through life, I hope I can impress upon them the importance of good friends. No matter where you go, or what you do, your friends will always be there with a smile and a hug. They are definitely God's gift.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Times they are a changing....I hope

It's been an interesting few days around here. Earlier this week I finally was able to read "The Help" and my wonderful husband got me a copy of the movie to watch. I have lived in Alabama for only 6 months but quite a bit of the story really makes sense for the historical places we have toured. I have even read sales ads for older homes that feature maid quarters. I watch the movie and wondered many times how much silver a household could have. I don't think I have one single piece of silver in my own home. I guess I wouldn't measure up to those times. The ladies in the book and movie seemed to be full of themselves. Wanted to smack some of the characters several times. I just needed to remember that this was a fictional story. However, I still have to wonder how much of it was based on true stories.
Yesterday, I took my Girl Scout troop to tour Lowndes County Interpretive Center on the Civil Rights Trail from Selma to Montgomery. We started our tour by watching a video that had many messages for the viewers. It opens with high school kids interviewing march participants. They had many frightening stories about the march including the 2 previous attempts of the march. However, the first message was that 60% of African American Selma residents are registered to vote. These people risked their lives and now the need to vote is gone.
The second message in the film was how badly the African Americans were treated. One white gentleman stated "Everyone thinks we all are equal. What a silly thing to say". What was more interesting was the reaction from my girls. They were very angry and wanted to take that man out.
We are a nation of many ethnic backgrounds. None of us are pure blood anything. I have many nationalities in my own background. I find it mind blowing that people from just 50 years ago would rather hate a person for their skin color or even religious beliefs than get to know them. Fear was ruling both sides. Fear of differences and fear of standing up for wrongs.
Watching my girls and hearing their responses was probably the best part of the tour. They can't understand the mindset of the people back then. Hopefully that continues. Our children accept those around them and encourage differences. Hopefully this is our future and our past is just that.....our past. An interesting thing to learn was that one of the gentlemen leading the march is now a state representative. Another gentleman was being honored by allowing the family to hold his funeral at this center. Times are changing....what a nice thing to see.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The grown up things my kids learn

Today my son is bringing home his baby. Well, it's not a real baby but one that is part of his health class. Our school participates in the "Think About It" program teaching kids about  teenage pregnancy. I think its a good program but I am not thrilled about his caring for it during school. I haven't seen any real babies at school so I don't really get that. He is pretty nervous but I think he should do well. It sends a powerful message to all the kids.
Yesterday, I spent the day with my middle child and her school band. They traveled around the community schools and played Christmas concerst. She is in the percussion section. It was interesting watching the kids working together for the common goal of unloading and loading the band trailer. The percussion and low brass sections were in charge of equipment - basically operations (for you Purdue Band geeks). I watched as one young man was good at directing the other students but he stood back and waited as they did their jobs. I admit that I did comment to him and asked him if he was not able to help. He just laughed and kept standing around. My final comments must have gotten his attention - he finally started jumping in and helping. I made him feel bad that I was in the trailer lifting and loading while he was standing around. One point for mom.
The kids had 4 wonderful concerts yesterday. They were acting as band ambassadors to the younger schools. Basically, they were recruiting. The high school band has done this many times for my daughter's band - including inviting the 8th grade band to the state football finals. I think my daughter understands the responsibility that is required to become active in a successful band program. I am proud to say she wasn't standing around waiting for everyone else to work.
Finally, my youngest had the opportunity the reflect the value of her friends. Over the weekend, a young girl from another classroom was killed in a car accident. My daughter didn't really know here but she knew of her. One of my daughter's best friends, however, was close to this young lady last year. The teachers did a fantastic job working with the students and assisting them in their grief. They took time to make a "Joy Tree" - the young ladies name was Joy. Each student wrote something special about Joy on a paper angel and attached it to this paper tree. Joy's class wrote a note to Joy and put it in her locker. Most students wrote letters of love and condolences to the family. All of this is being given to the family at the visitation tonight. I think the family will appreciate really learning the impact their daughter had on her schoolmates. What a blessing. I think they handled this horrific event better than most adults.
The end of the school semester is next week. While my kids are finishing their projects and preparing for tests, they are learning about responsibility. The school is teaching my kids some aspects that I can't. I wish that a few adults that I have met had this experience. So quickly we forget the impact that we have on others.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

I don't have time to work.

The past week has been crazy. If one thing was finishing, another was beginning. I haven't even had time to blog. Many people actually had some peace.
This past Tuesday I had the opportunity to take my youngest to the Go Bowl writing competition in Mobile, Alabama. She had written a book report back in October on a book called "Witches" and had placed in the top 10 out of over 10,000 entries. We had to travel to Mobile so she could do another book report, this time on "Egypt Games" to finalize where she would end in the scholarship level. She wasn't nervous Tuesday night but I certainly was. I was pacing in our hotel room and eating anything I could find. There went the diet. They fed us pizza then took the kids to another room to write their reports. She came out feeling pretty good and we went out and celebrated by buying a Kindle. She had received a $50 gift card as part of her prize package and she thought that was a perfect thing to buy. I had to agree to that logic.The next day was the awards and she was finally nervous. She received a $1,000 savings bond for a scholarship and admiration of many.
Thursday was the kick off for Girl Scout cookie training. Cookie sales start the beginning of January. I am trained and ready to harass my friends and family the beginning of next year. You just can't say no to the cookie.
Friday was supposed to be grocery shopping and laundry but I ended up stopping by my youngest's school 3 times. The local news media wanted to interview my youngest about her writing competition. They stood us up twice. I did manage to get some quick grocery shopping in though. I picked my daughter up at the end of the short school day because she was babysitting the class guinea pig.
I call it a short day because Prattville was heading to the state football championship that night and school ended early to allow for travel and tailgating. Got to love high school football here - tailgating. My middle child had to opportunity to travel with the high school band and play in the stands. She arrived back at school at 12 dark thirty. A very long day and night.
I thought I was going to relax and do some yard work on Saturday. In Alabama, it's been in the 70s during the day so yard work was very much a possibility. I opted to pull brush out of a pile in the middle of our yard so I could deposit it on the side of the road for trash pick up. However, the nest of bees in the pile had a different plan. I was stung at least 4 times on my ear and managed to get stung on my ear drum - that takes talent. I spent the rest of the afternoon. with toothpaste and an ice pack on my ear. My middle child read online that toothpaste absorbs the venom and eases the pain. I looked stupid but she was right. Go figure.
My husband had tickets to his company Christmas party Saturday night. I was a trooper and styled my hair to cover my enlarged ear. It was a nice time but I was ready to go to bed as soon as we got home.
Sunday I spent the afternoon shopping with my middle child. She is reaching the age that she is more aware of what others wear and what she is wearing. We spent the day talking about mean girls and their bullying slams. I had to laugh. Girls at school are calling her poor white trash while my youngest is being called "richey". They don't have a clue that I am a great garage sale shopper.
I ended my day with making dinner, celebrating my middle child's birthday (she has a band concert tomorrow on her birthday) and relaxing for a few minutes while watching the Packers game and now the Saints.
I am afraid to see what's in store for this week. One band concert, a Girl Scout meeting, 5 choir concerts and a doctor appointment. I don't have time to work......