Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Another LAST First Day

I decided to delete my post from a couple of days ago when I talked about my son's last first day of school.

On Monday, I registered the kids for school.  As I was at the school, signing paper after paper, giving out health information (again), purchasing athletic passes, reading computer forms, paying for lunches and all that happens this time every year for the last 13 years.... all became real.

This would be the last time I register my son for school.

Next year, it will be all on him.

Which is another thing.  He's started applying for colleges.  He already has a first choice in schools and a backup-plan if that first choice doesn't work out.  But he is determined to make it all work.

I'd like to make note that this is ALL HIM.  He is determined.  He knows what he wants and where he wants to go.  HE is applying.

While I support him and sob silently in the background.

I'm not sad that he is transitioning from one chapter to the next, and doing an excellent job of it while I try desperately to hold him back  on for a few more minutes.

I'm sad because I feel like I may not have savored every word on every page of every chapter that I have been so blessed to be a part of up till now.  Did I actually wish days away?  What was I thinking?

And not even 24 hours after I signed him up for his last year of high school, he brought home his application for the Iowa Page Program.

You should know that I knew this would happen.  He considered applying for this his junior year, but chose to stay home and be the president of his class and plan a prom.  He wanted to then, but wanted to plan prom too.  So he said, "next year, mama.  Next year."

Now it is next year.

So next week, we will celebrate (or mourn, depending whether or not you are the kid or the mama in this story) another last first day.

I swear, I swear, I will not take a single day of this year for granted.  I will take it all, the hustle, the stress, the everything and savor it.  Or at least I will not wish it away. 

Because for all the time I've invested in these kids....I can see the payoff.  It may have seemed that I demanded a lot from them.  And it's true.  But only because I expect them to be good people.  To love God.  To love each other.  To use the gifts they were each given.  And to let everything else fall into place.  In the process, some things have to fall to the wayside. 

And guess what...sometimes it works out.  I never ever expected anything more than the greatness that is unique to each of my children.  It looks different for them all. 

Which just colors my life.  

Mamas~train you kids to be who they were meant to be and not what anyone else thinks they should be. 
And they just might do it. 

In honor of this new LAST First Day, I'm including a reprint of an article that I wrote and was published several years ago in the Texas Suburban Parent magazine and the Virginia Child Guide.  It is about me sending my youngest off to kindergarten. 


I miss kindergarten.  And I will forever be thankful for the kind school nurse who gave me a box of tissues and didn't rush me out of kindergarten round-up with mascara running down my face. 

It is no longer my current story.  Just a memory.  One I'm determined to keep alive.  If you care to note, there is a comment about "blinking" and knowing that all of this will fly by.  That's my story now.  No blinking.
The Last First Day
By: Robin Paulsen

I’ve spent the last five years, two months and 25 days in complete denial about the inevitable event that will soon take place in our household. Quite frankly, I’ve refused to even think about this particular topic and have ably dodged the questions regarding it from well-meaning friends and family members.
But now, there is no more denying that the dreaded day is upon me. Maybe it’s upon you as well. I’m talking about the last first day of kindergarten.
My baby, the youngest of four, will soon be skipping off into the land of public education and structure as I smile, wave and tell her to have fun, all the while, suppressing my tears. Because after this day, I will never again have another “first day” of kindergarten. This is the last one. I’ve been around the mother-hood long enough to know all too well that I am going to just blink and she’ll be getting her driver’s license and shopping for prom dresses. I’ll blink again and find her walking across a stage as she accepts her diploma.
That settles it. I’m done with the blinking.
My baby, of course, having watched three older siblings going off to school, has been waiting her whole life for this day. She has practiced all she thinks she needs to know before walking into a classroom. Tying laces, zipping zippers, and reciting her address and phone number are all a breeze for her. She can write her alphabet. The proof is permanent and on our basement wall. And not being satisfied with just saying, recognizing and writing her ABC’s, she has successfully burped her way through the alphabet song. In her mind, this feat must be worth some sort of extra credit.
It’s true that I’m sad. Sad that a chapter of her life is about to come to an end. But I’m also proud of the fact that I get to be her mommy in every chapter of her life.
And to answer all those questions as to my plans for the school year, I’m not sure what that will look like. I’m not quite to that chapter of my life and, right now, I’m content to savor every page of this one.

I do have a couple of predictions, though, on what the last first day will look like for me. I do believe that a staff member of our school will hand me a tissue and escort me off the property. I’ll go home, drink a hot cup of coffee without having to reheat it, use the bathroom without interruption, and perhaps, read an entire magazine article from start to finish.

But I definitely will not blink.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

"I could complain, but nobody would listen..."

...that is why I blog.

Today has been a pretty awful day.  It sort of reminds me of the song by Shania Twain that goes...

Honey I'm home and I had a hard day.
Pour me a cold one
 And oh, by the way,
Rub my feet
Give me something to eat
Cuz hey, honey I'm home.

 The only flaw being that HOME is where all the hard day happened.  

I'm ready to go back to work!  

For the selfish purposes of venting, and hopefully feeling better after, here's my day:

Alarm goes off.
Sleep 30 minutes past alarm.
Wake up to this....


Thank you, dogs.
Go to let dogs outside.
The rope is wrapped around my car tire.
I step in doggie-doo trying to get the rope out.
To no avail.
Grab my keys to move car.
Tie up dog.
 Notice that his food which was left out from earlier is crawling with ants.
So I kick the food out before dog can start in.
Which I'm certain has garnered some looks 
from neighbors or 
businesses located close by
who may have already been alerted to my mood towards said dogs
Since windows are open.
(note....I was not teasing my dog with food only to kick it out away from him.)
(I was keeping him from eating ants.)
(Besides, he's already eaten our leftover supper.)
So I spray the ants off the sidewalk 
And the doggie-doo off my shoes
And head back inside to get ready for my work day.
Which was wonderful, I'd like to say.
Until I received text messages from my kids that they were finding chicken bones hidden in the cushions of the couch.
So now I'm home.
And I have some furniture to vacuum.
But I wanted to complain about it first.  
Thank you.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Have you heard the one about the traditional and non-traditional student?

What's the difference between a "traditional" and a "non-traditional" college student?

I'm joking.  Kind of.

When I'm nervous, I tend to hide behind humor. 

Today I start back to college for the first time in over 20 years. 

I have taken several different types of classes and attended writers' conferences over the years, but I never actually obtained a degree.

Today I take the first step towards that goal.  Because I can.

I'm nervous because what if I spend the next five years working towards it and I end up taking care of parents or grandkids?  What if I end up landing the perfect-for-me job at a newspaper and I end up not even needing that degree?  What if the book(s) I write take off and I end up traveling and speaking? 

What if?

I've finally come up with the answers to those questions:  I will be a caretaker/reporter/author/speaker/traveler with a degree.

Today I'm taking that first step.

I've got my back-to-school outfit all picked out....

It's a good thing that my first class is online.  The other college kids might make fun of my jammies.

 And my designed-for-comfort footwear. 

Because, you know, I am a non-traditional student.  Proof is right there on my left foot. 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Turkey and Cheese Love

 This is a repeat post from last year.  
This summer looks pretty similar, minus a couple of details here, sprinkling a few over there, still packing lunches and spending hours on end at the ballpark.
Hope you are enjoying your summer. 
Thanks for stopping by and visiting me here at Write-On, Mom!  

Nothing says "I love you" like a turkey & cheese sandwich with mayo and mustard.

Or so I'm told.

The Wildcat has been putting in 40 hours a week at his summer job.  He leaves there and heads off to baseball every night.  He dresses for three teams.

I'm sorta proud of this kid.

Earlier this month, I told him I would pack him a cooler and drop it off to him.  I did exactly that.  When I approached the dugout he looked at me like "what are you doing here?" 

Not the reaction I had hoped for.  I handed him his lunch and walked away.  And held back my tears.

The next game I did the same thing.

And the next game.

And the next.

His reaction quickly changed over the course of the month.  And I actually got a "Thanks, mama. I love you."

Did you read that?

He said it.  In the dugout.  With team and coaches present.  

I handed him his cooler and walked away.  And held back my tears.

Yesterday the Wildcat told me that in between games, one of his teammates said "Nathan, your mom must love you."

"Why's that?" he wondered.

"She always makes you a big lunch for your games."

"Ya.  She does."

Be still my heart....I do.

I'm adding this to my "Mama Bible":   
And this is how you will know thy mama's love for you:
 by the contents of thy lunchbox
Which overfloweth with Turkey and Cheese
PB & J
Fruit Snacks, Gatoraide 
All of that
and a bag of chips


Monday, June 2, 2014

New Role, New Student and Newly Signed

So there's alot going on behind the scenes here at Write-On, Mom!.

In the last few weeks, I signed on for some new responsibilities at work, I signed up for some new classes in college and.....I signed a contract to write a book.

Allow me to expand:

New Responsibilities:  No secret I am a licensed massage therapist practicing at the Wilton Chiropractic Clinic.  Recently our office manager retired.  I am not the new office manager.  But I am taking on some of her responsibilities alongside my massage work that I do there. 

New Classes:  I write for the QC Times.  And I love it.  I am not on staff but on a work-for-hire basis there.  Someday it would be great if I were on staff there.  I asked my editor a few questions and he let me know that even though I have the bylines, in 5 years if I want to contend with the others applying for staff positions, it would do me well to take some courses in multi-media journalism.  So I am.

Newly Signed:  Last week I signed a contract to write a book. 
I've been writing newspaper and magazine articles for years...and books that mostly exist in my head for years.  But this book isn't in my's in someone elses!  I'm a ghostwriter.  I'll be putting pen to someone else's story. Sounds kinda creepy.  But I'm officially a "ghost." 


Dear Blog Readers,  You have told me time and time again that I put words to your emotions.  QC Times subjects have told me that I have put words to their thoughts.  And even people that I have taken sports and wedding photos for have told me how I have been able to capture their story. 

Now I will be capturing another's a. book.

Big deal to me. 

I feel like going out to buy a new backpack. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Son Still Wants to be Spider-man When He Grows Up

So the Wildcat still wants to be Spider-man when he grows up.

He's wanted to be this species of super-hero ever since he was like four.

This hasn't changed.

He still laughs in the face of danger, pretends to sling his web at people or situations that seem to warrent a good web-slinging, (sound effects and all) and insists that any bug bite, bruise or welt is a spider-bite intended to increase his super powers.

(I admit that I may have entertained this thought when undergoing a bone marrow biopsy a couple of years bad)

The only thing that has changed is his age, size and voice.

He's 17, barely fits in his own bed, and when he says "mama, can you sing me 'sunshine'?" as a bedtime song, it sounds exactly the same except that his voice is like way, way lower.  And I can tell that he needs to shave.  

I love how some things never change. 

It's probably good that his 17-year-old Spider-man personality also sees fit to aspiring to be involved with the Senate, Congress, Education, Business, and Government.

Spid-ey characteristics probably would work well with any of these things....just not a BOX to check or MAJOR or MINOR or even a CERTIFICATE when planning a college career.

Perhaps that change is in the works.

But for now, since I haven't seen evidence of spidey-traits being publicly recognized....AND after talking with his sisters, it is clear that I need to talk to him about how pretend-web-slinging is not a good defensive driving technique.

Because not everyone understands and is ready for Spider-man to be driving his sisters to school.

(Or attending college.)

In case you were wondering what Spiderman looks like, here are a few then and now shots:

Christmas 2008
Jr. High Football

Reading Names of WWII Veterans at Memorial Day Services

Spidey with his mama.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

And a word about childhood BFFs

It's May 18th.  I don't notice the date right off the bat. 

I notice that it is Sunday.

I'm having my coffee, watching the Food Network and browsing ads. 

But it just feels like something, something, about this date is not right.

Am I forgetting something? 

And then I see the date at the top of the paper. 

May 18, 2014.

It's Marnie's Birthday.  OF COURSE!

Marnie is my childhood "BFF."  Best friends forever. childhood goes, my very first BFF. 

But Marnie.

My very first BFF.  Slumber parties.  Trying to match clothes.  Nick-names.

It all comes back when I think of my very first Best Friend Forever. 

My 1st BFF is one of 4 sisters.  So slumber parties with just her actually looked more like a party with each sister inviting a friend to spend the night.

One of the sisters and her friends would lead "dance parties" when there was absolutely "NO NON-MOVEMENT ALLOWED."  If you had to pee, a witness had to be present to make sure your feet were still moving. 

I remember dancing the night away to Jessie's Girl.  It was a record.  Played over and over. 

"Haunted tours" were led and attended by many a sister-and-friends" in the dark.  We would hang on to a rope and be led around the house and outside the house, in the dark. 

Crushes were not only discussed, but prank called....during a time when there was no blocking your number, and 10 times out of 10, you would have to ask the parent answering the phone to speak with said crush. 

"Do you like 'so-and-so?' she wants to have your children.'"  Some times, some "friends" would not wait for the "crush" to get on the phone.  Parents were horrified.  Thank goodness for no "caller ID."  

My BFF and I really wanted to be blood sisters.  So did some of her sisters and friends.  But we were all afraid of blood and skin-pricking and all of that. 

So we became "fire-sisters." 

As I look back, I wonder how that is better.  A bunch of us standing around and joining our lit matches in "ceremony" does not actually sound safer. 

But so. very. 1980's', with a flair of "Stand by Me" and "The Sandlot." 

My childhood BFF moved away after middle school.  Probably 30 miles away.  Not a lot by today's standards.  You pretty much have to drive 30 miles or 30 minutes to get anywhere you wanna go.  

But during a time when 30 miles meant "long distance," "new school," and BFFs. 

Facebook didn't exist.  Cell phones were actually carried around in their own bags and not a given for most families in Iowa.

30 years ago, 30 miles may as well have been a million.

But today, as I think about what is missing, 30 years feels like yesterday.

And yet I still feel connected.

A bond that was unique to childhood BFFs will always belong to childhood BFFs.  I know that today because I can't drink my coffee and read the paper without wondering...."is something missing?"

I'm thankful today for facebook, the world-wide-web, the community that can be created virtually. 

But I'm also thankful for the times when we were kids.  When every moment could not be captured by the lens of a camera, but only by the lens of the mind. A time that can not be recreated. 

A time when "fire sisters" was not a term relegated to pyromaniacs, but just friends who stood outside a stable wanting to have an official initiation into a club that could never again be recreated. 

A time for me, as mama, hope that my own kids will have with their own childhood BFFs.  Not one that was captured by camera, by status update, or by cellphone.

But a time that can only truly be remembered because of the heart.  

A bond between childhood BFFs.