Saturday, June 30, 2012

My boy becomes a man

My boy is not a boy anymore.  He is 18 years old.  Very much a young man.  Mostly I am excited and proud of him, but as he skidded into adulthood finishing the Eagle moments before the big day, the smeared remains of his parents were left trying to reform themselves on the pavement.  We managed to get excited by dinner time but I really wanted to wake him up and kick him rather than sing happy birthday in the morning.  Is it wrong of me to admit that?

Before dinner we had some fun with pictures:

At dinner I asked him if we had raised him to be a manly man or a mamby pamby man.  They love it when bring great conversation starters like that to the table! :)  Actually the question was the result of a brief conversation I had with another mom that day, maybe I will post thoughts on it another day, but getting them to understand the question and the resulting conversation was part of the evenings entertainment.  The other part was telling him I like to reflect on my life and think about my goals for the future on milestone birthdays.  He and John both looked at me and said, "yes, you do."  Just another one of those conversation starters my boys love that I bring to the table.
Dinner at PF Chang.  A perfect meal.  Fun conversation.

There was another exciting event that took place on Jake's birthday: 

Friday, June 29, 2012

My Eagle Scout

I am officially the mother of an 18 year old Eagle Scout in waiting!  And I am exhausted.

He has only been a life scout, the rank before Eagle, for 3 years.  Maybe 4.  WAY too long to have been turning in paperwork at 10pm the night before his 18th birthday to complete the task.  I finally looked at him and said, I know you are purposely waiting until the last minute because you think it is more rock and roll cool.  Of course he just looks at me like he has no idea what I am talking about but I know I am right.  But, FYI for other almost scouts out there, IT IS NOT COOL!

Anyway, he is done and as I begin to pull myself back together after a VERY tense couple weeks at our house I am proud of my son for seeing scouting through to the end.  He really learned so many great life skills in scouting.  Not just fun stuff life wilderness survival, cooking over a campfire, tying knots and wood carving but leadership skills, planning, organization.  Some of these skills he may not be fully embracing at this point in his life...but he has them, they are part of him and as he grows and the need for them becomes more important in the coming years they will be there for him to draw on and use to succeed.  Having watched the process and seen what it takes to become an Eagle scout it is easy for me to see why the rank is so highly regarded.

I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge the scout leaders in our troop (like this is my acceptance speech for his Eagle scout award).  They truly walked him down this path.  The advancement chair was sending him count down emails over 100 days before his birthday and walked him down every single step of the way.  The scoutmaster and assistant both patiently helped him finish up last badges and found time in their schedules to meet with him at the last minutes to finalize things and get needed signatures.  They both have Eagle scouts themselves and both have been involved in Jake's scouting since day 1 back in 2nd grade.  I think almost every single one of the boys in that little 2nd grade pack have become Eagle scouts.  An amazing accomplishment which is really the result of their amazing leadership within the group.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Value of Thrift

My son is ALMOST and Eagle Scout.  I pretty much won't be breathing during the next 7 days while I wait to see if he completes all the paperwork before he turns 18 at 12am June 28th.  Not that we are counting.  Stay tuned for more on that in the coming days.  

One of my tasks (technically my only task but you know what a helicopter parent I can be) is to write a letter of recommendation stating how Jake has lived out the Scout Oath and Scout Law.  So I figured I would review them.  

The Scout Oath: On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my Country and to obey the Scout Law; to help other people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight. The Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave clean and reverent.

Did it jump out at you like it did at me? Thrifty.  A scout is thrifty.

Don't you think it is interesting that the boy scouts value this trait enough to list it with things like trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, etc.  The other traits seem so much more noble.  Thrifty, that just seems like something  we do when we are broke or cheap.  I never thought of it as a character trait worthy of emulating no mater the circumstances of our life.

Ok, yes, they also have "clean" but remember we are talking about teenage boys.  Enough said.

The boy scouts was founded in 1910 and this oath does not appear to have been significantly altered since then.  The ideals of scouts and the traits they find worthy are the same today as they were over 100 years ago.  And apparently 100 years ago being thrifty was a noble endeavor.

In today's economy I certainly hear a lot about being thrifty.  After living through the consumption decades of the 80's, 90's and early 2000's we are all pulling back and rediscovering the nobility of thrift.  In some ways our thrift is different than it was 100 years ago.  I am shopping at consignment stores to maintain a wardrobe many times the size of the average woman in 1912 and I am using coupons not just for necessities like groceries but for indulgences like designer coffee.  But some things are the same, we are learning to repair what is broken rather than replace it (I wrote on this idea a couple years ago), to enjoy what we have rather than focus on what we don't have (Gratitude is definitely a big theme in today's culture), come up with creative solutions when we have a need (remember the tree house John built last summer with materials we had laying around?) and share resources with friends and family (I couldn't have thrown Jake's grad party without tables from our church, chairs from my parents, taco meat from my mom and aunt, serving baskets brought over last minute by a friend and cupcakes from my SIL and mom).

I have noticed that many of the traditional ways of being thrifty rely on valuing our things, our blessings, our talents and the people in our life.  They create opportunities to interact with family and friends, to bless and be blessed.

Hmm, I guess thrifty really is a noble character trait.

1.practicing thrift or economical management; frugal: a thrifty shopper.
2.thriving, prosperous, or successful.
3.thriving physically; growing vigorously.
thrift1.economical management; economy; frugality.
2.Also called thrift institution. Banking . a savings and loan association, savings bank, or credit union.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Back home for work

And she'll have fun, fun, fun til the bank takes her house awaaaaay.

Can I just tell you I am loving my new job?  I love working from home.  Actually, now that I have gotten a very broad overview training online, I am in the office this week while I wait for my computer to arrive and get set up.  Next Monday I will wake up, open the laptop and...probably panic.  But then I will find a starting point and move forward one step at a time and it will be great!  I am going to have a bit of a learning curve but I am enjoying it.  I feel energized by what I am learning not wiped out by it. Who knew you could have that experience?

I am also feeling a little guilty.  I suppose not unlike when a woman quits her job to be a homemaker, or the way my mom felt when she retired.  Am I doing enough?  My mom used to call me when she first retired and tell me she had watched Matlock for 2 hours and then ask me if it was OK.  I never thought about whether I was allowed to be a bum for an hour or two or a whole day, I just did it.  And in her retirement I released my mom to embrace that same attitude.  But now that I am home but working I am never sure if I have done enough.  Watching 2 hours of Matlock definitely does  not seem like something I have permission to do.

And I am nervous.  I am making less money at this job but with the idea that I will generate at least a little self employment income by the time John returns to school in the fall.  I am unsure I am allowed to sit down or stop working until I have made that happen.

So I sort of wander the house feeling a little twitchy and wondering if I have justified my existence for the day.

The woman teaching me this new job has been doing it for 6 years.  She knows what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and it all sort of just flows out of her by instinct.  So breaking it down and teaching it to me has been a bit of a chore.  I feel like she is going all over the place and I am not sure I am tracking.  I know in a few months I will start to develop that same sense of knowing what needs to be done, what can wait and how much time I need to spend each day and on what.  I will have developed my own system and be able to jump around and track things.  I know this because when I was a homemaker I had that down.  I had a system, I had a plan, I could go from one unrelated thing to the next and back without missing a beat.  I knew I could spend an afternoon watching Matlock and still get the house picked up and dinner started by 5pm.  Or I knew I could skip making dinner and we could go out.  And of course some days I just let it all go to the pit because I knew tomorrow was another day and I could pull it back together then.

This is the the vision I keep in my head as I go about each day feeling a little twitchy and wondering if I have yet justified my existence.  Eventually I will find that balance.  I will know how much I can do in a day, how much I need to do in a day and how to prioritize it all so it gets done AND I have time to do my nails.  (I miss Melanie time.)

Never a dull moment here!  We press on.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Poetry in my Soul

I have been reading through the Psalms lately.  I don't know why, just seemed like the thing to do.  Honestly I have a love/hate relationship with poetry.  I want to be one of those people who just "gets" poetry, feels it in my soul.  I want to be all deep and romantic.  Describe my feeling and experiences with beautiful words.  But the truth is I do not think that way at all and I have to think really hard and really concentrate to follow the theme of a poem and get any meaning out of it.  Frankly my mind tends to wander a little when I read poetry.  And so it is with the Psalms.  And then you get to Psalm 119!  There is zero chance I can keep my brain focused on a poem for that many verses!  So I only read a few sections a day for a few days.  Which allowed me to still be engaged 81 verses into the Psalm when I came across this:

"My soul faints with longing for your salvation, but I have put my hope in your word."

Today I don't really have anything deep to say about the meaning of this verse, although it does have a lot to think about, instead I would just like to bask in the beauty of the words.  When I read it I feel like I am reading Anne of Green Gables.  This is the sort of thing Anne would say and mean with all her heart.  In some ways I find it funny how overly dramatic she was yet I have always been drawn to the passion she expressed for life and the world around her.  And when I think about Anne and how she would totally experience the emotion of this verse it makes me want to jump in and think about the emotions surrounding my desire for Christ and His salvation and the hope I have in His Word.

It really does make my soul feel faint.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Graduation Part 5, The end of the beginning

What a day!  My son graduated from High School.  I took a few pictures...

Forgot to turn off the flash in the sun and they got a little overexposed.  The ones with just Isabelle are the only ones I forgot to re-take when we moved.  A little cuter in black and white? 

Being the first, and for 4 years only, grandchild, my mom and I spent many years fighting over the best way to raise him.  But together I think we did a pretty good job. 

This is the moment where they are saying to themselves, "I can't believe we are about to do this."

And then they did it.

Graduation was at the Target Center in Minneapolis where the Timberwolves play.  Consessions were open.  We got Isabelle cotton candy while we waited for it to start.  Because her sugar buzz was fading.

Here he comes marching in!  Pomp and Circumstance.

Where's waldo?

The big moment!

The moment after the big moment caught on film for us to buy later.

Hurray!  They are graduates!

Who is that scrooge still wearing his cap?

Oh that is my scrooge.
(OK I have been informed that he did toss his cap and another fell right at his feet so he picked it up and put it on.)

There they go, graduates, leaving the arena.  Decided to take off the cap.  
Note all the gold cords, 50% of his class of 632 students, had a gold cord which means a 3.5 grade point average or higher.  This is why the school doesn't give out class ranks.  A kid like Jake with a 3.3 is in the bottom half of his class!  So proud to be part of such a great community and education system.

They literally dropped off the gowns and got on buses straight out of the ceremony and over to the high school for the big all night party.  No pictures from the party.  John and I went home for a 2 hour nap before stumbling over at midnight for our 12-5 shift.  It was fun to wander the party and see the kids having fun and then chat with other parents as we took down the party while the kids were in the auditorium watching a show.  I actually was feeling pretty good until my body realized I was very close to going home and getting in bed and started preparing for the event.  Waiting for Jake to get his stuff so we could leave was the hardest part of the night!

So here I am on the first day of the rest of Jake's life!  I remember so clearly the night I graduated from high school.  I remember that feeling elation and wonder.  After spending every year of my life in a routine of school and summer breaks driving toward this goal, it was over.  No more high school.  No more of the same students year after year.  I was finally free to move on with the rest of my life.  It felt surreal.

Although, I wasn't totally sure what the rest of my life would be at that time.  I thought it was college out in Virginia, and that is where I started, but instead John proposed a couple months after we graduated and I accepted and being in Virginia didn't seem quite right.  23 years after I wore the cap and gown and walked across that stage my life is nothing like I thought it would be on that day but, I have loved the adventure and the path God put me on.  I can't wait to watch my son navigate through the rest of his life and see where God leads him.

Congratulations Jake!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Jake Graduates part 4, The Party

Here is the either photograph a party or you attend a party.  You don't do both.  So I had my camera out for about 15 minutes at the beginning of the party and then forgot about it for the rest of the party.  Same with food.  But my mom and aunt were mostly on that detail which was wonderful.  And the rain held off until the party ended but a nice breeze kept the 90 degree day comfortable.

Here is what I managed to get:

John's parents came early and left as people were arriving.  Such a blessing as Don really doesn't leave the house much these days.

Family always arrives promptly. 


The friends arrived in groups.  They were on a party tour.  One group said we were the 8th party of the day.  Tis the season.  Jake hit 4 parties before his started!

I set up pictures in the house in case it rained. 

Made cute table decorations that did not end up on tables because they blew right over in the wind and I could not problems solve a heavy weight at the last minute. 
I put up a sheet for verses, prayers or blessings for Jake.  It ended up being in a bad location but it was fun to see that several people found it and left him a scripture. 

Only a couple sad balloons survived the night.  Several popped in the wind as soon as John hung them.  (and note riding mower stashed in the corner for garage cleaning)

Not too much cleaning left.  The beauty of paper plates.  Just throw it in the trash.  Of course my refrigerator is full of fruit and cheese, I think I can take care of the fruit pretty quick but will be looking for someone to take a giant bag of shredded cheese off my hands.  Luckily cheese freezes.

No after pictures of the garage as my van is currently parked in there.  Someone commented about cleaning the garage being a waste since it didn't end up raining but I say cleaning my garage is never a waste!  My van  hasn't been in the garage in months!

John and I fell into bed slightly delirious last night but with joy in our hearts.  The party went well, people ate and we were blessed by friends and family.  I commented as we were getting in bed that you plan and plan and then it comes and it is over and you can never do it again.  That is it.  Same with tonight, graduation night, when he will don that cap and gown and walk across the stage and receive his diploma.  All the years of educating, dealing with teachers and hovering over homework.  Done.  We can never raise Jake again.  But, as we are sad about the end of this stage of our parenting we look forward to the next stage as Jake begins to become independent from us, make his own choices, and experience his own life adventures.