We Listen to Music

One of the Princess’ friends made a comment to her that we always have the music on – at home, in the car, everywhere we go. And we do – we always have music on (unless we have the news, sports, or our favorite shows on tv going).  We listen to all kinds of music. If you put my iPod on total shuffle, you’ll hear everything from video game music to movie soundtracks, classical to hip hop,  Broadway to ballet music,  country to Christian,  gangsta rap to the Brat Pack, and Pop to hard/hair band rock.

I learned an appreciation for music basically from birth. My family always had music on, as well as my godmother/babysitter/second mom. I grew up to a varied soundtrack. We knew when the music turned on every Saturday morning. that was our cue to start our chores. We heard Neil Diamond and Elvis mostly, but also my mom’s favorite old-school, twangy country music, and the old standards for my dad – Frank Sinatra, Johnny Mathis, and Nat King Cole. In the car, out by the pool, camping trips, on the boat – music was always on. From my godmother – a bit younger than my parents – I gained an introduction to the Beatles, Peter, Paul & Mary, and whatever was contemporary at the time. My godmother also took us to church every Sunday. I sang in the youth choir, learned all those good Lutheran hymns, and all our VBS/Sunday School songs, which we loved (at that young age) to belt out in the car, and around her house. My brother, four years older than I, started listening to his own music in middle school, and we’re talking late 70’s/early 80’s, so disco, Journey, KISS, Styx, Queen, Abba, Boston, Kansas, and the Eagles were added to my life soundtrack. I think I got my first PlaySchool plastic record player when I was about four. My first album was Peaches & Herb (that’s a little terrifying), followed by the Grease soundtrack, Andy Gibb, Sean Cassidy, and Donny Osmond (no jokes regarding my age, please!).

High School brought a new soundtrack, but the music definitely continued to play, all the time. INXS, Prince, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and The Time take me back to dances in the cafeteria after football games. I can almost feel the cool fall night air, remember clearly sitting on the benches outside the cafeteria where we talked with our friends and waited to be asked to dance by that certain someone who’d caught our eye that week/month. Chicago always reminds me of hanging out by the pool of my best friend’s neighbor, or sitting in her room doing homework. Janet Jackson’s Control and Run DMC’s You Be Illin have me dancing cheer routines from Homecoming and Hoopla. Beastie Boys takes me back to being on the bus to basketball games – Funny how you can remember the lyrics to every song on one particular album, including the order the songs were in, 30 years later, but can’t remember what you ate for lunch three hours ago. Paul Revere anyone? Fight for Your Right? Girls? Oh  yeah…..And don’t even get me started on the soundtracks to Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, and Breakfast Club. Sigh…Jake Ryan and Blane….mmmmmmmm…..

My college soundtrack covered the end of the 80’s and the beginning of the 90’s. I went from the scene in Santa Barbara – Oingo Boingo, UB40, the Cure, and U2 – to the Central Valley of CA and hip hop/dance music including MC Hammer, Vanilla Ice, Kriss Kross, and Color Me Badd. I spent hours driving to and from Santa Barbara listening to Kylie Minogue, Amy Grant, Michael  W Smith, and Debby Gibson.

Nearly every relationship has a playlist. Every single time I hear The Outfield, I’m once again riding in my first boyfriend’s truck (or his daddy’s Porsche, but that’s another story for another day). Garth Brook’s Friends in Low Places comes on and I’m at one of many college parties, with some awful memories attached to that particular disastrous relationship – but I still love that song. LL Cool J and Jodeci play, and I’m in J’s truck driving to our first vacation together in Tahoe. (It seems I dated a few boys who drove trucks) Color Me Badd songs remind me of following my end-of-and-just-out-of-college boyfriend to Chico for the baseball team’s games, and some of the ball players doing a crazy-good job of lip-syncing and dancing in some bar there.

Everyone who’s had someone has also lost someone. I have my sad break-up songs, my angry break-up songs, my revenge music.

Then there’s Spouse. We have our own soundtrack, and it’s pretty long. We met in a country bar, so that genre has always been part of us. Garth Brooks played at our wedding, as did Clay Walker, and Shania Twain. We also both love to dance, so any pop/dance music from the last twenty years goes on our soundtrack too. Loving, and actually being able to dance was one of my top requirements for the man I would spend my  life with. Spouse qualifies.

I have my own playlists for each of them. For Big Man, there are the songs that remind me of driving to and from the NICU – He’s My Son, and Creed’s Arms Wide Open. Wake Me Up When September Ends will always, always make me cry,  because it takes me back to that month – the month he was born, the month I lost everything I dreamed of when I got pregnant with him, and gained a tiny, two-pound, fragile, miracle of a child. For P, our only girl, My Little Girl, I Loved Her First, and Slipping Through My Fingers will remind us how quickly she’s growing up, that someday she’ll belong to someone else. I hear Nutcracker music, or any of the songs she’s danced solos to, and I can see her dancing in my head. Taylor Swift reminds me of the concerts we’ve gone to, For Good from Wicked reminds me of singing in the car with her (which we do a lot). I’m watching my kids develop their personal life-soundtracks now too. P is already planning the playlist for her Sweet Sixteen party, and I’m sure she will carry those songs with her for the rest of her life, as a captured memory of that night.

One of my FB memories the other day was when Little Man was little, and was singing Sexy Back loudly from his carseat in the second row of my SUV. Not embarrassing at all to pull up at a light, windows open, and your toddler is singing about bringing sexy back. Mother of the Year.

We do listen to music, all the time. It can reflect a mood, improve a mood, or set a mood. Music is part of our family fabric. What’s on your life soundtrack?

Funny thing, those plans

The Princess had a friend over the other afternoon, and, as this particular plan is a Senior, they were talking about life after high school, college, and life plans. I tried oh so hard to not let the laughter burst forth, but I couldn’t help it. I laughed because I know that life plans are kinda like assumptions.  Funny thing about life plans….Life usually has other plans.

I had a life plan when I was in high school, and again in college, and then again after college. I had to keep changing my plan, because life kept changing and throwing me curve balls. Almost nothing went the way I’d planned. First off, I started school at a private, small, Christian college. I’d planned to finish my undergrad there, and then go to law school. I’d also thought I might meet my Mr. Right there, maybe during my sophomore or junior year, get married a year or two out of college, get my career going, and then have some kids by or during my early 30’s, employing a nanny while I rose to the top in my corporate law career. HAH! My parents split up right after I graduated from high school, and sold our home during my sophomore  year. There was a push to come home as my brother was getting married and my sister was debating college. So, I left my small, private, Christian college and came home to the nearby, not-too-big, state college. I didn’t meet Mr. Right, although I had a few Mr. Right-nows. I didn’t go to law school. I didn’t meet my Mr. Right until I was almost 27 years old, was almost 30 when we got married, and 31, 32, and 34.5 when I had my kids, AFTER going through fertility issues, a miscarriage, a premature birth, two kids 12 months apart, and having one autistic child.  I don’t have a high-flying career. We did have a nanny for two months one summer, but not because  I was out lawyering – I was an AR/HR person making $10 an hour.  I’ve been a SAHM for seven years, and just went back to a part-time, mostly-from-home job a bit over a year ago. Not exactly  how I’d planned my life to go.

I’m not disappointed with my life in the least. I have a happy marriage, amazing babies, treasure friends, a job I love, a nice home, and all the things I need. And it certainly isn’t bad to have a plan for your life. Plans provide goals and direction. My point to the Princess was to go ahead and have a plan, but don’t freak out when life doesn’t go the way you planned. Don’t let that plan keep you from experiencing what life is putting in your path. Don’t let your plan keep you from relationships that could enrich  your life, help you grow. Don’t let devastating curveballs turn you away from living, or completely divert you from your goals and dreams.

Did you have a life plan when you were younger? Did life go anything close to what you planned?

Friday Music

Since I was in high school, and Friday afternoons were spent getting ready to go to football games, basketball games, and dances, there’s been a certain kind of music playlist. I always just called it Friday Music….you know what I’m talking about, right? Don’t Friday afternoons have a different feeling than all the other afternoons in the week? School has ended for the week, work is out for the weekend. It’s kind of a celebration of surviving yet another week.

My sister and I shared an apartment my junior year of college. We’d come home from our classes and turn on our Friday music. It would blast while we got ready for whatever party, game, or dance we were going to that night. There was quite a bit of dance music – think late-80’s stuff. We’d listen to the Cure, Janet Jackson, Beastie Boys, and U2, as well as whatever else was striking our fancy as pre-party music. We never questioned turning the Friday Music on. It was expected.

When the kids were little, I stopped listening to my Friday music. I’m not really sure why. Fridays didn’t mean going out anymore. Spouse and I were typically exhausted by Friday evening each week – date nights and parties were left to Saturday nights, when we’d had a day to recover from a week of work and taking care of toddlers. But now my kids are older. I spend Friday afternoons watching my cheerleader get ready for games with her fellow cheerleaders. Spouse and I might go out afterwards. That freedom, that feeling of celebration has returned. Friday afternoons once again require a certain kind of music, a special playlist all its own.  My Friday Music playlist still has a lot of Janet Jackson and Beastie Boys, but also Tupac, Dr. Dre, Eminem, early-90’s hip hop and rap, and a bunch of current stuff. Friday Music is whatever makes you dance.

Do you have a Friday Music playlist? Who’s on it?

Why we need to hold our kids accountable

I have two words for you…Johnny Manziel. Yeah, he might technically be an adult, but he’s a kid. Worse, he’s a kid who doesn’t seem to have been held accountable a single day of his life, until now. I applaud the Cleveland Browns for trying to  help him. I applaud them even more for recognizing a lost cause and letting him go. Kudos to his agent as well who will reportedly be dropping him. He shouldn’t continue to be rewarded for being a selfish ass.

I’m thankful my kids aren’t super stars at anything to have this really tested, but even so, they need to be told no. No, you don’t always get what you want. No, you don’t always win. No, even when you do win, you don’t get things handed to you on a silver platter. Yes, you will work hard. Yes, you will still have to go to class and do the work. No, no one is going to let you sit on your laurels while someone else does the work for you. No, you can’t party, break the rules, let your temper flare whenever you want and still get away with it because you’re good at something. TELL YOUR KIDS NO!

I’m not a perfect mom by any means. I don’t know how I would react if my kids were rock stars and people wanted to elevate them, give them things, do things for them. I’d love to think I’d say no thanks. Kids need to be grounded, centered, made responsible. My kids are held accountable. Oh, you forgot your homework at home for the third time this year, and the teacher won’t let you hand it in late? Sorry….you need to suffer the natural consequences of your forgetfulness. I’m not going to rescue you. You broke something that belonged to someone else? Guess what, you get to apologize, and work to earn the money to buy them a new one. There’s a video game coming out you really want? You’d better be doing your chores and then some to earn it, or use the birthday money you still have stashed away to get it. You don’t know where your PE clothes are? Guess  you’d better find them before you leave for school, and no, I’m not responsible for knowing where all your stuff is. Clean your room – it works wonders as far as helping you track things down, go figure.

I hope Manziel learns a lesson, but he’s been given plenty of opportunities to learn the past few years, and nothing seems to have really brought the point home to him. Yes sir, the rules still apply to you. This is real life, buddy. You don’t keep getting free passes, no matter how much money or fame, no matter how many trophies or wins. Truthfully, his parents, and all the people in his life who never held him accountable led him to where he is today. It’s on them, but now it’s on him to check himself.

Tell your kids no. Hold them accountable. Don’t let them become that jerk who busts in at the head of the line because he thinks he is entitled for some reason and that rules don’t apply to him.

And now I apologize and get off my soap box. This is one particular subject for which I get a bit feisty. It’s a personal pet peeve. We do our kids a huge disservice in this country when they happen to excel at a sport. Not all parents let this Manziel thing happen to their kids, but there have been more and more stories in recent years of bad behavior, law-breaking, and entitlement behavior,  and yet those kids go on big contracts and more fortune and fame, rather than being held accountable for their actions.

Getting to use it

I have a degree in English Literature.  I also went to a school wherein if you were majoring in English Lit, it was assumed you’d be headed to their teacher program post-graduation, so the degree came with heavy grammar and writing requirements.  Well, I didn’t go into the teaching program. I’d never planned on it. I went into the insurance industry instead.  For years, I didn’t use my degree one whit, unless you count writing claim reports, transcribing investigative interviews, or writing compelling requests for settlement authorization.

Six or seven years ago, we formed a book club amongst our group of friends.  I had part of my learning process back, and loved it. I’ve also volunteered in the kids’ classrooms, helping with reading groups and, when Big Man was in fourth grade, writing. But nothing over the last twenty-plus years (geez, I’m giving huge clues how old I really am!),  I haven’t really used my degree. Oh, I write here, and that counts, but you know what I mean.

Big Man is in ninth grade. He’s taking Honors English. He’s reading things I read my Freshman year, and then some. But it gave me a new confidence to be able to work with him on a paper, to help him with definitions in the book they’re currently reading, to help him work out themes and support his ideas/thoughts.

The kids are used to going to their dad for help with math and science questions. They haven’t really needed much help from me other than asking me how to spell stuff, or if they  had put commas in all the right places. Big Man has looked at me with new eyes in recent months, and it feels good. I’m good at something, and I can help him. Strangely, that’s made me feel like I matter more than for just doing laundry, cooking, and cleaning. I’m getting to use all those awesome things I learned way back when, and that’s kinda cool.

Friday Favorites #12

Hey!! The Herd reached 400 followers (Plus!) this week!!! Can I get a Wooooohooooo????!!!!! I know some of you have ten times that and more, but for this humble momma blogger, I’m pretty excited! Thank you all those who’ve joined our crazy ride.

In an update to the cat saga post yesterday, Willie visited the vet this morning (yes, there was lots of yowling in the cat carrier on the way there and back). He had the drain removed, ditched the cone, and was declared “healing nicely”. He’s still on house arrest for a few more days. He spent over an hour bathing himself once we got home. He’s a much happier kitty, until I have to give him his medicine later.

What’s on  your weekend agenda? The Princess and I are going to a musical tonight. One of her besties has a lead role. Super fun. The men are going to the movies, I think. It’s Nutcracker all day tomorrow for the P. Spouse and I head downtown for a bike bar thingy. I’d never heard of it before a few weeks ago. Maybe photos will be shared next week. Maybe not. There are adult beverages involved after all.

I know you’ve all been patiently waiting (right?) so here’s the list for this week’s Friday Favorites:

  • Linda G Hill shared a gorgeous photo. I want to go there. The sky a beautiful blue, with puffy white clouds reflecting in the water below. Peace.
  • Kids re-enacting the Republican debate? Yes please. Thanks, Luther at Infinitefreetime.com  Made us all laugh.
  • Adoption carries so much more than just adopting a baby and bringing him home. Riddle from the Middle shares some of the difficulties. I love her honestly. Thank you for sharing.
  • You Can’t Argue With Crazy wrote her hundredth post!! Go show her some love. She writes some good stuff.
  • Who knew Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody was 40 years old? Good grief. That makes me feel so old!!! David Snape and Friends asks the question, “Do you think this is the best song ever?” I love music. I listen to so many genres and have all my life. The Beatles “Imagine” is one of my all-time favs. But when the Eagles “Hotel California” comes on, the radio always gets blasted. I could say that of so many songs. And I dare ya to listen to Bohemian Rhapsody without banging your head a la Wayne and Garth.
  • Emma of Blu Chicken Ninja has written a pen review before. Have I mentioned I LOVE pens? I can and will spend hours in an office supply store testing pens. She wrote a new review on some gel pens. I think I need these!
  • Having a high schooler is stressful. We put pressure on him, his teachers put pressure on him, he puts pressure on himself. These four years are so important, so pivotal in what happens after high school. We’re trying so very hard to find a good balance for him, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the ultra-competitive nature that is getting your children into “good” colleges. Milagro Momma at Miracles in the Mundane writes so eloquently on this issue.
  • Part of having a kid on any kind of competitive team is fundraising. We’ve been holding bake sales at the dance studio to raise money for costumes, competition fees, and private lesson fees for the Princess’ competition dance ensemble. The theme this week is Fall goodies, so I was super excited to find this recipe for pumpkin chocolate chip cupcakes at …and a sprinkle of love. Going to test this one out.  I’ll let you  know the verdict, but they sound so freakin tasty!
  • Pets…..on iPads….nuff said. Cute Overload

Happy Weekend!!!

Control, or rather, the giving up of it

When your daughter becomes a teenager – or likely even before – you, as a mom, tend to look back on your own life, on those early relationships. If you’re like me, you hope and pray she avoids most, if not all, the disasters and pitfalls you seemed to find yourself in. As the Princess has been asking about dating, boys, and relationships, I’ve been revisiting all those old crushes, heartbreaks, train wrecks. I was a very insecure, very needy, very unsure girl. She is none of those, but still I worry.

In college, I dated two boys (in my mind, they don’t qualify as men at that stage of life for the most part, especially these boys) who managed to jack my life pretty severely. The first nearly destroyed every last shred of self-esteem. I don’t know who the girl was who let him in so completely, who let him take so much from her. I’m not the person anymore. While I’m not sure I would be who I am had I not lived that particular episode, I could live without the damage he wrought. It took me years to recover. When boy #2 came along, he seemed to be exactly what I needed, and I would have done anything to keep him. I’m not sure he knew that fact, but I know he liked passive, submissive, spineless, subservient me.

When I look back, I don’t blame him for who I became with him. I did it. I let it  happen. I gave up all control. I gave up myself. I spent all my time and energy trying to make and keep him happy. When I knew things weren’t going to be to his exact liking, I found myself forming pre-emptive arguments and apologies in my mind. I was terrified of failing, terrified he would see the worthless me behind it all, and leave. I lived and breathed to be the perfect girlfriend for him. For awhile, I was exactly that. He proposed. I was ecstatic. All my dreams realized, right? Not so much. The more control I gave, the more he took. I realized I hadn’t seen much of my family for months. We were too busy with his family. I didn’t have any real friends. He didn’t like me to hang out with anyone but him, or so he said. We ate where he wanted, saw the movies he preferred. My world grew smaller and smaller. Old friends tried talking to me about it. I shut them down. They didn’t understand how much he loved me. They were just  jealous of what we had. Why couldn’t they just support me in my happiness?

One day, I started talking with a boy who had been a good friend for a couple years. The boy had asked me point blank if I were happy. I looked at him incredulously, and flashed my ring in his face. He said to me, “You look happy, and you’re acting happy, but you don’t feel happy.” At that moment, my boy walked up. It wasn’t pretty from there. But the boy’s words stuck with me. They haunted me. I started listening to myself. I started listening to my boy. I didn’t like what I heard. I didn’t like what I saw in myself. I started pushing back, finding freedom from his control. He didn’t like it. We argued, fought, stewed. And on one tearful, fearful night a few months later, I told him it was over. It was scary to take that step, to veer from the path of a planned life especially with college graduation just a few short months away. But I felt I could breath when I told him to go.

I know why I had let myself become that person who gave all control of her life to another person. Looking back, I completely understand it. But I m thankful someone had the courage to wake me up and help me pull myself out of that place. I wasn’t immediately strong. It took time, and it took practice. When you are used to asking someone permission for everything you do, everywhere you go and when you go there, when you are used to someone telling you how to dress, who to talk to, who to be friends with, you are lost when it’s gone. But day by day, I slowly took back control of my life, and I grew stronger.

I have talked with Princess about this relationship. I hope it stays somewhere in the back of her mind. She’s a strong girl who knows her mind. I know how easy it is to lose that, or give it up for someone. It worries me what may come into her life as she continues to evolve and grow into a woman. I don’t see her going down this road, but then if you had shown me the person I would become during the time when I was thirteen, I never would have believed it either.