Friday, January 30, 2015

Another Teenager--And Rules For A Successful Sleepover

I'm not quite sure what Hubby and I were thinking when we grew our family to include so many children, so close in age.  We will soon have FIVE teenagers in the house.  We never lack for teenage drama (as shown in my last post). 
And our Vu is now a teenager!  With a phone to prove it. 
Sidenote: he did not use his phone for several days and eventually informed us he did not know how to use such an antique phone!
But I also love the teen years!  And one great plus is that slumber parties become much easier.
Then again, I've learned a thing or two about how to have an easy-peasy slumber party.  There are a certain number of rules to follow in order to have a pain-free slumber party that just might include slumber.
  • Rule #1  Always have the party on Friday night because then you know all the kids were up bright and early and kept busy all day
  • Rule #2  Take them all swimming for 2 hours  (Rule #1 + Rule #2 = Tired Kids Guaranteed!)
  • Rule #3  Buy only caffeine-free drinks (and even then I'm tempted to add Benadryl!)
  • Rule #4  Provide lots of pizza and ice cream and junk food
  • Rule #5  Provide lots of video games
  • Rule #6  When it's time for lights-out, strategically try to have the kids somewhat separated in the bedroom or family room. You can accomplish this by moving/arranging furniture before the party (so the kids won't all be able to put their sleeping bags right together) 
  • Rule #7  Have the parents take their kids home at 9:30 the next morning
Vu would also say that Rule #8 is to invite people at the last minute (my specialty!) so they will give money as gifts.  Because teenagers like money.  He adds that one can only hope their friends do not have mothers (like his own) that have a go-to-last-minute-gift-closet of lame gifts.  Yes he said that.  And I am so glad I am teaching my son the true meaning of gift-giving and receiving!  (And for the record not all those gifts in my go-to closet are lame!)
Notice Vu's man purse?  Yes, that is a Tupperware container and yes, he packs that to the store to spend his money.  Apparently it can double as a hat!
And I have learned a new rule for taking my child to a sleepover.  Take them with nothing.  I mean nothing except the clothes on their backs.  A friend taught me this.  She says she finally learned that allowing her kids to haul a bunch of stuff to a sleepover just means they will leave a bunch of stuff behind.  As she says, "I used to pack a change of clothes and toothbrush and finally realized I was dreaming!  They never changed their clothes and never brushed their teeth, so now I just drop 'em off and pick 'em up!"  Easy-peasy!  I agree!
Happy Birthday Vu!  Your name means "the bringer of light" and it fits you perfectly!  I love your smiles, hugs, insightfulness, and kind heart.  May 13 be a great year! 

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Driving Drama and Trauma

Do you have teens?  Young adults? 

Do they drive?  Do you drive?

Do you have a child who will be driving soon?

Do you hang around anyone who drives, has teen drivers, pays insurance, or lives near any type of road or sidewalk?

If so, do not read this post.  I repeat.  Do not read this post. 

It contains graphic images that might be extremely disturbing.

2014 wasn't our best year for many reasons.  There were multiple types of trauma occurring in our household including:


#4  Photo not available. 

And #4 actually happened in 2013, but I'm complaining, and when I'm complaining it is fun to keep adding on.

#1 and #2 occurred 2 weeks apart.  Uh-huh. 

And while #2 may not look that bad, the door can no longer be opened from the outside.  And the window spent several weeks stuck in the "down" position.  (Did I mention we live in one of the rainiest parts of the US?)  Lucky for my kids, someone who really loves them fixed the window for free!

And yes, #1 was as bad as it looks.  You might notice the picture was taken in the junk yard.  Nuf said. 
Thankfully, nobody was seriously hurt in any of the accidents!

I should also add (as long as I'm ranting) that 2014 memories included multiple flat tires, dead batteries, cars dying on the side of the freeway, and a plethora of car repairs. 
In fact, we no longer own THE LEMON.
It was cute, but it was a repair nightmare!!!

It was also the end of an era.  The Big Blue Beast was sold.  Yes, SOLD! 
To a church.  Yes, The Beast (aka The Monster, The Momster and The Shaggin' Wagon) will spend its golden years where it yearned to be from day one--as a church youth-group van! 

The church never needs to know that the van was once used by heavily perspiring football players, crazy celebrating seniors, and streaking teenagers!  Right?  Good times. 
And if we can get through 2015 without a car accident.  I will be very, very happy! 
Whose idea was it to have so many teenagers all at once?! Sheesh! 

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Trauma And Staying In The Moment

There are several bloggers I enjoy.  One is Nancy at Ordinary Miracles.  Nancy writes about how from the outside we can all look so perfect, but in reality we are all imperfect parents with challenges we often don't want to talk about or can't, because we want to protect our child's privacy.  Her post is a great read.
I find so often I really can't share the challenges that are happening in our lives.  And we all have stuff.  But I hope I never come across as a person who has it all together and is living the perfect life.  I do try to write about the challenging parts that can be generalized and shared--but it's tricky.  Protecting privacy is such an important part of our personal life and values. 
What I can say as far as some of our recent challenges is that sometimes past trauma comes out in the most unexpected ways at the most unexpected times.  There can be years between trauma and the outpouring of distress and emotion that is intertwined with it.  Memories can come flooding back--and once the cork is out, it can be hard to get back in!  Finding an excellent trauma counselor was imperative; I feel incredibly grateful for ours. 
Personally, I found one of my greatest obstacles was fear--especially when I started looking into the future and imagining all the terrible things that could happen!  As I wrote in a previous post, I had to learn to let go of my fear and, instead, trust--again and again.  And again.
One of my best tools was forcing myself to stay in the moment.  See the positives.  See the joy.  See God.  Get through that day, that hour.  Truly trust that God is ultimately in control and all I can do is keep smiling, keep loving, keep finding resources, keep supporting those around me--keep on keeping on.
It gave me great joy to have so many family members together at Thanksgiving

I'll have more posts coming up around trauma, including sharing some of the resources I found most helpful.  I also think I'm ready to delve into some of the trauma that surrounded the loss of our son in 2007.  It's always bits and pieces for me--because of the importance of also staying in the moment in order to celebrate life!  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Resetting The Savings

Today we start our "30 Days of Something Different" challenge.  We've done it before and it's a great way to recharge the checking account after Christmas, along with getting back into the mindset of living with less/saving/finding creative ways to make-do.  Sometimes I feel like our expenses (especially food, education, and medical) are so high that saving a dollar feels meaningless.  I want to get out of that mode.  And convenience is too often the king. 
We were originally going for 60 days, but chickened out and decided to start with 30, then go from there.  For the next 30 days we won't spend any money that isn't absolutely necessary (or already earmarked, such as for tutoring and speech).  I filled up the car and will stretch it as far as possible.  I'll clean out the freezer and use up those items that get pushed back on the shelves. 
Anyone want to come over for some interesting dinners? 
I am seriously looking forward to working with Patrick on the activities in this book--Backyard Ballistics.  It teaches important life skills such as creating potato cannons, fire kites, and dynamite devices.  Just doing my part to create the next unabomber! 
Creativity will reign supreme.  Ready?  Set?  Go!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Christmas Photorama

Christmas Break is nearly over.  We've had some good times and great memories.  I'm sad to see it go, although I'm glad 2014 is over--out with the old and in with the new!  Hoping for a plain old BORING and DULL 2015! Ha! 
Several of my kids wanted FOOD for Christmas!  Yes, FOOD (meaning junk food!) 
And I got an awesome gift!  Can't wait to hatch my little pig!
We went on our first family trip since last summer to my sister's cabin.  This was the best gift!  Eight people in a car for seven hours is a true gift! (Did I ever mention we no longer own my beloved Big Blue Beast?  And the kids have grown a lot since our Pilot trip of 2012!)
There is always so much fun and the cousins play and play (sometimes side-by-side on electronics!).  There is time for reading, crafts, puzzles, and conversation.  The Chinese lanterns are magical!
And did I mention there is snow?  And snow is the-bomb-dot-com!
And we end with lots of goodbye hugs.  Until next year! 
Goodbye Christmas!  Goodbye 2014!