It seems everyone has a blog these days. Not that I'm giving in to the "norm." I just want to have a place that is mine. These are my thoughts, my opinions, my hopes, my dreams, my fears. I am a Daughter. I am a Wife. I am a Mother. But above all, I am a WOMAN.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Love & Romance: A Suggestion for Men

My husband wrote me a love letter.  He does that from time to time.  It's good that he doesn't too often, because it would not mean as much.  Usually, he is a man of few words.  Serious words anyway.  He's great at small talk, and he's a wonderful listener, but expressing his feelings isn't something he is apt to do very often.

It was a sweet letter.  I won't tell you the details because they are private.  But he made me cry.  Good tears.  The kind only women really understand.  The ones that stem from an overflow of love from the heart.  The ones that would say (if men could understand), "You have no idea how deeply you just touched me."  The ones that acknowledge that you just let us deep down inside you in that place you keep secret, and thank you for that gift.

Men should do this every so often to their lady love.  It doesn't have to be long, just heartfelt.  It doesn't have to be perfect, just perfectly yours.  Write letters to your wives, your girlfriends, your children -- daughters AND sons.  You never know when today might be your last day.  Give them words in print to let them know how much they mean to you.  On dark nights, those words will comfort.  When you have a fight (and you will) those letters will help ease the pain.

I had my husband write letters to our children for when they are grown.  Just in case we aren't here then.  They will have our hearts printed on paper.  They will have words to remind them of our love, our pride in them, our hopes for their future, our belief in them.

J. made me fall in love with him all over again.  Not that it is hard to do, but we both get so busy with Life, that sometimes we forget to remind the other just how special they are to us.  This reminder I can keep in my keepsake box (every girl has one, even if it's just a shoebox).  I can pull it out when he is traveling for business, or when we have a fight, and remember just what it is that I love about him and be reminded that he loves me, too.

It's easy to forget that.  Well, not so much forget as we need reassurance.  Women are very vulnerable creatures (or at least I am), and we need that reassurance.  We need to know that you still find us attractive (stretchmarks, extra pounds, and all); that you love us as much today as the day you married us; that you have no regrets; that you still want to be a part of our lives and have us a part of yours.

We aren't as tough as we would have you believe, or even as tough as we would like to believe.  Our hearts are still fragile.  We still need to be romanced.  We still need your attention.  We still need You.

So, when you have a few moments free, sit down and tell your lady love how you feel.  It's a little thing to do, but it will mean more than you can possibly know.  Be honest and open.  Write from the heart.  She will appreciate it, and love you even more.  Don't be scared off by the tears you may cause.  They really are good tears.  And I'm sure, after she has wiped her eyes, she'll tell you just how much you mean to her.

J. is my best friend and my lover.  He is my companion and my partner.  He is my husband and he means more to me than anyone else on earth other than our children.

I love him, too.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Real Men

Maybe the media is right.  I've rarely ever considered that idea, but the old saying about 100 monkeys with 100 typewriters in 100 years could produce Shakespeare comes to mind.  Maybe television is right.

I watched one of my favorite shows last night, Drop Dead Diva.  On it, the main character tried to get one of her friends to take out her love interest to cheer him up, and in the process "learn how to be more of a guy."  Her examples were asking him if he had ever changed a tire, knew anything about sports, etc.  His answer was "No" which was funny, but it made me think.  Other shows have brought up the same question to my mind.  What DOES it mean to "be a guy."

My husband reads a blog called The Art of Manliness.  This is actually a really cool blog.  It talks about how to sharpen a tools, good sportsmanship, how a man should decorate a room (A room, not a house), and even love.  He actually gives good advice (in my opinion).  I couldn't find the writer's name, but he seems devoted to turning males into "men."  Practical applications such as sharpening tools my husband still does, but I don't know many other men who do.  And love.  This is not a topic for which most men will even stay in the room to listen!  But this writer gives a .... well, "manly" view of how to keep real romantic love alive in a relationship.  I like him.

I remember growing up, a real MAN was tall, dark, rugged.  He could hold his wife with one arm while lifting the bumper of a car off the ground with the other.  He was debonair like James Bond.  He was rugged like a lumberjack.  He was charming like Rhett Butler.  He was sweet like Clark Kent.  He was strong like Superman.  He was smart, elegant, dashing, handsome, powerful, larger than life.  He looked just as comfortable in a tuxedo as he did in bluejeans.  Do you ladies remember him?  He was Sean Connery, Tom Selleck, Christopher Reeve, John Schneider, Lee Horsley.....I could go on, but those were my picks.  Who were yours?

But then I grew up.  I looked for other qualities in a man.  Oh, I still wanted those, but I also wanted humor, sensitivity, compassion.  I wanted a friend to listen to me at night.  I wanted a lover to sweep me off my feet one night, and seduce me the next.  I wanted a REAL man, not a real MAN.  I still wanted him perfect, of course, but I wanted him perfect for me.  And some qualities can be given up for others.  A man doesn't have to be dashing or debonair, if he's compassionate and understanding.  He doesn't have to be a perfect physical specimen of man if he is attractive to me.  He doesn't have to be powerful if he's strong enough to lead my family.  He doesn't have to be genius, as long as he's smart enough to have a conversation with me.

I didn't want Tim Taylor saying, "Arrr, Arr, Arr." {shudder}
I didn't want Tarzan beating his chest. {eyes rolling}
I didn't want Anthony DiNozzo. {no time for aging frat boys}

All in all, I think I got the whole package.  My husband is stubborn, polite, willful, funny, compassionate, understanding, hard headed, smart, dashing, handsome, a little overweight, elegant, tall, dark, handsome,and.......mine.  He's perfect for me.  He is a REAL MAN.  He's a gentleman and a country boy.  He's at home in dress shoes, boots, or barefoot.  He's responsible and playful.  And he takes care of me and our kids.

And he can change a tire.  :-)

I want our boys to be just like him.  And that is really the point, isn't it.

Friday, August 19, 2011

As a Mother & Step-Mother

First, as a Step-Mother.......

H. went home last weekend.  We drove her the entire 7 hours home.  It was a long road trip.  But with her laughing in the back seat, telling us stories, clearly excited to be going home, it was rather short.  Bittersweet, but short.  Then we got close to home.  She got quiet.  Very quiet.  Sad.  So did we.  The 7 hours back home were much longer. And quieter.  And more bitter, than sweet.  Even if DH and I got to spend 7 hours without hearing, "Mommy, he touched me."  "Mommy, are we there yet?"  "Mommy, when are we going to be there?"

The house, too, is quiet.  It's amazing how one less child (with 2 still in attendance, and boys, at that), can make a house feel so empty.  There is no more giggling 12-year-old girl doing a funny walk across our living room.  There is no girl with puppy-dog eyes saying, "Daaaaad, may I pleeeeeeeeeeease stay up until 10:30?"  There is no girl asking me to play archery with her on the Wii and beat her dad.  There is no girl.  And I miss her.  There seems to be an empty place in my heart now.  Even though she is just a few hours away, she feels gone.  Even though I talk to her every night, she feels gone.  I feel her gone.  And I miss her.  I almost feel like a kid again wanting to know "When is Christmas going to be here?" because SHE will be back then.  And then I won't miss her.

Second, As a Mother.......

All of you parents are familiar with school color charts.  They all vary some, but in essence, Green is Good; Yellow, not-so-much (or "just a little bad" as M likes to say); and Red is REALLY going-to-get-a-spanking Bad.

Usually, M is my little Martian.  He stays on green.  He's sweet, lovable, mischievous, but he stays on green.  Not this week.  So far, we've had Red, Yellow, Green, Red/Green (Red in the morning, Green in the afternoon because his teacher is too sweet and took pity on him), and today.....well, today, I'm scared to ask.  All colors (other than green) are for being defiant and back talking his teacher.  He acts up, she calls him down, he say, "So?"  Why?  I asked him.  He said, "I like saying 'so.' " Huh?  Where did my little Green Martian go?  Could he be 7 hours North (see above) with H?  Is that what is prompting this bad behavior?  I hope so.  And I hope my little Green Martian will come home soon.  I miss him, too.  And I know his pre-school teacher misses him, too.

Z, is a different story.  He's more like Jekyll and Hyde lately.  And, no, it can't be teenage hormones because he's only 7.  We've seen Red, Orange, Yellow, Orange this week.  I cannot text his teacher and ask about his behavior.  Not that I really want to do that.  With his track record this week, I'm thinking I really don't want to know.  He has gotten spankings 4 days this week.  We took away all electronics -- Wii, DS, computer, everything except his TV which his little brother shares.  (It wouldn't have been fair to M to take away the TV.)  We've begged, pleaded, yelled (I regret the yelling), bribed, threatened......nothing is working.  I would say that his problems began with his sister's return home, but we had the same problems during the ENTIRE 1st GRADE.  Making noises (humming, tapping), not listening, consistent disobedience, playing in the bathroom (really? the bathroom?  can't you find a better place to play, son?), not following directions.  It's like Z is in his own little world, and will only open the door if he likes what his teacher is saying.  If not, oh, well.  Z seems to think if he ignores her long enough, she'll disappear.  Not happening.

Z is a smart kid.  I mean REALLY smart.  And usually well-mannered, polite, sweet.  A regular Dr. Jekyll.  Except at school.  Then Mr. Hyde comes out.  Loud, obnoxious, stubborn, rude, brat.  His dad and I are almost at our wit's end.  We hoped that the Talented & Gifted program he is in this year (see?  I told you he was smart!) would help with the behavior.  We hoped that Cub Scouts would help with the behavior.  We're still hoping.  And praying.  And begging, threatening, bribing, etc.  I don't like Mr. Hyde.  I want to evict him from my house.  Now.

So, that's my life lately.  Full little roller coaster, isn't it?  That's why this post is a day late (and I know you all waited anxiously with bated breath yesterday wondering why it wasn't appearing!  Yeah, right!).  We've had happiness, sadness, anxiety, anger, disappointment, confusion.  I'm tired of the roller coaster.  I WANT OFF!!!   I want my little Green Martian back.  I want Dr. Jekyll back.  I want H.  back.  I want all of my kids (even the one I just get to borrow) back at my house.  Under one roof.

So, if any of you wonderful friends and readers have any ideas on how to accomplish any / all of the above, then I await your suggestions, answers, and comments with hope and prayers.  Thank you all for listening to me rant.  Thank you for letting me borrow your shoulders on which to shed a few tears.  Thank you for just being there as once again, I lose my composure over my children.  Thank you for being my friends.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Teaching Children

As I'm sure I've posted before, manners are important to me.  I was raised to show respect and behave with manners in all situations.  You say "sir" and "ma'am" and "please," "thank you," and "excuse me."  You ALWAYS, and I mean ALWAYS address people with respect.  My husband and I are doing our best to instill this in our children.  They have lapses:  responding with "what?" when called; answering "yeah" when asked a question; but generally, they behave well -- especially when they are AWAY from us.

(Why do kids behave better away from parents?  But, if they are going to act up, I would rather it be with me, than with other people!  Anyway, I stray)

Which is why I was stunned when Z came home from school yesterday on Orange for being "disrespectful to another teacher."  What?  Z?  Oh, no!  I never did get the details, but I know he disobeyed a teacher, and continued to ignore instructions from said teacher.  Now I cannot allow this behavior.

Z got four licks with the paint stick.  Good licks.  Attention-getting licks.  I also made him write sentences since he said he didn't know the teacher's name and couldn't write an apology letter.  (He disrespected a teacher he doesn't even know?!?!?  The news just gets worse!)  I told him to write "I'm sorry I was disrespectful to you." on every other line of the front page of a piece of paper.  (The funny part is he evidently didn't know what "every other" meant, so he wrote the sentence down two-thirds of the page, but that's okay with me.  It helped send the message home. )  I also told him if he saw that teacher today, to apologize to her in person.  Maybe a little humility will help, too.

And then I wrote a note to his teacher detailing his punishment.  I want to make sure she know that this behavior will NOT be tolerated.  Not by me or my husband.  He is taught better.  He knows better.

All of the above was fine, right?  Necessary, right?  I am responsible for teaching my children right from wrong.  I am responsible for doling out punishment when they misbehave so that they know their actions have consequences.  Rewards and Punishments are part of teaching.  Right?

So why did I spend the next two hours trying not to cry because I had to spank my child?  Why did it upset me so much?  Part of it was disappointment, I know.  I thought we were past this part with Z.  I thought he had already learned this lesson.  Actually, I know he has.  So why did he behave so badly?  Why was he disrespectful toward an adult?  A teacher?  And why did I fight back tears?  I guess because I don't like punishing him.  He is a good boy.  He is a fine young man.  Most of the time.

Well, he got his reminder to behave himself, be polite, show respect.  And Mom got a reminder on what it's like to punish the kids since Dad's out of town and he normally does that.  I didn't much like it.  But I'm pretty sure Z didn't like it much either.  So we both learned something.  At least, I did.  I hope Z did, because I really don't want to do that again.

*sigh* Being a responsible parent really stinks sometimes!

Friday, August 5, 2011

As a Daughter.....

Family is important.  They are the first ones that love you, and the ones that stay beside you through life.  They're behind you when you need holding up, they're in front of you when you need to be led.  They are there at the beginning and at the end, though some faces might have changed through time.  Family is important.  At least they are supposed to be.

My mother isn't in the best of health.  Details are irrelevant, but it will suffice to say there is a lot she can no longer do.  She has to rely on others.  That should be me.  I help her change the sheets on her bed, I help her move furniture, I help her do anything she asks.  And therein lies the problem.  She shouldn't have to ask.  I should visit her more often and see what needs to be done.  I should do more than just call regularly.  She doesn't always like to admit when she needs help.  She doesn't always tell the truth when I ask her how she's feeling.  I should see for myself.

My father lives too far away.  His house is almost an hour from me.  We could meet in the middle.  But we don't.  We could get together for lunch more often.  But we don't.  We could make a point of visiting him more often.  But we don't.

Life gets in the way.  I work.  I have small children.  I have a never-ending list of chores to be done at home, such as laundry, dishes, etc.  I have to help with homework (and make sure it's even done).  Weekends are usually devoted to housecleaning and laundry that is let go during the week.  It's hard to visit.  It's hard to check on my parents.

I should do more, but I don't.  I feel guilty, but that doesn't help.  I make excuses to myself.  I'm too busy right now.  She could ask for help more.  He could come visit us.  But in the end, that's all they are:  Excuses.  I can't control them.  I can control me.  I can control my own decisions and my own priorities.  I need to change what I can.  I need to be a better daughter.  I will try.