Category Archives: Teens

Letter to #2 as he leaves for college

Happy Birthday Son:

It’s hard to believe you’re celebrating your birthday away from us. Your birth was the most calming and beautiful I experienced. When people saw you they said out loud “he’s perfect”. From day one I embraced you as my sidekick. You’ve proven you are unique and strong enough to follow your own path. You’ve stayed the same and yet changed so much. That little boy who talked to me about heaven and said: “My heaven will be inside” is now literally jumping out of the house to kayak and climb mountains. Trust me, I didn’t see that coming.

That little boy who was so angry at the day care for not allowing him to be in the “big boy room” with his brother and was subsequently pegged as “angry” is still fighting when he feels there is an injustice. That young man who told me “Mom you have to do something” when he saw the need to help his friends is now making every effort to help others, when and where he is needed. That young man who was defeated during his first year in High School by careless words said by careless adults graduated with a close to 4.0 average (was it 3.93?) and got exactly where he was meant to be.

You know when Jake left I wrote him a letter focusing on the philosophies I wanted him to embrace in life. I don’t need to write those things to you. Seems to me we routinely talk about them. I’ve had the best time sharing and exploring your beliefs and thoughts; because you listened to mine as well and made me feel that you valued the time we shared. Watching how you’ve grown over the years and how your initial observations matured and cemented into your core beliefs has been remarkable for me. I’ve watched a man mature in word and deed

Still, because I’m the mom, I must impart a few thoughts.

Make mistakes – but for goodness’ sake learn from them. There is no failure if there is learning and growth—PERIOD.

You’ll continue to grow and your opinions will change and grow as well. Your strength will be in your ability to awaken people to the benefits of your thoughts. You cannot force them. You CAN inspire them.

Stress is the best and worst thing you can experience. It is good when it motivates you and bad when it rules you. Figure out a way to manage it that works for you. Breathe, walk, listen to music, MAKE LISTS to help you manage your tasks and remember WE can and will carry ANYTHING you might find too heavy to on your own.

You WILL land where you are supposed to land. Making an adjustment in course is what we do to keep the wind moving us forward. Don’t ever think you are failing if you are moving forward. We believe in you, we trust you and we will help you. You are NEVER alone.

Guard your heart. You have a special tenderness and vulnerability that others may exploit in a way that hurts you. Be thoughtful and brave in all things but especially in matters of the heart. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Love is best recognized during the hard times as opposed to the good times.

Nothing you can buy will be as cool as something you can experience and feel. Put your effort toward experiences and capture them with your photography talents. “The business of life is making memories.” Think the “Fun Fund”.

Despite what everyone says – “You can come home”. Home is a place in your heart where you know you are emotionally safe. You were given a great gift that not everyone has; the gift of unbridled love and support by your family. You have and will continue to meet men and women who have struggled to feel the support you have as your foundation. Don’t take that for granted. Build on it in a way that helps you reach higher and stronger every day. You will never be alone when your family is with you…and we will always be with you.

I love you. Your dad and I are SO proud of who you are and are thrilled with your strength to be you. Go out and make a difference with your words and deeds in a way that when you leave a place, people will know “Sammy was here.”

Have a great year my son.

Love

mom

 

 

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What’s for dinner? (Blog and Recipe)

Typical Day with four teenage boys and a somewhat passive aggressive mom:
0700– Someone in the house ask you “What’s for dinner”. Say you don’t know and wait for the next 4 people you meet to ask you.
1000 – Nonchalantly get up and look at what’s in the freezer and see you have some boneless chicken thighs.
1200 – Next time someone asks “What’s for dinner” say “chicken”.

When they say how are you going to make it? Say you don’t know .

Listen to them ramble on about what they personally want and why you should make that particular dish. Explain patiently that different folks in the house don’t LIKE what they want and then say you’re only cooking one dish.

Listen as they relentlessly plead their case about how the others in the household don’t matter.
Approximately 1500 -Watch now, as they circle the kitchen more deliberately, but separately, getting really concerned about the dinner situation.

(Fun thing for mom): Send them on little goose chases – “Well do we have buns?” (that might mean friend chick-fil-a type sandwiches.

“No buns”.

“Hmmm…do we have charcoal?” (that might mean teriyaki grilled chicken thighs.

“Nope not enough.”…then shake your head in dismay and act as if you have NO IDEA what to do then.
1600 – Ask who is doing what in terms of evening activities to figure out the timelines you’ll be cooking.
“Well dad and Dan have practice at 6.”
1602-1645 – Listen to them moan about not being able to wait until Dad and Dan get home and how you really HAVE TO COOK SOMETHING OR THEY WILL DIE!
1800 – commence to cut up the chicken thighs and watch as they all settle down cause they know SOMETHING is coming soon.
1810 – cut some bread and put it out (see 6:16 entry).
1815 – stand by as they start to get aroused by the aromas and they begin to move out of their rooms to circle you.

Caution them as they try to reach their hands into the boiling hot pans ONCE AGAIN and tell them things in hot pans ARE HOT (ONCE AGAIN) and they must take care not to burn themselves.
1816 –  After the first one yells because he’s burned, direct them all to the bread.

1830 – Tell them they can get food but caution them that Dad and Dan still have to eat.

1833 – Tell them yes they can get seconds but they can’t divide what’s left into 5. Dad and Dan deserve a full serving. They may get a second SMALLER serving. (Explain that a couple of times as they protest about “snoozing and loosing” yada yada.)
1845 – Sit and finish your drink just smiling cause you know your dinner (or at least the passive aggressive build up) was on time and on target!
1850 – Sit at your computer with a second glass of wine and reflect on how freaking lucky you are!

1855 –  Say “Yes you can be excused” and smile as they get up and start to clean the kitchen without being asked!!!!

They are satiated beasts at this point and will be relaxed and somewhat slowed in their next few movements.
2200 – Go to bed cause it is all going to happen again tomorrow and you need your strength!
Recipe – “What’s for Dinner Pasta”
Boneless chicken thighs salted and peppered on both sides
Cut boneless chicken thighs up into small pieces and cook in a pan in hot evoo. Drain and put in a holding pan. (Don’t move them around too much on each side. Let them brown-hard to do cause you worry they’ll burn so get on Facebook work something for about 4-5 minutes per side).
Start pasta water BUT DON’T PUT THE PASTA IN YET. Wait until you’ve melted the butter for the sauce (follows).
Sauce:
Same pan you cooked the chicken in. Leave the brown bits (that’s flavor baby) but get rid of the excess fat.
Melt 1 to 1.25 sticks of butter. Keep the flame LOW so it doesn’t burn.
Add either three diced garlic cloves or in a crunch put in about a tablespoon of garlic powder.
After that melts SLOWLY and is bubbly add in about 2 tablespoons of cream cheese.
Once that is melted and smooth add 1/4 cup of whatever spaghetti sauce you like.
Keep mixing. By now you should have had the pasta in the boiling water.
To the sauce ingredients add either a 1/4 cup of diced basil or about 2 tablespoons of the tubed basil you buy in the store. Sorry I like that for sauces cause it dissolves.
Add 1 tsp of red pepper flakes.
Keep mixing.
Add the cooked Angel hair pasta and some pasta water cause the pasta will soak up all the sauce…and you want it a bit saucy.
Once it is all combined and “stewed” for a couple minutes…throw the cooked chicken on top and tell the heathens it is ready to eat.

Another gift from mom

I used to love the smell of my mom’s perfume. It made me feel safe and warm and was the hello to my day when I hugged her.

Since the boys were little I’ve made sure to spray my perfume on the blankets I tucked into bed with them, or the little stuffed animals I left with them when I had to deploy or leave for a few days. When my oldest left for college I sprayed some of my perfume on a new washcloth and put it in a baggie. I tucked it in his “to go” box.

I’m not sure if he’s ever reached over to open it but it made me feel good to know he could if he wanted to. I’m picking him up from Union Station today and after a long week of GSmarts presentations that had me leaving the house at 0700 and not getting home till 7:30 at night I was just going to throw on some sweats and head up. Then I thought about my mom.

Here it is 0621 and I’m sitting showered, dressed and perfumed getting ready to pick him up. That first hug is important…I hope to him as well.

“Why Me” (A Thanksgiving Reminder)”

“Sometimes I lie awake at night and I ask, “Why me?”, then a voice answers “Nothing personal, your name just happened to come up.”
Charlie Brown

We all get overwhelmed. We go to places that make us wonder what we’ve done to bring such challenges to our lives and question how in the world we’re supposed to cope when so many things are going wrong. The voice that tells you “Nothing personal…” is only slightly satisfying. I really believe you, and me, and everyone else; we need to look at the things in our lives that ARE working and that are, in fact, going better than we could ever have hoped for. When those things come to mind, we need to be just as diligent and ask:

“Why Me?”

When we are facing a challenge and friends rush to our sides to assist us:

“Why Me?”

When we suffer a serious accident, and somehow survive:

“Why Me?”

When we have a child who is struggling with school, and we have teachers who join with us to assist in moving them to success:

“Why Me?”

If we focus solely on the things that are challenges, we just don’t realize how each day brings positives we will miss when our head is down and shaking in dismay. We miss our opportunities to be thankful for today. I am not a Pollyanna, I have suffered many hardships in my life. As I’ve grown through them I’ve come to realize they were a gift that brought focus to the good times in my life. They provided clarity to my thoughts about “the routine” and sharp edges to what is really hard and what is just nonsense. They’ve helped me put into perspective how fleeting time really is.

Now when my sons, rush off the bus, jackets flying and backpacks bumping up and down; when they rush up the driveway in a full out race, laughing and fussing about cheating and head starts; all the time with their eyes smiling. I’ve come to understand that I am witness to the morning of their lives. That’s when I ask:

“Why Me?”

and that’s when I say thank you for all the moments that have shaped me and brought me to this place.

At Thanksgiving especially – look around at your place in this world and ask

“Why Me?”

It’s sometimes overwhelming when we realize just how lucky we are.

Happy Thanksgiving from our family to yours.

A letter to my oldest son

My oldest left today for college. One of the boys has a raging fever so I stayed home. Pretty tough to do that but I packed him a surprise box. Sharing the letter I put in there.

You know me…blah, blah…but when I write things I feel like I’m getting them out of me. So read if you care to and drive on if you don’t. This pretty much sums up how I see life…

My dear son:
Today you begin to step away from us. As your dad and I fade into the background of your life I want to tell you what a privilege it’s been to have you as our son. You’ve brought such joy to us in so many ways. Your spirit, your dedication, your integrity; all of that adds up to a future of such potential and such promise for you. A few things I want to impart in black and white because I think they are incredibly important for you to remember:
• People are basically good. That doesn’t mean all of them are but most of them are good. A leader’s strength, I think, is being able to find the goodness and bring it out to shine. If you can do that even when it’s hard you will find the best of what people have to offer.
• There is no finish line in life. Have goals but don’t think of them as the “be all” of what you do. Along the way toward succeeding you have to enjoy the experiences you have, as it will become a part of that success. If you are constantly pushing for the next ending, you’ll end up missing some pretty fantastic beginnings and durings.
• You have lived a life of privilege. That doesn’t mean you have been coddled or that you haven’t done your share when it comes to helping. It means you’ve never had to worry about whether you will be fed, cared for and supported. That is an incredible gift. To honor that gift I ask that you remember to be charitable in word and deed. The only time you should look down at someone is when you are extending a hand to help him or her up. You are young, strong and smart. You can change someone’s life with quiet support. Be someone’s hero. The world certainly needs more of those.
• Keep yourself open to new things but don’t be flippant about the fragility of life and limb. Take care of your body and test its limits. Take chances but I don’t ever want you to risk your health for a dare or a fool hearty adventure. People do exciting things all the time. When you want to do something outside of your experience base – go for it. But research it, find someone who KNOWS how to do it and then learn, practice and step forward with confidence. The best way to arm yourself for success is through knowledge.
• Respect women. This is a big one for me and there will be times that you’ll find women who don’t respect themselves. It is rare that you can change someone with love, so choose wisely as to whom you give your heart. If you find that “love” is causing you to compromise your other values; then examine it closely. Love is when your values align and you can see yourself working hard for the rest of your life to stay with that person. Falling in love is easy. You can fall in love with anyone. Find someone worthy of your love and then put in the work that defines a loving relationship. If someone is worth that effort over and over again, then you are on the right track.
• Never forget son, that YOU are loved for who you are right now. With all your goodness and all of your foibles, you are loved. Rest assured that you are not alone in any challenge you undertake. Our family is strong and regardless of the back and forth squabbles we have at times, we are all here for you as you need support. Don’t give up on the big stuff and don’t sweat the small stuff. Nobody’s shooting at you so it’s going to be okay.
You have been ready for this since you were 2 years old son. Even that young you were ready to run out into the rain and do what needed to be done. Of all my sons, you enjoy the exhilaration of life and living. It makes me happy to see that in you. Run in the rain, dance in the rain, look up to the sky in the rain and laugh as the drops splash against your cheeks. You can withstand any storm. Enjoy the sound of the thunder and when the lightning flashes, let the smile on your face reflect in the light. You will do extraordinary things.
Your dad and I will be there at every turn possible to embrace your successes, support your learning when you make mistakes and provide you a soft place to land when you need it. Home is more than a word, a house, a state or an address. It’s a place in your heart that makes you feel safe and secure.
You got this son and if you need us for anything; we got you too.
Mom

The Crime Scene of Teenage Boys

Left-Hand

 

I went around today cleaning fingerprints off the walls:

By the pantry wall – because one cannot just walk in; one must SWING one’s body in with ones hand clasped on the outside of the wall while fussing “I AM STARVING”.

On the refrigerator door (both of them at different times) because when staring into one side you must lovingly caress the other door with your greasy fingers still wet from the LAST time you were in the door.

On the light switches – but only the “on” side because the “off” side is never touched.

On the lower hanging wall between the kitchen and the hallway. It’s the one I need a step stool for but they can FINALLY reach for the first time so they must go through the door each time slapping that particular piece of plaster and wood. They eventually tire of that  ritual but about then another brother is tall enough to reach it.

I’ll leave the ones on the ceiling-would have to get the ladder for those and I kind of like seeing them. Only three fingers, but such a great personal accomplishment for kids who used to have to stand on their tippy toes to reach the sink. Glad the thrill comes so easily in a house full of teenagers.

Oh…and the windows; higher and higher on the windows each year. But it is nice that they still come running to look out when my truck pulls up. I think I’ll leave those too. They make me feel loved. Even if it is for my take out bag full of Chick-fil-a.

Probably should have saved this for my Christmas letter but then this moment would have passed without me capturing it. It’s the most wonderful time don’t you think?

Social Experiment

Day 40 of the social experiment “living with 4 teenage boys”. I find it necessary to share that the situation is dire. Food stores are leaving the house faster than my own ability to replenish them despite having two drivers routinely entering and exiting the resupply cache. I seem to be running through toilet paper much more quickly than usual. I must add to my log, if I don’t make it from this place, that mandatory training on how to change the toilet paper from the rack AND how to fill the toilet paper receptacle will be the saving grace in all future preparations for these type experiments. Too often I have found myself in the perilous position of yelling for immediate assistance when I’ve become trapped in “the room of bodily cleansing” without the proper supplies. I know I’ve put this requirement into the manual but I can only surmise it has been lost with reprints. The constant whine of the men “We’re so bored” met with my queries as to “well do you want to go on a hike?” ONLY to hear their frustrations grow to a high pitched “NO WAY—WE HATE IT OUTSIDE”. I don’t know where I’ve gone wrong but will continue this log in an attempt that no others should have to face the angst I deal with now. My only recourse is to continue to abuse my liver with the substance made by the other mothers before me who willingly poured toxins into their bodies and thus restrain themselves from committing terrible crimes against humanity. I must close this entry now, as they are awakening and beginning their morning rumble down the stairs into the galley. If there is a higher being out there; I pray he or she show pity on those of us caught in this situation. We have done nothing to deserve such torment and yet we realize it is our duty to suffer forward.
Mother’s Log
7.23.14