Thursday, December 20, 2012

It's only a failure if you let it be

Finals have ended and grades are in.  The semester is over and there is nothing left to stress over, right?

I wish.  

I am disappointed I did not receive the grades I wanted, especially with all the work I put in, but my husband has a great way of always putting things into perspective for me.

"You passed. Concentrate on what's coming next."

He's a man of few words.  So I'm taking his advice (for once) and looking at all the things I was able to accomplish this last semester.

I learned that five classes is too big a load for me to carry, and four is my limit.  Four is how many classes I signed up for next semester, and one is a de-stressing class.  Power yoga anyone? Yeah, that's going to kick my butt!

I rocked my speech class, which I never expected.  I enjoyed and understood astronomy and economics more than I thought I would.  I kept trying to understand my math class, though my professors comments sometimes made me want to quit, and I am ready to try again with someone new.  I have a support system in place to help me pass with a transferable grade this time.

I grew as a journalist.  I joined the paper as a way to challenge myself to write in a different style. And what a challenge!  I was sucked in immediately and somehow became the Editor-in-Chief.  And though some deadlines were not reached and had to be pushed back, I am proud of what we were able to produce and now have a plan of action to not be so last minute.  Even though I will admit, that last minute stress is a major high.

I became more involved in campus life, which was not in my plans when I returned to college. All of a sudden I have a better understanding of what the Student Government does (sometimes), how the college makes decisions, and how Student Life activities come about.  

Most importantly, I learned that when you're the boss, you have to stay late to get stuff done, and sometimes that is killer.  Midnight is a cake-walk when other deadlines have become overnights.

So even though I got a D in my math class, it's not a failure, it's a learning experience.  While I let that class stress me out ALL semester, I am moving on to understanding what I was unable to grasp the first time around.  

And that stress? I would make a New Year's resolution to combat it, but then I wouldn't, so let's just say that I have a plan to take care of it.  To the best of my ability anyway.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let's Talk

There’s not much I can say that others have not already said.  What happened in Newtown, Connecticut is becoming way too common.  And I don’t have an answer to offer as to how to put a stop to such senseless death.

The only things I can do are comfort and reassure my own children.  

My daughter, the fearless leader, has a plan on what to do for her survival: hide.  She is small enough to fit many places and can keep quiet, she said.  

My son, on the other hand, did not want to go back to school.  While parents around the country were holding their children close in gratitude, I did not have to – my son was hanging on me and would not let go.  

It should not take a tragedy to bring families together.  We all have busy lives that include work, school, and extracurricular activities.  

Something as little as having dinner together with conversation brings people together.  My family makes a point to eat around the table when we are home together. 

We also have mandatory family fun scheduled known as FFT: Forced Family Time.  It is not as bad as it sounds; it is named so that there is no wiggle room for a way out.  We watch a movie, play a board game, or go for a walk.  Most importantly, we talk.

Instead of running around stressed, take the time to rest and relax.  Get things out in the open instead of holding them in.  I don’t punish my children for saying what they feel, I just encourage healthier and acceptable ways of releasing their anger.

I don’t pretend to know what was going through the shooter’s mind, but I can tell you those kids were scared.  I hope the survivors are afforded the ability to grieve and work thorough their emotions in private.  I hope reporters remember that.

Those kids have already been through enough, don’t you think?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

November Thanks

So, because this is fun (and I’m up), I’m going to participate in the I’m thankful for month of November.  No way am I doing this one day at a time!  Here goes all 30 days.  I am thankful for:

1.       My family. Duh. They love me this much (you can’t see me holding out my arms).

2.       My dog, Griffin.  He NEVER judges me.

3.       Coffee.  Without my father’s introduction to this life saving beverage, I would not have made it this far in life.  The fact that he taught me to drink it black has saved me more than once.

4.       My cat, Waffles, because she was a scaredy-cat when she was adopted and now she’s not.  Makes me feel like a cat-whisperer that I single-handedly made her feel loved.  Okay, maybe everyone in my household helped out…

5.       Dr. Seuss.  He made rhyming and weirdness not only acceptable, but cool.

6.       Dooney & Bourke, for making fabulous purses.

7.       Elephants.  I like them.

8.       Books.  Goodness knows where I would be without the land of make-believe.  Institutionalized?

9.       Words.  Specifically, writing them.  When they are placed in good form, it is amazing what can be created.

10.   The sun, when it works, is awesome.

11.   Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Ice Cream.  Holy heaven in a pint!

12.   Nature.  Even though I am allergic to everything on the planet, it is still nice to walk through the forest and see trees, hear birds, and smell dirt. Quite serene and relaxing.

13.   SpongeBob Squarepants.  The show makes me LOL, and I love singing silly songs.

14.   My husband’s cooking ability.  Without his skill, my family would starve.

15.   Friends, the real kind.  The ones that I have sloppily cried on and left mucus-stained tracks on their shoulders.  The ones I have angrily yelled at and wanted to kill.  The ones that ignore my defenses and keep coming back for more me.  The imaginary ones…just kidding!  They’re real, I swear.  Love you all! 

16.   Helium filled balloons.  Because you can suck up the helium and sound funny.  Even though you’re not supposed to do it…

17.   Maple syrup.  Not that imitation crap, but the stuff that comes from trees.

18.   The BBC.  I would not have known The Doctor had it not been for them, and what kind of existence would that be?

19.   My parents, for coming to America.  I would not have been able to do a lot of the things I do had it not been for their determination to make the trek up north. 

20.   Medication, for helping my body correct deficiencies that enable me to live life.  Science is pretty damn incredible.

21.   Smartphones.  It’s pretty cool having the power of the internet at the tip of your fingertips.

22.   All my working body parts.  I like walking, talking, tasting, smelling, feeling, seeing – I’d hate to lose any of those things.

23.   Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera.  Best.  Musical. EVER.

24.   Emotions.  As much as I may complain about crying at stupid touchy-feely commercials, I’d much rather be a person who feels than one who doesn’t give two-cents about a human being.

25.   Hugs. You could be having a poopy day and they make it better.

26.   Orthodontists, especially the one I had.  Without their infinite knowledge of the human mouth, I would have had one f**** up smile!

27.   Socks, for keeping my feet warm.

28.   Kids, because they are the best of human kind.  Ever notice how curious, smart, kind, and trusting they are? They live life in that moment and absorb as much as they can and make the best of each day.  I want to be just like them when I grow up.

29.   Beds, because I would hate to sleep on the floor.

30.   The military, for introducing me to my husband.  That is all.
So, what are you thankful for?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Murphy's Law in Full Effect

Today is the PERFECT day to get to know Monica, if you want to get to the nitty-gritty.    Yesterday, everything that could go wrong did.  And what didn’t, waited until today to go haywire.  Seeing anyone frustrated and defeated gives you a good sense of what kind of person they really are, and I am no exception.

Being the healthy individual that I am, I did not allow these feelings of irritation to fester.  I let them rip.  I had my pout-pout fish face on, and sighed heavily.  My son spent his $2 on cow tales to cheer me up, my mom took the kids out for a swim in the pool, and my husband sent me lovely text messages – all in an effort to cheer me up.  It was all a no-go.

And after my beloved Packers lost last night, well, that was the last straw.  I hit the hay, but sleep eluded me.  Too many thoughts of how can I fix this were flying around my head.

Today, I keep reminding myself of all the blessings I have.  I have vocal chords that work so I can yell at my unresponsive laptop.  I have legs to stomp away on when I’m pissed at my ineffectiveness at fixing it.  I have lungs that I am able to use to take deep breaths in an effort to relax.  I have eyes that see clearly, with the aid of glasses I can afford, and the tears trickle out as my coffee spills on my flash drive and fries the backup of my school work. 

And thankfully, I have a brain that tells me it is not the end of the world, and that in a few hours I’ll be calm enough to hit the reset button and start again. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

For the Love of Animals

My son has a heart of gold, and I am not just saying that because I am his mom. 
He makes sure no one is left out, shares his goodies without anyone asking, and has been known to continuously donate the balance of his fun money to Toys for Tots during the Christmas season.
The compassion he feels for the living does not just concentrate on the human population either, it transcends to animal life as well.
Any television show or movie we watch where an animal is hurt, or God forbid DIES, he has been known to shed a tear (the younger he was he bawled his eyes out – but don’t tell him I told you so).  Not just the furry dogs either; he cares for chickens and frogs just the same.
So while driving this morning on our way to an appointment, it came as no surprise when my son jumped out of his seat at the sight of road kill and cried out, “What’s that?! A raccoon?”
I glanced at my rearview mirror and a saw some kind of flat, furry animal on the road.  My specialty is not zoology, so I supposed it could be a raccoon, but I was not sure.
Accepting my answer, my son sat watch to make sure no other car ran over the poor creature’s body, including “drunk drivers.”  As we drove off he turned and said, “I hope it gets medical attention.”
Ah, time for a mom moment.  I could let him go on believing that the blood and guts all over the street were invisible, but since his occupation of choice is currently a veterinarian, I decided it was time for a reality check. 
“Um, buddy, I hate to break it to you, but I’m pretty sure it’s dead.”
He was quiet for a moment, then looked back wistfully and said, “Well, I hope at least someone picks it up so it can be buried.”
See what I mean?  Heart of gold that kid.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Memories of a Childhood

As a child, all you want is to feel loved.  It's not just saying the words either, it is showing the child that you love them that makes them feel warm and secure.

In my sometimes dark childhood, there are a few bright spots that make me smile.  Like downing a cold glass of chocolate milk and devouring a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, my body sweaty and filthy after a day of hard-core playing in the dirt.
Or falling asleep sprawled on the living room floor after a late night of failing to pass level 1 playing Super Mario Bros on the Nintendo (and still feeling pissed that I was never able to).

Even helping my family with the laborious process of preparing tamales, posole, mole, and/or carne asada for family gatherings. 

These are all wonderful childhood memories floating in my head, and I want my children to have the same kind of fond memories that make them smile.

Summer is the perfect time to build these memories.  There is no school and plenty of time to have multiple adventures.  While we have a few lazy days, everything we do is all in the name of bonding.

Cannonball Training
The pool is obviously one of our favorite ways to spend a hot day, either tanning, swimming, or learning to make the biggest splash with a grade-A cannonball.

Water balloons anyone? There is no better way to release some agression than by pelting your enemy, I mean child, and laughing in triumph as the balloon drenches your foe - BWAHAHAHA! (Ok, a little overboard, but those rascals think the same thing - ask them.)   
Skipping rocks

Another favorite: the woods. We are lucky to have plenty of woodsy area and creeks nearby.  Who needs parks when you have nature?  Avoiding poison ivy, picking berries, wading for crayfish, skipping rocks, and going home with mosquito bites are all part of the fun. 

Rescuing turtles that end up on the roads is an old family past-time, even those scary snapping ones that I am sure will bit my fingers off. 

Hiking through Wildwood as we scour the area for all the animals we can find, declaring the one who finds the most or the most interesting the winner - fun stuff.

My husband, passing down his secret recipes to the children, as they cook dinners together.  It is adorable to hear your know-it-all little girl brag to others about the 'banging chicken wings daddy makes' and the 'mouth-watering chili you just have to try.'  If you have stepped foot in my home, you will have heard or tried something amazing my husband has perfected, courtesy of his proud daughter.

My husband's work schedule is erratic, so every little bit of time we have to devote to our family we take full advantage, even if it means midnight bedtimes and noon alarms.  Since I am a night owl this does not phase me. 

Our family movie nights are legendary (even if it is just in our head).  We sprawl out in the living room, laugh and giggle at whatever someone is sharing, and eventually quiet down in time to start a movie, and we finish strong with daddy snoring because he didn't make it until the end. 

There is crap everywhere in the morning, but you know what?  I don't care.  It is just like the morning after a wedding.  You are tired, but it was fun getting there.  There are plenty of things to do to clean up afterwards, but you can carry around the memories of that day with you forever.  And I'm sure my kids will.

Monday, July 9, 2012

15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy

When I first read the above blog title, I clicked on it figuring these would be quick fixes to clean up any unhappiness in my life, like giving up TV or electronics.

Um, no, these are much harder and soul searching types of removing the clutter. The first two hit me like a ton of bricks, as they are ones I ALWAYS struggle with: give up your need to always be right and give up your need for control. Grrr. As if!
 I won't give the whole list away, as I think it is a good post you should read and dissect on your own. You may not struggle with the same ones I do. The ones that don't affect me are 8-10 and 15.  These are no-brainers to me, however, I can see where others might find them difficult.

 Number 8, "Give up your need to impress others." Maybe this comes with age, but I could care less what others think of me. You either like me, or you don't. End of story.

Number 9, "Give up your resistance to change." My life has always been a whirlwind of change, and when I joined the military, the change kept coming.  And kids? They are the definition of change.  Time doesn't stop.  The change keeps coming, so I just go with the flow. This seems like an easier thing to do than freak out when things don't go my way.

Number 10, "Give up labels." Again, never meant much to me. People are people and we bleed the same. The differences in us is what I love learning about.  Call it what you want, but it doesn't need to have label.

Number 15, "Give up living your life to other people's expectations." Holy heck, if many more miserable people would just live for themselves and not need to please everyone, they would be so much more happier. I remember standing up to my grandmother and letting her know that I was living for me, not for her - she just about fainted. We only get one life (that I know of), so make the best of it.

This is only a list of 15, but a lot of these 'suggestions' are hard to combat when you are so used to living this way. I know because I always feel better after a good bitch session, though I'm a real downer during one.
I suppose the whole point of this post is to let go and truly be happy, not just pretend.  You can only play a part for so long.
As the Dalai Lama says, "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Baseball for Dummies

On the Mound
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"Ice cream cone!" My son shouted, as the baseball I caught barely made it into my glove.  I shrieked as another ball came barreling towards me.  I dashed after another, huffing and puffing, and stretched my arm out to grab at it. 

This baseball season has been odd for me.  My 10-year-old is on another new team, and I am the one left who can practice with him.  Grandpa has too much on his plate and dad's work schedule has not been ideal.  That leaves me trying to improve my son's game, and not ruin it, with my limited knowledge of the sport.

This is how I ended up practicing with my son on a sunshiny day…wearing jeans.  I did not think this one through, as I was sweating like a hog.  However, once I had my rhythm, I was really enjoying myself.  I had forgotten how much fun baseball is.

Even though the season is almost over, and football will be next on our list, we can still throw the ball around and retain the arm for next year.  My expertise is not really needed, as the very nice lady who was watching us said, “You two did very well.  Good job mom.”

So, even though you may not know a thing about a sport, don’t let that keep you from attempting it.  I figure I may have a season or two left where I can still practice with my child, then it is sayonara mama.  And that sweaty, dirty grin I received from my son?  Definitely worth the pain I will be feeling the next day on my sore, sore arm.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mean Girls
I thought being cruel stopped once you became an adult, but I guess I was wrong. You know that movie Mean Girls? Well, those girls grow up to be Mean Moms.

Since I became a mom, I have attended several sporting events that have given me a front row seat to the atrocious behavior of some parents.
You hear all the time of kids throwing tantrums and such, but it's no wonder considering the way some parents behave!
I attended several baseball games this weekend, all for the kids. While I was delighted to hear encouraging words, I did happen to catch an unpleasant incident.

I was seated on some bleachers with my daughter when a young boy of about 7 came by with a bright red ball.  You could tell he was from the other team because he was wearing their uniform, he was just a younger player.  His pants were on inside-out and he was filthy from playing in the dirt. He was absolutely adorable, with sunny yellow hair and bright blue eyes full of mischief. 

And full of mischief he was.  He was in and out of the bleachers, tossing his ball around and nearly hitting a couple of us.  After being shooed away he was digging in the dumpster, goodness knows what treasures he was looking for.  His enthusiasm made me smile.

He was bored with that pretty soon, and found his way back underneath the rickety bleachers.  He was weaving in and out until some potato chips on the ground caught his eye, and he promptly shoved them in his mouth.

"No honey, it's dirty on the floor." I said, as I simultaneously heard laughter behind me.

"Oh my God, did you see that?!" I heard them say, "That's so gross!"  They continued to comment and giggle as the poor child looked up at them.  You'd think that would shut them up.  If I could hear them, then he definitely could. 

If you could have seen the look in his eyes, you'd know I'm not  just being touchy.  Maybe the kid was just hungry and was eating whatever food was available to him, no need to talk about him like he's not there.

My daughter asked me why those ladies were laughing at the boy, and even that didn't stop them.  Not until a man came over and called for the boy did they shut up. 

I don't know why that touched a nerve so much, I guess because I thought about how awful they might treat a child when no one is around.  Guess some people don't lose the mean gene, huh?