Life, random stuff

Setting Them Up to Succeed

1 Dude doesn’t have that many friends (I can’t imagine where he gets THAT trait from – *ahem*), but the ones he does have? He sees a lot.

Once again, he stayed over at a friend’s house this past Friday night. Whenever he and his friends get together, they stay up all night and do the LAN party thing, playing XBox games together.

Dude packed up his XBox, and all the gear that went along with that, as well as our flat-screen TV that sits on a shelf over our treadmill (which I use to watch movies when I walk on the treadmill). He has to take his own TV because, well, TV’s don’t grow on trees. At least, they didn’t the last time I checked. And in order to participate in a LAN party, you sort of need a TV. It’s really hard to play games when you can’t see what’s going on.

So, Kevin dropped him off. I had to stay home because I was waiting on a very important email from a school that wanted to post their class lists online (see how accommodating I am about helping the schools out? I’m tellin’ ya, if your child’s school doesn’t have a decent website, you’re missing out! Contact me and let’s talk).

Because I was distracted, I forgot to feed the kid. Which is a problem. A hungry teenage boy? Yeah, picture a hormonal teenage girl – times about twenty. So, Kevin calls him on his cell phone to ask if he needs us to bring him anything to eat. Now I know the kid will probably eat a little something over at his friend’s, but I hate to assume that someone else is going to feed him, so we checked just to make sure. They hadn’t said anything about food at that point, but I wasn’t worried, they usually ordered pizza in times past so I just assumed they would do the same thing again.

Uh, no.

The next morning, Kevin and I ran back over to pick Dude up. (I’m really looking forward to the day he can drive himself places!) We noticed there was a giant SUV in the driveway, one we weren’t familiar with.

Hhmm, one of his friends must be driving now, I thought to myself.

We gave him a chance to get settled in the car and succumb to a yawn or two before interrogating him.

And by interrogating him, I mean, just ask him simple questions.

“So, did you have fun?”


“Did you get any sleep?”

“A little.”

“How much?”

“I don’t know.”

“What did you end up eating for dinner?”


I glanced in my rear-view mirror to try and catch Dude’s eyes.

He’s not looking at me.

I raise an eyebrow to Kevin and we give him a little more time to formulate his answer. After all, the kid is tired, and the brain synapses thing? Is running slow.

“We went and ate Chinese food,” he finally answered.

“Oh?” Kevin asked innocently. “Who drove you over there?”

“My friend, J,” was Dude’s answer.

My knee-jerk reaction was shock and then alarm. My kid was in the car with a new 16-year old driver?!? ACK! We’ve always told Dude that when he got his license, he wasn’t allowed to drive any of his friends around for at least a year, not until he had had some experience under his belt. So, the fact that he willingly went with his buddy was sort of surprising.

To me, at least.

But I held my tongue and swished that information around my pea brain for a bit. He was alive. He was fine. Calm down, mom.

My very next thought was, “COOL!” How cool was it that he and his buddies were able to hop into a car and just go eat Chinese food on the spur of the moment? How exciting! How grown up! And .. uh oh …

“What did you do for money? Who paid for your meal?” I asked.

Dude said his buddy paid for it and I immediately felt bad. I’m confident Dude will see his buddy again and when he does, he can pay him back. But in the meantime, that was a good lesson for us — always make sure the boy has some money on him.

I asked Dude if he felt grown-up when he and his buds went out to eat. He gave me a lazy smile and said, “yeah.”

That lone word, and the way he said it, said it all, really. He not only liked it, he LOVED it. He got his first REAL taste of independence.

Dude has been a different kid this weekend. He’s been more relaxed, more … mature. I really think we’ve turned another corner in his life and I’m predicting this is going to be a HUGE “growing up” year for Dude.

Even though I’m tickled pink that he had a good time and that he got a taste of what being a teenager is all about, do you want to know what I’m MOST happy about?

The fact that he COULD tell us about the trip out with his buddies. He trusted us not to go ballistic and we didn’t. THAT to me is a huge milestone, I think.


2 Speaking of cell phones … I ordered Dude’s cell phone from Virgin Mobile over the weekend. His choices were red or gold. He thought the gold one might be a bit too “pimp-ish”, so he went with the red. Only, we’re hoping it’s a true red and not a reddish-pink, because if so, that puppy will be sent back.

In the meantime, Jazz recorded his own voice mail message on his phone (the old phone). It’s pretty funny and I wish you could listen to it, but in essence, it goes a little something like this:

“Hey, this is Jazz. I’m not here right now because either 1. I have my phone turned off, or 2. I can’t answer the phone. So, either call back in 20 minutes or so, or I’ll get back to you eventually.”

And he sounds totally bored with the whole thing.

HAHA! Love that kid.


3 I spent several hours on Sunday going through old clothes. Since Jazz had a pretty big growth spurt these past several months, I had a TON of clothes to sort through.

Considering Jazz has grown so much, he not only had to try on old clothes to make sure they still fit (most didn’t), he also had to try on Dude’s old clothes to see if he was big enough to wear them (and he was, for the most part).

I ended up with FIVE trash bags full of stuff he could no longer wear, as well as about four pairs of shoes.

So, I kept Jazz pretty busy Sunday afternoon. But he was a really good sport about it. In fact, he sort of acted excited about his new “wardrobe.” A lot of Dude’s old stuff was BRAND NEW because that was the time period that Dude refused to wear anything but about three t-shirts and two hoodies – the entire school year. It drove me bonkers, but I couldn’t get the kid to wear anything else.

When I asked Dude why he wouldn’t wear anything other than the same crap over and over again he said, “I don’t want the other kids to think I’m rich or something by wearing different clothes all the time.”

Wha?! So, I guess it was okay to allow the other kids to think he was dirt poor? I don’t understand why it has suddenly become a BAD thing to have money. It’s like everyone is apologizing for the fact that they are successful or they have worked hard to earn their own money.

We certainly aren’t rich and we certainly don’t have a lot of money, but we’re comfortable and I guess we should apologize for that?

Thanks for that, Obama. Grr. Don’t get me started.

Anyway, Dude and I drove to my sister-in-law’s house today to drop off those five bags of clothes. My SIL’s son is about four years younger than Jazz and he just worships him. My nephew really gets a kick out of wearing Jazz’s hand-me downs and I’m happy that the clothes are being used. (Not to mention, it saves my SIL tons of money!)

We’re starting to reach the point though, that we won’t have any clothes to give up after a while. I think Dude has pretty much stopped growing at this stage, which means less hand-me downs for Jazz and less sorting and discarding for me.

Even though going through clothes is my least favorite thing to do, I’ll miss it when I no longer have to do it.


4 Kevin took Dude to practice parallel parking Sunday. (Dude told me that there was a cop parked across the street watching him. The cop had been sitting there before Kevin and Dude pulled up to practice, but it nearly gave Dude a heart attack).

When they got back, I talked everyone into climbing back into the car and driving down to Missouri State University (MSU). My plan was for us to get out and actually walk around the campus. I wanted to to show Dude what college life was like because now that he’s a Junior and will be taking the ACT Prep course first thing this semester, I knew that he would be hearing a lot about college and how important it was for him to start thinking seriously about it.

However, I didn’t realize, until we reached campus and the place was PACKED and crawling with people, that the Fall semester started today which meant that all of the kids were busy buying books and moving into their dorm rooms.

We didn’t end up walking around, we just drove around, but I think Dude got a “feel” for what it was like.

I couldn’t help getting excited myself. I LOVED college. Just loved it. And I miss it. I would love to go back and get my masters someday, but I need to pay my student loans off first before I think about going back for more.

I confess, I think part of the reason I wanted to go to MSU and look around was because of me.

I’m selfish like that. 🙂


5 It’s the eve of another school year. Dude will be a Junior, Jazz will be a Freshman. In some ways, it’s hard to believe both of my boys will be high school, but in other ways, this is the point we’ve been working towards.

I’m quite confident that these next two / four years are going to ZOOM by. They will be monumental growth years for my kids – both physically and emotionally. I’m sure there will be dates, and friends, and driving, and jobs and just a whole slew of new and worrisome exciting experiences for the boys.

On one hand, I’m looking forward to the challenges. I’m looking forward to watching them grow up and reach out to grab their goals by the tail and hang on for dear life.

And on the other hand, they are growing away from me, they need me less and less and it makes me sad.

It’s weird. It’s almost as if I’m watching them morph into totally different beings from the outside, as a passer-by, instead of an interested party. I feel like I’m observing them through a glass snow globe and though the flakes start flying when their worlds are upset, I’m there to hold it steady and make everything calm once again.

My role has changed. I’m no longer an island they swim toward, I’m a rock to steady themselves against when the tide becomes overwhelming.

Soon, very soon, they will be swimming by themselves and I will be reduced to a dot on their horizon.

*sigh* It’s both sad, and a bit exciting, all at the same time.

I’ll be glad when tomorrow is over. The first day of school has always been hard for me. There is just something about watching them walk away from me … knowing they will be different people when I pick them up later.

It just makes me cry.


6 Because the first day of school is so tough on me, I will have to distract myself. I plan on packing up my laptop and heading toward the MSU library.

I plan on getting back to my writing.

It’s really hard for me to write at home during the summer months. Even though the boys are virtually invisible during the long summer days, they are still PRESENT. And I can never fully turn off my mom mode when they’re around. I find that incredibly distracting. I can’t get anything done and writing, well, I don’t even try.

I have to get away from home, to physically leave, before I can get any writing done.

So, I’ll kill two birds with one stone tomorrow. I will distract myself from the first day of school blues and get some writing done to boot.

In case you weren’t aware of this, the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) challenge is coming up in November and to help prepare myself for the challenge, I thought I would “ask” my main character to write some posts for this blog. A creative exercise, if you will. I thought it would be fun to introduce you all to something new and it would allow me an opportunity to get to know her better before NaNoWriMo starts.

I think, instead of writing a novel this year, I’m going to write 30 short stories all starring my lead character (that you will all come to know through this blog). I don’t know why, but I seem to work better in the short story format. I also enjoy it – a lot. I get so bored whenever I write anything longer than about 3,000 words. This way, I’ll mix things up a bit and have produced a mini-portfolio of my work to boot.

This will be my fifth year participating in the NaNoWriMo challenge (see sidebar for past winner’s badges) and I plan on crossing that 50,000 word line yet again this year. The NaNoWriMo site has published their web badges early, so hop on over, grab your badge and show the world that you’re up to the challenge!

Thanks for sticking it out with me. I always feel so much better after writing these random posts – it feels so good to purge!

More from Write From Karen


Video: My Thoughts on the Dreaded Swine Flu.

I’m participating in the Say it Face to Face web conversation. In essence, someone asks a question and we respond to those questions via video.

The below video is my response to the question: “How concerned are you about swine flu this school season?”

Other things that we do to stay healthy:

  • I spray keyboards, doorknobs, phones and anything else I can think of with Lysol on a regular basis.
  • I boil our toothbrushes once a week
  • Drink lots of juice, water and take vitamin C (I mentioned that in the video, but it’s terribly important. Stay away from soda and caffeine, it breaks down your immune system).
  • Dust regularly
  • Vacuum regularly
  • Get lots of rest (stick to a sleep schedule. The more rested you are, the more you’re able to fight off infection)
  • Drink hot liquids and burn the back of your throat on a regular basis (I know this sounds weird, but it kills the bacteria lingering in dark places). After pouring my morning coffee, I always take a big gulp first thing. Roll your eyes if you wish, but I haven’t had a full-fledged cold in over a year. *knockknock*
  • Use nose spray to clean out sinuses on a (semi) regular basis. We use 4-Way Menthol spray and not only does it help you breathe, it washes bacteria away. I SWEAR on this method. Since using nose spray (don’t use it too much, too much is not good for you, but when you get stuffy or you’re feeling sick), I haven’t had ONE sinus infection and I used to get about two a year. Also, this is probably obvious, but do not share nose bottles with your family! One bottle per member. Label them (I do). It’s more expensive that way, but honestly, I’m looking at it as an investment toward staying healthy.

I should add, we’ve never gotten a flu shot. And we don’t plan on getting the swine flu shot when it’s available. Again, it’s another strand of flu and we’ll do everything we can to protect ourselves, but I refuse to allow the threat to immobilize me.

These health scares re-surface from time-to-time (remember the West Nile virus and the Bird flu?) so I tend to just take all of the information with a grain of salt to begin with. Notice I said I don’t ignore it or don’t take it seriously, I just don’t freak out about it.

The media feeds on fear. So please, don’t allow the media to scare you into a hole. Talk to your families, practice good hygiene and stay healthy.

If you, or someone in your family gets sick, stay home. Don’t infect others. Drink lots of fluids, get lots of rest. Yadda,yadda,yadda.

Other than shutting yourself off in a sterile room, there’s really not much anyone can do so …. relax. Be smart. 🙂

So tell me, How concerned are you about swine flu this school season?