Throwback Thursday: Introducing the Great Outdoors

This is the one and only picture I have of Brandon reading – and I don’t think I have a picture of Blake reading at all, (unless he’s doing homework and that certainly doesn’t count).

Our kids have never been into the outdoors. The only thing they ever wanted to do was play video games. We tried to discourage this, or at least balance out their time playing video games with other things, but when they got to middle/high school, we just sort of gave up. Why make them stop what they truly loved doing? I would be pretty upset if someone told me I couldn’t read, blog, or watch my favorite TV shows.

We like what we like, whether those around with us agree with it or not.

During the summer months, we tried to get the boys out and about. The picture above was Brandon “reading” Harry Potter outside (he never finished it and I’m pretty sure he’s only seen a few Harry Potter movies – again, not a big fan, unfortunately). It was an attempt to get him to do something other than stay inside and play games.

You can see how that turned out. (**Squirrel!**)

I mean, there were moments when the kids would go outside and play. And they both have pretty good imaginations so they would ultimately re-enact a “boss” scene in a video game or be characters from some game. I wasn’t going to split hairs – I was just happy they were getting fresh air.

And the times I wouldn’t let them play games? (Because there was a time when I tried to monitor their game playing, to try and balance it out with joining the real world, I got this:

But you know what? Boredom is not bad for kids, in fact, I strongly believe it helps them develop creativity.

We went for family bike rides, (which we’re wanting to do again, but when it cools off – our city has expanded our bike trails and we thought it would be fun if we packed a picnic lunch and rode to the lake or something since Roy has FIVE bikes now – the joys of hunting garage sales), and walked the nature trails a lot.

Again, just something to get the kids out of the house and breathing some fresh air.

Don’t tell Blake this, but I think he looks like Forest Gump with his head tilted to the side like that. HA!

But all you can do is lead a horse to water, you can’t make him drink it.

We went swimming a lot when the boys were in grade school. We tried to go a lot when they got into middle/high school, but by that time, they were self-conscious about their bodies and girls, so we didn’t go as much. Swimming was one thing they both loved to do outside, so we took advantage of that. I’m not personally a big fan of swimming mainly because I’m not a strong swimmer, but the boys really enjoyed going off the diving boards, over and over and over again. By the end of summer, they were both sporting pretty fantastic tans.

So yes, we tried to introduce the boys to different outdoor activities, and though they didn’t hate the things we did, they weren’t really into it, either. They just sort of … tolerated our efforts, I guess.

Your kids will grow up and develop their own interests/personalities. All we can do as parents is teach them to be good people and then step back and allow them to become good people.

Throwback Thursday: Four Years of Florida Beaches

Twilight beach family photo – this was the last night on Sanibel Island and our last vacation on a Florida beach.

Other than camping, some of our first family vacations were at the beaches in Florida. We drove down to Pensacola one year, (and I remember being really frustrated because we had a hard time trying to find something to eat. And that’s been our Achilles’ Heel ever since – finding places to eat on vacation and not having to spend a fortune to do so – that’s why we love cruising so much – food everywhere, all the time), Madeira Beach one year, St. Petersburg another year and Sanibel Island was our last beach vacation – believe it or not, we were all pretty burnt out on beach vacations by that time.

Look closely, we are all sloooooooowly melting in this picture. It wasn’t so much the heat, but the humidity … UGH

The thing about beach vacations – it’s pretty hard to hide every bulge and roll. The first time I went to the beach was on our honeymoon – we went to Cozumel Mexico, and I absolutely did not pack the right sort of clothes. Everything I packed was way too heavy – I remember this one shirt, it was green and white striped, I loved that shirt, but it was a heavy cotton and I nearly passed out from heat stroke when I wore it. And even the first few years of going to the beach, I still packed heavy summer clothes like capris and t-shirts.

Helpful hint: Get over your body image because feeling like you can breathe is WAY more important over trying to look better than you really look.

I finally got smart and started packing tank tops, spaghetti strap tees and flowey skirts and lightweight shorts.

And bonus! They look better on me, anyway.

I’ve told Kevin that my swimsuit days are over, but really, I don’t feel comfortable wearing a swimsuit in front of Roy. It’s just … disturbing. So if (when) you ever get me into a swimsuit again, it will absolutely be a one piece, in fact, I don’t ever recall wearing a two piece – ever. I tried those cutsie tankinis on once and I wanted to love it so much, but it did NOT complement my body, at all. (Hello muffin top)

I need to buy a new suit – it’s been YEARS since I’ve bought a swimsuit but let’s be honest ladies, swimsuit buying is even worse than going to the gynecologist, can I get an Amen??

I look better in sportier suits, the ones with the high necks. I’m planning on buying a new suit this year, Kevin and I are throwing ideas around on where we want to go on vacation this year, and we’re definitely leaning toward a beachey destination, but I think I’ll wait until this Fall when they go on sale.

The boys weren’t crazy about the beach. It was SO HOT. Of course, we went in the middle of summer and well, summer is hot. But we didn’t have a choice since they were in school the rest of the year. It was the cruise to the Western Carribean and we were traipsing the jungle in Honduras when we decided – WE ARE DONE WITH SUMMER VACATIONS. If we go on vacation, it will be in off season when it’s not so DAMN HOT. It’s hard to enjoy yourself when you’re literally drenching your clothes. (True story – I had to photoshop sweat stains out of my clothing in the pictures we took in Honduras because it was so bad).

I still have this outfit – too bad I can’t fit into the shorts anymore.

I remember the first time we went to the beach, Brandon couldn’t have been more than … four or five, and he would sit there and make a disgusted face because the sand was dirty.

Have I mentioned one of my first words was dirty? Like mother like son.

And I admit, I’m not crazy about sand, it’s so … gritty and gets EVERYWHERE. And I’m not crazy about the ocean, either. Oh sure, I enjoy looking at it, smelling the salty air, (not to mention, it does wonders for my skin), listen to the waves crash, but swimming in the ocean? YUK, NO. If I stick my body into any water, there better not be any mysterious creature/plant that brushes up against my leg.

Did we enjoy the beach? Of course, and we made some pretty great memories but I do wish I would have relaxed more and just let things happen – I was too much of a control freak and traveling out-of-town, (isn’t that what travel means? To leave one’s home??) stressed me out. I went ape shit if we forgot to pack toothpaste.

Um. Hello. Karen. It’s possible that other stores in other cities may, and I stress MAY, sell toothpaste and it’s possible, just stay with me a moment, to actually BUY a tube of toothpaste from said foreign store. (*GASP*)

Sanibel Island was gorgeous and I felt the most comfortable there, but I think the prettiest beach we saw in Florida was St. Petersberg. I remember the beach down there sort of taking my breath away. It was so pretty. I can’t remember – was that the year we stayed at a hotel and there was a wedding party that was so loud and obnoxious that none of us could sleep?

It’s hard to smile and stay upbeat when you’re sweating inches off your body by the hour and you’re so tired your head is too heavy for your body.

I think that’s the biggest reason I’m not a big beach person – because I don’t feel attractive when we go to the beach. I’m hot, sweaty, gritty, stinky, my hair is greasy and tangly from the wind … and then I’m forcing a smile for vacation pictures.

If we ever go back to the beach, it will be during off season, when it’s not so hot and unbearable. I love the beach, don’t get me wrong, it’s peaceful and beautiful, but I don’t like how it turns me into a walking sandcastle. It’s not fun or attractive, for me.

 

Throwback Thursday: My Community Service

Have  I mentioned that I’ve been maintaining the boys’ middle school and high school websites for the past 10 plus years??

It all started back in college. I was working toward my technical writing degree and one of the classes I had to take was designing a website class. This was back in the days of Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe Dreamweaver. I learned how to use these programs and just enough HTML to get myself into trouble. I learned about Color scheme, design tricks and where to put content.

In short, I LOVED this class. We built a website for my father-in-law’s business, Good Feet. He had an arch support business for people with chronic back pain. I have a screen shot of that early website somewhere but I can’t find it right now.

I worked with two or three people and we all worked together to build our very first website. I was so proud of that website! And I thought it looked pretty professional, if I say so myself.

Somehow, I saw a tiny ad in the boys’ elementary school newsletter asking for anyone with HTML knowledge if they would be interested in volunteering to maintain the school website. I was a stay-at-home mom at that time and since the boys were in school, I had some time on my hands. So I contacted the school principal, who in turn contacted the district IT guy and he gave me permission to access the website. The school principal gave me carte blanche over the site.

I had SO MUCH FUN posting cheesy graphics and various content that the school gave me to post. After a while, word got out about our awesome website and pretty soon, parents got annoyed if it wasn’t updated on a regular basis. I was hooked, in more ways than one.

About a year of doing this, the boys’ middle school principal contacted me about redoing their website and again, I said yes. I redesigned their site from scratch, (this was back before they had ready-made, consistent templates that all of the schools use now) and began to update it on a regular basis.

Again, word spread and before long, I ended up maintaining nine school websites. It became of “business of sorts.” However, after the boys’ elementary and middle school websites, I started charging for my services. I charged the school district a fee to redesign the sites and then a monthly fee to maintenance it. I didn’t feel right charging very much, one, because I was still new to all of this and didn’t feel very confident in my skills and two, the district didn’t have a lot of money so I felt guilty asking for very much. Besides, I justified it as my way of giving back to the community. I felt, hoped, what I was doing was benefiting other parents.

About … three years (?) ago, the school district purchased package templates from a school website company. Now, all of the schools had the same template but were allowed to design them with their school colors/mascots and individual personalities. I thought finally, this would be the end of my services to the district. (And I say finally because by this time, the boys had graduated from high school and I sort of felt like my duty was done, in a sense).

Most of the school fell off and started asking one of their staff to maintain the sites, save for the boys’ middle and high schools. They wanted to me to stay on and continue maintaining the sites. It was a little frustrating at first because I no longer had control over the code, I could only do what the template allowed me to do, but I soon got the hang of it and I still maintain the sites to this day.

I maintain them from August to May, they are in “summer mode” right now. I stay quite busy at the beginning of the year and the end of the year – the middle of the year sort of flattens out into a routine.

All of the graphics, structure and content is me. Though I don’t come up with the content, the school provides that, I decide on where and how it’s going to be displayed. Again, the schools trust me and give me free reign over their sites.

I’ve been doing Cherokee’s website for 13 years and Kickapoo’s website for nine years. Kevin asks me all the time when I’m going to stop doing the websites but honestly, I have fun doing them, I earn a little extra money every month and I’m still giving back to the community.

I guess I’ll continue maintaining them until they ask me to stop.

Let Him Ride a Two-Wheeler Again? #TBT

Me and Kevin on his dirt bike. This was back before he had his accident in 2010.

IMGP0689

This was actually before he bought his beautiful street bike, drove it for 200 miles and then had his accident.

IMGP0687

I’ve never really liked motorcycles. They scare me. Not so much for the driver, but because people have so many distractions when they drive now, no one really pays attention to what is going on around them, let alone keeping an eye out for someone on a motorcycle.

IMGP0688

I rode with him on the dirt bike once (twice?) but never on the big bike. It’s not that they scare me, per say, but that I wasn’t sure it was wise for both of us to be on the bike – what if we got into an accident? The kids wouldn’t have parents anymore.

But it was fun the few times I rode with him.

It’s been six years since his accident. He’s back to normal save for the huge plates, screws and bolts that is now his pelvis. He has a slight limp but overall, walks just fine. I can’t imagine how our lives would have been different if he hadn’t been able to walk again – he’s so active!!

His motorcycle days are over. I made him promise me he would never ride again. Which is sad considering he loved it so much. We were so freaked out that we even sold our bicycles.

But enough time has gone by that we’re considering riding bikes again. In fact, we have ridden a few times. Since Kevin and Roy are so into garage sales now, they have actually bought five bikes – one for each of us. We’re planning on taking them out on the bike trails sometime this summer. We used to do that when the boys were little. I have no idea if the boys will be willing to do that now, but hey, at least we have bikes for them if they say yes.

I’m always hopeful.