Monday, April 29, 2013

The Boy's First Prom - and a Perfect Weekend.

We looked like a Home Depot commercial yesterday. I was on hands and knees rolling on porch paint while  The Husband was replacing the garage lights. The weather was a perfect 75, Valerie and her friends were playing in the back yard with Natalie, and the dog was resting on the driveway watching us work. Jake had been up all night for prom, and was sleeping soundly in his cave of a bedroom. As I rolled that paint on back and forth, back and forth, I thought about how sometimes life is as idyllic as it appears in those commercials aired on HGTV.

Saturday night was prom, and although only a Sophomore, Jake was invited by a friend of his who is a Junior. We had picked up the tux earlier in the week and ran to the florist to pick up the corsage. Since our son doesn't have a job, he owes us "chore hours" to pay for prom activities. We spent a few hours weeding and raking the berm in our backyard. This berm is huge - about 25 feet across by 12-15 feet tall. It's covered in river rock and houses our septic lift tank. I have never quite known what to do with the area, and over the past two summers when I wasn't into yardwork because of pregnancy or having a baby to care for, it became overgrown with tall weed grass. Not pretty. Anyway, Jake and I spent a few hours doing the tedious task of raking up the river rock, ripping out the root base of grasses that have overgrown the area, and then placing the rocks back. I've already spent at least 20 hours on the stupid thing and we are maybe 1/4 of the way done. Oy.

Before long, it was time to get ready for prom.

Jake asked me if I know how to put suspenders on. "Uh... I think you'll want your dad to help there, Buddy." I said.

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They finally got it all figured out:

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As I watched him help Jake get dressed, I felt sort of left out. Of course when Brie went to prom, I helped her along the way: did her hair, painted her toenails, laced up her dress... But with my son, I watched his dad get him ready. It was a much quicker process than it had been with Brie.

Speaking of Brie, you'd think I would be used to her being away at college by now, but all of this prom activity made me lonesome for her something fierce. I remembered back to her two proms and the fond memories I have of helping her get ready and watching her go... Sigh. But - she'll be home for the summer in a few weeks, and it will feel good to have her around again.

We took a couple of pictures of Jake at home before heading out to meet his friends:

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I love this one... I think it's because the expressions on the kids' faces perfectly captures the personality of each one of them. My porch looked terrible in this photo, but as of last night it is freshly painted.

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We took pictures out at the farmhouse of a friend of Jake's. How great is this photo?

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Jake's friend Chloe put on his boutonniere:

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And then the friends posed together. I love this one of the boys:

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And the girls:

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And Jake being silly:

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Finally, it was time for them to head off to dinner. Here they are before getting into the car. Don't you just love the smile on that son of mine?

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Our school still does the grand march where the town meets up at the prom and announces the couples as they walk in. Luckily, this year it was nice and warm, so we didn't freeze as we watched the couples enter the prom venue.

Jake came home Sunday morning exhausted, and said he had a great time. All weekend long, I found myself shaking my head in disbelief that he can be old enough to go to prom. At one point, I was all choked up thinking about how fast it goes from prom to graduation to college. But then I decided to busy myself with chores to shut off my brain. And that worked for a little while.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Potpourri Post

This is what happens when I don't post forever. I have so much to write about, but not enough time.

Sports Drama

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Vali is on two softball teams this year. She’s doing a travel tournament team and little league. I wasn’t sure about her doing the travel team because of the extra cost, and after all was said and done, it was quite a bit more money than I expected. But she said she wanted to do it, and so I agreed.

We had the first tournament last weekend and it was freaking FREEZING. Seriously – the first game on Saturday morning was at 8:30 and it was like 37 degrees (and WINDY!) when it started. By the end of the day, it had only warmed up to about 45 degrees. We were wearing our winter coats, wrapped in blankets, and shivering the whole day. Sunday was a bit warmer, but only by about 10 degrees, and then the rain hit. So we had cold, windy, and wet. Awesome.

Extreme weather is normal here in Iowa, I get that. The girls enjoyed the game and won the bracket they were placed in. (Which was the lower bracket, but Vali got scolded for exclaiming happily that they won the ‘losers bracket’.) They got trophies that Vali calls her “grammy.” Oh, Lord, but that kid and her quirks crack me up.

Yesterday another team mom made a comment to me about how she and the coach were talking and they think that Vali could be “really good” if she took hitting lessons.

Oh, hell no. I already send her to practice twice a week, she’s got twice-a-week games starting up this Friday (the high is supposed to be 45 – yay) and she’ll do three more weekend tournaments. I am not spending more time on softball. If it ever warms up here, we’ll practice at home – tossing the ball around in the back yard and having her hit some of her dad’s pitches, but no. We’re not doing extra lessons. I won’t pretend not to be annoyed about the fact that they were talking about her needing lessons. That should be a conversation the coach has with me, not another team mom, but whatever.

Vali is a ball of fire. She’s a 4 foot tall, 56-pound munchkin with more energy than 1.21 gigawatts of electricity. She’s a fair ball player, but not a naturally gifted one, and lately she’s gotten spooked by the idea of getting hit by the ball. By the time June rolls around and the season for both leagues is behind her, she’ll have learned a lot and will be much better than she was at the start of the year. She’s NINE years old. That’s all we ask of her.

Sometimes I feel like an alien when I hang out with these sports parents. They seem to really live for the drama – they get so involved in these games. There’s always conflict brewing. Always. Someone is inevitably pissed off about a decision of some kind, and there are constant whispers about this and that. Ugh. It’s exhausting to me. I have to say that although she wears me out, having an 18-month-old to chase around is a welcome alternative to being caught in the crossfire of the drama.

I guess this is just a giant gripe. It’s funny – Jake and Brie have been involved in music and drama at school for years and there is never this amount of drama with those parents.

Words!

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Oh, how I love this picture. Giggles galore.

Natalie is starting to talk now. It’s like something just clicked a few weeks ago and she realized, “hey! I can make sounds with my mouth, and these people will know what I want from them!” Her favorite words are Jakie, uh-oh, bite, more, ball, poo-poo, belly, dog, shoe, and outside.

She’s a funny kid – we are really enjoying this stage with her right now.

National Book Festival

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My mom sent me information about the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival this fall. I don’t think I’ll be able to go since we have a family wedding that weekend, but I’m going to send Jake out to spend the weekend in DC with my mom so they can go together. There are some amazing authors who will be speaking at the festival – I’m excited for him and know that he will love it!

Uganda

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My kids are world travelers! Brie will be traveling with a couple of non-profit groups this summer to Uganda. She’ll get to see first-hand how these non-profits are helping women in Uganda to support their families and create sustainable business models. People seem to be nervous about this when I tell them she’s going there. (“Isn’t there a war going on?” they ask.) We are assured that she’ll be in a safe part of Uganda – far away from the conflict that is happening near the northern borders with Sudan.

Brie is wrapping up her freshman year at the University of Iowa and will be coming home in a few weeks. We are looking forward to having her here this summer – the house will be full and happy with all four kids under the roof.

Well – that’s all I have time for today. Maybe if I wrote more often, I wouldn’t have to do these disjointed updates.