Neighbors…can’t live without ’em

Five years ago July we moved into our house.  We met our neighbors and said a casual “Hi” here and there.  Zach had grown up in apartments and townhomes and making friends with the neighbors seemed “weird” to him.  For me, Dad had managed to scare or make our neighbors mad and we were kinda the outcast of the neighborhood growing up, so doing anything but spying on the neighbors seemed strange.

Four years ago, at the end of October, this couple moved in across the street.  And of course, we were curious.  I remember having a conversation about the fact that they weren’t even all the way moved in and they were passing out candy on Halloween.  Zach said that was a sign that we were supposed to be handing out candy.

They were nice.  Scary nice.  They insisted on waving every time we stepped foot outside the house – and I mean every time.  He was a smoker, so it seemed he was out all the time.  We learned they were from Arizona and didn’t really have any family here.

We had one of the snowest winters that year.  I remember I was teaching and was thrilled to go on Christmas break a week early.  For Christmas that year, I’d invited all our family over for games and baked ziti, with the stipulation that no gifts were supposed to be given.  I didn’t want anyone to feel left out or forced to buy gifts when they had no money.  On Christmas we had snow – lots and lots of snow.  It was a perfect day for sitting by the fire and playing games.

Half-way through the day I noticed our neighbors were home, we caught them outside shoveling at one point and asked if they had any plans.  They were supposed to go to Colorado Springs to visit some family, but because of the snow, they decided against it.  I had Zach tell them that we had plenty of food and were just playing games and would love to have them over. (I guess the waving wore me down. 🙂 )  An hour or so later they knocked at the door.  We were happy to have them and get to know them better.  I’m sure we had drama that year with Stacy and Joe, so they were pulled right into the family.

From that point on, we could talk a little easier and wave without question.  And then I got pregnant.  He noticed….and then said they were pregnant too!  We were both having babies within a month of each other.  We hung out a lot that summer.  Fire pits, drive-way talks and of course, the ever famous laying of bricks. 🙂  Over the year we learned we were quite similar and yet different.  We were Christian, and speaking in tongues was not taboo to us.  We were married in the same month, and met our spouses at work.  We were both going to cloth diaper and breastfeed our babies.  They are the “get it done” people, we are the “hmmm…well….maybe….we…might…..” people.

And then Isaac was born.  They were our first visitors.  And then their son was born…two weeks later.  We both had boys!  How fun to watch them grow up together!  From the beginning they have been so different.  Best way to describe it is, their son is going to be the one to hit Isaac and pretend he didn’t do it, Isaac is going to be the one to hit him and say, “yep, it was me.”  But they’ve both been on the smaller size of average.

We’ve almost become a family….a big family.  The boys are so cute together.  Following each other, sharing drinks, playing with rocks and balls and bikes.

Last year we took the boys to a pumpkin patch and corn maze.  We will go again this year, but this time we’ll say good-bye.

You see…having a kid and having all your relatives – grandmas, grandpas, aunts and uncles – in another state can take its toll.  I can’t image the struggle of it…having just Stacy away is hard enough for me.  So, they’ve decided to move back to Arizona.  It’s kinda come fast.  They’ve been talking about it for a while, but it was a long term thing and I was sure the boys would start kindergarten together.  But now they’ll be gone before my birthday…in something like five weeks.

I understand their reasons, and I’d honestly probably do the same thing.  But since this is my blog, I’m going to be a bit selfish.  I’m going to really miss having them across the street and it’s hit me harder than I think I expected it to.  Yes, it’s nice to have a neighbor who is always there willing to help and push my husband to get something done.  A neighbor who, when we have a football watching party and the TV breaks, we can count on to let us invade his house.  But most of all I’ll miss them – the friendship we’ve built, the time talking and just the good times hanging out.  I can barely remember before they lived there and I can’t quite imagine what it’ll be like without them.

I know we’ll stay in touch.  And they will probably come to visit and we will probably visit them…but it’s just not quite the same.

We’ll all be okay.  In fact, it could be said that this could be for the best.  But right now, in my small corner of the world, I can’t see it.  So for now, I’ll be sad and try my hardest to be a a good friend…to help them with their move and not make it harder on them emotionally.  I’ll just keep my fingers crossed that when the boys start kindergarten, it will be together…a lot can change in three/four years.

Success! Hairs cut with no tears!

It happens quite often that I’m pulled into Zach’s school work.  Not because he needs help, but just because we are both educators and end up taking about strategies and philosophies and just plain craziness of the teaching world.

This semester Zach is in a non-education class, and while it has nothing to do with education, we ended up talking about it last week.  I can’t remember the entire question, but the part that has me thinking more this week, is does being successful make you a better person?

For the past year, I’ve cut Isaac’s hair once or twice a month.  With little boys, this is just the way it is.  Unfortunately, Isaac thinks it is the more horrible thing I can do to him.  He wiggles, and screams and cries.  We’ve gotten to the point, where Zach wraps him in a towel and gives him a big hug while I cut, stopping periodically for Isaac to have a rest.

On Saturday night we had success.  We cut all of Isaac’s hair without one tear, without one scream, without wiggling or fast turns of the head.  Our secret?  We woke him up at 12:30am.  What?  How dare we, as parents, do such a thing!  Well it wasn’t intentional.  Isaac had fallen asleep on top of me watching a movie.  I was convinced he was asleep enough that we could cut his hair (he was in serious need of a hair cut) without him waking up.  Well, by the time we walked downstairs, he was wake and saying “Hi” in his so sweet little voice.

We could have abandoned ship at that moment, but instead, we told Isaac what we were going to do, asked him to be a good boy and kept praising him along the way when he was good.  A few times, he got that anxious look like he was about to freak out, so we took a break, got a drink, made him laugh.  At the end we asked him if he wanted a sink-bath (he didn’t have much of a choice, but he was agreeable).  We put him in new jammies, kissed him goodnight and put him in bed.  At 1am we had our first fully successful haircut!

Does this success make us better parents?  Absolutely no.  If we’d had that kind of success on the first time, it wouldn’t have made us better.  Nope, we would have been the same parents.  In fact, I think it could be argued that, compared to the parents we are today, we wouldn’t have been better, because we had never had the challenge to overcome.  Yes, there you have it – it is the journey that makes one a better parent (or person), not the success.  Of course, one could always choose the path that leads them towards being a worse parent…but really, who wants to be worse?

Happy Hour

Sonic Happy Hour is making me fat.

It seemed like a great idea.  Isaac takes a nap from 2-4:30ish…Sonic Happy Hour runs from 2-4.  So lately, on the weekends, I’ll put him down, leave Zach to do homework and I’ll go (all by myself) to get drinks – specifically a Strawberry Lemonade for a $1.

Sonic is about five minutes away.  So I get 12 minutes alone.  Twelve minutes to sing.  Twelve minutes to think.  It’s glorious.

But now my pants don’t fit.  Can I blame happy hour?  I can’t think of anything else I’ve changed….well…I have recently started doing laundry – maybe I just shrunk my pants!  Zach is convinced that’s what I did….I’m not so sure.

PS…don’t blame me if you find yourself looking for Sonic when you are out between 2 and 4.

Dinner Plans

I created a Challenge blog a few months ago.  I didn’t do so well and had to rethink my strategy.  I’ve come up with a new strategy that I think will work better for me, but it’s still a work in progress.  Today marks the end of the first week….and so far I’ve only challenged myself with dinners.  Anyway, this will probably be on my only post over here linking you to that page, so bookmark it is you want to keep reading it.

Because of this new plan, expect to see more recipes.  This week I’ve added:

Control Freak

I went to school for many years.  I was a master procrastinator.  I rarely completed assignments early.  Many nights were spent pulling articles off online databases, reading, sleeping and writing, with no clear difference between any of them.  I always got good grades and I always knew how much I could handle.

Did I stress out and have major anxiety?  Yes, of course, but it was all within MY control.  I knew the expectations.  I knew the teachers personalities.  I knew myself – how long it would take me, my ability, where I could cut corners and where I couldn’t.

With Zach in school, I’ve struggled with a different, and for me more severe, anxiety.  I’ve never quite understood it until this week.  Zach is important to me…half of me.  I know he does good work, but there have been times when he didn’t apply himself, but that was so long ago, it shouldn’t matter.  What I’ve decided is my anxiety is due to the fact that I have NO control.  Yes, I can pester, provide quiet time, and keep up with the house stuff to allow Zach to do his work, but that isn’t control.

I have no clue the quality of the assignments, the difficulty of the reading or the personality of the instructor.  I’ve been trying to control, but it doesn’t do me or Zach any good.  If we were to ask Zach he might agree that my pestering keeps him accountable, so he doesn’t let things slip.  He might say my pestering of how much time he needs or does he want quiet time is annoying, but helpful.  So maybe a bit of interest is important, but I think I need to learn how to let go, relinquish control and have faith in the man I married.

I think this is a problem parents face everyday – letting go of control and allowing their children to be responsible for themselves – their ideas, the work and actions.  Maybe having Zach in school is giving me a little bit of practice so I won’t be the crazy mom defending my child’s every action and doing his homework – not that I would have anyway!  Children (and spouses and siblings too!) need direction and guidance, but still need to be in control over their own lives – decisions and actions.  God gave us freewill, now, I just need to learn how to let those I love exercise theirs.

Mis-phoned

A few days ago a “Call Phone” button showed up in my chat bar in gmail.  At lunch today, Zach and I were discussing how we disliked some of the recent changes gmail has made.  He was asking about the recent “call phone” button that showed up a few days ago in the chat bar.  I had my work phone sitting next to me so I thought, I’ll give it a try.

I pushed “call phone,” dialed in the number and waited, and waited, and waited.  I was in the process of stating, “Well, this obviously doesn’t work very well, it’s not even ringing”…..when my boss answered.  I went silent.   Panicked.  And hung up.  Whoops!

I’m sure she is wondering who called her, she might have tried to call back and got my google voice account.  I’m a little too embarrassed to look into it further.  Guess I call my boss more than I call myself….and guess I probably shouldn’t be playing with new gmail features when I should be working.  But it did give Zach and I a little laugh.