Saturday, May 30, 2009

Graduation Day 2009

(I know. I don't have one of him alone. Sorry.)

Today my oldest child graduated from high school. I home schooled Michael from Kindergarten through 4th grade. His growth through school has been amazing to watch. He has come so far and I am so proud that he graduated with straight A's and such wonderful musical accomplishments. This day was very bitter sweet for me.

The day started with a lunch for Michael at Abuelo's. His entire family, minus Andy and Fred, were there. I was so happy for him. His aunt and uncle and cousins drove in from New Mexico just for him. Everyone had taken time from their day to honor Michael. We took family pictures, pictures with the cousins, and the kids enjoyed being together. They only get to see each other a few times a year, if that, so it's always nice for them to be together.

We went from lunch to the graduation, which was a nice transition. We had plenty of time to get there and get settled in. The whole family sat together. Uncle Tom had even made up poster boards that spelled out MICHAEL so that when he walked in, he could see where we were. It was so cute when he spotted the sign. You could see his smile all the way up to where we were. He raised his hands and waved. You could just tell he loved it. Anyway, back a little bit, as the kids started walking in, I stood up because I knew I could spot Michael from the back and I didn't want to miss him. Sure enough, as he walked in, I spotted him and as he got to his seat he must have heard the cousins yelling his name, because that's when he turned around and saw the sign.

I can honestly say I wasn't a mess. I did tear up a little bit, but I held it back for the most part. I was just so proud. I guess people just take it for granted that your child will graduate from high school, but not everyone does. And to think of where Michael was about 6 years ago, he has come a very long way to become the man he is today.

He is planning on going to college to first become an EMT, then a Paramedic and eventually become a fireman. He will be doing some ride-alongs with a few EMT's this summer to make sure this is the type of career he can handle. We have a great network of friends and acquaintances that have offered for him to come along. He is looking at cars. He is looking for a good summer job. He is growing up and I am doing my best to let go.

That seems to be the hardest part.
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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Memorial Day and New Carpet

I just want to start this blog by saying that Ben made 3rd chair 1st Band with the LD Bell Band for 2009-10. We are all so proud of him!! Oh, and I don't have a picture, sorry.

This starts our Memorial Day weekend. We worked a half day on Friday and are off for the weekend and all day on Monday. I got new carpet on Tuesday. I am back dating this because I have been really far behind. I need to catch up. We all started packing up on Sunday to get everything moved out of the bedrooms on Monday. We have needed new carpet so bad since probably right when we moved into the house about 5.5 years ago. Having four kids, two dogs and a cat in the house just made it 10 times worse. We are all so excited about getting fresh, new carpet. I got a great deal from a friend of mine who manages a builder's supply house in Bridgeport. He really hooked me up and I will be forever greatful to him for this.

I am not sure that completely moving is any easier or harder than moving things out so that you have an empty room to work with. I was able to get all of my things out of my rooms, in boxes, and into my closet. My furniture went either out in the dining room or out in the garage. The kids things, furniture and all, went into the den. We didn't really start moving until mid-afternoon on Monday because I was trying to get some of their friends over to help. It didn't take long at all to get it all moved. Then there is the pre-cleaning that seems to need to be done. It doesn't matter how much you vaccum and clean, there is always mysterious stuff behind furniture and under beds. What is that about?

The carpet and padding were brought to the house and neatly put in the garage on Friday. The installers showed up about 9:30 on Tuesday and worked straight through until about 2:45 that afternoon. I felt so SO bad for them having to tear out the carpet upstairs. The cat went through a phase where she was boycotting the cat box and started using a corner of the hallway. Eddie, my older brother, had gone upstairs that morning to check the floor under the carpet in the hallway and we saw that the tack strips were horrible and really needed to be replaced. Not knowing if the installers would do this, he went to Lowe's and picked up some new ones. By the time he got back, the installers had gotten there. I'm not sure who all helped, but the got replaced and all was good.

What a difference new carpet makes! Now we had brand new, nice, carpet all upstairs, down the stairs and in my room and all this stuff to put back on it. I just laid on my carpet for most of the afternoon just enjoying the newness of everything. The kids seem so much happier and much more appreciative of what they have. I am rearranging my room. I have had it the same way for 5+ years and just want to try something new. It feels almost like moving except you don't have to go through all the address changes and it's only three rooms. And the kids are so much older now that they moved all of their stuff to their rooms on their own and set it up the way they wanted. I love my kids getting older! (ok just a few parts of it, but it is nice!!)
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

9th Grade Awards

This morning I was late to work because Ben had his 9th Grad Awards at school. I had planned my trip to Memphis around this and Baccalaureate, hence the reason I was in at 11:30 last night. (Thanks to my dad and his wife for being willing to pick me up at the airport so late. I was going to take a taxi but I'm really glad I didn't!) Ben wasn't sure what awards he was getting, but he thought it was going to be several. They did them in alphabetical order, of course, so as I sat there watching all of the A-Ni children I startd to figure out what was going on. Now, Ben has always done really well in school. I knew that his GPA was going to be high. He was in several pre-AP classes. He was a favorite of the head band director and has been first chair since 7th grade.

He received the President's Gold Award for a GPA of 4.0 or higher. I am not sure what his is exactly, but it's really good. He also received an award for excellent performance in the Symphonic Band and one for Science. Of course, I am too busy trying to get a picture of him getting his award to actually hear them say what he got. I had to lean over to his dad and ask. I should know better. I wasn't in the front row, not even close to the front. My camera is horrible for moving shots and for distance. I should have just listened or tried to video. That always seems to work well.

Anyway, I am so incredibly proud of him. (I think I say this a lot about my kids, but it's true. I am.) He has always done well and sometimes I get to where I just expect him to do well. I have really tried not to be so expecting and really take note when he does well. It's normal for him, but not normal in general. There weren't very many Presidential Gold Awards handed out and there were only like three band awards given out. His class is probably close to 200, so that's really good! We find out tomorrow what band he made for high school. He is anticipating first band, which is just unheard of for a sophomore, but I know he can do it. He is that good.
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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Memphis Travels and Training

I always thought it would be nice to travel for alone in a hotel room, just relaxing and going at your own pace. Well, I don't think so anymore. I had to travel to Memphis this week to do some training for my new job. The flight was later in the afternooon on Sunday and I didn't get to the hotel until about 9:30pm. I was tired, but wanted to meet up with my friends James and Heather, who were in town for an interview for Hilton. James is from there and wants to move back since he was laid off in Dallas.

They met me at the hotel and before I knew it, it was 11:00 and I was about to fall asleep at the table. I had no idea what time I was expected to be at the office in the morning, so I was planning on doing my usual thing and get there at 8:00 am. I didn't sleep well, which isn't like me in a hotel. I usually sleep like a baby all curled up in the down comforter and pillows. Not so much this night. I think I was probably overtired. There is another group in the hotel that is doing some training at the Corporate office, so I decide I will just ride in with them at 7:45. I get dropped off at the wrong building (there are 4 buildings in the complex) so I walk over to Building A and see if that's where I am supposed to be. Bingo! So I have to get a badge and register for the 3 days that I will be there. They have amazing security there.

No one is there waiting on me. As it turns out, one of my new bosses actually shows up while I am there getting registered. I had never met her before so I didn't recognize her, but Keith (the security guy) introduced me to her. I could tell she wasn't expecting me so early but we had never really discussed it. So, sitting all day watching someone else work is very exhausting work! by 3:00 that afternoon, Jenny was done training me and ready to get back to her own stuff (which I don't blame her for at all) and I was ready to just shut my brain down for the day.

James and Heather came and took me to lunch at Corky's, which is a really great and popular BBQ place there in Memphis. When I got back to the hotel, I walked over to the nearest wine store, got a bottle of wine, got some take out from the Embassy next to the Hampton. I pretty much just went to work and went back to the hotel and crashed, watched TV - Dancing with the Stars - and tried really hard to enjoy the peace and quiet.

I feel like I'm rambling, so I will stop.
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Sunday, May 17, 2009


I am not a crier - per say. I don't blubber over every little thing my kids do. I don't even think I cried at any of their kindergarten graduations, performances, anything. Ok well, I do tend to cry at every marching competition just a little. But that's it! I cry when I'm mad or super angry. I cry when my feelings are hurt. But as a rule, I don't get emotional about my kids accomplishments. I think I just know they are great kids and I expect them to succeed. Is that bad?

Anyway, today was Michael's Baccalaureate. It has been a bit of a stressful morning because I am leaving for Memphis this afternoon. "So much to do, so little time" While I was driving Michael up to the school, he put on his gown. I couldn't look. I started to get a lump in my throat. "What is this?" I thought to myself. Nerves. I was sure of it. When I finally got the other kids to their dad's, got Mom and Eddie and we got to the school, I was so much more at ease.

As soon as "Pomp and Circumstance" started playing and I turned to see all of the Seniors walking down the isle, I got the lump in my throat again. I was straining to see Michael, looking over all the people around me who were taller than me or closer to the isle. Then I saw him. I whispered to mom "there's Michael. There he is!" and then I started to loose it. Those tears that you try so hard to hold in and they just keep coming. If I could, I would have just bald out loud.

I am so proud of all of my kids. Michael is the first of four that I will go through this with. I always see him as the baby I dreamed about. I certainly do not mean that in a bad way against my other children. It's the whole "first" thing. I love all of my children equally, but in different ways because they are different people. I think that Michael and I have a kindred spirit kind of thing. His personality is so very much like me. Alyssa looks like me and some things about her personality are like me, but with Michael, I feel his heart. The divorce was really so much harder on him than the other kids. He understood more what was going on. He was older. He chose to live with his dad and had to live with all that that brought into his life. He had to grow up faster than the other kids. He struggled through junior high and when I finally got him back, we worked together and talked a LOT to get him back on track with school. He has come so far in the last five years. I couldn't be more proud of him.

I am going to be a mess at graduation. (NOTE: bring make up bag to graduation.)
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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Band Banquet 2009

Final event for the school year? Not really but sort of. It was the first really dressy event Alyssa has gotten to go to. As a mom, this has been fun, getting the dress, the shoes, all of the right accessories...not having a super dressy daughter, these moments are few and far between. She did agree, after it was all said and done, that is was a lot of fun playing dress up. We went to a popular dress store in the mall (some place I do not frequent-EVER) and picked out lots of dresses. We even had a girl helping up set up a room with other dresses. The final decision was on Alyssa. It was between the red dress you see and one that was more like a club dress. This one, I feel, is certainly more able to be worn other places.

She took her best friend, Melina. They spent Saturday with Melina's aunt, doing hair and make up. They look so pretty with their red and black and their hair all done up pretty. Michael and Ashleigh went to the mall that morning so Michael could pick out a tie to match her dress and then, yes, he got plaid Vans to wear. I love it! He is such a fun kid like that. After prom, you just gotta do something fun and comfortable, especially when you know there is gonna be dancin' going on!

Their friend, Molly, came to the house with her date Matt and they all drove together. My only requirement was that Alyssa and Melina go with Michael and Ashleigh to and from the banquet. All in all, they had a great time. Michael said it was the funnest one yet! They honored the Seniors and he got an achievement award for having participated in the HEBISD Band program for six years.
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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

My son the preacher?

Ever since Benjamin was a very small child, he had a heart for God. I always thought to myself that I could see him growing up to be a preacher, full or part time, I knew it would be something he would do. As he is getting older he is showing interests in other things, like music. He loves to play guitar or drums on the youth worship team. He will occassionally play his trombone in the morning church worship. He and Michael played and sang a song on Christmas Eve at church. He definitely has a heart for worship.

Michael struggled with his faith for a long time, during junior high mostly. In high school, he seemed to come into his own all the way around. Last year at youth summer camp, he had a true experience with God. He heard God give him instructions on the relationship he was in at the time. It was very difficult for all of us, but he has grown in his faith and well, just grown to mature in a wonderful way.

Tonight, he lead the youth Senior high class. I have been helping with the junior high class, but the other teacher took them for me so that I could sit in and listen to what Michael had to share. He spoke on "The Heavenly Father". He writes in journal pretty much every day, just thoughts that he has about life. This one particular journal entry, he was writing to God and called him Heavenly Father. Apparently, that was not the way he generally address God. He looked up the definition of Heavenly and Father and did a comparison.

What struck me was that he was sharing this with his peers. He is the only Senior in the youth department at church and all of the kids up there look up to him. They really respect him. The lesson was interactive with the kids. It felt like I was just watching my son talk to his friends about God and their relationship with God. I love that church for my kids is so non-traditional for the most part. There aren't any set rules like when I was growing up. They are just who they are and they are accepted 100%. As I listened to Michael speak, I watched Ben's reaction, listening to his brother speak. There is such a level of respect there that it makes my heart so full.
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Ask Your Mom

The picture is of a fortune that was found yesterday in Alyssa's fortune cookie. Ironic, to say the least. First it's Mother's Day today. Second, she and I had just had a little "heart to heart" about our relationship.

When the kids were little, it was up to my then husband to be the gift getter for the kids for Mother's Day. I remember hand-made cards that I still have and things from preschool etc, etc. As they got older and my marriage started to crumble, it wasn't so special. I can't remember now if it was my first of second Mother's Day as a single mom, but that weekend visitation fell on his weekend. He asked me if I wanted to switch (because the "papers" state that I can have the kids on Mother's Day and he on Father's Day). "Well, actually no," I said, "because all I ever really wanted on Mother's Day was to be pampered and allowd to sleep in and let you take over and be a dad. Yet, when we tried that you ended up yelling at them so much that I couldn't sleep and ended up getting up anyway. So this year - you take them all weekend and I will get them at 6:00 and have my own Mother's Day then."

It tended to fall that way for a few years. This year they were supposed to be with him too, but because of circumstances I won't go into, they stayed with me. It has turned out to be a wonderful thing. As the kids get older they have more awareness of me and Mother's Day and what the two are all about.

Last night, Ben wanted to take me to dinner "where ever I want to go". Of course, knowing he loves Sushi as much as I do, but hasn't really experienced a Sushi Bar, I suggested MK Sushi. He was so cute! We got there and sat at the bar. He leaned over and said "I only have $80." I assured him we will leave under $80. Pretty much, he had only had a California Roll, so I ordered the Yummi Yummi Roll and the Happy Roll (see pictures below) because they are really just two different versions of a snazzied up California Roll. It was so nice to just be there, talking like adults or sorta maybe like teen-adults? He is very mature for his age and I love talking with him, as I do with all of my kids.

Happy Roll (makes me very happy!)

Yummi Yummi Roll (speaks for itself)

Sunday night, Michael and Ashleigh took her mom and me to dinner at Bucca de Beppo. What a treat that was! The reservations were made late and so we couldn't get in until 8pm, so Michael and I went over to Ashleigh's house and played cards with her parents. They do this every day, every night it makes me jealous. I found out that her dad grew up somewhere up North and in the winter all they could od was play cards, so that's where it came from. I have been before. It's always fun. I want to make it a habit to go spend time with them. I have learned something today. Having children is something I knew I always wanted, but I wasn't REALLY sure why. Now I know. They are fun to be with - most of the time.

Jonathan bought me a necklace and earring set and I just love it. Normally, I am not a necklace wearer because the chain never seems to fit right. But this one I love and I have worn every day. It was a wonderful Mother's Day.

I hope all of the Mothers out there had a wonderful day, too.
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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Back to Work

(Note: Random picture - yes. I like it. It's my brother, Andy, and me in New Orleans, circa 1982)

Monday was my first day back to work - same company, different position on a different floor - same building. It is great to be back to work, getting up every morning with a purpose. While it is great to be here, it has been a little on the frustrating side. My email is now on but I am not receiving any new emails. Here is the issue as I understand it:

When I was laid off in April, my email began to be forwarded to my former boss in case anyone had a question for me and didn't realize I was no longer working here. Now that I am back, they have me back in the system, but for some unknown reason, they can't just changed the forward on my email. It seems very ridiculous to me, but I am giving corporate IT the benefit of the doubt right now that they are overworked.

It was good to be off for four weeks, but I have found that I am very much a schedule person. I couldn't ever work from home on a permanent basis. I need a good reason to take a shower and fix my hair in the morning. Taking the kids to school isn't one of those good reasons. I tried to plan things each day, but that didn't always work out and then I would feel overworked at the end of the day. Once I knew I was going back, I decided to take some time for myself and just be lazy... i.e. taking a shower at 4pm because I couldn't stand myself anymore.

Benjamin has a band concert this Friday, his final junior high...better yet MY final junior high concert (for a few years anyway - whether Jonathan likes it or not!) I believe his ensemble is going to be performing that night, too. I will record it and post next week. Michael is wrapping up his senior year. Baccalaureate is on the 17th. Alyssa has decided to quit band and focus on her IB (International Baccalaureate) classes next year. Jonathan has Field Day on Friday and is getting used to walking home. That's a pretty short but thorough summary of what all is going on at our house. Oh! And we are getting new carpet on the 26th. I will definitely have to take pictures and post about that.

So more to come as the month progresses. I may be going to Memphis for training in a week or so. I'll let you know!
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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Come Hell or High Water

Isn't that the old saying? That's what I felt like trying to get these kids off to prom last night. Of all the days for the weather forcast to be not only wrong on timing but REALLY wrong on timing, did it really have to be today? We knew it was going to rain but, from what I understood, I didn't think the heavy rains were going to hit until after the kids were on their way to Dallas.

I took Michael over to Ashleigh's about 4:00 - younger boys in tow. Michael (as you can see) was incredibly handsome and Ashleigh was as beautiful as expected. We took a few pictures at her house and then went over to a family friend's so that she could see Ashleigh and Michael and we could take some pictures there. I was joking around about "wait until you get married" because of all of the flashes and poses. Ok, I CAN wait. One thing at a time, please.

(Logan and Michael have been best friends since elementary school)

There were four couples going together, sitting together, hanging out all night together. The next stop was the house were they were all meeting up for group pictures. This is when the heavy rains started coming. And when it started it just never let up. During all of the picture taking we were watching the weather on a computer. It was going right towards Dallas so pretty much they were going to be driving with the storms. As parents, we didn't want to send the kids off with the risk of an accident or anything. It just didn't seem like it was going to get any better and they were running out of time. One of the parents had rented an Expedition so Michael and Ashleigh went in that truck. At least it was nice and big.

By the time they were getting to the car, the streets were so filled with water that they had to jump over small streams to get in. I just couldn't believe how much it had rained in a relatively short amount of time. The weather was calling for hail and strong winds, but I never saw or heard any hail, thank the Lord. The most comforting factor was just knowing that these boys are very responsible. They understood the importance of getting there and not goofing off on the way. It was so nice to see all the parents there and the kids respecting everyone.

They made it safely and had a good time. Now I'm just waiting to hear how it was. My baby boy is nearing the end of his high school years.

LD Bell High School Senior Prom 2009
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