Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's Been a While!

Oh my gosh has it really been a week since I posted?  What the heck is wrong with me???  I have got to take a look at my priorities!

Well, seven days and counting until summer vacation.  The school days are almost over, and it's funny how silly they get at the end.  I'm sure it's almost pointless to try to teach the kids much during these last two weeks, they're probably so squirrelly.  They fill the time with field trips, track and field days, and events like "Franks with Fathers."  Which, by the way, was a huge hit in our family.

While they count their days down to no more school, I count my days down until the sweet three month break from waking with an alarm clock, worrying about homework and permission slips, spelling tests, academic performance, and backpacks.  Now my worries are band lessons, baseball, football, weekly pool dates at Gramma's, and keeping them from complaining about boredom.  I love this time of year.

And today I have to do laundry.  I know!  Shocking.  Laundry laundry laundry.  Someday instead of a chute somebody's going to invent a conveyor belt where it just drives the clothes through a wash cycle and then back into the drawers, all folded and fresh.  The Whirlpool Magic Belt.  But until then, I spend at least 5 of 7 days with a large chunk of time spent sorting, washing, swapping, folding, ironing, hanging, and stuffing.  And when it's a sport season there's even more pressure because I have to make sure the uniform parts are all done and ready.  So they are magically there for the grabbing for the kids.  They think I do it for them, but really I do it for me.  Because I've had those days of screaming and running around frantically through the house, five minutes after we were supposed to leave, yelling "where the heck is your baseball shirt/hat/glove/nut cup/football jersey/uniform pants/insert your whatever here"!?!?!  And insanely hollering about how everybody needs to take more responsibility in our home and how I don't wear this stuff so how am I supposed to know where they put it and why is it so difficult to get things down the chute and now we're super late and would somebody PLEASE fill the damn water bottles and start loading the car and could somebody PLEASE take the dog out to pee so we can all get out of here and enjoy some family bonding?????  Been there, too many times.

Ahhhh.  Let me take a sip of my coffee.

I think I know why I haven't been blogging as much.  My usual routine is to sit down here and write after the kids go to school.  If I don't do it then, the day sort of gets away from me.  And with this nice weather, my temptation is always to take my coffee out on to the porch.  I tried blogging from out there once, with my iPad.  I hooked up my wireless keyboard to it, and typed away.  I had this awesome post all ready, and then it went to another page because I had filled up the first page.  The whole thing just disappeared, and I couldn't find the first page.  And I realized that what I could see had no formatting.  Like when you press "return" to skip a line.  Not there.  It was just one formless, giant paragraph, and I couldn't figure it out.  I'll have to try to get better at that, because while it was working it, was pretty awesome to be out there while I was writing.  Now I have to remind myself to park in the office for a bit and get some writing done.  I feel more tense, I think, when it's been a while since I've released my random junk on here.  But even now, as I sit in here, I can hear the birds outside, and I think I just heard my loveseat on the porch whispering, "I'm here, and nobody's sitting on me......come tastes better out here......."  Peer pressure.

People, I need to figure out my goofy dog situation.  I live on a hobby farm (duh).  I have lots of space out here, and six months ago I thought I have the perfect place for a dog, we need a dog.  So we got one.  Little Freddy.  Only he's not really little.  He's awesome, and we love him to pieces, but we are still learning this whole dog thing.  Out here, everyone has dogs.  And they're outside all day, usually.  They just hang around.  I took it for granted that country dogs just do that.

Freddy doesn't.

Yes, I'm talking about you.
Freddy is a hound of some sort.  He follows his nose.  And he wants to run across the road to see the dogs that live over there.  Or run for miles chasing a squirrel or a rabbit.  I know he could get hit by a car and that terrifies me.  I know he could get so far away he wouldn't find home again.  And I know it's rude to have a dog that goes to other people's places without an invitation.  The dogs across the way roam over here sometimes, and it is frustrating.  So here we have a dog, and we live on a farm.  And for the six months that we have had him, we take him out to do his business.  On a leash.  It's almost embarrassing.  We let him off the leash once in a while to play fetch, but only when we're directly playing with him.  If we want to just be outside and not be constantly engaging him, we have to tie him up or put him in.  It's just stupid.  We bought one of those shock collars with a remote, and the idea is that we're going to work with him for a couple days and give him a quick zap when he leaves the area that we want him to stay in, and that might train him, but really, we don't know what we're doing.  I think it's just magic that all these other farmers have dogs that just hang around.

And for my own sanity, I HAVE to be able to let him out.  Just open the damn door when he's all whiny and let him run out there, then let him in when he's ready to come back in.  And we can't fence this place, that would be insane.

So, if you have any words of wisdom, I'd love to hear them.

Well, enough rambling.  Have a great day, everyone.  I'll figure out the iPad and write more often.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Another TV Season in the Can--Let's Sell Some Junk!

The season finale of Glee was last night.  As usual, I waited until the kiddos were in bed and then went down to watch it in peace.  Have I mentioned how much I love my DVR?  I love my DVR.  It was such a good episode!  Some of the music was a little weak, in my opinion, but they did a nice job capturing the emotion of graduation.  I cried, but then I will cry sometimes because of a good commercial.  Sigh.

I can't stand season finale season.  I love TV, and knowing my shows are ending and my DVR won't be picking up any new episodes is a big bummer.  Hopefully I will do the responsible thing and fill my time with other, more important pursuits.  Like cleaning my house and actually putting clothes away once the laundry is done.  Although, my hubby is pretty good at finding series that we haven't been watching that we then need to start watching by DVD or Netflix.  Then we obsess over it and stay up until the wee hours of the night watching episode after episode.  This happened with the Sopranos, 24, Dexter, Breaking Bad, and Sons of Anarchy.  Hubby is not always a good influence on me.

I have been remiss in updating my lovely readers about my progress in my Weight Watchers.  Yesterday I  hit 8.8 pounds lost.  That's pretty good, actually.  Just over a pound more and I will have lost 10 pounds.  Sweet.  My motivation is still hanging in there, and after 6 weeks I think that's a success.  For me, at least. Now I have to get off my butt some more.  My progress feels good so far, though.  I'm feeling a little stronger and more confident, and certainly healthier.  I love how I feel when I'm eating healthy, but it really makes me kick myself for all the times I've let it go and fallen apart.  I really don't understand why I let it happen, when nothing about the trip UP the scale feels good.

I wanted to talk about an upcoming event.  Every year, in my brother's neighborhood, they hold this GINORMOUS garage sale.  Deserving of the all-caps, by the way.  It's seriously over 100 homes that participate.  It's like the State Fair of Garage Sales.  Hoarders plan their year around it.  Brother and SIL1 have made it really fun.  They live on a main corner of the neighborhood, and invite a bunch of other families they know to bring their crap over and sell it, and we make a big crazy day of it.

It's a one-day sale.  It starts, officially, at 8:00 a.m.  But by 6:00 a.m you have people coming over, sometimes rudely asking if they can come in your garage and look around at what you have to sell.  We have started putting a big sign down at the end of the driveway the night before that says "NO SALES UNTIL 8:00 AM!!!".  It doesn't always work.  These people are motivated and strange.

I go over there every year on Friday night and spend the night.  Trying to help with the clean up, pricing, and set up, but mostly chatting with SIL1 and being a guinea pig for brother's new cocktail recipes.  This year is going to be especially nice because with hubby's new schedule the kids can stay home and not come with me, so we'll get a lot done (ahem).

I have a crapload of junk to bring this year.  It's going to be a big one, I think.  Last year we didn't do the sale because we were all on my big 40th birthday trip to Vegas.  So people have a buildup of junk.  It's so cleansing to get rid of it all!  And this is an amazingly successful day.  It is such an event, there are seriously people who travel here every year from other states to walk around these sales.  Almost everything gets sold.  Most of the conversation of the day is a lively discussion about what sells and what doesn't.  We all drink bloody marys in the morning, and usually the beer starts being consumed before 9:00 a.m.  It's such a good thing this is only once a year.

Anyway, the sale is the first Saturday of June.  It's coming quick, and I have SO much work to do before then.  It's a good thing my shows are going into reruns.  I'm sure I'll be able to find a bin of junk from each room in the house, not to mention the truckloads we have in the outbuildings.  Lots of wiping down, pricing, and hauling over to the brother's house.

If any of you want to come to the craziness, drop me a note and I'll let you know the details.  It's worth seeing.  Bring your wallet and your camera.  There is the most excellent people watching!

I have to get my kids ready to catch the bus.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Party Insecurity

Summer is coming, people.  We officially have 12 school days left, including today.  I am almost as excited as my boys are.  To not have backpacks to worry about, homework, waking them up every morning.  It's going to be great.  For the first half, of course.  By Late July we start with the "I'm bored" and my countdown until when I can send them back to school.  But I'm living for today.  Yay Summer!

We're in the thick of youth baseball season, and I'm loving it.  I was a bit concerned going into this season, since my kids are at ages where they are on different leagues that play different nights.  So I have baseball four nights a week, and two separate tournament weekends.  That's a lot!  But so far it's been great.  I don't know what I love best:  watching the kiddos play, being outside on these lovely spring evenings, or the company of the other baseball moms.  I've said it before, I'll say it again:  I love other moms.  It's like we're all sisters, and there's an instant kinship.  Especially when you find out they wish we could tailgate games with a cooler of beer as much as I do!

So that takes me to the subject of this post.  I'm stepping out of my comfort zone this season.  I am entertaining on a couple different occasions, at my house.  Inviting people who have never been here before.  I know that sounds ridiculous to be nervous about, but I'm nervous.

I love where I live.  I really do.  But it's different.  And it's a ways out here.  I see all these families at school and at ball games who bike to the school and the ballpark.  Who already know each other because they are neighbors.  Who share a bond because of shared neighborhood problems, gossip or parties.  Who babysit each other's kids, know each other's dogs, and whose kids can just pop over to other kids' houses and ask if the kids can come out to play.  All of this is foreign to me now.  We are pretty isolated out here in a lot of ways.  I am sometimes envious of the convenience these other families have, even though many moms have told me they long for the privacy we have.  Hubby and I have had the conversation many times, about how tempted we are sometimes to move into town and have a simpler life.  But the pros out here usually outweigh the cons, but not by much.  Plus, my house is an ancient farm house, with an old farmhouse basement and small rooms.  Not like the newer houses that most people live in now.  Ahem.

Normally when I entertain out here (at least since we've had kids), it's family.  Y'all know I have a great big, local extended family, so when we have birthday parties, holidays, or barbecues, they can get pretty big.  Hubby and I are also blessed to be close to our siblings, so we have them out for dinner and a fire many times in the summer.  It's comfortable, fun, and easy.  So I don't know why I have any worries about having other people over.  I think I feel like I'm asking so much of them, to drive all the way out here.  It's 15-30 minutes each way for anyone on our ball teams or at our school.  I know in my head that's not a big deal.  I make the trip every day!  I worry that since I don't know everyone that well, they might not want to come out.  It's so silly!

So in a couple weeks I'm hosting a Lia Sophia party.  It's a jewelry thing, like Pampered Chef, where it's a home party for a person who has a home business.  You get my drift.  So now, not only am I asking people to come out here, but I am asking them to buy stuff!  Yikes!  I haven't had one of these things since right after I was married, and I threw a Pampered Chef party to hopefully earn a pots and pans set that I couldn't afford otherwise.  That was over 15 years ago.  But I met a very nice lady at the baseball open house (of course) and she sells it, and it's really lovely stuff, so I thought I'd help her out.  I'm sure if I was doing that kind of thing my friends would help me out.

It's at 7 p.m. on a Friday night.  The day after school ends.  Am I nuts?  Hopefully people will have a curiosity factor at least about my house and want to come out.  I hope my dog behaves.  I plan on serving some snacks and some booze.  That might help.  I hope people show up, and I hope they have fun.  But most of all I hope I feel like they enjoy coming out here enough to hopefully come again.

Because at the end of baseball season I'd like to have a huge (HUGE) barbecue out here for my kids' ball teams and any other baseball families we know.  With lots of people.  And kids.  And grilling.  And beer.  And I want lots of people to come.

So after this season, hopefully my irrational fears will be put to rest.  And hopefully I'll get my house cleaned up enough to not be worried about it.

Augh!  I'm driving myself nuts.  When I go over to other people's houses, I certainly don't mind driving out there.  I always think they have lovely homes.  I enjoy myself.  I don't know why I've let myself get so weird about this.  I'm a social girl.  I can throw a mean party.  And darn it, people like me.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me.

It was my birthday yesterday.  Normally I love my birthday.  I was smart enough to be born on a perfect day of the year, May 16, 1971.  And I think that I have had beautiful weather on my birthday every year.  Seriously!  I almost count on it.  And yesterday did not disappoint.

But it was very quiet and noneventful.  Not much exciting about turning 41.  My siblings and I flew out to Vegas last year after my birthday to celebrate my 40th.  I can't do that every year, and so this one didn't really compare to last year, but that's not fair.  It was on a Wednesday.  Ugh.  The only more boring day would have been Tuesday.  I don't know why, but Tuesday seems less exciting than Wednesday, so I guess I should be happy with the Wednesday.  The hubby took me to see Dark Shadows at lunch time, so that was our big celebration.  It was super fun--funnier than I even thought!  I have had an insane crush on Johnny Depp ever since 21 Jump Street, so I'd see anything he's in, but I thought this one looked especially fun, and it did not disappoint.  So we did that, then we came home.

Later on A had baseball practice, and the hubby took him on the motorcycle, so J and I stayed home to relax.  Another birthday present for me!  I spent the evening on my porch, had a snack out there, drank an adult blueberry lemonade, and watched episodes of Parenthood on my iPad.  In my jammies.  It was AWESOME!  So the day ended really well, in my opinion.  No limos in Vegas, but still--a good one.

So here I am, no longer 40.  I am IN MY 40's.  Middle aged.  I could get depressed about it, but middle aged is pretty good.  I plan on living longer than 82 years, anyway.  And thinking back on my 41 years, it's been pretty eventful.  41 years is a pretty long time.  I look back to my earliest memories, and they seem like a REALLY long time ago.  And judging by my outfits, they were a long time ago.  So if I live that long again starting now, that's a pretty long life.  I'm happy with middle aged.  In fact, I think I'd like to embrace old age now, so I don't have to ponder it later.

I already have the wrinkles.  Especially my hands.  My hands have looked old ever since I can remember.  It's genetics.  It's as if the skin on my hands has always been too big, and now I'm adding some of those awesome age spots to the saggy skin on my hands.  Sweet.  So instead of going all Diane Keaton and wearing gloves all the time, I'd like to start showing them off.  I'm going to wear super giant rings on my hands, and really large, colorful bracelets that clink around whenever I move my hands.  That'll show 'em.

My feet are aging too.  My heels get dry and cracked unless I constantly work on them with a tool that resembles a woodworker's rasp.  So I think I'm going to start wearing orthopedic sandals and painting my toenails mauve.  Well, maybe I can't go that far.  I like my toenails bright blue or purple.  So I'll keep them like that, and proudly show off my dry heels.  Maybe I'll even be cheeky and start wearing some sparkly toe rings.

I can't wear shorts anymore, I don't feel comfortable in them.  I have whitest of white legs that are speckled with pink dots.  And blue veins.  However, if I continue to get these age spots, before long they will appear tan.  So maybe I'll be able to wear shorts again soon.  Woohoo!

I have noticed lately that my eyelids like to droop down and rest on my eyelashes, especially when I first wake up in the morning.  That's helpful--soon I will no longer need to wear sunglasses or a ball cap on the sunny days.  My eyelids will act like a mini-awning, shading my sensitive eyes from the sunshine.  What convenience.

So I'm 41.  And when I get old, I shall wear purple.  Good thing purple is one of my favorite colors, and I already have plenty of it in my closet.  Now I need to find my local chapter of red hat ladies and sign up.

I look forward to aging, actually.  I want to be one of those spicy old ladies that swears and drinks.  I want to wear too much jewelry and crazy colors.  I want to carry a really crazy purse filled with all sorts of strange things like candy and earplugs and socks.  I want to drive a really big, heavy, boat-like car that makes me look small and petite.

Being old is going to be fun.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mom's Day!

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!  It's going to be a beautiful day today.

So this week, on Facebook, TV shows, and in talking to my other mom-friends, it has become VERY clear to me that all most moms want for Mother's Day is some relaxation, and yes they may admit this in whispers, but TIME ALONE.

Funny how on this day, that's almost never what a mom gets.  We get big messy breakfasts in bed.  Or brunches at some fancy place.  Flowers.  We have family gatherings.  Maybe dinners out.  Gifts.  I know everyone does it differently, but I don't know any mom who doesn't have a busy day on Mother's Day.  And, by the way, we are always the ones doing the shopping and/or cleaning or cooking.  And it's not that they're not fun, or we don't appreciate the sentiment.

My Mother's Days used to be crazy.  I would do Race for the Cure in the early morning, then meet up with my side of the family for brunch at a nice restaurant where there was usually mimosas (yum) and a chocolate fountain (yum) or something like that, and all the moms would exchange gifts (that the moms all shopped for).  Then we hurry out to meet up with the hubby's side of the family.  Here there would be about 8 or 10 moms that we would have shopped for gifts for.  There would be a large rowdy gathering and gift exchange.  This would go on until the end of the day, when we would come home exhausted.

It was fun.  It was.  I did enjoy the day.  But if ever asked, that is not my first choice of how I would have liked to spend it.

Sadly, over the years, Mother's Day has changed slowly.  We lost three key moms on my hubby's side in a span of 8 years.  His darling Aunt, his mom, and Nana.  They were all devastating losses, and we are now left with my generation of moms being the only moms in the group.  So obviously that has changed the day.  We don't even gather with the whole side of the family anymore for Mom's Day.  I still get little gifts for my sisters-in-law, but that's about it.  And sadly, we usually make a trek out to the cemetery.

Anyway, I have a point with all this.  We as moms, like I said before, tend to want some alone time and some quiet relaxation for Mother's Day.  While we appreciate the sweet homemade cards from our kids, and the sentiment behind our hubbies stressing out over "what to get us", what we really want is a day to step out of ourselves.  Funny how on "Mother's Day", we wish we could take a day off from being a mother.  But here's my idea:  Embrace Mother's Day.  Embrace the Hallmark-yness about it.  Enjoy your cards, your corsage, your free flower at brunch, seeing all the other busy moms out there while you're out and about today.  Enjoy being a mother today.  Get outside into the beautiful spring air and look at your family in the sunshine.  Relish the fact that YOU made that family.  Wish yourself a happy Mother's Day. Eat naughty pastry at brunch.  Enjoy a cocktail at dinner time.  Hug your kids, and gush about whatever they give you.  Kiss your hubby on the mouth for the effort he put into making your day today.  Give in to the craziness.

And make it clear to your hubby or whoever else that you need to that you are giving yourself a Mother's Day gift.  That one day this week, not Sunday, but another day, you have given yourself from sun up to sun down.  You will leave the house.  By yourself.  You will not be seeing your family that day, and they don't even need to know where you are.  And do it.  Leave.  Go to Target by yourself.  Go buy a ridiculously over-priced cup of coffee.  Go to an antiques store.  Look at furniture.  Whatever.  Walk around a lake.  Go see a movie and keep all the popcorn and pop for yourself.  Sit outside and read 50 Shades of Grey.  Get your hair done.  Whatever!  That is your Mother's Day gift to yourself.  And when you get home that night, you will be happy to see your family.  Your heart rate will thank you.

That's my plan, anyway.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Just. Be. Kind.

Recently a 13-year old girl here in Minnesota hung herself after being bullied and tormented at school.

She was 13.  A 13-year old child.  Sweet, innocent, had not even begun to live her life yet.  Thirteen!

I don't understand this.  I don't think anyone can.  This is not an isolated incident, by any means.  It seems to be getting worse and worse, no matter how many groups are formed at school to battle the bullying, or awareness walks, or t-shirts or whatever.  What is going on?

It is so terrifying to send our kids to school every day.  We hear things like this, and cannot help but picture our kids being the target of such hateful actions.  Or, God forbid, being cruel to another kid.  We can try our best to teach our kids, but in the end, do we really have any control over this?  What can we do?

When I was a kid, I was picked on.  There were certainly kids that were picked on worse than me, but what I went through was certainly traumatizing.  We didn't have a ton of money growing up, so I never had the "cool" clothes.  Or the correct brand of shoes.  I wasn't allowed to wear make up when most of the other girls were.  My hair was curly, and didn't work with most of the 80's trends.  I was shy, and did not have an ounce of athletic ability.  I had spit balls spit at me on the bus.  I had my books knocked out of my arms.  I had people make fun of my clothing.  I didn't get invited to parties.  Mean girls gave me notes on the bus that said they were going to beat me up when I got off the bus, so most days I just sat in front and ran off the bus, and then ran all the way home, terrified.  I'm sure that made it worse, as they watched me and laughed, probably never actually wanting to fight, just humiliate me.

This was about a two-year period in my life, that seemed to last forever.  Seventh and eighth grade.  I was 13-ish.  Once it passed, my life was just fine, people left me alone, and I had a pretty fun time in high school.  But I'll never forget that feeling.  And I was a nice kid.  I was NEVER mean to anyone.  I was average looking, quiet, but not weird or anything.  I was made a target, I think, because it was easy.  I didn't know what to do to stop it, so I did nothing but endure it.  Just surviving to the next day.  And it wasn't really that bad, looking back.  During class I was pretty much left alone.  Nobody bothered me during off-school hours.  I had a LOT of time that was just fine and normal.

Now, that is not the case.  There is cell phones and texting.  Facebook and e-mail.  The bullying turns into a 24-hour problem, never stopping.  Relentless.  And kids are cruel.  There gets to be a pack mentality, and it's rare that a kid has the courage to stand up for the victim and stop it.  Kids don't tell their parents for fear that it will get worse.  I know this because I felt the same way.  My mom would become unhinged if I told her everything that was happening, and I certainly did not want any of the kids that were picking on me to see her come into the school, or to be pulled into a meeting with the principal and our parents.  That would make it so much worse for me when nobody was there to protect me.  So you just endure.

This young 13-year old girl who took her own life did not confide to her parents.  It doesn't mean her family was not supportive and loving.  It means she was terrified of making the problem worse, and she could not see a solution.  What a horrific feeling it must have been.

I send my two boys to school every day.  They are in 3rd and 4th grade, so they're still pretty young.  Already we see and hear hints of kids being mean.  Bossy kids at baseball, strutting around trying to be the toughest kid.  Teams still being picked at recess for sports, where my kid (and if it wasn't my kid it would be someone else's) is always picked last.  And knows it.  I have boys, so I think it's not quite as bad for them yet.  But there are already mean girls.  Talking about how people dress, who's fat and who's skinny, making mean comments about artwork that other kids made or items they brought in for show and tell.  We tell our kids every single day to be kind.  To never be cruel.  To always think about how you make people feel, the way your actions and words can impact others.  To always stand up for kids who are being picked on or who seem sad.

And now we are teaching them to stand up for themselves.  That if a kid is mean to them, they don't need to just bow their heads in shame.  Tell them to knock it off.  Try not to be afraid.  Talk to us about it.  Don't let yourself be a victim.

I think it's so awful that this stuff goes on.  I wish I knew what to do about it.  I plan to try my hardest to stay aware of who their friends are.  Their moods when they get home from school.  Their activities on the computer, once that starts up.  Their social media and texting.  It's a shame, but we have to be nosy parents.

My heart is aching for the family who lost their little girl for such a senseless reason.  And I can't help but feel rage about the kids who hurt her.  What kind of parents or families are raising these kids who are so mean?  I cannot understand.

Sometimes I wish I could pull my kids out of school during middle school and home-school them, then send them back to school for high school.  I wish there was a way I could protect them from the damage these bullies can do.

But all I can do for now is burst a little of their childhood bubbles by making sure they know that sometimes other kids are assholes.  That they will get their feelings hurt.  That kids will be mean sometimes.  And it is never all right to be cruel, but that if we encounter cruelty we have to rise above it and do our part to stop it.  It can grow like a cancer.  We adults are powerless, really.  No matter how many assemblies we hold, ribbons we tie, or even movies we make.  We need to empower our kids to stop it, because they are the only ones who can.

Remember how our parents taught us, "sticks and stones can break my bones but names will never hurt me"?  Look where that got us.

Words do hurt.  They can even be fatal.

Just.  Be.  Kind.  Is it really that difficult?  And parents, for God's sake, set a good example.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It's Hard to be 10.

My poor A.  He's sometimes an anxious kid, and I've written about some of his stuff on here before, like here.  He will keep himself up at night sometimes, worrying about little things like remembering to bring a book to school, or how he can build a cardboard hoop in his room to shoot hoops.

But currently he has a brand new source of anxiety:  girls.

He's 10.  And as young as that seems, I remember having TO-DIE-FOR crushes at that age.  And there is a girl at school who apparently has a crush on him.  And she's an older woman.  A FIFTH GRADER!!!! Cradle robber.  My A is a sweet, innocent 4th grader.  My God, this girl might already wear make up.  Harlet.  Anyway, she sent her friend over the other day to ask A if he would "go out with" her.  (Remember that move?  Yeah, it never worked for me either.)  He said "no thank you".  Then that night he came down in his pj pants after laying in bed for an hour.  He said he couldn't sleep because he's worried about this girl.  His words were, "I'm just worried because she has a crush on me and I'm not ready to date yet."  Oh.  My.  God.  Hilarious.  So hubby and I just acted casual, no biggie, you know, and said, "that's cool, buddy, just be friendly to her.  You certainly don't have to be her boyfriend."  I just kept telling him to be nice to her, though.  I know all too well how awful it is when you are crushing on a guy and he's mean to you.  He seemed fine after our little chat and went to bed.

So this morning we're walking to the end of the driveway to catch the bus, and he says, "mom, it's going to be another hard day."  I asked him why, and he said, "that girl."  He said that his two friends at school are always pushing him over to her to get him to talk to her.  I swear to God, this must be some rite of passage or something.  He doesn't seem traumatized or anything, so I just said he should tell them that he doesn't like it when they do that, or else just talk to her so then they will leave him alone about it.  I don't know what to tell him!  I'm a horrible mom, because I think the whole thing sounds hysterical.  But I don't want A to be terrified of girl germs or anything.  I'm sure he'll figure it out.  And luckily the school year only has a month left, and then this vixen will be moving on to middle school.

OH!  And then, and THEN, last night on his way up to bed A asked me how boobs grow in.  And when.  So now I think this young lady might be getting her boobs.  I told him that we girls are flat like boys when we're little, and then they just start growing when we start growing up, between the ages of 10 and 13 or so (or for me, not until the summer between junior high and high school.  sigh).  Again, just very matter-of-fact.  He was fine with that.  Oh, the conversations I'm sure I will be having soon . . .

Hubby and I were talking about all this young romance and popularity stuff.  It's pure hell when you're a kid.  A has informed us, very calmly, that he's not a "popular" kid.  He said he gets picked last when they're playing football at recess.  And he seems fine with it.  I'm trying not to worry about it until he doesn't seem fine with it, but it's painful.  There's an "it" kid in his grade--the one that runs the fastest, that seems the coolest.  And A is not in his close circle.  We've tried to tell him the typical parent stuff, like how that all shifts and evolves as you get older, and how as long as he's nice to everybody he'll be fine, you know the drill.  But I can tell he's very aware of the pecking order.  So we were talking about how universal this stuff is, once the kids were upstairs.  Hubby had a good observation.  When kids are young like my guys, there is an "it" boy.  The boy that all the girls get starry-eyed for.  The one that they write his name all over their stuff.  The one that they ride bikes past his house in hopes for a glimpse of him.

Then it shifts.  And sometime in early teen years, it turns into the "it" girl.  That one girl who turns all the boys' heads.  The one they're all afraid to approach, unless they're the big jock on campus.  The girl that all the other girls wish they were, until they're wise enough to just be happy with who they are.  I was never the "it" girl.  Or good friends with her.  And I never dated an "it" guy.  But it all worked out in the end.  I know there is no way I can convince my kids that it's not a big deal, because when you're in the thick of it, it is a big deal.  The biggest.  I just have to love them through it, I guess.  And try to make sure they know how great they are anyway.

Augh!  Growing up sucks.