Friday, August 31, 2012

A Change for the Better

There have been alot of changes in my life lately that have caused me heartache and tears, not necessarily because they were bad, but because they were altering.  As this week of new beginnings has played out, however, I have noticed a very positive youngest son, Dakota.

Dakota is a wild child.  He is high energy, high maintenance, full of sass and swag.  He is adorable and has a kind, loving heart, but he is also quick to fire up an attitude, has a hot temper and can test the patience of even the most saintly people.  This week, however, I have seen a huge change.  Last week he whined and cried about school.  He didn't want it to start.  He didn't want to do work.  He wasn't going to be able to play.  Saturday his brother moved out and went off to college.  Dakota stayed with his grandmom at home because I knew it was going to be a long day. I had alot of trouble adjusting and I cried alot over the next few days.  I am not usually one to cry.  Dakota always found me, told me it was okay, gave me a hug and stood by until I got it together.  We started school on Monday and my usually reluctant learner dove right in. He worked well independently, didn't give me a hard time about any of his lessons and declared looking up words in the dictionary fun!  

Usually during any given day, there is turmoil and attitude and meltdowns about going to the neighbors house to play with the twin  boys there.  This week Dakota did ask, but not until the end of the day and when I have told him he would only have an hour because we had baseball, he came right home when he should, changed his clothes and was ready to walk out the door.

At baseball practice on Thursday there he was, looking like Joe Cool in his brother's hand me down shades, black Maryland Terrapin hat, black under armor shirt and black shorts.  He was hustling (definitely not something Dakota normally does) and there was no attitude when he missed a play.  He was throwing with force and with accuracy.  He was hitting hard and running fast.  Who was this masked man?

We've had some conversations too.  About deer, being the youngest child, relationships, family, life, space....he's asked alot of questions and was really interested in discussing the answers.  In the past he would have grown impatient if I didn't answer like he wanted me to.  Now I was having meaningful conversations with him and enjoying every minute.

I have handed out praise again and again.  I really like this new Dakota!  It's all the best things about him.  He is kind, gentle, thoughtful and hardworking.  Could it be because his brother is away at college and he knows that he is the only one left?  Could it be that it is just a natural maturation for him?  His birthday is Monday and he will be eight.  Maybe that's his golden age?  I don't know, but whatever it is, I hope it lasts.  I always love my son.  I wouldn't trade him for the world and he's a great kid.  But the fact is, he's also hard to raise.  My little hothead can wear you down!  This new Dakota, though, is a joy.  He is a pleasure to be around and I am amazed at this new personality.  I don't know if it will last another day, another week or another month, but I sure am going to enjoy it while it lasts!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bump, Bump, Bump

So here lately there have been alot of bumps in the road that is my life.  I am having great difficulty adjusting to my older son being at college, but if anyone who knows me was listening, I've been warning you for more than a year that this was coming.  I know myself and this is one of my toughest challenges.  I thought all was going well for my son, though, until he called last night, already in over his head with girl troubles.  Oh, how I wish he would have waited to get into a relationship until after he had been there awhile.  But he didn't, and there are issues, and I am concerned that this is alot to handle for a kid who struggles with adjustment anyway and now has a new home, new classes, is going to be juggling these things with his job and now there is this relationship to navigate.  I will support him in whatever he chooses, but I so wish he would slow it down and enjoy meeting lots of new girls.

My marriage is having it's issues as well, but again, nothing new this time of year.  My husband works at a demanding job and then is an assistant head coach for a highly competitive high school football team and a head coach for a youth all star team of eighth graders for the county.  He has priorities that need to be taken care of and I exist just fine on my own, as he well knows.  The bump here is it's a tough transition for me, as well, to single parent and no companionship for months and months.

Homeschool has started this week, baby granddaughter is back full time, baseball practice has started for son #2 and there are a multitude of things on the horizon that need to be done or planned for and I am having trouble focusing on the tasks at hand.  Bump, bump, bump.  Feels like I'm taking all the back roads and it's going to be a long time before I find a smooth path.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


Today was day 2 of our second grade homeschooling year.  It went okay in the morning, except my granddaughter decided sleep was not going to be her thing.  We doubled up on the subjects we missed yesterday afternoon since I had them planned out for the week and just decided to wait until Tuesday next week for the other subjects like Science and Health.  Dakota was cooperating well and while he was learning to look up words in the dictionary he said "I'm surprised!  I'm having fun!".  Well that was a plus!  We didn't do anything creative or wonderful...I am still reeling from this move to college by my older son and wonderful and creative have not rejoined my circle yet, but we got through, shared a few laughs and finished what was on the morning schedule right at noon.

The problems began after lunch....a return of last year's dilemma.  We take an hour lunch break.  In that time I cook lunch and feed Dakota and Natalie during the first 30 minutes and then sit down to decompress and eat my own lunch from 12:30 to 1:00.  Coming back from lunch, however, always poses a problem for Dakota who doesn't want to work again.  This has always been a struggle and today was no different.  So we struggled through the afternoon and Natalie decided that an afternoon nap wasn't in her agenda either.  I was very glad when we finally closed the books and called this homeschool day ended!

Now it's off to Dakota's first baseball practice of the fall.  I am not really looking forward to it, but it will get rid of some of his energy and maybe he will be ready to settle in when we get home.  Maybe.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Grade 2

So today my littlest son starts Grade 2!  Time sure is flying!  I always think of PreK, K and 1 as the fun grades, not worried too much about academics, although Dakota blew through his second grade curriculum last year.  To me, second grade starts the read adventure into elementary school.  You are experienced and ready.  You read well, write well and can hold a good conversation.  You have opinions and can support them.

So we started off welcoming Natalie about 7:45 and then all three of us had waffles with butter and jelly.  It is a nice morning out,, after a long day of soaking rain yesterday, so we put Nat in the pink car and the dogs on the leashes and took a twenty minute walk through the neighborhood, noticing how green the grass is after the rain, how blue the sky is and how it really still looks and feels like summer.  We will be noticing the changes in the season as we walk throughout the year.

Back inside Dakota got to go to his new morning station, Today's Special.  It has a fun or educational event of the day and then a small packet of work.  Focusing is hard this morning, but he didn't fight it, which I had anticipated. He got started right away, but it's just taking awhile.  Nat has cooperated and is down for her morning nap, hopefully sleeping until 11:00 or so we can get the "meat and potatoes" of our morning done.

One of those lessons I never seem to remember, is that things will not go exactly as planned.  We started our Back To School packet and then thought how cool it would be to so the Crayola offer to morph your photo into a cartoon to color instead of just drawing a self portrait.  So we spent 20 minutes creating a self portrait and then making a short comic strip of Dakota, aka Ryan Steele, the rock band star.  He loved it!  Guess we got our computer time and our art in for the day :-)  

So I get in touch with the library and the book I have my entire week's lesson based on was shipped 15 days ago and obviously lost.  Great.  So I call the library and they say it must be lost but another library about 10 minutes away has a copy.  So okay.  Now we are going to really be messing up our schedule, but we are going to say "what the hey" and take a lunchtime trip to the library, get that book and a few more, make it an adventure, and just cut out some of the other things we were going to do today.  Fine.  I can go with the flow.

To make a long story short, our first homeschool day turned into a half day.  We headed out, stopped by the drop off at Good Will, had lunch at Sorrentos with Dad, visited the library to get the book and then hung out there with friends, went to the bank, got gas and now we are home for 20 minutes before heading out again to pick up daughter #2 so she and I can go to the eye doctor while daughter #1 swings by to get the granddaughter and son #2.  Whew.  Surely wasn't the day I planned, but all is well.  Tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

I Miss Him

So the deed is son is settled nicely in his dorm room.  I met his roommate and his roommate's parents and they all seem very nice.  The room is okay.....not terrible.  To me it seems like someplace I definitely would not want to live.  To him, I am sure, it looks like paradise.  It's his first place of his own.  He can do what he wants, when he wants.  He can not make his bed, leave trash on the floor and eat all the crap he wants in one sitting if that's what he chooses :-).  He has his computer, his PS3, his helmets, a fridge, microwave and bed.  What more does one need at nineteen?  He called me last night briefly to say he was tired, happy and ready for to go do some more.  He texted me this morning before orientation and talked to his dad for awhile today, but I haven't heard his voice.  And my heart hurts....

I am not going to be the kind of mother who calls him constantly.  I will not infringe on his time.  I will not ask about every detail of his life.  But I will keep my phone close and hope that it will ring and treasure every little morsel of information he sends my way.

The house seems empty.  It's not.  We still have a seven year old here....a very active, noisy seven year old.  The husband and I are here.  The two dogs and the cat are here.  Just not the boy.  His room is neat and clean.  His bed is made.  But it is quiet.....way, way, way too quiet.  I blared the radio for awhile today just to not be able to hear myself think, because that's how it was around here....loud.  He played his music loudly and sang even louder.  I loved it.  Every minute.  I absolutely love to hear my son sing in his crazy out of tune way.  Let's be honest....I absolutely love every single thing about my son.  I have been madly in love with him from the minute he was born.....and I miss him.  Terribly.  I am on the verge of tears constantly.  My thoughts are always on him. My eyes find every picture of him hanging on the walls.  I have constant movies playing in my mind...Brian at 2lbs and in the NICU...Brian as a noisy toddler....Brian playing football at six....Brian sitting at the table for school at nine, Brian heading off to high school...Brian hugging me goodbye...Brian , Brian, Brian.  He was such a constant fixture in my life.  And I miss him.  I miss him.  I miss him so damn much.

I feel very guilty.  I do want him to have this experience.  I do think he's going to have a fantastic time.  I do think that when the first few days of hectic but fun activities die down he'll call to share more.  I feel guilty because most people's sons and daughters go much farther away.  I feel guilty because I am going to see my son for at least a little while on Wednesday, just three days away, and some moms won't see their kid till Thanksgivng.  I feel guilty because some people have a tragedy and wish with all their heart that their child was just at college and not lost to them forever.

God has always been good to me.  He has answered my prayers.  He has protected my children.  He has kept things manageable for me.  He tests me, but not enough to break me.  I know that God is helping me ease into this adult son thing.  I know he'll guide me through and that soon it won't hurt so much.  But today, right this minute, it's engulfing my soul.  I feel incredibly sad.  I miss my son.

Friday, August 24, 2012

New Beginnings

This is normally my favorite time of year.  I am usually all about new beginnings and September holds all that for me.  I love the coming of fall, the crisp, cool air, the start of books, new activities, a return to a normal schedule.  Except this year, our new beginning also includes an ending, and a very significant one.       My oldest son is beginning a new phase in his life as he moves out on his own and starts college tomorrow.  Wow! An incredible experience in itself and so much fun and excitement awaits him!  There is no one more deserving of this than my Brian, who makes great choices, always is kind, gives back, works couldn't ask for more in a son.  And through the years, even when it would have meant more friends and more fun to party with the crowd, he always chose to make better decisions, covet just a few close friends and spend alot of time with family.  Tomorrow after my husband and sister in law and I move him in, he has a three day list of activities that he is required to attend with all the other incoming freshman including giveaways, games, contests, block parties, lunches, meetings and more.  There will be lots of things to do every day and lots of people to do them with and he soooooo deserves that!  But with his new beginning comes the end of his childhood here at home.  There is no pretending that he's my little boy anymore.  I think back to those difficult toddler days, the loving sweet little grade schooler, the years and years of side by side homeschooling that were definitely some of the best days of my life, the sports, the championships, the vacations, the exploring together.  We lived every day to the fullest, made every day count and we were closerthanthis.  Always.

What I need to remember, however, is even though he will be at college, close by but not spending every night at home, he is still my son and I am still his mom and we are still closerthanthis in our hearts and always will be.  We might have to pick up the phone to share some of our experiences, but there will still be plenty we share together.  We have all our memories to help us through the tough times and our time apart will make the time we spend together even more special, if that can be possible.

So take wing, my sweet boy.  I may cry, but I will be okay.  I know nothing can change what we have....not time, nor distance.  You are my boy and I am your number one girl....always and forever.  I will take care of our house and your dog.  I will give her a ton of love and she will remind me of you. I will walk her and lay on the floor with her and rub her behind just like she likes best.  And before I know it you'll be home for the weekend, home for the Ravens games, home to hang out and then it will be Thanksgiving and then you'll be home for Christmas break.  We will all be fine.  Remember when you see my tears that they are just because I love you so very much, not because I don't want you to have this awesome experience.  I am selfish.  I would hide you away from the world and keep you all for myself if I could, but there is no one on this earth who deserves all the best more than you do.  So go.  Have fun!  Don't feel guilty because your mom is a blubbering mess.  When you feel homesick just pick up the phone.  We'll chat and laugh and it will be better.  You know where we live!  You can visit anytime.  All the choices are yours to make for whatever brings you the most happiness.Here, there, wherever you need to be at any given moment.  Dad and Koda and Kris and Keri ( and Riley and Raven and Joey) and I love you so very much and we are all proud of you and we are all right here behind you, there to cheer you on like we always have been since you were four years old and we're there to hold you up if you need a little strength.  Roots and wings, son.  It's what it all comes down to.  Strong roots.  Wings to fly way....and to fly back home.  You have it all. You always have.  Now it's time to take the next step.  It's the first step to the rest of your life and it's going to be terrific!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

A Day at the Zoo

Wednesday we made an impromptu trip to the Washington Zoo.  We hadn't been there in awhile, it wasn't supposed to be ridiculously hot, Kris was going back to work in ten days and Brian David was heading off to college in ten days.  So a zoo date was set and off we went.  We got a late start, but didn't hit any traffic.  It was crowded, but we parked and headed in.  Most of the animals were sleeping that we actually saw for the first hour or so.  Natalie is particularly taken with lions right now, but they were sleeping high on a hill and she couldn't see them.  She loved the statues and other pictures of animals, though, probably because she could actually touch them.  We saw the monkeys and went to the Invertebrate house.  The end, where the butterflies are all around, was a favorite for everyone but Kris, who wasn't crazy about them.  We lunched at the very expensive "food court" and then went in to see the pandas.  The boys and I got to see them, but Kris was over with Nat, who was enthralled once again with the exhibits she could touch and much less interested in the real thing.

We let Natalie run alot and it was a wake up call to all of us, I think, that she was this little toddler longer a baby.  She would go from place to place and side to side, enjoying her freedom and squealing with glee.  After the bird house we saw the elephants and then worked our way back down the hill.  It had been several hours and, while we had fun, I felt that we didn't actually get to see very much.  There were many empty cages and cases and lots of construction going on.

Our last stop was the lion exhibit where this time the lions were playing and roaring and fascinating to all of us.  I am not sure Natalie could really understand that this was the "real deal", but it was cool to see and I got some great pictures.  It was a nice day trip, but I am not sure I will go back until next year.  It's a long ride and parking is expensive and until all the new exhibits and construction finishes up, I don't think there will be as much to see.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Just the Two of Us

Dakota and I had a "just the two of us" vacation this past week at Jellystone campground.  The older guys went on a "man's only" camping trip at Point Lookout and after considering for awhile, decided that Dakota would be bored and he couldn't go.  I didn't want him to be disappointed so I used my credits for the campground and we were able to stay in a small cabin for two nights for under $50.

We left on Wednesday and made the hour and a half drive to Hagerstown.  When we first arrived and after unpacking the truck, we played a game of putt putt golf and then a thunderstorm threatened and we hung out in the cabin for about an hour.  When things cleared up I talked Dakota into trying laser tag, something he didn't want to do only because I knew he had no idea that it involved guns and shooting and pretend "battles", all things that are very high on the Dakota Baublitz things to enjoy list right now.  He LOVED it, of course, and after about an hour of laser tag a bunch of children, under the supervision of some teenagers, played a game of dodge ball.  There were also medicine balls to be jumped on and there was more laser tag going on.  Several hours later I talked a very tired and very dirty little boy into calling it quits.  He got a shower, put on his pjs and we went to the open air movie that was showing.  I found it funny, in a "that's my kid" kind of way when, after I insisted going to the movie and he didn't want to go, he said "you know mom, it's not all about you".  Ha!  So we DID go together and see the movie, The Great Mouse Detective, and it was me begging to go back to the cabin because I was tired and him begging to stay because he loved the movie.  So we stayed, sharing a blanket on a beautiful August 1st night.

When we got into the cabin I assumed that we would sleep together in the double bed.  He had other ideas, wanting to sleep on the top bunk bed.  Problem with that is we only had one big blanket.  He told me not to worry....I could use the toddler bed blanket we keep in the car or a towel.  What a kid!  Once I turned off all the lights in the cabin, however, he was more than happy to jump in bed with me and share his blanket.

Thursday say another beautiful day and played another game of golf and spent about four hours at the pool.  The water was a great temperature, Dakota could do the slide all by himself, and I sat in my bathing suit, reading magazines and chatting on the phone with my niece in Missouri.  We went back and made a very sad little campfire to roast hot dogs over and then off we went for more laser tag.  When we got there two little girls told me the girl that was following him around like a puppy had met him at the pool today and liked him. Dakota seemed unphased.  After several hours of laser tag, while walking back to our cabin, I told him that the little girl liked him.  He said "I know, she told me at the pool, but I told her I've had a girlfriend for two years now so she could just be my friend".  HA!  Gotta love Koda!  We chose to skip the movie that night, staying in to watch the Olympic swimming and gymnastics.  We slept snuggled up together under the "sissy" blanket and put another very fun mommy and Dakota day under our belts.

On Friday it was time to come home and I think we were both okay with it.  We showered and packed up early and were on the road by 9am.  I took a little side trip to the main part of Hagerstown and we enjoyed a nice breakfast at Bob Evans.  We had good conversation there and actually all the way home.  We talked about how it was going to be just him and I alot coming up very soon since Daddy had two football teams and Brian David was moving into his college dorm in two weeks.  Just the two of us.  Sometimes that can be an overwhelming statement, but this time around, it was wonderful.  I think we just may make it a tradition.