What is so hard? It’s just a “date.”

This week my daughter was asked on her first date, not “hey, how about we hangout at somebody’s house,” but a real date. She was beyond excited, so excited she straightened her hair even though they would be going paddle boarding after going to lunch.

By the time I was a high school senior I had gone on lots of dates, but for some reason in my daughter’s generation it seems to be seldom done. It such an odd thing for me. These kids don’t go on real dates–they just hangout. Now, it’s not that I want to marry my daughter off at eighteen–far from it–but dating is an important part of the growing up process. Without the noise of a larger group, you’ll discover whether or not you can even hold a conversation. It even helps you whittled down the kinds of traits you do or don’t like. There is no one-size-fits-all person out there, but if you hardly ever date how in the world are you supposed to figure out what will work for you.

My advice…remember, dating isn’t a marriage contract, it doesn’t even have to be about being in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship. So get out there and go on as many real dates as you can. It’s good for you and will be of great benefit when you finally decide to start looking for someone to marry. For my daughter, I hope that’s many, many years down the road.

Posted in Inner Circle, Things I wish I would have known when I was 15. | Leave a comment

The downside of being perfect too early

I’ve said before I’m not the biggest fan of losing, though I’ve experienced it a lot over the years. But winning comes with it’s own torture as well.

This past weekend my youngest son’s high school freshmen team competed in their first 7on7 tournament. My son has been playing league 7on7 for several months with some of those boys so not all of them were completely inexperienced. The first game was a tight match for most of the 27 minutes played, but our team hit good fortune toward the end with an interception and subsequent touchdown to end it with a win.

The next two games, our team just steamrolled over the top of the competition. With every win the boys’ confidence grew, and some of them were acting and talking quite cocky. I warned them not to get too ahead of themselves. “Keep your heads down and stay focused,” I told them. The day wasn’t over yet. Well, game four came and went, and once again we were victorious.

During our quick lunch break the boys mood had changed. They actually seemed even more nervous than when they had started that morning. We were the only undefeated team left. The expectation of just go out and have a good time had slowly turned into a pressure cooker of finishing perfect. Many started voicing “what if” scenarios, which didn’t help the growing tension. Finally, because I’m that talkative mom, I told them. “Guys, nobody’s going to make you walk home if you lose. Just take it one game at a time. Dig deep, do your best, and win or lose, leave it on the field.”

The next game was the most intense by far. Usually I don’t do a whole lot of cheering during 7on7, but boy did we all come alive. It came down the very end with one of our players catching a nail-biting throw in the end zone in the final seconds of the game. Holy crap, we were still undefeated.

The last game somehow managed to feel even worse. It seemed to go by in dog years, but unbelievably the boys pulled it off. Their very first tournament playing together, they went undefeated. The only problem now, there’s a whole lot of football we still haven’t played. It makes me wonder how much more ratcheting tension can the boys take before they snap.

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Not a Mozart, but getting better

Going back through my oldest posts, I discovered this one. The memory made me smile so much I decided it was worth sharing one more time. As for an update…my piano playing has improved even more from when I first posted this in 2016. I’ve even learned to play and sing fairly complicated songs for my own enjoyment.

Playing the piano has never been my strongest talent, especially when others are watching.  Sometimes, I fumble over the keys so badly it’s hard to discern what song I’m attempting to play.  But as fate would have it, there are few who play the piano where I live, so my skills as an accompanist, though pitiful, are needed. It’s forced me to practice more often than I ever have before.

This week I realized I had a song coming up next month I’d never dared attempt before. I’d always considered it way above my playing abilities, but now it was a required piece for the children’s program.  Well…worst case scenario, I’d be playing the top hand only.

When I began plunking out the notes for both my left and right hand, I discovered the song wasn’t quite as impossible as I’d always thought, or maybe all this practicing was actually improving my skills.  Pretty cool when you consider I had no idea I was getting any better.  That’s the great thing about a challenge–if you don’t give up, you might just find out, like I did, the baby steps of practice are actually getting you somewhere.

Posted in Blasts from my pasts (popular re-posts) | Leave a comment

Worth the Read: Marielle’s Witch by David Alexanian

Coming July 1, 2021 is the latest installment of the Sword Demon series. Laplace may have been able to save himself from the demon’s curse but the conniving white witch isn’t done yet. All she needs is the right host…

Marielle’s Witch takes the fascinating plot you discovered in book one, Laplace’s Demon, and twists it even more in the most unexpected of ways. This series has been such a page turner and the second book didn’t disappointed. Pre-order your copy today on Amazon. Click on the book below for your direct link.

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Stubbornness for the sake of stubbornness

Refusing to follow the crowd isn’t always a bad thing, especially if you can see the crowd is about to go off a cliff. However, being stubborn just for the sake of being stubborn isn’t smart either.

This weekend we had the annual calf branding party out at the family ranch. Everything was going great. We finished the calf branding portion of the fun with no major incidents, and it was time to deal with the mammas.

We pushed them into a narrow, gated area that guided them through an adult-sized shoot. Once the cows go into this area, there’s only one way out—through the shoot. Generally, once you get a few cows going down this path, the others follow. We have to close gates and put poles in occasionally to stop the moving traffic of hooves so we can doctor up the sick ones and give them all a nice liquid protection of misquote repellant, but at the end of the shoot is freedom for the cow.

With only two cows left, the work had gone so smoothly we were about to finish early—that is until the cow in the front refused to enter the shoot. No amount of poking or smacking on the butt, moved this stubborn animal. We even tried using the poor cow stuck behind miss stubborn to see if she could be pushed to freedom. Nope. Nope. Nope.

My father-in-law decided to leave the shoot wide open and told all of us to go in for lunch. “Maybe then she’ll come out on her own.”

We return over an hour later, but the stubborn cow still stood there refusing to enter the shoot–literally only a few steps from freedom. So, we release the calves we branded earlier, thinking her motivation to be with her baby would get her to move. Again, a big fat no. The cow behind the stubborn one had had enough and did its darndest to get the stupid animal to budge, but to no avail. It wasn’t until my father-in-law retrieved a juiced up hot-shot from the bigger cattle company down the road and gave that cow a shocking stab of electricity that it finally followed where the others had gone, after suffering for needless hours in a confined space.

We humans sometimes do stupid things like this. If you’re struggling to think of one, allow me. For example—If my parents would quit bugging me about my grades maybe I’d try harder.

Think about that. Your stubbornness is going to have a negative effect on your future, especially if you dig your heels in long enough. So the next time you’re thinking about not following where you’ve been told to go, take a moment to really consider why. If it’s just for the sake of stubbornness, may I strongly suggest you stop it.             

Posted in Farm Life 101, Things I wish I would have known when I was 15. | Leave a comment

Even hard work won’t get you everything you want

The brutal truth about life is sometimes you’ll never win. My daughter learned this truth last week, and it broke my heart. She’s been trying to get on the competing ballroom team at her high school for three years now. I’ve blog several times about her growth as a ballroom dancer, going from I have no idea what I’m doing to being able to name every dance step there is. She truly loves it and worked hard to improve. Next year she’ll be a senior, so this was her final opportunity to make the team. After tryouts she was so hopeful.

“I didn’t mess up once and I did every lift.”

But the next day we received the email that she would be remaining on the JV team. Crushed, she struggled to come out of her room. As a mom, part of me wished there was a way to take away the pain of the disappointment. And I might have thought about punching the stupid teacher in the face for split second, but thankfully my cooler head prevailed. I decided the best thing I could do was hug her through the sorrow and then the teaching moments just kept coming.

A friend of hers on the JV ballroom team sent her an excited text to tell her she had made the varsity team. My daughter cried even harder.

“Don’t be mad at her. She wanted to make the team as much as you did. I know it’s hard, but you need to congratulate her.”

The next text was from a girl on the JV team, sending out a group text to gloat about making the varsity team. I just kept hugging her.

“Well…you always said you didn’t like how she made things difficult on the JV team. At least now you won’t have to deal with her anymore.”

The next text came from a freshman girl that my daughter had befriended this year. She had made the JV team.

“Hey. Isn’t that a silver lining? Someone you actually like hanging out with will still be on your team.”

She rolled her eyes, but over time the tears ebbed. We went out to lunch for a final pity party and then I told her.

“Put it behind you and move on. There are still opportunities to be found in disappointments, but only for those who stop wallowing the “if only” and look for them.”

I know I need to get over the “if only” too, but being a mom is a special kind of hardship I could have never fathomed before having kids. The good thing is, I’ve lived long enough to know this too shall pass.

Posted in Things I wish I would have known when I was 15. | Leave a comment

“What’s this for?”

My oldest sister married off her daughter over the weekend. She was the first of my nieces and nephews to marry so it was exciting to be apart of the celebration. At the reception, I was doing my best to help wherever I could and ended up doing the part of MC as well. Winding down, it came time to have the groom pull the garter from the bride’s leg and then have the bride throw the bouquet.

My youngest son, who won’t be fourteen until June, hears me tell all the single men in the room to gather so they can try and catch the garter. He runs over to join them. I pull the mic low so my chuckle won’t carry over the sound system, before gently telling him over the mic that he’s only thirteen.

He looks back at me and yells, “Yeah, but I’m a guy too.”

Well, I couldn’t argue with that so I decided it best to just let it go. Of course, being Mr. competitive he caught the garter and ran over to me to gloat.

Twirling it around his finger, he asked me, “So, what’s this for?”

My chuckle turned into full-blown laughter. “Well, son. It’s believed that the single male who catches the garter is the next one to be married. So congratulations! Who’s the lucky girl?”

He chucked it at me. “Ew, I don’t want it any more.”

Every patron in the room started laughing at his reaction. Maybe next time he’ll listen to his mother or, if I’m not there, ask someone why people are gathering before running headlong to join. Oh, he’s a character…one that now has a garter belt wrapped around his Optimus Prime transformer bank on his dresser. I hope his abuse of the poor thing ensures he won’t be next to marry, because even fourteen is way too young.

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George Orwell’s 1984

Teachers, just like all people, aren’t perfect, but I love it when they understand the importance of letting a child discover for themselves.

Recently, my daughter came home with George Orwell’s 1984 novel. I walked upstairs and saw her reading it at our kitchen island.

“Where did you get that?” I said. I had read the book years ago but don’t own a copy.

“Oh, I finished the other assigned book for my English class, so my teacher let me pick another one from her collection.”

“Did she say anything about this book?” Having read the book, I could see two school’s of thought on why she might be allowing my daughter to have it. And to be honest, one of those school’s of thought I wouldn’t be very happy about. I want my children to be taught to think for themselves, but I’ve seen far too many attempts at indoctrination happening to my kids.

“No. Why? Should I not be reading it?”

“Oh no, knowledge it power.” And I truly believe that. Every single one of us would be much better off if we turned off the TV and picked up a book far more often. “I was just wondering if she gave you any opinions on the premise.” If she had, it would be harder for my daughter to come up with her own opinions about the novel.

“No, she just told me to enjoy.”

I nodded my head and started to walk away.

“But you’ve never really acted this way when I’ve read other books,” she said. “What is it about this one?”

“Mmm…” I didn’t want to shade my daughter’s thinking with my own biases. “I’d rather hear what you think about the book, so come talk to me about it whenever you want.”

Less than a day later, my daughter comes home from school. “Holy cow, mom. The kids in this book are twisted.”

I laughed. “That’s one way to describe them. Why do you think that is?”

“Because they’re being told a different reality, and history has been wiped away so they think what they’re being told is the truth. It’s making them do terrible things to their parents…”

Back and forth we bantered about the subject matter of the book for almost another half hour. It was such fun conversation to have. The best part, I could see the wheels in my daughter’s head turning. She’s forming her own opinions about the world around her. It’s scary because she might end up with differing opinions than mine, but it’s probably the most important thing she’ll ever do–to think for herself. And George Orwell’s 1984 novel, in my opinion, is a good example of why learning to think for one’s self is so important.

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Be careful how you talk about others

Everyone makes mistakes, everyone at one time or another has let someone down. But both the wronged and the perpetrator in every instance have an opportunity to take these moments and turn them into something positive.

If you are the wronged party, I would strongly encourage you not to dwell on the negative of the interaction. I would also hope that you would refrain from retelling the mistake over and over again to anyone that will hear, especially if this is someone you consider to be a friend. Go back to the first sentence I wrote–everyone makes mistakes. At some point you will be the person who has wronged another. One of the best habits you can acquire is learning to always speak positively of others who aren’t with you. Sadly, negative gossip travels further and lingers longer. Do you really want to be the reason why others think badly of someone they hardly know?

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The youngest filling the shoes of the oldest

For almost a year now my oldest son has been gone, and boy have I missed him. He was always my best helper, but his absence has also brought positive developments. My youngest son who often tended to disappear first when it came to work around the house and the family farm can’t anymore. There is no older brother to take care of it for him.

To be honest I’m relieved he’s learned to step up. I no longer worry I’m raising a lazy man who won’t be of much value to his future wife. And, looking back, I realize his behavior might have been partly my fault. I always called out for my oldest son first when I needed a strong back to assist me when their father wasn’t home. But now that I know how capable my youngest is, he’s done for. He won’t be getting out of anything ever again, even after his older brother comes home in another year.

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