Thursday, May 7, 2015

A hometown parade tradition

One of my favorite things about the spring and summer season is parades. I love them. I go to all the ones I can - Memorial Day parades, 4th of July Parades, Flag Day parade and Labor Day parade. Then there's some of the other fun parades in the region, like the Pierogi Parade that's part of Pierogi Fest in Whiting and their downtown Christmas Parade. But one that I have gone to every single year for at least 25 years is Lansing's Good Neighbor Day Parade. It's a fun parade that was started 48 years ago by the Chamber of Commerce and highlights the businesses, non-profit organizations, schools and churches in the village and surrounding towns. It's always the first Saturday in May and while Memorial Day is the traditional kick-off of the summer season, around here it's the Good Neighbor Day Parade. Just thought I'd share a few visuals of this fun event that has been a family tradition for us. Every year for the past many years there's at least one person in the family in the parade. This year two of the boys were involved.

The Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard always starts off the parade.





Not far behind them was the Civil Air Patrol color guard. My middle son is part of that group.




I always love the marching bands. There were three this year.








Among the other entries were firetrucks, emergency vehicles, horses, tractors, motorcycles, antique cars, clowns and lots of other fun stuff. The theme of the parade was "Alive with Music" so there were a few bands on floats, also.













Monday, May 4, 2015

Cherishing our mutual love of the game

Every year my dad and I go to a Cubs game early in the season. That usually means opening week because we can't wait to get there after a long fall and winter without our favorite past time. Dad grew up in central Illinois surrounded by Cardinals fans, but fell in love with the Chicago Cubs as he listened to the broadcasts of them playing in the 1945 World Series and read about their victories in the pages of the Chicago newspapers that were delivered to his home via mail.

Dad passed on his love of the Cubs and his love of the game to his kids and now I'm doing the same with mine. My oldest really took to it. He's as big a fan as my dad. They've been to lots of games together over the years and several Cubs conventions. I love to hear their little chats about the latest trades, the merits of the bull pen and how the season is shaping up. Somehow, the younger four of my boys just don't have that same affection for the game. My youngest one gets excited about the games, but it's as much for the cotton candy and nachos as it is to watch the team I love so much in one of my favorite places.

This year as Dad and I looked at the schedule, we noticed there were way fewer day games this season. Heading to the ball park in April is brutal enough during the day, but head to a game at night in those first couple weeks of the season and you are almost guaranteed to need eight layers of clothing. Since I couldn't find a day game in April that would fit into the schedule, we had to wait for May. I'm glad we did because we couldn't have ordered better weather. It was about 80 degrees, very bright and sunny for the first few innings and then a little overcast, but still a lovely warm day.

We always get tickets from my sister who has been a season ticket holder for many years. We love the upper deck seats that are under the big awning that keeps us dry when it does rain and that I can spend the day outside and never even have to apply sunblock. Those seats are where we reminisce and lament over teams of the past, missed opportunities and team curses. It's where we swell with optimism and excitement discussing the newest crop of big league players and the talent in the Cubs organizations' minor league teams. It's where we share a bag of peanuts in the shell and contemplate if we want the bare bones dog from the vendors who walk the crowd, a dog with grilled onions from the stand around the corner or if it's worth the trek down under the press box to get one with freshly chopped onions. It's where we bond over a mutual love of the game and a fondness for this team and this ballpark that has given us so many memories.







Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dear sons: I wish the middle for your kids

Dear Sons:

(Letter #24)

So I've read a few things recently that reinforce the thought of how my generation and my parents' generation have absolutely hit opposite sides of the pendulum when it comes to parenting. My guess is that my mom and dad parented in a way drastically different than theirs did as well.

A recent article I read suggested that those who parented in the 60's and 70's and even 80's were entirely hands off. Kids left in the morning and didn't come home until mealtime or when the street lights came on. Parents didn't hover. The kids walked to friends houses. They rode bikes around the neighborhood. They sometimes did stupid things -- exploring where they shouldn't have been, but they learned how to problem solve. They were kind of on their own. People really didn't bat an eye when kids were left home alone for hours or sat unattended in a car while parents when in a store to shop. Supervision just wasn't that common.

And it also suggested that today's parents are much the opposite. Helicopter parents they are called. They watch their kids every move. And the moves of everyone else's kids. They call police when they spot a kid unsupervised in a car or in a park or in their own front yard. They don't believe their kids are safe walking to school or riding their bikes to friends' houses. Supervision is paramount.

How we ended up on such opposite sides is perplexing. As we grew up, we had freedom and we had independence and we survived. We didn't have cell phones back then as a means to track where everyone was all the time.

Now that generation is doing the parenting and it's so different than it was back then. As I've moved on in my parenting years, I've learned to hover less but can't imagine a world where I'd send you out to play and tell you to come home hours later when it started to get dark. And I don't necessarily believe that the world is that less safe than it was then. But I know I'd be a nervous wreck, wondering where you were and what you were doing and who you were with and why you were gone so long and if you were getting into trouble or if someone had started trouble with you or if you were lost or if you were hungry or a barrage of other possibilities.

I hope that when you become parents, life will fall somewhere in the middle. Where your kids will be able to learn about the world without you looking over their shoulders and where you'll be connected enough to communicate, yet not so much that the worry takes over the enjoyment. I wish for you that parenting will be middle ground.

Love,

Mom

Monday, April 13, 2015

Little things that make you fall in love again

We've been married for almost 24 years. It's a long time.

As time passes, the daily grind of keeping things going with work and family and home can sometimes put you in robot mode. You're doing what needs to get done and not fully appreciating everything around you.

I had a moment last night where I just felt a load of gratitude for what I have and felt so appreciative of the hubby I have.

One of our boys - the 11-year-old - is in an upcoming play. He's been on stage before, but will have more lines in this production that he's had in the past. I'd gotten a kind call from the director just letting me know that he's getting stuck during some scenes and could use some extra practice time.

My son's spent a lot of time in his room going over the script on his own and he's been going through scenes at weekly rehearsals. It wasn't quite enough. I tried over and over and over and over to get him to sit down with me and go over lines with him. I suggested that it would really help if I read him the lines of the others in the scenes and we could go back and forth. He just wasn't going for it. He's not a shy kid. I don't know what the deal was. I guess I make him nervous. I can see that. I totally don't want to do that, but I can understand it. I'm sure he'd feel pressure if we sat together to rehearse.

I thought that if he didn't want to rehearse with me there's no way he would want to with his dad. Theatre is my thing, not my husband's. I'd be out at a musical every week if I could spare the time and money. I love going to plays. I love live theatre put on by all ages.

I can't even remember the last time my husband has been to a play that wasn't at one of the kids' schools. The last closest thing we went to may have been Blue Man Group. That was about 15 years ago.

So, it shocked me when I asked my son, "Do you want to go over lines with Dad?' and he answered "yes." And then I was surprised at how well it went.

Like I said, theatre is not my husband's thing, yet he patiently sat down with the script going through scene after scene, making sure he was getting pronunciations correct and adjusting his voice based on the character. He encouraged my son to leave the room for a moment to get into character and to use props to help him recite the scenes. I would have done none of that. I would have focused on memorization. No wonder my son wanted to practice with dad rather than me. The kids have said it before and I wholeheartedly agree that dad is much cooler than I am.

Anyway, seeing the two of them together and listening to them was just so heartwarming and a reminder of what a good father he is. And it just takes me back and makes me fall in love with him all over again.

Back when they were babies and toddlers those tender moments of cuddling and him feeding them and them falling asleep in his arms were constant and easy to recognize. As they get bigger and the cuddling and snuggling is less and less, we tend to forget...at least I do. And that makes a reminder like this just so sweet.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dear sons: Experience matters

Dear sons:

(Letter #23)

Well, it's time for another little note from mom. I know when you're a teenager or young adult you think you know it all. You think the grow ups are out of touch or dumb or just crazy. You think you have the answers. So, if you know the answers, there's no need to take advice from the grown-ups, right? Wrong.

I was in your shoes once. I thought I knew better. I could do things faster and more efficiently. I didn't think the grown ups made sense sometimes, so it didn't seem like I needed to listen to them. But, experience does count for something. And it's often when you get older and experience more that a light comes on and you realize that people who have had life experiences really do know what they're talking about.

So, I'll give this piece of advice (that you probably won't take because, well, we've covered that already) to keep an open mind. And to not be defensive when an adult tries to suggest a better way. To not shrug off the advice that stems from years of experience. To listen to those who try to teach you better because they've learned from their mistakes. Take a minute to really listen and then look at yourself and rethink the choices you are making. Sometimes experience can provide the answer you need.

Love,

Mom

Thursday, February 12, 2015

So, while the girl mommies were at Frozen on Ice...


For the past couple weeks, I've been seeing posts and pics all over social media from moms taking their kids to Frozen on Ice. And at the same time, there was another show in town. One with big boy appeal...Monster Jam.

And since I'm a mom of no girls and all boys, I found myself sitting in the loud, smelly, freezing Allstate Arena watching ATVs and dune buggies and big monster trucks make their way around the track lined with dirt and sand.

Never in a million years would it be a place I would pick to spend money on tickets for and choose to spend a night at. But, you know, the things we do for our kids. And I did have fun.




Sunday, February 8, 2015

Teaching lessons and learning lessons (an awakening inspired by laundry)


In my early days of parenting, I thought that one of the best things you could do as a mother was to do things for your child. It's pretty much a necessity at first. You have to do everything for that new child. They are helpless without you and spend those early days wrapped in the neediness of that child and you do everything you can for him or her.

As the child grows, the amount of things you do for them should lessen. I really didn't understand the concept that the idea of raising a child was to help them learn to do things on their own and to become independent. You are to raise them to one day be able to do all the things you do for them all on their own. It really is all about doing for them then teaching them and then eventually them not needing you to do those things anymore.

I honestly didn't get it at first. I just didn't get it. Why would I make my child do something when I could do it for them? I washed faces after eating. I cut up food for them. I made their beds. I cleaned their clothes. I sorted their socks. I straightened up their rooms. I ran their baths. I cleared their dishes off the table when they were done eating.

I was mom. I was supposed to do these things. Looking back, that is really what I was thinking. It seemed mean almost for me to make my child do a chore when I was completely capable of doing it. Well, that was when I had one son and he was the center of my world. Needless to say, my attitude has shifted as more children were born and they grew.

My attitude may have changed a little too much. Now my way of thinking is "why would I do something for them that they could do themselves?" If a child sits in front of the television and calls to me in the other room as I am in the middle of a project asking for a beverage, I most likely will reply, "No, you are capable of doing it yourself. You can get yourself a glass of water." Rewind 15 years and I would have jumped no matter what I was in the middle of and delivered that glass of water. And then kissed them on the forehead and probably asked if they'd like a snack to go with it.

My mind wandered to such thoughts today as I did laundry. You see, I don't usually do laundry. The kids are all old enough that they are all capable of doing laundry. Hubby washes his uniforms at work. The kids each do their own and there's a chart on the fridge with laundry on the list. Each day one of them is responsible for washing whatever is the laundry room that needs to be washed. Towels. Blankets. Coats. Hats. Gloves. Sheets. Stray socks. Pieces of clothing belonging to their brothers that got left behind in the bathroom hamper. And my laundry and my husbands. I do the folding and put it away, but they fill the washing machine, transfer it to the dryer and carry the baskets upstairs so I can fold them. Then they carry the clothes to wherever they need to go.

Laundry is something a child can and should learn to do. I cringe when I hear about mothers who still do laundry for their adult sons. I am glad that I finally woke up and gave this chore to the kids. It's something they are capable of. They learn cause and effect in the way that if they don't do their laundry, they don't have clean clothes. They then have to wear something not so clean or dig into the icky looking or ill fitting pieces that serve only as back-up garments.

I want to raise sons who can fend for themselves and not expect that the woman they end up with will be the one doing the laundry and housework and cooking and all that good stuff. I want them to be men who were taken care of my mom and then taught that everything mom did for them they could do on their own.