Sunday, October 30, 2011

How old is 'too old' to trick-or-treat?

Well, I've done it again ... another 10 days has gone by in between my blog posts. Guess 'life' is my only excuse.

The high school football team has made it through through their first playoff game, which in my house means 'the marching band season marches on' (pardon the pun). My daughter had a high school orchestra concert last week, and this week has a Oakland Youth Orchestra symphony concert. I volunteered at a Trunk-or-Treating/Fall Festival on the weekend, and helped to prepare a meal midweek for a family night at my church. The schedule just never seems to ease up.

Tomorrow is Halloween and this year I made the personal decision to not hand candy out at my door. I was a bit torn since I love seeing the cute costumes on the little kids. What I don't seem to like are the 50+ teenagers that run across my lawn and through my landscaping in costumes that are either 'super lame' or 'super sleezy'. Obviously their parents must have told them that they were too old to be out trick-or-treating and that if (in spite of their deep voices and obvious height distinctions) they were still going to go that they should at least wear a costume. I've turned older kids away before ... no costume ... no candy. But the last couple of years it seems the older teenage boys pulled last week's laundry out from under their bed to wear or the teenage girls insisted that wearing their dance recital tutu (from when they were 9) with knee-high striped socks was indeed a costume. Sorry kids ... I'm not buying it. So no candy for you this year!

So my question to you is ... how old is 'too old' to trick or treat? I always told my kids once they were out of elementary school they were done. Then they could either dress up and hand the candy out at the door or go to a neighborhood party.

This year I opted to volunteer at the church's Trunk-or-Treating /Fall Festival event. I got to see all of the cute little princesses, dragons, mario's, and pumpkins. In addition, I prepared 2 little trick-or-treat bags for the 2 little boys that live across the street from my house. They always say 'please' & 'thank you' (excellent qualities I might add) and they NEVER run across my lawn or through my landscaping.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What are your 'cages'?

First I must apologize. I haven't blogged for nearly 2 weeks. Life, as I know it, has been extremely busy. Work, family life, my teenager's extra-curricular schedule of activities, etc. etc. It's funny, I apologize as if there are people out there who are actually sitting by their computers and staring at their wall calendars saying 'OMG ... it's been nearly 2 weeks since Jennifer posted a new blog entry. I hope she's o.k.' So now I've just made both of us laugh. :)

Sure ... I blog in hopes that someone else will read it and perhaps relate. I blog in hopes that maybe someone will post a comment and share an insight. But to be totally honest, I blog for myself. It settles me when I'm feeling overwhelmed. It gives me clarity when I'm trying to work something out in my mind. And most importantly, it just plain makes me feel good.

Recently I was having a conversation with someone about a book they'd read for a class. The author talked about people dealing with 'cages' in their lives. Cages hold things back, they create obstacles, and they can get in the way. When you relate that thought process to people and goals one must first ask themself if there is something they've always wanted to do or some goal they've set for themselves to accomplish. Then you ask yourself if you've been able to achieve it. If not ... why not? What is holding you back? What are the cages in your life?

I've been thinking about my goals and what 'cages' have been holding me back. Then I've wondered if my 'cages' have just been excuses that I've made up or are they real? I think there is probably a little bit of truth in both options. Some cages have probably been imaginary on my part. After all, if I put off doing something because of an excuse, then ultimately I can't fail at my goal, right? On the other hand, lack of time and focus aren't always my fault, there are these things called responsibilities and life that can slow me down through no choice of my own.

So for now it appears my biggest cage is clarity. I need to determine for myself exactly what my goals are, and how and when I want to get there.

What are some of your goals and what cages are getting in your way?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How much time should a parent invest?

Are you a parent? If not I'm sure you know someone who is. I am. My husband and I have 2 great kids ages 16 & 25, one is a boy and one is a girl. Both are very similar in a lot of ways, but on the other hand at times could not be more different. My question to you, as a fellow parent, is 'how much time should a parent invest' in their children? In today's society children are expected to go to school, be involved in various co-curricular activities, do community service ... everything from t-ball, dance classes, soccer, girl and boy scouts, piano lessons, school clubs, the church youth group ... and the list goes on and on. As parents we're expected by society to keep our children busy with activities, keep their minds challenged, and keep them out of trouble.

When our son was in high school we would drive him to band practices, science olympiad tournaments, and hockey games. Then we drove our daughter to music lessons, dance classes, and now marching band and symphony rehearsals. Of course there was a point in time when our son started driving himself to all of his 'things', but we would still show up to support him at every single game or concert (sometimes as a spectator and sometimes as a volunteer coach). Our daughter's current schedule is very similar and soon enough she will be driving herself to her part time job and band rehearsals as well.

Last night I attended her high school music booster monthly meeting. With 100+ students in the program there were probably less than 20% of the families represented by a parent. To some 20% may not sound like many and they would be right. On the other hand, it was a HUGE increase from when I attended for my son 10 years ago.

I remember when my son went off to college 8 years ago. I had a hard time at first, I'll admit I was missing him. I remember my boss telling me it was 'time to cut the apron strings'. Wow ... easy for him to say. Not always easy to do. The day we moved our son into his dorm, we were instructed to pull our vehicle up to a designated spot, unload his stuff onto the lawn, and then go park. Curb space was obviously limited. His 'stuff' could sit on the lawn as long as was needed in order for us to get him moved in. But you would be surprised at how many parents would unload their child's belongings and then just leave. A few of the students were left standing there alone on the lawn with their stuff. I even heard one parent say 'You're 18 now and on your own'. The mother in me wanted to walk over and give the kid a hug. I mean 'seriously?'

It doesn't matter how old my kids are - they are still my kids. I still care about how their day went and what their plans are. I will always be there to support them in things they are doing and will always help them in any way that I can.

So, as a parent, how do you manage? How do you not worry? I'm sure it'll get easier - that's what I've been told anyway.