Sunday, June 26, 2011

Time Flies...

As many of you know, I spent the weekend back at home on the farm. It was my 10 year class reunion. 10 Years... I really can't even believe it's been that long.

First, for the people who don't really know me well, I grew up in a very small town. The population when I was in high school was right around 450 I believe. My class had 37 students (give or take one). And for the most part, I had the same friends for 13 years. We spent our entire childhoods and well into our teen years together. And for someone who grew up in a bigger city, there's just no way to really explain the kind of bond you form in this close community. And I can honestly say that over the past 10 years, I had somewhat forgotten it. And I can also assure you that after the weekend of fun, trips down memory lane, and reconnecting with my long lost friends, I sit here and think about how much I miss it.

Yes, I have a family now that I love and I wouldn't trade for the world. I have friends now that I wouldn't trade for the world. Please don't get me wrong, I love my life. But it hit me like a ton of bricks today just how much I missed my old friends. And how much, no matter how many reunions we have, it will never be the same as it was. I always had, shall we say, some turbulence in my home life. So school was really an escape for me. My friends were my safe spot. I knew they'd always be there for me. I felt that spirit again over the weekend.

Callie, Tanner, and I got into town on Thursday afternoon. We hung out with family and then my friend Chanda brought her adorable kids out to the farm and we showed them the horses, the "big trucks," and the house that I grew up in. The house that Chanda, and many other friends, visited throughout our childhood. I could see the memories were flashing through her eyes the minute she walked in the door. It was a nice night and a great way to catch up with her before all of the craziness of the weekend began!

Friday night was the "Class of 2001" Reunion. We shared lots of laughs, lots of drinks, lots of shuffle board and beer ponging. I would say that about half or more of the class came. And it's funny, even though it's been 10 years since I have spoken to some of these people, it's like we just picked up where we left off. I expected some awkward silence moments, some meaningless small talk, and blank, cold, "why am I here" stares, but I didn't encounter any of these things. Or maybe in my perfect little bubble I just didn't notice. But I felt like everyone was truly happy to be there and had a lot of fun.

My friend, Chanda, and I at the reunion

Saturday night was the big street dance. I think that I got too excited for it, and built it up in my head because when I got there, it wasn't terrible, but it wasn't as fun as I had imagined. We went to all of the bars in Homer (that's 2) and it was kind of fun to see the familiar faces. I wish I had the guts to carry my year book around with me that night so I could remember some names. That would scream "uncool" more than going to the bar in your mom car complete with car seats. Guilty. So some of our class skipped the street dance altogether and had a bonfire at Dustin's dad's house. Well, actually it was at his cabin. Which, in true country style, was at the top of a bumpy hill, accessed only by pickup truck. I didn't see a road, or Dustin just didn't take it (either would be believable). It'd been quite a while since I had been off roading in a pick up truck. I was a little bit scared, I'm not going to lie. Of course we hit a skunk, or was it a mink, or both, we will never know. Andrea, Dustin's girlfriend, maintains it was a skunk and just for the record, judging my the smell, I'm with her. So we had a great bonfire, just like we used to do in high school. But this time we weren't trespassing or breaking any laws. But it was still just as fun.

Sunday was the day to come back to Omaha. And I am very happy to be home. But I do already miss my friends. I wonder if it will be another 10 years before we all get together again. I hope not. Almost all of the people I graduated with left some sort of mark on my life, and I treasure the memories that I have with them. And I really hope there are many, many more to come.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Can we be "too perfect?"

I caught a short part of a segment on the "Today" show this morning that got me thinking. The subject was "over parenting" or being a "helicopter parent." Is there such a thing as protecting your children too much? With our constant need to please our children, are we setting them up for failure later in life? Do we celebrate mediocrity to the point of lowering our expectations for our children?

In my opinion, yes. Yes, I believe a lot of parents work so hard to make their children's lives easier that it really will set them up for failure later in life. Children need to learn how to succeed, absolutely, but they also need to know how to accept failure. I've talked about this before. I think it is a very important lesson for parents to learn. If you are so busy doing everything for your child, you teach them that they have to do nothing.

Doing daycare and being a preschool teacher, I see so many "mistakes" being made. Not intentionally, they are made from love, but what will the consequences be? Not that I am the perfect parent. Don't get me wrong. I hover sometimes when I shouldn't, but I believe I have a pretty good balance. I have seen the 5 year olds who can't wipe their own bottom, because their parents always do it for them. I've seen the toddler/preschooler with the pacifier because it would upset the child if it's taken away. Even if it hampers their development of speech, and completely messes up their teeth. I've seen kids bring candy bars into preschool for breakfast because Mom or Dad can't say  no. Or the many notes written from parents, who no doubt love their children, requesting that I make special exceptions or lower my expectations for their child. We want to keep our kids happy, because if the kids are happy, the parents are happy. Life is just easier. Please know that this is not an attack, just an observation.

I know a lot of parents might not agree with my opinion, and that's okay. We'll check back in 20 years and see how many children are still living at home, unemployed and unambitious. Maybe not? This whole parenting thing is pretty much a big experiment, right? We do the best that we can with what we the tools we have. I just want my children to know that although they mean the world to me, the world does not revolve around them. How do you feel about it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Daddy's Day!

Father's Day is fast approaching, and I am looking forward to thanking all of the Dads I know.

Craig sleeping with a newborn baby Callie

Daddy and Callie after the Pumpkin Patch in '09

First, my wonderful husband. He is SUCH a great Daddy. The kids both light up when they hear the garage. The garage is very loud, and I complain about it all of the time, but honestly, if it were quiet I would miss out on those looks of true excitement. Even Tanner knows what the loud sound means. Daddy's home. That means PLAY TIME. Not that I don't play with the kids. Craig just has his own way of playing with the kids. The wild, crazy, loud way. The rough-housing, tossing the kids so high in the air that I fear they will hit the ceiling. The entire time, the kids laughing and smiling from ear to ear. I've thought about the "moment" that I realized that Craig was going to be an amazing dad, and the answer is always. It was his playful nature, his patience, and the fact that he is still a kid himself :) He plays cars with Tanner, reads books with him, and tries to teach him to walk. (Yes, my almost 18 month old son doesn't walk yet. Moving on....) With Callie he's tough when he needs to be, but her big brown eyes melt his heart. He paints her nails, sticks a bow in her crazy hair, and takes her for donuts on his days off. He dances, sings Taylor Swift, and plays princesses with her. He's such an awesome dad. And he learned all of that from his dad, who is also an awesome, involved dad and grandpa. There must be something about the Todd men and donuts, because every time Callie goes to Grammy and Grandpa's, Grandpa buys her donuts and chocolate milk. Every. Time. Is it a terribly unhealthy habit, yes. But the memories are more important.

I can't forget about my own dad. Technically my step-dad, who is not technically my step-dad anymore since the divorce. He's not your typical step-dad. In fact, it breaks my heart to even call him that because he's so much more than that to me. He's my dad in every way that matters. He's in my corner, at all times. He trusts my judgement, but offers his advice, only when I ask. I joke with others who know him that you have to be careful asking him a question. The answer will be at least 20 minutes long. He knows pretty much everyone in our little community, and everyone knows him. I've never met anyone who can HONESTLY say that they don't like or even love him. (Or they know not to say anything negative about my dad or I will punch them.) He's the 'good ole' country boy' type. Helps his neighbors, has a big heart, would take the shirt off of his back for you. He doesn't know what the words "tough love" mean. He's incapable of it....He picks up trash on the side of the road. He does not waste. He is thankful. He is thoughtful. He is respectful. So many times I have went to him worried, sad, confused, and I have never failed to leave the conversation feeling better. He sends me a card on my birthday. I look forward to it every year because it always has a thoughtful note on the inside. And it always brings me to tears. Every. Time. And what kind of gift could I give him that would be "big" enough to show my love. And without going into a ton of detail, he literally is the reason why I am who I am today. And if you know my dad, you would say that he wouldn't want a big, fancy gift. He recently got a small flat screen tv. He is not an 'electronics' guy. He hasn't figured out how to text, doesn't have the internet, and actually hasn't even set up voicemail on his phone. He's "heard of" facebook. Oh, and that flat screen tv, he carries it around from room to room in the house because "it's so light." He's so cute. And as "Papa" to his grandkids... don't even get me started. Who can compete with horse rides, tractor rides, four wheeler rides, bonfires, endless room to run, lilac bushes to pick, and Callie even got to see a dead mouse outside the last time we were there. She thinks Papa's house is the most magical place on Earth. So do I.

I know a lot of really great dads. All of Callie's Uncles are now celebrating Father's Day. They are all great Dads and really great Uncles.
Uncle Marcus has taught Callie "No kissing boys!!!"
Uncle Nate smothers my kids in kisses every time he sees them.
Uncle Tyler taught Callie how to pick her nose and flick the boogers.

So thank the Dads around you this Father's Day. Hug them tight and be thankful they left an imprint on your life.