2020-04-07 Feels Like Summer (According to My Kids)

My time is short today. I’ve already squandered most of my walking/writing time doing chores and talking to my daughter who has been UP ALL NIGHT! 😱

She’s sporting her full teenager attitude this morning, half sweet talking me so I’ll make her breakfast and half “talk to the hand” when I press her on her grades. For her, the pandemic is just an excuse to ignore blemishes on her grade-book and, you guessed it, stay up all night.

I’m a softy so I made her breakfast anyway. Just because the world is in chaos, she’s still tip-toes on the edge of leaving home for college and I know these kind of days of our life are numbered. We have our differences, but she’s still just the best, you know.

My son told me last night as I was hugging him goodnight that I should not try and wake him up until 10:30 this morning because that’s what his alarm is set for. Yeah, he’s on the “summer already” train too.

His math this week is all about triangles and if you have one side that you know the length of, and the angles are like 90, 60, and 30, what are the lengths of the other two sides. I’m like 🤷‍♀️ .. and asking if he’s watched the you-tube video on it that is posted on the teachers blog. I think I had geometry in like the 9th grade. I did my time. Haha!

I wonder what kind of plan the school system has for grading the kids for the remainder of the term. Or even justifying giving them grades. Both my kids have a few unsightly letters attached to their gradebook right now and I’m not very hopeful that this can be corrected. Especially if the burden of motivating them falls on yours truly. I suck at home-schooling. I suck at getting my kids out of bed in the morning.

It’s an uphill battle. /sigh

BUT.. they are happy and healthy and kind people and that counts for a lot in this life. You know??!!

Probably when I’m done here (momentarily), I should go see if my daughter is still awake and talk to her again. I hate the way our last conversation ended.

Today is going to be another full day. It’s not yet 8:30am and my hopes of getting outside to enjoy the nice weather are already slipping away. I’ve got lots of other things i would like to think about and write about but it’s all going to have to wait until this evening.

Until Next Time,
~Miss SugarCookie

2020-03-30 Balance and Flow

When you put in the work, sometimes it sucks. But man oh man does it feel good when you’re close to the finish line.

That’s how I’m finally feeling today after putting myself in a box for the last three days. Not only did I need to crank out some pages for my MFA thesis preface, but I also had to complete another round of revisions on the actual manuscript. The due date my mentor and I chose together was last Friday, but he gave me a pass cuz, well the whole world is in chaos for one thing.

And though it’s no excuse, I’m also now being expected to pick up as many extra hours at work as I possibly can. This is mostly because my husbands income is being reduced during this challenging time.

My boss and my team are coming out guns blazing on a new project and I put my PM hat on for the three weeks while the real project manager was wrapping up her current gig. She started last week, thank goodness. I still worked like a full time chimp but this week I’m going to dial it back.

I’m gonna ease into a support role. I love my new PM, for real. She’s a fellow princess. My nickname for her is Princess KK and hers for me is Princess SheShy. Those names were established in the 90’s when we last worked together and became friends. After that she moved on to bigger and better things while I remained in Nebraska.

She’s a rockstar at both team and project management. She can have all that shit. Imma sit over in my corner of the universe taking notes and writing documentation and adding detail to the Jira tickets and confluence. That’s my happy place, keeping quiet and only interjecting when I feel something is really important. It will be easier to keep my damn mouth shut with such a strong leader.

The other thing that starts today for real is online learning for my kids. Last week was dedicated to “enrichment learning” while the teachers figured out their plans for how to teach in their pajamas.

When I pressed my son about doing enrichment work, he just said “mom, nobody is doing that.” He spent most of the week playing video games. My co-workers tried to make me feel better by saying that playing video games was enrichment. Haha! This weekend my email in-box was flooded with tons of instructions and links from all their teachers. Sure, the kids got these also, but who do you think will be responsible for making sure they actually get up and out of bed and on the Zoom meetings? There will be assignments and video instruction and quizzes and tests online.

Yeah.. all that starts today. I have to remind myself that balance is key and also try and take my friend Michelle’s advice and go with the flow. Give myself a little slack you know, partially because it is a stressful time in the world but also because I’m only human and can’t freaking do everything perfectly all the time.

Anyway, all that time in the box this past weekend was rough but I feel great about my progress and almost ready to send those pages off to my mentor. That’s my priority this morning (besides finally getting back to walking on my treadmill and writing).

At 10am I have a two hour work meeting and so the homeschooling will be delayed for a few hours today.

That’s it. Short and sweet. Balance and flow. Time to go.

Peace and Love!

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-11-24 The Current Trifecta

It feels like time is moving too fast. At the same time the minutes and hours of every day seem to creep by. I’m keeping a close eye on the calendar and have a growing list of things to do. Most of it has something to do with one of three main topics.. wedding planning or school stuff or parenting. Ask me any hour of the day and that’s what’a consuming me.

As far as wedding planning goes, I’ve successfully ruled out having a big wedding cake and am going to opt for a dessert table instead. I also was ducking floored by photographer prices and were not cool with that either. I simply hate the fact that people hear the word “wedding” and the price triples. Now all the alternatives are stacking up into a lot of work the days leading up to the ceremony. And I’m starting to feel like I’m going to end up running around the town like a chicken with it’s head cut off. I should probably start asking for help. I’m no good at asking for help.

As far as school goes the MFA semester is winding down and I’ve received what I think will be the last bit of feedback. That came in yesterday and I was really hoping for a little more and maybe another in-person meet up but that’s not the vibe I’m getting. I feel like I’ve been quite spoiled this term with such an abundance of feedback and encouragement that this last go-round feels almost like leaving unfinished business left on the table. I may be reading the tea leaves wrong though, as this last communication comes so soon after I’ve been triple-dissed by other persons. Too many grey clouds looming in my brain right now. I should probably just smile and nod and move along, but that’s tough for me too.

My on campus class is also in a bit of a lull and the last assignment was one that I didn’t necessarily resist, but the result is a poem I would never submit to any publication, ever. Not to say it’s terrible, it’s not. It’s very average but the subject matter is something I didn’t want to write about in the first place. It’s about my mom and it doesn’t paint the best picture. I may spend some time trying to do a new one so I don’t have to turn the other in. I dunno. For that class I just have one more poem reading response and a 3-4 page book review to do. Easy enough I suppose after tackling a 45 page craft paper.

All-in-all the semester seems to be running long and I’m kinda feeling just over it. I’m looking forward to a break. I’m also looking forward to that break for my kids too. Both of them.

The semester has gotten long for C and he’s fighting losing battles in several classes. Our weeks together are a constant struggle to get past due assignments and he’s now on a fast track to failing German. Of all the things I’ve been dealing with, this makes me the sickest in my stomach and in my heart. I want to help him and don’t know how. Of all the things I don’t know how to do right now, this is the worst.

And then he goes to his dads and I turn a blind eye. Relief for a few days where I can ignore it and focus on other things. Then I feel guilty. It’s a puzzle which doesn’t seem to have a solution.

On the bright side, things with Z are fairly positive and I don’t have to worry about her in the same sense. With her my worry is more about her independence and driving and I wonder how long that feeling will stretch out into the future. Last night her and I went to Frozen 2 which she’s been talking about for weeks.

The movie wasn’t as good as the first but I’m glad her and I had that time to spend together, just us. We both cried at the end of the movie. Then we came back home and I sat with her while she went through all her mail. All sorts of communications from colleges wanting her to apply and done she’s already been accepted to.

At this point she’s been accepted to all 5 places she’s applied and I’m proud of her. My thoughts might be consumed with my wedding and my school but we also have her graduation in spring and that’s a huge deal. The whole time I’m looking at pictures for my wedding video, I’m also thinking about her life and the graduation party we will be having for her. It’s going to be grand.

That’s my hour for today. Time to Jam.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-11-13 Wild Wednesday Rant

Yesterday I sort of gave myself a day to finally unwind from the weekend and from the rush of Monday when there were so many things due. I say sort of, because at every turn there seemed to be some reminder of how far behind I am. Wedding planning, getting my son caught up on missing assignments, etc. not to mention all that “just in time” stuff like daily chores and meeting my mom for lunch and then helping her troubleshoot her printer for an hour which, would have probably taken 10 minutes if I was physically at her house. But over the phone, with her telling me only parts of what she’s seeing and doing pushing buttons, it was a challenge. But I don’t want to talk about any of that. I really don’t.

No. That’s not true.

I guess if there’s one thing I sort of mentioned already that I kind of want to elaborate on, it’s my son’s slip back into familiar bad behavior with school that opens a whole set of emotions for me. And this crosses over with my internal aggression toward some punk kid in my undergrad class who is a nice kid really but he’s just a kid and ignorant about finding the right words to express his opinion. It’s a free country, yes. You can say what you want but you should also realize your words and have consequences which include people wanting to pin you down and pummel the stupid out of you like that kid Ralph in the movie A Christmas Story.

It’s tangential, really. This classmate of mine is young and is of the opinion that video games are great and you can learn a lot from them and some have really great stories. While that might be true, all I know is that games and the internet and all the electronic distractions our kids have at their fingertips is not making my job as a parent any easier. My son is addicted to them. It’s a huge factor in his issues with motivation and school.

Addiction means that he just craves it, can’t seem to help himself, lies about it. Sneaks around the house like a thief in the night and hijacks other people’s power cords when his have been taken away. Meanwhile the gradebook doesn’t look so good and he’s back up to like 12 missing assignments. Half of which are math, a subject he’s good at. When questioned about it he shuts down. I’ve literally sat in his room with him the last two nights and did my homework so I could monitor him doing his. Half the time he just sits there, head on the desk.

He argues that there’s no point to homework which I combat by saying it’s one way people learn and necessary because it’s a requirement. It’s part of the grade and has to be done. That’s not enough for him to do it. And it’s a far cry from making him want to. He just shrugs. Did I mention I’m exhausted and at my wits end?

Back to this kid in my class. He went on a total rant about video games, after which the professor offered up the question about the video games being designed to make you want to sit and play for hours. This punk just says, maybe the corporations make the game designers do that. Well, duh! So what, these designers have a gun to their head writing code that makes my son spent 4 hours solving a level or quest? No… I’m sure they are totally into it and probably, by the way, also serious gamers themselves. With an exception.

They probably have self control on their side and have learned to balance work and play. Probably.

This kid also started apple bashing and his arguments were so shallow and mis-informed I almost could not hold back. But I did. I just sat in my chair and tried to singe the end of his hair with my fiery glare. The most I said was “I think the key to this and a lot of other things, is moderation”. And at that point, we moved back to more relevant topics for the class.

(All that got started by discussing an essay by Eric Campbell in which one of the things he talks about is the Instagram poets/poems.)

Later in the same class I notice another student with his Apple laptop open. And I was somewhat soothed knowing that this kid probably didn’t just piss me off and that his comments were not really directed at me. He likely pissed other people off too. I digress, again. I have to let it go.

But wait.. one more thing on that… if he was trying to come at me directly trying to address something I said about video games, it may have been because I said the whole ending of his poem should be rewritten because the chronology didn’t hold with the rest of the narrative. Some people have not learned how to take constructive criticism. Ok. Now I’m done. Maybe.

I’m still faced with the fact that it’s Wednesday and though my son has finished all the math homework, he’s got the other subjects to attend to. It makes for a long week, for both of us.

Time now for Jazzercise, and then to the tile store, and the grocery, and the tailor, and that’s all before lunchtime. 🤷‍♀️

Peace out,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-11-10 Not the Conclusion I Had in Mind

Friday I wrote about my latest assignment— to do something uncharacteristic and uncomfortable and then write about the experience. Well, folks, yesterday I definitely did that. The day was an extremely long one which started at about 6am.

I planned to give a “talk” at barcamp omaha and doing any sort of public speaking is way outside of my comfort zone. The short story is that I did it and didn’t die. The longer story? Well that’s the assignment isn’t it.

I’m supposed to record as many details as I can.. sensory input, bodily reaction, conversations, interactions. The hard part about that, which I realize now that it’s all over, is that I’m supposed to take all that and write a poem. But something in me is not feeling that. I’m not sure why. I kind of don’t even want to write about it at all. Weird.

I mean.. I did the thing. Like I said, I woke up early (half an hour before my alarm was supposed to go off). I was already a ball of nerves and anxiety by like 7. I did some morning chores and gathered everything I needed for the day. Soon after that I headed out the door for downtown.

Perhaps it just feels overwhelming still, because there is too much to put into words. I did the thing and then it was over and that’s when all the best parts of my day started to happen. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel like writing about it, because there are so many other things I’d rather write about.

It’s not the conclusion I thought I would be writing today, but fuck it. I just want to write what I want.

On Friday I had talked to my daughter about my plan and she expressed interest in coming to watch. I gave her all the details and even promised that I would try and schedule my session in the middle of the day to give her time to wake up and get moving. The talks are every half hour starting at 9 but I had to be there at 8 to get the time slot I wanted. She was coming from her dads house and I wasn’t sure she would actually get up and drive downtown. She did.

My talk was at 1pm, right after the lunch that I didn’t participate in or eat because I felt sick and too nervous. She showed up, on her own sweet time, at 12:45 and I actually had to go outside the building to direct her on where to park. She had never driven or parked downtown before so that was a new experience for her.

It was actually sort of nice to have that last minute distraction to take my mind off of what was about to go down. We came in the building and made a straight line for the room my talk was in.. where I had reserved a seat for her in the front row right in front of me. She has anxiety too and for me, being in the front row and not seeing people behind me helps me focus.

The talk was about 20 minutes which I mostly read off of my laptop. I realized the day before when I started to put together in my mind what I wanted to say, that it would be easier to just write it all out. Then after if was all written out, I decided I should just bring that, read some of it and then improvise when more details were needed. So that was that.

During my “reading”, when I got to the most emotional component, I started to lose it up there in front of all those people.. and there was my darling daughter right in front of me, a huge part of what I was speaking about. I looked at her and steeled my nerve and pressed on.

I powered through the rest and as predicted, had about 5 minutes left for Q and A. I actually gave the audience a choice.. they could either ask me anything they wanted, no subject being off the table -or- I could read them a few of my poems. The resounding answer was poetry and I could not have been more pleased and relieved.

I read three poems I’ve had published and called it good and done. After I had several people come up to me and introduce themselves saying that some part of my story resonated with them. That made me feel good. One gal just thanked me for sharing saying that the more people share their struggles, the more we know we’re not alone. It’s so true!

Z and I stuck around in that room for the next two talks and then decided to split. It was 2:30 in the afternoon and neither of us had eaten yet. We went to the tap room for cheeseburgers and fries and had a great chat. We talked a little about my “talk” and she admitted to getting emotional too, when I did.

She said, “mom, I was there too”. And as a parent you know that when you struggle your kids are affected, but you hope it’s not going to screw them up too much. Still, it meant the world to me that she came to support me, and that she sees that life is hard sometimes, sometimes heartbreaking, and that you just do the best you can. And.. that whatever it is, it is most likely temporary. Even the pain from losing a loved one, though it never goes away and is always a part of you, does get softer with time.

It’s a good message and I felt like the talks (not just my own but others too) along with the conversations afterword were a good experience for her. It was a proud parenting moment and that means more to me than any stupid anxiety or public speaking fear.

Instead of just giving her advice and telling her how to try overcome her anxiety and fears, I showed her. I modeled good behavior, I’m sort of just now realizing that! Go me!!

After the Tap room we visited an establishment in the Old market she had never been to, Hollywood Candy. The place is part candy store, part museum, part antique shop… and 100% what happens when a hoarder has a lot of money. $1.75 for a Twix bar.. no way man. That’s insane!

Ask me sometime about the dirty little secret I know about Hollywood candy. It’s a good one!

There’s more that happened yesterday.. so much more and I didn’t go to bed until 2am. But I’m going to stop there. I guess I wrote more about my talk than I intended so that’s good. I’m still not sure it’s the right stuff for a poem. I’m not sure what I will turn in tomorrow. 🤷‍♀️

I’ve got stuff to do today and am picking Jim up at the airport in a couple of hours so I gotta scoot.

Peace and Love,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-05-02 The One About Food (and Parenting)

Yesterday was such a long day and I did not have a minute to spare. I spent most of the day at the Med Center parricipating in sessions and meetings and doing that work thing I sometimes do. I only had a break from that in the afternoon long enough to pick up the kids from school and get them home. Then it was back downtown for Happy Hour with my co-workers. That was the highlight of my day.

I got to meet two of my co-workers who drove up from KC and had a brief interaction with a former colleague from my last company who stopped in to say hi to the team. My boss is also in town and he’s connected with lots of folks in our little healthcare data sphere. It was a good evening.

It was such a mad-dash of a day that I didn’t have time to cook my kids dinner. We had what we call is a “fend for yourself” night. I try not to do this too much for a couple of reasons. First, I like to cook for my kids (despite how picky they are) and have a nice sit-down meal together talking about our day. Secondly, on our drive to school this morning I asked them what they ate. My son said “chips” and my daughter said “nothing”.

She said “I was going to make nachos but forgot” and followed that with “I don’t need to eat, it’s not like I’m going to die or anything”. I was like, wow.. ok. What was I supposed to say to that?!

How about “yeah, not for a few weeks anyway”. 😜 in that moment I felt like a parental failure (an oft felt thing in my world). She’s less than 2 years away from flying the nest and still hasn’t learned the value of a good, nutritional meal or how to “fend for herself”. Perhaps if she was left alone for a few days the story would be different, hunger would kick in, and she would be forced to “cook”. Cook is in quotes because their idea of making a meal for themselves is still microwaving nacho chips with cheese or eating an unpopped pop-tart.

My son wasn’t much better. To him I said, “chips are not dinner”. He knows that but is also lazy and flexing a minute of independence to do what he wants. Then I followed up with “tonight we are having a proper meal”. A declaration to alleviate my crappy feelings about the whole thing. It worked.. mostly.

I can’t feel too bad about the situation because I recognize that people, even one’s own children, have to figure things out for themselves. Hell, I was brought up with a mom who almost always cooked balanced meals, yet when I left home and went to college and then ran off to Vegas, I ate terrible for like almost 10 years. At Iowa Western my main go-to meal was French fries and dill pickles and I probably ate fast food or bowls of sugar cereal for most of my 20s. I don’t recall cooking much outside of spaghetti and enchiladas and hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. Oh and my favorite meal of all time which was Original Kraft Mac and Cheese and Applesauce (still is high on my list of favorites, right below cheeseburgers)! 🍔 😉

I’m sure my kids will also go through this when they leave home. I just hope my voice gets some airtime in their minds as they start to make choices. “Eat some fruits and veg with each meal” and “breakfast is important”. I have my own nagging voice to deal with all day every day and have learned the importance of nutrition and taking care of one’s body. My inner voices are always arguing about it. What is needed is a nice balance, but it’s not always easy. I digress.

All this thinking about food is making me hungry. It’s not even 9am and I don’t typically eat breakfast until after 10 or 11 sometimes (so much for taking my own advice).

Today is a new day, and an opportunity to make better choices. I’m back to sitting at my computer at home to do my work and I’m very much looking forward to dinner with my people tonight which will be followed by a little writing time with my writing group which I feel I’ve abandoned for like a month. It’s time to get back into that, and more than just a few hours a week. Pretty soon now I’ll be registering for classes and that’s exciting!

It’s going to be a great day.

Happy Meal Planning,

~Miss SugarCookie

2019-04-18 Finding the Right Track

I’ve had an earlier than typical morning because I had to get C to school by 7:20 for a Spanish study session. /yawn

Had we not had the annual IEP multi-disciplinary meeting yesterday afternoon I would not have known. The Spanish teacher called it out in her summary statement. That was after I asked if it was still possible for him to pass. Yes of course it’s on her class website. But as each teacher provided their summary in-turn, one might pick up on the fact that to know about every assignment and test, it would be a full time job reading all the teachers blogs. I guess if that’s what it takes, I’ve got to be all in it.

It’s intimidating to walk into a room with 11 desks in a circle with a group of people waiting for you to begin. The case worker and I were waiting outside the room with C (who chose not to attend the first part of the meeting). We were waiting for his dad. Brian was a no-show.

I walked into the room and sat down at one of the two empty desks, feeling the pressure of all the eyes on me. I had my notebook ready with statements and questions so I would be sure and not forget anything I wanted to say. The meeting only happens once a year and based on our first year of HS there were some definite lessons learned.

This is the first one at the HS and I was not sure what to expect. I quickly found that each teacher would take a turn to speak on their experiences and observations of C in their class. There really were not a lot of surprises outside the fact that his “sleeping” in class is not isolated to his 1st period English class. Most teachers reported the same.

Due to the fact that we had had a previous meeting with the Spanish teacher, her going first opened the door for my conveying my prepared comments. The discussion was good and I was grateful the principal was there to hear all of that. I wear my emotions on the outside so it was tough for me to contain my frustration with the half of the parental support structure that is missing.

Brian is the one who crawled under the bus. I just politely drove over him.

I also called out some mistakes that the school has made this year and owned up to my own shortcomings. It takes a village, you know, and we’re all responsible for the outcome. Especially C. He has to want to do better or it will be very tough to course correct. I need a commitment from him that he’s not giving up. Deep down I know he knows he’s capable. They all know it too. The other common comment was about his intelligence.

His English teacher said at the beginning of the year she thought he should be in honors and may get bored in the regular class. Oh he gets bored all right, but it’s not ok to just ignore the work if you’re not interested in it. That’s not how the world works. His math teacher said he was an A student who is getting a C because he just doesn’t do the work. More of the same from all teachers. The only teacher who said C was always alert and engaged is his woods teacher. That’s more of an active class and he has a friend in there, I think both help.

The meeting lasted an hour and ended with the teachers leaving and C coming in the room for a smaller group discussion with the Principal. That part impressed me the most. I had not met the principal before (which says something about my Z and her first three years at the school). It was clear this was not his first rodeo.

He got on C’s level and straight talked him. He set some expectations and committed to keeping eyes on the situation. He also got on my level and laid out a clear path of communication which was refreshing. We left feeling pretty good about next steps, finishing out this year strong, and going into next year on the right track. Well, at least I felt good about it. I need to have another conversation with C about it as he was just glad the meeting was over and didn’t want to talk about it much.

He also doesn’t want to talk in front of his sister which I respect. It’s none of her business. She doesn’t know what the meeting was for and we’ve elected not to explain his situation to her to respect his privacy. As far as the actual IEP is concerned, he rejects any of the special accommodations offered. The only benefit at this point is the extra attention he gets from the IEP staff. It’s more than most kids get so I’m grateful. I’m hopeful, actually, and think that if we just continue to focus on it.. it will get better.

After we left the school I took the kids to Smashburger and that was good. Later in the evening we dyed Easter eggs. At first the kids resisted (because that’s what teenagers do) but once we were in it, they had a great time. Z prides herself on her artistic ability and of course boasted that hers were the best. I enjoyed it just because everyone was getting along and having fun. Cooper had more energy and enthusiasm for something outside a video game than I have seen for quite some time. That was great. Like I said yesterday, it’s the little things! 😊

That’s all I got today. Time to Jam.

Peace,

~Miss SugarCookie