Friday, November 19, 2010

Parental Units

Since I was 6 yo, I've referred to my dad & stepmom as "my parents". It didn't occur to me that I confused people when I talked about them that way. I know now, of course, that the usual first impression is that parents = mom & dad. Well, that wasn't the case in my house... in the technical sense of the word, anyway.

My mother & father split when I had just turned 6, and my father was given custody. Dad had steady income, a stable household, and was emotionally better able to take care of five children. When my future stepmom moved in with her own baby girl, my mother had 90% removed herself from our lives, and I started referring to my stepmom as "mommy".

For you to understand a little more about me, you have to understand how I was raised. My stepmom was the primary caregiver & female role-model in my life. I was raised in a two-parent household (there were actually three different homes before I moved out); a stable, secure, loving home where we had chores, and rules, and friends felt comfortable. A home where I was taught how to change my own oil, clean a toilet, and cook a meal.

Spending time with my mother was so infrequent that it was more like a mini vacation -- dinners at nice restaurants, movies in the theater, trips to the mall for clothes, etc... My parents were the ones who came to my school events, conferences, practices, recitals, and games. My parents were the ones who helped with homework, and taught me how to care for myself & others. I preferred my "real life" to any time spent with my mother, and always looked forward to going back home.

When my mama was diagnosed with rectal cancer a couple years ago, I broke down crying. Obviously she's been the only woman in my life who's always been there for me, and her life was threatened... I was scared. Two summers ago, after her first round of treatment, and after she'd had some time to recover (and other family had come & gone for a visit), Ace and I went out there for five days. I had to see for myself that she was going to live; that I wasn't going to lose my mama any time soon.

I firmly believe that without her, my dad would not last long. I think with her diagnosis came that realization for dad, too, and he started to reevaluate. He put the campground on the market, and decided it was time to slow down. The campground hasn't sold yet, but part of his rental business did. They also started planning a trip out west.

Earlier this month, they flew from South Dakota to the tri-cities to visit T, D, Bug, & Firefly for a few days. Then, I got them for three & a half days. They went from here to northern California for a visit with DW, JH, and JH's fam (&, I think, got to meet DW's bf, J), then returned home. Over Xmas, they'll be visiting my 97 1/2 yo grandmother in Texas.

I've lived in this house almost 11 years, and they've never been here. The last time they were in my area was when MG & I were married (August of 1998); they were in southern Oregon in 2007 for T & D's wedding, too... That's a long time to be away from a growing area. Part of their visit included a little tour; a few things were still the same, but most had changed. Two that stood out for them -- the fairgrounds had a lot less trees, AND our old house had been remodeled, half the lot was sold & built on, and it's now for sale!

But, this trip was probably the most relaxed I've seen them in a long time. Dad took full advantage of my 60" flat-screen (& mildly irritating me with his non-stop FOXNEWS - haha), and mama was perfectly happy chatting, shopping, running errands, cooking with Princess, and just being part of our everyday lives for a few days.

Comments of note: "I love watching this." "Watching what?" "Just you guys... the way you are... it's nice." Then, later, "You guys are raising a pretty cool kid; and she's smart too! We all know what side of the family that comes from, huh?" Princess also noticed just how much I'm like my dad... his little sayings, some of his mannerisms, and some personality quirks. What I noticed is that if you flip the parentage, her upbringing is almost an exact replica of mine... and that's a good thing.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Another Season Done

Last night was the End Of Season party; ending Princess' 5th season of Fall Soccer (for the record, her BD showed for just two games). Judging by the last two weekends of game time, at least half the girls (as well as their parents) were ready for the season to be done two weeks ago.

The season was good; a lot more wins than losses, and even a couple ties (including a tie game with a highly-rated rec team!). There were only a couple of wet/muddy games, although many practices were on the nasty side...

This year was also the first time our team was asked to participate in a tournament; the only one of our city's "rec" league to be asked. The league also included "classic" (for you non-soccer-speaking readers, that means competitive level) city teams and a few from outlaying cities. We won the first game, tied the second (against a classic team, nonetheless), and lost the third.

My Princess never made a goal herself, but she had MANY assists and passes that ended with a goal for our side; Ace & I are SO proud of her. About mid-season, she started telling me she didn't want to play next season. Although disappointed, as long as she does something for regular exercise, that was fine with us. She may not be the best/fastest player, but she's still an asset to the team.

Two weeks ago, an email was sent out to all the players' families stating that the league is trying a Spring option. The commitment is less time and less money, and the players can use their same jerseys from Fall ball to play in the Spring. Princess was adamant about not playing... until we were on our way home from the party last night.

When we got home, I got her signed up. She's still insistent that she won't play in the Fall, but we'll see... In the meantime, we plan to enjoy the holiday season, then January starts her first season of indoor rec basketball!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Feliz Cumpleaños

Today was Princess's 11th birthday. Unless you have children, you don't understand the blood, sweat, & tears that goes into planning -- even if the event is a "low key" one. Princess's birthday is usually spread out over a weekend or so, simply so she can have a party with her friends, do something in her classroom, have a family get together, and do something with Mimi. This year was no different... except it was.

I don't know why it hit me like it did this year, but when I dropped her off at school Thursday I saw in her face the teen she's becoming. I'm not complaining so much as stating a fact. And, it's not just her face... her whole outlook on life is changing. She's making more decisions on her own; she's pulling away from me more & more. Maybe I'm a little bit crazy, but in a way, I like it.

Don't get me wrong; she's still very much attached to me. But, she's starting to find herself, as well -- her own music, her own shows, her own opinions... I can have actual life conversations with her; not worrying I'm "going over her head".

To date, she has:
1. Chosen teaching as her future career. Now, I realize (of course) that this may (& probably will) change before she goes to college, but as of right now, she's had this plan since 2nd grade.
2. Chosen to adopt her future children. It used to be about the pain involved in child-birth, but evolved into realizing how many kids there are out there with shitty parents who need a good, loving home. Her own experiences have helped shape that view.
3. Chosen how we safely invest her money. Granted, we've only given her safe options to consider, and she knows there are not-so-safe ways to invest your money, too (like the stock market -- where we currently have about 10% of our worth invested). She has some in her savings, to spend on birthdays, Xmas, etc... The rest is invested in a CD at our credit union. She also, btw, chose how long to invest. Her exact words, "Mom, until the interest rates come back up, we're only doing a year at a time."
4. Decided that her college education comes before children. While she may get married while still in college, she "will not" (her insistence) have/adopt her children until she is done & has a good job to support those kids.
5. Decided that she'd like to stay living within a couple hours drive time from Ace & I. We would, I think, love that.

The point is not that she has her life kinda mapped out; obviously some or all of this could change in the next 7 - 10 years (or more, for that matter)... but having a plan and changing it to accommodate life is a better option than having no plan, and therefore, no direction.

And, really, all I wanted to say was this: I love my daughter with everything I have and more, and I couldn't be more proud of her than I am right now. Feliz Cumpleaños, mija. Te amo.

Halloween Weekend

This past weekend was the first time Princess has not been with me for Halloween in many years. Since she is doing well in school, we allowed her to skip two days (Friday & Monday) to accompany my mother ("Mimi"), and mom's friend ("Meme") to Washington to spend time with her aunt, uncle, & two little cousins.

Among her highlights: Time with Bug & Firefly, helping Aunt D in the kitchen at an SCA event (her friend, B, also helped), corn maze w/the fam, & trick or treating w/most of the fam & B.

Meanwhile, Ace & I took the dogs & went to the beach. We did a lot of reading, fire- and storm-watching, and listening to music. Being at the beach lowers our blood pressure and it was nice to get away after the craziness of the kitchen remodel & soccer season. This was, technically, our (very) belated anniversary weekend; THAT weekend we were prepping the house for new flooring.

Everyone returned home Monday evening, and after unpacking, we all had a great sleep in our own beds.