Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Brown hair and math coexist!

After months of searching on-line, scouring AutoTraders and test-driving several different vehicles, Rebecca welcomed a bright yellow 2008 Pontiac G5 into our family last Friday afternoon. Michael was there to witness and approve of the acquisition. Pontiacs as first car is a tradition for the Duffy children, and Rebecca was happy to keep that ritual alive.
She didn’t seem particularly excited about the purchase before it happened. She’s an in-car-reader; she has always read in the car, even on short trips. As a driver she was concerned about missing the opportunity to read. Even getting in her hours during the permit phase was difficult because there was always a book to be read. But since she drove her car home her tune has changed. Just last night she gushed, “I love this car! I love that I can drive myself where I need to go!”

There really is nothing quite like the ability to get behind the wheel and go where you need to go. We’re excited she finally experienced the thrill of driving. She is a Duffy so it was bound to happen – we’re just glad it was sooner rather than later.

So yay for Rebecca! And while I am truly happy for her, I must admit I am just the teeniest bit happier for me, because I no longer have to choose between brown hair and getting Rebecca to math class. Y’all, let me tell you, that struggle was real.

So congrats to Rebecca, and welcome to the fleet Mr. G5. We’re all happy to have you here!

Friday, April 22, 2016

Possible Not Possible

I’ve been trying to come up with something clever to write about this day but all my thoughts keep ending up like this:

via GIPH

Today, my first-born turns 22. Twenty two years old. 


Yes, I know it's real. I know it is physically possible that I, a 45-year-old woman, can have a 22-year-old son. I know that I have been a mom for lo these many years – I have picture of me with grown up people who look an awful lot like me to prove it. I know, I know, I know.

But I still can’t believe it.

I was talking to Sean’s mom recently about Michael’s upcoming graduation. I said, “I just can’t believe I have a son old enough to graduate from college!” To which she replied, “Try having a son with a son old enough to graduate from college!”

Seems time continues to take us all by surprise. 

Happiest of birthdays, dear son. We love you! 

Had to throw in the Baby Jail picture - still an all-time favorite.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Inner trail, people! Inner! Trail!

Let’s go to an island for spring break, we said. One in the Atlantic Ocean. One with palm trees and ocean breezes! One where we’ll be far, far away from the cares of our everyday lives. One with gorgeous scenery. One with death-defying cliffs and people driving on the wrong side of very narrow roads. One where we’ll still get to wear our winter coats and scarves!

And that’s how we ended up in Ireland for spring break.

(Yes, they really have palm trees. Who knew?)

We’ve always wanted to see the motherland of Sean’s family, so when a couple invited us to tag along on their trip, we jumped at the chance. We spent 10 days, covered 1300 miles and was amazed by the lovely people and the unbelievable views at every turn.

The majority of those views have steep drops. One wrong step and you’d be done for. And unlike most of America, where guardrails reign supreme, there were few, if any, warnings about the dangers.

It’s almost like they expected their visitors to have brains…

My absolute favorite “warning” came in the form of this little cone:

This lone warning cone was placed at the Cliffs of Moher. "Cliff edge is unstable. Remain on official (inner) trail." Inner - you bet. I was not getting near the edge of this cliff:

There were some people meandering close to the very edge:
The small print on the warning cone said the recent storms made the cliff edge unstable. But that didn't stop those crazy people from tromping right out onto the sopping wet grass.

I wanted to scream, "Inner Trail, people! Inner Trail!"

Despite my near paranoia at each and every cliff (which was practically every moment of every day), it was a lovely spring break in the homeland of my husband's people, where people know how to pronounce his name correctly. Definitely want to go back.

But I vote for staying inland.

More lovely views:
Those are campers parked on the beach. Camping. It's like I can't escape it!
One wrong turn and you'd head straight down. I was very thankful for Sean, who is an excellent driver. Even on the other side of the road.
 At the end of this chain of islands is where they filmed the last scene in the latest Star Wars movie. I got points from Michael for knowing this. 
Y'all, I walked over that bridge. My companions wanted me to stop halfway over to take a picture. You will notice there is no such picture. 

There was one warning picture I thought was placed there specifically for Rebecca:
Don't go chasing the birds! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Car or math - you pick, Mr. Engineer

Dear Sean,

Rebecca turned 16 seven weeks ago. This is a major milestone in the Duffy family – license time! She passed the road test, parallel parked like a champ and has been driving solo ever since. Just like a Duffy, she loves the freedom the open road affords her. I know it warms your heart right on up to see your baby love the automobile as much as you do.

Something else that warms your heart is the number of hours you and Rebecca have spent pouring over AutoTrader, Craigslist and various dealer sites, hoping to find just the right car for her. She knows her budget and you’ve been helping her identify just the right car for her money. Mileage, wear and tear, makes and models… Y’all have had lots of fun at the kitchen table researching and dreaming of her first set of wheels.

All this father/daughter time has been swell. But honey, it is time to get the girl her own wheels. Otherwise, we’re going to have to cancel math.

(Got your attention now, don’t I, Mr. Engineer?)

Today, her math lesson time was changed, which interfered with my previously schedule hair appointment. You know how your hair looks – practically white? Mine would look like that, too, without this appointment. Gray looks distinguished on men. Doesn’t work that way on the fairer sex. Also, I’m younger than you so gray right now is not part of my plan. I have a standing appointment to get that oldness taken care of. And it's every six weeks during her math lesson. Which is today at 12:45.

When Rebecca’s teacher told me of the change in time, I tried to reschedule my appointment. My first priority really was getting her to the math lesson. But when I heard my hair lady didn’t have any other openings this week, the importance of math < my need to cover my gray.

After some finagling and requesting favors of two friends (thanks Traci and Sarah!), I was able to secure her math lesson and get her to her ride for ballet. But let me tell you, honey, if I couldn’t have made it work, math was going out the window because I am absolutely getting my hair done.

I tell you that little story to encourage you to help this child buy her car. Now. She has saved her money and she is ready. And I am ready.

And her math lessons may depend on it.


Your brown-headed wife

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Clean teeth and sleep-filled nights

Despite my dislike of having my teeth cleaned, I went to the dentist last week. After I was finished being tortured having my teeth cleaned, I asked my dentist how he was enjoying being a first-time dad. “She’s three months old and we’re having a ball!” he replied. And I asked the question everyone asks new parents: “Getting any sleep?”

He said they were doing great. The baby was sleeping through the night. “But we’re not lucky. We worked for it.”

I was pretty sure I knew what he meant, but I asked a few more questions and hit pay dirt: he told me they had read Babywise and it had helped them establish a good sleep routine. I said after nearly 22 years, I am still a huge advocate of the routine discussed in that book. He was so encouraged to hear that we had two decades of peaceful, sleep-filled nights, due in large part to what we learned in that book.

On the drive home, it hit me: we read Babywise (previously Preparation for Parenting) almost 22 years ago. And the material that revolutionized our sleepless home was still helping new parents get their babies to sleep. It reminded me of what I wrote in 2008:

When Michael was born I was thrilled. The thrilled feeling quickly passed as I realized I had no idea what the heck I was doing. When Sean left for work in the morning, I was in tears. When he came home, I was still in tears, and usually the same clothes. Neither Michael nor I was getting much rest and by his three-month birthday I felt like I’d lost my mind.

Then two good friends invited us to their home for a meeting about parenting. At that point I would have listened to anyone who could help me figure out this mothering thing. Actually, the mothering thing I got; I mean, I felt great, intense love for that little bundle of joy. I just couldn’t figure out how to get him to sleep! And that was one thing this parenting class addressed, so I was bound and determined to go.

The information we heard during the six-week class changed our lives. We learned how, by following a simple routine, Michael could learn to sleep for naps and through the night. After one week of being on the routine, Michael was taking three naps a day and sleeping 12 hours at night. And the program was so simple; I just had to keep three activities in the proper order: feed time, wake time and nap time. As long as those three things went in that order, Michael ate and slept at regular intervals. And the wake time we had was so enjoyable…

Fourteen years and three kids later, I am still incredibly thankful that we were invited to learn about a wonderful, loving way to help our baby order his days so his nights could be peaceful.

Now nearly 22 years later, I am still incredibly thankful I was introduced to that material. And I’m grateful it is still being used by new parents to bring order to their little one’s lives.

Wanting to hear how my dentist's daughter is doing makes me almost not dread not going back for my next cleaning. Almost. 

Need some help getting your little one to sleep? Have questions about your baby’s routine? Drop me a line!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Parenting's four-letter word

My kids learned lots of four-letter words from me. I would like to say that knowledge came as a result of a lesson plan entitled, "Colloquial Terms We Will Not Use.” I would really like to say that. Unfortunately, they learned them exactly how you think they did. Not my finest moments. I can only imagine how many more they'd know if I still had to drive in Atlanta's traffic...

But there’s one four-letter word my kids use that no one would bat an eye at. And in most situations it’s perfectly acceptable. But parents of young children should be very careful with its use, since it enables their impressionable youngsters the ability to ignore them. What’s the magical, get-out-of-obedience word?  Okay.

Direct, clear communication. That’s how we should talk to our kids as we are training them in first-time obedience. “Come here.” Not, “Put down your cup, put on your shoes and come here.” One direction at a time, with the expectation that your child will obey the clear, simple command. *

Sometimes, though, we confuse directness with sternness, or even unkindness. Because of this, lots of us tend to add, “okay” to the end of our instructions to our children.  It seems so innocuous. You say, “Come here, okay?” which you think means, “Come here, please.” But the minute you add that “okay,” your instruction becomes negotiable. Because you just asked your child to come – you didn’t tell you child to come.

When you say, “Okay” you have given your child the ability to ignore your command because it became a question! If you add that qualifier to the end of any command, you no longer have a command; you have a request. You just made obedience optional. If you want to come, great. If not, okay.

Maybe some of your kids wouldn’t look for that loophole. But those precocious ones will absolutely hear the question mark following okay and realize they suddenly have a choice. And you, dear parent, gave that choice to your sweet offspring.

I know how easy it is to let that dreaded, “Okay?” slip in. We kept our friend’s first grader for the afternoon recently and I cannot believe the number of times I put that four-letter word at the end of my directions to her. Wasn’t a big deal because we were just having a fun afternoon together! But it was a good wake-up call to remember that being intentional about saying what you mean and meaning what you say as you train for obedience so, so important.

If you want to add the, “please,” go ahead. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking “okay” means the same thing.

Okay. It’s the real four-letter word in parenting.

*Some people have raised concerns over my use of words like, “command,” “direction,” and “obedience.” If you are uncomfortable with those words, I hope you’ll go back and read my post about who’s the boss.  Someone's going to be giving directions - either you or your kid. Life's going to be so much better for all parties involved if the parents are the ones in charge.)

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Snowboarders

The snowboard craze hit the slopes of Colorado in the early 80’s. Seasoned skiers did not welcome the newcomers; many resorts actually banned snowboarding. And with good reason. Boarders treated the slopes like their own personal playground. The rule that uphill skiers watch out for those downhill was thrown out the window by those upstarts on one giant ski. They were skateboarders who wanted to skate even in the winter. Those early boarders were arrogant show-offs, flaunting their newfound “sport” in the face of seasoned skiers.

I was learning to ski at that time. And I, as a skier, thought those ruffian skateboarders were just a bunch of trouble. They cut too close and swished around the slopes like they owned the place. I felt they did not have the proper appreciation for the beauty of actual skiing. Which they didn’t – otherwise, they’d be skiing. I referred to them as punks and hooligans.

I held that view for years. Years and years and years. And many of those years I didn’t have the chance to ski, so I didn’t witness the evolution of snowboarders. My only experience was with the upstarts, so my ideas of snowboarders didn’t change. And then I met some real-life snowboarders. And I was dismayed. One of my daughter’s youth group leaders is a snowboarder! I didn’t believe it at first because he's always struck me as the kind of person who's, well, kind. But then I went skiing with Barry and witnessed his board ability. But more than that, I witnessed his kindness to my daughter on the slopes, encouraging her as a new skier and including her with those more seasoned on the snow. His personality on and off the slope matched.

And then there are these two:

Oh, they look the part of punks and hooligans on the slopes with those boards strapped to their feet. But behind those loopy smiles are hearts of gold. I went skiing with them last week and saw their courteous attitudes and kindness to novice skiers around them. And aside from not cooperating at all when I wanted to take their picture, they would move mountains for me if I asked.

So now, when I say I will never snowboard it is more about my lack of flexibility than dearth of respect for the sport. The boarders I know have been excellent ambassadors of the sport, so much so that they have changed my perception of those crazy people going down the hill on ski.

I am now a skier who counts boarders among her friends.

But don’t expect me to stop calling boarders punks and hooligans. It’s just now I'll be saying that as terms of endearment. 
Thanks for the pictures, Landon and Grant!