Fun Times To Remember

I was lucky to have a great high school life. Now don’t get me wrong there was drama and worry but for the most part I was able to come away with the best memories. As I got further away from that time, life got busy and I lost a part of that girl.

This weekend I went back. My sister and brother-in-law came to visit and we went to the Friday Night Football Game to watch a nephew start his high school football life there. So funny, those kids looked so young and we thought we were so old and grown up — making decisions that seemed at the time life altering.

It’s good to get back to who you were before the stress of life takes hold of a carefree personality. It can’t happen every Friday Night but it is good to re-set and remember once in a while.

My High School Days

I keep this picture in my office to remind me of who I was when I was at the beginning of my adult journey. It keeps me focused on what I was thinking and who I still am. I believe that none of us ever lose that 18 year old wonder and feeling that we can do anything. It just gets lost in daily life and responsibilities.

We had the weekend to discuss our lives and what we hoped for our kids and for our own futures. My sister and brother-in-law were also a part of my high school days. We’ve seen each other through all of life’s joys and sadness. It has been a comfort to know I have big open arms to land in when I need it. Chris and I are here for them too. We realized that since all of our parents are gone, we are the leaders of our family now. We are proud of our own accomplishments but we beam when talking about our kids. They are such great people. They are never far from our thoughts but we respect their autonomy and need for privacy — they do reach out often and we know that we have created a safe zone for them to talk and rejuvenate.

We talked about our home and our talk of downsizing. We never realized what having this house meant to the entire family. It reaches more than just Chris and I and our kids. It’s a place to feel happy and safe. As with my high school memories, there are many that our entire family have stored here and treasure. Our kitchen table has been the place where anyone can be fed and listened to.

Our Kitchen Table

I remember watching The Waltons Television Show (click link to see a picture) in the 1970’s and thinking that their kitchen table was so loving and welcoming. How did we get to the point of thinking that families living far from each other would be a good idea? I realized tonight that it’s time to plan more family dinners at this table. Luckily, Chris is a great cook and I love to clean and organize the kitchen afterwards. I also think including everyone in the process of a meal is a great way to create laughter and a sense of belonging.

I have always loved a comfortable family room complete with comfortable couches and blankets. So many positive discussions can lengthen when there is room for everyone to sit. When relaxed, people talk with their heart.

The Family Room Discussions

It doesn’t matter how big or small these two important rooms are. Just make sure they are welcoming and used often. I am content tonight knowing that we have created the home where everyone wants to be. All are welcome and I’m going to get better at making family time an open invitation. Scrapbooks, yearbooks, home movies and videos tell the stories that are the thread that connects us and helps us know that we are loved.

Why Organize and Where To Start . . . .

I love watching the CBS This Morning Segments “Note to Self.” Lately, I have been longing for my younger self to give her some tips on organizing her priorities.

There are goals that I could have reached sooner had I realized how simple it would have been to make some commitments early —

  • Pick the first home to be a starter to help build a real estate portfolio of rental properties — I so wish I had kept my first home that was bought for $75,000 in 1979.
  • Don’t be fooled by lower interest rates and refinancing too often, you lose ground every time you re-up any loan for the same term.
  • Don’t start the habit of accumulating things — get out and have adventures instead. It’s really only the big occasions in life that you remember what you wore — BUT — you always remember a trip and who you were with.
  • Keep active forever — feeling good is essential to getting up every day and looking forward to new life experiences.
  • Never stop learning — be curious and stay current on all new technology.

I never asked myself where I want to be in 20/30/40 years. It was not even a flicker of a thought. I never worried about retirement and what that would look like. I thought every book that professed a new idea for success was mandatory reading for me. Buying a family home was huge in my life plan but I never realized how the percentage that it took of the family income would keep adventures out of the realm of possibility. I stopped riding bikes and running on a regular basis — why?

Don’t feel bad for me. My life is good:

  • I have learned to not accumulate clothes or books — there are many of both that I have donated over the last 10 years. Especially those instant business success books that didn’t translate into my success.
  • The closets and cupboards are not hiding unknown surprises. I don’t buy the stuff that used to fill them up — never to be seen again.
  • I graduated from college with my Bachelor Degree later in life. It was a regret I could not ignore — it was worth everything to have that piece of paper.
  • I go over my financial picture every week with the help of Quicken.
  • I love to work and have created a career that incorporates all that I do well and look forward to in my day — I have had many jobs and took the pieces of each that I loved and created When House Is Home.
  • I created this website and am learning how to live in a paperless world (at work and at home). I must admit though, Minecraft still escapes me.

What would you tell your younger self? Do you regret the choices you didn’t make? Is there still time to reach your goals? I say YES!

It’s Never Too Late To Be What You Might Have Been

P.S. I still need to work on bike riding and running — I will update you on my progress. . . . .

Mom Thoughts

I want to think that I was a fun mom — BUT — I do remember worrying most days about keeping the house clean and organized. My kids have all told me at one point that they would stop making their beds when on their own and there was nothing I could do about it. I don’t blame them for rebelling. No glass ever sat on the table for longer than five minutes before it was dishwasher bound. Kids want to grow up with a certain amount of dirt and chaos and mine were deprived of that most of the time, All of my television role model moms of the 1950’s and 1960’s kept their house spotless. My own mom kept our house spotless. As a kid I had chores on a list and each one done paid me five cents. Making my bed was on that list.

I have thought about who might have been a hilarious mom and Lucille Ball comes to mind.

Her daughter, Lucie Arnaz, was asked about that and this was her response:

Now, Arnaz’s favorite memory of Ball, who died in 1989, is decidedly unglamorous.

I sort of always come back to the idea that any memory where she’s just home and has time to just be with us, any of those simple, the simplest of dumbest of memories, you know, making a grilled cheese sandwich in the kitchen,” Arnaz says.

This was the funniest woman ever on television. She made life a hilarious string of unbelievable ideas on how to live daily life. She helped families at home watching television laugh together. Her daughter simply wanted a grilled cheese sandwich and time to just be with us.

It sounds so redundant to say but truly the time the kids are home until age 18 does go fast. I look back now and realize it is impossible to make time slow down while raising kids. There is always so much to do, somewhere to be, homework to get done, chores to complete, meals to cook and emotions to soothe. Kids are loud, they fight, they leave fingermarks on walls and wet towels on floors — they are busy living their thoughts. I was longing for quiet and order when I should have been listening and laughing — helping them live their thoughts.

So, it’s time for me to start to focus on each rare moment of the day as best I can. I needed to find more laughter and started listening to a podcast where I thought I could find some hilarity — “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” — He is hilarious with no script. I wonder how his kids feel about him? Is he funny at home? Does he give them time outs? Do they think he’s as funny as I do?

What about Melissa McCarthy? Does she have her kids make their beds? Can you just decide to be funny and it magically happens?

Here is Melissa’s take on disciplining her very funny kids:

On The Struggle To Discipline Funny Kids

We have very funny kids. [When they try to get out of trouble by being funny, we’re like,] ‘Good bit, strong bit. However, you still have to go clean up your room.’ It’s a balancing act. Kids are really smart. They pick up on everything and then you still have to not laugh in front of them as you tell them that something’s not appropriate, or something might be too aggressive. Then, when they leave the room … Ben and I try to write it down so we don’t forget, and then laugh a lot without them seeing. It’s a system in a web of lies. That’s what it is.

There are all kinds of moms who do their best with limited skills. I think there should be a mom class that teaches how to laugh not only at what kid’s introduce to your life but also at yourself and how you handle it. Maybe I can start one — it will start with a house full of unmade beds and I have to let that go for a day.

Life gets very complicated when you have to keep order in every room in the house. We all need creativity to express what our brains are trying to help us focus on. Noise is good — it means everyone is still alive. Wet towels eventually get washed and smell better. Fingermarks get painted over on walls but we treasure those plaster school projects with the hand imprint. Siblings stop fighting and turn into life-long friends. Scrapbooks reveal the memories that remind us that we did have fun and laugh at least once a month.

Breaking The Rules Once In A While