Monday, August 29, 2011

Hurricane Irene

  There's an old saying in New England, "If you're not happy with the weather, just wait a few days!"  It's hard to believe that in the last two weeks we've had an earthquake, and a hurricane.  Temperatures changed thirty degrees in either direction overnight.  One day the humidity was stifling, and the next we were looking for sweatshirts!  Hurricane Irene was not as bad as it could have been, and we know that we were lucky.  Most of us did as we were told.  We prepared for the worst, then hoped for the best.  We were OK.
We lost power for a few hours, due to fallen trees.  Flooding is the concern now.  Today the clean-up begins.  Some schools were cancelled on what would have been the first day. 
   I remember preparing for storms when Matt was young.  We filled the bathtub with water.  We gathered the flashlights and candles.  We dug out the board games and playing cards.  We were preparing for an adventure.  We played Monopoly marathons, and multiple Scrabble matches.  We finished our games even after the lights came back on!  We try to make the most of the situation.
  I hope you all weathered Irene, and escaped with minimal damage.   Let's hope we can enjoy the upcoming Labor Day weekend. 
   Have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, August 21, 2011

We are Family

  My nephew got married yesterday.  They make a wonderful couple, and seem perfectly matched!  My folks flew in last Tuesday, and Matt arrived Wednesday.  It's been a whirlwind visit! My thinking is that since we are all eating, we should try to eat together.  Ever try hosting three separate dinners in five days for twelve to fifteen of your closest relatives??  It's always a challenge because of work schedules, golf tee times, last minute shopping trips, plus a few more unpredictable wrinkles.  After 28yrs of hosting, I have it down to a science.  I have a master list of all  menu's. I check off each item once it was purchased, then checked it again when the dish was prepared.  Some bread, fruit and vegetables cannot be bought in advance, so I needed to add a daily trip to the grocery store.  Totally different meals were planned each day, so we wouldn't serve the same thing twice. Fridge and freezer space is always a concern, so care must be taken to not have too many leftovers.  Of course, leftovers are required for lunch and snacks, which makes things interesting, to say the least.  Things will be less hectic this week, as everyone heads back home midweek.  I hate to see them all go home, because it's always seems like such a long time between visits.
  The wedding was beautiful, and the reception was held at a local country club.  We always have a lot of fun when we get together, and we are thankful that everyone was healthy enough to make the trip.  We celebrated with all ages from great grandbabies not quite one year, to grandparents in their eighties. The whole family was on the dance floor together, acting silly and having fun!  Just like the commercial says.....weddings can be really expensive, but having four generations together for another happy occasion is priceless. 
Have a good week everyone.....and the beat goes on.....the beat goes on.....

Sunday, August 14, 2011

C is for Comrades

  The fifth and final topic in the series addresses comrades or friends.  Years ago when our son Matt was in his early teens, I read an article in our Sunday paper.  It gave ideas on how to deal with teenagers and the 5C's, cooperation, curfews, cash, cars, and comrades.  We decided to try them, and believe that we had a lot of success.  The premise is that when teens feel empowered, have a good set of tools, and earn rewards for good decisions, they will grow up to be productive members of society.  Teens would not want to jeopardize their perks by making bad decisions.
   Matt is still good friends with many of the kids from grade school.  We liked having kids around, and had a pull-out couch and extra mattress in his bedroom for sleepovers. In high school, there were kids from other junior highs.  He made new friends through sports.  We asked him to not hang around with kids who would get him into trouble.   All of his friends were planning on college, and were focused on getting good grades.  Athletes needed to maintain a passing grade in order to play sports.  We could back off because his coaches played the heavies.  We were lucky.  Matt never looked for trouble.
   By this time, Matt knew that his good decisions had earned him priviledges. He was working towards no longer having a curfew.  He had a car,  he played sports, and he worked a part time job.  We were confident that he would not be willing to give these up.  We were beginning to see the benefits of working on the 5C's.
I know he avoided parties that he knew might be trouble.  He said it just wouldn't be worth it. 
  Our son was making the right choices, and it made our job as parents easier.  My husband told Matt to "throw us under the bus" if he ever got in a sticky situation.  He was to say that his parents were terrible, and he just couldn't get into trouble.  We know things happen fast, and things can get out of hand quickly.  We went over the "what if'" scenarios,  just as we had when he was younger. 
  We survived it all because we had a plan and we stuck to it.  As always, no idea is one size fits all, so take what you like and leave the rest.   Have a good week everyone.....

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cars and the Rules of the Road

   The fourth topic in my 5C's series is cars.  Years ago, I found an article in my Sunday paper which outlined tips for parents who were dealing with preteens and teenagers.  We implemented all five of them with truly positive results.  We've already discussed our family's experience with cooperation, curfew, and cash. 
    Matt got his license on his 16th birthday.  In our state, kids can drive at 15 1/2.  We started out practicing in parking lots on the weekends.  Before long, I was the co-pilot while Matt was driving  to school and from school.  I was happy that Matt was forced to drive in winter weather, and we both knew he was ready for his driving test in July.  Even at sixteen, my son was able to set goals, then get a plan to see it through .  He had saved enough money by early spring to pay his half of  Driver's Ed.  He had already calculated what class he would need , in order to be finished before his birthday.  Because of his success with the other C's (cooperation, curfew and cash), Matt was self directed and solutions oriented. 
     Matt's godparents gave him their thirteen year old Cutlass.  It had high miles, but cool tee tops, and it was in pretty good shape.  He was thrilled to have his own wheels!  We got an estimate of all repairs, and Matt was able to get  the work done by asking for cash for his birthday gifts. 
     One important issue still had to be addressed.  Car insurance for teenage boys is expensive.  We learned that our insurance companies gives a "good student discount".  Matt could earn this by making honor roll, and it could be extended each renewal, by maintaing his average.   We told him that our first priority was that he be a good student.   If Matt could make the honor roll, then we would pay the balance.  By now, we knew our son well enough to know he would take advantage of this.  At the time, we did not know how much  honor roll grades would help him earn a college scholarship.
      As I've said each time before, we never expected to get added benefits.  We just wanted to capitalize on a discount.  Of course, by now our son was handling his college courses, playing high school sports, and working part time.  He was a good student who kept his curfew.  He was considerate, and a great role model to his younger cousins.  He could be as proud of himself, as we were of him. 
     I hope these suggestions work as well for you.  Since every situation is different, please take what you like, and leave the rest.....have a good week everyone....and the beat goes on......the beat goes on........