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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Roller Coaster Life!

Well, apparently it is having three kids at this particular age and stage of their lives and mine that has really set the roller coaster in motion.

It's not that we haven't had rocky times parenting. There were periods for certain that were incredibly challenging. Fortunately, however, they seemed to really only affect one child at a time, with the others paddling along independently while we worried about and righted the child who had drifted off course.

Not this year.

I have not ever experienced the feelings of upheaval in parenting as I have this year. Plus, in some kind of freaking sick cosmic joke, my hormones are going kerflooey at the exact same time, turning me into either a emotional lunatic or a Bawling Betty-- neither of which I like AT ALL.

Teen hormones and Menopause hormones should not occur at the same time!

Prior to this year, I would say that the teen years have been amongst my favorite years of child rearing. And at times they still are. But now I get why people say that they are the most difficult years. That is true as well.

I know that things will get better; like the newborn stage, I will look back on this time and think that it wasn't so bad. My parents and others ahead of me assure me that this is true.

I'm choosing to believe it!

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

KILLING ME

Dear Youngest Child of Mine,

Kid. You are killing me.

I get that I was not an easy teen myself and that perhaps I have been somewhat spoiled.

I get that you don't like to read, but somehow you must have read and memorized the chapter on how to be a challenging textbook teenager.

Dude, you are wearing me OUT right now.

I feel like I don't know what to do with you right now. Your potential and smarts are high but they aren't being reflected in your school work. Your behavior at school is earning you emails to your parents. Your sweet-sour attitude at home is wearing thin.

Are you bored at school? Are you having attention issues that need to be addressed? Do you think you know better than your teachers and so you only have to follow the rules that you think are relevant or important or fair?

I don't even know what the heck the issue is but I do know this: you have had three strikes, my friend.  Three emails in a month's time from your school and the SHIT IS ABOUT TO HIT THE FAN when you get home.

Remember Baby Boot Camp? Well, it's coming back and it isn't going to be pretty.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Memoir Prompt: Decisions

Memoir Prompt:
Day 12: Decisions. I've been reading The Things They Carried and I feel gutted. In one passage he talks about the decision of whether to fight in Vietnam or run to Canada. "Twenty yards. I could've jumped and started swimming for my life. Inside me, in my chest, I felt a terrible squeezing pressure. . . What would you do? Would you jump? Would you feel pity for yourself? Would you think of your family and your childhood and your dreams and all you're leaving behind? Would it hurt? Would it feel like dying? Would you cry, as I did?" Write about a decision. A wrenching decision. A decision that changed your course. How did you decide? What did it feel like? Who did it affect? 8 minutes. Don't hold back.

••••••••••••••••••••

I've always known I wanted to have children.

A love of children is the one thing in my life that I can trace back to my earliest days (well, that and crushes on boys...)

As a child, I would arrange my stuffed animals and dolls in a "classroom." I would make up lesson plans, take attendance, and even had a grade book in which I would carefully pass or fail them. 

I told my parents, with great confidence, that I was going to have 100 children.
I babysat from the very moment I was allowed to do so.
I worked in the church nursery.
When I left to go to college, I spent COUNTLESS hours volunteering in the lab classrooms on campus, working with special needs children under the age of three. And I do mean countless.. which then evolved into my first full time adult job.

Rob and I got married fairly young and started our family fairly young, by today's standards. I had just turned 26 when our first child was born.

I have never, ever regretted having children, although there were certainly moments when I could have easily gotten into the car like Marie Osmond did and driven far, far away.

There have been times, big fat blocks of time, in which I lost track of who I was, outside of being a mother. Times when I truly felt depressed and overwhelmed and completely drowned in the needs of children and a husband and raising a family.

Times of overwhelming joy, times of heartbreak, times of white hot rage and boundless pride.
Times when the little girl I was would be so proud of her Mommying and times when she would be beyond horrified at her own future actions or words.

Now that my kids are growing older and up and out of the house, I spend time trying to decide things about this next phase of life: What does it look like? What is my role? Who am I now and what do I want for MYSELF. Do I even remember how to answer these questions anymore?

Time will tell.

••••••••

If you want to play along, Go here: http://anndeeellis.com/2016/09/11/day-12/

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Being Eight

Memoir Prompt: Day 9: 8. Write about being 8 years old. Do you remember? Where did you live? Who were your friends? What did you do? What were you siblings like? What did your mom do? What did your dad say? What did you hope for?

•••••••••••••••••

Being 8 was being in Mrs. Hutchens' second grade classroom. I remember her as being blonde and fairly round- not necessarily heavy but in the plump, matronly kind of way that kids perceive pretty much all women of a certain age. I'm guessing she was probably in her early fifties. 

Being 8 was still playing hard at recess. It never occurred to us girls to just stand around and titter about the boys.. nope, we were all in. 

Being 8 was having a crush on both Grant Lindsey and Derek Langford. Oh, and Peter Ellison too! 

Being 8 was cheating at school for the first time (yes, I said the first time. I admit it.) and lying to my teacher. 
Being 8 was being clueless enough to tell my Mom, on the drive home, what I had done, not as a confession but as a story of my success.
Being 8 was realizing that was really dumb when your Mom turns the car around and takes you back into the school so you can apologize to the teacher. 

(Well done, Mom. Exactly the right move.)

Being 8 was a hot summer in Texas, with watermelon on the Fourth of July and seed spitting contests using the big black seeds, then watching fireworks and holding sparklers, feeling like the luckiest kid in the world.

Being 8 was living in that childhood space where life wasn't yet complex.. I was vaguely aware of adult problems but they had nothing to do with me. Being 8 was living the freedom of childhood and being blissfully unaware of the changes the next few years would bring.

Being 8 was pretty darn awesome.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Memoir Prompt: Little Things

Memoir Prompt: Write about something little that means a lot. Maybe something someone made you. Maybe something you made. Maybe something you found. Maybe something you inherited or won. Write about something that no one else would love the way you do. Little Things. 8 minutes. No editing. No stopping. No worrying. 

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Interestingly, I struggled with this prompt today. 
The fact is, I am not a collector of STUFF. I have a few first outfits, first pair of shoes, that kind of thing. 
A few school papers from each grade, although I think I will end up getting rid of most of that in time.
Definitely some love letters from summers apart from Rob, but by and large, not a lot of "little things."

As I thought about it more, though, there is one category of thing that means a great deal to me and always has: photographs.

My Mom had a double door cabinet in our house in Houston, stuffed absolutely full of packets of photographs. I remember sitting for hours and hours on the floor behind the couch in the family room, opening each sleeve of pictures, studying them, then putting them away (somewhat carefully but never carefully enough!) before moving on to the next. I would lay out Christmas card pictures my parents had received and consider how the children had changed and grown from year to year. The ones I didn't know, I made up stories about in my head.

My love of pictures (taking them and viewing them) has stayed strong through the years. I have kept the Christmas card pictures we receive from year to year, storing them on binder rings to enjoy each holiday.  I am not an overly social creature, so being behind a lens allows me to participate in a more removed fashion, which is especially useful at parties!

In my house, we call the DSLR the "fourth child" and the kids know it is a pricey piece of equipment and to treat it with respect. The Fourth Child has seen most major events in our family and recorded them for us to keep. 

One thing I love about the camera is that it captures things that I might have missed. For example, at my husband's grandmother's 100th birthday party, I was taking pictures of her being sung to and blowing out the candles on her cake, surrounded by her great grandchildren. It was a beautiful moment and I was so glad to capture it. What I missed, and later was able to see in the photographs, were the tears of joy and sadness shining in the eyes of her two daughters.. sisters sharing a moment of joy and pain and love. 

My camera has caught the little things- shared glances, teenage angst and growing pains, bellyflop contests and parties, Christmases upon Christmases. It has captured the multitude of little things, noticed and unnoticed, that make up our lives, and made them a permanent record. 

So for me, "little moments" that tell the tale of our lives, captured in photographs.. the little things.