Life lessons

What the Heck is Momschooling, Anyway?

It’s officially summer here at The Burin Academy and every single one of us is thrilled! Wait, let me clarify. Every single one of us is BEYOND thrilled. As in, the most appreciative of school being finished than any of us has ever been before. 2ED36819-6969-44AD-9636-04A288CB31C2Why is this year’s introduction to summer celebrated above all others, you ask? I’ll answer with one word…Momschool.

Due to the pandemic raging through our state, schools here were closed back in March. Most of them were sent scrambling, trying to figure out how to finish out the year. Our boys were in two different schools-Jack, an 8th grader, and Elijah, a senior. Jack’s school began online schooling with multiple Zoom calls and schoolwork assigned each day. 10311638-0A40-4766-89BB-41CDFBD4FB74Elijah’s school went to work being optional and you know what that means. There was no way he was going to do anything that he didn’t have to. But despite the fact that Elijah was a senior, and his school deemed additional work optional, I felt it was important to keep both boys actively learning, instead of just torturing one of them. How fair would that be, anyway? So, we spent the next 45 days (not that I was counting, or anything) Momschooling. Both boys had a daily schedule that started at 9 and ended at 7. They had academic responsibilities. If there were no school assignments, they watched documentaries or researched topics. They read. They had chores. They helped make shopping lists and prepare dinner. They had a list of projects to do. For example, make a movie together, or write someone a real letter and mail it. Their days were full, that’s for sure, and they quickly found out there is no teacher that expects more from them than me.

As I’m sure you can guess, Momschooling wasn’t easy. It was quite a rollercoaster, to say the least. Some days went smoothly, while others were a battle from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. Boundaries were tested, new standards were set, and I learned to dig deep down in order to find the patience needed to keep going. But it was incredibly satisfying to watch as the boys became more independent in the kitchen, or as they began to master real-life skills, and bond over shared projects. Although I had to keep a constant watchful eye on them, they learned important skills like: how to properly make a bed, or clean a bathroom, whereas before I would most likely let their halfhearted attempts at such tasks go, since we were too busy to stop and make sure all the little things were done right.

We all learned to work together and I know (although they won’t admit it), they developed a new appreciation for what it takes to run a household. In many ways, I am thankful for the experience and I hope, perhaps someday, they will be too.39A9F3D2-0267-4D80-8BFC-77DDDFF5E4CA

But perhaps the greatest thing I learned through all of this is that, although it was hard, it was nothing compared to true homeschooling. I take my hat off to all the parents out there who have made the commitment year after year to homeschool. I chose to call what I did Momschool because it was different than true homeschooling. I jumped in 3/4 of the way through the school year. For the most part, I had a curriculum already in place to follow. I had teachers who oversaw the work done and with whom I could come alongside and gain support. At no time was I on my own in this endeavor. True homeschooling would have required me to do all of this on my own. In addition, the boy’s academic comprehension and success would have fallen solely upon my shoulders. Creating a schedule and creating a curriculum are two vastly different tasks. Not to mention, there is no possible way I could help the boys with their math. I think I lost that ability at about the 5th grade level. I mean honestly, what the heck is a polynomial, anyway?

45 days as a “teacher” sure taught me a lot. I’m in awe of people who do it day after day, whether in a physical school, or at home. My hat goes off to those of you who choose this path in life. You give so much to others. Your patience is something to be admired. And your willingness to guide children into becoming the future of the world is something truly commendable. This pandemic has opened my eyes to see how much you selflessly give, and I will never again take that lightly. You all have become my heroes and although it may not be much, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do.

So although I didn’t truly homeschool, I did Momschool the heck out of my boys as best I could. 

We got through it. 

We survived. 

I learned that patience and perseverance pay off in the long run.

The boys learned there is no tougher teacher than their mom.

And I’m sure we will all agree, we can’t wait for “real” school to start again in the fall.

Life lessons

Why ‘This is Us’ is Bad For Your Health

I swore up and down I wouldn’t start watching the show, ‘This is Us’. After all, I felt as if our own lives had enough drama without watching someone else’s family go through their own difficult life situations. And really, did I want to watch a show that was just going to make me cry? Nope, not me. No matter how many people loved it, I was stubbornly against the idea of opening the door to that show. 

But, winters in Michigan are long and workouts can feel even longer if you don’t have something good to watch while you pound out miles on a treadmill. So, by about February I had already managed to rewatch all my favorite old movies for what felt like the hundredth time. I know many of us can really never get enough of ‘The Wedding Planner’ though, am I right? But, I still had a lot of cold weather to get through and I’ll admit, I must have been feeling a bit weak. So, one day I quietly gave in and started ‘This is Us’, all the while telling myself that the first time I cried through an episode, I would stop watching immediately. Ha! As any of you who have watched the show know, that goal was never going to happen. 

The Pearson family is a hot mess, it’s true. But they are also so real. It’s as if I’m watching the family down the street (or many times, watching my own family). How could anyone not become completely invested in them? They love fiercely and mess up constantly, but all the while manage to grow on you until you feel as if you know each of them personally. In one episode, Kate tells her mom, Rebecca, “you aren’t in my way mom, you ARE my way”. This was perhaps the moment that sealed the love of this show for me. I mean really, how could a line like that not just seep into your soul and rip out your heart?! And the creativity of the writers is phenomenal. I have no idea how they manage to keep all the complex back and forth timelines of the show straight. 

So, after all my unwillingness to watch the show, I’ve managed to continue watching all the way to the 4th season (yes, it is still too cold to exercise outside, and yes, it is almost the end of April..ugh.). Wait, I should clarify. I’ve managed to bawl my way through the first three seasons. Now, this wouldn’t be much of as problem except for the issue of watching it while I’m working out. Have you ever become a bit emotional while running, riding a bike, or doing any cardio whatsoever? If not, let me tell you this…it doesn’t end well. There have been numerous times I’ve had to completely stop the treadmill or bike while watching ‘This is Us’, not because I’m just to distraught to continue (yeah, we’ll go with that). But for the mere fact that I simply couldn’t even breathe! It’s impossible to do cardio when bawling your eyes out because your throat closes up and you just can’t catch your breath. See what I mean about this show being bad for your health? I could quite literally pass out while watching it.

So, now I’ve learned to have tissues strategically placed near both the treadmill and bike.

I also make sure if the episode coming up looks like it may be pretty emotional, that I’m prepared to stop and just cry it out instead of trying to continue my workout, blurry-eyed and gasping for breath.  I’ve also implemented a, “mom needs to workout without any interruptions rule” so no one will happen upon me as I’m an emotional wreck blubbering my way through a particularly touching scene. Thinking about it now, perhaps I should have opted for something a bit easier to watch, like, ‘The Tiger King’ or ‘Superstore’. Nah, I guess I’m just a glutton for punishment. 

Consider this your PSA for the day. I feel it’s my civic duty to warn you about the potential risks you may be facing if you choose to watch this show. You are now in the know that ‘This is Us’, is a fantastic show but could also be potentially bad for your health if, like me you choose to foolishly watch it in order to entertain you during your workouts.

Since I’m almost caught up with the show, I might need to start considering a new one to watch. I’m thinking maybe, ‘Call the Midwife’ since I now consider myself fully prepared for whatever that show might throw at me thanks to the training I’ve been getting with ‘This is Us’. 😉

Life lessons

School’s out for Summer

School’s out for summer.

School’s out forever.

-Alice Cooper

The executive order came out last week. 

In person school has been cancelled for the remainder of the year. 

Although I’ve known it was coming, the blow still hit me hard. Reality often does hit hard in this day and age, doesn’t it?

I braced myself to tell the boys, figuring it would be a difficult conversation. But they took it surprisingly well. I asked them if they felt sad or disappointed and they said they didn’t. I asked for some feedback and all I got was, “well if it means less work in the end, then I’m all for it”. Yep, that’s my introverted, homebody son for you.

And that’s when it hit me. Sometimes news like this is harder on the parents than on the kids. Not always, many kids do take it hard I know, but many times parents are left with the feeling of loss as well. I’m not even talking about the difficult logistics of having kids home all the time, trying to homeschool, keeping them busy, etc. That’s a whole other ballgame. I’m just talking about the loss of what was to come. 

This year we have an 8th grader and a senior. Needless to say, these are two milestone school years. 

Our 8th grader will be a (gulp) high schooler next year. He was looking forward to a spring track season to help him prepare for cross country in high school. He was having a great year and had formed some fantastic friendships. It really seemed as if he had found his place. Unfortunately, since his school this year is a small private school that ends in 8th grade, all of his friends will scatter to different high schools next year. I personally have loved his school. The nurturing environment and small size were really what he needed after a few years moving around internationally. I truly appreciated the support given freely time and time again by staff and parents. I can’t even begin to convey what an overall great experience it has been. 

Then there’s our senior. Now that school’s closed he clearly won’t have the opportunity to experience all his lasts as a high school student. He won’t go to prom. He won’t have his last class. He won’t even have a graduation ceremony.

These are things that I’ve realized mean more to me than I would have ever realized. I appreciate life’s milestones very much. Celebrating all the lasts and firsts in life are a really big deal to me and many of these experiences come into our family through our kid’s lives. 

So, are the boys ok? Yes. Am I ok? Not really, but I’m getting there. Every day gets a bit easier. I took down their school schedules. They’ve emptied out their backpacks. And we’ve gotten into a new ”normal” routine. But waves of sadness do still hit me. I suppose I need a bit of time to mourn. 

Life will go on. New firsts and lasts will happen. Our world will recover and these times will turn into a history lesson for the people of the future. But right now is hard. We will all be faced with disappointment and change in our life circumstances. Sometimes we may just need to lick our wounds for a bit before we pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. 

I am so proud of my boys and their resiliency. May it be a lesson to me to focus on the here and now instead of the what could have (or should have) been. We are blessed. We are together. And this too shall pass. 

But oh how the type A, hyper-planner in me hates every minute of it! 😉

Stay strong!

-Laurie

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Life lessons

Keeping the Faith

I’ve been on a bit of a journey today. 

Yesterday was a tough day. There was literally no good news. The pandemic is getting worse. There aren’t enough hospital beds. Stay-at-home orders are being extended. Some days the news is just too much to bear. It weighs on you and brings you down. 

So, this morning I woke up with a heavy heart. Realistically, I know our world will recover, but when? It’s interesting what time to think can do to a person. Usually life is so busy it becomes easy to push feelings and emotions aside in order to just keep up with life itself. But for now all we have is time and as my thoughts swirled around and around, this thought came to me. 

I’ve been through an awful lot of shit.

I’m not here to complain or give you a sob story about my life. Many, many, many people out there have had it way worse than me. I totally understand and sympathize with that. But, everyone’s obstacles are unique and no matter how big or small they may seem to others, they are obstacles unique to only you, and need to be overcome just the same.

When I was 19, I got pregnant out of wedlock. I was a freshman in college with my whole life ahead of me and found myself at the lowest point I could be. What would happen to me and the baby? How would I support him or her? Could I even finish college? It was hard. A lot of tears were shed. But I had a good guy in my then-boyfriend and we got married, trying to do the right thing in a difficult situation.

Our sweet Autumn

All was not wine and roses when we became a little family. Brett and I were young and had a lot of maturing to do. To say we really didn’t like each other was an understatement. I know deep down inside we resented each other. Him, angry with me for taking away his youthful freedom and me, just not liking anything about him. For six years we lived like this. Just going through the motions. Staying together for the kids. But we grew up, kept the faith, worked hard, and learned to love one another. 

We were in Boston during the events of 9/11. I remember sobbing trying to call my mom who worked right up the hill from the Pentagon. Fear ripping through me until I heard her voice on the phone. Then fearful of what could happen next. Should I run out and get my kids from school? Should my husband leave work and come home? It was terrifying.

When our daughter was 13, we discovered she was battling with anorexia. It was devastating to watch her suffer while feebly trying to help her, all the while knowing she would only find true healing from within. I found myself on my knees many times weeping over her pain. It was a long, painful journey for her, and so gut wrenchingly difficult to deal with as a mother.

Later, she went on to run the Boston Marathon. The year she ran was 2013, the year of the bombing. We were at the meeting area near the finish line when the bombs went off. Her childhood friend, Shapleigh, had watched Autumn finish in the exact spot where the first bomb detonated and only left the area to come congratulate Autumn right after she watched her cross the finish line. We found ourselves in a place where we didn’t know what to do or what would happen. All we knew was that we were scared and needed to get out of Boston as quickly as possible. It was terrifying.

A few years later, we found ourselves on a plane bound for China. We were uprooting half of our children and leaving behind all we knew to start a new journey as expats halfway around the world. It was an incredibly difficult thing to do. I won’t even go into all the emotions that surrounded that time in our lives. I’ll just say that it was one of the hardest things we’ve ever done.

Last year alone, Brett had to undergo two major hernia surgeries, we had an unexpected move back home, and decided to build a house. All major life events (stressors) that just seemed to keep coming at us.

And that brings us to today. I don’t need to tell you what a challenging time we are living in. Worry for health, worry for job security, uncertainty about the future, mourning over the loss our senior has to face with missing all of his “lasts”. The list is endless and if you’re like me, emotions are running high. I might be laughing one minute and bawling the next. What makes it even worse is that many times I find myself overcome by emotions and don’t even know why. 

But that’s where my journey today began. 

Looking back on everything I’ve been through I realize that through it all, God has never forsaken me. In the beginning I wasn’t a Christian. My faith was in myself and my own strength. Going through the pregnancy at 19, I felt very alone. I had made such a mess of my life. Then facing a terrible marriage became more and more difficult as I continued to heap more and more weight upon my weary shoulders. Later, I discovered that God was the only one who could strengthen me. And He did. As you’ve read, there has been a lot that has come my way. Some heavy stuff. Things came along that were honestly just too much for me to bear. But as my faith strengthened, I began to see that I had strength not through me, but through God. He has never left me and has always carried me through life’s difficulties. 

Lately, I’ve been allowing myself to get caught up in the heaviness of life. It’s been overwhelming at times. Although I’ve been praying in earnest, I’ll admit, I’ve allowed myself to take my eyes off of Him through worry. But today I thought, after all He’s seen me through why would He forsake me now? Running through the memories of life’s milestones and the blessings that have come out of most of them, I feel a bit foolish doubting this time will end any differently. We now have four wonderful children. My husband is my best friend. Our daughter is married, happy, and expecting as baby of her own. Our life overseas ended up being one of the greatest things that we have ever done, not just for the four of us that made the move, but for all of us as a whole. And the fact that, although we did not expect to be, we are home, close to our family during this difficult time is such an incredible blessing.

Before we moved to China, I got a tattoo of a cross on my wrist. It was meant to remind me that no matter where I am in this world, God is always with me. I need to remember this and make sure to remind myself of it constantly. Because, just like all the other stuff I’ve been through, He will bring me through this as well. I truly believe this is the only way I will be able maintain my strength. 

It may not be easy from one day to the next, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that we grow the most through adversity. This is my chance to strengthen my faith and I need to do my best to remember the strength that He has instilled within me.

Remaining faithful,

-Laurie

Sorrow looks back.

Worry looks around.

Faith looks up.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Life lessons

Joining the Sweatpants Revolution

I usually have pretty high standards about what I consider an acceptable level of self-grooming that I need to complete in order to leave the house. A shower is a must. A decent outfit, also a must. And make-up, well I just won‘t leave home without it. That’s the way I’ve been since pretty much the time I started dressing myself. I don’t think any less of people who don’t go to the extent I do in order to go out into the world, unless of course they didn’t even bother to change out of their pajamas. It’s really hard not to get a bit judgy about that. But for me, my level of comfort is not fancy, but does take some effort.

So, I’ve been feeling a bit rebellious over the past week-and-a-half over the fact that my make-up drawer has remained closed, and my outfits have become a bit redundant. I’ve quickly grown tired of picking my good, “out of the house pants” in order to wear while only wandering around from the bedroom to the kitchen. Are they just jeans? Yes. But even a good pair of jeans has a wear life and if you’re like me, it’s challenging to find that perfect pair.

All this led to me finding myself shopping online for…dare I say it? Sweatpants. It’s true, I actually sought out and bought two pairs of sweatpants. Because, while I don’t want to wear my good jeans on a homebound day, staying in my pajamas all day just doesn’t feel right either. So for now, my alternative has become a comfy pair of sweatpants. 

Isn’t it funny in today’s world the new things we get worked up about? Many of the things that bother us are completely different than the issues we had a mere two weeks ago. Some silly, some not so silly, but unique challenges all the same. 

Sometimes this means we have to step outside our comfort zone a bit in order to maintain our sanity. Even if it means joining the sweatpants revolution. 

So for now I say, viva la sweatpants! 

Just do me a favor, please. Don’t come knocking on my door unannounced because in a week or two, I might just get to the point where I decide to exchange my sweatpants for pajamas and begin to think showers are optional. And if, when this all blows over, you see me in Costco in my pajamas, please don’t judge. I will have gone through a long time being stuck in the house with two teenagers and a husband working from home.

Stay comfy, my friends!

-Laurie

p.s. This post is not in any way knocking sweatpants. In fact, I’m surprised I haven’t owned a pair until now. They’re amazing!

p.p.s. And just to feel a bit more classy, I decided to buy joggers over the traditional grey sweatpants of old. Why are they more classy? I have no idea (and in all honesty, I’m sure they’re not), but my conscience somehow feels better about it, so I’m going with that. 😉

Life lessons

Tea Time

Hi Friends! It’s been a while but things have been a bit crazy around here. Know what I mean?

These are incredible times we’re living in, that’s for sure! No one living today has ever lived through anything quite like this. Every day brings change. Everyone is glued to the latest news. We are all learning a “new normal”. Countries are coping with many obstacles and it’s been crazy how quickly life as we know it has changed. 

For many of us, last week was the first week of us being home more. For a homebody like me, this wasn’t too unusual but having everyone at home with me 24/7 was. Adults had to try and figure out how to work from home and parents had to try and figure out how to support their children when most of us had very little direction from schools as to what we should do. 

I would say our first week was a success but it wasn’t easy. Right off the bat, I made a daily weekday schedule for the boys so they wouldn’t be walking around on their devices all day and night. We certainly had our ups and downs. Jack’s school has been very proactive with remote learning but Elijah (our senior) has still not received any direction from school. I’m not blaming them. These are unprecedented times and everyone is trying to figure things out. However, it has made my job “Momschooling” a bit more difficult. That being said, we’ve managed to figure things out. Both boys watch documentaries, read, help cook, do chores, and projects around the house. We’ve all had more family time, and Elijah and Jack are spending more time together which is all a huge blessing. 

But, perhaps you were like me last week, and experienced a rollercoaster of emotions. One minute I was laughing and the next crying. I found that often times I woke up with a great attitude and ended the day in frustration. I’m worried about our parents and our kids who are away from us. We are worried about Brett’s job, about our house build, and bills. Now don’t get me wrong, at our core we know that God is always with us and how incredibly blessed we are. Those are the things that always carry us through. But emotions run high through volatile times and we have all learned that prayer, patience and flexibility are key.

So, overall last week was a success. Honestly it was a peak and valley kind of week and I’m sure you can totally relate. I am so grateful for this time we’ve been given where we can slow down and just get to know each other again. Where we can have lingering conversations over a meal, or I can teach the boys basic skills that we are usually just too busy to do. Have I had waaaaay less time for me? Absolutely! I’m working on that. But when I step back and remind myself that I am investing in my family even more than I usually do, I feel really good. I hope the boys will come out of this knowing how to cook a meal, and make a bed. They will understand how much work goes into keeping a house running smoothly and how to shop for a family. But most of all, I pray that by the end of this, they will know just how much their mom loves them. Because if that happens, my heart will be full.

Hang in there, my friends!

Do as I do and take this one moment at a time. Try to see the good before the bad. There are so many blessings that can come out of this. Turn to prayer and trust God that He will bring us out of this stronger and closer than ever before. Sit back, treat yourself to a cup of tea and a handful of M&M’s and just enjoy the peace of home. We may never have this opportunity again to invest in ourselves and to invest in those we love.

A goal of my more “me time” is to write more. If I can swing it, expect lots more updates in the next few weeks. They may be short, they may be happy, or they may be sad but I hope you’ll join me through this journey.

Together we are strong, and we can get through this!

-Laurie

Life lessons

A Tough Mom Day

Today was a tough mom day. Well, let me clarify that a bit. Today for the most part, was actually a pretty good day. I worked out, had lunch with a friend, and ran some errands. Yes, today was a good day-until dinner time when my good day came to a screeching halt.

During our delicious meal of beloved tacos (classy, I know), our conversation turned to relationships. It was during this time that my 17-year-old (soon to be an adult, out in the world on his own) told me that he thinks, and I quote, “respect is overrated”. The sad thing is, he is drop dead serious in this opinion. He thinks I’m living old-school when I say women (and people in general) should be respected. When I told him my opinion on respecting women he responded with, “well I think I should be respected”. I sat there dumbfounded at where he came up with this nonsense. Silly me, I know exactly where he got it-from media and popular social opinion. His dad and I certainly never taught him any of that nonsense, that’s for sure! After 26 years, my husband still opens the car door for me and that’s the way it should be, for Pete’s sake! If that makes us old-school then I certainly never want to be new-school.

So that was bad, but he’s been known to spout off his ridiculously progressive teenage opinions from time to time, so I was able to shake my head and blow it off. Well, blow it off as best I could. I am a mom after all, and of course tend to blame myself for every wayward idea or action my children have.

But then came the ride to youth group with my 13-year-old who proceeded to remind me how, “dad is the fun one”, and how, “dad works harder than I do for our family because he has a JOB”. Oooh, I think the smoke was literally coming out of my ears on that comment. I quickly reminded him that his dad and I both work very hard for the family but just in different ways. He disagreed completely of course, and we spent the rest of the car ride in silence.

So that was it. Just like that, day ruined. 

Ok I know, these may seem like small issues in the big grand scheme of life. I get it. But they are really big to me. Like I said before, this is my job and I take it very personally. After all, God entrusted these kids to me to shape and mold in preparation to send them out into the world, and love the world as He loved us. When my kids say things like they did today, I feel like I have completely failed at the one job I’ve been given. I know it isn’t really as dire as that, but some days I just worry about the people I’ve brought up, who will soon be independent, active members of society. 

We mothers have one of the most thankless jobs in the world. That is, if it’s even really considered a job (I’m being sarcastic, of course). Every day we tirelessly give ourselves fully-physically and emotionally to our family’s wellbeing. We may not get a paycheck. Heck, we usually don’t even get a thank you. And although we may get thrown up on, yelled at, and disrespected, we are always there and show up ready for each new day. 

But believe it or not, despite it all I still consider being a mom one of the best jobs in the world. Perhaps I’m just a glutton for punishment, I don’t know. I do miss the days when the kids were young and would hold my hand. The days when they would look up at me with their big, bright eyes beaming with so much love that would just fill up my heart. I suppose when I’m having a bad mom day, or even just a bad mom evening, I need to remember those precious times. I need to take a step back and remind myself that it will all be ok. That, while God has entrusted these little ones to me, He also has a plan for them. He gave each of them to me knowing that I would be perfect for them, even when I fear I am not. God is allowing me to plant the seeds and He will produce the fruit. 

So, here’s to all you weary moms out there (myself included). Your job is not one that is paid because no one could put a price tag on what you do. You are valuable. You are important. And although it may not seem like it at times, you are loved. 

That’s all. 

Tomorrow’s a new day.

So give yourself a big pat on the back, and carry on. 

You’ve got this, and so do I…I think. 😉

Life lessons

The Day I Shut Down the Costco Photo Center

If you ask anyone who knows me, they’ll tell you I am a very organized person. I love my label maker and have a rather large collection of jars and baskets. In fact, our last movers actually laughed at me as they opened the tenth box of jars to be unpacked. But in my defense, no matter how many jars or baskets one may have, you just never seem to have the perfect one for what you want to get organized. Do you know what I mean? Please tell me I’m not the only crazy jar hoarder out there!

As you may know, we moved overseas and while abroad, ended up selling our house back in The States. This meant all of our Stateside belongings would go into storage for a few years until we returned. Not a problem, right?  

Not a problem that is, except for a highly organized person like me. You see, for 19 straight years I diligently put together a yearly photo album of all the wonderful memories we had made from January-December of the previous year. Every year 300 photos were carefully selected from the thousands (yes, I take a ton of pictures) of family milestones, fun trips, and special events that happened that year. It was a big job but very manageable, if it was done only once a year. 

We ended up staying overseas for almost four years and when all was said and done, I had five year’s worth of photo albums to catch up on. One year-big job. Five years-monumental task. But I decided there’s no time to tackle a big project like wintertime in antarctic, subzero Michigan since I would most likely be stuck inside every day anyway.

The big day came. I was going to sort through each year’s pictures and choose a mere 300 per year. Two weeks later, the task was done. It was so hard! We had so many grand adventures while overseas and experienced so many new things that narrowing them down was very difficult. But I persevered, yes I did! And when all was done, I had organized each year’s 300 photos in chronological order and placed them neatly into five separate folders. 

Next came the task of uploading all the pictures onto a photo ordering website. People raved about Costco’s online photo ordering system so I figured I would start there. It took two days to upload all of my photos. Finally I was ready to place my order so I proceeded to select every single photo individually and put them all in my cart. All 1510 of them. Yes, 1510. As you can imagine, the online photo center didn’t like this one bit and told me this by going completely crazy. As in, the entire system shut down. I couldn’t upload anything and what I had uploaded couldn’t be placed into my cart. “Of course,” I thought. “Leave it to me to shut down the entire Costco online photo center.” 

After a few more hours of trying different things, I finally managed to upload all my photos into my cart. Oh boy! So, once again I hand selected every photo and dropped them into my cart. Easy, right? Oh you’re funny to think so. Of course it wouldn’t be that easy. Wait, has this project been in the slightest way easy? Nope.

Oh, I sure do crack myself up!

As I scrolled through the photos in my cart, I realized they were ALL OUT OF ORDER. There was absolutely no rhyme or reason to the way in which they uploaded. Not by year. Not by place. Not by anything that made any sense. I wasn’t laughing at myself too hard anymore by this point.

Now, I’m not afraid of hard work but this was too much, even for me. Can you imagine sifting through 1510 photos taken over the course of five years and trying to organize them all chronologically? Me neither! So I reluctantly emptied the cart that took two days to fill and started over by year. I decided it would be way easier to organize the photos if they were grouped by year so I created five different individual orders. Lo and behold they all went through and a week later, a huge bag-full of boxes filled with our treasured photos arrived at my doorstep. 

All that was left to do after that was: go through all of the photos, organize them, put them into their respective books, caption them, and voila! Just like that it would be done. 

I’m happy to say that I finished my “little” winter project yesterday, exactly one month after I started. But have no fear, we are an organized family once again (at least in the photo book sense). And although the Costco photo department took one for the team on this one, they came through and helped us preserve our memories. Thanks Costco! 

On a final note. 

If you happen to be reading this in February of next year, please don’t forget to remind me to do our photo album from last year. I don’t ever want to tackle a project this big again, that’s for sure. If I do, Costco may end up banning me for life. 😉

Life lessons

Sexualizing the Super Bowl

The Super Bowl. How we love it. The game. The commercials. The halftime show. What a great American tradition. 

Over 100 million people gather around their TVs to watch this great event. We plan parties, eat food, and gather our families together to watch history unfold on the football field. This was our family’s first year watching the Super Bowl in four years. Being overseas with a 12-hour time difference made it a bit challenging to watch live unless of course, we were willing to go to the bar at 6am on a Monday morning, which many expats were very willing to do, but I like my sleep too much to have made that happen.

So, we’re back and were excited to turn on our tv, prepare our snacks, and get ready to watch the commercials..ahem, I mean the game. And what a game it was! I was thoroughly enjoying reliving this tradition until the halftime show came on.

Now let me start by saying that anyone who performs in the halftime show of the Super Bowl is automatically going to subject themselves to all kinds of criticism. Some who like the performance, and some who don’t. Their show will be picked apart from many different critics and I suppose this year I won’t be any different from the masses. 

The halftime show had some real positives. I think the Latin theme of the show was a good call, especially since the game took place in Miami. The choreography and talent were amazing. J.Lo’s daughter-so talented. And both Shakira and J.Lo sure know how to give quite a performance. 

Sadly, I need to end my accolades there. 

Shakira gave a performance like I expected. That lady can move, and everyone knows that. I mean after all, she sings “My Hips Don’t Lie” and it’s the truth. Actually, her outfit was a bit more tame than I expected. I loved the red sparkles from her head to her toes. 

But then it was J.Lo’s turn. OHMYGOODNESS. Her first ensemble looked like she was dressed for an s&m party. And the crotch grabs..really?? Then she whipped the black leather off to reveal..well..mostly everything. Really, hardly anything was hidden. She looked like a Vegas showgirl. And to make it even more risqué, she proceeded to perform on a stripper pole. 

Here’s where I have a problem. Well, I have so many problems with this performance, but here’s the biggest one. All the media is talking about today is what a great performance it was. There’s is some acknowledgement about how it may have been a bit racy for a family audience, but not much. 

I have to ask myself, how did we get to the point in our society where women can dance on stripper poles and be practically naked in front of over 100 million people and it’s ok? Women want to be equal and respected amongst men, but this behavior is the kind of thing these same women are telling the world is ok? I just don’t get it. Sons and daughters watched this show. Is this the way we want them to view women?

Do you think J.Lo’s daughter asked her friends later what they thought of her mom’s skill on the stripper pole? For some reason I expected more from her.

My 13-year-old son walked out of the room halfway through the performance and honestly, I probably should have done the same.

Again, I loved the Latin vibe. It was fun and full of energy. I just believe it could have been executed with much more class and modesty, especially knowing the world was watching. If our society keeps going in this direction, God help us all. I fear for my grandchildren. Honestly, it wasn’t that long ago when parents were completely up in arms about Elvis gyrating on stage, and he was fully dressed! 

Shakira and J.Lo are so talented. Their dancing alone is extremely impressive. I mean really, J.Lo is 50. How does she still move like that? That being said, I wish they would show the world their talent without the need to flaunt their bodies as sexual objects. 

This is just one mom’s humble opinion. You can disagree with me if you want. I just hope our children aspire to be great through their talents and what they can offer the world, not through their sexuality.

-Laurie