Thursday, August 29, 2013

Open Letter To My Daughter

To my precious little girl,

I am so thankful that you are still my little girl. I am thankful that you are too young to know the uproar that was caused last weekend when yet another starlet "shocked" fans and parents of fans. I am thankful that you are still too young to ask for permission to watch an awards show on television that I know will expose you to material that is too old for you, material that will challenge your innocence. I am thankful that you are too young to have witnessed a grown man singing about having sex while dancing with a young woman nearly half his age. And I am thankful that you did not have to witness the backlash against the young woman and the delayed response to the actions of the grown man who should have known better, who should have acted better.

I am thankful that you are too young to read and understand stories of judges who give less than a slap on a wrist to a grown man who takes advantage of a young woman. I am thankful that you are too young to understand that there are countries in this world where it is the norm to persecute women who behave immorally while winking at the men who were their partners. I am thankful that you are still too young to understand that there is a universal double-standard for purity.

You are too young to know these things, but I promise to teach you that:
  • You are incredibly special. You will hear this from many people, including your mom and dad. We don't just say it because we are your parents and you are a part of us. We say it because it is true. Do not let anyone take that knowledge away from you. You are better than that.
  • People need to earn your respect. Admire women who have earned that admiration, not girls who have yet to figure out who they are. I did it too. Candice Cameron was DJ Tanner. Keshia Knight-Pulliam was Rudy Huxtable. I grew up with them. I loved them. I admired them. But at some point fiction and reality separated. You may look up to the young women you grow up watching on television and listening to on your iPod, but make them earn your respect. Make them earn your admiration. They are imperfect people susceptible to very public mistakes. Learn from them but do not emulate them.
  • Sexy and beautiful are not synonymous. You are beautiful inside and out. To seek to be sexy is to want boys to love you for the wrong reasons. You will get tired of hearing me say this, especially when you get to high school, but seek boys who love you for the right reasons. Boys who see your beauty and praise it because they admire you, not because you are a prize to be won. Boys who are attracted to your intelligence, not your lack of it. Boys who encourage your creativity, not those who try to suppress it. Do not seek to be something you are not to get a boy to love you. That is not love. This is the model of love you will see from your celebrity peers so do not look to them for dating advice. Demand something better. You may have to wait for it. It will be hard, but it will be worth it.
  • I will always love you. We will fight. We are too much alike to not fight. But I love you. I will love you when you feel awkward. I will love you when the acne attacks. I will love you through the bad hair episodes. I will love you through the first crush. I will love you when that first crush breaks your heart. I will love you through all the storms. You may put up walls and try to shut the door and I will do my best to give you the space when I know you need it, but when you need your mom, you don't have to ask. I will tear those walls down.
  • I do understand you. I do remember what it is like to have younger siblings. I do remember what is like to get that first pair of glasses and be afraid that it will ruin you. I do remember what it is like to not get the part. I do remember what it is like to have your heart broken. I do remember what it is like to have zits show up at the worst possible moment. I do remember what it is to be young and in love with raging hormones. It gets better. I promise that it gets better.
  • Most importantly, you are a forgiven child of God. You are not perfect. You will make mistakes. But He loves you more than your mom and dad ever could and that is a lot. He sacrificed His son for a world estranged from Him. Never forget it. Live your life like you will never forget it.
I do not want to shelter you. I want to protect you. I don't want to pretend the world out there doesn't exist but I want you to grow to understand it. I want you to see the good through the smoky haze of the bad. You are growing up in a dangerous world, but it is possible that it is no more dangerous than the world your grandparents raised me in. I will pray for you and I will do everything I can to prepare you. I will walk with you and talk with you through the minefield, but at some point I will have to let go and believe that you are ready, that I have done everything I can. I will have to leave you in God's hands. You will stumble, but with God's help you will not fall. You are smart, you are strong, and you are beautiful. Don't let the Miley Cyrus's of this world make you forget that.

Love,

Your Mom

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Great Window Saga

It all started with a quiet crash. I was cleaning, the kids were quietly playing inside the house and my husband was outside mowing the lawn. Since the kids appeared to be ok and the dog was in her typical do nothing pose, I figured it was from our neighbors. Then Jeff came inside.

"I need you to come outside."

"Why?"

"Just come outside. Kids stay inside, ok?"

Somehow he had managed to hit a small rock with the riding mower that then flew up into our daughter's second story window. Thankfully the rock only went through the outside window, leaving the inside storm window intact. We cleaned up as much as we could and took stock of the situation.

Over the course of three years we had come to the conclusion that our old, wood Pella windows were not nearly as good as they had been when they were installed years ago. We knew we needed new windows but we were going to put it off as long as we could. There were other projects that we wanted to complete first. There were other things we wanted to spend money on instead.

Now our hand had been forced. Our daughter's window needed to be replaced before winter and so we got estimates from a couple places in early June. Window installation was not something we wanted to attempt on our own so we knew we would have to pay for the labor. We finally made the difficult decision that it was going to be more beneficial to replace all of the bedrooms windows and most of the dining and living area windows. Not only would it be an aesthetic improvement but we knew that our windows were far from energy efficient. We found a good deal, were told that they could be installed by the end of the July, and signed the paperwork.

Teachers try to pack as much into the summer months as possible. One glance through this blog should make that perfectly clear. We wanted the windows done before school started. We NEEDED the windows done before school started. We couldn't justify one of us taking time off of work when I had already had time away from work and was available right then.

We were told that the windows were in the store in early July and then we waited and waited, but we never got a call to schedule. When we finally got a hold of someone to schedule, they told me that they had more orders than expected and they wouldn't be able to schedule us until the end of the August. Angry and frustrated my husband and I both started a series of phone calls that finally ended in them finding subcontractors to do our windows for us before the official start of school.

Notice that I said the official start of school. I still had things to do. I had a classroom that needed to be prepped, papers to print and copy, meetings to attend, and colleagues to meet with so we could plan for the year in our respective common classes. It was the start of August, the kids were back at daycare and I was in full teacher mode. They said they could start the Wednesday before school started. I spent all day Wednesday at our house working on the computer and cleaning the house. First I had to wait for them to arrive and then I sat and worked while they spent nearly six hours installing two windows. That's right, two windows. We had a grand total of thirteen windows being installed. They were nice enough guys, appeared to be doing good work, but they were taking forever to do the work. It turns out that one of the two guys had never done replacement windows in old construction. He was used to doing windows for new construction, which explained some of the difficulty. I was assured that they had a pattern down and they would be able to get a lot done on the next day. Thursday morning I headed to my meeting while my husband worked from home all morning. I raced home early from my meeting so that he could go to his meeting and then again worked from home while they worked. By the end of the day all but four replacement windows had been installed. However, three of those windows were going to be the most complicated windows to replace because they were going into our bay window in the dining room.

My husband and I followed the same schedule that Friday, splitting the day in half. When I got back home around noon the bay window replacement still had not taken place and it appeared that little had been done. That afternoon the guy responsible for wrapping the outside of all the windows finally showed up and started wrapping the windows halfway through day three of the installation. By the time they left in the afternoon all the windows were replaced but the finish work still needed to be done. What we had been told would be a three day project was suddenly a four day project. So much for me spending Monday working in my classroom.

Several phone calls later to figure out what was going on with the windows, it was determined that all they had to do was exterior work so we should just be able to leave. The boss suggested that I could just leave the garage open so that they could have access to all their tools. Uh, no. That wasn't happening. When they showed up over half an hour late on Monday morning I asked them to empty their stuff out of the garage so that I could leave for school. That was supposed to be the end of it. It wasn't. As I was headed out to lunch with some of my colleagues I got a phone call saying they needed to get into the house so they could more easily reach the window off of our master bedroom deck. Yes, it would be easier to reach from the inside, but I needed to get work done!

I headed home and continued my work from home, panicking because once again I was spending time at home instead of in my classroom. By the end of the day two windows still needed to be wrapped, tools were placed back into the garage, and we were left to wonder if they were making a career out of our window replacement.

By the end of day five our window work was finally completed. The windows look good and I'm shocked at the difference they make to the aesthetic appearance of our bedrooms and living room. I really didn't think they would make that much of a difference. We'll know in a couple months how much of a difference they make in our heating and cooling bills as those start to come in. And for the first time since we moved into the house I can open ALL of our windows to let in the cooler air. That being said the whole process was way more complicated than we wanted it to be and I would say that I learned a couple things.

One, if we want contractors to do work that we cannot do ourselves we need to make those plans sometime in March or April if we want those tasks to be completed by the end of my summer vacation.

Two, having other people work on our house doesn't necessarily mean fewer headaches, it just means different headaches. If I'm being honest, we could not have done the task even in the time that they did it and it probably wouldn't have been done as well. And I know that there are future tasks at our house that will also need contractor work, but this whole process wasn't headache free.

But we have another home improvement project knocked off of our list and I am relieved that it is done. Now, on to painting and staining trim so I can get those curtains up.