Morning Thoughts – All Grown-Up and University Bound

I’m sitting here this morning, in bed, after getting up at 5:45 to pack Grace’s lunch for college, counting the hours until it is supposedly going to start raining. The temperatures have been well into the upper 80’s low 90’s for what seems like weeks (actually only about two weeks) and the humidity is unbearable. I have been locked away in the house afraid to even open the doors for fear of being consumed by the heat.

Rain is predicted for later today and with it they are promising cooler weather, lower 70’s actually and for the next 10 days it looks like the air conditioner will get a much-needed reprieve. Even though, I can’t get motivated to do much of anything today.

I was inspired making Grace’s lunch this morning though. I am definitely a morning-type person. Getting up early doesn’t bother me, as long as I’ve gone to bed at a descent hour, gotten enough sleep, and am not woken by an annoying alarm clock. I by no means like to stay up late. I go to bed no later than 10, but more often than not, earlier than that. In fact, most nights I try to get up to my room and into bed to relax by 8, of course the family isn’t so cooperative. Falling asleep is easy; staying asleep, well that is an entirely different matter.

It takes me all of 10 minutes of watching television in my room to calm down and start drifting off to sleep. Come 1, 2, or possibly 3 a.m. though, I wake and toss and turn for an hour or three, fall back to sleep and then wake again right before 6:00. If I need to get up any earlier, my alarm is set, but I just hate that ringing in my ear, so whenever it is set, my internal clock will typically wake me a few minutes before it rings.

Anyway, back to Grace’s lunch. Yes, I make lunch for my college bound daughter. Actually though for the past couple of years she wanted to be “independent” and make her own. About a month ago however she came to me and sheepishly asked if I would be willing to make/pack her lunch as well as dinner (just one day) to take with her to school each day. This is her first semester at a University, as she completed her Associates at a local community college and she is nervous about how this is going to be more stressful of an endeavor. I told her I would.

Not making her lunch while she was working over the summer or when she went to community college did bother me a bit. Letting go of something as little as that shouldn’t really be a big deal, but it was. After having her home for so many years and making her lunch day-in and day-out, the transition I knew was just the beginning of her independence.

Her asking me to make her lunch again was a subtle reminder that although a woman, Grace is still my little girl. She still needs me. Albeit she only needs me on her terms, but at this point I will take what I can get. All too soon she will be off and out in the world leaving poor ol’ ma sitting home waiting for her to call and share her life with her (very melodramatic here!).

As I pondered what to make her for lunch this morning at 2:30 as I waited for my second round of sleep to commence, I decided to make her something really good…something that she would never take the time to make for herself. Isn’t that what a mom is supposed to do?

With Grace my options were pretty much anything and everything, because even when she did pack herself lunch and snacks, it mostly consisted of prepackaged stuff that she could just quickly toss in a bag with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and go. That isn’t my style.

I have been making Zeb’s lunch for the past two years that he’s been going to school (homeschooled him up until then) and only on days when I absolutely had nothing else to send with him, did he get something prepackaged. There are a few things he does like that are prepackaged — fruit snacks, pretzels, etc., but really I try to stay away from most others.

Grace’s schedule is a bit different from Zeb’s when it come to school though. Although today I only needed to make her one “meal” (lunch), she is going to be at school from 7:00 until probably 3:00. This leaves lots of time in between breakfast and lunch and then lunch and dinner where she is going to want something to eat. Snacks are an essential part of her day even when she’s at home. How she can eat so much, so often, and be as thin as she is, I’ll never understand. I just think about eating the amount of food she does and I put on weight.

So here’s the rundown for the food she took today:

Morning Snack: Mini Cinnamon Bagel with Cream Cheese

Mid-Morning Snack: Fresh Fruit (watermelon and grapes)

Lunch: Taco Salad (I bought a food thermos to keep things warm and used it today to keep the taco meat hot, made a salad with cheese and vegetables in it, and put tortilla chips, salsa, and sour cream on the side) — a hot meal. For dessert she can eat more of the fruit, as there was quite a bit I sent her or she has a couple of homemade cookies.

Mid-Afternoon Snack: Carrots, Radish, Cucumber, Yellow Pepper and Broccoli with homemade ranch dressing.

Of course she also has fruit snacks, veggie straws, granola bars and a few other “just-in-case-of-an-emergency” type snacks packed in the cooler in the back of the car should she still get hungry. All the comforts of home, but not at home.

After I packed everything for her and told her what the rundown was for her food options, she squealed and said, “Everyone’s going to be so jealous. I’m going to have the best lunch. And if anyone wants to trade, I’m going to have to say ‘No, mine’s better than yours!'”

Yep, she’s in college — university actually, and yet she still gets a thrill out of competing with everyone as to whose got the best lunch. Probably because she never got to do this as a kid because she never went to public school. That’s okay, it made me feel good that she was so happy.

Grace told me that her boyfriend has to make his own lunch and he is definitely going to want to share hers, and if he’s nice to her, she just might share with him, but if not…

I like having the opportunity to do something special for her. It takes some of the pressure off of her to be an adult, gives me peace of mind that she is eating healthy, and at the same time affirms that I am still needed–something that every mom needs on occasion, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.



A Much Needed Reminder

My mother was the most beautiful woman I ever saw. All I am I owe to my mother. I attribute all my success in life to the moral, intellectual, and physical education I received from her.” ~ George Washington

So Grace began a beautiful card she brought to me this afternoon along with some flowers.


It never ceases to amaze me how wise beyond her years Grace is.  At 18 she is intuitive enough to know that sometimes even mom’s need affirmation that they have done something right.  When I look at Grace, I know that for all my short-comings, with her I definitely did something good.

For years I struggled with feelings of inadequacy because of psychological games my parents continually bombarded me with.  Eventually I pulled myself from their toxic grasp, yet still allow myself to fall victim to their abuse because for some reason I believe that’s what “a good daughter” should do.  Grace, who has witnessed this for years and now sees it for what it is, tries her best to “make it better.”

No matter how bad I think things might be, all I need do is look at my husband and children and I know, my life is good and regardless of what my parents may say, so am I.  Some days, however, I do forget.

Today Grace gave me a much-needed reminder that what I do matters and so do I, and for this I am — Simply Grateful!

Halloween Monster Cupcakes

Everything happens for a reason — I truly believe this.

Yesterday I was super busy, nothing new there, but on my agenda was to make some cupcakes for Grace to take to work for Halloween.  She works at a daycare and wanted to do something special for the children she watches.  I got up early, got the cupcakes all baked and then got side-tracked.  I worked on everything and anything it seemed except what I needed to definitely get done — the cupcakes.  I kept telling myself, “I’ll do it next” or “I’ll work on that after dinner.”

Finally, at about 4:00 I decided it was time to stop putting it off and get to work.  I knew I only had an hour before I had to take Grace to a sign language tutoring session up at the college, but figured I could at least get the frosting made.  As I was making it, Grace came in.  She got a big smile on her face and said, “Are you working on the frosting?”  I told her I was and that I would still be able to take her to tutoring but needed to know exactly how much time I had.  She hesitated.  I asked her what was wrong.

“I don’t really HAVE to go to tutoring today.  I could go next week instead. So you don’t have to take me to school until 6:15 for class.”  She told me.

“Good!”  I told her.  “Now I can maybe get the cupcakes all done before we have to leave.”

As I worked on mixing the frosting Grace stayed and watched.  Then, as I pulled out all the bowls for adding the food coloring and got all the decorating tips and sprinkles ready, Grace joined me.  For the next two hours we worked, laughed, and thoroughly enjoyed making the cupcakes TOGETHER.  As we were finishing up Grace told me that she had told one of her coworkers that I was working on the cupcakes while she was at work.  Her coworker told her that was so nice and what a relief it must be that she wouldn’t have to worry about trying to fit it into her schedule.  Grace told her, “Not really.  I really wish I could do it with her.”

My heart sank.  All this time I was trying to get the job done so Grace wouldn’t have to stress about one more thing to do, and what she really wanted was for us to do it together.

I grabbed her around the neck and hugged her tight.  As much as I enjoy doing things for my children, doing something WITH them is so much nicer.  Sometimes I forget that I am not the only one longing for some together time.



Yesterday I was reminded how important it is to live in the moment and appreciate everything that we are given, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Driving Permit Woes

It has been 16 days since Grace turned 18 and got her driver’s permit. During that time she has driven five times, and mostly under protest. She does not like driving, is afraid of it, and if she had it her way, would never do it again, especially after today.

I suppose it’s a good thing to get that first accident out-of-the-way early in the game, right? Tell me it is? Please! I need to hear that this is normal and that she is just not the most terrible driver out there.

When I picked Grace up at work this afternoon, I told her she could drive home. She wasn’t happy and reluctantly got in the driver’s seat. Fastening her seat belt, she adjusted her seat and the mirrors. Then, as if it were some sort of race, she put the car in reverse and stepped on the gas. I don’t know how many times I have emphasized to her that the gas is not all that necessary when backing out of a parking spot. Plus, it’s as if she can’t multi-task when driving. Turning the wheel and slowly removing her foot from the brake are not something that she seems to understand can be done simultaneously.

After stepping on the gas for a few moments, she then started turning the wheels to back out of the parking space and missed the car next to us by mere centimeters. Of course all I could manage to sputter between my clenched teeth with my finger nails dug deep into the passenger seat was, “That was good.” There’s no possible way she believed me because I was white as a ghost and one hand flew to the top of the car through the open window as I braced for what I was sure was going to be a collision as she was backing out.

“I’m sorry.” she told me. Something that she constantly repeats the entire time she is driving. I keep trying to be supportive, pointing out the positive, reminding her of what she needs to work on, never yelling, but I’m not fooling either of us. Driving is just not something that is coming naturally for Grace.

Once on the main road, Grace only had about 10 seconds before turning off onto a side street leading to our subdivision. I reminded her to put her foot on the brake as she took the turn, but somehow she still managed to jar me to one side of the car as she came within a few feet of a left turner waiting to turn onto the main road. Actually this was better than the last time she took this turn. Last time she had to come to a complete stop in the middle of the turn and barely escaped having to back up in order to not hit a left turner and complete the turn. This is progress? I guess it must be, but my feet were dug into the carpet so deep that I swore they were going to break through the floor which when I think about it would be a good thing.  Then I’d be able to be like Fred Flintstone and use my feet as actual brakes.

Continuing down the side street I reminded her not to hug the curb. She doesn’t like it when there are any oncoming cars so she tends to ride the right side of the road so close that she will often end up going off the road onto the gravel shoulder. Today she only did this once or twice. Again, an improvement of sorts.

Turning into our subdivision was yet another experience. As we approached the turn, I reminded her to apply the brake and wait for traffic to clear. Two oncoming cars passed as we came to the street with another about a quarter mile further down the road. As she proceeded to turn, without stepping on the brake, continuing to accelerate, she asked me, “Is it okay to turn?”

Okay, now tell me if I’m wrong here but shouldn’t she have stopped the car before taking the turn and then asked me this — NOT WHILE DOING IT! Being that the oncoming car was a safe distance away, there was no harm, other than the fact that I had to brace myself with both hands in order to avoid being thrown out my open window.

Trying to compose myself I once again told her she was doing good and that her turn was definitely smoother. How could it not have been smooth. It’s not like she applied the brake at any point to jerk the car or anything. And seeing as I had braced myself securely with one hand clutching the dashboard and the other clinging to the hand grip above my seat, I’m sure I only suffered minor whiplash.

Finally on the home stretch, I silently watched the road as she continued to hug the right side of the road. Reminding her again that she shouldn’t ride so close to the curb, I was met with an exasperated, “I know.” It is completely understandable that she is frustrated. She wasn’t frustrated with me, she was frustrated because she is so afraid of hitting the on-coming cars, that she can’t seem to help herself.

Making the last turn onto our street, Grace commented there was a car that had been on her tail ever since we turned into our subdivision. She joked that he was probably going to follow us home so he could tell her what a terrible driver she was. I told her not to worry about it, because if he did, I’d take care of it. Never cross a mama bear when it comes to her cubs.

Within a few moments I could see our house and let out an audible sigh. You’d have thought we’d been on the road for hours, when actually it had been less than seven minutes.

Five houses from home an oncoming car approached. There was a parked car to the left and farther up another parked car to the right. There was ample time for us to pass both parked cars before the oncoming car would pass us. Unfortunately, Grace panicked.

I’m not sure if it was the stress of the car behind us, the fear of the car in front of us, or the pressure of the cars on either side of us, but it was too much for Grace to handle. She pulled over to the right side of the road, again without applying the brake, heading straight for the parked car. I said (or yelled, I can’t rightly remember now), “Don’t drive so close to the…” TOO LATE!


The mirror on my side of the car smashed into our neighbor’s mailbox, folding against the side of the car. Slowly the car came to a stop several feet from the parked car in front of us. Why the brakes weren’t slammed on is still not clear, but suffice it to say, I remember it more as coasting rather than a sudden halt.

The car behind us sped past between the parked cars before the oncoming car blocked his way. Grace and I sat there.

The oncoming car passed us. We sat there.

Finally, I calmly told her to pull around the parked car and head for our driveway. With tears welled in her eyes, Grace slowly pulled into the middle of the street, drove two houses down, and pulled onto our driveway, all the while telling me how sorry she was. I reminded her that hubby’s car was in the garage, so she needed to be VERY careful when pulling in. Slowly she maneuvered the car perfectly into its spot.

Turning the car off, Grace began to cry. I wrapped my arms around her, fighting my tears, and told her it was okay. She was shaking and sobbing. I held her while she cried and told me how she was never going to drive again. I laughed and told her that at least no one was hurt and no real damage was done. The side mirrors on my car fold in for car washes, so the only damage was a scrape mark on the plastic shell which we were able to remove with a soft rag and WD-40.

I know there must be some wonderful statistics out there about how most accidents happen within a mile or so of home, how teens have more accidents than any other age group, or perhaps even how most accidents occur within the first 6 months of driving — but this is no consolation today. Today I feel that I failed my daughter because I cannot make driving as easy as walking, talking, reading, writing, working, or any of the other hundreds of milestones she seemed to so easily conquer. Her confidence is shattered — or what little she had to begin with and I do not know how to get it back for her. I did tell her that she is going to have to drive again tomorrow, because the only way she is going to get better is to practice.

Grace told me tonight that she really “hates” driving and does not want to drive at all. I assured her this will pass and a year from now although she will still remember today, it will seem ridiculous to her that she made a mistake like this. Her first accident out-of-the-way, no injuries, no real damage (other than Grace’s confidence and my nerves), and a lesson learned — I hope, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.