Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Your kid is not that special......and it's time you knew about it!

The latest news about the college cheating scandal is unbelievable. Many wealthy Americans are accused of paying out big bucks in order to arrange for their child's SAT or ACT scores to be altered, or to have them recruited as elite athletes when they are not, in order to attend some of the nation's best colleges. Many of the students are in the dark about this, and are only just now finding out that their parents shelled out upwards of $500,000 or more to ensure they got into their "choice" college. Now, those same parents are charged with wire and mail fraud and paying hefty sums to make bail so they don't spend any time in jail (yet).

Here's what they, and you, need to know. YOUR KID IS NOT THAT SPECIAL. Yes, I said that. Having four kids of my own, you might be shocked to hear that, or think perhaps I'm an indifferent mom. On the contrary, I have often felt the sun rose and the moon set on my precious child and I'm certain, as I'm sure most parents are, that there is nary a child in the world quite as wonderful as mine. I marveled at their every move, celebrated their accomplishments (even the seemingly minor ones) and beamed as they grew into adults.

Full disclosure, I also cried a lot, felt white-hot anger like no other, questioned my importance in their lives, felt exhaustion, both mental and physical, the likes of which I'd never experienced before, and considered renting my own apartment just to have a little peace in my life. Because, let's be honest, parenting is HARD.

But you know what is NOT hard? Being honest and teaching your child integrity. In fact, it's something we should all strive to be doing. So, what's happening?

Wealthy and poor alike, parenting has taken a turn. No longer can we allow our children to feel ANY sort of physical or emotional pain. Baby doesn't sleep as long as you'd like? Hire a sleep trainer. Toddler throwing tantrums? Hire a behavioral specialist. Preschooler feeling a little jealous of the new baby? Make sure you buy presents "from the baby" so he doesn't feel left out. Second grader sucks at baseball? No worries! Everyone gets a trophy!

And it's no longer "cool" to have your child play outside after school. They must be enrolled in all manner of extracurricular activities such that time spent at home and with family is reduced to a few frenetic hours (or even minutes) of each day, trying to "cram it all in". Playing soccer on the YMCA league isn't enough either. It must be "select" or "traveling" so parents can spend thousands of dollars a year buying plane tickets, hotel rooms and fancy uniforms and paying outrageous fees to play the exact same game that can be played on the park pitch.

So it's no wonder that in our competition-driven world, parents feel pressured to do everything they can to ensure success for their kids. We want to give them the world, but at what cost? And if we "assist" them at every turn, how and when will they learn to forge their own way? Are we holding them back by giving them our all?

It sickens me to think that wealthy parents spent so much money to ensure that their kids (one of whom expressed on social media that they really only wanted to go to college for the "experience" rather than the education) get into elite universities when people are, quite literally, dying for an education in other countries. Where education is a privilege elsewhere, Americans tend to view it as a rite of passage; a necessary evil on the way to soul-crushing success.

There is nothing wrong with working hard and earning things on your own merit. Say it again, louder, for the people in the back! There is no shame in earning your way into the college you are qualified for (yes, gasp, even community college). Not everyone needs to go away to college. Absolutely no one "needs" the "college experience". Believe it or not, your kid CAN work and go to college. And the world will not stop turning if they don't graduate exactly 4-6 years after their high school graduation (master's degree notwithstanding).

With the staggering cost of college and the crushing debt many young people deal with decades after graduation, many are questioning if college is even the answer anymore. It's such an expected outcome for high schoolers that there is little to no talk of alternatives. It's either college or a lifetime of low-paying jobs. But that is simply not the case. There are so many successful people at the top of their game who didn't even attend college. The difference is, in the absence of monetary support, many worked hard for their success. And no one wants to work hard anymore. Why bother when you're getting a trophy just for showing up, even if "showing up" means your online presence.

The sad reality is that the message these wealthy parents caught up in the college cheating scandal are sending to their kids is this: I will do anything to make you seem like the best and most elite, even if it means spending sickening amounts of money, or breaking the law. And the message the kids hear is: You are only valuable if you are the best. You must appear to achieve higher than others, even though we both know you suck at algebra and lacrosse. We're in this lie together, kiddo.

Please stop making your kid think they are the most special. Yes, shower them with attention and affection and even gifts if you can afford to. But do them a favor and don't put them on stage if they can't sing or dance or act. Don't force them to play sports if they'd rather write music. Don't ridicule the worker at McDonald's so they think it's a shameful job. Teach them grace and compassion and to be kind. Those traits will ensure success for a lifetime. There ARE still things money can't buy. Tell that to the cheaters.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 in Review

2018 was a year of amazing highs and the lowest lows. Here is a recap of our year. 

Harrison turned 19 on January 9th! Could he look any happier with his ice-cream cake? I think not. 



We traveled to Oceanside, CA to move Grandma Jo to an independent living facility in El Cajon. Here we are at our favorite smoothie shop in Oceanside, Banana Dang. That, plus Mission Donuts, and the sunset walks on the beach.......Oceanside is pretty great! 


In February, Arlie turned 20 on the 3rd and celebrated at home with friends. She REALLY wanted those giant balloons but I was too cheap to get them so Harrison came through. What a guy! 


And we spent the week of Valentine's Day in a hotel while our floors were being refinished from our flood the previous December. While at the hotel, the bathroom shower flooded. We can't seem to stay away from floods, although I think that was the last one we experienced so, knock on wood. Here is my attempt to be festive in a hotel and still have Valentine's Day treats. 


We also went to Moclips with Hannah and Junie B for some clamming (Jeff) and beachcombing (me, Hannah and Junie). We stayed in a sketchy little motel in an old, damp room, but we had a fun weekend break. Plus there was a fancy restaurant where Hannah and I dined while Jeff entertained Junie in our room. 


In March, we took the whole family on a trip to Hawaii! This was something we'd been wanting to do for ages, and now that the kids are grown, we finally had the means to do it. Our group numbered nine - the six of us, plus Hayley's wife Megan, Harrison's boyfriend, Alec, and Arlie's good friend Rylie. We had so many adventures and fun experiences. But Jeff got the flu and was sick the whole time. He says the entire trip was a blur and I promised him a "do-over" trip with just the two of us. Hopefully we can do that in 2019! 






In April, I went to Boise for a long weekend while Jeff went turkey hunting. I think I got the better end of the deal because I got to see this cute little girl, Fenna Mei, my newest great-niece (at the time). 


We also took a weekend trip to Grayland with Hannah and Junie again for more clamming (Jeff) and beachcombing, eating and relaxing (me, Hannah and Junie). This time we stayed in a quirky bed and breakfast and enjoyed the sunny deck, movie watching and playing hide and seek with Junie who escaped and was chasing a horse in a pasture across the street! 


In May, Jeff ran a 5k as the culmination of a "Couch to 5k" workout program at work. I clapped and cheered on the sidelines and handed out medals at the end. 


We spent Mother's day in my favorite way - on the water in our kayaks followed by a lovely dinner at home. See Junie B? What a good kayak dog! 


This weird cat had his first birthday. Theo continues to wreak havoc in our home daily. 


And this sweet pup celebrated her second with a trip to the local burger joint. Junie B is a well-loved pup!


The girls and I were supposed to go to a painting event that got canceled so we created our own paint night and these were our results. 


Jeff and I took a nice weekend trip to La Conner which was lovely. We also explored Anacortes and kayaked Heart Lake. Plus, he indulged my desire to visit all the shops! 


We had axe-throwing competitions. I'm pretty sure I won. 


I won tickets to a Mariner's game. We had nosebleed seats but it was fun! 


In June, Jeff attended his annual Rendezvous near Sedro Woolley, WA. Here he is putting up his primitive tent where he will sleep with bugs for two or three nights. I have yet to join him for this trip. Can't imagine why. 


These three graduated from Cascadia College with their AA degrees. We celebrated with a party! 


We celebrated Father's day by getting Jeff a new, fancy barbeque and having dinner at home. These are my favorite people. 


We took Jeff's parents to the Jimmy Buffet concert in Seattle. We bought our matching shirts in Hawaii and were so excited to wear them! Thought we might have overdone it until we actually got ot the concert and saw all the other Parrot Heads! 


We attended Pride in Seattle. It was hot but very rainbow-y. 


We went to the zoo with Hayley's and Hannah's nanny kids. 


In July, Jeff turned 50! We spent the day in Sequim and surrounding areas, visited the wooden boat school and saw a herd of elk. 


On the 4th of July, we marched in our hometown parade as part of the Reader's Digest "Nicest Places in America" contest. I nominated our city of Bothell and we won a spot in the top ten and were featured in Reader's Digest November 2018 issue! 


Later, we celebrated at home with fireworks. 


My cousin Sarah came from Ohio to work at UW for several weeks and we ventured to Snoqualmie Falls. 


We took a ferry ride to Kingston and had crepes. Ashley, Megan's sister, joined us as she was visiting from Indiana. 


Hayley turned 25 on July 7th! We celebrated at home with a bbq and s'mores. 


And we celebrated another 25th birthday with Haley and Lexie, this time at Cottage Lake where we kayaked. 


Jeff and Arlie took the first of their (hopefully) annual backpacking trips. 


We met up with Greg and Heather and Maiya for kayaking Lake Washington. 



We went to Boise to celebrate these two goofballs birthdays! Kaden turned 11 and Jackson turned 8. 


We had an epic shaving cream party at "Camp Aunt Mo" day with Arlie's and Hannah's nanny kids. 


Jeff competed in the Aquafest Quadrathon again - a swim, bike, run, paddle event. Not bad for an old guy! He came in second place in his age division....there were two competitors in his age division. HA!


In August, we attended the wedding of our childhood friend Haley B! It was Gatsby-esque and we dressed the part. Harrison was the officiant. 


We watched the Blue Angels over Lake Washington for Seafair weekend. 


We went to Wings Over Washington on the waterfront after a lovely dinner and sunset at Ivar's. 


Hannah turned 23 on August 9. We spent her birthday at the river in Arlington with Kena and Arlie and it was so peaceful and fun. 


Harrison got back on stage, this time as Black Stache in "Peter and the Starcatchers". Aunt Marcia and Uncle Deven came from Boise to see it. 


Jeff participated in Obliteride again, this time riding 100 miles in one day with Team Seagen. 


Harrison and Alec spent a week in Puerto Vallarta. 


While Jeff and I flew to Boston for a conference where we spent a few days exploring the city. We loved it! 


We also got to attend a Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park! 


After Boston, we drove to Maine, exploring Salem, Portland, and other towns. We did goat yoga, saw Kennebunkport, visited Acadia National Park, and best of all, spent our time at our friends Gary and Fiona's bed and breakfast, Sugar Maple Cottage in China, ME. It was beautiful! 


In September, spent another weekend in Bend, OR with the Kelseys and Zapalowskis. They love Nanny Hanny! We had fun floating the river, swimming, lounging, eating, drinking, kayaking and biking. We also celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary! 


I traveled to Boise for Lila's 7th birthday pony party! 


And got to see Fenna Mei again. 


Harrison spent a week in Washington DC with his dad's family. 


Megan turned 22 on September 20th! We celebrated at Ghostfish Brewery in Seattle where they make gluten free beer! 


I went camping/hunting with these yahoos and spent four days using a primitive toilet and sleeping in the minivan. It was way more fun than it sounds. 


In October, we took another short trip to visit Grandma Jo in El Cajon, and this time we were there for the Laguna Mountain Rendezvous. Jeff enjoyed visiting another rendezvous. And wearing a dead animal on his head, apparently. 


We took our end of season kayak trip on Cranberry Lake near Deception Pass where I found these two engaged in quite the conversation. 


Jeff ran another 5k with his Couch to 5k group. 



Arlie went on a mission trip to Germany and Italy. Here she is in Venice. She claimed the honor of being the first among us to travel internationally.


We also won Halloween this year with these epic "Hocus Pocus" costumes. 



In November, Jeff had hernia surgery and was out of commission for a week. I didn't take a picture of that. You're welcome. 

Hannah and I traveled to Boise in November to see ALL the babies. Fenna Mei was 13 months. 


Kacie Lee was almost ten months and we hadn't met her yet! What a beautiful girl! 


And baby Anlin Fei was only two weeks old! What a treat to see her so young and "fresh" - and such a gorgeous little girl! 


We had plans to spend Thanksgiving with Jeff's family in Spokane, but things took a turn with grandma and Jeff had to fly out unexpectedly to San Diego the day before Thanksgiving to help Grandma Jo. Arlie drove to Spokane to spent Thanksgiving with her mom and the other kids spent Thanksgiving with their dad, while I enjoyed a quiet day at home after brunch with the kids. 


The Saturday following Thanksgiving, I also flew to San Diego to be with Jeff and Grandma Jo. We spent the whole time back and forth between the hospital and grandma's place and at the end of the trip we had moved grandma's things to storage and moved her out of her independent living place. She was doing better here when she and Jeff were watching the Chargers game. 


While we were at the hospital with Grandma Jo, Jeff's stepdad, Tom, was also admitted. He seemed to be doing better when we left, but sadly he passed away the day after we returned home, on December 7th. 


Jeff was home for just four days when it became apparent he needed to go back to be with grandma as her health was taking a turn for the worse again. He arrived on Sunday and on Wednesday, Dec. 12 Grandma Jo passed peacefully in hospice with Jeff by her side. 


Jeff spent the next two days in San Diego, and flew home just in time for his company work party. 


I turned 51 on December 17th. 




Hannah and I saw "Annie" at the 5th with her nanny kids, Ryder and Makena plus other friends. We had brunch at the Georgian Room and visited the Teddy Bear Suite and giant gingerbread house too. 


We took the family to see The Lion King at the Paramount. I have always wanted to see it and I splurged for great tickets for my birthday. It was amazing and unforgettable! 


We had our annual Ugly Sweater Party. This year we sponsored two single moms and were able to get them Christmas gifts and gift cards. It's always a fun time! 


On Christmas Eve, while the other kids were with their dad, Arlie, Jeff and I went to Enchant Christmas at Safeco Field. It was beautiful and sparkly - lots and lots of lights! 


We had a quiet, scaled-back and lowkey Christmas at home which was just what the doctor ordered after our stressful month. .We all picked a category this year and gave gifts from that category. I gave books, Hannah gave movies, Hayley and Megan gave crystals, pendants and boxes to keep it all in, Alec gave tea, Arlie gave socks and cozy items, Harrison gave candles and Jeff gave gas cards. It was simple and lovely. 


We rang in the New Year in similar fashion - at home with a quiet celebration. We spent the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve doing a lot of napping and staying in pajamas. It was a much-needed break!


And now we begin 2019. We hope for a year with less loss and sadness, and more of the moment of happiness we experienced in 2018. We are grateful for another year of chaos, as we wouldn't have it any other way. And we hope you always remember to find joy in the littlest things as you move forward and embrace a new year. 


Happy New Year 2019!