Monday, April 25, 2016

Frankly Ronda

I leave my Commuter Family blog on April 25, 2016.

We started our Commuter Family in April 2012 and Commuter Husband is still making that weekly trek between Houston and Dallas. We have made it work for us. I am thankful.

I am moving on to a different blog ... hope to see you there!

My New Blog: Frankly Ronda!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Brotherly Love Looks Like ...

Brotherly Love Looks Like ... A Headlock.
It starts as a casual connection.
Notice the arm starting to move in ...
The one armed lock is in place.
A full head lock accomplished. 
Resistance is initiated.  
Brotherly Love right there in that split second. 
A move is made to get out of the headlock.
Getting out will require a tussle of sorts. 
I have learned much as the mother of boys. I will state the obvious: males, in general, have characteristics that differ from females. And I continue to be fascinated by the antics of the other gender.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


I was four years old on April 16, 1969. I have no real memory of this birthday but I have Polaroid pictures. And I have a sense of happiness that was on that day. The pictures show a typical 1960s backyard birthday in Burleson, Texas with cousins, neighbors and friends and a Cinderella cake! I got a bicycle with streamers and a flower covered basket. The family story is that Granny bought me the bicycle against her daughter's (my mother) wishes - probably true. There are no pictures of my mother so I am assuming she was the photographer.
I am perched on the bicycle.
I am smiling and probably glad to have my cousin sitting on my left.
Opening my four year old birthday gifts on a sunny day.

I was five years old on April 16, 1970.
There are pictures from this day at the same house. It was an indoor birthday and some of the same faces appear in photos and new ones too. Real or imagined, I do not think of this day with joy. The photographer on this day was my stepmother. My mother was killed soon after my fourth birthday.
The yellow dress stands out on this fifth birthday.
And there are gifts.

I was 39 years old on April 16, 2004.
Oldest Son was four years old which is the same age I was on that last birthday with Cheryl Virginia (Bills) Henry, my mother. On this day in 2004, I felt gratitude sweep through me like a tidal wave. I realized, as a mother myself, how fortunate I was to have had my own mother and father for the first four years of my life. Four years of unconditional love in the late 1960s in a stable home had laid the foundation for confidence, security and resilience that I would draw on through many more birthdays.
Oldest Son turns four in 2004 with an North Pole themed pool party.

Today I am 51 years old on April 16, 2016.
I am a mother with sons who are 16 and 14 years old now. My husband is by my side and is my biggest fan. Commuter Husband and I are relatively healthy with some of the normal mid-life ailments. We are safe and secure. But I am unsettled. My brain races daily to figure out how the next half of my life should be defined. Hard Stop. There needs to be more, something more in my personal contribution to this world.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Hello and Good Bye

One aspect of parenting that often takes me unawares are daily mundane things that Oldest Son and Youngest Son show themselves not to know. This occurs when we make a transition or a new responsibility presents itself.

This week's surprise is associated with Oldest Son driving. He has embraced managing his own logistics seamlessly and responsibly which is a positive outcome and we ARE proud of him. However, we are missing the Hello and Good Bye part of coming and going.

This morning I am at the other end of our ranch house and I hear the door alarm sound that signals that someone has left the house. Oldest Son left without saying anything like "see ya later" or "I'm leaving" or "good bye." This also happened when he arrived home yesterday and went straight to his room. I promise we have modeled greeting pleasantries for his 16 years in our home!

Yes this is normal teenage behavior. Got it. So we will teach this teen considerate behavior norms. I caught him in the driveway today and tried to calmly explain to him that we expect him to show his face to us when he arrives and leaves the house and say a few words. Independent introverts are still expected to be polite; we are old fashioned this way.

So as he rolls up the car window with a ever so slight smile, Oldest Son says "Have a good day" and drives away.
Our New Driver

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Empty Laundry Hamper

A universal teenage mystery is why the laundry hamper remains empty in said teenager's room and bathroom. I have no magic solution. I advise some level of acceptance to my fellow parents of teenagers.

Our approach is twofold. Since Youngest Son does his own laundry weekly, he will eventually gather the piles and wash. And we are fortunate enough to have a Tuesday housekeeper thus he complies with our requirement that his room and bathroom are clean by Monday night at 9pm (and if he does not then he gets to scrub the toilet which has happened.)

The other six days of the week ... well ...
My favorite aspect of Youngest Son's bathroom is the two open drawers - really?!
And why are the hot pink beats Youngest Son bought with his own money on top of the wet towel?
THIS is the EMPTY laundry hamper within inches of the bathroom hurricane including shorts, socks, shirts and underwear.
And we move to the bedroom where Youngest Son is consistent in his approach tidiness.
Another EMPTY laundry hamper in the bedroom and also within inches of discarded clothing.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

And The Next Day ...

Yesterday I was basking in the passing acknowledgement from Youngest Son that arguing may not always be the easiest of routes. 

And then there was today. As a working mother, I try to pick a few volunteer opportunities each year at the school Oldest Son and Youngest Son attend. Last night, I let Youngest Son know I was helping cover 7th grade lunch today. His immediate response was to ask in a less than enthusiastic voice "Why?"

I arrive today to join three other mothers to execute our lunchroom duties. We wait on the sidewalk as the 7th graders approach the cafeteria. Youngest Son's best friend approaches me to say hello and apologetically tell me he is trying to get Youngest Son to come over. Youngest Son is in full blown teenage "avoid my mother" mode.

So here is how things shake out as students go through the lunch line and find tables to sit:

  • Mother #1 is invited by her 7th grade son to sit with him and his friends.
  • The daughters of Mothers #2 and #3 try to avoid their mothers but the mothers move their stuff to the table where daughters are sitting.
  • Mother #4 (that is me) discreetly inquires if Youngest Son wants me to sit with him and his five friends and the answer is a definitive No as expected.
Alas it was like one of those after school specials with that awkward moment when the main character realizes they have no one to eat lunch with ... oh my! So it is a good thing I am a grown up and confident and able to enjoy my salad at a four-top alone. And I also know that Youngest Son is exerting predictable teenage independence and this is part of his particular journey to adulthood. My job is to love this kid unconditionally each day and especially on those days where friends are the center of his world as expected.
The Lunchroom at The School.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Small Teen Victories

On the way home from school, Youngest Son and I are talking. The topic of sending out his cards with bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah gifts for his friends comes up. Youngest Son does them in batches and he had completed a group yesterday (he has been invited to lots of celebrations this year!)

Youngest Son volunteers "I got my cards done allot faster this time."

Me with a monotone and supportive voice "Yes you did."

Youngest Son responds with a slight grin "Because I did not argue."

Me resisting the urge to be preachy "No you didn't."

Then my brain does a silent happy dance. 

Youngest Son work'in at the table ...

Saturday, February 20, 2016

First Driver and First Car

As parents of teens, it seems like Commuter Husband and I are in a constant cycle of decision making and talking. However, the old adage "actions speak louder than words" is sometimes the simplest course of action ...

First Driver and First Car
Commuter Husband and I spent a considerable amount of time determining what was best for Oldest Son and our family as he turns sixteen and can drive. Here are our guiding principles for Oldest Son:
  • Complete all requirements of online drivers ed before age sixteen - DONE
  • Take drivers test at age 16 and contribute the the family chauffeur service immediately - SCHEDULED FOR MARCH 23
Then we had to decide how to provide Oldest Son's with his first car so here is what we did:
  • Considered passing along our Prius but decided we were uncomfortable with safety level and high milage. We wanted a vehicle that will get him through high school and college.
  • Reviewed list of safest used cars for teens and looked under small SUVs
  • Picked the safest ones in our price range (target 12K) and without fancy options
  • Found exactly two used car choices meeting our criteria and we decided the Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES (base level) would be the one Oldest Son would prefer
  • Bought a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander Sport ES with less than 10,000 miles! We had to go a little over budget but not much and we have 3 years of factory warranty left. Commuter Husband did a great job finding this deal!
We surprised Oldest Son as part of our annual Valentines Day celebration.
Hershey Kisses leading to Valentines Day gifts and a clue taking Oldest Son to the driveway.
  • Oldest Son said excitedly with huge smile "It's not a Prius!" (We had led him to believe he was getting the hand-me-down car.)
  • Youngest Son said with astonishment and a smirk "Hey your car does not look dumb!"
Happy and Shocked!
Trying it out!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Traveling with One Teen to Phoenix

Oldest Son and Youngest Son are out of school for a long holiday weekend. Oldest Son is in Florida participating in a debate tournament. Oldest Son "gone for debate" has become a common occurrence. Thus, Commuter Husband and I expect to be out and about with our Youngest Son more often over the next few years. This gradual movement from four to three signals the beginning of our boys creating their own independent lives separate from their parents. This long weekend we ventured to Phoenix, AZ with Youngest Son.

Friday Morning Arrival = Family
A 6am flight out of DFW got us to my Uncle's (my mother's brother) house in time for coffee in Phoenix. Commuter Husband, Youngest Son and I visited with Uncle and Uncle's Wife. Uncle had a double lung transplant one year ago when we were here visiting during Ranger's Spring Training. It is miraculous to see how great he is doing and living life fully again ...
Youngest Son learning how to chip golf balls from Uncle (his Great Uncle) in the backyard. 
Friday Evening = Sports
Commuter Husband went to Arizona State University way back when for his college freshman year. Friday evening we returned to his alma mater to attend the ASU versus USC basketball game. The college game was both fun and entertaining ...
The Band and Cheer Girls and Fans at attention for the Star Spangled Banner. 
And the spectacle of fire as the Sun Devil Basketball players are announced!
Seats on 3rd row rock! 
And the Sun Devils are victorious over the 23rd ranked USC!!
Saturday Morning = Nature
We awoke Saturday morning to coffee and yummy breakfast. Afterwards, Commuter Husband, Youngest Son and I headed to Thunderbird Conservation Park for a hike.
Youngest son scarfed down the pecan waffles made by Uncle and the eggs and bacon (real not turkey) made by Commuter Husband.
Youngest Son reaches the top of our 1.5 mile hike.
The View.
Saturday Afternoon = Culture
Who can say they have been to the 26th Annual World Championship Hoop Dance Contest? The Heard Museum of American Indian Art & History was the host to this uniquely American experience.
We arrived to see the last few teen dancers.
Watching from a shaded hillside. The sound of the drums and chants heard clearly. 
This adult dancer from British Columbia was fantastic!
Youngest Son and Commuter Husband looking at Allan Houser's (Haozous) (Chiricahua Apache 1914-1994) bronze, Unconquered II.

Nora Naranjo-Morse (Tewa, born 1953) bronze, Khwee-seng (Woman-man)
Father - Son
Saturday Night = Food and Games
We wrapped up a full day with grilled steaks and 42 ...
Fillet, Baked Potato and Salad - so good - outside on a beautiful Phoenix evening.
Uncle and Youngest Son beat Commuter Husband and me - ugh.

Friday, February 5, 2016

A World Imperfect

I really need to sign up for a poetry class. And escape to a beach with no news feed.

A world broken
War and refugees 
Poverty and disease
Rape and murder
Men and domination
Never ending
Lessons learned, not really

A world confused
Wealth and power
Land and borders
Religion and G-d
Sex and force
Never ending
History repeating, over and over

A world intolerant
Women and skin
Special and different
Poor and uneducated
Beliefs and cultures
Never ending
Closed minds, always a battle

A world political
Lies and deceit
Corruption and money
Deals and alliances
Selfish and self-absorbed
Never ending
False leaders, getting worse and worse

A world of children
Abandoned and orphaned
Pressured and stressed
Abused and forgotten
Sold and subjected
Never ending
Empty promises, the cycle repeating
Our Children (Youngest Son & Nephew). Simple Beauty. (@ DMA)