Parenthood

I can’t recall if I have mentioned it in previous posts (I think I have), but I have a 17 year old son who is a senior in high school.  He lives with his mom in Oklahoma, so we aren’t as close as either of us would like to be.

He’s had a rough year to say the least.  I think the reality of being in the home stretch of high school is hitting home and he’s a bit nervous about the future.  I don’t blame him.  I had similar feelings when I was his age.  The uncertainty of striking out on your own is daunting.

His plans are to attend college, join an ROTC program, and start his career in the military upon graduation.  He isn’t exactly enamored with Oklahoma, and he expressed a desire to live in as many different places as he can to experience them.  Couple that with the fact that my Wisconsin residency makes him eligible for in state tuition, and we started looking at schools here in the Badger state.

He had expressed a desire to head to my Alma Mater of Michigan State, but the out of state tuition rates were crazy, so that quickly was scratched from the list.  He came out almost a year ago to tour the University of Wisconsin – Madison.  When the University of Wisconsin is mentioned, this is generally the campus that comes to mind.  As a bit of an afterthought, I scheduled a tour at UW – Whitewater, which is another school in the system.  It’s a smaller school in a smaller town, but still with strong academics.

We toured both schools, but he was enamored with the Madison campus.  I wasn’t surprised.  It’s a big school with big time athletics and academics.  I’m sure my description of my college days at Michigan State had a lot to do with his views on a bigger school.  He felt that Whitewater was okay, but not his first choice.

That was last spring.  As summer came and application season hit, he started preparing his applications for admittance.  After talking with military recruiters and family friends, he decided that he wanted to do something with the Marine Corps while in and after college.  In terms of ROTC programs, that meant he would have to find a school that had the Naval ROTC program.  There’s only two (sort of) in Wisconsin.  UW-Madison and Marquette University.  Doing a bit more digging, we discovered that students at UW-Milwaukee could enroll in the Marquette program while attending Milwaukee for everything else.  That school became a possibility.

The deadline for submitting the application to Madison in order to be considered for early acceptance was November 1st.  He came right down to the wire for that, but submitted it in time.  Then we waited.  The decision would come at the end of January.  In the meantime, though, he didn’t apply anywhere else.

Well, we heard a couple of days ago that he did not get into Madison.  Based on the way things had been going of late for him, I was worried he wouldn’t take it very well.  I was very pleasantly surprised, though.  Yes, he was disappointed, but he took it in stride and turned his focus onto getting his application finished up for Milwaukee.

One of the things that I’ve learned throughout this process is how much the college application process has changed since I was going through it almost 30 years ago.  Everything is online now, which makes things a bit easier.  Also, since all of the schools he is interested in applying to are part of the University of Wisconsin system, he can enter information into one application, and just about all of it will carry over to the others.  Back in my day (yeah, yeah), I did all my applications on a typewriter.  I like this way  much better.

He finished up what needed finishing up on the Milwaukee app and submitted it.  Now, we wait.  The good news is that they process applications on a rolling basis, so there’s no waiting for months to find out whether he got in or not.  Hopefully he will hear within the next week or so.  While I had doubts about Madison, I harbor few for Milwaukee.  The acceptance rate is high, and with his grades and test scores, he should have no problem getting in.

He even made a few calls to the NROTC program at Marquette to make sure that he could participate in their program while at Milwaukee and that he would also be eligible to apply for scholarships in the coming years.  Both items checked out.

The next steps in all of this is waiting top hear if he is admitted.  Once that happens, he and his mom will make the trip from Oklahoma to visit the campus, as that is the one place we haven’t visited.  The school has a few visitation days for people that have been accepted as a way for the students to be sold on attending there.  I imagine that they will come up for one of those, and we will incorporate a visit to the NROTC program at Marquette while we are at it.

I guess the bottom line to all of this is that I’m very proud of him.  He handled it better than I thought he would, and he bounced back immediately from the disappointment and knew what he had to do next.  That skill will serve him well as time goes on.  It’s one that I wish I were a bit better with.

I know he is scared about the future.  This is a big step, and I’m a bit scared for him, too.  However, it is a part of growing up and I believe that he is doing the best he can just as I know that his mom and I are doing the best we can.  He may not feel like it at times, but she and I are his biggest supporters and we just want him to succeed.  Success, though, does require the occasional failure and watching your kid struggle and fail is a horrible feeling.  His denial to Madison is a failure, but his reaction to it and the actions that he has taken since then indicate that he is more than capable of bouncing back from that failure.

Anyway, I think that is enough of my rambling for the week.  I’ll be back next week with something else.  As an aside, I’m liking this writing a post a week.  It keeps me focused on what I’m doing, and that’s a good thing.  Thanks for reading, and take care.

 

Weird Weather

I’m in week two of my new plan to crank out an entry a week!

I realize that I had put out a similar post about five or six weeks ago, but I tend to get a bit obsessive about winter, so here you go.  This has been a very odd winter in terms of weather so far.  We’ve gone from mild to cold to mild to cold and back to mild again.  As the calendar went from October to November, I prepared myself for the cooling temperatures and the snow that was to come.  The problem was that it didn’t come.  Temps stayed above average through most of November and I don’t recall seeing even a flurry of snow drifting in the air.

December came along, and we seemed to make up for the mild weather with a vengeance.  Temps dropped and we had three consecutive weekends with measurable snowfall.  We were on pace to blow by the amount of snowfall from last winter in a very short period of time.  And then the snow stopped.  I think we have had one snowfall of about half an inch in the past month.

The temperature since December has been more or less seasonal up until the past few days.  We have had two really cold snaps with sub-zero temperatures that each lasted about three or four days.  So, despite the lack of snow, it was feeling a bit more like winter than it had been.

This week, though, we’ve been pelted with rain and freezing rain which has made travel ugly.  From Sunday through Wednesday morning, going out and driving to work was a challenge.  Schools were closed and travel advisories were issued.  I generally don’t mind driving in snow, but ice is something else.

To top things off, Wednesday and Thursday mornings also had the added obstacle of heavy fog.  There were stretches where I was looking at the shoulder of the road as I was driving to make sure that I was staying where I should be.  I’m very glad that there wasn’t the added worry of snow or ice.

Our temperatures have been rising, with us having highs hovering around 50 this weekend.  That’s not normal.  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  We were talking about this at work the other day, and one of my co-workers (who happens to be a Wisconsin native) said that Second Winter will be here soon and we will be wondering if this warm snap was even real.  He’s likely right.  I do remember some very frigid weather in February last year, so I’m certain we will have more cold and snow coming.

I worry that this is likely a permanent trend.  I’m not interested in getting into a debate over the merits of climate change, but I do believe it is a real thing.  Last summer saw some very abnormal stretches of extremely hot weather (for Wisconsin, anyway) and these winter temperature fluctuations aren’t good in the grand scheme of things.

I suppose the good news about the warmer weather is that it will allow me to get out this weekend and cut down some of those pesky trees that I mentioned in an earlier post without freezing.  If it isn’t pouring rain, this will be a good weekend for such an endeavor as well as some other outdoor projects that can get done.

Regardless of the weather this weekend and how much I get done, though, come 2:05 pm Central Standard Time on Sunday, I will be inside watching the Green Bay Packers playing for a spot in the Super Bowl.  Go Pack Go!!!  See you all next week!

 

 

 

 

 

Goals

I know that previously in this space, I’ve disavowed the idea of resolutions and what not for the New Year.  I suppose, though, that this does fall into that category of things.

One “thing” that I want to do is write more and be more consistent in churning out posts for this blog.  Since I started, it appears that I would churn a few out in a short period of time and then just let things sit there for a longer period of time.

I have learned over the years that any task or activity that you do on a regular basis is more likely to stick than one that is done only occasionally.  I have found that I’m a bit more at peace and mentally aware when I write on a regular basis; so by setting a goal to get an entry posted each week,I will be writing on a regular basis!

What will I be writing about?  Good question.  I’m not exactly sure.  I imagine that I will continue my random ramblings about things and life, but I may also tackle some other topics as they come up.

Another idea that I have been mulling over is to start another blog dealing with politics and current events.  I’ve always been a keen student of history and politics in general, so I thought perhaps I could start something in that vein.  This blog, though, will remain politics free.

Other goals for the year include the typical weight loss and exercise goals.  It is something that I’ve struggled with for years, and I would really like to make some progress this year in getting some of that off.  About six years ago, I managed to lose a very significant amount of weight and even run a marathon.  My goals this time around aren’t as big.  I honestly don’t want to commit the time needed to train for such a thing, but I would like to wear clothes that are a few sizes smaller than what I currently wear.

A nature goal I have in mind is to spruce up the property some.  We have an “infestation” of European Honeysuckle trees that are rapidly taking things over.  They are dense and fast growing at the expense of other native plants and trees.  I want to get as many of them cleared out as I can so perhaps we can plant some native trees and shrubs instead.  They do provide a great foliage barrier, but they can quickly get out of control.  I think that is something I would like to do still this winter as I can navigate among the brush easier than once leaves start popping out.

We have had one summer in the house, so we have an idea of what to expect when it comes to the growing season, the soil conditions, and how things look overall.  Much of what I have in mind is cosmetic, although by paring back on trees and bushes, it does allow for more room for other plants that either pop up on their own or those that we plant.  I do want to avoid tangling with the poison ivy like I did last summer.  That made for an unpleasant few weeks.

As the snow has been melting during our warmer weather and rain snaps, I see the unsightly leaves that we didn’t get cleaned up during the fall.  Once the snow melts for good in the spring, clearing those out will be the first task.  From there, I’m not sure.  I have ideas, but nothing concrete just yet.  I do know that it is easier to tackle a lot of this stuff before things really start growing.  Given the timing of move in last year, we didn’t have much time to do that, so this year will be different.

Other goals relate to reading.  I’ve decided that over the course of the next however long, I’m going to get through one biography of every President.  I’m sure that for many of you that sounds excruciating.  By the time I’m done with them all, I may very well be in agreement.  We will see.  So far, I’ve completed Washington, Adams, and Jefferson.  I’ve read biographies of these three before, so in many ways, it was a rehashing of things I already knew.  As far as Adams and Jefferson go, though, I did choose to read works that I hadn’t previously read.  So, there was some new insight provided there.  From here on out, though, it’s new territory.  I’ve read extensively on Lincoln, so when I get there, that will be a refresher, too.  The history geek in me is very excited for this undertaking.  We will see how excited I still am after 2o or so of these.

I think I’ve written enough for this time around.  As always, thanks for reading and have a wonderful week!

 

 

Hibernation

I totally understand why bears and other animals hibernate in the winter.  It’s too darn cold to do much of anything else.

I’ve really noticed in the past few days how tired I feel.  I think it coincides with the latest stretch of cold weather that we have had.  I know that throughout most of the country, there are cold temps, so I’m not trying to one-up anyone’s winter experience!

This is the second stretch of below average temperatures we have had this winter, although yesterday and today seem downright balmy in comparison with the sub-zero stuff we had a few days ago.  Looking at the little weather station on my desk where I’m writing this now, it is 12 degrees Fahrenheit now with winds around six miles per hour.  It did get down to six below zero at some point since midnight.

It could be worse.  We could also have massive amounts of snow right now, too.  We haven’t had any measurable snow in about three weeks.  I think we are supposed to get more within the next week, though.  It is what winter is about, so I can’t complain too much!

Anyway, the point of all of this rambling is that the cold makes me feel lazy.  I would much rather be on the couch or under the covers in bed than being out and about.  It’s ironic for me to say that as I do love this time of year and crispness in the air.  A lungful of cold winter air will wake me up.  Maybe I do need to be out more.

I think, though, it is just a sign of my overall lethargy rather than being specific to winter time.  I don’t do resolutions, but I think getting up and moving around on a regular basis is a good idea.  It is something that I will strive to do more of in general.

So, I’m going to try to not be like a bear and sleep all winter.  There’s much to be done and seen and experienced, and that sort of thing leaves bystanders wondering what the heck just happened.  Nope, I would rather experience things than just wonder about them.

Time to bundle up, bet outside, and live a little.  Until next time….

 

A New Year, A New Hope

This year is rapidly coming to an end, and I’m grateful for that.  It has been surreal to say the least.  From the election season, to celebrity deaths, to the loss of my step-dad, I have had enough and am ready for a fresh start.

Although, starting something new at New Years seems arbitrary.  I mean, it is an easy date on the calendar to point to and say “my  new regime starts that day.”  But, it would be just as easy to look at a calendar and say “I’m starting on April 22nd” or “July 15th is the day.”

I’m guilty of using that January 1st date as a turning point, too.  I don’t know exactly what I hope to accomplish this coming year, but I know I want to do something.  I have a few thoughts floating around in my head, but nothing has stuck yet.

The usual stuff applies…lose weight, get in shape, watch less TV, etc.  I don’t think that tackles what I really am yearning for.  I want change of some sort.  Like foundation-shaking, life altering change.  Although, the saying “be careful what you wish for, you just might get it” pops into my head when I think along those lines.

So, perhaps instead of burning it all down, a more cautious approach is in order.  Taking things one day at a time, appreciating what I have, and setting concrete goals is likely the best route to go.  I think I will be further along my journey using that approach than if I went in another direction.

Regardless, I wish each and every one of you a happy and healthy 2017.  Thank you for reading me this past year, and I hope you continue in the year to come.

 

Winter is Here

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Winter is here!  Maybe not officially just yet.  We have another nine days or so before we hit the solstice, but according to the weather, we are here.

It had been a really odd fall here in Wisconsin this year.  Temperatures were way above normal and it was drier than usual.  That followed an abnormal summer with very warm temperatures and extremely wet weather. Those summer conditions led to a horrible mosquito season.

The forecast models had predicted a snowier winter for us this year.  Seeing as how we went until December 4th with any snowfall, I had my doubts.  Well, the past two weekends have made up for that a little bit.  We were hit with nearly four inches last Sunday and a total of six and a half inches this past weekend.  Current forecasts have another wave of snow coming in on Friday and Saturday.

So, after two December weekends, our snow total is a bit over ten inches for the season.  Last year for the entire season, we had around 32 inches.  So, after two weekends we are already at a third of the total snowfall for all of last year.  My understanding is that last year was a bit light in the snow department.  Normal averages are around 50 inches for the year.  Still, based on what December has brought so far, we are on pace for a snowy winter.

I have to admit that I am perfectly fine with that.  I love the snow.  I’m not a skier or other winter sports enthusiast, so it isn’t about the powder and what I can do in it.  I find it peaceful and pristine.  A clean blanket of snow hides the plainness of the dormant season and acts as a blank canvas for critters to leave their mark.

The feel of it crunching underfoot on a cold, brisk morning helps to remind me that I’m still alive and kicking.  The temps are supposed to take a nose dive later this week.  We’ve been in the 20’s for the most part, but sub-zero temps are on the horizon.  Again, that’s unusual for this time of year.  Typical highs are right around freezing, and the lows in the high teens/low 20’s.  It will be interesting to see what the winter as a whole brings.  Are these first couple of weeks of December a fluke or indicative of what’s to come?  Time will tell.

 

 

Holiday Season

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It’s the first of December, and that means the holiday season is upon us.  We have survived Thanksgiving a week ago, and now everyone is hurtling towards Christmas in 24 days or Hanukkah in 23 days or whatever you happen to celebrate in X number of days.

This time of year has always been a trying one for me since I hit adulthood.  I hate going to malls or other stores to do any shopping thanks to my aversion to crowds.  Christmas shopping for an introvert is a horrible thing.  I’m thankful that the internet exists so I can do my shopping online and not venture out too much.

This time of  year is also difficult for me because it reminds me of my brother in many ways.  He would have turned 43 this December.  His birthday, Christmas, and his death are all within a 5 or 6 week window.  The last time I saw him was over the Christmas holidays in 2001.  He passed away just a few weeks later in January of 2002.  Time has helped to heal things, but it can still be difficult at times.  So far, this year seems like it will be just fine.

I am thankful that I have my health and that I live in a beautiful place and have a good job.  I’m also thankful because I’ve been able to reconnect with some family that I have never been particularly close to.  I’m discovering we have much in common, and in addition to the familial bonds, I sense I am gaining a very good friend in the process.  That’s something this introvert has always had a hard time finding.

As December continues, I will try to remember to stay patient because everyone seems to deal with extra stress this time of year.  I’m not the only one who dreads trips to the mall on a weekend in December and perhaps if I maintain my cool, they will, too.

2016 has been a challenging year for just about everyone in some form or another.  I hope that as we say good-bye to this year, and hello to 2017, we can all remind ourselves that we are sharing space with about 7 billion other people on this big blue ball and to be understanding, caring, and just plain good to our neighbors.