Friday, July 21, 2017

Not-Yet's and Not-Ever's

Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~Elizabeth Stone

My daughter has friends who are raised quite differently than she has been. Many of her friends label us as over protective because they are allowed to do things that our daughter is not. Some things are just not-yet's and others are not-ever's, at least while she lives in our home.

One not-yet is getting her driver's license. Although many of her friends have gotten or are getting their driver's permits at fifteen years old so that they can get their licenses at sixteen, my husband and I decided years ago that we would not rush into getting her license just because she legally could, although our state has a tiered system with three stages depending on age and other provisions. There are several factors that play into this:

  • Local driving is far away from Atlanta traffic, but many people here commute and by the time they drive that distance, they are short on patience and have a whole different idea of what a speed limit is other than what is posted on the signs. 
  • The Atlanta area is one of the worst in the country for teenagers causing accidents and there are several reasons for that, but probably the main reason is that they are teenagers and do not take driving as seriously as they should and easily get distracted thanks to latest in tech. 
  • Another reason is related to illegal immigrants...they are not licensed or insured so there are many stories of accidents when a number of them jump out of the vehicle and ran away from the accident and that the vehicle itself was not registered so there is no way to find them. 
  • Such events have caused steep increases in our vehicle insurance over the past few years and adding a teen driver to the policy is not something we are eager to do. 
  • Lastly, waiting until she is seventeen also means we do not have to pay for a driving course as the tiered laws requires presently. It is enough that our car insurance doubles either way!

Her friends may get the not-yet's better than our not-ever's. A seventeen year old boy with which the Princess has been friends for a few years is leaving for college at the beginning of August. He wanted to spend some time with her so he offered to pick her up to drive her to the skating rink he likes that is about a 45-minute drive away. Now we expect attractions at this age but the Princess will not ever be allowed to date and being alone with a young man in a car...that sounds like a date to me. Of course, that is never going to happen. 

We have strict rules about going out with friends and courting. We have done things with her friends that are boys, like hiked in a park or gone to a movie, but I was there with them. The Princess does not have but one good friend that is a girl and that would be because she finds most girls fickle, boy-crazy, and shallow, except for this one. 

She just does not connect with girls. Even as a young child, she liked playing with boys and doing the stuff boys were into more...and this when she would dress in a fancy dress for church and often for dinner just because! She was a tomboy and a girly-girl, depending on the setting and her mood. For a few years, when she was middle school age, I could barely get her in a dress except for recitals. Now she is swinging back to her former loves, although she does not dress for dinner, but now and then she will wear a dress or skirt to church or just because.

Anyway, when she was younger, I mostly had to worry about what she and the boys were going to dig up in the backyard or injuries from sword fighting and she has always had this fascination with all kinds of knives, like boys tend to do. Although she is aware that some of her friends are attracted to her, she rarely will talk to us about it. The bad experience with J-Void left its mark on us all, so I think that one side of her does not want to like a boy or even been liked by a boy, but the other...well, she is still a teenage girl. We see the conflict she tries to hide.

Our rules have some flexibility depending on the situation and persons involved and we do invite God's say in the matter. However, the Princess is never to get into a car alone with a boy or go off anywhere alone with a boy at any time...period! She is allowed to go with a mixed group of friends as long as there is a responsible chaperone. We, at times, will allow her to do something with a boy as long as one of her parents is with her or we really know and trust the chaperone.

We do not need to know everyone in the group, but when it comes down to a one-on-one situation, we like to meet the boy and his parents if possible, just to be sure we all are on the same page. We did not do this with J-Void because....well, they both were only fourteen at the time. From our point of view, they were too young for courtship.

Now that the Princess is sixteen (and still too young, but it is not unexpected at this age), should a boy profess his interest in her as anything more than a friend and she feel the same, we will treat it as a courting situation. We are not there yet, although we have had some boys expressing their feelings for her, she has been more careful to reciprocate since J-Void. When we think it is a mutual attraction, then we will handle it as a courtship, in that we be more involved with their time together and work on getting to know the parents also.

Although the Princess has been made aware of these rules most of her life, I think it is still difficult for her to see the pictures of the girls from her youth group in their formal dresses with their dates for homecomings and proms. One girl in particular has had the same boyfriend for over a year, yet her mother has said that she is immature for her age to me several times, so I am still wondering why she allows her to date...? Anyway, a few times the Princess has asked why she does not feel anything towards any boy other than friendship, as if she thinks she has something wrong with her. It breaks my heart that she thinks that about herself, but I just tell her it is because she has not yet met the one God has chosen for her.

I know that this may be hoping for too much, but I am still hoping that God's chosen mate for my daughter will be a man who recognizes that our strict rules are not against him but for him and that appreciates that we all worked to guard her virtue and her heart for him. That would be ideal, but I will try not to have that expectation. Still, I have heard God tell me that He has selected her husband, the one we have been praying about for all these years, and that we are going to love him. In someways I cannot wait to meet him and in others...well, that it changes so much that I am also not in a hurry to see change. I will trust God's timing.

My Lord, I look forward to my daughter coming into adulthood, but it is a bittersweet feeling. Please give us all patience and help us to really hear You as we all grow through this process.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Downsides of Upgrading Phones

Sooner or later, you will need to make friends with Disappointment. ~Dr. SunWolf

For many years I had a prepay flip phone. I had a plan that is no longer offered, but as long as I paid it the balance so that it was $100 once a year I was grandfathered in to pay 10 cents a minute for calls and 10 cents per text. I did not text and the most I ever paid in one year was around $50, most years between $20-$30. We still had a home land line and I did most of my chats on that. My cell phone was for meeting up with people at the right place and time and emergencies. The phone number was switched over to me from an old work phone number my husband had.

Now I am not particularly sentimental about phones, but phone numbers...well, that is another story. We have tried to keep the first number my daughter memorized when she was turning four years old. My husband was offered to go to the tech conference at Disney World that year. In preparation, my daughter and I began taking long walks to build her stamina and while we walked we worked on her memorizing her address and her daddy's phone number, because even though I could not imagine her getting separated from us by anything, I wanted to be sure that she knew our address, our full names, and how to contact us by phone.

So, we had that number ported to my prepay flip phone, which was no small feat that that time. I used the same phone with the same number for several years.

About three years ago, we decided to let go of the landline and go cellular only. So I got a smart phone, Samsung Galaxy S5, that I loved! The Princess got the prepay flip phone. She was not allowed to text or just chat on it, but it was to be used for meeting up with us at the right place and time.

We replaced the $20 flip phone I previously had for several years because it fell out of her pocket as she was riding her bike and a car ran over it. I keep thinking that one was a replacement of another that got ruined or lost, but she does not remember. Anyway, the last time we needed to replace it, there were no prepay flip phones, instead there was a $30 small touch screen phone that had wi-fi capability and very little storage by today's standards; I think it qualifies as the cheapest "smart phone" possible. She cracked the screen in the first six months, and she could have replaced it with her allowance or gift money, but she decided to just live with it.

A few years ago, my husband and I never had it in our minds that she would be allowed to have a smart phone as a teenager, but that is when we had a land line. Things have changed, tech has changed, and our plans had to change also.

My husband just bought a phone earlier this year to be his personal phone, as he felt his work phone was becoming the company way of keeping surveillance on their employees. He is definitely an iPhone guy, but I like Android. He tried to convinced me to get a new phone then also. Now I was still quite happy with my Galaxy s5 except for one thing: not enough internal storage. I use my phone to help me stay on track with my life and chores, save money, and monitor and limit the Princess' online activity so it has several shopping apps, Instagram, a bill reminder app (very necessary with all the additional stuff from the Queen Mother), and a few games that give me something to do when I am waiting with nothing to do. The 16 gig internal space was just not enough anymore and what apps I could move to the external card would move back to internal with every update. At least once a week to daily, I was moving over pictures and apps to the external card so all my apps would that my phone would that my life would work.

You may recall that we also had found a senior friendly flip phone for the Queen Mother and she was added to our service plan. That made three on the plan.

I was ready to give in and the prepay was coming due the first week of July, so I decided to just do it. The Princess would get my Galaxy s5 and I would get the Galaxy s8, which has 64 gig internal storage with the ability to add an external card, but I was not as thrilled about it because of the curved edges being harder to protect  You see, I do not go for the pretty phone cases but for ones that will really protect the phone. My s5 did not even have a scratch!

So we added the Princess to unlimited phone and texting.... Hold that thought.

Actually, the guy at the store made an error in the phone number we were trying to have port over from the prepay service...the number we have passed along in the family for over a decade. None of us caught it, so she really could not use the phone. It took some time to track down what went wrong and go back to the store to have it corrected, but since Thursday morning it has been up and running.

Back to that thought....I have access to all of her accounts email, Instagram, and Google Hangouts, so I can see everything, but there are three things that I would not see: texting, calls going in and out, and the actual conversation. However, I found a free app that leashes her phone to mine so I see all her text conversations and who is calling her. That is about the best I can do.

Oh, and I cannot tell you how much I really hated getting the Galaxy s8. I would have preferred getting another s5 with more internal storage. I ordered a cover like the one I had for on my s5, but I did not realize it would take three weeks to get it. (I am assuming it is coming from China.) So, I have tried to be careful with the phone, but for whatever reason, Galaxy made the entire phone with a glass skin. Had I looked more at the reviews I would have probably thought hard about going with an iPhone. The glass at the back of the s8 cracks very easily and the entire phone is quite slippery, but I thought all would be well once I got the case. Well, I still do not have a case and tonight I dropped it on a brick walkway and it hit a corner. The front screen is fine, but the back has one crack from the corner to the fingerprint pad. Not terribly bad and the case will cover most of the damage, but it does make the phone less water resistant. As I wrote, my s5 did not even have a scratch after three years, so I am a bit bummed that I did this after having the new phone for only eight days.

I miss my s5! Yes, I do!

My Lord, help me keep my expectations in perspective, one small crack in a phone should not have so much power over my feelings! I have spent too much thought on something I cannot change. Thank you for making heaven a place that does not have such concerns.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

My Thrift Booty....Boots!

It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness. -Charles Spurgeon

I confess that I have a materialistic side. It rarely will overrule my practical side, but it is there. My compromise: I love to shop in thrift stores. I try to go to one of two Goodwill stores between grocery shopping and the Princess' piano lesson every Tuesday, our errand day, because the two best ones I have found around us are not the ones closest to us but on our errand route closer to where her piano teacher lives. When I say the best, I mean that they usually have far more selection and more of the better stuff. At least, they seem to be better than the one nearest us. I also like to go on Tuesdays because ever since I hit "the speed limit mark," what my husband calls being 55, I get a senior discount of 25% off my entire purchase on Tuesdays only. Actually, some cashiers gave the discount to me when I was still 54 because I was honest about being just a few months short...I guess the whitening hair was giving me away. (At times like this my daughter appreciates having an older mama.)

Typically, I thrift shop without a particular idea of what I would like. Having shopped like this for years, I am pretty efficient at not having to look at every single piece of clothing. Goodwill arranges clothes by colors separating solids and patterns so I usually can walk down the aisles to see what jumps out at me. Textures and color have always drawn my attention more than patterns when it comes to tops and dresses and skirts, although I do have a soft spot for leopard prints. Sweaters are the easiest for me because they are all about texture and color, but I have so many bulky textured sweaters and last winter I did not even unpack any of them as it was a warmer winter. I like petite tops that are shorter and harder to find with a glance and longer dresses and skirts which are easier as they hang lower.

In jeans, it is the opposite; I prefer finding the very rare patterns although I currently do not have any since little wild puppy Mishka nipped and ripped the few I had months ago playing as if I was a stubborn two-legged sheep to be chased and herded quite roughly every time he was awake and I was up walking. (Thankfully, he has grown out of that stage.) I have nearly every color of Gloria Vanderbilt's Amanda stretch jeans ever made, except the bright warm colors, that I wear more in the autumn and winter—my favorite of them, though, I like for summer, a lovely sage that looks refreshingly cool with a white eyelet top. When I look for jeans at thrift stores, it is more of a piece-by-piece search because the textures and colors are so similar that is it about cut and size; I am a straight leg, classic cut on the waist, regular or relaxed fit kind of girl, who hates boot cuts or any flare. I like to tuck my jeans in my boots to show them off and flares make my legs look shorter.

For the Princess, it is harder. She has a more slender build and is really petite, not a borderline petite as I am. She likes earthy, more subtle colors like I do, but typically darker. Currently, her most favorite color is black and next red, although she has yet to select any clothing with red for herself, but if she is given a red t-shirt, she would wear it now and then, if it has a good message. I have noticed that she is also drawn to textures, but more open weaves to wear layered (like I did when I was a young adult). She likes her jeans with flare, which is far harder to find in the right length for her.

It is also hard to find longer skirts and dresses for her; most pool around her around her feet. She does not like much of a heel in dress shoes (and I cannot blame her as I wore heels for years when I was in retail clothing and I avoid wearing them now except for rare special occasions), but this week she got a pair of wintry suede-and-furry lace up boots with a built-in heel that not only looked so cute on her, but she said they were comfortable—and she could run in them, which is has been her acid test for a few years with foot wear. (We still laugh about the Jurassic World movie where the lead woman ran in high-heel dress shoes throughout entire the movie. Yeah, right!)

As to foot wear, I lean towards two kinds. One is barely-there, flat, strappy leather sandals or a walking sandal that is not fancy but comfortable and practical—the latter usually has to be brand new because they develop a permanent foot impression. The other kind is a boot, actually all kinds of boots including booties, but I have a particular soft soft for boots with a western flare.

This week Independence Day was on Tuesday so her piano lesson was moved to Monday and I did not get that nice discount, but I also found some practically-new, fringed black boots that I slipped on and were so comfortable that were probably worth the extra $1.75 I had to pay. I have never had this thought in my mind before, but as I looked down at these boots on my feet: Ohhh, Mama LIKE! I caught the Princess involuntarily smiling when I actually said that out loud and I think that is going to be my new saying for extra special things like this. I may not like flashy clothes, but I cannot pass up a fringed western-style boot with a little bling!

The boots looked new, but sadly unloved. The fringe was a scary mess from being left stored with the throats lopped over, but I was pretty sure that I could do something to fix that. And fix that I did!

First things, first. It really would not do to fix the fringe and still have the throats bending, so I got pool noodles for $1 each at a local dollar store. Then I cut them with a sharp knife to size I wanted for the boots and a few others that I have not shown here. The noodles were really easy to cut!

Next I began working on the boot pictured on the right. I saw that many people on the internet suggest using heat, but that really did not work well. However, since I was really fortunate that these boots were made of real leather, I decided to try saddle soap. Now when I say real leather, that did not include the finer fringe at along the top of the boot which I think is a faux leather because the saddle soap did not soak into that fringe as it did on the real leather fringe on the sides of the boot, but even faux leather does well with saddle soap as it straighten itself out without anything else.

Practically, brand new leather boots for under $7 with about 20 minutes of saddle soaping and about 1/3 of a $1 noodle.

Now this is why I love going to thrift stores! 

Thank you, my Lord, for providing not only what I need but also what I do not particularly need but just like. You always make me smile.