Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Maude VS the unpublished Christmas Eve post from 2013

Original post written Dec. 24, 2013: Have you ever wanted to ruin Christmas for your children?

Have you ever wanted to ruin Christmas for your children?  I'm only asking not because I'm trying to be funny, but "au contraire mon frere" that is NOT the case.

Today, I want to ruin Christmas for my children.  Yesterday was magic.  Yesterday was the day before Christmas that I've always dreamed of.  

The kids got along, listened well, were an absolute DEEELITE all day as we went and purchased donations for Boys & Girls Aid, delivered the donations, shopped for their father, braved the post office, survived the grocery store.  

They were angels as we finished our holiday goodies, frosting cookies, making fudge & toffee, so good you could hear the choir of angels singing in the background.  I really really really wish today had been Christmas, so I don't have to harbor the memory of Christmas Eve 2013, the day I almost went ape-shit and ruined Christmas for my children.

And by ruin, I mean I wanted to sit them on the couch so they could watch me TOUCH the ELF ON THE SHELF.  I pictured myself picking him up by the small of his scrawny little neck, they'd gasp in horror as I rubbed him on my ass and farted, tossed him on the ground and stomped on his little creepy face.  But I wouldn't stop there.  Nope, there would be even more horror in store.

Next, I wanted to take every last one of their goddamn presents out from under the tree and toss them in the trunk so I could return them or mail them back to the giver.  Then, they would watch me, horrified, as I stripped every last ever loving ornament from the friggin Christmas tree and tossed them in a box.

Every last decoration in the house would be put away.  There would be no trace of the holiday.  And yes, they'd still be forced to go to Christmas Eve Mass, and celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (whose name I must have taken in vain at least a dozen times today) only to come home and go to bed and sleep WITHOUT SUGAR PLUMS DANCING IN THEIR HEADS. 

But, alas, I couldn't do it. 

Update on October 14, 2020:

So, well, I am not really sure what happened to this post. Why it went unfinished and most definitely why it went unposted!  We're talking almost 7 years ago so I can only begin to imagine what was going on in my home at that moment.  

As I've said before, my kids can be dicks.  In 2013 they would have been junior dicks, just starting their preparations for professionalizing the whole being dicks to their parents thing.  Ages 7 & 9, that's what they were.  Sweet, innocent little babes.  

I'm imagining that perhaps I needed a Xanax or wine (or both) and that in all reality they were really just being normal every day kids who were gettin' a little stir crazy (like their bat shit crazy mom) over the holiday break.  

Whatever it was they did I can say with absolute confidence that I DEFINITELY blew it way out of proportion and used their poor behavior as an excuse to drink a lot of wine and write a funny blog.  

That's just how I roll, or used to, before my busy life and horrified children (who now KNOW about this blog's existence) got in the way.  In any event, I thought this could have been some of my best work if allowed to finish and post.  So here you go, a half finished 100% crazy post about ruining Christmas.

And, for the record, I love my dick kids with every fiber of my being.  I would literally do ANYTHING for them.  I'd lay my own life down if that's what it took.  

But still, they can be dicks....

Maude VS COVID, "online" school, working from home and the (literal) end of the world

I really don't have to say it, because we all know it, but I'm certain the end of the world is near.  There are signs literally everywhere.  And I'm not one of those super-religious and cray-cray freaks who stocks up on food in my bomb shelter or anything.  I'm just a girl who works at home in her sweatpants who notices things.

For example, just 2 or 3 weeks after the wrath of COVID (plague, anyone?) began to rain down on humanity, where I live there were a few earthquakes.  I mean even back then it seemed a little to coincidental but as they say hindsight is always 2020 so I can see clearly now...

We all got lost in the newness of working from home, our daily commute shortened to two minutes from the bedroom, including a stop for coffee.  The absolute bliss of being able to stay in our pajama pants until noon as long as we wore a neutral top that could be covered with a scarf for the occasional zoom call.  I kept earrings and lip gloss with an emergency hair kit close by so I could put lipstick on this pig at a moment's notice.

The wonderful experience of working from home while we let our kids (on "extended spring break") goof around on TV, cell phones and video games was all too short-lived as schools began to build their "temporary plan" of online school, which, I think we can all agree on now was a total joke.

And before you get all high and mighty like I'm bashing teachers and schools, I'm not.  My kids are just kind of dicks sometimes, and yes it wasn't an ideal situation for anyone but they also totally hosed the entire quarter with MISSING WORK in the end.  How do you ask?  I wish I knew.  

Endless hours to complete assignments after 15 minutes of (sometimes/mostly) pre-recorded instruction and they ended up with B's and C's?  Come ON, if ever there was a time to get straight A's people THIS WAS IT.

But back to the end of the world.  As soon as we all adjusted to not accomplishing anything of value at work (because I was constantly checking to see if the kids were watching YouTube or Tik Tok instead of their classes) and school (see previous reference) the next thing that happened was MURDER HORNETS.  Murder. Hornets.  

The name was enough to strike fear into the hearts and minds of children and adults alike.  Immediately images of a dying Macauley Culkin in that one movie we all saw but can't remember the name of that had that adorable little girl Anna Chlumsky in?  Remember?  Anyway, that whole image just made me sad.  But, murder hornets?  Need I say more?

Eventually "school" ended and I was free to work from home, in my yoga pants, without interruption except for if the kids were A) fighting, B) hungry or C) asked to mow the lawn.  We all settled into the sweet rhythm of the summer.  Slowly but surely we could emerge from our homes and begin to act like stuff was getting back to normal.

And then, snakes.  So this one sign of the end of times is probably just in my little corner of the world but holy shit-ballz I have never seen more snakes in all my life.  Pretty much every time I take my dog for a walk I see a snake.  My favorite kind is the dead kind which is about 50% of the time, the rest of the time my fat stupid dog (who I love almost as much as my children) thinks it is a play toy.  Twice now she's almost been bitten in her fat dog face. 

And I lived in this house/neighborhood all summer last year and I NEVER SAW A SINGLE SNAKE.  So, using that as evidence I'm back to my thinking that we're nearing the end of the world.  2019=no snakes; 2020=snakes...

I should also point out that while we weren't experiencing total famine, there were a LOT of people unable to access food during the massive layoffs and business closures, but even more broadly there were shortages of food and supplies for all of us: sugar, yeast, flour, canned beans and toilet paper.  Which, if you have teenagers in the house you can relate to why running out of TP is a very frightening thing.  

The one thing you COULD buy in abundance at the grocery store? Chickpeas in the can.  Apparently no one wanted to eat a shit pile of those with limited TP resources available.  I can understand completely and I might be the ONLY person making that correlation.  You're welcome.

The final straw that broke the camel's back in my thinking that we're truly in the end of times was the appearance of a salamander IN MY OFFICE, on the second floor of a really dry building.  I did not even know we had salamanders in Idaho let alone in Boise, which is one of the driest parts of the state!

I think what's bothering me the most is that I still have a lot to make up for from my twenties.  I mean, I've spent the better part of the last two decades TRYING to be a better person.  (uphill battle over here) I'm also disturbed in thinking that if the end of the world is really near, what's that going to look like?  

I'll tell you what it looks like in my house: my kids will be at home, watching videos of someone watching videos of someone playing video games or learning Tik Tok dance moves while I'm hunkered down in my office working in my pink bathrobe, at noon on a thursday, still nursing a now cold cup of coffee, with the best bed head you've ever seen because it's likely been three days since I last showered and a months since my last haircut, teeth un-brushed, holey and dirty underwear (sorry, Ma), with my fat lazy dog snoring right behind my chair so if I stand up to use the bathroom I can't miss her without stepping on her.

Yes, that's what the end of the world looks like in my house.  A total shit show.

I'm not really sure how I would have pictured it otherwise, I honestly never gave it a thought until now.  But I really did not envision the curtains closing on my own little sit-com stage at home.  As I sit here typing this I think I should make some personal resolutions to start showering more regularly, at least putting on some pants and maybe changing my underwear on a daily basis.


Saturday, October 12, 2019

Maude VS Snap Chat

Beware: Strong language and polarizing opinion about to be shared.  Read at your own peril.  Any viewpoints contradictory to those expressed in this opinion piece will not in any way, shape or form change the author’s opinions.  Additionally this piece is not meant to be judgmental or parent shaming.  We are all in this together and as such we should support each parent’s right to make choices for their own children.  Let’s be the adults we are supposed to be. Now, brace yourselves…

F!*k you, Snap Chat.  F!*k. You.   I know that we have never had a relationship, though we did experiment that one time.  I downloaded you onto my phone so I could see what the fuss was all about.  You were confusing, you made no sense and I could not understand the attraction.  I guess I’m over falling for the bad boys.

I deleted you within about 48 hours and because you were so hard to understand I vowed then not to allow my child access to something I myself couldn’t understand.  That was BEFORE I truly understood what a shady bastard you really are.

But really, f!*k you Snap Chat for even existing.  Facebook was bad enough, then we got Instagram which started out benign  but now it’s like a PG-13 version of you.  And the origins of Snap Chat were certainly not born of necessity, but purely a desire to prevent people from seeing things you don’t want them to see.  That’s what journals are for, people.

Personally, I liken Snap Chat and the tremendous pressure from society to join in as the proverbial cliff our parents warned us about.  Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you should too.  If everyone jumped off a cliff, could you jump too?  Remember that? I do. 

Snap Chat IS that cliff that we, as parents, are not only letting our children jump off of, but ourselves as well.  Face it, if this stupid app had never been invented there wouldn’t be an argument about should you or shouldn’t you.

And I stand by the MYRIAD of facts and research that says SNAP CHAT IS HORRIBLE for teens (and I personally would argue for adults as well).  There are literally paid researchers who are constantly designing NEW ways to keep our children (and our society) addicted to these social media apps, and there are no worse ones than Snap Chat.  I stand by this statement 100%. Yes I have Facebook and Instagram (thanks a lot FOMO) but I’m drawing the line at Snap Chat for a million damn good reasons.

Everything I know about it, from it’s original concept of “make sure our communication disappears so no one can see it” to all the awesome features that make kids feel like their social status is 100% tied into an app, the strength of their friendships and their worth as a person revolve around streaks of “snaps” and the number of people who follow them, pressuring kids to allow people they don’t even know to follow them and snap. Um hello adult predator pretending to be a teen…..

And I haven’t even gotten into the normalizing of risky behavior.  Whether you want to believe it or not, social media but ESPECIALLY SNAP CHAT normalizes risky behavior.  When they see their friends engaging in risky behavior they think it is OK, it becomes the “every one is doing it mentality” and it NORMALIZES poor choices.  Snap Chat is the #1 place where kids SHOW they are engaging in risky behavior because in theory and mostly) PARENTS CANNOT SEE!!!!!

Case in point:  Last year in a very frank discussion with some parents about Snap Chat there were three moms.  One allowed it, and myself and the other do not. (That parent has since caved in along with most of the other mothers I knew who were in my camp).

The parent who allowed it went on to talk about how open she and her kid were and the rules they put to utilizing it and that she felt she could trust her kid.  Personally, at the time and still today, I don’t know how you can trust your kid with something you cannot see.  We all want to believe our children are good kids, and mostly they are.  But kids are kids and they can make poor choices.  It’s part of their evolution as humans.

Anyhoozer, at the end of the conversation I continued to stand my ground, it’s a decision I am not going to make, allowing my kid to have Snap Chat.  This parent then sent me an article the next day via email basically in a way (I felt) shaming me for my choice, under the guise of being “helpful”.

Guess what peeps.  Her wonderful child was caught vaping because she and her friends thought they were SAFE by SNAP CHATTING themselves while doing it.  Unfortunately for them, someone took a screen shot of the image and the rest is history.  It NORMALIZES RISKY BEHAVIOR.  I don’t need a research paper to tell me that.  The kids who were involved were, and still are GOOD KIDS.

You think your kid won’t snap or sext compromising photos?  Think again.  You would be surprised and the sad thing is, you won’t know about it because they use SNAP CHAT to do it.  And even if they don’t do it, their friends do so they ARE being exposed to things you might not want them to see.

Think your sweet angel isn’t pressuring his girlfriend to have sex?  Think again.  He’s not using his text app to do it, nope he’s using SNAP CHAT.

Time and time again I have been proven right that SNAP CHAT is terrible for teens.  I want to reiterate here that I AM NOT JUDGING YOU IF YOU HAVE MADE THIS CHOICE FOR YOUR CHILD.  I really hope it works out OK for you.  I do, pinky swear.

But I personally feel that we, as parents, are feeling the “peer pressure” to allow kids to have something they should not “because everyone is doing it”.  (remember my cliff analogy?)

Or because someday they will be out of the house and will be able to gain access to it then.  BUT GUESS WHAT?  When they are ADULTS their brains are better prepared to handle it.  Not well prepared, I don’t think any of us are, but BETTER prepared.

Teenagers brains are not fully developed, their impulse control isn’t always there, emotionally they are all over the place and they don’t have the confidence to navigate the ups and downs of social media. 

And I have had many people say that I need to show my kid how to handle adult situations on social media now before they are out of the house and have all the access they want.  For me, personally, that logic doesn’t fly.  I know my kids will experiment with alcohol someday.  I don’t support, approve or endorse it.  Someday they will be in college (or heck still in high school) and they will drink underage.  Just because at some point they will have access to it, does that mean I should start serving them at home and teaching them how to drink responsibly? 

I feel very strongly that they main reasons people give for why I should let my kid join in are totally bogus:

1.       Everyone is doing it. (there’s that old familiar cliff).
a.       INSTEAD why doesn’t everyone just stop allowing it?  Why do I have to let my kid do something I know is bad just because everyone else does (which I assure you not everyone does….)
2.       You should teach her to be responsible with it now so she knows how to use it later.
a.       I’ve given her Instagram.  She can’t use something I can monitor responsibly so why would I give her unfettered access to something I can’t monitor?
3.       She’s being exposed to this stuff anyway, so it’s not like you can control it.
a.       Actually, I can.  I can MINIMIZE her exposure to risky behavior by NOT allowing her 24/7 access to teenagers and their poor choices. 
b.      Yes, she is exposed,  I don’t disagree. But I am the parent, I can do what I can to minimize it.

There are plenty of kids who use Snap Chat who are good kids, but it doesn’t mean every kid they are associated with through the app are like-minded remember that.  And no matter what, you really cannot every effectively see or know what they are sharing on that app unless you sit next to them 24/7 and watch. Which is impossible.

My last frustration with Snap Chat is there are literally NO parental controls that can effectively monitor it.  NO PARENTAL CONTROLS.  And I know so many parents who judge me to using parental controls.  But I AM A PARENT, so it’s my JOB to do what I can to keep my kid safe, happy and healthy.

If a genie appeared in front of me today and asked for one wish to be granted, honestly I would wish that Snap Chat had never been, and would never be invented.  Ask yourself what good can come from a method of communication that is 100% designed to disappear and be untraceable.  Why would anyone want to use it unless there was something they didn’t want you to see.  PERIOD.

In conclusion, F!*K YOU SNAP CHAT.  Your very existence on this earth is causing a huge rift in my relationship with my children and their relationships with others.  We should not have to rely on a smart phone app for our friendships to bloom.  PERIOD. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Maude VS the new driver

I'm a googler.  I use The Google Oracle to find answers to almost all of my life's problems.  And google, she usually delivers!  But this time, I was kind of at a loss for resources, so I thought once I survive the experience I'd create my own little advice column for the situation in which I found myself today.

I knew that at some point my eldest offspring would be legally ready to drive my car after completing 6 hours of instruction from a licensed professional.  That day was today.

She, of course, was far more nervous about ME being in the car than she was about the actual driving part.  Fair enough, so was I.

Last night, knowing this was coming today, I tried to find articles about how parents can help their young drivers the first time they pilot a giant hunk of metal while sitting completely powerless and with zero control in the passenger seat.

It's unsettling, I'll tell you, to go from being in the driver's seat and solely responsible for your child's health and well being, to suddenly sitting in the passenger seat, clutching a bible, a rosary and a flask. 

OK so I didn't ACTUALLY do those things (however I said many a Hail Mary) but the feeling of HOPELESSNESS that settles in is unlike anything I've experienced since I brought her home from the hospital and hoped I could keep her alive.

Honestly though, I completely underestimated the Xanax worthy anxiety that settled into my chest as soon as she took the keys from my tightly clenched fist. 

Unfortunately as a passenger you have to have your wits about you at all times so any form of medication is not recommended.  Meditation?  yes, hence the constant praying.  God heard from me a lot today....

"Oh my GOD, stay in your lane!"

"For God's sake, watch the speed!"

"Good GOD, did they not show you how to use a turn signal?"

And, my personal favorite:

"Jesus Christ, kid.  EASY on the brakes."

It's good to be a Christian....

All joking aside, she did pretty well for only the fourth day ever of driving in her life.  As much as I coached her about watching the tail lights in front and to HIT THE BREAKS SO YOU DON'T SLAM INTO THOSE CARS UP THERE, she was pretty impressed that I NEVER ONCE grabbed the "oh shit" handle NOR did I slam my foot on the imaginary brake on the floor in front of me. 

I'm not sure how I survived nearly 50 minutes of total terror, but I did give birth to two children and I've gone skydiving and bungee jumping so.....

Really I am not sure who I should be more proud of, her or me?  I'm thinking me.  But it probably should be her?

Back to the original purpose of this story, I tried really hard to find friendly parent advice about driving with your kids for the first time and I came up empty handed. 

So I thought, hell, I'll make a list for the rest of you suckers soon to follow in my footsteps.  You. Are. Welcome.

Without further adieu, here is the list:

1. Stay calm.  Wait, who am I kidding?  PRETEND to be calm.  Inside you can scream like you just stepped on a tarantula, but to your child: APPEAR CALM.  Like icy calm, the calm that you show them when you caught them doing something they shouldn't and you're asking them if they did the thing and waiting patiently for them to admit they did the thing you caught them doing.  That kind of calm.

2.  Always tell them they are doing a good job WHEN they are doing a good job so when you do have to scream (not so calmly) "look out for that f-ing semi!!!!!!!!!" they are ready to hear you.

3. Don't make them back out of a parking spot for the first time with you in the car.  A 2 point turn will become a 10 point turn and you'll be crawling out of your own skin just to get the hell out of the parking lot.  It doesn't feel great.

4. They know everything.  You don't.  So don't be surprised when they are NOT driving that they critique your every decision.  "Mom, you changed lanes too frequently back there.  That's aggressive driving."  And then the inevitable after you snap at them for telling you what a crappy driver you are for the entire ten minute drive to school "You know, you shouldn't drive angry.  Driving emotionally compromised is almost as bad as texting while driving."  You are distracted you know."  That's my favorite.... 

5. Avoid streets with more than one lane in each direction.  Otherwise, you're likely to lose a side mirror, your temper and along with it your sanity.  To a new driver, cars in the lane next to them have an unbelievable and undetectable magnetic pull, so much so that you'll be mouthing an apology to the driver next to you as your car is inching closer to them.  You'll be lucky if they read your lips: I am so sorry, student driver! before you escape sideswiping them altogether.

6. Do NOT under any circumstances allow them to listen to the radio while they are driving your car, even at a low volume.  They WILL forget to leave two hands on the wheel.  The temptation to "dab" when they complete a turn safely or fortnight dance to their favorite song is impossible to resist.  Trust me on this one. 

7. Don't hold your breath.  I mean this literally.  You will find yourself not breathing at frequent intervals.  When you finally escape the car when you get to wherever you are going, you might pass out.  I ended up basically falling into a shrub.  True story.  So breathe.  Long, deep healthy breaths.....

I feel like I'll end with lucky #7.  As this was really just our first drive together I'm assuming I'll have some more nuggets of wisdom to share in the near future.  But if you are like me, and you're looking for a sherpa to guide you through the rocky cliff of a 15 year old driving your car, I hope this is useful information to you. 

Feel free to share it with others and hopefully the next stressed out, nervous parent who is googling "how not to totally freak their brand new driver out the first time on the road" this little article will pop up and provide some peace.

For now, I'm signing off and pouring myself that drink......

Friday, June 14, 2019

Letter to myself at 15

This has been a spring and summer of many firsts in our household.  So many that I've almost completely drained my wine rack.  Almost.

The firsts in our household include my 13 year old son being introduced to PornHub at school (thanks other kid in tech class for stealing his innocence).  Smart phones will be the death of our society.  But, I'm off topic.  Squirrel!

Firsts for the 15 year old include a first job interview (phone and in person) and her first job. 

First actual date with a real live boy where they actually looked at each other eye to eye in person and spoke without cell phones!!!!!  It's a MIRACLE!!!  And a first second date....

First encounter with a more mature type of feminine product (I'll just leave it like that for you) where she was a total rock star and I had to show her how it all worked while she sat on the toilet and I will never ever be able to scrub that memory from my brain. 

But, glad I could help.  I was in college at a state park restroom before I learned how to use them with my sorority sisters trying to coach me on the other side of the cold metal doorway.  And those restrooms, very clean and germ free, too.  >shiver<

This is the first time she has ever referred to another human as "boyfriend" which caused her father and I to immediately come up with manual labor tasks the "boyfriend" will have to help us out with around the house to "earn" more time with her one on one....if he ever can....Dad is making sure his shotgun collection is clean and ready.

She got her learner's permit and finished her online driving course, so another first will be driving in about a week.  God help us.  I'll need to get that wine rack filled up again, along with my Xanax prescription...

After I dropped her off for her first shift at her job today I reflected back to my 15th summer on this earth.  God were things so simple yet I thought they were so complicated.

I, too, had a few firsts. 

First time driving, first time liking a boy and (ermagehrd) him liking me back.  For like, 48 hours, or something.  Then I got dumped over the phone with the classic "I think we're better as friends." 

First time sneaking out of the house with friends to go toilet paper that boy's house.  Needless to say, it turned out to be too far to walk, we got lost, and came home with the TP still in hand...and my brother caught us coming home.  In fairness, he didn't tell on me because the only reason he caught us is because he was smoking a cigarette outside when we rolled we both had something to lose...

But Lord have mercy I remember thinking everything was so hard, so complicated, and so difficult. 

And, it was, because that was my perspective.  So I thought, what would I tell myself at 15, that 31+ years of wisdom could help reshape my view on things?  Not much, as it turns out.  Most 15 year old's (girls, teenagers especially) think they've got it all figured out.  But, I am going to pretend, in case this helps anyone else.  Here goes:

Dear 15 year old self,

I hope you are enjoying your summer break.  You just finished your freshman year of high school, didn't it fly by?  I know it was probably (from your perspective) miserable. 

How many times did you like a boy and he liked your friend instead?  How else did you get the nickname "Ducky"? (thanks a lot Pretty in Pink movie, I'll never live down being everyone's best friend).

Those things are painful, but when you're 46 you can look back on your 15 year old crushes and know, without a shadow of a doubt, you would never have married any one of them.  Even sweet, tortured skater boy Glenn.  I remember walking home with him almost every day listening to him go on and on and on and on about your friend that he liked.   It all seemed too heavy, at 15.  And, it's OK to cry in your pillow, baby.  Sometimes that's all you need.

But please just enjoy it, all the sweetness and uncertainty, and know that maybe, just maybe, Glenn liked you but never thought he had a chance.  And your best friend that he liked?  She was a terrible wing man for you.

High school is hard for about 8000 other reasons, too.  Like the girls, oh the girls were harder to deal with than boys.  End of story.  Talk about hormone induced insanity at every turn.  You fell victim to it, too.  Remember that.

Know this, though....years will go by and you'll look back and understand that every single one of you girls struggled with the same things: wanting to fit in, feeling accepted, trying to feel beautiful and figuring out who you really are. 

But trust me, being kind and nice to everyone will make sure you fit in, be accepted, be a beautiful person and is totally true to who you are.  Because, at the core of your being you are a nice, wonderful and caring person.

Don't worry if you don't get invited to the parties, I promise the memories you have cruising Riverside with Becky and going to  Mormon stake dances with your band friends and dancing yourselves silly, then watching movies at someone's house afterward will be some of the BEST things you will recall about being in high school. 

Remember you honed your self-deprecating humor by utilizing it as a survival mechanism every time some dumb boy called you "Ride-me-now" or a "Pirate's Dream" (sunken chest anyone??) or "Amy Bird" (Larry Bird's daughter) or Stretch or any one of 1000 names people called you because, at the end of the day, they would never be all that you were at 15: confident, tall, kind and funny.

Don't focus on what you wish you had or how you wish you looked.  You are perfect in every way, just the way you are.  Tall, thin, gangly, freckle-faced and goofy looking.  That's you in a nutshell, so own it.  Even today.  Especially, the part about being goofy.  It's one of your finest qualities.

Someday you'll have the last laugh on the sunken chest jokes because you'll end up with a nice new D Cup rack to show off well into your 60's.  Granted it took surviving cancer to get them, but worth it in the end.  You'll be looking forward to showing them off at the 30 year reunion...

Also, ask for help when you need it.  Friends and caring adults will move heaven and earth to support you.  It's a fact.  Lean on people who love you when things get hard.

Smile as much as you can. 

Make jokes, but not at someone's expense.

Volunteer to help somewhere.  Nothing will fill your cup like doing something for someone other than yourself.

Join clubs, play sports, or do drama or band or color guard or whatever makes your heart sing.

Find your people.  Form your tribe.  Love them hard and make all the memories you can.  Time will go by fast.

You will never regret making good choices, being a good person and standing up for what you believe in.  

Surround yourself with good people.  Even if your circle is small but mighty: quality over quantity.

Be kind to everyone. 

And remember, there is no one who will love you truly, madly and deeply and always have your back no matter what, quite like your mother. 

Sass her from time to time just to keep her in her place, but don't be afraid to open up sometimes. 

She will listen like no other and will fiercely protect you and at the same time hold you accountable for things when you need to be.  I know you know this.

For what it's worth, high school is hard.  I can't sugar coat it for you, but it's also one of the simplest times in your life.  So take deep breaths, take steps back, reflect, try to enjoy the best moments and learn what you can from the worst.

Someday you'll have a sweet, wonderful 15 year old girl who is going through all the same things, and all the same firsts, that you did.  And, like you, she will have a mother who loves her hard and would do anything for her.

So just slow down and soak it all up.  Enjoy every minute of this beautiful, awkward, crazy, scary and wonderful life that you are living.  That part of life will never, ever change.