Family · Parenting · Perspective

Cartwheels

I woke up early this morning for my run. Achy and sore.

Standing at the sink filling my cup, I remembered that these aches were the result of an afternoon of fun.

Uninhibited fun with my daughter in our yard.

The sprinkler was on. My mini- me and I were in ruffled swimsuits. She’d run thru the water, jumping or twirling over the height of the water, and land in dramatic fashion. Hands on hips or arms outstretched. A variation of open mouth, smile or pursed lips. Then it was my job to copy it.

After every combination imaginable and a considerable amount of rural traffic, we shifted to handstands and synchronized cartwheels.

A blissful hour and worth all the aches this morning.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Foster Care

Yesterday was the first day of school. It was met with enthusiasm, an incredibly early wake-up time (before their alarms even sounded!!!), and anticipation of seeing friends again.

My son’s class has about 60 children. When we visited the elementary school earlier this week for Kindergarten Open House, we also ventured down the hall to 2nd grade to peek at his classroom. Because they ride the bus to school this year, I wanted to allay any fears I could since I wasn’t walking them to their classrooms on the first day.

As we perused the Charlie Brown themed room, we found his desk. I showed him that he would have actual textbooks this year for each subject. There was a chat about how to raise his hand instead of asking a neighbor. We talked about who we knew in his classroom.

At this point, he noticed a new little boy’s name on a desk adjacent to his. “Zach” He was pretty sure he didn’t know Zach. I had noticed Zach’s name at enrollment a few weeks ago on the class list. His teacher stated that Zach was new this year. Maybe T was willing to be a friend and help him meet people? My little guy said “sure.”

After his first day, he hopped in the car and began telling me how great it was. He had sloppy joes. Everybody is friends. He played kickball at both recesses. He raised his hand and didn’t get in trouble for talking too much.

I asked him if he met Zach. He said yes and then proceeded to tell me a whole pile of details about this new friend:

“Mom, Zach told me he is in foster care. He has a foster mom and a foster dad. He likes them. He’s originally from G******y. I think he has a little sister. I’ll ask him that tomorrow. Mom, I asked him to sit with me in the gym while we watched “Kid President.” He did. He’s nice. He played with me at recess. I don’t think he really knows anybody else yet. He sat with somebody else at lunch. I asked him if he knew A___ and C_____. He didn’t.”

Bud, do you know why some kids are in foster care?
(A and C are family friends who fostered kids prior to moving here.)

“Yes, it’s because their parents don’t want them anymore.”

No. That isn’t it. – I sadly and carefully chose my words. Foster care is something that has been heavy on my heart for the past few years. I’m not sure where my place is in foster care, but I’m praying for clarity.

“Foster care happens when Zach’s mom or dad aren’t able to take care of him well enough right now. He goes to stay with another mom or dad or both until his mom or dad can take good care of him.”

So he might not stay here?

“If or when his mom or dad are able to take care of him again, he will probably go back to their house. We want Zach to be taken care of well and loved. Sometimes it takes moms or dads time to figure out how to do that. Until then, you should help Zach to meet the other guys and be his friend.”

Ok Mom. I like Zach. Hey mom, did you know tomorrow is the carnival? …..

That was a heavy conversation for the first day of school.

Foster care.

Faith · Family · Fitness · Health · Perspective

Positive – Leftovers, Strep, & Pancake Syrup

IMG_1973This is me. I just finished the most amazing taco salad for lunch at my desk.

As I was chewing the spicy, dairy-free concoction, I realized how thankful I was that my kids weren’t interested in tacos last night.

It kind of irked me as I was standing across the kitchen island with the fixings laid out, corn on the cob boiled and ready, food all hot. Nobody wanted to eat. Even my husband only had one small taco and called it done. My 5yr old only wanted 1 ear of corn and no taco. My 7 year old couldn’t eat the corn due to his jankity mouth of missing baby teeth and asked if he could have the taco later. What the what????

But in a new light today, I’m thankful. I just devoured a delicious leftover lunch.

Always seeking the positive!

My two best girl friends pointed this out on Tuesday in a string of text messages that occurred when my 5yr old puked all over herself in the car (read: hair, pillow, blanket, dress, car seat, etc) on the way down the switchback mountain roads about 9 hours from our home on Monday. 9 vomit scent-wafted hours.

IMG_1974

Later, my friend sent me this.

IMG_1962This is how I try to roll. I used to be a pretty serious Debbie Downer sometimes. That was what my sisters actually called me. Then, if it was Christmas, they’d make me wear a Santa hat until I pulled out of it.

I’m not completely sure when my outlook changed, but I know I’ve thrown my life into a more positive direction post-birth of babies, upon going dairy-free, taking up running and regular exercise, my MS diagnosis, and upon learning how to say “NO” to things that aren’t my best yes.

Whew… we are talking about the last 5 years here… not an overnight mental shift.

I don’t have it all mastered. Frankly, I never will. That’s ok. It isn’t my job to do it all perfectly or have everything go according to my plan. That job belongs to God.

But let’s be real. Do I want to re-live the puking and pancakes mountain pass situation? That’s a solid NO. Do I appreciate cooking and nobody eating it? Nada. Am I happy when my child gets strep throat? Of course not. I’m just trying to keep it all in perspective.

In the scheme of things, those are all small potatoes, or shall I say a small packet of syrup?

Much love,
Jen

Family · Perspective · Uncategorized

Escaping the heat

Escaping the heat- also known as a vacation to the Rocky mountains!

Hiking, camping, enjoying nature, and more hiking!

The kids did very well! We were caught in a thunderstorm with lightning and hail while out on the trail at one point. They put on rain ponchos and we made a fantastic memory together!

The heat at home has been stifling. Daytime highs 107 to 111 F. The temperatures in the mountains ranged from 48 to 86. Gorgeous weather. Breathtaking views.

Family · Perspective

Thoughts from the Tractor Seat

While raking prairie hay and being launched against my tractor’s seat belt, I cursed how rough the pasture meadow was – pockmarked here and there with a coyote den or other abandoned hole. Then I backtracked. How blessed am I to be in that position?! On land that’s been in my family for over a hundred years, working with my husband, in sturdy steady equipment to get the job done. I felt like I was necessary.

view from tractor

I also thought it humorous that it has been met with incredulity (even by my own children!) that YES, I was driving the tractor. Yes, this sorority girl and cheerleader was the main operator for this rig.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not some version of bad@ss farmer or anything. I’ve done the labor for farming and ranching for the majority of my life on my family’s farm alongside my dad, mom, and sisters. My dad didn’t have any boys.

I guess this is where my own version of feminism comes in. I am perfectly, as is any other woman, capable of most of the tasks on the farm, in the hills, in the pasture, and in the field. For the heavy stuff, you bend your knees, straighten your back and team lift.

It’s actually only been in the last few years since I had children that I haven’t been hands-on farming somewhere. I miss it. It’s in my blood and history. Thankfully, it is also in my future!

Life changes and heat related fatigue (thanks MS) have altered the way I am able to work. If I don’t want to fight numbness and tingling, I have to watch the thermometer. This means I get a tractor or combine with air conditioning. No wheat truck for me this year at harvest. When I get overheated, I’m dragging for a couple of days – like heavy arms and legs – exhausted. Avoidance is key.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful picture of where I worked yesterday evening. Flyover country is truly breathtaking.

God's Country

#farmgirl #independentwoman #hardworkknowsnogender #hayseason

Faith · Fitness · Health · Love · Parenting · Perspective

2 Steps Back and 5 Forward

5F2B2 Steps Back and 5 Forward: An effort to get to know yourself and who you are made to be, deeper than the outward reflection shown in the mirror.

A local women’s group did a short exercise with the ladies who were present. It is a Christian non-denominational group for new, seasoned, young, and older. A lovely mix of women.

*I follow online because although it is God-centered, it still isn’t a Best Yes for my time when I add in the driving to town and back and how it disrupts my family’s schedule.*

The exercise asked the women to say or describe two things about themselves that are negative.

  1. I overshare details and stories… then spend anxiety-ridden time mentally re-hashing all the oversharing moments that just spewed forth from my lips. Ugh. Thank goodness I don’t publish on here every thought I actually say out loud. Awkward!
  2. I get extremely frustrated during transition times with my kids. Daycare pickup is the absolute WORST. I’m overwhelmed. They’re talking and arguing over each other for my attention. We all end up with our feelings hurt when I have to SHUT IT DOWN.

^^^ It honestly didn’t take much to come up with those. ^^^

The exercise then asked the women to say or describe five positives. I’ll take this one step further, in honor of the book I’m currently reading – Walking with Purpose, and say it can’t be about my job or my duties as a mother or wife.

giphy4Ummmm…. Hmmmm… Maybe…. ?

  1. I am compassionate for ALL things. I catch spiders and release them outside. I don’t want anyone to suffer. If it has to be the end for a living creature, I want it to be quick and painless. Hungry? I want to feed you. Confused? Let’s figure this out.
  2. I very rarely rush to judgement. I like to gather my own research before forming an opinion. I have friends from all sides of the political, geographical, and faith spectrum. Discussions, when respectful, are thought-provoking and enlightening, even if I disagree with the other parties.
    giphy5
  3. I am determined. Four years and two babies ago, I decided if I ever wanted to get in shape and feel good mentally, physically, and emotionally, I had to make it happen. No one else could do that for me. It was MY job to exercise; MY job to make devotion time; MY job to figure out where my life was going. Yes, I have a husband, two littles, a job, a pet, family, friends, etc… but what was my path? my goal? Was I just supposed to feed small people and handle advertising from my computer? No.

    I have a bigger purpose. It is one that is constantly evolving and coming into focus as I make another trip around the sun.

  4. Honesty. I told my children that if they ever ask me a question (which they do 3:1 for every statement – truly, I counted), I will ALWAYS tell them the truth. Don’t want to know about Santa? Don’t ask unless you want the truth and history behind Ol’ Saint Nicholas. What happened to Nana & Papa’s old dog? It died because a body gets old and unable to heal. NOT that it went to live on another farm with other old dogs…. Right Mom and Dad?

    I really think honesty is key here. We sugar coat too much to the point where the next generation won’t understand reality.
    giphy6

  5. Love. Love for my family. Love for my friends. Love for people I don’t even know. I am unconditionally loved by God and want to share that love with those around me.

    I separate love from “like” and “enjoy” and “happiness.” Sure, those are comfortable feelings, but in the uncomfortable is where we grow, support, and care for one another. It’s easy to give a high-five or a smile at the end of a game. It isn’t as easy to sit with a bestie after her engagement ends or know what to say when a friend miscarries, but those are the places that love illustrates beauty. Spending time volunteering to give a hand up to the less physically fortunate or going to an elder care facility and touching a frail, lonely hand, that’s love. Parenting with grace (so hard sometimes!) is another form of love.

    We don’t all “do” love the same way, but think of the world if we all “did” real uncomfortable love in SOME way for somebody.

So there it is. My five positives and my two negatives are out there. Time well spent looking a little deeper into myself.

Much love — Jen

Family · Parenting

Sister Tact

My sisters. Oh the honesty that flows from their mouths. With tact occasionally, but not always, I know that I can trust them for an unbiased commentary. I appreciate that. Always.

Speaking of commentary, they both agreed with my opinion on bodysuits.

Thursday, my younger sis and I declared a road trip day with our kids to see our older sister. She’s only two hours to the south, but throw two jobs/ schedules to juggle and four kids into the car and it makes the trips less frequent than we’d like.

My younger sister has recently added screen printing and shirt design to her resume at a local shop part-time. In honor of her newfound talent, she designed and printed shirts for us. Then she proceeded to make us try them on, model, and take a picture.

IMG_1768‘Herd That.’ Get it? We grew up on a farm. Each of us have husbands in some form of the agriculture industry. Two of us are dipping our feet in as the 6th generation of farming. Pretty cool. It’s a new challenge- one that we are extremely grateful for!

Love the shirts. However, when trying them on my sisters noticed something…

Have you ever seen Bridget Jones Diary (1st one)? As I switched into my new blue customized shirt, my sisters burst out laughing. It was like that big tan panty scene.

This is a direct quote: “Where did that bra come from? You look like someone who’s been locked in the woodshed since the 1800’s. That’s awful. Literally like “hey honey, are you in the mood?” – lifts shirt – “Ummmm not now” – mood killer bad. Did you pay money for that?!”

giphyWe laughed until at least one of us snorted and there were tears all around. I tried to defend said one-size fits all, nude, sports, uni-boob bra, but to no avail. They were correct.

Sometimes as moms, we let ourselves go. It is so much easier to just grab something, throw it on, and put something nicer on the top. I mean seriously, how often does ANYONE see the underlayers? But then, sometimes you have to swap shirts in front of your sisters… and you get snapped back to reality- back to the days when you wore pretty underlayers just because it made you feel upbeat even though no one else saw them – back before you’d visited the Mommy & Me store for something that snapped easily for nursing.

giphy1Fine. You got me. I’ll buy something that actually fits and isn’t my same shade of pale.