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 · 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.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Forever a Book Lover

I’m not sure who is more excited that we are almost done reading the Magic Treehouse- Afternoon on the Amazon book. Me or my son?

IMG_1763.JPG

Why only an afternoon on the Amazon? Because vampire bats. See? Even exciting stuff in a book written for 7 and 8 year olds.

We take turns reading pages. It’s a fun evening ritual. However, the book worm in me gets impatient to find out what happens! No peeking!

With only four pages left, he was exhausted and drifting off to sleep.  The conclusion will have to wait… so until tomorrow night, Jack and Annie are still stuck in a treehouse in the Amazon.

Goodness, I love a good book of any level! From Fancy Nancy to the Magic Treehouse series, I’m thankful my children’s reading and listening levels are increasing. Don’t get me wrong. Go Dog Go has its charms, but it’s nice when the plot thickens deeper than party hats and dogs racing to a large tree.

I’ve been immersing myself in quite a few self-improvement books, faith commentaries, personal blogs and a smattering of other articles. It may be time for another good light-hearted piece of fiction!

What or who do you recommend for a good book?

Fitness · Parenting

To Quote a Baseball Player

This summer, I have the privilege of assisting with both my children’s baseball teams.

 

baseballcoach
Photo by A. Arnold.

 

To set a little groundwork, both leagues are sponsored by local clubs. The Lion’s Club sponsors the boys. The Rotary Club sponsors the girls. This keeps the season cost down to $15 for the boys and FREE for the girls. The boys get to keep their t-shirts. The girls return them at the end of the season. Our boy’s team consists of ages 7-8. The girls are ages 4-7. It’s a hoot!

Best quotes from the boys:

  • “I know you put me as last batter because I’m a slugger!”
  • “I’m like a vacuum for balls.”
  • “Did you see me do a burnout?”
  • “Watch this! I can do the splits!”

He really could do the splits! All the way down. He demonstrated it during both practice and at the last two games on 1st base and on the final out at home. Impressive!

Best quotes from the teeny tiny (mostly preschool) girls we are teaching the basics to:

  • “Can I ask my mom now if I can go home?” – 2nd inning in the outfield
  • “Are you sure we can’t go play on the playground?” – before the game even started
  • “But I’m so sweaty!” – We really haven’t been up past 80 degrees yet.
  • “I really need a vacation!” – almost done with our 3rd of 3 innings.

In addition to quotes and seeing both groups of kids learn and grow in coordination, there are obvious differences between the genders. I’m not trying to stereotype here, but honestly, this has to be nature.

From the get-go when t-ball started two years ago for our family, the boys have been eager to run, optimistic to smack the ball, and exuberant to get the games started! Now in coach pitch, multiply those characteristics by 200%.

The itty bitty girls are excited to start the game once the playground idea is shot down, cautiously optimistic about hitting the tball but not as vicious with the bat swings, and only into it for as long as required, including at least one group trip to the bathroom. Our 6-7yr old girls are definitely more “into it” than our younger ones.

mady tball

Skipping between bases. I don’t mean missing a base. This is actual hop, skip, jump, skipping from base to base. Quite the creative phenomenon to witness. I’m sure if there was music, some of the kids would dance from 1st to 2nd.

Boys and girls are similarly encouraging for their teammates. It was uplifting and sweet to hear them cheer each other’s names as they stepped up to the plate. The boys dogpiled the last kid to snag a line drive on the final play of the game last week. They nearly took down our most solid-statured player (100#, 5′, 7yr old) after he hit an in-the-park grand slam. The excitement is contagious.

Summer baseball is a gift. It is pure, honest fun for the kids, coaches, parents, and friends that come to watch.

To quote our little baseball players from both teams- “I can’t wait for the next game!”

 

Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Puddles, Bikes, and Sprinklers- Oh My!

Here we are! June 1st. We are officially one week into summer break.

To date we’ve:

  • gone fishing
  • thrown water balloons
  • watched Pete’s Dragon and ate popcorn
  • skipped every single nap
  • coach pitch practice
  • played a coach pitch baseball game
  • played one t-ball game
  • tossed the Frisbee
  • grilled the last 4/7 nights
  • played catch
  • rode bikes
  • went for walks
  • played in puddles
  • planted flowers and tomatoes
  • started summer chores which include weeding the garden and being in charge of his/her own laundry
  • missed our bedtime by at least 1.5hrs every single night
  • Memorial Day festivities – parade, bouncy house, 5K color run
  • Memorial Day visit to the cemetery to pay respects to our military and loved ones
  • ran thru the sprinkler – two different days
  • church
  • helped on the farm
  • and frustrated assisted this working mom at the office.

Whew… It’s already June 1st!

This morning I ran into a friend at the coffee shop. I don’t normally hit the coffee shop, but we are celebrating a birthday at our house today. He requested a breakfast bowl from Kettle and thus my stop.

kettleWe were talking about our summers and what we have planned. Her boys are close in age to my own crew. Her schedule sounded like it was packed with fun, but BUSY. She teaches at the local college, so she has her summers at home with the guys. They have baseball and camps and practices and reading programs and…

When she asked about our summer, I said yes – we have baseball two nights a week in the month of June. We also have one basketball camp planned for a couple mornings in July and some swim lessons when we can squeeze them in. That was pretty much it. I chose to say no to everything else.

We said no to the reading program at the library. We said no to any extra academic camps. We said no soccer camp. We said no to traveling baseball. We said no to pretty much everything else.

And it feels GOOD.

Saying NO is how we said YES to all the other things we’ve done the past week.

A few months ago, I was getting the message loud and clear that I needed to prioritize my family’s time. C’mon!!! Three different books – all with the same message – being given to me in the same week by three unique individuals?!

Yesterday, my devotion included the message of choosing WHERE to be busy with my time. This message goes for my children as well. Do I want my children to choose being busy on a tablet or in front of the TV?

Not really.

The complaint from my littles at the office yesterday was that they were bored. B.O.R.E.D. They wanted entertainment. More so, they wanted ME to entertain them.

giphy-downsized-large

Nope. Nada. Not happening. This fits firmly under the category of “Not my duty as a parent.” I explained (again) to them that I gave birth twice so they would have each other as playmates. Furthermore, they have fabulous imaginations, working eyes, legs, and arms, and a safe environment to enjoy within a block of the office. I can see them on the basketball court thru the window from my desk.

“Go outside and entertain yourselves! Create something new!”

It’s a big beautiful world out there! Kids, choose to be busy having the freedom of childhood and making memories instead of leveling up. If as children, he/she wants to spend free time practicing, that’s fine. It’s personal choice. I balk at the idea of scheduling their summers full of activities and requirements (other than normal family responsibilities – you aren’t getting out of your chores that easy!).

This summer break, we are opting to say NO, so that we can choose to say YES to quality time and fun together.

My kids will hopefully see less of this view and more of me face to face, laughing, playing, and actually being. Not just as mom – the harried, working, hustling-everybody-everywhere driver.IMG_1273