Faith · Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Puppies and Other Good Things

If you think back over the last 25 years, you’ll come across multiple instances where society’s anxiety is built up into a frenzy and the majority believe act like the world is over as of tomorrow. One of those instances was Wednesday. I’ll not reveal which candidates I voted for, nor will I spout ideological convictions. I did my civic duty. Period. I presume you’ve come to your wordpress feed to escape all that chaos. Also, the world didn’t stop turning.

In that vein, here are a couple things we’ve been up to around here.

Puppies. My father-in-law’s Labrador Retriever apparently got out of her pen and got super friendly with the neighbor’s Australian Shepherd. This afternoon tryst resulted in eight adorable, chunky, snuggly puppies- four with spots and four mostly black. My kids and niece have been loving on these little babes since they were 24hours old. Three are already spoken for. Two chose their new (in 4 more weeks) owners by literally running up to the child and crawling in her/his lap. That’s a definitive way to be chosen!

Halloween. When you only have 50 people in your local, rural community, you do Halloween. Yes, even during the pandemic (which we have no cases in S-town) and all things 2020. We’ve never bit into the thought that this is an evil holiday. Our family mantra has always been focused on the fun of dressing up and visiting neighbors. It brings so much joy to our older neighbors to see the kids dressed up. This year, I had a cowboy and a dancer. I also donned a luchador mask and cape. My parents returned from a trip with the mask and my mom sewed the cape. Oddly enough (sarcasm), my kids were mortified that I walked up to people’s homes wearing the mask and cape.

We also carved pumpkins. I wielded the knife, but the kids did all the dirty work and free-handed what they wanted for a design. Currently, the ballerina is melting down on my porch. The owl was crushed earlier in the week when M fell off her grandpa’s piggy back ride and the pumpkin broke her fall.

Obviously, we’ve had many more happenings dotted here, there, and everywhere in the last week. Normal life rolls on. For that, I’m thankful! I continue to strive to focus on glass half-full, positive experiences. Sure, there’s plenty of muddy puddle style anxiety and negativity that I can sit in. I could choose to turn on the news, scroll the headlines, or make comments on social media (that have no effect y’all). But… in the words I used with my sister earlier this week, “I just don’t want to.” Instead, I’m choosing to love on the kids at youth group who shyly smile and say they are saving their snack so they have one to eat at home. I choose to not gossip about the stunning local news while at the salon getting my hair trimmed. I choose the good.

I hope you are able to choose the good this coming week. Lift up your eyes and say hello to your neighbor. Be kind.

— Jen

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Mess or Memory?

Looking at this pile of dishes, I asked myself “Mess or Memory?”

After a full day of work yesterday, my daughter and I made the transition home. The hardest part of my day is the transition between work Jen and home/mom Jen. I don’t do it well. I mean, truly…. it’s my snappiest part of the day.

My sweet girl asked “Mom, what are we doing after this?” as I gathered my purse and lunchbag, locked the door, and set the alarm at the office. I audibly groaned. She dropped her head, which then of course made the transition worse.

I’m conscious that this is my hardest moment of each day. Also apparent is that my daughter (and family) deserve more than my leftover energy. Truthfully, all I want to do when I get home is take ten to unwind my brain and then attack the home responsibilities like the laundry, dishes, and dirty floors.

However after a crisp 15 minutes in the cold feeding calves before coming in the house, she asked if we could make something in the kitchen. My snapback comment was that if she wanted to cook, she was on her own but I’d help with measurements and getting ingredients. Whoa. Snippy.

I immediately realized this was the exact thing I was trying NOT to do! She deserves my full mom attention and not a snappy, tired mom answer. As she pulled out a cookbook and started thumbing through it, I took a couple deep breaths. I changed my tune. We discussed what we had in the pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. After a little discussion, we settled on making chicken noodle soup and mashed potatoes…. from scratch!

We used the InstaPot to “speedily” pressure cook the frozen chicken and raw carrots and start a good broth. While it did its magic, we washed, peeled, and diced potatoes. She was shocked to find out that not only did I waitress, but I also peeled hundreds of pounds of potatoes over my teenage years working in restaurants. We giggled. We chatted about 3rd grade things like recess and Red Ribbon spirit week. After all our ingredients were settled and making progress on the stove, we pulled up an “Aurora Teagarden” mystery on Hallmark. That series is a personal favorite for both of us.

After our mashed potato and chicken noodle masterpieces were complete, we laid a blanket on the floor and ate picnic-style. Obviously, we ignored the dishes. When the boys returned home, they enjoyed our kitchen creations too. The evening was enjoyable in its entirety.

I snapped a picture of the kitchen chaos today with the caption “but so many dishes….” and sent it to my never-deleted, infinite text conversation with my mom and sisters. I’m horribly behind in the kitchen. Seven forks. Seven forks is all that’s left in my silverware drawer…. My sister replied, “but all the memories you made!”

In those six words is my choice. Do I look at two overflowing sinks of dishes as a mess or as evidence of memories made? Do I sourly clean my kitchen because its another task on the list… Or, do I invite my children to talk to me while I address the dirty dishes? When I go about these tasks with a light mood and good music, usually dancing ensues. Then the memory already made transforms into another joyful memory.

As in most matters, there is a choice. Mess or Memory?