Family · Perspective

Shockers and Wolverines- Lessons in Baseball

Week 3 of summer break. Three more lessons for mom.

Miss M had her 3rd T-ball game last night. It followed closely on the heels of her brother’s 4th coach pitch game. Monday night is baseball night! 94 degrees F with about a 90% humidity. It was a scorcher.

At the Wolverines’ game, we witnessed an unassisted triple play by one of our little guys on 3rd base. He caught the pop-up, tagged his base and then tagged the runner from 2nd. He was tagging everybody wearing green within an arm’s length! T hit all three times and had some solid plays fielding as well.

If you can’t tell, I’m incredibly proud of all the kids on both my son and daughter’s teams. The kids mix from multiple schools, numerous classrooms, and a variety of family situations. Each group has united as a team that supports each other, chants and cheers, and appear to be having a good time!

Lesson #1) It is impossible to make everyone happy all the time.

This is my spreadsheet. I keep track of who is playing infield and outfield for each gameIMG_1539 for the coach pitch kids. My husband is the head coach, so I assign the positions. All 13 boys play at the same time. We stack the outfield with extras. Everybody bats each inning.

Regardless of the fact that the ball is actually making it to the outfield and those kids are seeing action, there are kids who don’t want to play out there. This isn’t the major league. We don’t even keep score. Everybody sees equal infield and outfield playing time on a rotating basis. Why rotating? Because there aren’t 13 infield positions…

If somebody absolutely does NOT want to play a position -which has happened- or we feel that a child isn’t physically safe in a position due to physical limitations, I’m trying to honor that.

Lesson #2) Always make a trip to the bathroom before the game mandatory for 4-7yr old girls.

We learned this one the hard way the first two games. We lost a third of our team in the 3rd inning, twice. Last night, Coach Julia asked the girls to make a run to the bathroom before we headed into the dugout. Half the team went. We when, I was the escort, arrived at the bathroom, half of the other team was already there in line. The entire game started 5 minutes late due to the line in the ladies room!

Lesson #3) Sometimes Mom has to stay in the dugout.

Mady Slugger

Last night in the 1st inning of my daughter’s game, she and I were standing in center field. (Coaches are spread throughout the outfield for t-ball games.) She looked up at me and asked me to hold her.

“Well honey, I can tonight when we get home, but right now we are on the baseball field. You need to watch the ball and get ready for it.” But MOMMY!

“You need to stand out here to help your team or I will have to stay in the dugout.”

At that, she did focus in and start paying attention. She ran after almost every ball that came off the tee. However, the next inning, I traded with another mom/coach and stayed in the dugout.

She is able to do this. This is where I needed to step back. It was a bittersweet moment. She’s mature enough to be on the field, but still wants me when she’s feeling a bit unsure. This was a teachable moment for both of us. Trust.

 

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.

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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

 

 

 

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Pink Sequins

Pink sequins. That’s what my daughter chose to wear this morning for school.

pink sequins2We could have argued about it. The pink sequins adorn her dance recital costume – a pink sequined sleeveless leotard with a pink glittered tulle skirt. She chose to pair it with a pair of faux-denim jeggings, her favorite Minnie Mouse sandals, and a mint colored bow. She asked for a “ballerina bun” in her hair. Glowing with happiness, she was pretty proud of the fashion statement she put together .

There was no argument this morning. The outfit covers everything it needs to. It fits our 3 rules about dressing for school:

  1. Covers all the necessary body parts.
  2. At least close to seasonally appropriate.
  3. No major holes or stains.

It’s not just that I’m tired and nursing a migraine for the second day. It isn’t just that this is the end of the line for this year’s school. “Pick your battles” doesn’t completely cover it. Although she is absolutely adorable and made her dad melt when she pranced out in it, that’s also not it.

This is about trust. Yes, you read that right. How could letting her kid wear a pink sequined dance costume to school be about trust?

It occurred to me a few days ago that I’m constantly asking begging my children to make good choices about things that we, as adults, care about. Her father and I have high expectations for both children’s decision making skills. This situation was something that SHE has strong feelings about.

My little fashionista followed our rules about how to dress appropriately. She picked out the outfit herself. She dressed herself. These are big things for a four year old! This was her saying “Look mom! TRUST me! I’m listening!”

This was a BIG deal in her little world.

Pink Sequins

One of the most eye-opening moments as a parent comes when you realize that this little child is, in fact, a little person with unique opinions, big feelings, and an original personality. Inquisitive, stubborn children grow into complex, intelligent adults who make millions of choices. As a parent, it is my job to guide and trust her on these small glittery choices. By doing so, someday she will make larger decisions with faith in herself.

Moment by moment, she’s growing up.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Top 10: It’s Time for Summer Break

You are probably seriously wondering who is more eager to be done this year… me or my kids? I’d say it’s a tie.

10. It’s light out until almost 9pm and bedtime was no later than 8:20pm. “Mom, it isn’t even dark out yet!!!” Can’t argue with that.

9. Sticker charts are no longer working for anything. Nada. Zilch. NOTHING.

8. They’ve been watching movies in the majority of their “specials” (art, music, etc.) for two weeks already.

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7. Summer baseball games have started, as they have every year previously for decades, and school is still in session.

6. Even the teachers are wondering why they voted for this later “last day” calendar.

5. Everybody is crying in the morning about getting up for school. Not sure my kids could move any slower.

4. School lunch. That’s what you are eating unless you are going on a field trip. No special lunches because you “don’t like what we’re having at school today.” Find something you can chew and swallow on that plate.

3. I’m only opening the backpack once a week…

2. We stopped with homework 3 weeks ago. The teacher said it was optional?

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1. For the love of all good things: The sun is shining. Birds are singing. Grass needs mowing. Flowers are blooming. Garden is growing. Farming is kicking into high gear and I’m still running carpool!

3 more days!!!

Faith · Fitness · Perspective

Psalm 19 with a Sprinkle of Science

Do you ever feel like you are just missing the point? Like with the current excitement over fanny packs and high-waisted jeans (which I experienced the first time a few decades ago), some things just leave me clueless.

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Yep, that’s me! The last few weeks have been a quest to “get it.” Once you realize you are missing something, you want to find it.

With my husband gone for a trip and then the transition time back into normal rhythm, I slipped out of my habits. I stopped running because where was the time? I stopped doing my devotional in the morning because I wasn’t getting more than a few hours of sleep. My stress level was thru the roof. My kids were fighting constantly. Sugar and bread cravings were all I could think about at meal times.

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Appreciate what’s around me? Struggling to…

Pay attention to the people and places I went? Just enough to keep us all alive…

In the words of Nemo, I was trying to “just keep swimming.”

That is not what this life is about! Sometimes, well… most of the time, God puts something in front of me like that rumble strip on the sides of the highway. The one that signals “CAUTION” and to make a correction. (side note- it is also good at distracting screaming babies on long car trips – not sure how we would have ever made it to Austin, TX with a very angry 5 month old without that rumble strip)

The first day of May, I set a goal of 90 miles of running this month (max 10/90 on bike). I’ve run basically every day. Running is part of my worship. It is impossible to not appreciate nature and all of Creation when running outdoors. It is extremely hard to demean yourself on the treadmill if you are aware how all the intricate cells in your body are working together to make that happen.

Monday, I picked my devotion time back up as well. Psalm 18. Psalm 19 Tuesday. Talk about a swift swoop into my world!

Psalm 19 (NIV).

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 
2 Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. 
3 They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. 
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 
6 It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is deprived of its warmth. 

7 The law of the LORD is perfect, refreshing the soul. The statutes of the LORD are trustworthy, making wise the simple. 
8The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes. 
9 The fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever. The decrees of the LORD are firm, and all of them are righteous. 
10 They are more precious than gold, than much pure gold; they are sweeter than honey, than honey from the honeycomb. 
11 By them your servant is warned; in keeping them there is great reward. 
12 But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. 
13 Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression. 

14 May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Verses 1-6 refer to the beauty of creation, created by God in intricate interwoven detail. “Verse 3 – they have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them.” It doesn’t have to be! Beauty and majesty speaks for itself. There are no words in any human language that does it justice. “Yet their voice goes out to all the earth, their words to the ends of the world…”

How sad that I was so wrapped up in man-made chaos, that I completely missed all the miraculous things going on around me!

As a lover of science, I understand the desire to know all the inner workings. I want to know too! But much like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, I have to pick which part I’m sure of to make calculations. I choose God and will leave the other part to be less certain. In doing so, I’m able to enjoy and appreciate life around me with both my faith and my questioning, scientific mind.

In doing the study commentary on verses 7-13 this morning, I realized that I had completely misunderstood much of the intent of the Bible!

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In my naivety, I’ve thought that many of the teachings were extremely limiting and harsh. What about my self-expression? my self-interests? my hopes, wishes and dreams?

Notice a trend here? Consider MY ears opened this morning.

Back to basic science – Newton – Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Life doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Why do I think MY actions, hopes, dreams, expressions, and interests won’t have a ripple effect on others? #selfish

The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple. The harder I push against God’s guidance, the harder or more awry life goes for me and those around me. Our world is doing its darndest to muddle things up. Again *raises hand*, guilty… Those guiding principles are not there to punish us, but to walk us towards a deeper joy, the kind only possible when you’ve made humble peace in your soul. Consider this me working towards being wise.

Verses 11 to 13. Who hasn’t told a child “Don’t touch that! It’ll burn your hand!” Then the seeking fingers touch it, burn, and tears ensue. *raises hand* Who has been that child thinking that he/she knew what was best? *raises hand*

These lines illustrate how God is trying, so so hard, to guide us away from troubles. It is frequently MY choice which path I choose – walking away without blemish or needing a salve and a bandage.

Hidden faults. We all have them. A very difficult step in maturing is recognizing those faults and rectifying them. I’m feeling fairly confident that I’ll never master all of mine. Thank goodness for the grace, forgiveness, and mercy of my husband, family, friends, and the One who made it all possible with His sacrifice!

Willful sins? I think by this, my study means vices and things we do on purpose. What is your vice? Put simply, I like my pants to fit, so fitness is probably one of mine. Pride seeps into fitness like sweat into a t-shirt after a good workout.

About a month ago, I ran a little over 10K for a team half marathon event that benefitted local scholarships. I struggled physically and thus was not happy with my time. I completely missed a chance to be thankful that my body will move how I want it to. With MS, this is not something to overlook! Alas, my pride got in the way. To exercise with the desire to only be proud of myself or for the attention of others is willful.

After this eye and heart-opening study, I can honestly say I’ve hit the rumble strip. This is my modern day application of Psalm 19. I appreciate the wake up.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Mother’s Day – What is the perfect day?

Cheers to the Mothers out there! We are coming up on a Hallmark-induced holiday. Research shows that it was started with a noble meaning, and I guess, it still sort ANNA JARVISof rings – or maybe at least twinkles – with that sentiment.

I don’t mean to come off as bitter or brisk, but seriously… Let’s get real here people! Let’s look at the realities of what a Mother’s Day when you are ‘in the weeds’ is actually like with small children. Then, we’ll talk.

(This does not relate to how I shower my own mother with love on Mother’s Day. She’s already survived these years. Bless her.)

The advertisers say:

**”Treat your mother to a spa day!” — ummm….. does that come child-free? Does wanting a Mother’s Day gift that doesn’t involve the child that made me a mother make me a selfish monster? Hmmm…

**”Surprise her with a beautiful bouquet of flowers!” — Flowers are a nice sentiment. They look bright and zingy while my children are screeching at each other about a ball or iPad time.

**”Chocolate.” — While I am always 100% game for chocolate (non-dairy, so fake chocolate), this does not a smooth day make. If my child gives it to me as a special item, I’ll treasure the thoughtfulness behind it for a few moments. But me secretly eating mini-chips by the handful out of the bag in my freezer, not quite so meaningful.

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**Lunch or dinner out – so my young kids can groan about food in public instead of at home. It is a joy of the highest order to ask the waiter for something hot-dog based at a nice restaurant because the nicer, garnished, plated version of the similar foods we eat family-style at home are now unpalatable. This too shall pass…

You know, I’m just not good at gifts. This all sounds snarky and unappreciative. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate gifts or love being with my crew, it is just that I feel so ‘in the weeds’ ‘UNDER the weeds’ tunneling through life that if I was able to choose, I’d never CHOOSE any of these things!

As I sit here listening to a podcast about how to be a good parent, typing about Mother’s Day, and frankly, taking a break from the accounting project on my desk, I think my ideal Mother’s Day would look like this:

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Jammies.

Normal morning – 6ish wake time. Quick couple of miles on the run. When I get home, my sleepy people either aren’t awake or are just waking up. I LOVE to stroke their hair and face and wake them up slowly. I LOVE to see them run the house in their jammies. I LOVE to be greeted by their morning hugs. Breakfast is low-key. I could either make waffles or we go with the solid stand-by of cereal or granola bars. No fights, whines, or on the floor tantrums about anything up to this point.

 

Church is on Sunday – Mother’s Day. Everybody gets dressed without tears about clothing or shoes. I swear the shoe situation is just all-around cursed. Why? Whyyyyyyy?  Just put two shoes on without contemplating which dinosaur had the longest toes or which baby we should name “Vivian Laila S” for ten minutes! We get through the whole service without any dirty looks (from my son to me- when did 7 become the new 13?) or fights about who is sitting on Grandpa’s lap.

Lunch – We could eat out somewhere simple, where the hot dog that will inevitably get ordered is standard fare. Or we could have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grapes, and chips at home. I’m good with that.

Afternoon – everybody rests or reads books quietly in their rooms. After rest time, we do something as a family preferably outdoors. If the weather doesn’t permit it, everybody

mothers day
A portrait by my 7yr old of himself and mom. He’s not really an alien and I do actually have feet…

plays a game or a puzzle. Then as the day goes on, people chime in to be helpful with anything that catches their eye. I honestly mean ANYTHING. That towel that he/she picks up off the bathroom floor is better than a 1,000,000 fragrant bouquets.

Evening – we like to grill. I’d be happy to throw something on. The hubs and T will have baseball practice. Maybe I don’t go because M and I are doing something special, just us girls.

Any way around it, there has been no tattling to this point. No throw downs or intentionally, slyly sticking his foot out. No hair pulling just to get her attention. She hasn’t screamed at him. Family time without the feuding.

Night- bedtime. Baths. Snuggles. Sleep.

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One of my reasons for Mother’s Day

That would be my perfect day to celebrate being a mother. I don’t want a gift or some token. Upon reflection, it seems that I don’t want to spend my day away from my loves to relax. I want to be with them the entire time. I want to smile and laugh with them. I just want a break from the work as referee.

To the other moms who are tunneling through the weeds with your littles, my heart goes out to you. Don’t let Hallmark’s projected view of the foofy, lalalala, rainbow riding unicorn, glitter and confetti, relaxing Mother’s Day get you down. We know that stuff isn’t always real. The LOVE is what’s real.

As cliche as it sounds, I think we have to soak in these moments. Here in the weeds these small people think the world revolves around us. That’s pretty amazing. They want to walk, talk, and BE just like us when they get older. They only focus on our shiny side.

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Throwback a few years. 

Good and bad alike, this too shall pass. Someday we’ll be sitting at home hoping for that text, phone call or Hallmark card that acknowledges that we are still important to them. We will hope that they still see only our shiny side.

Right now, we are their whole world. Moms, we have to try not to wish it away.

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