Faith · Family · Health · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Long Hiatus

Back to writing. This has been a goal for months. Cue the triumphant music!

Shortly before this long writing hiatus began, my life was increasingly frazzled by anxiety. I’d been battling this for months… basically the majority of 2018. After suffering a couple actual legitimate anxiety attacks while my husband was away on a trip and then (quickly after) chosen to sit on the jury for a brutal murder case, I sought help from my family practitioner. She helped me get chemically back on track with the assurance that with a very small amount of anxiety medication, my already strong coping skills would kick back in.

She was correct. I stopped wanting to run away from my family. The crazy sweating, racing thoughts, and desire to be alone stopped! My coping skills like reading, exercise, washing dishes, etc… were able to climb back to the surface and work their magic.

Good thing those stopped because baseball started for my son in March and ran thru July. Even after 4.5 straight months of baseball, he was disappointed when it was over! I ate more hot dogs in those months than I have in my entire life. We started the season wrapped in blankets wearing gloves and ended it sweating thru tank tops and shorts. Totally worth it!

baseball blog
Pee Wee District Champions!

My daughter had 6 weeks of a coach pitch/ t-ball combo in the mix as well. The kids had us hopping all summer. Something at the ball field Monday, Tuesday, Friday, Saturday (all day) and Sunday evenings means that this mama is investing in better lawn chairs next spring. It’s on my Christmas list. The kind of lawn chairs that fold up and have hydraulic shocks — the deluxe model – will be worth the cost.

We took a family vacation to South Carolina in June to visit family and introduce the kids to the Atlantic Ocean. They flew for the first time. Nerve wracking for me, but honestly, they gracefully handled layovers, a diverted flight to Charleston and tarmac time due to a storm, turbulence when our pilots squeezed us into Columbia’s airport before the storm hit again, and security when SOMEONE put an open water bottle in my bag unbeknownst to me. (eye roll)

family
Family in South Carolina

After a flight to Las Vegas in March, my spine/ lower back started to hurt. After solid scoldings from my family practitioner, husband, sisters, and a nurse friend, an MRI revealed a bulging disc at L5 – S1. This is actually a relief given my MS history. I was flippant about how serious this was until I stopped being able to move without pain. Up, down, walking, sleeping, standing… it was all painful. I started Physical Therapy. There it was revealed that along with the disc issue, my SI joint was also rotated. How incredibly humbling it is to go from running half marathons to not being able to walk! Anyone who has been thru PT knows that it’s a slow, meticulous battle. I graduated PT, bought a SI support band (Serola BioMechanics gets 5 stars from me!), and recently have waded back into running. It’s only one mile at a time, but as the saying goes “you have to learn to crawl before you walk.”

Mixed into the fun was VBS, fishing, playground time, family time, wheat harvest, fall crop planting, our full-time business, and many many more activities. Summer seemed to rush by. I’m not sad it’s over. It wasn’t a hustle, nor did it feel terribly stressful. It was simply FULL. Full of good memories and time spent together that we all appreciate.

Here we are now. Back to school and September is already rolling. I will try to write more regularly. I’ve felt it stirring in my mind and my fingers to get back to it.

Much love — Jen

Family · Parenting · Perspective · Uncategorized

Baseball- Iron Pigs and Royals

We are at the midway point of baseball season for both kids. I’ve been driving around with a bucket of balls, a bag of batting helmets and catchers gear, my son’s baseball bag, my daughter’s glove and bat, and lawn chairs for almost two months! It’s a good feeling!

I wrote this earlier this week. To watch the amount of care and enthusiasm from the volunteer coaches and zeal for the game from the kids is overwhelming. It makes my throat choke up and my eyes start to water. So so good.

Observations from our 2 hours of back to back 100 degree practices last night for girls Rotary and boys Lions Club baseball:

1) Teammates encouraging each other in times of celebration and when the pitch, hit, or catch was missed.
2) Enjoyment on the faces of the kids for every ball stopped and each connection of the bat.
3) Kids who might not sit together at the lunch table or hang together at recess playing together as a team.
4) Constructive guidance and correction being given by coaches to help the kids grow in sportsmanship and skill.
5) Amazing family & friend volunteers and fans in the stand. They show up because they care.
6) A little girl doing a backbend bridge over first base between drills. Yes, there are a lot of cartwheels, hand stands, and twirls in little girl baseball.

These are fantastic programs available for the kids. The girl’s program is completely free and the boy’s program is $10 or you have the option of selling tickets to the pancake day event to cover the fee.

This what I see every week when we come to practice. Thank you community for all that you do to support it. Come watch a game! It’s free fun! ⚾

#baseball #volunteers #kids #letthemplay #besupportive

*Photography of the Iron Pigs by my 5yr old. Miss M up at the plate.*

 

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Fire – Home Alone Style

giphy4En Fuego. Seriously. It’s like we are living like we are on fire around here. It’s not pretty. Not the kind of nice little fire pit flame or the warm happy tables with flaming pots you find in fondue restaurants.

giphy5It’s more like this.

I knew we’d been feeling the heat for awhile. Juggling sick kids. Sick adults. A tonsillectomy. School. Birthday treats. Cleaning out and donating an entire carload of clothes that are too small for my fast growing kids. An upcoming dance recital. Busy season at work – only it has continued an extra two months at this point. A new volunteer position. 90% good things!

However, the poo hit the fan this weekend when I realized that I can’t locate my son’s birth certificate. I found out a few months ago that I had “misplaced” his social security card at some point in all our home renovations… but I didn’t know I couldn’t find his birth certificate. The all-important certificate is necessary for him to be allowed to play baseball this spring.

giphy6At our Sunday afternoon parents’ meeting, the mom organizing the coaches and kids announced that she wants a copy of the certificate by next Sunday. Apparently all the other parents actually KNOW where their children’s important documents are and many had actually brought the birth certificate with them.

That’s right folks. It’s time to take away my “Mother of the Year” badge.  I guess you could if I’d ever been awarded one in the first place!

Which I haven’t.

For the record, I don’t really buy into that line of thinking. My kids are loved, cared for, provided for, and as safe as I can make them in this uncontrollable world.

I could have probably spent Saturday afternoon looking for the missing document. I didn’t. We played baseball out in our yard as a family. Then the kids helped me transplant the roses and live forevers from my winter garden location to their new homes in the beds next to the house. To finish the night, we all put on ever-stylish bowling shoes and enjoyed more time together at the local bowling alley.

It was a fun day. I regret nothing.

I should probably start looking for that birth certificate though… after work, dinner, and bedtime for the kids…

Much love — Jen

 

Side note — if you search giphy or google for fire images… WHOA. That’s some weird stuff for your Monday!

 

 

 

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.

 

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

 

 

 

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.

giphy11

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?

giphy10

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!!!