Family · Parenting · Perspective

Throw it in the cart

If you know me, you know how much I enjoy office supplies. Folders, highlighters, blue Bic pens, and a solid pair of scissors are a must. I love the feel of a pencil on paper- not too sharp, just dulled down enough to keep it crisp but not so sharp that it scratches the paper. IMG_3400(1)

The same goes for school supplies at the beginning of the school year. That folder with the fluffy cat on it for my 5 yr old? Absolutely. A big package of crayons? Be still my beating heart.

But you know something? It must be the end of the school year because I’m over it. Albeit temporary, I’m tired of trying to keep this stuff useful and organized.

I came to the conclusion that it’s time for school to be out when we went grocery shopping last night. My daughter’s kindergarten class needed treats. We send treats monthly- enough for both the morning and afternoon snack for her whole class. I’ve happily baked or assembled something (I think) tasty, nut-free, and generally health-conscious (minus last month’s brownies) for each month thus far. This time, she asked for strawberry loaf cake from the store’s bakery and a large jug of generic brand cheeseballs.

Sure. Throw it in the cart.

She needs a sack lunch twice in the next two weeks for end-of-school activities. “Mom, can I PLEASE have a Lunchable?” We never buy Lunchables. I can buy meat, crackers, and cheese in bulk and make our own “lunchable” combos. They are on sale 10/$10.

Sure. Throw it in the cart.

giphy3“Mom- look at those Tom & Jerry fruit snacks!” Me- I’m not paying extra to have Tom & Jerry on your fruit snacks. As I glanced down the aisle, I see that all the fruit snacks are the same price.

Sure. Whatever. Throw it in the cart.

This is seriously not me. I watch our grocery bill closely. We don’t buy crap.  But the constant activities, work commitments, and extra school stuff piled on top of the actual educational school stuff has me saying “Sure. Throw it in the cart.”

I stop short of saying I’ve given up. I made both of my kids eat vegetables at dinner a couple of nights ago. It was just one carrot each, but it was the principle of it. I still care and I’m still holding on. You aren’t free yet.

giphy2

Teachers, parents, and students alike are all feeling it. We are left with no choice except to power through the last couple weeks with a few extra Kool-Aid Jammers and some Tom & Jerry fruit snacks. We love these little people and our educational system here, so….

Let’s do this people!

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Monday Momday

Hello Monday! I’m actually quite happy to see you.

IMG_3313.GIF

We are going thru a rough patch at my house. I can’t tell if it’s just my introverted personality rebelling against the zero amount of personal space or time I have?

Or if the bickering between my kids is at an all time high?

Or if it was a combination of trying to celebrate an 8yr old’s birthday mixed with a blizzard in April plus it being the annual dance rehearsal and recital weekend?

Either way, I’m feeling a bit crazy and I need the kids to get on the school bus so I can take a shower alone.

IMG_3312.GIF

Carry on world. Carry on….

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Ordinary is Good

Today I get to wake up sleepy children. I get to go to work. I am allowed another day to do the ordinary. But that, in itself, is extraordinary!

Our adult Sunday School lesson yesterday was about perspective. It was a colorful conversation dotted with laughs and frustrations.

Perspective helped me get thru a rough, cranky day where my children fought and whined continuously- achieving a rare level above and beyond in the disagreeable department. I wasn’t able to find much to be thankful for, but I settled on the fact that they were all living, breathing creatures. Sometimes that’s all you’ve got. Just tuck it in your heart and run with it.

Perspective encouraged me as I was unclogging the pipe under the dishwasher. I am thankful for the water that flows freely. I am fortunate to have this dishwasher and the mental and physical ability to do DIY minor plumbing projects. The plumbing issues can stop at any time now…

Today I get to take on a new week. I’m going to take the ordinary and appreciate it as extraordinary.

#gratitude #perspective

Family · Health · Perspective

It takes a village

It takes a village… and I still hate tonsils. Ugh. Complications make this healing process slower…IMG_3101

Day 10 post tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy.

Sweet girl tried school for 3 hours yesterday morning. Her brother rode the bus, but I drove her in so I could talk to her teacher. 8am-11am she quietly enjoyed Kindergarten. Instead of crackers for snack, she ate an entire string cheese stick! <—- This is BIG news! She has barely eaten anything in the last week unless by force. Her little denim jeggings are now baggy and falling down.

She was absolutely wiped out when I picked her up. I gave her a choice to eat whatever she wanted for lunch. She chose a corn dog… so I drove thru Sonic and ordered her one on our way home from town. It took her 30 minutes to eat it, but HALLELUJAH! She ate the whole thing. Don’t judge on nutrition. The kid just needs to eat something.

After some serious “angry tired” attitude, I rocked her until she fell asleep for 15 minutes. We enjoyed a couple of hours of rest time after that until she crashed again in a blaze of tearful fallout from 4-6pm and for the night at 8:30pm.

This morning, after she slept all night for the first time in 10 days, she rode the bus to school for another 3 hour session. Maybe tomorrow she can attend the whole day?

Could it be that we are finally turning the corner???

It truly takes a village to orchestrate a sick/recovering child, another child, a job, and the rest of life’s little details.

I couldn’t have done this without my amazing husband. He tag-teamed our all-nighters with her. He takes over holding her when she’s droopy and I need to use the bathroom. He does homework with our son and has helped with household chores. He hasn’t said a word about me being out of the office (thankfully I’m able to work from home and be flexible with my hours IN the office).

Grandparents have been a life-saver! My father-in-law is seasonally employed and this is his off-season. He’s only a mile and a phone call away. D is hands-on and loves to be involved with his grandkids! My mom spent two days and a night helping at our house. She also took M for a day at her house so I could work. My dad was happy to hold her at our son’s 2nd grade program. Obviously from the amount of cuddles necessary, this has NOT been a smooth recovery.

Our neighbors and church family have volunteered to help get our son places. A couple friend of ours brought a crockpot of cheesy ham and potato casserole, salad, and cookies. Another neighbor picked up an order from the pharmacy.

My sister brought coffee one morning on her way thru for work “just because.” Our friends have checked in with us just to say “Hello” and “We are thinking of you guys!”

It takes a village. We are blessed to have a good one!

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Flexible Thinking

After “officially ruining” my 7yr old’s day by requesting he get dressed for school this morning – which I might add we had a 5 day break for Parent Teacher conferences, President’s Day and then a 2hr late start due to an ice storm! – I’ve apparently decided to binge eat myself thru my morning at work with a healthy chicken noodle soup, less healthy croissants, and unhealthy Girl Scout Thin Mints.

break-breakfast-corporate-cup-87435.jpeg

It’s been a banner eight hours since I got out of bed. It’s only 1:25pm.

Mixed into the muddle of this morning, I had the most uplifting text conversation with my dear friend Sarah at Horizon Mental Health. She is an amazing person, friend, college roommate, mother, wife, therapist… I could go on and on. The past few days, she’s been helping me sort out how I can better communicate with, guide, and connect with my 7yr old son.

My son has been thriving at school. He excels with his friends, peers, and in almost every activity he tries. When a friend was unhappy at school because he had to miss recess and read to finish an assignment, he stayed in with him and read his book at the next desk over. He is respectful with his teachers and coaches at school, youth group, and in community sports. Responsible, kind, loving, friendly, willing to work with others – all personality traits he possesses.

But whoa! We are not clicking at home the past few months. The last three months are also our busiest at work, craziest with family holidays, and then we all had various cases of influenza A, B, stomach flu, and some other weird respiratory virus. We are all out of whack!

What I’ve learned since November is that as his mother, I AM WRONG ALL. THE. TIME.

Me: “There’s 13 grades in school if you count Kindergarten.” Him: “There is NO SUCH THING as a 12th grade! You are WRONG!” Me: “Yes buddy, I taught 12th graders. They are called seniors. It’s the last year of school before you go to college or a trade school or get a full-time job.” Him: “You are WRONG!” Then I walked away from the debate because this wasn’t a war I wanted to fight. I love him too much to argue about absolutely everything.

Argument after argument. He gets angry and tells me I am wrong or he just isn’t going to do it (like wear pants or walk to his bedroom at bedtime – completely normal daily things). We are “bossing” him around.

My amazing friend directed me to a thought process call “flexible thinking.” I started researching it upon our initial conversation. My son is a “rigid thinker.” Very bright, likes structure, and gets his world rocked when there is unexpected change. Sometimes he is able to go with the flow. Other times, he is a mule with his hooves cemented in the ground.

As his mother and the main parent at home on the weekends and after school (my husband’s work schedule puts this in my wheelhouse), I am the one who typically is introducing the change or requiring him to be flexible.

Frankly, we need to dial back the frustration and find our workable space again.

A few things we will be trying to implement in our house after learning about “flexible thinking”:

  • A better framework for a schedule before and after school
  • A better framework for the weekend schedule
  • A process for him to adjust when it is out of his control WITHOUT arguing.
    • Breathe. Accept that some things are out of his control. Decide how he wants to proceed. Carry out his plan.
    • An example: T-man, in 5 minutes we are heading home. Five minutes later, it is now time to go home from the office.–“Breathe. Accept that even though you want to do x, y, and z before we leave, it is time to go now.” Then he will need to make his own plan for how to handle this and carry it out. This plan will likely look like him picking up his backpack, grabbing his snack and heading to the car. But if I suggest this, I guarantee it will be met with resistance.

Last week, I told a friend that I realized that I didn’t really have any life goals right now except keeping the wheels on this bus. The bus symbolizes my family. I have to keep us going.  I guess with every flat tire or change oil light, I’ll learn a new skill and be ready for the next challenge.

We don’t have to stay on the beaten path. Let’s be adventurers! It would be fantastic if we could ride the bus with minimal breakdowns, without the wheels coming off, and maybe enjoy the ride.

pexels-photo-385998.jpeg

Family · Love · Perspective · Uncategorized

Goodbye

Tough tough week.

Amongst the normal chaos of trying to be places on time with stacked meetings and schedules, there was also projectile vomiting, water spraying a basement wall, and having to say goodbye to our cat.

I always kind of scoffed at the idea that a pet could bring out such deep feelings of grief. I lost a lot of cats and dogs growing up on the farm. As my sister pointed out, having a pet for 15 years- daily feeding, brushing, petting, snuggling, interacting at every point for 1.5 decades- makes that animal more than a pet. It makes him family.

He was stress relief for my husband after a long day and late night company after the kids and I had cashed it in for the evening. He was wordless comfort when my  husband experienced the loss of loved ones.

He was always on the floor or furniture right next to the kids. In the middle of our Candyland board game, sticking his head over the edge of their infant/toddler chairs when they were little, being ‘accessorized’ by my little girl- tolerant and engaged. Touching them with his nose to check on them. Licking their hand or forehead to say “you are my kids.”

IMG_1054.JPG

He was my early morning reading partner. Although I wasn’t a big fan of the indoor cat idea, I grew protective and wanted him safe from the plethora of outdoor threats.

He never had enough fight in him to keep him alive outside. 13 years ago, my father-in-law found him half dead in the yard with a nacho Doritos chip bag stuck on his head. Presumably, he was trying to get the last cheesy crumb. Tugging the end of his tail softly brought him down and he’d just lay there looking peeved.

IMG_1053

He was adamant about his small feedings three to four times a day. Voicing his frustration if we missed one, he would expect a bonus feeding later to make it up.

All the way to the very end he was social and loving. After his initial trip to the vet for his diagnosis and return home, his first instinct was to go find the kids. He searched their bedrooms for them and then assumed his place in the sun until they walked in the door from school.

We spent our last evening and morning gently and genuinely loving on him. It was clear that he wouldn’t have much more time before we needed to take him back in to the vet. He had quickly dehydrated (complete kidney failure). I’m grateful we were able to say our goodbyes and provide him that pain-free care.

Rest easy. We miss you.

IMG_1360

I didn’t mean to make this a long post, nor a sad one. This is part of life. It is a blessing to be able to love a person or a pet. It is a gift to love and be loved.

Much love this week-  Jen

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Quiet Time

I get up about 30 minutes before everyone else, minus the cat, to enjoy quiet time. This morning it was an hour earlier.

As it is the Christmas season, we have our tree up and decorated. I decided to use it for light to read my devotions and a chapter of Isaiah in my Bible.

IMG_2639.JPG

I lit the fire. Snuggled down in the couch with my blanket, drink and Bible.

I read. I pray. I work to get my heart and soul headed in the right direction before my head starts making plans and going over the schedule.

This time is important for the well-being of everyone under this roof.

But today, I had a talkative 7yr old try to join me. Try is the optimum word.

After 10 minutes of him trying to make small talk, I firmly laid it out that this is mom’s quiet time and there is NO talking. There is also no drum playing on the kitchen counter or finger snapping… or wait, why in the world are you up right now kid?

I’m not going to discuss the wind blowing and making noise. Don’t glare at me when I tell you I can’t talk right now. I did invite him to sit and read quietly if he was interested in doing so.

Now he’s singing in the kitchen and making himself breakfast. I love my morning boy. This morning’s early hour of quiet time has passed and the rush and hum of our morning routine has begun.