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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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?

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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?

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!!!

Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Ride to School

I always enjoy hearing how the ride to school went when I don’t do the drive. I’m 99% of my kid’s transportation to, from and everywhere in between.

Today, my husband had a haircut scheduled at 8:30am plus a few other errands so he drove them in. When he returned to the office, I asked how it went:

“They argued all the way to town about whether Te Fiti from Moana (Disney Movie) is a girl or a boy. He was just arguing to argue. She was right. Te Fiti is a girl. His argument was that boys can wear a crown too if they are the king.”

Oh how I love when he gets in on these snippets of life!

I learn about the good and bad on the drive to and from school: friends, fights, sick kids, bad words, hurt feelings, moments of grace, and eye-opener – who’s boyfriend and girlfriend.

I about choked on my gum last week when he told me that XXXX and YYYY were doing something worse than holding hands (1st grade). Still driving, I cautiously tiptoed into it with my very literal child. “Did they kiss?” — No.  “Did they hug?” — No.  Mom, XXXX says they are DATING! “What does dating mean?” — I don’t know. Just that they actually LIKE each other!

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This allowed an easy transition into the conversation that in first grade, we like everybody as a friend. No need for anything more than just being a good, caring, kind friend to all. This is fine with my son because frankly, he has a younger sister and thinks she is SUPER ANNOYING most of the time. Therefore, all girls must be an annoyance. I told you. He interprets all things as cause and effect, literal, black and white.

I think it’s important to get in on these conversations. The little daily life moments add up to big things. The frustration on the playground is much easier to solve when discussing it in the car in small increments each day as opposed to when the note from the teacher comes home saying ZZZZ had a bigger problem today at school.

Yesterday the topic on the way home was “Truth or Dare.” Remember the age range for this conversation was 4-7yrs old. Not quite the mine field it can be when you are a teen! I wonder what we’ll talk about tonight?

 

Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Childhood Fort

It occurred to me as I was cleaning out flower beds in the gorgeous spring sun that I had a wonderful childhood. I’ve appreciated it before, but as a parent, my perspective shifts and deepens.

I was trimming down the pampas grass. It grew to about 12ft tall and the bundle of stems was approximately 18 inches in diameter. Each stem was 0.5-1″ thick. The winter had stripped most of the loose layers off.

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I couldn’t stop thinking about how perfect those stems would be for constructing a fort!

Did you ever build forts when you were a kid using the random branches, boards, and other materials that you scrounged up? Did you dig into a natural low spot and set up a shack? Find that perfect arrangement of tree branches to pretend you had a house?

My sisters and I built forts everywhere we went – our house, the shelter belt of trees, down by the creek, at our grandparents, the trees behind the church between baseball games, etc. The list could go on and include anywhere we traveled from ages 5-12.

My dad lost half a dozen hammers to our construction escapades. He found the majority when he cleared out the area where we built our magnum opus – two stories, scrap lumber with wooden fence posts, a ladder, door, and window. The neighbor boys (2 miles away) came to help us put on the roof. We took fabric scraps and nailed them up for curtains. It was amazing and apparently full of dad’s lost hammers!

cabbagepatch-618x412Many lunchboxes filled with PB&J, cucumbers, and little Thermoses of water accompanied us out to the fort. Our favorite dolls would spend the day playing house or exploring “the forest.” When it was time to come in, my mom would honk the car horn. She does this now with our kids, who adventure around the farm on their own.

As I trimmed and stacked the pampas grass, I felt unbelievably lucky to have those experiences. Carefree in the country, sheltered from the world’s cares. Basking in the summer sunlight and smelling like the trees and grass when we came in at dark.

I want that kind of idyllic memory for my children: experiencing the freedom of imagination and nature. The simplicity and creativity of childhood illustrated in the building of a fort.

I kept the stems and trimmings.

Although we arrived home from a birthday party with only 30 minutes until their bedtime, we went outside to play until the sun was gone. My son’s eyes lit up when I told him he could have all the material I cleaned out of the flower beds. With excitement, last night they built their own fort.

Creativity · Family · Perspective

Child-View Photography: POV

Yesterday’s post was pretty heavy. In an effort to lighten things up, here is the world from my children’s point of view. Not necessarily in focus or properly framed, but authentic child-view.

Every once in awhile, one of them sneaks my phone and takes random pictures. 99% of the time, my phone is completely off limits to them. Exceptions are few and far between.

I give you the photography of M (age 4) and T (age 6).

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Outdoor Scenes. And a good reminder that I need to get the flower beds and yard ready for spring!

The above porch project (rip it off and pour a new pad and patio) is the LAST thing on my husband’s “honey-do” list. It is also kind of on my father-in-law’s honey-do list as he does concrete work and is a brick mason. Now to coordinate the two…

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A nice evening, early spring sunset. We like to sit on this swing in the evenings and listen to the night hawks and cicadas in the summer.

I find it entertaining what they focus on. Truly fascinating to see what they notice.

This is our 14 year old 19# house cat. He’s been with us since before we married. Still has his claws and does not, nor ever did, have the ambition to use them. He also enjoys small children carrying him around and key lime pie yogurt.

These two were M. A picture she painted, then continued with an ink pen to create on. Not her cleanest work, but I refuse to judge or have an opinion about free-style child artwork. Her dance shoe. We are wrapping up her first few months in dance. She’s become a much more creative kitchen dancer since starting class. Now it’s not just me…

Finally this. I hope this is what they always leave my presence with.

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