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.


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.


Family · Love · Perspective · Uncategorized


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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?


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.


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?


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!


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?