Health · Perspective

Doozy

The day after a doozy of a half face numbing, can’t make coherent sentences, needed sunglasses in the dark, painful migraine…

Just had to check my underwear drawer to see if that’s where I left my phone??? and had a little giggle about it. Oh my.

So…. note to self- don’t trust myself with anything important or detailed today…

Good luck today friends! — Jen

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

Family · Parenting · Perspective

extra

I’m sitting here on my couch reviewing the past week and looking ahead to the next. My daughter is trying on clothes from the cousin hand-me-down bag (which is amazing).

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We are on Day 2 of fall break. Day 1 was parent-teacher conferences, an hour in the office at work, Cosmic Kids Space Club, and dance class.

Space club is a group of my son’s buddies that were invited to check out Saturn on one of the boy’s grandpa’s telescope.

We just finished soybean harvest. The guys are drilling on the last few dozen acres of wheat. For a blessed day, we are still a few points too damp for milo harvest.

As I sit here, I realize that the role of mother, wife and working mom isn’t what wears me out. It’s all the extras.

It’s the Ear Nose and Throat specialist we will visit in Monday for 3 rounds of strep throat in 60 days. The additional meeting I need to attend.

It makes me wonder how necessary some of those commitments are. The ENT is a must. What about the others?

At kids’ youth group Wednesday night, another volunteer from the generation before mine asked me if my parents scrambled around as much as my generation is to make it all happen. After a few days of thought, I’m convinced they did. However, I don’t think it started this young.

Is it really going to put my kids at a disadvantage if they don’t do that next extra activity?

I speculate that having a mom who isn’t scurrying, rushing and occasionally loosing her sh*t  patience is likely better for everyone.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Avalanche!!!

Me. This past weekend.

giphy5Not for exercise. Due to my husband’s work schedule, I managed very little physical running.

I was mentally trying to run away. The past week has been absolutely suffocating- family, marriage, work, home-ownership. You name it.

These situations rarely materialize as an instantaneous big blob. Rather, it is a slow building process, like a snowball. Each snowflake contributes until you have a breaking point and this HUGE ROLLING avalanche comes flowing down and out.

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Ever see anything about an avalanche resolving in a positive manner? Me neither.

I’m usually not an avalanche girl. I usually address it as it comes: good, bad, or ugly. The month of August, it just didn’t seem like there was time to address anything.

  1. Work. Did I mention we are starting to farm on our own now too after normal business hours? (We are incredibly thankful and blessed to have this opportunity!)
  2. Husband gone to see family across the country for a week. This leaves me in charge of all things business and family.
  3. Me to Denver solo for my 6m MS check-in. Out and back in 36hrs. Praise – was moved to a yearly appt with blood and MRI in 6 months locally! Also saw my friend Abby’s new beautiful baby, Miss Sinclair. ❤
  4. Quick trip to KC as a crammed into the last weekend before school getaway. I met my friend Jess’s new little guy, Mr. Kevin, and played with her gorgeous little gingers. We also had dinner with another friend and her husband.
  5. School. Kids needed supplies. New routine that starts two hours earlier than our summer did. Parent’s night #1 with teacher #1. Parent’s night #2 with teacher #2. School is in full force mode now.
  6. Normal family functions – feeding my people, clean clothes, picking up the house, garden produce, playing with my kids (Barbies, farm, catch in the yard, bike rides, sprinklers) – Oh, and did I mention that our hot water heater blew out the top and was steaming our entire mechanical room? Fortunately, the sump pump kept up until we discovered it.
  7. Volunteer Responsibilities- Parent Teacher Organization Family Fun Night, Church Secretary & Children’s Church, Vacation Bible School Day Camp
  8. A nasty head cold and quite possible resurgence of mononucleosis in my exhausted body. I had all the symptoms, but didn’t do the blood test. Nothing they could recommend except rest and fluids anyway.
  9. et cetera et cetera et cetera….

The ball just kept rolling from one thing to the next. Pretty soon, all the little conversations that we needed to have to stay connected had just slipped past. Every turn felt like a new area of neglect.

If I’m cooking dinner, I’m missing out on playing catch. If I’m sitting down with my husband for the evening, I’m not getting the laundry done. If I take 30 minutes for a mind and soul clearing run, I’m skipping time I could be spending with my family.

It was a never-ending, always losing game of catch-up. It ended in a slouched pile of tears in the shower and an honest, raw conversation with my husband.

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I’m a puzzle that’s been missing a piece. Even as my missing piece, he still can’t read my mind. When I’ve managed to get it all done without help or complaint, how is he supposed to know that I need another hand or eye on a situation?

You’d think after 12 years that would be more than obvious. Honestly, I think it gets harder to see the longer you’ve been together. You are so trusting of the other person that everything just falls into that same groove. It sometimes takes a derailment to get back on the same page.

Every supply and note for school has been signed and sent on time. Every phone call at work has been returned promptly. Clean clothes for all. Food for meals done. I handled it all like a boss. Never asking for help or insinuating it wasn’t something I could handle. An exhausted, stressed, increasingly isolated boss.

Suffocating under the avalanche of missed connections wasn’t the way to survive the last month. Living on that lonely island isn’t necessary. Unless you ask for assistance, it isn’t apparent that you need it.

Ask for help. Be honest with yourself and your partner. Do it before the avalanche hits.

Much love,
Jen

 

Perspective

Educate Life.

I am sitting at a crossroads. To teach again someday or not to? To renew my license or let it go?

This is a decision I’ve been kicking down the road for at least two years. Do I take the Master’s hours to renew my teaching license or just let it expire at the end of 2018? I haven’t been in the classroom other than a long-term sub since I turned down a new contract in 2009.

My quitting was complicated, but in retrospect, the correct choice for my physical and mental health. I was offered a contract for the following year. I was promised more administrative disciplinary support for a small, challenging portion of the population I was serving. He said I could have another prep and it would be ok to back off on the clubs and sports I was sponsoring and coaching.

“If you send them to the office, we won’t send them back during that same class period.”

And yet, I still told them no. I was done at the end of the school year.

I had another opportunity with health insurance, less mileage, more flexibility, and less stress. I took it.

So why is this decision to let my license go so difficult? Why not just cut the cord? Does this mean that all that money and time I spent in college is null and void?

I think this is a decision that many people face when they change careers. Does a change of this proportion negate any type of impact I made previously?

Last Friday, a young man stood at the elementary school with his family. I walked up to him and his wife and started a conversation. In the spring, I visited with another young man at a wedding reception. My son’s kindergarten teacher. The cashier at our local store. The marketing director at a local dealership. The guys who fix tires and do re-alignments.

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These examples speak to me. Successful, intelligent, caring people who I had the privilege to work with. Although I stepped out of the education field after only a few years, I cherish the students I worked with – the successful ones and those who caused me anxiety. Stress not for myself, but that I wasn’t able to reach deep enough in them for their future success as human beings.

What would that look like? Not monetary success as that is fleeting. I wanted them to have contentment, drive, passion, and mercy. To withstand criticism and turn around to use it constructively. To observe life outside the local societal box. To approach people willing to look at the other side of the coin. To forgive and move on.

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You might think “Wow. That’s a lot for a secondary science credit!” My job was to teach physics and freshman science. My mission was to teach life.

To renew or not? I just don’t know. Will I ever go back to education? I guess only time will tell.

Education Quote credits to http://quotesvana.com/quotes-about-education/

 

 

 

Family · Perspective

Thoughts from the Tractor Seat

While raking prairie hay and being launched against my tractor’s seat belt, I cursed how rough the pasture meadow was – pockmarked here and there with a coyote den or other abandoned hole. Then I backtracked. How blessed am I to be in that position?! On land that’s been in my family for over a hundred years, working with my husband, in sturdy steady equipment to get the job done. I felt like I was necessary.

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I also thought it humorous that it has been met with incredulity (even by my own children!) that YES, I was driving the tractor. Yes, this sorority girl and cheerleader was the main operator for this rig.

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not some version of bad@ss farmer or anything. I’ve done the labor for farming and ranching for the majority of my life on my family’s farm alongside my dad, mom, and sisters. My dad didn’t have any boys.

I guess this is where my own version of feminism comes in. I am perfectly, as is any other woman, capable of most of the tasks on the farm, in the hills, in the pasture, and in the field. For the heavy stuff, you bend your knees, straighten your back and team lift.

It’s actually only been in the last few years since I had children that I haven’t been hands-on farming somewhere. I miss it. It’s in my blood and history. Thankfully, it is also in my future!

Life changes and heat related fatigue (thanks MS) have altered the way I am able to work. If I don’t want to fight numbness and tingling, I have to watch the thermometer. This means I get a tractor or combine with air conditioning. No wheat truck for me this year at harvest. When I get overheated, I’m dragging for a couple of days – like heavy arms and legs – exhausted. Avoidance is key.

I’ll leave you with this beautiful picture of where I worked yesterday evening. Flyover country is truly breathtaking.

God's Country

#farmgirl #independentwoman #hardworkknowsnogender #hayseason

Family · Parenting

Sister Tact

My sisters. Oh the honesty that flows from their mouths. With tact occasionally, but not always, I know that I can trust them for an unbiased commentary. I appreciate that. Always.

Speaking of commentary, they both agreed with my opinion on bodysuits.

Thursday, my younger sis and I declared a road trip day with our kids to see our older sister. She’s only two hours to the south, but throw two jobs/ schedules to juggle and four kids into the car and it makes the trips less frequent than we’d like.

My younger sister has recently added screen printing and shirt design to her resume at a local shop part-time. In honor of her newfound talent, she designed and printed shirts for us. Then she proceeded to make us try them on, model, and take a picture.

IMG_1768‘Herd That.’ Get it? We grew up on a farm. Each of us have husbands in some form of the agriculture industry. Two of us are dipping our feet in as the 6th generation of farming. Pretty cool. It’s a new challenge- one that we are extremely grateful for!

Love the shirts. However, when trying them on my sisters noticed something…

Have you ever seen Bridget Jones Diary (1st one)? As I switched into my new blue customized shirt, my sisters burst out laughing. It was like that big tan panty scene.

This is a direct quote: “Where did that bra come from? You look like someone who’s been locked in the woodshed since the 1800’s. That’s awful. Literally like “hey honey, are you in the mood?” – lifts shirt – “Ummmm not now” – mood killer bad. Did you pay money for that?!”

giphyWe laughed until at least one of us snorted and there were tears all around. I tried to defend said one-size fits all, nude, sports, uni-boob bra, but to no avail. They were correct.

Sometimes as moms, we let ourselves go. It is so much easier to just grab something, throw it on, and put something nicer on the top. I mean seriously, how often does ANYONE see the underlayers? But then, sometimes you have to swap shirts in front of your sisters… and you get snapped back to reality- back to the days when you wore pretty underlayers just because it made you feel upbeat even though no one else saw them – back before you’d visited the Mommy & Me store for something that snapped easily for nursing.

giphy1Fine. You got me. I’ll buy something that actually fits and isn’t my same shade of pale.