Faith · Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective

Three Legged Race

Just in case you’re wondering if I’m still here… yes… yes I am. I wrote an entry a couple of weeks ago, published, and deleted it. I wrote last week, but after a re-read it was just too personal (see family issues below).

My crew and I just crossed the finish line on three ridiculous months of juggling all-things-life. giphy-3

Summary:

  • Busiest season at work
  • Husband/ business partner gone long-term twice
  • Multiple school programs
  • Volunteer activities at church and in community
  • Christmas gathering – then Christmas again – then Christmas again
  • Annual MS scan and labs – I always EXPECT these to go well, just anxiety.
  • Driving the mom-bus to gymnastics, 4-H, and youth group
  • Kids’ orthodontist appointments – EVERY MONTH!!! What?!?!
  • And then we slide into this past week….
    • Family issues
    • Finding out I am signed up for treats both Tuesday and Wednesday at school
    • Being called a “dirty whore” by an addict on my way into the pancake supper at church when I asked her if she needed help. Then she looked at my husband and said he’s “a good guy” and we “have nice kids.” Right…..

So there you go. It was more of a three-legged race where we were also supposed to be rubbing our bellies and patting our heads while singing Christmas carols with gusto.

Preposterous…

giphy-2

My end of the year reflection is an annual occurrence. As if on repeat, my head shakes at lunacy we’ve just subjected ourselves to. Following closely behind the head shaking is a vow that “next year will be different!”

We can only hope.

 

Faith · Perspective

No Resolutions

I am diving into 2019 with no resolutions. This whole situation puzzles me. Planning and setting goals is my thing. However, one lesson 2018 events taught me and continues to teach me each day is the best laid plans typically end up being altered or scrapped altogether.

The study I did with my local women’s group this fall helped me to shift my thinking to being content in my current moment. Content does not always equal happy. Content means I’m not looking forward past my current situation thinking that I’m missing something and better things are ahead. The task is to find the best in the present and rest in that. It’s the difference between flailing or trying not to drown and rolling over onto my back and floating with the current.

I may choose a word to help me focus in the coming year, but that will wait until the dust settles a bit from the holiday season. End of year at work coupled with an entire month of family gatherings discards itself as a mental fog.

e6889c16724a86d102c49f88eedbdad5--kayaking-quotes-photography-tutorials

Best wishes for 2019 and much love,

Jen

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving. All day yesterday, my friends posted pictures of glowing, happy families and people taking naps after overeating. 

This year, none of that happened for us. After an incredibly contentious morning with my children where they fought me on everything from underwear to turning off light switches, we did go to my parents’ house. I had a good cry and told them they were not allowed to talk to me in the car.

Twenty-five minutes into the drive, my son accidentally (maybe?) punched my daughter in the ear. This set off the fireworks in the backseat. Domino-style, it started a sad and angry lecture from me about how when you treat others badly, you end up feeling bad too. 

We arrived at my mom and dad’s to find that my dad has come down with a terrible cold. He is hacking, coughing in fits, sneezing and basically needs quarantined. No hugs for dad. No hugs from papa for the kids.

We didn’t eat a traditional meal. We reheated taco meat. I made quesadillas on the George Foreman grill for my family. Mine was just chili beans, a tortilla and salsa. I sincerely wish manufacturers would hold off on the dairy in everything. It was in my mom’s taco seasoning! They finished it off with a couple of frozen chocolate cupcakes my mom had in her freezer. I had a handful of grapes.

My mother was an angel and took the kids out to explore and play for two hours. I took a much needed hour-long nap. My son had slept walked into my room the night before. It was sleep staccato-style.

Basically, as a summary and stopping the story there, you can see that this was anything but a normal family celebration. My children have been hard this week, to say the least… To top it off, after looking at the weather forecast, it seems highly unlikely that my husband will return this weekend. It just won’t be possible to travel on Sunday if the snow and blizzard conditions move in like the meteorologists are forecasting.

I’m finding this week that I’m leaning in on my faith more than ever. The prayers are constantly streaming from my thoughts- both praising in good and tough and petitioning for safe travel and patience.

Although I’m struggling to enjoy my children, I am thankful for them. Thanksgiving was missing both my sisters and their families due to other commitments, but I am grateful for their companionship this week via text messages. My husband, mom, and dad are always on my list of reasons to be grateful. The window may be foggy right now, but my view of my world can still be bright and positive.

IMG_4508.PNG

Happy Thanksgiving to you, however you celebrated. Truly, it is about gratefulness. The food is just a perk.

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Struggle Bus

Well…. I’m so glad that I had such a great perspective on parenting a few days ago. Put me on the struggle bus. My husband is gone for nine days, three states away, with limited phone service. So there’s that.

Let me brag a minute about how fantastic my 8 year old son has been. He helped unload the dishwasher, cleaned up our frozen and sagging pumpkins in the yard, and did his homework with absolutely no complaints or second guessing. I’m genuinely enjoying his company.

Nugget – age 6- was put to bed sobbing last night after being downright nasty and without remorse for it. Following prayers, she had the option of continuing to sob in her bed or reading books. She did them both, respectively. She lost her chance at getting to invite a friend over to play after school today because she launched a marker at her brother’s head as hard as she could yesterday. Again, without remorse. The previous day, she accused me of never making any food- EVER- that she wants to eat. Well honey, we don’t all want to survive on bologna and mac’n’cheese… Then my precious girl followed her refusal to eat the chicken, stuffing, corn, and fruit with an epic meltdown where she was unable to make nice words come out of her mouth. “Mom, I just CAN’T make those words come out of my mouth.” *sob* These are all just samples of the overall behavior and attitude.

I’d say this is related to her dad being gone, but we’ve been on this ride for well over five weeks.

Where is Mary Poppins when you need her? Super Nanny Jo? Bueller? Anybody?

Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Thursday Thoughts

Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn’t know you left open.

John Barrymore

This is what writing is to me. It’s happiness. I love to write with paper and pencil. The feel of the pencil gliding over the paper soothes my busy mind. Every two weeks, I try to utilize 30 minutes of early morning devotional time to write. Words flow freely from my mind through my hand. Pieces of my soul marked in my handwriting. My middle of the night insomnia sessions are where my best thoughts flow. Will I ever write that book I’ve been dreaming of authoring since elementary school?

The journey is never ending. There’s always gonna be growth, improvement, adversity; you just gotta take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.

Antonio Brown

Marriage – When I took my wedding vows, full of excitement and passion, I vowed to love him until death do us part in good and bad. I still do. I’m still promising that. It’s deeper and stronger than I could have ever imagined. What I don’t think either of us realized at that point is that we vowed to love – deeply, strongly, confidently, and with covenant – is that we might not always like each other. It is completely unreasonable to vow to like someone all the time. Sometimes, we don’t even like ourselves. The majority of the time, the real issue is with yourself. Your partner’s job, promise, and covenant is to love you thru that. Those valleys are where you grow. Look up. Valleys only happen between mountains. Start climbing.

Loving a child doesn’t mean giving in to all his whims; to love him is to bring out the best in him, to teach him to love what is difficult. 

Nadia Boulanger

Parenting – “My child is having a hard time. She is not giving me a hard time.” These words were on repeat this morning in my head starting at 4:32am. Our 6yr old woke up and needed to use the bathroom. Sleep did not find her again… and after two hours of cuddling, it was time to get dressed for school. Cue the sobs. Cue the stomps, whines, pointing, and tantrum. Deep breaths. She is not non-verbal. Her biggest character downfall is her inability to use her words to ask for help or admit when she is incorrect. It’s easier to stomp and sob. Going the tough route with her doesn’t help. She is stubborn and has to make the decision herself. When she threw her twisted sweatshirt at my feet, I refused to help her pull the sleeves out until she verbally asked for help. Her father did the same thing when she furiously swung her brush at him instead of just asking him to help her brush her hair. It was a doozy of a morning. 90% of them are nothing like this. I set a timer and told her she needed to have her fit turned off by the time it went off or she was destined for bed immediately when she arrived home with me this evening. Miraculously (tongue-in-cheek) her tantrum was over about 10 seconds before the timer dinged. Hugs all around before she ran out the door to the bus. Then her father and I considered Mimosas or Bloody Mary’s for breakfast… not really, but we both had to take our own frazzled nerves and anxiety down a couple notches before we came to work. Parenting is not for the weak-willed or faint of heart.

“I always loved running…it was something you could do by yourself, and under your own power. You could go in any direction, fast or slow as you wanted, fighting the wind if you felt like it, seeking out new sights just on the strength of your feet and the courage of your lungs.” 

Jesse Owens

I’m signed up for a spring 2019 half marathon. I didn’t run one in 2018, although I did take on a hill-filled 10K (actually 6.7miles). Half Marathon Number Five. I ran my first 13.1mi organized race a couple of months before my MS diagnosis. Now I need a goal to get my consistency back. After swearing I wouldn’t run another unless I was trained well enough to knock 10 minutes off my previous finish time, my focus has shifted. Many months of just drifting along… I’m ready to get back in the current and head for something. What it is, I’m not sure. The steady beat of my feet and breathing in and out assist my brain in sorting thoughts. We shall see… we shall see.

As you attempt to make big differences, remember to appreciate the small differences.  And remember that you don’t always have to reach the goal you set in order to make a difference.

Win Borden

Be kind today friends. Find a way to lift someone else up. Even if you are dwelling in the valley right now, reach up and out. Be gracious.

Wear the fancy dress. Tell the joke and laugh at it. Do that cannon ball into the pool. Dance in your kitchen. 


Much love — Jen

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Both Sides of the Coin

As we drove to Parent-Teacher conferences this morning, I gave my husband the run-down of activities and meetings for the next two days. If you remember my post from earlier this fall, you’ll recall that we took a “not at this time” stance to almost ALL extracurricular activities so we could regroup as a family – no flag football, no dance classes, no tumbling…

The list isn’t long – Parent Teacher Conferences 8:20-9am, an orthodontist appointment at noon, customers who scheduled ahead, and an awards ceremony Friday evening that should last only an hour.

I was struck by irony when he looks at me and says “Ugh… could we have anything else on the schedule!”

 Backstory: A couple times a month since July, I’ve reminded my husband gently clearly that I need his emotional support and leadership as a parent and as a spouse to make all-the-little-things work in our family. One of his love languages is to love us by providing at which he is amazing. *Take the time to do that study (5 Love Languages) if you are in a relationship!*

As a woman with only two hands and 24 hours in the day, I am incapable of doing it all without feeling completely depleted, beat down, and depressed. There – I said it – depressed. Out of routine and unable to juggle everybody’s everything, I’ve entertained the idea of simply running away. I know, it’s a super grown-up, mature thought (sarcasm).

giphy

Fortunately, I know I’m loved and love myself too much to do this. We have to work together to balance both of us working full-time, two full-of-life children, a marriage relationship, and minimal hobbies that keep us sane. On top of that, we both need alone time to recharge.

Last week, we hit these topics with force. (Read that as “the ship was going down…”) Since that meltdown conversation, we’ve been quite in-sync and actually offering to help each other with daily tasks that make life easier.

I can’t help think that his reaction to my short list for the next two days is somewhat attached to that previous conversation. He’s been putting in so much effort that he’s seeing the other side of the coin. Marriage and kids take both sides of the coin to function. 13 years of marriage… still learning!

giphy1

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Observations

Nothing prolific or astounding to report here today. Rather, just a couple of observations from the weekend and a Monday at work.

One – My home is not a staging area for a HGTV show. It likely never will be. I’m good with that. We don’t just exist here. We LIVE here. Work here. Play here. Life happens here. My home isn’t dirty – it’s lived in. Instead of apologizing to people or not inviting them over, I’ve decided to adopt the motto “Clean or Chaos – You are welcome here.”

Created with Microsoft Fresh Paint

Two- Today is Day #4 of rain and cold, damp, dreary weather. Coming from the sunny Midwest USA, this weather makes me want to eat-all-the-things. I’ve already broken out the hot vanilla chai tea. I’m trying to tell myself that it isn’t really time to hibernate yet, but the meteorologist is forecasting our first freeze this weekend.

Three – The absolute worst part of owning a business has to be the phone calls to local customers who haven’t paid. There are very, very few of these. We have FANTASTIC customers. Even though facts are facts and the fact is that “item _____ was rented from ____ to ____” or “part _____ was ordered and shipped,” it doesn’t mean that people will pay in a timely manner. We mail the invoice, then go the phone route, then the letter route, then the phone reminder about the letter route…. and this last week we took someone to court for the first time in 10 years. These customers are few and far between. Life happens. I totally understand that. How do you balance grace and empathy with business?

Four – When I woke my six year old daughter up this morning, I swear I had a flashback. For just a brief moment, she looked just like she did as an infant. It made my heart swell and sink at the same time. The hours and minutes leading up to this might have been long, stressful, and trying. Fast and fleeting are the years that passed to this moment.

Mady5