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).

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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!

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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.”

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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

 

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

To do or not to do?

I called my mom for reassurance. I’m a 35 year old woman who needed to hear my mom say “I think that’s a good idea for your family.”

The conversation has been mulling around in my brain for days. Do we or don’t we enroll in fall dance classes? Maybe we should try tumbling instead? Do we or don’t we encourage our son to sign up for fall flag football?

Leaning hard to the “No.” side of things, this was definitely a conversation that needed my spouse’s input. Although I am the chief get-kids-to-their-destination driver, everything we sign up for impacts all of us. Dinner schedules, my level of stress, when I need to leave work, can I work late?… All the pieces revolve around what we are committed to..

The pressure to sign up for extra kid’s activities is immense. It’s a weight I never giphy8anticipated carrying. The cost isn’t great either. Art classes, sports, dance, tumbling, volunteer opportunities, library activities…

Is my child going to be left out if she/he doesn’t sign up? Will they be athletically or academically behind?

Honestly… the answer is no.

No- all the way – no. Last time I checked, my 8 year old wasn’t trying out to be on the farm team (aka the minor leagues) for major league baseball. My daughter isn’t going to be in the Rockettes at age 6. Nor will taking the fall semester off from extra classes stunt their abilities.

Drawing this line in the sand will hopefully allow my family and friends time to be together. Let’s grill out on the patio for dinner! How about a nice bike ride on a Tuesday night after school? Invite a friend over to play for a couple of hours? Sure. I don’t need to schedule around this class or that class.

This basically sounds like utopia after the frenzied summer we’ve had. Although I swore we weren’t going to be THAT overscheduled family, we absolutely were. To say no… it’s a bold choice in our current culture. Being busy, scheduled, and enrolled in everything imaginable to enrich ourselves has left us all drained.

Our conversation about this was short and sweet. My husband agreed completely. Now, to finish convincing myself that I’m not blighting my children’s interests and aspirations I called my mother. She listened without judgement as I presented my case for NOT being involved and replied “I think that’s a good idea for your family.”

Isn’t it sad that the pressure to please others is so great that I needed to hear my mother reassure me that I was making the correct choice for MY family? Thank goodness for amazing beautiful souls like hers.

Don’t we all want to have the freedom in our schedule to do things like this?

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After a fall semester off from the extras, it’s possible that we will be ready and eager to do winter activities like basketball or dance. Perhaps we’ll discover that we enjoy less time running around. Either way, we’ll roll with it when it comes.

Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Nancy Drew and other Happenings

Heart Check+ (idea courtesy of Fierce Marriage podcast):

  1. What book is in my hand?
  2. What voice is in my ear?
  3. What’s God stirring in my heart?
  4. Most exciting event of the week?

1 — “The Way the Crow Flies” by Ann-Marie MacDonald. I’ve also read Llama Llama Red Pajama and a box of “Bob” books this past week with my 6yr old. As riveting as those books are, my library choice is just starting to grip my interest. It hasn’t yet reached the point of taking it with me to bed and keeping me up late to read. Maybe a few more chapters before I hit that point? So far… Madeleine’s family has just moved into their new home and are hosting a BBQ for the neighbors. Mr. Froelich is quite seriously explaining why it is important to reach the moon first…

2 — Nancy Drew. Yes. That’s the voice in my 35 year old ear. We Carolyn Keenechecked out a 3-CD set of audio books. “Curse of the Arctic Star” was a good listen and a welcome change-up to the radio. Both kids listened intently in the car everywhere we went for the past week. No arguments. We’d pause it and discuss the exciting points or who we thought the culprit was. Tomorrow we take this one back and get the next installment!

3 — Encouragement. It’s been the message the past few weeks at church and keeps popping up on my social media and in my devotions. Encouragement for me to have courage to step out of my comfort zone. Encouragement to lend a helping hand. Encouragement to show love to all those around me and making sure the glory isn’t mine. (Hint, it’s God’s!) Encouragement to be a light to those around me. I have specific examples, but if I post them… isn’t that seeking glory for that moment? So I’ll just keep making the rounds “catching and releasing” kindness and encouragement to those around me.

4 — In other news, my 8 year old jumped and dived off the diving board at the pool for the FIRST TIME today! I’m so proud of him!!! Yes, that warrants three exclamation points. He struggled with ear problems and tubes for the first 6 years of his life. This stalled him out in terms of getting comfortable in the water. He has worked so hard the last two years to learn to float, then to swim, and finally this summer – IT CLICKED! Deep water, water slides, and the diving board are all major accomplishments!

My kids aren’t natural fish, which is super frustrating for this mother. The water feels natural for me. I married a land-lover who can’t swim. Our children seem to be an interesting mix of the two of us (in many, many ways!). We agree that either the kids know how to swim or they stay out of the water. It’s the “in-betweeners” that are in the greatest danger of drowning. Here’s to hoping that our 6 year old eventually catches on. She is also looking to be a land lover at this point…

Have you read anything worthy of losing sleep over? Any great audio book suggestions for kids?

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Tunnel Vision

Deep in the tunnel, you can’t understand what’s going on outside. You have no empathy or compassion for anyone outside your tunnel. You don’t have patience for their problems or struggles because you just can’t see them from any perspective other than being garbled noise in your own tunnel.

If you do hear what others around you are saying, you don’t hear it as it is meant. It’s jumbled and ricocheted around like an echo.

Tunnel vision is harmful to you and hurtful to those around you.

Other people must be wrong because you just can’t see their opinion making sense from where you are.

It’s easier to think “just let someone else deal with it.” Push it off on someone who isn’t in your tunnel. That will improve the situation. Just don’t deal with it.

Stress levels are at an all time high. Running consistently there for the past month. It narrows the tunnel.

Tunnel vision. Take those blinders off.

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Faith · Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Value of Time

June is over. At the end of every month I think to myself “Wow, now I can take a breath.” All the while, we are living our ups and downs, celebrating and mourning, thriving and struggling thru weeks, months, days, and moments.

June was full of all of the above descriptions. Big commitments included baseball for both kids, wheat harvest, baling straw, and (as always) work. The smaller moments category encompassed watching the sunsets and stars, sighting lightning bugs, digging our first couple hills of new potatoes, and putting together puzzles. Sprinkled in between are cousin-exchange days, quick trips to the pool and lake, church activities and way more fast-food than we should have consumed in a 30 day period.

It was a whirlwind. I must say though… I don’t think I have any moments (except that one complete mommy meltdown) that I regret spending my time on.

All this twirling and whirling causes me to be introspective. What is the actual value of my time? Is it monetary? Is it emotional? Is it in physical toll?

Truly, I’ve been mulling this over for quite awhile. I have friends that will drive a hour one way (60+miles) to go to a discount grocery store and suggest that I do the same. “Oh the savings are HUGE! I bought eggs for $0.39! Then we grabbed a meal (or shopped elsewhere) and drove home.”

This frustrates me.

Upon suggesting I do the same, I let them know politely that I do not have 3 hours in my daily, weekly, or monthly schedule to dedicate to groceries. I’d rather use my coupon app at our local grocery store, shop my list and the markdowns, and get it done in the 15 minutes I have before I pick my kids up from daycare after a day of work. #shoplocal

(Honestly, I’m not sure how much you’re really saving by the time you add in 120+ miles of gas and wear on your vehicle and a meal at a restaurant. But hey, if that’s how you roll – good for you!)

The way I look at it, I’ve just banked 2hrs and 45 minutes to spend doing things like riding bikes, gardening, or hosting a playdate.

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Princess dresses and manicures

It’s taken effort to place a value on time. I’ve said “no” or “today is not the day” to more things than I thought I would this summer. Furthermore, I’ve cleared an entire week in July and said we are scheduling NOTHING during those 7 days.

The value isn’t just monetary. It is physical and emotional. Running in a thousand different directions to shuttle this child to this event and to make sure I’ve picked that item up from that location is exhausting. It makes my whole body weary. My mind gets foggy. Anxiety grips my heart. Emotionally I’m a bear. Instead of easily seeing the joy, I have to remind myself it’s okay to smile and laugh. Overall, it’s daunting when there is no value placed on time.

This must be fate that I am writing this today. I saw a quote from Handmade by Heroes just before I attempted to finish this entry. “Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice because that flow has passed and will never pass again.”

I don’t want to miss moments like this because I’ve undervalued my time.

Unplanned. Unscheduled. These moments are full of worth to me.

 

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Harvest Sunset 2018, Kansas, USA

 

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

He Grew

So many things to write, but before I squeeze in my run between devotions this morning and rousing kids for eye appointments…

He grew. My little boy isn’t so little anymore. He turned 8 this spring.

Last night we attended my niece’s softball game. As I sat in my lawn chair, my “little” boy climbed on my lap. All solid, long 75lbs of him. I couldn’t see over him. My forearms and legs from the knees down were all my family could see of me.

He grew. I swear it was just a short while ago he was snuggling all the way up and fitting against my chest.

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He grew.

My goodness that went fast! It’s as if he changes every single day. He still has the heart to climb up on my lap, but how much longer until he won’t fit?

My heart aches a bit. It’s beautiful and bittersweet to observe and be a parent. My, oh my, how fast they grow!

I need to go run my emotions out now. He won’t understand why I’m  teary-eyed at his eye exam.

Much love today — Jen