Family · Parenting · Perspective

Kitchen Fairy

kitchen fairyDearest Kitchen Fairy-

Where did you go?

This was all clean by Saturday noon,
Tuesday morning it’s making me swoon.

And not in a good way,
Definitively I’ll loudly say!

Where are all the butter knives… For pete’s sake, where are my sinks?!
“It’s not a problem, use paper products!” my husband winks.

I’m glad everyone is in such good humor,
Kitchen fairy, you’ll never return? Is that the rumor?

Please say it isn’t so!!!

I guess in that long wait until you do,
I’ll just strap on my wings and dishes: wash a few.


True life. There isn’t a kitchen fairy, nor a laundry one. Just a mom, dad and two kids with helping hands.

So turn on some good music and strap on those wings dear family!!! Mom waved her wand over the kitchen before work this morning. You get to sprinkle your magic on the laundry tonight!

 

 

 

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Kindergarten

Kindergarten.

It’s centers and numbers, letters and games, grass grinders in PE and primary colors in Art. Musical songs about shapes are a regular concert at our house in the evenings.

She is flourishing and loves it. M thinks it is easy, fun, and doesn’t want to miss a single minute!

Five mornings a week, she bounces out the door to the bus. She’s gotten dressed, brushed hair and teeth, eaten breakfast, filled her water bottle and hugged her father and I. She puts on her pink backpack that is absolutely as big as she is, hops down the steps after her brother, crosses the lawn, and takes enormous steps up onto the yellow bus.

bus-20clip-20art-pc5eayKRi

At the end of the day, she takes those enormous steps back down off the bus to my office, her freckled cheeks flushed, bobbed strawberry hair wild, and lasts about 3 minutes before breaking down.

My sugar bean is tired. Naps were 1hr plus, 5/7 days a week before the school year started. She is young for her class, borderline to the point that we discussed holding her back just due to her age. Both her preschool teacher and my mom, an early Ed teacher, discouraged that. She’s bright, eager, and not having any behavioral issues, so she moved on.

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She would have been LIVID if we’d kept her back to half days in preschool. She does rest during “rest time” on her lime green towel. However, she made it very clear to us that she doesn’t HAVE to sleep then.

I took all this in consideration last night when our home was deep in the throes of a meltdown by 6pm. Sweet girl was asked to pick up 8 books and a retro (mine from the 80’s) My Little Pony stable in her room. Both kids are required to do one chore an evening – only one simple thing to help the family – i.e. pick up shoes, put away kitchen towels, pick up toys, sweep under the table, water flowers…

It. Was. Impossible. Tears sprung forth. Her body crumpled on the kitchen floor.

10 minutes in and the rest of us carrying on about life around her (this usually works), the waterworks weren’t letting up. Oh precious worn out little girl. I helped her get her dress off and pajamas on. I carried her to her room where she continued to sob.

I laid her on a pillow with a blanket and a snuggly stuffed animal. Sob. I told her she could rest there and gain control. Hugs. Sob. You need to pick up those books and pony stable before you can come out.

10 more minutes – I was in and out the door grilling. My husband and son were outside playing catch. It got quiet. I peeked in at her and saw that she was cleaning up her few items as asked.

She came out with her pillow, blanket, and stuffed animal and laid on the couch until dinner.

I’m not mother-of-the-year by any means. I’ve yelled and overreacted. However, this time it was obvious that compassion and patience were the keys to this sad situation.

No yelling. No time outs. No anger. Just compassion for a worn out little soul.

Aren’t we all feeling like this sometimes? Just too tired to take on anything else? We don’t always end up in a heap on the kitchen floor, but bless you if you have. Sometimes we just need a minute or thirty to compose and make sense of the task at hand.

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Hugs — Jen

**She was asleep shortly after 8pm. ūüôā

 

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Lists, Lies, and Toilet Brushes

Lists. I would assume that most of the world uses them to keep on track. Simple little reminders of what needs to be done or what has already been accomplished.

giphy1I, personally, still use a paper, spiral bound planner for my family’s functions. The reminders and feeling like I constantly HAVE to keep my phone with me prevents me from adding this part of my life to my digital almost-sidekick. I also love the feel of the paper under my pencil or pen and get a thrill out of opening a new package of highlighters. Office supply junkies – you know what I’m talking about ūüėČ

We’ve tried multiple lists at our house to help keep us on task, on schedule, organized, and functioning. These are usually for extra, non-daily projects or encouraging good behavior.

A few days of reacting like this Moana meme, but set at about 6:58am…¬†lists bloghad me considering ways to make our mornings a little smoother.

My creative, kind, morning-hating, 7 year old little boy tipped the scales this morning. He wants terribly to be more independent and for us to “stop telling him what to do.” Apparently, we are being bossy by asking him to wear shoes to school. Alrighty then…

His heavy-weight, scale tipping moment occurred this morning when he LIED to me about brushing his teeth.

I was across the room when I started asking. I hadn’t seen him go into that bathroom yet this morning. I was closing the distance, repeating my question. I warned him that lying would be a bad choice. He insisted that he had brushed them and looked sad.

Then I knelt next to him, asking him if it hurt his feelings that I didn’t believe him. I took his hand and calmly told him that I was sorry if it hurt his feelings, but when he argues (a problem lately) it makes me doubt him. I told him I would try harder to believe him and that he should try harder to respond appropriately when we talk.

Then I walked to the bathroom to put in my contacts. I reached up and felt his toothbrush – DRY. These bristles had NOT touched teeth this morning.

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He didn’t lie out of anger, fear, exhaustion, or any of the other emotions listed on the parenting sites,”Love and Logic,” and Grace-Based Parenting books I’ve read.

He lied out of defiance. He lied because we are “bossing” him. He lied because to him, this was an act of “I’m going to win this at all costs because I’m independent.”

All costs indeed. — All our toilets will be shiny and clean tonight.

Trust will have to be earned back.

Lying is NOT tolerated at our house. I’m a truth teller – even if it hurts – and sometimes it does. Don’t ask if you don’t want to know. We are consistent in our actions and words that the truth is always better than a lie. Less harm comes from just being honest than when you choose to lie then get caught or snowball it and THEN get caught.

After brainstorming and doing some research on lying and defiance, I decided we are back to the plan of a list. He’s a solid reader, thus can read his new list.

lists.jpg

As you can see, this is not rocket science. We are asking for daily, basic functions on school days. He has from 6:25 – 7:00am to complete his morning tasks, 5 days a week. The tasks are laid out. I will strive to give him the independence to accomplish these without my prompting within his given timeframe.

Evening activities are simple as well. We’ve already been doing all of these for a month. Homework is finished between 4-5pm depending on when I get out of the office. If we push homework later, it doubles the amount of time and exponentially increases the drama.

Time after these tasks are done is free. Do whatever you want. Play. Jump. Sing. Ride bikes. Read books. Puzzles. Whatever.

Who said this parenting stuff was easy??? Seriously. Raise your hand.

I’m hoping that by giving him the independence to get these tasks done and check them off the list, it will help fill his autonomy bucket. If his bucket is full, maybe it will stem the tide of arguing. Hopefully, this will result in realizing there is no need to lie about brushing teeth.

*sigh*

Onward.

Much love– Jen

 

 

 

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Foster Care

Yesterday was the first day of school. It was met with enthusiasm, an incredibly early wake-up time (before their alarms even sounded!!!), and anticipation of seeing friends again.

My son’s class has about 60 children. When we visited the elementary school earlier this week for Kindergarten Open House, we also ventured down the hall to 2nd grade to peek at his classroom. Because they ride the bus to school this year, I wanted to allay any fears I could since I wasn’t walking them to their classrooms on the first day.

As we perused the Charlie Brown themed room, we found his desk. I showed him that he would have actual textbooks this year for each subject. There was a chat about how to raise his hand instead of asking a neighbor. We talked about who we knew in his classroom.

At this point, he noticed a new little boy’s name on a desk adjacent to his. “Zach” He was pretty sure he didn’t know Zach. I had noticed Zach’s name at enrollment a few weeks ago on the class list. His teacher stated that Zach was new this year. Maybe T was willing to be a friend and help him meet people? My little guy said “sure.”

After his first day, he hopped in the car and began telling me how great it was. He had sloppy joes. Everybody is friends. He played kickball at both recesses. He raised his hand and didn’t get in trouble for talking too much.

I asked him if he met Zach. He said yes and then proceeded to tell me a whole pile of details about this new friend:

“Mom, Zach told me he is in foster care. He has a foster mom and a foster dad. He likes them. He’s originally from G******y. I think he has a little sister. I’ll ask him that tomorrow. Mom, I asked him to sit with me in the gym while we watched “Kid President.” He did. He’s nice. He played with me at recess. I don’t think he really knows anybody else yet. He sat with somebody else at lunch. I asked him if he knew A___ and C_____. He didn’t.”

Bud, do you know why some kids are in foster care?
(A and C are family friends who fostered kids prior to moving here.)

“Yes, it’s because their parents don’t want them anymore.”

No. That isn’t it. – I sadly and carefully chose my words. Foster care is something that has been heavy on my heart for the past few years. I’m not sure where my place is in foster care, but I’m praying for clarity.

“Foster care happens when Zach’s mom or dad aren’t able to take care of him well enough right now. He goes to stay with another mom or dad or both until his mom or dad can take good care of him.”

So he might not stay here?

“If or when his mom or dad are able to take care of him again, he will probably go back to their house. We want Zach to be taken care of well and loved. Sometimes it takes moms or dads time to figure out how to do that. Until then, you should help Zach to meet the other guys and be his friend.”

Ok Mom. I like Zach. Hey mom, did you know tomorrow is the carnival? …..

That was a heavy conversation for the first day of school.

Foster care.

Perspective · Uncategorized

The Finger Wag

Does it ever feel like people everywhere around you are wagging their fingers in disapproval?

You talked to who?giphy

You were blatantly, yet gently honest about what?

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You fed your kids that?

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You didn’t post anything about this online?

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You get the picture. Everybody has an opinion about what, this, that, who, when, where, and why.  And bless them, thanks to an online presence, they feel the need to share it. Unfortunately, a lot of people are of the reactively, firm feeling that we must all agree on it on every unique detail as well.

Here is where things get sticky. As in all families – and in this nation we are technically one big family – it is incredibly rare for details to be agreed upon. For pete’s sake, have you ever tried to set a time for a holiday with 40 relatives???

What I am pleading for people to ponder is that we don’t have to do everything loudly and as an instantaneous reaction. Consider this Heineken beer ad titled “Worlds Apart.” It suggests actually sitting down for a civil conversation instead of instant judgement and finger wagging.

I offer this and the survey below as a thought process in approaching almost ALL differences of opinion – even the simple ones like if I caved and bought generic Lucky Charms instead of granola for their yogurt.

Do a little mental survey before typing that comment:
1) Is this worth my energy to disagree and debate?
2) Am I coming at this from a place of seeing the big picture or just my own microcosm?
3) Is my response bitter, hateful, and laced with expletives or factual, respectful, and willing to discuss?
4) Is it possible to seek a compromise? Why or why not?
5) Have I prayed about it?

Monday morning, I was praying about a situation. Specifically, I was asking for peace in my heart over it. As I was praying, it occurred to me clear as day, that maybe I wasn’t supposed to feel peace in this moment? Maybe I was feeling the unease so I could address and work to resolve it. Goodness, that isn’t the easy, comfortable road I was hoping for…

Sometimes thoughtful silence isn’t a blissful moment of ignoring or condoning tough events. Rather, it is part of the process of seeking the best path forward to resolution. An explosive reaction or opinion rarely does anyone well in the long run. So please, stop wagging your finger at me for not joining in the fray.

 

 

**Due to the timing of my post, I’m aware that some may read into this blog entry as being specifically about Charlottesville and/or the state of race relations in the USA. It isn’t. That is feeding into my thoughts, but this is not a direct reflection of that. I am absolutely not condoning or approving in any fashion the behaviors, beliefs or hateful mindset that went into that situation. It was/ is a tragedy. With rare exception, I am not a reactive person. I am processing and trying to understand, other than feeling extreme sadness, nausea, and frustration, how and where to direct my efforts to improve and contribute to our nation healing as a family.**

 

 

 

Fitness · Parenting

To Quote a Baseball Player

This summer, I have the privilege of assisting with both my children’s baseball teams.

 

baseballcoach
Photo by A. Arnold.

 

To set a little groundwork, both leagues are sponsored by local clubs. The Lion’s Club sponsors the boys. The Rotary Club sponsors the girls. This keeps the season cost¬†down to $15 for the boys and FREE for the girls. The boys get to keep their t-shirts. The girls return them at the end of the season. Our boy’s team¬†consists of¬†ages 7-8. The girls are ages 4-7. It’s a hoot!

Best quotes from the boys:

  • “I know you put me as last batter because I’m a slugger!”
  • “I’m like a vacuum for balls.”
  • “Did you see me do a burnout?”
  • “Watch this! I can do the splits!”

He really could do the splits! All the way down. He demonstrated it during both practice and at the last two games on 1st base and on the final out at home. Impressive!

Best quotes from the teeny tiny (mostly preschool) girls we are teaching the basics to:

  • “Can I ask my mom now if I can go home?” – 2nd inning in the outfield
  • “Are you sure we can’t go play on the playground?” – before the game even started
  • “But I’m so sweaty!” – We really haven’t been up past 80 degrees yet.
  • “I really need a vacation!” – almost done with our 3rd of 3 innings.

In addition to quotes and seeing¬†both groups of kids learn and grow in coordination, there are obvious differences between the genders. I’m not trying to stereotype here, but honestly, this has to be nature.

From the get-go when t-ball started two years ago for our family, the boys have been eager to run, optimistic to smack the ball, and exuberant to get the games started! Now in coach pitch, multiply those characteristics by 200%.

The itty bitty girls are excited to start the game once the playground idea is shot down, cautiously optimistic about hitting the tball but not as¬†vicious with the bat swings, and only into it for as long as required, including at least one group trip to the bathroom. Our 6-7yr old girls are definitely more “into it” than our younger ones.

mady tball

Skipping between bases. I don’t mean missing a base. This is actual hop, skip, jump, skipping from base to base. Quite the creative¬†phenomenon to witness. I’m sure if there was music, some of the kids would dance from 1st to 2nd.

Boys and girls are similarly encouraging for their teammates. It was uplifting and sweet to hear them cheer each other’s names as they stepped up to the plate. The boys dogpiled the last kid to snag a line drive on the final play of the game last week. They nearly took down our most solid-statured player (100#, 5′,¬†7yr old)¬†after he hit an in-the-park grand slam. The excitement is contagious.

Summer baseball is a gift. It is pure, honest fun for the kids, coaches, parents, and friends that come to watch.

To quote our little baseball players from both teams- “I can’t wait for the next game!”

 

Creativity · Family · Parenting · Perspective

Puddles, Bikes, and Sprinklers- Oh My!

Here we are! June 1st. We are officially one week into summer break.

To date we’ve:

  • gone fishing
  • thrown water balloons
  • watched Pete’s Dragon and ate popcorn
  • skipped every single nap
  • coach pitch practice
  • played a coach pitch baseball game
  • played one t-ball game
  • tossed the Frisbee
  • grilled the last 4/7 nights
  • played catch
  • rode bikes
  • went for¬†walks
  • played in puddles
  • planted flowers and tomatoes
  • started summer chores which include weeding the garden and being in¬†charge of¬†his/her own¬†laundry
  • missed our bedtime by at least 1.5hrs every single night
  • Memorial Day festivities – parade, bouncy house, 5K color run
  • Memorial Day visit to the cemetery to pay respects to our military and loved ones
  • ran thru the sprinkler – two different days
  • church
  • helped on the farm
  • and¬†frustrated assisted this working mom at the office.

Whew… It’s already June 1st!

This morning I ran into a friend at the coffee shop. I don’t normally hit the coffee shop, but we are celebrating a birthday at our house today. He requested a breakfast bowl from Kettle and thus my stop.

kettleWe were talking about our summers and what we have planned. Her boys are close in age to my own crew. Her schedule sounded like it was packed with fun, but BUSY. She teaches at the local college, so she has her summers at home with the guys. They have baseball and camps and practices and reading programs and…

When she asked about our summer, I said yes Рwe have baseball two nights a week in the month of June. We also have one basketball camp planned for a couple mornings in July and some swim lessons when we can squeeze them in. That was pretty much it. I chose to say no to everything else.

We said no to the reading program at the library. We said no to any extra academic camps. We said no soccer camp. We said no to traveling baseball. We said no to pretty much everything else.

And it feels GOOD.

Saying NO¬†is how we said¬†YES to all the other things we’ve done the past week.

A few months ago, I was getting the message loud and clear that I needed to prioritize my family’s time. C’mon!!! Three different books – all with the same message – being given to me in the same week by three unique individuals?!

Yesterday, my devotion included the message of choosing WHERE to be busy with my time. This message goes for my children as well. Do I want my children to choose being busy on a tablet or in front of the TV?

Not really.

The complaint from my littles at the office yesterday was that they were bored. B.O.R.E.D. They wanted entertainment. More so, they wanted ME to entertain them.

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Nope. Nada. Not happening. This fits firmly under the category of “Not my duty as a parent.” I explained (again) to them that I gave birth twice so they would have each other as playmates. Furthermore, they have fabulous imaginations, working eyes, legs, and arms, and a safe environment to enjoy within a block of the office. I can see them on the basketball court thru the window from my desk.

“Go outside and entertain yourselves! Create something new!”

It’s a big beautiful world out there! Kids, choose to be busy having the freedom of childhood and making memories instead of leveling up. If as children, he/she wants to spend¬†free time practicing, that’s fine. It’s¬†personal choice.¬†I balk at the idea of scheduling their summers full of activities and requirements (other than normal family responsibilities – you aren’t getting out of your chores that easy!).

This summer break, we are opting to say NO, so that we can choose to say YES to quality time and fun together.

My kids will hopefully see less of this view and more of me face to face, laughing, playing, and actually being. Not just as mom – the harried, working, hustling-everybody-everywhere driver.IMG_1273