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.

tunnel

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.

blog 7-2 little girls
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.

 

blog 7-2 KS Sunset
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

Family · Love · Parenting · Perspective

Summer Showdown

I’m up against a battle of wills, folks.  Fairly certain that I’ve already faced what might be the ultimate summer battle of “who’s in charge” with my 5yr old daughter.

It was over one basket of clean, folded laundry. Now don’t let your imagination run away… She isn’t Cinderella.
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It wasn’t everyone’s clothes.

She only has three chores a day AND she gets to choose two of them.

Her other choices include things like “pick up the shoes,” “read books for 30 minutes,” and “help clean up after dinner.”

Her task was to take the already folded clothes and sort them into already labeled piles of shirts, dresses, shorts, pants, and undies. The plan was that following her sort, I would be able to pull the winter vs. summer items and the size that she grew out of. Voila! Her drawers would be ready for summer.

20 items – approximately a 10 minute task – that she has done before.

This little spit-fire of mine decided this was officially the hill she was willing to die on.

After offering multiple accommodations, as in putting her bean bag chair in just the right spot, giving words of encouragement and hugs, and even setting a timer to help speed the process up… she sorted two items.

She dug her heels in. Crossing her freckled little arms, she sobbed to me that she wasn’t going to do it. Just WAS NOT going to sort those clothes. I said “Fine, but nothing fun until this is done.”

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The timer was set for 30 minutes because that is exactly how long I had before the kids and I headed up to the office. Following an afternoon of work, she was scheduled to have t-ball practice.

30 minutes passed and the project had no progress. Sweet thing lost t-ball practice because this Mama isn’t playing the delay game. At 5:15 that evening, she was still holding out. Sweet thing lost her bike, cartoons, music, and games until the basket was sorted…

Life went on around her. I prepped dinner. Her brother played outside on the patio. 45 more minutes of life.

Approximately six, yes SIX, hours after the request was made, she grumpily sat down and separated her shirts from her pants.

It took eight minutes.

This one set the tone for who was in charge this summer. Goodness help me!!! I’m the mom. I’m in charge of setting boundaries and teaching responsibility. Obedience to her parents and respect for adults is non-negotiable at age 5.

She is welcome to make choices about the smaller things like her wardrobe or which veggie she eats or Candyland instead of Connect4. I don’t care if she puts flowers with polka dots or mixes her favorite red Wonder Woman shirt with pink shorts. I honestly didn’t even flinch when she ate Pizza Combos and mandarin oranges for breakfast last week.

Summer Showdown: MOM-1, M-0

I must not have scarred her too much with the laundry debacle. She painted this picture of us yesterday. Just look at that hair… Ha! Happy summer! Keep your sense of patience and humor! 🙂

Madysen Paint 5-30-18

 

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Cheers to the end of the School Year!

Two-thirds of our dishes are dirty in the sink. Two large unfolded baskets of clean laundry sit in the middle of my living room. Two backpacks spilling over with school supplies lean against our kitchen island. Lunchboxes sit still loaded with the remnants of field trips. Dirty clothes haven’t made it to the hamper.

It’s chaos.

But, I’ll take it. Wednesday was the last day of school. We are officially on summer break! We made it!

We will start operation School Supply Sort and Stash later today. I’ll enjoy the mess knowing my children successfully learned new skills and grew up by inches and pounds. As they sleep with their precious exhausted heads on their pillows tonight, I’ll be happy.

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Cheers to a successful academic year being complete!