Family · Love · Parenting

Morning Glimpse

It isn’t a great picture. I was trying to be covert.

Aside from the obvious imperfections in my photography skills, I love this picture. It illustrates the love between a little girl and her father. Hugs are given each morning before she or he leaves for school or work.

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The bond between father and daughter is truly a special quality.

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.

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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

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/

 

 

 

Perspective · Uncategorized

August 21

Today is Eclipse Day! We will be a little over 98% totality. I look forward to stepping out of the office and checking it out. The last eclipse I was awake/ alive/ aware enough to witness, I remember doing the pinhole method with some cardboard on the sidewalk following strict instruction NOT to look at the sun. Hopefully I get some good footage or pictures!

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Today is the first day of the first full week of school. The kids were DRAGGY this morning. Cross your fingers for us. This will be a long week. We already had a tearful time-in in the littlest one’s bedroom after a complete meltdown because daddy touched and offered to help put the frosting on a toaster strudel. Eeeek…

Today is the day of the month I schedule all online payments at work. The password book and I get reacquainted. I generally end up frustrated, muttering curses at my computer, and change a few passwords as some sites have started requiring frequent changes. Ugh. Cyber security.

Today I sent a bag of cucumbers with my son to give to a teacher at school. I wish there were about half a dozen more people who wanted cucumbers. I pick every 3-4 days and end up with 15 pounds or so at each picking. Most local gardeners have high production this year, so there aren’t a lot of people willing to take a bag. Last week I literally walked down the street offering them to people. The peppers have also picked up. Today I will find a few more recipes to use with jalapenos and garden salsa varieties and hit my mom up for her pickle recipe.

Today I read an article I didn’t agree with. It was a well-written opinion piece. Although I believe the author had some valid points, I thought it only described one side of the coin. It didn’t color outside the lines of her personal stereotypes. It left very little room for compromise to be found or a constructive path forward unless you agreed with her. Instead of making me indignant of my experiences, it broadened my horizon in that I am now aware of a very different belief set than my own. Isn’t that how constructive dialogue begins?

Today is August 21. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

 

Family · Parenting · Perspective

Top 10: It’s Time for Summer Break

You are probably seriously wondering who is more eager to be done this year… me or my kids? I’d say it’s a tie.

10. It’s light out until almost 9pm and bedtime was no later than 8:20pm. “Mom, it isn’t even dark out yet!!!” Can’t argue with that.

9. Sticker charts are no longer working for anything. Nada. Zilch. NOTHING.

8. They’ve been watching movies in the majority of their “specials” (art, music, etc.) for two weeks already.

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7. Summer baseball games have started, as they have every year previously for decades, and school is still in session.

6. Even the teachers are wondering why they voted for this later “last day” calendar.

5. Everybody is crying in the morning about getting up for school. Not sure my kids could move any slower.

4. School lunch. That’s what you are eating unless you are going on a field trip. No¬†special lunches because you “don’t like what we’re having at school today.” Find something you can chew and swallow on that plate.

3. I’m only opening the backpack once a week…

2. We stopped with homework 3 weeks ago. The teacher said it was optional?

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1. For the love of all good things: The sun is shining. Birds are singing. Grass needs mowing. Flowers are blooming. Garden is growing. Farming is kicking into high gear and I’m still running carpool!

3 more days!!!

Family · Parenting · Perspective

The Ride to School

I always enjoy hearing how the ride to school went when I don’t do the drive. I’m 99% of my kid’s transportation to, from and everywhere in between.

Today, my husband had a haircut scheduled at 8:30am plus a few other errands so he drove them in. When he returned to the office, I asked how it went:

“They argued all the way to town about whether Te Fiti from Moana (Disney Movie) is a girl or a boy. He was just arguing to argue. She was right. Te Fiti is a girl. His argument was that boys can wear a crown too if they are the king.”

Oh how I love when he gets in on these snippets of life!

I learn about the good and bad on the drive to and from school: friends, fights, sick kids, bad words, hurt feelings, moments of grace, and eye-opener – who’s boyfriend and girlfriend.

I about choked on my gum last week when he told me that XXXX and YYYY were doing something worse than holding hands (1st grade). Still driving, I cautiously tiptoed into it with my very literal child. “Did they kiss?” — No.¬† “Did they hug?” — No.¬† Mom, XXXX says they are DATING! “What does dating mean?” — I don’t know. Just that they actually LIKE each other!

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This allowed an easy transition into the conversation that in first grade, we like everybody as a friend. No need for anything more than just being a good, caring, kind friend to all. This is fine with my son because frankly, he has a younger sister and thinks she is SUPER ANNOYING most of the time. Therefore, all girls must be an annoyance. I told you. He interprets all things as cause and effect, literal, black and white.

I think it’s important to get in on these conversations. The little daily life moments add up to big things. The frustration on the playground is much easier to solve when discussing it in the car in small increments each day as opposed to when the note from the teacher comes home saying ZZZZ had a bigger problem today at school.

Yesterday the topic on the way home was “Truth or Dare.” Remember the age range for this conversation was 4-7yrs old. Not quite the mine field it can be when you are a teen! I wonder what we’ll talk about tonight?