Family · Parenting · Perspective

Flexible Thinking

After “officially ruining” my 7yr old’s day by requesting he get dressed for school this morning – which I might add we had a 5 day break for Parent Teacher conferences, President’s Day and then a 2hr late start due to an ice storm! – I’ve apparently decided to binge eat myself thru my morning at work with a healthy chicken noodle soup, less healthy croissants, and unhealthy Girl Scout Thin Mints.


It’s been a banner eight hours since I got out of bed. It’s only 1:25pm.

Mixed into the muddle of this morning, I had the most uplifting text conversation with my dear friend Sarah at Horizon Mental Health. She is an amazing person, friend, college roommate, mother, wife, therapist… I could go on and on. The past few days, she’s been helping me sort out how I can better communicate with, guide, and connect with my 7yr old son.

My son has been thriving at school. He excels with his friends, peers, and in almost every activity he tries. When a friend was unhappy at school because he had to miss recess and read to finish an assignment, he stayed in with him and read his book at the next desk over. He is respectful with his teachers and coaches at school, youth group, and in community sports. Responsible, kind, loving, friendly, willing to work with others – all personality traits he possesses.

But whoa! We are not clicking at home the past few months. The last three months are also our busiest at work, craziest with family holidays, and then we all had various cases of influenza A, B, stomach flu, and some other weird respiratory virus. We are all out of whack!

What I’ve learned since November is that as his mother, I AM WRONG ALL. THE. TIME.

Me: “There’s 13 grades in school if you count Kindergarten.” Him: “There is NO SUCH THING as a 12th grade! You are WRONG!” Me: “Yes buddy, I taught 12th graders. They are called seniors. It’s the last year of school before you go to college or a trade school or get a full-time job.” Him: “You are WRONG!” Then I walked away from the debate because this wasn’t a war I wanted to fight. I love him too much to argue about absolutely everything.

Argument after argument. He gets angry and tells me I am wrong or he just isn’t going to do it (like wear pants or walk to his bedroom at bedtime – completely normal daily things). We are “bossing” him around.

My amazing friend directed me to a thought process call “flexible thinking.” I started researching it upon our initial conversation. My son is a “rigid thinker.” Very bright, likes structure, and gets his world rocked when there is unexpected change. Sometimes he is able to go with the flow. Other times, he is a mule with his hooves cemented in the ground.

As his mother and the main parent at home on the weekends and after school (my husband’s work schedule puts this in my wheelhouse), I am the one who typically is introducing the change or requiring him to be flexible.

Frankly, we need to dial back the frustration and find our workable space again.

A few things we will be trying to implement in our house after learning about “flexible thinking”:

  • A better framework for a schedule before and after school
  • A better framework for the weekend schedule
  • A process for him to adjust when it is out of his control WITHOUT arguing.
    • Breathe. Accept that some things are out of his control. Decide how he wants to proceed. Carry out his plan.
    • An example: T-man, in 5 minutes we are heading home. Five minutes later, it is now time to go home from the office.–“Breathe. Accept that even though you want to do x, y, and z before we leave, it is time to go now.” Then he will need to make his own plan for how to handle this and carry it out. This plan will likely look like him picking up his backpack, grabbing his snack and heading to the car. But if I suggest this, I guarantee it will be met with resistance.

Last week, I told a friend that I realized that I didn’t really have any life goals right now except keeping the wheels on this bus. The bus symbolizes my family. I have to keep us going.  I guess with every flat tire or change oil light, I’ll learn a new skill and be ready for the next challenge.

We don’t have to stay on the beaten path. Let’s be adventurers! It would be fantastic if we could ride the bus with minimal breakdowns, without the wheels coming off, and maybe enjoy the ride.


Family · Health · Parenting · Perspective


I swear… literally… if one more person says anything about “this oil would have prevented the flu” or “flu shot vs non-flu shot” superiority…


Let’s have a bit more tact than that while we are in the throes of the influenza underworld, shall we???

My daughter’s class was missing HALF its students the last two days. That includes my child. My son’s class was down by 1/3. One of our local pharmacies had to close due to them all being ill!

Essential oils, fancy foods, vitamins and choice to get or not the flu shot- all great preventative things. However, when a sick child goes to school and coughs, breathes and shares the virus, I’m not convinced anything will protect your student or you. I can tell you that a cough-driven saliva shot straight to the eye has 100% chance of blooming into an ugly illness.

The moral of this story is: parents please keep your sick child home. Please. If you send them to school sick, they perpetuate the illness and will be sent home via the nurse shortly anyway. For the love and health of your babies and mine, please keep them home!


With love from the trenches with my new best flu-induced friend- an inhaler– Jen

**hopefully we are close to healthy and I’ll be able to write about other happier things soon!**


Family · Parenting · Perspective


I’m sitting here on my couch reviewing the past week and looking ahead to the next. My daughter is trying on clothes from the cousin hand-me-down bag (which is amazing).


We are on Day 2 of fall break. Day 1 was parent-teacher conferences, an hour in the office at work, Cosmic Kids Space Club, and dance class.

Space club is a group of my son’s buddies that were invited to check out Saturn on one of the boy’s grandpa’s telescope.

We just finished soybean harvest. The guys are drilling on the last few dozen acres of wheat. For a blessed day, we are still a few points too damp for milo harvest.

As I sit here, I realize that the role of mother, wife and working mom isn’t what wears me out. It’s all the extras.

It’s the Ear Nose and Throat specialist we will visit in Monday for 3 rounds of strep throat in 60 days. The additional meeting I need to attend.

It makes me wonder how necessary some of those commitments are. The ENT is a must. What about the others?

At kids’ youth group Wednesday night, another volunteer from the generation before mine asked me if my parents scrambled around as much as my generation is to make it all happen. After a few days of thought, I’m convinced they did. However, I don’t think it started this young.

Is it really going to put my kids at a disadvantage if they don’t do that next extra activity?

I speculate that having a mom who isn’t scurrying, rushing and occasionally loosing her sh*t  patience is likely better for everyone.

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.

daddy and M (2).jpg

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 😉

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.


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.


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.



Much love– Jen




Family · Parenting · Perspective


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.


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.


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,



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.


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.


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