Thursday, July 6, 2017

A Pause.




     This week has been a week of freedom. Our family is incredible blessed to have seveITral sets of mature adults that are willing to invest in our children. This week, our kids went north to spend AN ENTIRE WEEK with their maternal grandparents. Along with the grands, there is also a slew of cousins to bring even more fun and adventure to my city kids.

     This week, our kids are getting fresh air, vitamin D and more exercise than they have had all year. I'm sure they are staying up late, eating sugar for breakfast, watching movies and getting loved on the way only grandparents can love on a child. It's a week of freedom from screens, the internet and mobile devices. In short, they are regressing to the eighties. I haven't heard one time from the actual kids and I have to imagine that means they are having a fabulous time.

    As for the husband and I, after we got over our sadness at leaving the kids (which took all of five minutes for myself, a little longer for the mister) we realized we to have complete and utter freedom. There was no one to get ready for bed. No one to wake up for activities. There was no need to keep track of a clock because we only had ourselves to go where we wanted.

     We could decide to go to a fancy restaurant and be there inside of an hour. We are not having to worry about anyone but ourselves.


IT IS GLORIOUS!!!!!!!!!!!

image from huffpost.com

     The mister and I have regressed into the college versions of ourselves. He's all focused on art, I'm all focused on reading books. We eat at weird times. When we are actually hungry versus when our kids are hungry. We can buy a little treat and not have to buy three additional ones for the kids. Our meals are simple and delicious. There has not been a single chicken nugget on the table all week! I have not had to hear, ew or I don't want that. No one is asking every five minutes if they can watch youTube. The nasally voice of Dan TDM has not been heard since last Thursday. 

I     This week of freedom has been a reset for the mister and I. We are able to slow down and have actual conversations. Things like where life should go. What's going on in the news. We can talk about music and society without being interrupted. Going in and out of a store takes minutes instead of an hour. I was even able to go in and out of Target

WITHOUT BUYING ME A SINGLE THING!

        It's been an amazing week just being adults. Not parents. Sure, we miss the kids. But there is something special and necessary for this time to be together. Marriages need a pause some times. A time to get away from our kids. I have read that couples should take one night a week, one weekend a month and one week a year to just be together. No kids, no jobs, no interruptions.

     Make your relationship a priority. It's worth it. 


      


Friday, June 30, 2017

Moving Forward

    We have had a lot of change in our families life over the last few years. We've moved. Families have been rearranged. Friends have made new choices that we are adjusting to. Our kids have been in three schools in the last three years. It's been a little crazy.

   Some of us do well with the change. We thrive in it. A new challenge and new opportunities means a new chance to discover things previously unknown. It's an adventure. Others in our little brood aren't so enthusiastic. In fact, you could say they are down right antagonistic about the move.

     So how do we handle that? 

     I'ld like to say it's with a lot of grace and compassion. But that's not always the case. When I'm the one that's excited and the kids are still longing for what was, I can get impatient. When the longers want to romanticize what was, I am quick with the retaliation of what my perceived reality was.
    It's my tendency to want to rush a grieving process. Because I don't want to sit in what was or ruminate for ever and how things could have been. I'm more of a hear and now kind of person. Let's try to find the good about what's happening. I often say to my three not so littles that we should focus on something good about what we are doing instead of dwelling on all the bad about what's going on. 

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. 

     I'm not advocating we all brush our issues under the rug and not deal with them, that's a whole other thing. I am saying that sometimes we, I, others, get so wrapped up on how things used to be, we miss out on what is going on right in front of us. Sometimes the rose-colored rear view distracts from the day-bright beauty of the present. 

     We try to keep in touch with those that were left in our old towns. We keep pursuing relationships that have altered in some way. We also get involved with the community we are in. So that our family can find what is worth celebrating in our new place. 

     Change is hard, it needs to be processed. But let's not miss on the hear and now because we are stuck in the past. 


     

Monday, June 12, 2017

Teaching Individuality in a World of Conformity

image from http://blogs.discovermagazine.com

Middle school is rough. It's where kids are testing boundaries. They have hormones racing thru them. It's where the jocks and band nerds and cool kids and geeks all start finding out they don't have to be nice to each other. Middle school is when schools get bigger, classroom sizes are bigger and you lose the continuity of having one teacher to watch over your class. Everyone is shifting and growing. Not always going to good places.

All the kids just want to fit in. For those that don't find a place to shine, they just want to stay under the radar. They want to be normal, to fit in. So these kids are just all trying to sit in the middle rows of their classrooms. They are trying to keep as little attention on themselves as they can. God forbid that anything negative happens to them at school. To have an embarrassment at school is to be labeled that shame forever. 

My boys hold up a mirror to themselves to see what might be sticking out so they can tap it back down. Lest anyone use their quirks as weapons against them. 

 A lot of times, a kid has been labeled as something by the time they get to middle school. Either a good kid, or a smart kid. Maybe they are talented or athletic. Maybe a kid get's called a nerd or shows an affinity for drama. It's in middle school that we start to carve out the first steps towards what will propel us to adulthood. 

Middle school can be a battle ground for the unique. For the non-conformist, middle school is hell. 

Seeing my kids struggle thru middle school brings out all my shame and struggles during that time. My first instinct as a parent is not to let my kids shine, but to tell them to be cautious. To maybe hold back a little of who they are so that they won't get made fun of. I want my kids to be accepted by their peers. Do I desire that more than my boys happiness? Am I stunting their talents and skills because I don't want them to be mocked? 

Am I teaching my kids that another's opinion of them is more important than letting themselves be who God made them to be? 

image from http://www.actorsproexpo.com
I am confessing that I have. I have tried to tamper with my kids personalities in the name of making life easier for them. It's not right and I am taking steps to help them learn their true selves. I had to go on that path for myself. I want my kids to know that their is only regret and pain in trying to be someone they are not for the sake of others.

I hope I can show my kids that it's okay to be unique. That conformity is not the answer. Yes, middle school is rough. There will be teasing and mocking. There will be kids that look for the weak to prey upon. But I want my boys to know that at home, we have their backs. That I will always go to bat for them. That I was wrong to try and show them the easier path. The harder path is to be themselves and I am there to help them along.

It is never to late to change how we parent.

We can always adjust our parenting to help our kids. As I gain new information, I have more tools to draw from in my parenting. 

Let us all help our kids get to a place where they can be themselves. 


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fitting Summer In

     Last time, I wrote about summer. How it has a mixed bag of gifts and no thanks. We have this

Or are there?

This summer is both our shortest and our busiest. We are on what's called a balanced calendar. So instead of a twelve week spread of endless summer days, we have eight weeks. The other four are spread throughout the school year with two weeks in the fall, winter and spring. Along with a variety of days off sprinkled thru the year.

We don't do sports, but I did sign the older two up for a day camp three days a week. They are doing all the cool things I always hope we can get to, but never seem to. So those two are filling up on laser tag, water balloons and all kinds of things coming in the next few weeks. And I don't have to pay for or clean up after any of it. Also, its about three hours when I don't have to hear, "Is it time for screen time?"
unique time as kids to be free and easy with our time. There are no responsibilities like school work or study hall. There are few organized activities to sign up for.


We also implemented the structure of school but way pared back. They have a list of about ten fifteen items. Some are hygiene based so they become more regular habits. Cause we all know that kids will take any opportunity to be lacks on this point. Also, there are some enrichment type of activities. Like a summer reading program to score local swag. I'm also making them do a language app called Duolingo. The world is only getting smaller and I want to make sure my kids have at least that advantage.

We still have relaxed evenings and family fun. The big kids are staying up past their normal bed times while we enjoy some Harry Potter. The little one is stretching theirs out with endless hugs and complaints about sunlight.

The idyllic summer of my youth is not what my kids are experiencing, but they are having fun where it can be found during their summer break.

Where do you land? Structured, total lack of schedule or somewhere in between? 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer Summer Summer Time

photo from odysseyonline.com
Just writing that post took me back to 1997. I was spending my last summer as a high school student. Me and my then best friend had jobs working at one of the city pools. We would take crumpled and wet dollars and coins in exchange for kids and families to spend some time at the concrete wrapped pools to try and stay cool amid the humidity and heat of a Michigan summer. It wasn't a glamorous job. Often it involved a lot of boredom and the burn of chlorine in my nostrils. But that summer is one that stands out in my mind. 

I've always had a love hate relationship with summer. I love the slower pace and later wake ups. But I loathe humidity and heat. I love the gentle whoosh of air conditioning, but hate the higher electricity bills. There is fun and joy to be found at water sources, but there will also be sun burns and the uncomfortable tug of goggles that need to be constantly adjusted.

Yes, summer has a unique blend of fun and frustration. I will say that the older our kids get, the more I enjoy summer. It has a lot to do with them being able to apply sunscreen on their own.
photo from the odyssey online

Some of the joy is just being in this stage of life with kids that are coming into their own. Also, seeing how fast it's all passing me by is making me nostalgic. Wishing I could get one of those time-turner devices they use in a Harry Potter novel. 



The brevity of summer is what makes it so bitter sweet. 




Having only six weeks of summer break means it's going to go fast. So this summer we are going to say yes to relationships, no to the things that cause division and heck yeah to trying out every ice cream spot we can find.
photo from stock photos

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

P is for Procrastination


image from rocknrollbride.com

P is for Procrastinate. Even writing up this blog post required some serious procrastination. I had to go on a little trip. Then there were the three different levels of Candy Crush I had to defeat. Let's not forget the mountain of laundry I have to do today because we didn't get home until late from the trip already mentioned. There were snacks to eat and tea to brew. My kids needed to be told what to do. I had a book to read, and a million other things that needed to be done. All in the name of putting off what I needed to do here, on this blog.

Why is that?

Why do I put off that which I love to do?

It has been said that perfectionism is the mother of procrastination. That the fear of not doing something perfectly causes us to remember all the things that need to be done so we can avoid taking a risk doing something that could bring joy to us. 

Creating something is scary as all get out. I get that. I've been fighting the battle to create thru writing since I was in college. I've put off sharing truth and baring my soul in the name of busyness and productivity. All that delaying my souls calling and serving others was never enough to get to a place that the desire to write and share stories has gone away. It just left me feeling angry, depressed, unfulfilled and resentful of that which was necessary to do and those that might hinder my steps towards my calling. 

image from voicesofyouth.org

Walking around the circle of procrastination just leaves me feeling dizzy and unfulfilled. Then I feel guilty about not doing what needs to be done. Then I feel resentful that all this stuff that needs to be done gets in the way of me doing the things I actually want to do. 

SO WHY DO I STAY IN THE HAMSTER WHEEL OF PROCRASTINATION???

Because it's scary as all hell to get off of the wheel. 

Maybe, I need to think about all the ways it would be scary NOT to get off the wheel. What if answering the call to do my creative thing brings more fulfillment than just existing?
What if choosing to put aside Candy Crush brings more joy than defeating that next creepy candy creature?
What if, getting the necessary done and putting aside the distractions of media, movies, tv and brain-numbing pursuits brings more wonder, hope and kindness to the world? My own and the one we all get to be a part of? 

What if I put aside my fear of failure to choose instead, the possibility of purpose? 

Will you join me? 

image from success.com



Wednesday, May 24, 2017

F is for Forgetful

image from brainlesstales.com
         I forget things. It seems the older I get, the more I forget them. It is no longer a desire for cool pens and paper that has me keeping a notebook and pen in my purse. I no longer pretend I am the heroine in a sci-fi epic when using voice to text to add a memo to my notes app. No, it is very much a necessity, a mandatory one at that, that I have to write things down.

     Appointments are completely  missed. School functions are totally abandoned. Anniversaries, birthdays and non-federal holidays are all lost to the nether reaches of my mind if I don't write them down on a calendar.

     Oftentimes I need to write it down several places. I have a paper calendar, a digital one and also a notebook that has random notes and details of our lives in them. I also set reminders. The digital ones go off for me and my husband thanks to the shared awesomeness that is Cozi.

    Age and mothering has made me forgetful. But I'm handling it.


What are some ways you cope with forgetfulness?