Sunday, January 7, 2018

Every Week in 2018. Take One: Reading Lamp

I set a 2018 goal to blog weekly.  It's January 7 and I haven't written anything yet.  So today's the day.  Whether I like it or not, today is the day.

Here's the problem:  I cannot think of a single thing to write about.  Not a single thing.  I'm out of the habit.  And it's 8:37 pm.  Seven minutes past my bedtime.

So here comes a random prompt from Juicy Pens Thirsty Paper: Gifting the World with Your Words and Stories.  I'm not sure about world.  At this point, I'd settle for my family.

And the winning prompt is...
Reading Lamp

Confession:  Until recently my reading lamp hasn't been getting a lot of action.  It's been gathering dust next to the pile of reading material that keeps growing.   It's a sickness, really.  The titles keep enticing me.  The one-click ordering and two-day shipping on Amazon make it easier to use than the public library.  So the envelopes and boxes with that iconic smile keep coming.  

And yet I cannot seem to find time to read.    

I blame my relationships with Netflix and Teachers Pay Teachers.  Slowly and methodically they are edging out my longstanding friendship with the printed page.  And social media is the matchmaker in this toxic tug-of-war.  

I have books that have been sitting unread for years.  Years.  I have a copy of Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  Who doesn't?  Mine still has the dust jacket and the spine cracks when you open it.  Because it was a gift to me in 2013 and I HAVE YET TO READ IT.  

This isn't me.  The me of ten years ago, or even five, wouldn't let any book sit around unread for five years--especially one on the New York Times bestseller list.  I'd guiltily ignore my family while I  did nothing but read until the book was completed.  

I don't like this new me.  I don't think my reading lamp does, either.  So I'm going to attempt to gain some balance.  More reading.  Less of the other stuff.  

It's time to stop working 14-16 hour days and then numbing the effects of that by binge-watching season after season of TV shows.  

It's time to dust off that reading lamp and put it to good use.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

My Eighteen for Two Thousand-Eighteen

Over the past year or so I've started to dive into the world of podcasts.  I'm a bit obsessed with them.  And while I am a morning person, I'm a "wake up early, have a cup of coffee, and do what I want to do for a couple of hours" morning person.  This is probably leftover from my years as a SAHM.  I don't at all dig the "getting ready for work" dance.  Podcasts make it much more bearable.  

One of my favorites is "Happier with Gretchen Rubin" and the "Happier in Hollywood" spinoff that her sister, Elizabeth, cohosts.  Gretchen and Elizabeth issued an "18 for 2018" challenge.  Choose 18 things that you want to accomplish in 2018.  Write them down and post them in a prominent location somewhere.  

Here's what I came up with:
  1. Post here at least weekly.  
  2. Get all of the documentation together to clear my teaching credential in California.
  3. Finish painting the kitchen cabinets.
  4. Call my parents, siblings, and Mikaela weekly.
  5. Establish a bedtime routine that includes face care, teeth care, a shiny kitchen sink, and perform it every night before bed.
  6. Limit coffee out to established coffee dates with friends.
  7. Find a lipstick I like.
  8. Give Brian a "birthday week."--something special each day of his birthday.
  9. Visit Death Valley with Andy and Amanda and their family.
  10. Learn to play either the ukulele or the guitar.
  11. Focus on "a room every two months" to clean, organize, and decorate.
  12. Read Scripture daily.
  13. Connect with Beth.
  14. Find a workout regimen that I like and do it at least three times a week.
  15. Do the Happier Instagram challenge for January and begin a gratitude practice.
  16. Volunteer once a month.
  17. Get Google Educator certified.
  18. Find a therapist.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I'm Having a Moment

Perhaps it's stress.  I'm going back to a brick and mortar classroom full-time for the first time in twenty years.

Perhaps it's lack of sleep.  See above.

I'm not sure what it is.

While waiting for my Instant Pot to magically make dinner, I was scrolling through Facebook.

It's that time of year.  My feed is 90% "first day of school pictures, 9% dropping my kid off at college for the first time posts, and 1% ads for icon pee-proof underwear (what the WHAT, Facebook??).

Perhaps it's seeing the faces of people with whom I attended elementary school, junior high, or high school on the bodies of children--some happily, some grudgingly--sporting backpacks and "first day of school signs.  Give Hermione Granger's time-turner a few spins and it could be the 80s.  Those could be the exact same faces that were headed off to Santa Fe Trail, Milburn Junior High, Antioch Middle School, or Shawnee Mission North High School.

Perhaps it's seeing many of the amazing people that Better Half and I had the privilege of doing life with post pictures of sending their kids off to college for the first time and knowing that I'll be doing the same thing in a little over a week.

Perhaps it's seeing the children of my former colleagues.  They're all growing up entirely too fast--serving to remind me of the fact that we've been gone from Kansas for a long time.

Perhaps it's the fact that there seems to be a disproportionate number of high school freshman, seniors, and college freshman this year.  Those milestones tug at my mommy heart.

Perhaps it's watching fellow stay-at-home moms return to the classroom because their children are older and no longer need them home 24/7.  It feels like the end of an era.

I started crying.

This journey--this life--it's just going by really fast.

And while I'm excited for what's ahead and I'd never want to go back, I'd love it if it could slow down a bit.  Just a little.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Dear Nelson...

This was written for senior Barak night back in June.  But on this, your nineteenth birthday, just a few short weeks away from your departure for APU, it seemed so very appropriate to dig it out and pray it for you again.

Happy birthday!

June 4, 2016


Biblically and historically, a person’s name has held great significance.  Names describe who we are, link us to those who have come before us, and give us identity.  

We spent many hours before you were born discussing and sometimes even arguing about your perfect name. As you know, the name Nelson means “Son of the Champion.”   From the very beginning, that has been a perfect phrase to describe you.  You are tenacious, passionate, assertive, tender, and caring--qualities that describe the best of champions.  

You do nothing half-way.  You never have.  You’ve always immersed yourself completely into your interests, whether it was watching every VeggieTales movie ever made, or trying to find a space for you to sleep on your bed in the midst of all of  your Toy Story characters. Yes.  Even the army men.  And even at the age of three and four, your passion and interests were contagious.  You’d get excited about something and it wouldn’t be long before the entire group of your friends was equally interested.   

Over the years we’ve watched your interests grow as you have.  Moving from Veggie Tales and Rescue Heroes to Legos and Star Wars to NASCAR and baseball.  

And while all of your interests have brought joy and pleasure and enrichment to our lives, none compare to the passion and love you have for Christ--for living for Him and for sharing His Good News with those around you both by word and by example.  You use every opportunity given to you--whether in the gymnasium at FCA, or on the baseball field at Senior Recognition Day, or when summing up the season at the end of the year banquet--to speak God’s truth and how it is real in your life.

We are inspired by you every day.

As you begin this exciting next stage of your life, you will  be exposed to many views and interpretations of the truth from peers and professors that may challenge what you know or what believe to be true.  

There will be times when God will use others to expose a view you currently hold that may not be correct. The key is to continually pray for discernment and the ability to hear what God is teaching--especially if it appears to contradict something you currently hold to be true.  

Listen to what God has to teach you, whether through prayer, His written Word, or through what others have to say; pray for discernment in knowing what is true; acknowledge it when you learn something new or when you discover that a current view you hold is incorrect; and then share with grace and love what the Lord has revealed to you through teaching or quietly by the way you live your life.  

God will continually reveal new truths to you and to others throughout your life, so never stop listening, learning, growing, and graciously allowing others the opportunity to do the same.

Knowledge and conviction are good and noble things, however one of our fervent prayers for you is that you never let them become obstacles to genuine relationship with God or with people.

Nelson, it is difficult to put into words the privilege and joy that it is to be your parents--to witness your growth from that sweet, curious, passionate little boy into the man you are today.

As you eagerly anticipate all that this next stage of early adulthood has to offer, we begin the bittersweet task of letting you go--placing you firmly back in the hands of the One who first placed you in ours.  You are more than ready.

In this next season:
  • We promise to faithfully pray for God’s call on your life.  For His provision, protection, and wisdom in all that you are called to do.
  • We promise to celebrate with joy, praise, and thanksgiving the good times and good things that come your way.
  • We promise to support you, mourn with you, and pray for you during the valleys--knowing that we are told we will encounter trials and that those trials help us grow to be more like Christ.
  • We promise to release you completely to discern and follow God’s calling on your life, no matter what it is or where it takes you.

It has been an honor to call you son.  

It’s an even greater one to call you friend.

“May the Lord bless you and keep you.  May He make his face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.  May He look upon you with favor and grant you peace.”  Numbers 6:24-26

Much love,

Mom and Dad

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

I Believe the Time Has Come

to blog again.

You are likely asking, "Why now?"  (Or better yet, you're saying,  "She's got a blog?"  I had no idea!)

The answer to "Why now?" is this:

(spoiler alert!! It's NOT the fact that the last entry was in February.  That's beside the point.)
I have a "to do" list of tasks to finish before Friday that is three pages long. I'm not kidding.  There is no better way to avoid something than digging out a blog that's been gathering dust for nearly six months.

I also realized that I am running out of time.

See, this girl
First picture of her I ever posted on my blog.  Summer, 2007

is now this girl.

She is going to be a freshman in high school in a month's time.  My caboose.  My finale.  My youngest child.  

I have four years left of this daily parenting gig before I'm an empty-nester.  Four years.  

It's going to fly by.  

I know this because those four years of high school flew by for my oldest two, and they're jetting past at lightning speed for my third child.

I think I've logged two blog posts in the past year.  Two.  I didn't get many more than that the year before.  If I continue with that pattern, that means there are eight--maybe ten-- posts left before it's done.  Before I lose the gift of sharing a house with most of my blog inspiration, and the last little birdie flies the nest to live her life with some amount of privacy and probably a little bit of therapy.  

I want a record of the last 1,491 days of this crazy and amazing ride.  

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Responsibilities of Parenting

Parenting is weird at my house these days. 

Really weird.  Mostly because I don’t find myself doing a lot of it any more.

Don’t get me wrong.  Better Half and I still live here.  We still foot the bill, ask the questions, drive the carpools, “inspire” by nagging, impose the curfews, listen to the stories, play out the worst-case scenarios in our heads, drive ourselves crazy, and try to steer Pozo de Dinero in the general direction of The Good Ship Lollipop. 
But now that our youngest child is fourteen and our oldest is a month shy of twenty-one, our responsibilities have shifted.

We used to be responsible for our children.
We were responsible for their safety.  For their basic needs.  For their health.  For their welfare.  For their behavior.  For their grades.  For their friendships.  For their spiritual/moral upbringing. And being responsible for all of that stuff takes an awful lot of doing.  From sun-up to sun-down kind of doing.  Sometimes with very little sleep.   

But now I’ve discovered that we’re moving out of that phase of parenting.  We are becoming less and less responsible for our children.

We are knee-deep in experiencing our teens as unique individuals completely separate from Better Half and me.  They have their own thoughts, ideas, paths, and stories. 

This is both freeing and terrifying. 

Sometimes—many times—they do or say or think unbelievably amazing things that leave me in awe of the humans that they are.  The mother part of me who has spent all of her adult life being responsible for these people wants to take credit for them. 

It’s also terrifying.

Because sometimes, they do or say or think unbelievably bone-headed and crazy things that leave me in fear of how on earth they are going to survive until their brains are completely developed.  The mother part of me who is 62% martyr and 38% narcissist feels obligated to take responsibility for these things as well.

But the thing is, they are reaching a point where they are responsible for their own thoughts, feelings, and actions. And I firmly believe that for me to take either the credit or the responsibility for their choices or ideas or actions is to diminish their individuality and squelch an important part of their process of becoming an adult.

As we enter this new stage with our kids, I’ve noticed something.  The responsibility hasn’t diminished.  But instead of being responsible for them, I find that we are now responsible to them.

I am responsible to love them unconditionally.
I am responsible to be an example—both by being transparent with my mistakes and forthright with my successes—of the kind of person I hope they will be.
I am responsible to listen.
I am responsible to ask questions.
I am responsible to forgive and to offer grace and to allow them to experience natural consequences of their decisions—no matter how hard it might be for them, or for me.
I am responsible to stand beside them if they need an ally.  
I am responsible to be truthful with them.
I am responsible to be the voice of reason (when I can—when they’ll listen) that bridges the gap between their frontal lobe and the rest of their brain until that connection is made.
I’m responsible to stock the fridge, keep the laundry detergent full, show them how to manage their finances and then get out of the way and let them make their own lunches, turn all their white socks red, and have their debit card denied because they added instead of subtracted, or misjudged the day their paycheck was deposited.   

Most importantly, I believe I am responsible to pray for them.  For their safety, their basic needs, their friends, their choices, their health, their lives.  But mostly for their parents. J

Monday, February 8, 2016

Writing Prompt: Make A Fast List of Favorite Things About a Friend

Favorite Things about a Friend
1.     She’s an introvert.  This means when she lets you in and tells you things, it’s special.
2.    She’s an introvert, and yet, she was the person to make the first friendship move.
3.    She can make a single-serving bag of M&Ms last a week.
4.    She’s the most patient person I know.
5.    You can eat in her car, as long as you don’t drop French fries.  Cold, stale French fries gross her out.
6.    I think my youngest daughter would move in with her if given the chance.
7.    She despises spiders.  So much that I think her bug man might be on her Christmas card list.
8.    She’s up for nearly whatever—like loading up four kids and driving all night to Chicago to stay with friends for a weekend in their 1 bedroom apartment in Evanston.  And she’s good with detouring to try to find the Amana Colonies on the way home.
9.    She knows my kids’ favorite—everything.
10.   She introduced me to coffee.
11.    She liked me even before I drank coffee.
12.   She adores kid cereal.  Her cabinets are full of boxes of Lucky Charms, Reese’s Puffs, Capt’n Crunch Holiday Blend.
13.   She hates cantaloupe, green peppers and most sausage.  I get the sausage.
14.   Her hair always looks perfect.  Even when it’s just in a ponytail. 
15.   She introduced my daughters to sushi. 
16.   Carmex will never have a sales problem as long as she’s around.
17.   There is lotion in every room of her house. 
18.   Her favorite kind of pizza is plain cheese.
19.   We don’t talk about God as much as we should, but I suspect she’s the friend who prays for me the most. 
20.  She is a peacemaker.
21.   She’s tidy, but not a neat freak.
22.  For example, before kids, her car always looked like it had just been driven off of the showroom floor.  Now it looks perfect for transporting a preschooler. 
23.  I’m no longer sure how many books on my bookshelf actually belong to her or how many books on her bookshelf actually belong to me.
24.  When we lived in the same town, she would have a birthday date with each one of my four children.
25.  She was the only person besides Brian and me who knew the sex of our last baby before she was born.
26.  She has the best sense of humor—just edgy enough to be real—but never crossing the line into too mean or too crass.
27.  In all the years I’ve known her, I think I’ve only seen her truly angry twice.  I’m not sure what that means, but boy.  It’s something I really admire.
28.  She got a dog. Not because she wanted one.  Because her daughter and husband wanted one. 
29.  Her normal circadian rhythm is to stay up late and sleep in.
30.  She dislikes flying and yet she’s boarded a plane no less than three times in the three years we’ve lived here to come visit.  Twice with a toddler.
31.  I love her daughter like she's related to me by blood.

32.   Even though there’s a wacky time-zone issue, and work schedules, and family commitments, and so I don’t get to, she’s the one person besides people to whom I’m related whose voice I want to hear every day.