Family Update: This is your time

It has been forever and a day since I have written a blog post…and even longer since I shared any type of update of our lives.  With all the reading I have been doing on time management and scheduling, I rarely say, “I don’t have time” anymore.  Instead I say I use my time for other things.  Which is in fact true.  God has given each of us the same twenty-four hours in a day. We all use those hours differently, right?

Somehow time is slipping away and things keep changing.  Did I really just register my youngest for kindergarten?  Is it true my oldest does not want to play in the Playland at IKEA anymore?  Since when did everyone’s shoe size get past the children sizes?

I have seen this the most lately in my oldest.  Last year we drove to swim lessons and she spent the entire car ride talking about My Little Pony.  Pinkie Pie is an earth pony.  Fluttershy is a pegasus.  Zecora is a zebra (which is confusing…how did a zebra get into Pony World?).  There are times I will see her get the ponies out and let them prance around the family room, but most of the time it is with her little sister.  She wants to listen to the rock station in the car and I am grateful I am (most of the time) content to listen to it with her.  She actually bought me a Taylor Swift CD for Christmas instead of buying one for herself.

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I sometimes mourn the little pudgy cheeked girl she used to me.  But more of the time I am grateful for the beautiful young lady she is becoming.  I have always had a heart for middle schoolers and have been doing middle school youth ministry for years and years.  It is exciting (and a little nerve wracking!) that she is slowly getting to that age.

She is so unlike me.  The day she was born my mom took one look at her and said, “This baby doesn’t look a thing like you.”  She has been Daddy’s girl since she was an infant.  She thinks like he does.  Her hand writing looks like his i.e. hard to decipher.  She loves to cook and has her own drawer in the kitchen with her own knife, measuring cups etc. She loves to make lunch for everyone and has cooked a few meals.  When I was nine years old I doubt I could be trusted with any type of kitchen machinery or my own knife.  She plays piano beautifully and is self disciplined and self motivated…again she did not get this from me.  She likes to run but I don’t know if it will be her passion like it is for me.  Then again I didn’t really become passionate about it until my 20’s.  She enjoys basketball, wants to try soccer again, and still likes to swim.  She loves theatre and acting.  It is fun watching her try many different things.

My son is the child of which I sometimes feel like I am reliving my own childhood.  His big blue saucer eyes remind me of “little me.”  I hate to admit I thought he would struggle in school.  When I home schooled him for preschool many years ago, I pulled out alphabet flashcards.  After a few cards he groaned and said, “Mom can we do something else?”  He never got into Sesame Street and was not a big reader like his older sister.  I was very wrong.  He is an advanced reader now and brings home A’s.  Math comes pretty natural to him at this age.  He works very hard at school.  He has a great sense of humor and a big heart.  He reaches out to the kids who are hurting or left out.  He loves animals and like me cannot handle movies where animals get hurt (I guess we’ll  never watch Old Yeller together).

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He is very extroverted and likes having extra kids around the house.  He and I both a share a need to be outside and we get stir crazy on rainy days.  I love to run and bike with him.  He loves legoes and hot wheels.  Like me, he hates mushrooms and olives.  I asked him how he thinks we are alike and he said, “We both have the same feelings.”  Which is very true.  We are both pretty emotional… sometimes to a fault.

He had an experience in school in February that mirrored a situation I had at almost the same age, it was uncanny.  The class had to make heart-shaped animals for Valentines Day.  It required them to fold construction paper in half to make hearts.  He could not figure it out and tried repeatedly.  He got overly frustrated.  When he told me about it when I was putting him to bed and he got very upset.  When I was in second grade we had to make hearts folded in half.  We had to staple two hearts together and put memory verses we learned in the hearts.  I could not figure out how to cut a half heart shape with folded paper.  I tried so hard and gave up.  The teacher laughed (which made me feel even dumber) and gave me one she had already made.  I told that story to my son and he said, “Mom you’re not dumb. We just couldn’t figure it out.”

I wondered when the third child was born if she would be like her sister or her brother.  The answer to that question is she is not like either one.  She is who she is.  She was a strong willed toddler that constantly kept me on my feet and challenged me in many ways.  That made her into an independent girl who makes her own lunch every day without my help (she’s five), picks out her own clothes, and is learning to read (and do some basic math too).

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She is truly an artist.  She takes paper creations, pipe cleaners, paint, magazine cut outs, stickers and makes things.  She will do this for a whole morning.  What she comes up with is incredibly creative.  I am much more “arts” than “crafts” and I appreciate the “not having to follow directions.”  I would much rather have a blank canvas and some paints.

Like her brother she loves to ride her bike and get dirty outside.  She is still very much wrapped up in the world of My Little Pony and Barbie.  She is still strong willed.  I have to tell her to tone it down and not tell her friends what to do.  Yet I see some leadership in her.  I am excited to see how her little personality is going to continue to develop.  I am not sure if she is more like me or my husband.  Most days I see a bit of both.  Sometimes she reminds me a lot of my sister and my niece which makes me smile.

As for my husband and I…when we first moved to Oregon we were in our late 20’s.  30 seemed normal and 40…well old.  Now we are inching closer to 40.  Sometimes I have to remind myself that I am in my late 30’s and I’m not 28. I don’t feel old most of the time.  Maybe sometimes when my middle school youth group kids have no idea who White Snake or Van Halen is or what life was like pre-Internet or that our family shared a phone that was attached to the wall.  There is something fun about sharing those stories of pre-technology age.

The husband and I both listen to indie/folk music pretty regularly now.  I don’t know if that is because we are in our late 30’s or it is more popular in the Pacific Northwest.  When I was driving my middle schoolers to go bowling I said, “You can put it on whatever radio station you want.  I have it on the indie/folk alternative station.  I am not sure you have heard of it.”  She said, “No I don’t listen to it but my mom does.”  It is a different experience when your youth group kids moms are your age and even your friends whereas when we started youth ministry years and years ago we were actually closer in age to the kids.

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The husband is about to graduate with his doctorate which is pretty amazing.  He made trips all the way to St. Louis for 2-3 weeks each year for classes.  He wrote a dissertation that included interviews and tons of reading and hours of research.  All while being a full time pastor, husband, and dad. And author…he wrote a book in there too!  I honestly think he could teach a course in time management.  I asked him what he is going to do with his spare time once he is completely finished.  That might include more reading, writing, and possibly model airplanes.

As for me I feel like my life this spring has not been this “run around crazy one thing to the next circus” like it has been in the past.  Maybe my husband’s time management skills finally rubbed off on me after 14 years of marriage.  I work almost full time doing in home child care, but I do have time to read, connect with friends, and of course run a crazy amount of miles.  I will be (Lord willing) running my fourth marathon at the end of May and this time with my sister.  I desired friends who run and even prayed for running partners over the years.  But I still was (mostly due to my unpredictable schedule with kids) the lone runner.  I have found people to train with and it has been a tremendous blessing.  I shared more about this on my running blog  where you can also follow my marathon training.

In this phase of life being a stay at home takes on a new form.  I feel like I still need to be at home, but I am not doing the changing, dressing, picking up their toys (most of the time they are supposed to pick up their own) etc.  We are doing more together outside of the home that are things we all enjoy (like going to a movie, bike rides etc.). More often than not, I am the mom on the play equipment or the trampoline or in the tree (that was a little much–I wasn’t sure how I was going to get down). I don’t expect every mom to be like me, but I am grateful for my energy and need for activity.

I know this post is getting super long…I am nearing 1800 words…yikes.  But tomorrow I leave for Michigan for my grandma’s funeral.  She was 96 years old.  I am reminded again how precious time is.  I am grateful for all the memories I had with her.  She was an amazing grandma and I am grateful I got to know her so well.  But we don’t live forever here on earth…time does not stand still.  It is time to say good-bye at least on this side of heaven.

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 So I close with this:  Don’t let time pass you by that you looked back and questioned, “What did I do with those twenty four hour periods God gave me?”  Create memories.  Make a meal together.  Go for a bike ride.  Paint a picture. Jump on a trampoline. Dance to 80’s music. If that’s not you–figure out who you are.  Even though there is pain, brokenness, anxiety, suffering, and fear of the future, don’t discount this beautiful life God blessed you with.

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December 10: Promises

1-Recently Updated1We had very strange weather today.  Dark gray clouds with pouring rain most of the day.  Around 4:30 as the sun was beginning to set the kids played outside in the gigantic puddle in our driveway.  It was the first time we saw the sun the whole day.  At 3:15 PM when I picked the kids up from school, it looked like 10 o’clock at night.  As the sun peeked its way out at sundown a beautiful rainbow filled the whole sky.

The words to this hymn in my church’s Psalter Hymnal You Are Our God; We Are Your People written by David Hoekema immediately came to my mind.  It fits appropriately with the promises of Advent.

It rained on the earth forty days, forty nights, and all of the world was destroyed

The ark Noah built at the calling of God saved God’s chosen ones from the flood

God gave to Noah the rainbow sign, “Such a flood I will not send again—

I am your God; you are my people.”

And when Jesus Christ came to live on the earth, God’s promise to us was fulfilled.

His life and his death were a new covenant, assurance of love full and free.

God gave His Son, his only Son; to all who receives him he says,

“I am your God; you are my people.”

First week of summer

First week of Summer 2014 is in the books.  I think it could be called the “Woa–we have all this extra time on our hands, what do we with ourselves?!” week.

ImageWe enjoyed an early Father’s Day dinner at Sonic.  We only go here about once a year (though their milkshake menu tempts me to go more).  There is something fun about eating in the back of the van.  We had just come from Costco hence the giant bottles of detergent.

ImageGot to love the grilled cheese sandwiches.

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And the hot dogs too!

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On Saturday we had a small army of men from our church in our house.  Since we moved into our house I have despised the carpet in the eating area.  It seemed to get more disgusting with time.  The red velvet cake stain would not come out, the cat peed in the corner, the kids tracked mud in this winter–I hate the carpet.  If I were to give any advice to pastor wives out there living in parsonages I would say the following 1) Show love to your Building & Grounds 2)  Advocate for your families’ needs in a kind and gracious way.  Gentle reminders are good, but don’t be pushy.  3)  Be patient.

ImageAnd hooray–hardwood floor.  Someone asked, “Did you cry when they ripped out the carpet?”  I said, “No I cried when we had the carpet.”  The guys did an amazing job and we felt incredibly cared for as friends and a pastor’s family.

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We celebrated the start of summer by going to the drive-in with friends.  I LOVE drive-ins.  I have always had a thing for them.

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The kids love them too!

ImageYesterday we celebrated Father’s Day…

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I have to say that we are loving the down time.  I still cannot gauge if this one needs a nap or not.  I don’t think she can either.  I, myself, don’t take naps anymore except on Sundays…I can’t during the school year as I am working.  I think I took two naps last week mostly because I could.  My rule for when I take a nap–“Don’t wake me up unless–” The kids: “Someone is bleeding.”  The kids have been keeping busy playing baseball in the backyard, picking raspberries, playing Lego Friends and regular legos, coloring, and riding bikes.  We went to the library and the mall last week, but mostly we have enjoyed being home.

 

To the mom with her iphone at the park and the one who leaves it in her pocket…

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There has been debate in “Mom blog world” over using your iphone while your kids are outside playing at the park.  Are you disengaged from them?  Are you not giving them the attention they need and deserve?  Some say yes. Others say, “Get real and stop judging us.”

First of all there is a lot of talk of “It wasn’t that way in my day as a stay-at-home mom.”  That is true.  Before we declare that the moms of the 1970’s and 1980’s were not distracted by technology. some children had moms who watched game shows in the morning and soap operas in the afternoon.  Some children still dealt with moms on the phone.  The phone, however, was attached to the wall with a long (but often not long enough) spiral chord.  My point is that there is, was, and always will be distractions.  Painting the past in beautiful colors and displaying the present as depressing is a temptation but does not always speak the truth.

Is our “mom world” today different and affected by technology?  Of course it is.  Our world moves at a faster pace than it once did.  We feel the need to be “plugged in” often and respond to message as quickly as possible.  Yet that makes us more efficient.  We get more work done in a less amount of time.  I have a small writing job.  My editor lives in Canada, my headquarters are in Michigan, and I communicate with people all over the country.  I can do almost all my work over e-mail and Facebook from the comforts of my living room while my kids play in the backyard.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.  Moms can plan events with other moms using tools on Facebook.  We can text one another if we have a question about anything.  We can connect with other moms all over the country and even all over the world. It’s convenient, it works for us, and it is a blessing.

However it also distracts us and many of us lack the discipline to “shut it down.”  Throwing it out is not practical.  But if you limit yourself, you realize that you don’t need it as much as you think you do.

We grew up in a world that was more compartmentalized with kids in either public or private school.  The school day is no longer 8:30 AM until 3:00 PM for children who are homeschooled.  Many moms stayed home or had a job outside of the home. Now it is accepted (and easier with technology) to work from home hence the workday is not 9-5 anymore.  Sometimes my work day is in between naps or when the kids are watching a movie or when they are contently playing outside and I can quick send a couple of e-mails.

I think the majority of us function better when we have a schedule and are not juggling ten things.  In this world of diverse options and multiple networking opportunities we have to be more intentional…and sometimes a bit creative with how we schedule our lives.  Are the kids getting enough of us?  Are we spending too much time engaged in technology?  Is the picture of us texting or reading Facebook statuses how our kids picture us spending the majority of our time?  I can’t answer these questions for you. But if we answer these questions with guilt, than maybe we are not prioritizing our schedules the way we should.

Because the mom at the park may very well be surfing Facebook and missing out on her children’s play.  Or maybe she have spent the whole morning with them and is now trying to get caught up on e-mails.  We don’t know.  In this world of technology we don’t know and we should not assume.

All I can say is be the best the mom you can be to your kids.  If that means limiting your screen time, do it.  Don’t worry about the mom sitting next to you that isn’t.

 

Sun to rain

IMG_0216This is how we spent yesterday afternoon.  It was wonderful.  I cannot begin to tell you how good natural light and springy air feels to cooped up moms and stir crazy kids.

Unfortunately this is the forecast for the next few days:

cloudy with rain, periods of rain, breezy with rain, cloudy with a chance of rain, and occasional rain and drizzle, oh and colder temperatures too. Thank you, Oregon, for reminding us spring has not fully sprung yet.

December 6: Snow Day

We did not understand it when we moved to Oregon.  Why this would constitute a snow day.

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I remember the inches upon inches of snow in Michigan and the frigid cold air.  My husband grew up in Canada where it is common to get below zero.  But here in Oregon there’s a couple factors why this is indeed a snow day…and why everything shuts down.

For one we get dangerously icy roads.  There is no salt truck and no snow plows (which also means not as many pot holes or salt wear and tear on the car.)  Sometimes the snow melts quickly because the cold temperatures don’t last, but then when it gets cooler at night it turns to ice.  Also consider the fact no one here knows how to drive in it.  Us Michiganders forget too quickly as well.

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But the kids love snow.  They get giddy, excited, and can’t wait to run around in it.  I have to quickly scurry and find gloves and hats.  They own no snow boots and or snow pants.  I love watching them enjoy it.  Sometimes I’m sad they don’t get to do the sledding, snow forts, and ice skating I did as a kid.  Yet they are making their own memories.  Maybe one of these years we’ll venture to the mountains for winter activities.

To be honest I was very tired of the snow when we were getting ready to move.  I was not disappointed at all Oregon received little snow because I wanted a break from it.  There are times when I do miss the winter wonderland everywhere.

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This little sweetheart I get to watch two days a week.  It’s her first winter and her first Oregon snowfall.

The kids did go to school today, but the school closed at 1 PM.  Tomorrow is supposed to be only a high of 28 which is super cold for us.

So Long Pool

So Long Pool

The inflatable pool that I spent a good half of day blowing up is dead. Yesterday the two older kids decided to put part of a metal fence post in the pool and it put a hole in the side. They had lost interest in the pool anyway as they would much rather swim versus wade. In a strange sort of way, I am mourning the loss of having toddlers and small preschoolers in the house. Gone are the days where they are content to spend an afternoon sitting in the kiddie pool.