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.

 

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Another running weekend…

It was another running weekend for us.  Yesterday afternoon I dropped my oldest off at school at 6 AM.  She spent the whole day in Washington one state away at her first track meet.  The Lutheran schools in the Pacific Northwest put on a spring meet for 3rd – 8th graders and she got to participate.  It felt strange having my third grader go to a sporting event one state away without me. She seems so much older and yet still young. I know the pastor, teachers, and parents well so I knew she was in good hands.  

It was enlightening picking her up yesterday evening.  The first things she wanted to tell me about was the concession stand where she bought a snow cone she was overly excited about.  She shared with me about dinner at Mc Donalds where she got an ice cream for dessert, and sitting in the bleachers with her friends.  I asked her more about the running and field events which she gladly shared about. However, I think the snow cone was the most exiting part of her day!

Image It reminded me of myself.  Most people might think of me as a serious runner and aspiring triathlete.  I am not that competitive and running was not as exciting to me as it is now.  I ran track in 6th and 8th grade and what I remember was the root beer float party that turned into a water fight and the track coach allowed some of the kids to use the gym hallway as a slip and slide.  I remember socializing with friends on the high jump mat and right before the 200 meter run on the other side of field.  I remember my mom delivering me Mc Donalds on her lunch break.  Oh and I do remember running the 400 meter somewhere in there too.

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I have had a couple conversations with friends and family about the temptation to live vicariously through our children.  I like this definition for vicarious:  experienced or felt by watching, hearing about, or reading about someone else rather than by doing something yourself.  I had hoped to do track all through high school, but it did not work out that way.  I dealt with knee and shin injuries, anxiety about meets, and a big time commitment.  Deep down I think I’ve always wanted my kids to have more opportunities and go farther in athletics than me.  But I had to come to a place where I had to accept my own journey and my story.

When I was in LA, I hung out with my friend Linda who is an ultimate frisbee athlete.  She is on a few teams and even travels to competitions.  Like me, she didn’t play many sports beyond 8th grade.  Now it’s a part of her adult life.  This reminded me that it isn’t always what you did back then…but what you are doing now?  

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It cannot be about me and what I want…or what I never did…or what I never got.  It’s about them.  All three of my kids ran in the Awesome 3000 today which is one the biggest kid’s race in the country.  As I watched the runners, you see all types:  competitive and focused, casual, social etc.  My kids trained with me and they all run differently.  Today they proudly displayed the medals they earned.

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I don’t know if they will run track.  I don’t know if they will do sports beyond junior high.  I don’t know if they will try other things like band,orchestra, theatre, academic competitions, etc.  But I know I will stand by them, encourage them, and be involved every step.  I will always cheer for them.  I will encourage them to do everything for the glory of God and not to bring recognition to me…or to make up for the accomplishments I never achieved.  

 

ImageAnd if their favorite part of the track meet was the snow cones…that is OK.  And it brings a smile to my face. Memories are being made.  

And as for myself, I found a love for running (and swimming and biking).  It just came a little later in life.  And that is OK.  It’s part of my story.  

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Spring Break Plus A Bonus Week

So we had Spring Break plus “a bonus Spring Break” because my sister and her family ventured out to Oregon the week after our break. Since I had to dig my flip flops and shorts out of the attic for my trip to California and I am not about to put everything back, I feel like summer is on its way.  Especially with the warm sunny weather we are soaking up.  Yet I know well enough about the rain that sometimes invades in May and the June gloom here in Oregon so I am leaving a couple long sleeves and hoodies in the closet.

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So back in March we told the kids we were going to Washington because my husband had an all day meeting at a church. This was all made up.  There was no meeting. We told them they had to spend a full day entertaining themselves in the church nursery.  I hate holding the truth from my kids so I told them we’d stay in a motel with a pool.  Our plan was to surprise them and take them to Great Wolf Lodge in Grand Mound, Washington.  And yes, they were surprised.

ImageOne of the best things about Great Wolf Lodge with a 8,6, & 4 year old (we have gone when they were younger) is we could do almost everything including all ride on a tube slide together.  There was just one slide my younger two did not meet the height requirement on.  It was refreshing and fun to not have to spend the whole time in the little kid’s area. However, it was nice they still wanted to play there at times giving us a little break too.

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It was a great time for our family.  I am in this new phase of parenting where I am doing more with the kids versus for them.  It really makes events like this enjoyable.

ImageAfter Great Wolf, my family dropped me off at PDX where I flew to LA to visit my friend Linda.  Linda was in the youth group I lead back in Michigan, and somehow she got all grown up on me and is now a graduate student at USC.  I love seeing my youth group “kids” all grown up finding their place in the world.

My first full day in LA I drove in my rental car braving the crazy six lane highways I am not used to.  I headed to Santa Monica where I enjoyed the festivities on the pier and a run along the beach.

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And an amazing sunset!

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 Linda gave me an “inside” view of LA.  We ate at several ethnic restaurants, drove to the Hollywood sign, I went to her Ultimate Frisbee tournament, and we even got to visit the LA opera.

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I could not get enough of the warm, sunny, LA weather.  I am not sure I could live the pace of LA, but the weather and the beaches are pretty amazing.

After four days of being home and trying to revert back into some kind of routine, we were thrilled to have my sister, her husband, and kids come visit us in Oregon.  They live back in Michigan where we used to live so we don’t get to see one another often.

While they were here, my brother-in-law did the Beaver Freezer Triathlon on the campus of Oregon State.  It was my second sprint triathlon.  He has done more and even completed an Ironman Triathlon.  It was fun to do one with a family member.

Amy runningMy time was very similar (only a thirty second difference) from my first triathlon last spring in Stayton, Oregon.  But the swimming went so much better.  Last spring I felt nauseous swimming and could not get into a good swimming pattern.  I felt like I could have increased my speed on the bike, but I am still not totally comfortable “bike racing.”  This is something I hope to work on this summer.  The run for me was by far the best and my run time was only about 1 minute and half more than my normal 5K time.

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My brother-in-law is the guy in the back with the blue shirt and sunglasses.  I thought this picture was funny with the “happy runner” in the front.

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One of the greatest things about having my sister and her family here is seeing all the cousins playing together.  They are ages 12,10,8.6,4–there was a baby every two years.  My brother continued that pattern with an almost two year old and a baby due next month.

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The weather cooperated and we were able to spend most of Monday at Silver Falls State Park.  We have been there many times.  We appreciate it more going with people who have never gone before.

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My sister, her husband, my niece, my nephew, and my oldest two hiked to Double Falls which was about a four mile hike round trip.  My youngest and I made it just past the lower South Falls and took a breather while the rest went on.  We were able to hike back together.

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And then return home to a wonderful dinner cooked by my husband.

After my sister’s family left I cannot believe how tired everyone was.  It has taken us a few days to get our energy back.  My sister made the comment that there is something relaxing about getting back into your normal routine.  I have found that to be true.  The house is slowly getting put back together and everyone is returning back to work, school & regular activities.

13 Random Things I Learned in 2013 and 11 Goals for 2014

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Most people write these type of posts in January. But if everyone drops their New Years resolutions by mid January, maybe we should make resolutions in early February.  But first…

13 random things I learned in 2013.  They are indeed very random…

  1. The Oldies Station became my radio station of choice.  Guess I’m getting older and have to accept that.
  2. Triathlon training is amazing for those who get Running ADD and need more variety in their workouts.
  3. Anxiety and panic are often caused by triggers.  Triggers can be obscure things like smells or songs on the radio or pictures on facebook.  Or everyday upsetting events.  The first step is recognizing it and identifying the trigger.
  4. Sometimes the best kids crafts are simply putting a bunch of materials on the table  and telling the kids to make something.  Sometimes the process is just as if not more important than the end product.
  5. Kids fight.  It’s important they learn how to work out their own conflicts–a life lesson they will take to college  and into adulthood.  How moms and dad react can be a catalyst or a detriment.
  6. Sparkling water is a great alternative if you’re trying to cut back on caffeinated beverages or soft drinks.  You get the “carbonation feel” without the extra calories or artificial sweeteners.
  7. Be careful when you tell someone you’re too busy or you don’t have time.  We’re all busy. Yet we all utilize our time differently.  The better question is how are you utilizing your time?
  8. Don’t go to church, youth group, Bible study to be inspired or worse out of guilt.  Go to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ.  Everything else seems to come together if that is your primary reason.
  9. Leave your keys in the same place every single day.
  10. Don’t judge an event’s success on how many people came to it.  Numbers are important but they do not determine the sole success of a program or event.
  11. Cut your time on Facebook by half or even more…you’d be surprised how much you don’t really need it.  And maybe you get even more done.
  12. Parents screw up sometimes and lose their cool.  Apologize.  Sometimes it’s not so much what you did, but what you did about it.
  13. If you’re married to a pastor and he’s on vacation, you should be on vacation too from church responsibilities. 089-DSC09035

These are 11 Simple Goals for 2014 that probably are attainable…I picked goals that were measurable.  Grow in my walk with Jesus, love my husband, spend time with my kids etc.–those are always goals.

  1. Get back into reading to the kids especially reading with my eight year old at night.
  2. Clean the house as I go.  Declutter throughout the day.
  3.   Eat more healthy.
  4. Learn to swim in the open water and do an open water triathlon.
  5. Continue my kid’s running club
  6. Quit reading a book I can’t get into and not feel like I have to stick with it to the end.
  7. Fast from Facebook on Wednesdays.
  8. Deal with some of my perfectionist tendencies (I can be really hard on myself)
  9. Not spend my “spending money” on stuff in the moment that I probably don’t need.  Save it and use it for things I need more.
  10. Try to keep up with the Bible Study I am a part of but not be hard on myself if I am not caught up i.e. #8
  11. Run with other people but not be hard on myself if I skip workouts and choose to run alone instead. Especially because the people in my tri club are super fast i.e. also #8

 

Lafayette, Indiana

Unless this winter blast prevents travel, next week my brother and I are taking a day trip to our first hometown: Lafayette, Indiana.  Most people associate me with Oregon (where I currently live) or Michigan (where I previously lived).  But there were seven glorious years (1982 – 1989) when I was a little Hoosier living in north central Indiana.

My brother and I blowing bubbles on our street with my Grandma.

My brother and I blowing bubbles on our street with my Grandpa and Grandma. I think this was taken around 1983.

My brother was going into third grade when we moved whereas I was going into seventh.  My oldest sister (who was going into eleventh grade when we moved) as well as my parents still have friends back in Indiana they are  in contact with.  Because my brother and I were quite young when we left, we did not maintain our friendships.  Now in this day of Facebook, we’ve been able to reconnect with some of them here and there.

I probably have an overly romantic view of Lafayette because it was the prime of my childhood.  It seems like we remember things with rose colored glasses.  I know there were difficult times, but they don’t stand out as well as the humid summers of biking riding and tree climbing.  We lived on a dead end street where six of the seven houses all had young families.  We spent hours playing Pickle or Spud, having bonfires, riding bikes, and playing soccer.  Many years after we left I reconnected with an old neighborhood friend by e-mail (pre-social networking days).  He said, “Wow those were some of the best days of my life.”

My brother and I are not going to see anyone.  We were just want to see “it” i.e. our hometown.  I am wondering as we walk around our old neighborhood and visit our elementary school–if memories I have long forgotten will resurface.  I have a sharp long term memory.  I can remember certain dates and what happened on those specific days.  I have somewhat meaningless memories such as what I wore on the first day of school almost every single fall.

Celebrating my Grandpa's birthday in our kitchen in our Indiana house.  Will always remember the "vegetable wall paper."

Celebrating my Grandpa’s birthday in our kitchen in our Indiana house. Will always remember the “vegetable wall paper.”

When someone asked me about my history and the places I lived about two years ago, I got choked up when I talked about Lafayette.  I was surprised because I had not been that emotional about anything from my childhood home in a long time. Honestly moving was like the end of me being “a little kid” and the beginning of  an adolescence or the “tween” years which seems to be the new term.  Because I was so short and scrawny for my age plus a little tomboyish (I’d rather play soccer than put on make-up) I wasn’t ready for that new phase of life.  I felt like I had a left of piece of myself behind in Lafayette.  

We moved on August 16th, 1989.  My mom and brother had left earlier in the day.  My dad, sister, and I plus the two pets (a parakeet and guinea pig) piled in the van.  I remember listening to “The Dream Is Over” by Milli Vanilli (hey–they were still cool–the scandal had not broken out yet) on my walkman.  We emerged into in this new world of Grand Rapids, Michigan that was drastically different from Indiana. Things changed in many ways rather quickly.  The changes were not necessarily bad, but I think it was years before I stopped mourning for what I left behind.

I remember thinking right before we had our oldest how thankful I was for the seven years we lived in Lafayette.  I had secretly hoped my future children would experience “a Lafayette” of their own.  

I am sure Lafayette is much different now.  If I ever were to move back, it would not be like returning home again.  I’ve been gone for 25 years and I’ve been away from the Midwest itself for seven and a half–I don’t know if I would even fit into that area anymore.

Yet Whenever I hear a pop song on the radio from the mid 80’s or feel humidity in the summer air or see kids climbing in trees–I see that little Hoosier girl.  And I’m so blessed.

Toddler & Preschool Cars Crafts

02-DSC09067 Last week at my in home child care we did a cars week.  We started with a toddler friendly activity.  My youngest and I cut open a box so it would lay flat.  We used crayons, stickers, and markers and created a road.  We put cars and boats on it for the toddler to play with.  He did some of the coloring too.

05-DSC09070 Then when the older kids arrived I had a large box (large enough that they can sit in it) and told them to make a car.  I didn’t give them a lot of rules or suggestions…just let their creativity run wild.  I did paint a bunch of paper plates I hot glued as wheels.  They came up with their own ideas–car doors, steering wheels, headlights, floor mats etc.  We quickly ran out of glue…and tape.

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It made a big papered mess all over my eating area, but I was happy to see so many little hands hard at work.08-DSC09073The next day we made a car wash.  I simply put 1/4 water and a few squirts of liquid dish detergent in a food processor.  Half the fun is watching the foam form together.  I poured all the foam of separate cookie sheets and gave the kids cars, road signs, and cups.

 

11-DSC09076The following day we used plastic cars and dipped them in paint.  The kids rolled the cars along pieces of construction paper to make designs.  Again I did not give them a whole of rules, but let them make their own creations.

13-DSC09078All of them looked quite different! I cut out some car a truck stencils and let them glue it on a few of their paintings.

15-DSC09080On Friday we began the day with a toddler friendly school bus for a certain toddler who loves to say the word “bus” whenever we pass one.  I used a granola bar box and cut out the front.  Then I let my youngest with help from the toddler color it and design yellow pieces of pre-cut paper. We added wheels as well.

 

25-DSC09090Then we added an egg carton cut in half and glued it inside.  Perfect fit for Little People.

    26-DSC09091 Then when the older kids arrived we set up an indoor drive-in and they watched the movie Cars.

 

31-DSC09096It was a busy jam packed week.  Besides the day to day caring for kids, I had something almost every single night.  But we made it through and had some fun along the way.  My most favorite thing is seeing the kids use their hands to make their own special creations…and take much pride in their hard work.

 

Dinosaur Crafts and Activities

Last week we did a dinosaur theme at my in home child care.  Wow you can do so much with dinosaurs!  I’ve enclosed the links for each activity.

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We made dinosaur fossils.  This is the first craft I have ever done that requires using coffee ground and cold coffee.

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I bought these plastic dinosaurs from Michaels.  Also saw similar ones at Wal Mart.  We stamped them into the “coffee dough.”  You only need to bake them for about 30 minutes at 200 degrees.  The bottoms will be soft so they need to sit overnight.  Once it all hardens it looks like rock.

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The kids all love modeling clay.  I bought some for a previous craft and had no idea they would want to play with it as much as they do.  Even having some modeling clay and dinosaurs was a great combination for imaginative play.

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We did a dinosaur hatching egg craft.  This was a simple and shorter craft, but my four year old absolutely loved it.

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We did a fossil hunt in the family room.  I hid parts of the dinosaur all around the room.  They had to find the pieces and match them to the outlined dinosaur.  I would recommend using all large pieces and remembering where you hid them.  We were missing two and unfortunately they still have to be found.

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This was my absolute favorite activity:  dinosaur ice eggs.  You put a dinosaur in a water balloon, fill it with water, and freeze it overnight.  I had to use other reptiles and amphibians because I could not find small dinosaurs in the store.

Putting the animal in the balloon takes effort.  You have to open the balloon wide with two fingers like you are opening a bag.  For some I stretched the opening of the balloon and my oldest daughter dropped the animal in.

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Cut the balloon off the following day and you’ll have big ice balls with animals in them.   We put the ice in two big plastic bins on the kitchen floor.  The kids got a little wet as well as the floor, but it was super easy clean-up.

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I gave them water bottles filled with hot water and wooden spoons. They had to try to get the animals out.  They loved it!  Preschoolers enjoy these sensory activities.

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Lastly we did dinosaur pasta skeletons.  This was a good glue and paste project.  They were able to use their creativity in assembling the pasta.

We also watched a few episodes of Dinosaur Train.  My son has some Melissa & Doug woodblock dinosaur stamps the children used to make their own dinosaur scene.  We had a fabulous week of activities.