Family 2015

Family 2015

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

I'm Baa-aack!

Emotions are a weird thing.  They change so fast sometimes it gives me whiplash. 

Of course, now that I'm a grown-up, I understand that.  I know that I might be feeling super duper lousy one moment and then the next hour feel like I'm on top of the world.  I am used to the sudden changes and have learned that emotions really mean nothing.  They are in my life to serve me, not control me.  They are a life enhancer, not a life maker.

Which brings me to teenagers.

They are so misunderstood.  They are in this crazy world and just at the beginning of learning about emotions.  They are overwhelming before you have them in their proper perspective, remember??  I look at my girls sometimes and think, "Wow, they are doing a great job at this."  They have to deal with parents, siblings, school, stress from school work and school drama, sometimes not enough sleep, AND try to figure out the emotional roller coaster at the same time.  It is amazing anyone makes it through that time in their life.

Remembering that, what it was like back then, helps me to give them more grace when they are having a tough day.  It also makes me so, so grateful that I am done with that phase of my own life.  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Battle of Attrition

I'm a generally upbeat kinda person, but even I have my days.

Sometimes life is just hard.  Situations that you thought would have worked themselves out by now, haven't.  Relationships that were important to you have fallen away.  Dreams that you have had are still in the dream stage after many years.  You are misunderstood.

That last one is a tough one for me.  In my perfect world, everyone understands everyone perfectly and no one's feelings ever get hurt.  We all always judge one another by our intentions and not our actions.  Obviously, the place I live is a far cry from my perfect world.

We've been knocked down many times, my husband and I.  I am proud of the fact that we keep getting back up.  I am proud that our relationship is stronger than ever.  I am proud that we haven't cashed our dreams in. I am proud that we have this amazing family.  I know that the battle of attrition is having it's work in us and that all of the friction is making us into diamonds.  I know that ultimately everything will work out.

But, sometimes it sucks.  Sometimes I want a break.

Don't worry.  Tomorrow I will bounce back.  I always do. :)

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Balance.

Where exactly is the balance?  Does it exist?  Or is it just some idea that we have made up along the way to make us feel like we have some sort of control?

You know what I'm talking about, don't you?  I must not be the only person who hears that phrase all the time.  "I just need to find the balance between eating healthy and enjoying my life."  "I just need to find the balance between working hard and having faith."  "I just need to find the balance between meeting my families' needs and meeting my own needs."  "I just need to find the balance between work and family."  Etc, etc, etc.


I honestly think that we need to figure out what, in our lives, needs our attention right now and then focus on that.  None of us could ever balance everything.  It just isn't humanly possible.  I think the drive to do so, even the notion that it is attainable, is stressing all of us out.  And stress is bad for us, really bad.

For example, there is a popular parenting idea that says quality time with your kids is more important than quantity time.  I say hooey.  You can't have one without the other.  It is nice to think that I could compartmentalize my kids that way and meet their needs when it is convenient for me, but I haven't found that that approach works very well.  They need when they need.

Now, before anyoe gets huffy, let me say that this is not meant to be a treatise on how all Moms should stay at home.  No, not at all.  I simply mean that if you do work, your kids needs are not always gonna jibe with your work schedule, and I'm sure you don't need me to tell you that.  I would actually be interested to hear how some of you working Moms pull it off.  If I had to guess, I would say, that there are other areas of your life that have to give because we just can't balance it all. 

Ah, now we've come full circle.

Here is my point.  We need to give ourselves permission to not balance it all.  We need to be able to give ourselves grace and recognize our own limitations.  We need to be able to look back on our day, every day, and see what was accomplished instead of what wasn't.  We need to treat our days like...well more like life, and less like a to-do list.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Wearing the taxi driver hat...

So, I clocked my miles a couple of days ago.  The amount of I drive everyday - just for school drop off and pick up - is 70 miles!!!  I feel like a real commuter now. :)  I remember when all my kids were in preschool or being homeschooled, I would hear moms of school age kids talk about how they were in the "taxi driver" years.  Inwardly, I would think, "I'm sure that's a big of an exaggeration.  I mean how hard can it be??"  Yah, well, that was then.

But, all of this running around inevitably brings up the "more quality family time and less running around" topic.  That seems like such an easy dilemma to fix when all your kids are in diapers.  I can remember thinking (somewhat self-righteously) "I will NEVER allow our family time to be interrupted by extra-curricular activities.  People who do that just don't have their priorities in order."  Agan, that was then.

Back then, I didn't count on the fact that at some point my kids would no longer be happy staying at home and playing Candy Land all day.  I wasn't remembering that at some point they would develop their own interests and want to be involved in activites that could further those.  Silly me.

So, now, it truly is the dance.  I do, with all my heart, believe that family time is important.  But, I also believe that those outside activites are important too.  They help my kids to grow and figure out where their life is taking them  Also, figuring out how to juggle all of this and still place a priority on our family unit has the great fringe benefit of teaching them how to do it too.  They oughta be time managment gurus by the time they leave this house. ;)

So, what are your tricks?  How does your family fit it all in? 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Too Much Pressure.

You know what I worried about when I was 9?  Not much.  I probably wondered if I would be allowed to invite a friend over after school (sometimes) or if I could talk my parents into staying up later than usual (never).  I certainly wasn't worried about my future - about what job I would have or where I would live.  I mean, I'm sure I thought about those things, but it was more the material of daydreaming than stress causing.

But, I had a conversation with my 9 year old last night and it turns out, she is worried about and does think about these things.  I was a little baffled to be honest.  We certainly aren't the type of parents who drive our children.  We don't fill their heads with the notion that if they don't make the A honor roll they might as well resign themselves to a life of asking "would you like fries with that?"  I mean, we expect them to do their best, but I think we're pretty balanced about it. 

We were youth pastors for several years when we were first married and I remember being struck even then by the amount of kids who were afraid to graduate.  Have you ever heard of such a thing??  My friends and I couldn't wait to graduate!  We had the world by the tail and couldn't wait to launch out on our own...

What has changed?

I'm not sure if I have the answer to that question.  I do think that kids are under a lot more pressure than they used to be.  Is it the schools?  Is it the parents?  Is it society?  Is it that they hear too much about the economy?  Is it that they are afraid of war?  Natural disasters?  Maybe a little of all of it.

But, what I believe, and what I tried to communicate to my daughter last night is that it's all going to work out.  Sure, the world has it's challenges, but shoot, atleast we're not in danger of being thrown to the lions like they were a few centuries back.  There are problems out there, but there are solutions.  There are bad people, but there are great ones too.  Sure, money is tight right now, but this is still the land of opportunity.  We do have to face fears, but they can be overcome by faith.  Our collective glass may often look half empty, unless you choose to notice that is also half full.  :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

My kids aren't grown-ups...

But, sometimes, I forget that.

I find myself getting frustrated with them because they are struggling with something that I dealt with long ago or because they are immature.  I get weary of having the same or similar conversations over and over and over and over.  I trip over yet another pile of clutter.  I open the laundry chute and a waterfall of toys cascades out.  I look for the new plasticware I just bought to store leftovers and every single piece is in the backyard full of mud.  The towels are "hung" to dry in a big wet mass on the side of the tub.  And on and on and on.

It occurs to me that all of the things in the previous paragraph are exactly why they still need me. 

I read an account once of a mother of 7.  She had just finished the morning routine and got all of them out the door to school and she turned to find her kitchen in disarray and several loads of laundry laying next to her washing machine.  Then, she walked into the bathroom off of the kitchen and encountered a huge mess, including a tub that was badly in need of a scrub.  She got the cleaner and knelt down by the tub and started to cry.  She was totally overwhelmed with the feeling of being in a hamster wheel that all moms experience at one time or another.  She began to pray, "God, I want to do big things for you!  I want to help people!  I want my life to matter!"  Then she sensed a still, small voice in her heart, "These are big things that you are doing.  These children, they are more precious to me than you could ever know, and I trusted them to you.  Who else will do these things for them?  I need you to love them."

Indeed.  Who else will do these things for them?  Who else will love them?

Take heart, fellow Moms.  These things we do and do and do and do and do...they matter.  :)

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Settling In...

Well, we officially have the first week under our belt - big sigh of relief -  I almost feel like I've finished a marathon or something...

Now, I have a clearer picture of my days will look like over the next 9 months.  I have figured out the quickest routes too and from all the places my van must carry me.  I have the start and end times of every activity memorized and I know which clocks in which buildings run fast and which run slow.  I have identified the best way to say goodbye to each of my kids in the morning and how to reconnect with them again in the afternoon.  I am gaining a working knowledge of how each of their classrooms run and learning the personalities and expectations of each teacher.  I know which days I'm really going to need my crock-pot and which days I'll have more time to make a meal.  We almost have the bedtime dance perfected. I think I may have even figured out when to squeeze my laundry in. 

I call that a good week.  :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Life is Beautiful.

Most days I am caught up in my own life and doing all the things that it takes to make this family run.  It is a lot of work to run a family, as all of you know, and definitely has the potential to be mundane.  So, that's why I shake myself up now and again - make sure that I'm focused on the right things - make sure that I'm not letting the beauty slip by and missing it because I'm so caught up in the details.

The truth is Life is Beautiful.

It's very easy to fall into the trap of viewing everything as an obligation instead of an opportunity.  Here's a good example:  Currently I have kids going to 3 different campuses that start and end at different times.  None of them have bussing, so that means I do a pretty huge amount of drop off and pick up.

  I could really let that ruin my day.

 But, you know what?  I like it.  It gives me lots of time to chit chat with my kids as well as some quiet, alone time after they're dropped off. :)

It also makes me grateful that they get to go to school, for free, and receive a good education.  That I live in a country where I have a choice about where and how I school them.  That, as a parent, I still have a voice.

Then, that leads me down the road of being amazed all over again that I am a parent; that I get to be a part of watching these amazing people grow up and become.

Then, of course, that reminds me of the wonderful guy that I get to do it all with.  Could there be a better person for me to adventure through life with??  No way.  We were made for each other.

Add to all of that the fact that I just got a new (to me) van, and the constant "on the go" of my life feels like a privilege instead of a pain. Truly an opportunity, not an obligation.

So, why don't you tell me why your life is beautiful...I'd love to know.  :)

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Forgotten lunches and levity...

Holy first 3 days of school, Batman!!!  I'm not sure how I always forget how crazy the beginning of the year is, but I do.  Every dang year.  This would be the perfect time to say, "That's what you get for having 5 kids."  But, if you do I'll just pretend I don't hear you shouting through cyberspace...  ;)

During the summer months, I have all of these dreams of how this next school year, we will be on the ball.  Starting right out of the gate, everyone will have everything packed up the night before, clothes will always be freshly washed, we will bounce out of bed all cheery-like and be ready to saunter out the door 5 minutes ahead of schedule.  Yah, right.  Apparently, during the summer, I lose sight of the fact that we are people and not a clan of robots.

It used to plague me that I was not that kind of Mom that always has everything together at all times - I used to be sure that I was somehow setting a bad example by not doing all things June Cleaver.  But, I'm a little more relaxed now - well, save for the unrealistic back to school expectations - and I'm able to enjoy us the way we are.

I laughed at myself as the lunch guy at school today overheard me tell my 9 year old that if she ever forgot her lunch again I would knock her out - now, you know why I didn't blog this morning - because I didn't feel mortified by myself in the least.  That is just how we roll.  We have figured out that levity goes a long way towards preserving sanity, and I happen to think that it is better for her to hear a fake threat followed by a hug and laughter than for me to let that incident become so important that it ruins both of our days.

So, here's to hoping that things start rolling a little more smoothly for this school year...and also for hoping that we can keep laughing if they don't.  :)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


To my 9th grader:  I am so proud of you, you are brave and smart.  Starting your freshman year - you are well on your way to becoming the awesome young womanI have always expected you to become.  Take heart during this frustrating time, it will pass, and you will be glad you went through it.  In the meantime - enjoy sleeping in a little. :)

To my 7th grader:  I will always remember the look on your precious face when we walked into the gym this morning and you saw all those HUGE middle and high schoolers.  It is true, you are small on the outside.  But, you have one of the biggest hearts I've ever known.  You are a treasure and a wonderful person.  Stand tall, even if your tall is kinda short.  :)

To my 4th grader:  You are a gift.  I know you feel unsure and you wonder how you measure up.  Two older, awesome sisters, you say, and two little brothers who get all the attention.  But, you don't see what I see.  You might be in the middle of our family, but you are so unique, so individual.  There couldn't be a better you.  I can't wait until you realize how great you are.  :)

To my 2nd grader:  Handsome.  Confident.  So ready to take on the 2nd grade.  But, so sensitive to those around you.  You are a good friend, son.  Don't let the world turn you into a "tough" guy.  You show them that boys can be tender-hearted too.  And don't let any girls kiss you today - that's still my job. :)

To my Young 5's boy:  Red hair.  Glasses.  Loving his mommy like only the baby can.  Wanting to be confident like your big brother, but not quite.  Quirky.  Wonderful.  Be careful with my heart today, OK?  :)

Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy New Year!!

Back to school time really is the New Year - I mean I know we celebrate it on January 1st, but that decision was made long before organized schooling.  :)

So, I woke all the kids up early this morning to make sure they would be tired and ready for bed tonight - 5:45 and 6:50 (depending on which kid you are) is gonna come early.  They have all of their school supplies loaded into brand new back packs - new shoes and school clothes ready to go.  They are feeling a lot older than they did a mere 3 months ago when they were still a "baby" in that "younger grade."

It's funny, I remember all those feelings like they were yesterday.  School is such a big and significant part of a kid's life.  We give it all of the necessary focus around here, and yet there are times when I want to downplay it just a little.  Don't get me wrong, I understand how important education is - in fact, my husband is working on his master's degree as we speak.  It's just that, I don't want my kids to feel defined by their school experience.  They are so much more than how well they do in school.  Or let's just be real - they are so much more than how popular they are in school.

For whatever reason, I always understood that.  I was pretty shy during my growing up years, I know that's hard to believe, but it's true.  I was never a member of the "in" crowd.  I wasn't disliked in school, I was just kind of invisible.  But, I knew.  I knew that it didn't matter because as soon as I graduated, the little hierarchy that exists inside the walls of a school building wouldn't have any bearing on my life.

And I was right.

Soon after I graduated, I was accepted into and began to travel with a touring dance company.  It was serious travel, 11 months out of the year.  I got to go to Canade, Europe, Singapore, Cuba...performed at the World's Fair, the Olympic Village and countless arenas and theatres across America.  It was an amazing time in my life.  Then, I went to Bible school, got married and had 5 wonderful kids.

It now matters less than nothing what those kids in school thought, or didn't think, of me.   I want my kids to go to school, to do their best, to get a good education.  And to realize that school is just a small part of their vast and promising life.  :)

Friday, September 2, 2011


I am a little overwhelmed at all the paperwork I have filled out over the past several days.  Enrolling 5 kids in various schools and activities is no small task!

But, in the midst of all of it, I was seriously overwhelmed with gratitude.  Sooooo grateful that I live in a time and place where all of this is available to my kids.  We are so blessed.  They have so many opportunities for enrichment, so many places that their minds, bodies and hearts can grow.  So many people that understand the importance of investing into young lives.  Wow, their future is bright.

Which brings me to another thought.  On the one hand, we have all of these educators who look at our young people and see good and see potential.  On the other hand, we have a different group of people who look at them and see pierced lips and tattoos, kids who don't know how to obey,  a bunch of lazy good for nothings with their ear buds and blisters on their fingers from texting.  Same kids, different perspective.

The first group looks at the kids and sees their ipods, jewelry and attitudes as exterior trappings that will change form with time, they are able to see that the real kid lives underneath all of that and to see the beauty of the heart despite the outward.  The second group sees only the surface, judges only on the surface.  The first group is interested in what the child has to say, what they think, what they feel.  The second group is only interested in getting the child to change on the outside.

Guess who will ultimately be able to guide the child?  Of course, the one who cares.  Not the one who judges.

I pray everyday that I can give this gift to my own chldren, as well as those I teach.  I pray that I will do what is best for them, and not try to make them conform to what is comfortable for me.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

When Fixing the Problem isn't the Answer...

*Sigh*  Being a parent is really hard sometimes.  I have been told my many older mothers to trust my instincts when it comes to parenting.  To not worry about what other people are doing or not doing, just to trust the heart and mind that God gave me.  I think that is true - atleast most of the time.

The one time when this piece of advice seems to fail is when it comes to watching your children struggle.  Kids start to face struggles from the time they are very young and we mothers, we don't like it.  I can remember almost crying watching one of my babies trying to learn to roll over.  She was so frustrated, red-faced, hollering -it was pitiful.  My knee-jerk reaction was to go and flip her over.  But, what good would that do?  She would still have to struggle to do it next time because all the struggling was, in fact, building the muscles she needed to accomplish the task.

Oh, if only it was always as easy as learning to roll over...

I'm not trying to discourage anyone, but it just gets harder as they get older.  There have been so many times that I have wanted to step into a situation and "fix" it.  Just buy that toy they want so bad and have been saving for forever.  Rescind a consequence because they really are sorry.  Call that teacher and demand less homework.  Call the mom of that kid who is being so snotty.  Make an excuse about why the assignment wasn't done on time.  And on and on and on...

It doesn't get easier to watch them struggle, but I do atleast understand it better.  I get that this is the way they learn and grow and ultimately become successful adults.  It's just life and I don't do them any favors when I take away the means by which they develop.

There is something we can do though.  Believe in them.  Believe in them and let them know that we do.  Tell them, "I know this is so hard, so hard for you right now.  But, you will make it.  You are able.  You'll be better when it's over." 

And then wait until they aren't around to cry.