Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Breaking Board

On Sunday, I tested for my TaeKwonDoe High White Belt.  In order to pass, I had to break a real board.  I was the very first person called and I didn't break the board on my first try even though I thought my kick should have broke the board.

My heart started racing.  My cheeks were hot and all eyes were on me.  I tried again.  I still didn't break the board on tries 3, 4, and 5.  I sat down as the next nine people broke their boards.

I sat on the YMCA gym floor breathing and rubbing my heel.  I wanted to break that board.  I knew I could do it.  It seemed like all my hard work in class was more determined to leave my brain than I was to keep it inside of me.

I felt like a character in a movie as I thought about all I had overcome in order to be ready to test.  There were times attending class was a challenge:  My kids, my husband, my other commitments always seemed to need me more than going to class.  At one point, I had to be honest with myself and  figure out how badly I wanted my black belt.  The answer:  Badly.  There was always going to be something in my life to stop me: I could either make excuses or go for it.

The testers came back to me.  I put the past behind me and broke my very first board.  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cold Revenge

There are times where our house is like a clown car of kids.  Extra kids keep coming in and the neighbors must wonder how they all magically fit, when the noise is going to stop, and if they are ever going to stop pouring out the doors.

Friday was one of the those nights where we had extra kids.  Things were pretty mellow and everyone was getting along well.  Xbox custody seemed to be shared with little drama and it was finally time to attempt to quiet the house. I was not foolish to believe that everyone was going to sleep.

After Lauren and her friend had cozied into their fort, Jonathon took it upon himself to think it would be a great opportunity to scare them with a deep voiced, "Raaahhhhrrr!!"  The girls screamed.   And then yelled at Jon and his friend.  And then proceeded to tell me about the near heart attack they experienced while Jon and his friend proceed to laugh.  Finally, everyone was separated and settled for the night.

The next morning, Lauren and her friend went outside to play.  I thought nothing of it.  When a very disgruntled Jon's friend walked up the steps and said, "Why did you wake us up so meanly?"  I was confused.  He asked why I was banging on the windows.  Jon was soon upstairs and we pieced the story together:  Two young ladies had been throwing snowballs at Jon's window knowing the boys were sleeping.  Although the boys wanted me to exact some kind of punishment, I pointed out that I would then have to punish them for what happened last night.  The boys exchanged sheepish grins.  I blew my bangs out of my face so I wouldn't laugh.  

The moral of the story:  Sisters always get their revenge.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Teens and Trees

You know what's really hard about raising middle schoolers besides everything?

Not giving into the self-doubt that you as a parent are on the right parenting track.  There are times when you are walking that track shoulder to shoulder with other parents, other parents are way ahead of you, some parents are way behind you, and other parents are so far off the course you wonder if you should be doing it differently or if they bothered reading the directions to get to the course.

I really like my teenagers.  All in all, in spite of the struggles, and because of the good times, I have the privilege of seeing glimpses into the men they will become one day. I am blown away by their compassion, their humor, and their negotiating skills.

There are days that it feels like I am not doing enough to prepare for them the world or more accurately:  They think their father and I are doing our jobs a little to well to prepare them for the world.  Truthfully, it can be exhausting, but obviously necessary, to maintain consistent parenting standards.

One day, I was heart-weary in the way only parents can be of fighting the same battles, when I read this verse from Luke 6:43  "No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit."  I stopped what I was doing and took a deep breath.  As I breathed, peace just filled my body.  I knew in my heart Rich and I are "good trees" and we're doing our very best to give our four "branches" the best resources at our disposal.   Those resources include our time, our faith, our family histories, and our community of friends to support their endeavors.  

I opened my eyes and I was still the parent of middle schoolers. There was no changing that fact. I, however, am more confident my husband and I are on the right path.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Learning the Hard Way

In high school, the summer before my junior year, I had a three month relationship that my parents knew was going to crash and burn before it even started.  It had all the wonderful things teenage melodramas need:  A boyfriend who was still in love with my best friend, a friend who was still in love with my boyfriend, the boyfriend who had the emotional maturity of a gnat, teenage hormones, and no worldly experience for any of the teenagers involved to say:  "This is going to end very, very badly with many, many tears and lots of landline phone calls."

At some point while I was crying my broken heart out on my dad's lap, I had an inkling that he had a premonition that this relationship was going to last about as long as the latest boy band.  I asked him why he let me do it, knowing it was going to have such a tragic ending.  My dad looked me in the eye and said, "I struggled with it, but in the end, I knew you had to make your own mistakes.  I can't live your life for you. It's the hardest part of being a parent...knowing your kids are going to fail and letting them do it anyway."

When my dad explained his reasoning to me, I was shell-shocked.  I heard the lesson but thought his timing was rather lousy, given everything *I* was already dealing at the time.  Major break-up, here! Hello?!?  So, I filed it away under "things parents say to their kids when they think they are being helpful" and went about my life.

Now that Richard and I are raising two middle schoolers, I finally understand what my dad was trying to teach me:  It isn't easy to let our kids knowingly make mistakes.  However, if they are mistakes the kids can afford to make, with no serious consequences except to themselves, I am learning to bite my tongue.  It's hard. I hate it.  I don't always know when to let them fail and when to offer help, so sometimes I jump in too soon or not soon enough.

I am learning that kids need to be able to safely fail at things so they can learn how to handle the disappointments in life. It makes the successes they will experience that much more triumphant.   We can't save our kids from every curveball thrown at them, but we can equip them emotionally and mentally.  We can be there to cheer them on when life is going well as well as comfort them when it is not going quite their way.

As parents, we can teach them to learn from mistakes, rather then letting mistakes define who they are as a person.   It's a continuous process, but if we want children who are not afraid to explore the world, it is one well worth the effort.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Social (Media) Awareness

I like Social Media. A Lot. In fact, I read books about how to use it more and how it is impacting our society. I'm equally fascinated/startled by the privacies we are willing to give up in order to immerse people into our lives at the expense of letting advertisers mine thier way through our digital homes. That being said, I share much of my life through status updates and pictures on facebook. I chose facebook because Instagram freaks me out with their lack of privacy controls. I like twitter, but it isn't my thing. I don't feel home there. I also have this blog which I am horrible at updating. Like many people before me who found something a little too enticing for their own good, there was a point where I felt facebook had more control over me than I did over it, so I walked away from it for awhile, reassessed my priorities, then returned wiser for the experience. If you know how much time I'm spending on social media and it bothers you, the problem is yours, not mine. I love sharing my life and the support that is freely given and offered. I have been able to interact with my family and friends in a way that would not have been possible years ago. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to see pictures of events that would otherwise have been missed. I am not going to apologize for choosing to live an interactive life. It brings me an incredible amount of blessings and joy to share the adventures of family life. It is my fondest hope you join me for the journey.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Growing Imperfection

Rich and I spent the better part of today ripping out our failed container garden in the front of the house.

Before we started, we knew it was going to require trip(s) to garden centers around town.  Of course, our Princess of Color could not be left behind, so she came along with us, offering her opinions about flowers the flowers we should plant by her senses rather then our overall garden design.

Since we are still new to any kind of gardening, I cannot fault her aesthetic.

Lauren was so inspired by the first place we went, she just had to plant a flower planter of her own.

I thought long and hard about letting her do it.  If I said, "Yes." it meant that I would be the helper, not the leader of the project.  I would have to stifle all my perfectionist tendencies and let her place the flowers however she wanted to place them in planter.  This sounds really great on paper...let the kid put her flowers in the planter...they are just flowers.  But be honest with yourself.  We all have our own way of doing things.  We like things just so and letting other people "interfer" with our system is a hard thing to do.  We have to let go of our control and trust that their way and their system is just as okay as ours.  Even children deserve the  respect to safely explore their world in a way that is different than ours, but it is not easy to give up the control to which we so tightly cling in order to keep our world secure.  

I trusted my daughter.  I let her pick out  pink, purple, and white petunias as well as some yellow/orange geraniums to split between to big planters I already owned.  I bought more potting soil.  I stayed silent and showed her how to carefully transfer little plants to the big planter.  We had a blast together!  

Do the planters look the way I would have put them together?  No.  Does it matter?  Not a single bit.

I gave up the control, trusted my daughter, and realize we planted flowers, memories, laughter, and love.


When you put your kids in activities that will require physicality, they will inevitably become injured at some point on the field.

To be perfectly honest, it took my husband sitting on me multiple times for me to not be the mom running onto the field screaming, "What happened to my baby?"  

To be even more honest, in most cases, my "baby" was (and is) usually fine.

To be brutally honest, it would have been more traumatic for my child to have me run onto the field checking them over, then having their coach dust them off and (when required) bandage them up.

In the few times they've come to me for treatment, I have learned to how to triage*:

1.  Look at the injury and assess if it needs to be treated by a professional.  If not:

2.  Apply ice, band-aids, and reassurance.  Send them back to their coach.  If the child refuses to go:

3.  Tell injured child I am so sorry that the injury is so bad that they will be unable to play video games/ride bikes/do whatever kind of fun thing that was planned that day.

4.  If #3 does not produce a miraculous and instantaneous recovery, I then reassess whether or not we need to go to the doctor.

*This is not professional medical advice.  I am only a professional mom.  Results may vary at your house.  

**Disclaimer:  I did this when my kids were just starting out in sports and wanted to quit every time they were bumped or received a little scratch when they fell down.  There are injuries that have to be taken very seriously right away.  I have four kids in numerous sports who receive medical attention when they need it, as soon as they need it.**

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