Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Changing Lanes: Staying on the Right Path During Times of Uncertainty

A local road in my neighborhood has been undergoing major construction.  An awkward merge has been temporarily inserted on the side of the road.  The street itself is narrower.  Workers, heavy machinery, and new traffic signs have caused the area to be a little more hectic. Yet, the hardest part is the lack of defined lines along the street. Faded chalk marks and a couple of reflective tabs have replaced the bold white lines.  Without clearly marked lanes, I feel somewhat lost and nervous when driving through this part of town.  While I know the end result will be a bigger street with a nice walkway on the edges, I’m not too fond of this temporary construction.   Four months ago, one of the writing sites I had written for shut down, suddenly and permanently.  For almost five years, I had written articles for this company and when I was notified of its impending closure, I felt a sense of loss, as if the Titanic was sinking.  At the same time, I knew I needed a little nudge to step out of my comfort zone, to try my hand at blogging and different writing projects.  The change has caused me to work a little harder, stay up a little later, and try out some new styles of writing.   You see change can be good.  Still, I like to have a defined path… know where I am going.  For awhile I felt like my life was under construction.  When my steady income was gone, I felt like I wasn’t contributing to our household.  Suddenly, my path didn’t feel very clear.  I was floundering in a sea of html/blogger/ghostwriting jargon that was unfamiliar. Yet, then my husband reminded me that even if I weren't making money, I was always contributing to our family.  Taking care of the kids and the house was an important job.  In our society, our jobs and salaries often define us.  While degrees, promotions, and awards are great accomplishments, the behind the scenes action is important too. For instance, no one will ever pay me for doing crafts with my children or cutting my daughter’s sandwich into the shape of a heart.   I won’t be recognized for tucking my kids in at night or reading them Goodnight Moon for the 1000th time. Yet, those little things matter, at least to my kids. Some days, my path may be out of focus.  And sometimes, I may be forced to change lanes.  I may succeed.  I may fail.  I may make more money one month and less the next. But luckily, I have my family to remind me about what is important.  I also know that God is there to help keep me on the right path.  These things help keep my path defined so that I am able to stay focused on the road I’m supposed to be on. Psalm 119: 1: You're blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.

How do you stay focused when faced with changes?  What are some of the little things that your family appreciates about you? If you like what you just read please click to send a quick vote for me on Top Mommy Blogs- The best mommy blog directory featuring top mom bloggers

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hold on Tight

“Mothers from miles around worried about Zuckerman’s swing. They feared some child would fall off.  But no child ever did. Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.”  ~Charlotte’s Web, E.B. White

I knew this day would come.  

Like any other morning, I walked my daughter up to her school.  Moments before we reached the schoolyard, one of her good friends came up beside her.  They walked onto the schoolyard together, immersed in their conversation.  Like any other morning.

Except it wasn’t like any other morning because every other morning she had given me a hug and a kiss and said “Bye, I love you!”  

But this time, she didn’t hug me.  In fact, as she walked onto campus, she didn’t even give me a cursory glance over her shoulder.  She forgot to say goodbye.  

A little voice inside of me said, “Wait, don’t go.”  

I watched her walk onto campus and get swallowed up by the crowd of upper grade children making their way to their lines.  And, at that moment, I thought of Charlotte’s Web when all of Charlotte’s little babies created balloons of silk and floated away in the warm updraft.  I understood Wilbur’s sadness but also remembered the line when one of the spiderlings said, “We are going into the world to make webs for ourselves.”

I’m glad my daughter likes school and has friends she enjoys. Still, as a parent, it’s hard when that moment comes when our children want to take flight.  We don’t want them to go.  However, having independence is a necessary part of growing up.  

Recently, my toddler has started going on the big kid swings.  I don’t push him too high and I’m always there to make sure he doesn’t fall. However, he never does because he always hangs on tight.  

Sometimes, we don’t give our children enough credit for what they can handle. We think they won’t make good choices, that they won’t hang on tight enough.  

As parents, it’s our job to give them the tools to equip them so that they can make good choices. Just the other day I was talking to my daughter about characteristics to look for in a friend.   We talked about how friends shouldn’t exclude or boss you around.  Friends should be kind, helpful, honest, loyal, and supportive.  

It's lessons like these that we have to weave into our daily conversations, so our kids will be prepared for the moments when they will be out in the world without us.  

Still, I can't prepare my children for every circumstance or trial that may come their way. And, I know at some point, my children may stumble! However, if we prepare them for the ride, for the tangled web of life, hopefully, their fall won’t be too hard.

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Sunday, October 19, 2014

6 Things I Loved as a Kid (but Not as a Parent)

Being a kid is the best. You don't have a mortgage to pay. You can spend hours spinning without feeling sick. You get to order yummy food off the kid's menu. I could go on and on about the perks of being a child. Yet, now that I am a parent, there are certain aspects of kid-life I'm not too fond of.
# 1 Arcade Pizza
I remember going to Chuck E. Cheese parties and eating the delicious pizza. When my nephew was about five, my husband and I decided we should take him to Chuck E. Cheese. I was horrified to learn that their pizza was no longer good. What happened?  Did they change the recipe or was it just me?  
# 2 Waking Up Early
When I was five, I used to wake up at 6ish to participate in Mousercise. This was back in the day when you had cable boxes on top of your television. Since becoming an adult, I don't wake up early unless my kids are up or I have to be somewhere. Unfortunately, as a parent, you are always up early.  If you’re a morning person, great, but for the rest of us, it sucks is an inconvenience.

# 3 Ball Pits
Ball pits are so much fun for kids. Okay, I'll admit they are amusing for adults too. In fact, I wouldn’t mind jumping in myself….is that allowed? What's not fun is all of the germs in those pits. Diaper leaks along with dirty hands and feet make these indoor play areas a germ hot spot.   I don’t prevent my kids from going in ball pits.  I'm just not really that enthused when they climb into the pool of bright plastic balls, especially when they get sick a few days later.

# 4 Somersaults
My daughter is into doing gymnastic feats. Headstands are her specialty. I remember being her age and doing flips and cartwheels. I suppose I should have kept at it because now I get dizzy when I doing a simple forward roll or cartwheel. My daughter just doesn't understand why I don't like to do somersaults.
# 5 Bologna
Growing up, bologna sandwiches were a kid's go to lunch.  It was so good.   However, I can’t remember the last time I had one.  The pink meat just doesn’t appeal to me anymore. says the Oscar Mayer version contains “mechanically separated chicken, pork, water, corn syrup, salt and sodium nitrate.”  If you know of some really great bologna, please let me know!  I have never had a fried bologna sandwich so maybe I’m missing out.

#6 Talking Dolls
Oh, fellow 80s children, remember talking Cabbage Patch Dolls?  They would tell you when they were hungry or tired.  So much fun.   Now, these are just creepy.  I think watching Child’s Play ruined talking dolls for me.  In general, talking toys scare me, especially the ones that jabber in the middle of the night and cause you to wake up in a cold sweat.  
I am definitely getting older (sigh).

What are some things you loved as a kid but aren't so fond of now?

Ball Pit Photo
doll photo credit:

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

Carry Me: The Physical and Emotional Demands of Parenthood

My toddler’s in a “carry me” stage.  He wants me to carry him while we are at the grocery store, while I’m trying to get dressed, while I clean, while I eat, you name it.  Anyone who has a young child knows it can be quite difficult to put on a pair of pants or cook a meal with a toddler clinging to your leg.  

Yet, although it’s hard not to have any personal space, I’ll carry him, because I enjoy those long hugs and know they won’t be so readily available in the future.  Although my arms may be tired, I enjoy holding him and soaking up his love. 

Did you know that wolf spiders carry their young on their back? By attaching the egg sac to her spinnerets, the mother is able to carry the sac around. Then, when the eggs hatch, the spiderlings climb onto their mom’s back. She carries them around until they develop. Spiders can lay “between 2 and 1000 eggs” so that’s a pretty big job for some spider moms. 

As parents, we are accustomed to physically carrying our children. However, when they are sad, we “carry” their tears in our hearts.  We carry their fears, their hopes, their disappointment.  Sometimes, I wish I could transfer their trials from their bodies to mine so I could carry it for them.  At the same time, I know trials provide a growing experience.  I can be there to soothe them but I won’t always be there to absorb the brunt of the fall, the pain of the name calling, or the initial impact of a loss.

When my son was first born, I carried him so much that I started having back spasms. One day, I was walking out of the grocery store when I had a horrible back spasm that sent me to the ground.  I had both kids with me and somehow managed to get both of them into the car and drive home. When I went to the doctor, I couldn’t take a muscle relaxer because I was nursing.   At that moment, I wished I had invested in a carrier that supported my back better.  Lesson learned.   

Despite my best efforts, I know I can’t carry all of the physical and emotional demands that parenting requires. This is why I am so lucky to have a Savior who carries me, who carries all of us, every step of the way. When I feel weak, I know He is strong.   And in my weakest hour, that’s what keeps me going.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Why Growing Up in the 80s was Great

I don’t mean to start a my-generation-is-better-than-your-generation argument. However, I’m grateful I grew up during a time where smartphones didn’t exist and you could play tag at recess. Here are a few other reasons why growing up in the 80s was great.

Technology was….Different

When I was a kid, we would purchase “singles” tapes otherwise known as a song on the top 10 list. Somehow, going to the store to buy a new “tape” seems much more exciting than downloading a song. My sister and I would play “Two of Hearts” or “Walk like an Egyptian” over and over again until I’m sure my parents felt like wearing ear plugs. Our friends called us on our awesome Swatch phone. We didn’t have to worry about texting (or sexting) or social media bullying.  And, if a boy called our house, my parents knew it.

Monkey Bars, Show and Tell and Red Rover

I spent most of the 80s in elementary school. I loved it. Standards hadn’t come about and schools had plenty of money in their budgets for field trips and music programs. In kindergarten, I brought my pet rabbit for show-n-tell. We played Red Rover and did cherry drops off the high bar. Nowadays (at least in my experience), there aren’t any high bars because parents will sue if their child breaks an arm. Animals aren’t allowed on school campuses. Field trips have been cut to one a year.  Summer school no longer means art, music and science experiments (at least, not at a lot of schools).  Instead, it's a “high intensity” program reserved for kids who are struggling. School is simply not the same as it used to be. 

Dressing Like a Rock Star

Only in the 80s could you dress like a rock star and not have people stare at you. From hot pink spandex to lace leggings, fashion was fun! One of my favorite pink shirts had a leopard on it.  I wore it with a pink t-shirt clip with rhinestones and leggings with lace trim. Even though I never had a perm, I used plenty of hair spray on my bangs, wore gold hoops, and had a cool splatter paint shirt. Occasionally, I put my daughter’s hair in a side ponytail and buy her hot pink so she can experience the thrill of it all (although she has no idea what I am doing).

Sometimes, I feel bad for my kids. We try to make their childhoods carefree and simple.  We read books, have plenty of free play and time to explore. Yet, with all the toddlers wearing designer clothes, it can be hard to keep my kids grounded.  I wish I could transport my kids back to the 80s….to simpler times. 

Here's one of me in 1989….notice the slight crimping and super cool bangs!

What is your favorite memory of the 1980s (if you have any)?

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