Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A New Era of Parenting

This parenting gig is such a roller coaster.

Just when you figure out one stage, a new one is upon you.

We have 6 kids and I can honestly say the baby and toddler phases became 'old hat' for me.

The elementary stage was a bit harder to 'get a handle on' due to all the additional peer and emotional baggage that enters in.  But, given time and practice, we figured out how to navigate through.

The pre-teen years haven't been TOO bad. We've 'been there, done that' three times now.  Fortunately our tweens were pretty pleasant to deal with.

The teen years have also been less traumatic and dramatic than I'd have ever imagined.  Our society depicts teens to be such wretched beings that I often fretted and worried about how we'd survive this tumultuous time with our children.

But, God is good, and our teens have been, well, GREAT!  (So far.)  Not saying they are perfect.  Not saying we haven't had days of 'what were you thinking?'  Not saying we haven't had a little angst here and there.  Yet, by and large, our teens have been respectful, helpful, and quite a joy to parent.

Now, however, I find myself in a NEW ERA. The phase of parenting a college aged individual.  A grown-up, as it were.  A young man living 'on his own', out from under our watchful eyes.  No longer under our roof.

It's difficult.  I can't say it's not.

My heart hurts some days when I think of him NOT being here. Not sleeping in his bed just steps away.  Not sitting at our dinner table each night.  Not taking part in family celebrations as they come along.

It's new.  It's hard.  It's scary.

Yet, it's exciting.  It's joyful.

We're so proud of who our grown son has become.  How loving he is.  How kind he is.  His mind is keen.  His heart is big.  His faith is strong.  We couldn't ask for much more.

I had a rough couple of weeks as we prepared to move him into his college dorm.  I cried as I packed stuff I thought he might need during his time away from home.  I sobbed as I drove to town to purchase  supplies for his dorm room.  I'd mention his name in passing and begin crying all over again.

The funniest part was he's only 30 mintues away.  I'll see him on Sun and Wed weekly.  I chuckled at one point and said to Techno Genius - "Yes, I'm pathetic."

A good friend counseled me and helped me realize it's not about him moving out or being in college.  It's about the unknown. The new.  She alerted me to remember the truth.  To allow myself to mourn this 'new phase' of life, but to also move forward.  To celebrate the changes ahead.  To embrace my  new role as 'mom of a grown-up'.  She admonished me to not allow the 'fear' that was creeping in to cripple me and keep me in my boo hoo fest, but to feel the loss, cry for a time, then pick myself up by the bootstraps and 'get it together.'

She was right.  I do/did have many fears.  Did I do enough?  Did I teach him all he needs to know?  What didn't I do?  Where did I go wrong?  What if I didn't prepare him?  Did I spend enough time with him?  The list could go on and on.

As she reminded me, however, God is not the author of confusion, but of the truth.  And as Ephesians states, we are to put on the full armor of God.  We often view the truth as the most important part -- and it IS pivitol -- God deals in the truth -- but Eph 6:4 says, 'Above all, put on the shield of faith.'  ABOVE ALL!  I need to have faith that whatever I've done is enough.  I did the best I knew to do with what  God had given me at that time in life.  I loved (still do) Jacob as we raised him.  All I did in parenting, I did out of love.  I know that.  I have faith God will do the rest.  He will take the sloppy, less than perfect attempt at parenting that I performed in the years we had Jacob in our home, and he will make it 'good'.

I can't tell you how much this knowledge healed my heart.  How much this allowed me to be joy filled instead of sorrow filled as we moved Jacob into his college dorm room at the end of August.  I became a little misty eyed as we pulled away, but I never cried.  Instead I beamed with pride throughout the day, as I watched my once little boy, now grown-up unpack and organize his new living space.  Owning his new surroundings.

Our job as his parents is not complete.  Not by a long shot.  However, it's taken on a whole new dimension.  He'll be making ALL his own choices.  My prayer is he'll still turn to us for counsel, advice, but... our days of aiming the arrow are mostly past.  We've released the bow.  He's flying now. Flying on his own. We've directed him in the way of the Lord and can now only pray - and ABOVE ALL - have faith that God will keep him on the right path.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Graduation - How Can That Be?

Our oldest son graduated from high school last weekend.  (Insert crying mama!)

How did that happen?

Didn't we just bring him home from the hospital?

Jacob at just a few weeks old.
Didn't we just watch him take his first steps?

Lose his first tooth?

Have an overnight for the first time - away from home and family?

Where did the time go?

There we sat, however,  in a gymnasium.  Folding chairs lined up.  A podium.  Proud parents with cameras.  A group of teens donning red and white caps and gowns. All the things you'd expect for a graduation ceremony.

It was a bit surreal.

We arrived and they handed him his cap and gown.  As he unwrapped it and slipped it on, the tears welled up in my eyes.

Could this really be happening? Could our little boy be getting ready to graduate from high school?

The answer - a resounding yes.

The day was filled with proud moments.

He graduated as Valedictorian.  Gave a well spoken speech about Endings and Beginnings.  Thanking those who have helped all the seniors get where they are and encouraging his fellow classmates to 'keep learning' and in so doing how they could succeed in whatever they set their minds toward.

Following the move of the tassel to the 'graduated side' of the cap.


Tears were shed.

Pride was exuded.

Memories were reminisced.

Did I mention tears were shed?



This marks a new era for us.  This is our FIRST child to graduate and get ready to move on with his own life.

Three days after his graduation, he went to stay with his aunt in town (30 minutes away) so he could be within walking distance of his new internship at the university.  (Insert crying mama - again.)  We'll bring him home on weekends, but still... 4-5 days a week.... he'll. be. GONE!

My head knows this is the 'normal progression' of life.

Kids are born then spend the rest of their days preparing to leave us.  It's how God designed it.

Our task was to get him ready for just such a time as this.  Through God's grace and wisdom, we have gotten him to this point.  He is now ready to begin spreading his own wings and taking flight without our safety net.

My heart, on the other hand, still wants to hold on.  Still wants to keep MY wings under him to lift him up, support him, keep him from falling.

Yet, I realize full well that it's actually GOD'S hands that will lift him up as he ventures out on his own.  Plus I know HE will do a far better job than I ever could.

You know what else I understand?  It's ok to have these mixed emotions.

Each child will be a little different.  This one -- our firstborn -- is ready to spread his wings and start exploring life on his own (to a degree) just 3 short days after graduation.  The next may not be so quick to leave the nest.  The one after that may be even more adventurous.  Who knows?

Proud parents with the graduate!


Only time will tell.

This change is tough.  It hurts to look over and NOT see my precious little boy sitting at his desk; sleeping in his bed; eating at his spot at the table.

But, I have the memories of when he WAS there.  I have the knowledge that we did our best.  I have the assurance he is in the capable hands of God as he moves forward -- on his own -- in this world.

Congratulations, Jacob!  We are so very proud of you.  I know God has big plans for your life.  Stay true to your faith and keep following God's will in your life and you'll be blessed beyond measure.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Mom's Can Teach Us Much

As I was making our girls Easter dresses a few weeks back, I was struck by how much I DIDN'T take advantage of the wonderful talents my own mom had to offer.

She attempted to teach me so many things.

Sewing.

Crocheting.

Cake decorating.

Baking.

Cooking.

Quilting.

But.... as a teen I quickly learned that my mom was a 'doer'.

That's a good thing, right?  What does that have to do with not taking advantage of her talents?

Well, in a nutshell, I learned early on that since mom was such a 'hands on' kinda gal, I could get away with saying, "I don't get it.  I can't do it!" and she'd 'come to the rescue.

That's how much she loved me.

That translates to her taking my place and finishing whatever task it was she was trying to teach me to accomplish.

You see, my mom was a self taught seamstress, cake decorator, cook, crocheter, etc.  She could watch someone else do a task and then do it herself. She'd read books and then 'try it' for herself with great success. She practiced at the things she wanted to do.

So, one would think I'd be the same way.

But no.  I needed more guidance.  Plus, I was apparently a bit on the lazy side.

So, to you young ladies and girls out there.... I highly recommend you take FULL ADVANTAGE of the gifts and talents your mama has to offer.

Let her guide and teach you.  Dont' take the easy way out and say 'I can't' so she will do it for you.

For you mom's and older wiser women, take the time to teach the younger generations those skills you possess.

Share your talents.  Push a little to make them learn to do it for themselves.

I love my mom for all she did for me. She sacrificed..... She gave.... She loved unconditionally.

I just wish I'd been wise enough to also learn from her wonderful talents rather than 'playing dumb' so she'd do the work for me.

Now, as an adult, I'm needing to learn a lot more 'on my own' when I could have been taught by a woman who knows her stuff.

I'm blessed to have had a mom who TRIED to teach me. Who showed me over and over again so many valuable skills.  Who had TREMENDOUS talent to observe.  Who wanted to share her abilities and love for creativity.

Some of it did, in fact, sink in.

I'm attempting to teach our girls some of those same skills now.  I'm TRYING to NOT 'just do it for them' when they struggle and flounder.

It's hard to sit back and watch them do a task with 'less than perfect form' or in a manner that makes it so obviously more difficult.

I understand now, mom, why you often just 'did it for me'.  I made it easy for you to take over.  You wanted me to succeed, but since I wouldn't put forth the effort needed, you'd 'show me' again and again and again.

Thanks for all the time you put in.  It's because of you showing me that I have the interest now.  I only wish I'd listened more and tried harder when I was young.

It would have made a lot of things much easier as I became a mom myself.

I pray I can give my own children a love for many interests just as you instilled a fondness in me for such talents as sewing, crocheting, and cake decorating through your abilities and joy in taking part in such tasks.

Take advantage of the myriad of talents the women in your lives have to offer.  It really is.... invaluable!

Thanks, MOM!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Traveling w/Kids

Well, our vacation travels began Sat morning at 3 am.

You read that right -- 3 AM.

Techno and I set the alarm a little before 3, (yep, we KNEW we wouldn't be able to drag ourselves out of bed on the FIRST try) showered, dressed, and began waking kiddos. By 3:40 we were packing the cooler, giving directions of 'brush your hair and teeth, put on your shoes, make sure you have your pillows,' and shuffling the last minute items to the SUV.

Finally, by 4:10 am or so, we had all the munchkins loaded in the car and were rolling out of Dodge.

Normally, getting the kids up THAT early, resulted in all 6 of them falling back to sleep within the first hour of the trip, allowing us to drive till 8 or later before we stopped for breakfast.

Appears as though times have changed.

I think the older kids fell asleep for a bit fairly quickly, but those little ones?  Not so much. I think they slept for MAYBE 40 minutes not long before the older kids woke up and began talking of their grumbling tummies.

Me, however?  I think I slept MOST of the way.  LOL!

Before 8 am we stopped to eat our traditional McDonald's breakfast.

Oatmeal, coffee, cinnamon rolls, sausage english Mcmuffins, sausage biscuits, and a round of orange juice and we were 'on the road again.'

We decided to eat all our meals 'on the go' this first day to make the trip end a bit sooner.

Here's where I simply MUST brag on our stupendous children.

Other than an occasional, "I have to use the restroom", we never heard any groanings or grumblings about the long trip.  No 'Are we there yet?' or 'How much longer?' was heard.
(Unless you count mommy who MAY or MAY NOT have whined such phrases a time or two quietly to Techno-genius.)

During the trip I passed out a few 'prizes' to keep the children occupied.  A coloring book w/crayons,  new cheap dolls that can be used in pools and oceans, a notebook and pen, some lotion, suction cup balls, nerf-like blow dart guns; small trinkets of the novel variety simply to keep their minds and hands occupied.

They watched 1 movie - Frozen - the first day.

They played Gameboy once the first leg of the trip.

We stopped for gas and potty breaks several times allowing all to stretch their legs, get some fresh air, and dole out snacks and lunch.

Other than that, they occupied themselves and each other THE. WHOLE. TRIP!  Limited bickering and squabbling took place.  THANK YOU, LORD!

Finally arriving at the hotel, we checked in and started dinner.  Another family tradition of microwave noodle meals in the room while watching 'kid TV' before changing into bathing suits and heading to the pool.

(It's quite a treat to watch Disney Jr or the Food Network now that we don't have TV other than DVD's at home.)

Swimming and hot tub fun then back to the rooms where we watched a little more TV while putting on our PJ's and preparing for another short night's sleep.

Techno and the boys in one room; the girls and mom in the other.

5am - wake up time.

A quick shower, breakfast at the hotel, then off and running again.

Day 2 was much like day 1 except we stopped to get Texas BBQ and actually 'sat down' for lunch.

Another movie, 2 game boy turns, a few more 'prizes', and a couple naps made the second day of driving just as smooth as the first.

We arrived before dinner on Sunday.

The girls were excited for their 'room of bunkbeds' and the boys made dibs on their rooms.

The older kids and Techno unloaded the car while I unpacked everything they brought in and distributed it to the various rooms.

The girls 'got lost' a couple times as they meandered from floor to floor to floor.  The stairs alone are quite impressive.

(Why did I bother bringing those workout DVD's and weights?  
Getting my workout just going up and down the different floors.)

Finally, we headed out to find some food for dinner.

All in all, a GREAT start to our family vacation.

Tremendous kids, a fabulous hubby, a touch of 'smart' pre-planning and our 2 day drive was smooth sailing.

Now the REAL vacation can begin with fun in the sun, trips to the beach, and lots of swimming, laughter, and playing.

Let the memory making commence.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Wall Entertainment Center - Part III

Who knew the entertainment center re-do would take a full THREE posts?  Not me, that's for sure.  In my idealistic mind, I had it done Sat afternoon.  Ha!

I should've know better.

Techno and I RARELY accomplish projects with such speed and agility.

I was just so pumped from the easy closet fix that..... I had my head in the clouds.  :-)

However, we DID manage to hang the shelves last night. Today Techno will put the chains up, I'll wrap them in jute rope and then......

...... we'll begin reassembling the electronics.

Oh boy!

CORDS!!!!!

I'm going to make a little pitstop at the Goodwill in town in search of 'decorative' pieces I can add to the new space.

BASKETS are high on the list to 'camouflage' some of the electrical components that are.... well..... less than decorative.

The kids are excited.  I'm excited.  Even Techno gave his accolades on the semi-finished project.

(He's often surprised when my 'projects' come out kinda cool.  We work quite differently, you see.  I get a 'vision' of what I want something to look like but can't quite express it well.  He is all about pre-planning and being able to visualize exactly what it will be in the end.  Sometimes, my plans work, sometimes they flop extravagently.)

This one ----- W-O-R-K-E-D!!!!!

Here's the before picture.  You might remember it's a single piece of furniture angled in the corner of the room so everyone can see the TV when it was in use.  A nice piece, but not fitting for our new space.

Functional, but that's about it.  LOL!  Notice the commercial beige on the walls too.  Not so cozy.
Now, the reveal!!!

Front view!  Love the softness of the sage green on the walls and how much more open the space feels.

Angled view.
 Cozier and so much  more open.  Not crowded -- well, except for the cord issue.

Doesn't it look SOOO much better?

I can't believe how much it opened up the room. Which sorta makes no sense as the wall shelves are significantly bigger than the free standing center was.  But..... who am I to question?

I LOVE IT!!!

Granted, I still have to find a solution for those CORDS!!!!!

I may make 'scrunchies' to put around them - or - we may purchase cord conduits to put over them on the wall and paint those.

Decisions, decisions.

I'm still working on the 'decorations' for this area, but that shall be a process.  Apparently baskets aren't that readily available around here.  :-)

Advice needed:
What would you do to 'hide' all those cords?
Would you paint the cedar chest?  I plan to make a 'cushion' for the top of it so it can be added seating for guests.
What about the black speakers?  I'm considering painting the sides either sage or bone white.  What would you do?


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Healthy Living Wees and Woes

I haven't posted lately about my healthy lifestyle progress.

No real reason.  Just haven't had much << new>> to share.

I'm staying the course.  Using a healthy eating approach to life in general.

I'm not depriving myself, but I'm not over-indulging myself, either.

Through the week, we have pretty healthy fare.  Lots of fresh veggies - raw or roasted.  Lean meats.  Complex carbs.  Yummy fruits for 'sweets'.

Weekends are often a bit more 'lax' as we go out to eat on Sunday afternoons and usually have 'snacky foods' and leftovers on Saturday so we can cram more time into our house projects.  ;-)  Albeit, I'm getting much better at ordering salads and baked chicken when eating out.  Of course, appetizers are often ordered, but that's where MODERATION comes into play. :-)

Exercise has probably been my biggest downfall.

It seems to be feast or famine on that front.

One week I'll easily get 5 days of my exercise videos in then the next week 0 days.  Crazy.

That's one area I'm trying to find a better balance.

The other pitfall I struggle with greatly is drinking water.  Now that I've allowed myself to have coffee again, I tend to NOT drink water nearly enough.  Sigh.

Balance.  The key!!!

I feel much better in general.

I've lost 16-17 pounds since I began this journey in Feb 2014.

Not bad.

I'm fitting clothes I haven't fit in over a year.

Pretty cool.

It's slow.

Sometimes it's agonizing.

But.... it's becoming a true lifestyle change.

I can't say I NEVER eat unhealthy foods.  I still like chocolate; ice cream; candy; brownies; even fried foods, but... I only eat them in moderation now.

Wow -- never thought I'd be capable of that.

I still eat carbs.

I eat protein in healthy portions.

I eat a lot of veggies and fruit daily.

Some days I find I don't eat ENOUGH!

Yes, you read that right.  Sometimes I eat too little.  I'm working on that.  Three healthy snacks and 3 healthy meals each day is my overall goal.

I often wish I could find that 'magic bullet' and lose 20 pounds in one month, but.... I then remember, this is a marathon, not a sprint.

I'm in this for LIFE!  Not just for our beach vacation.

As I alter my mindset and my eating habits in a healthy manner, I'm setting myself up for LONG TERM success.  Not just success to fit in a specific dress or look a particular way for an individual event.

I'm also setting a wonderful example for our children for the rest of their lives.

I can tell as I walk around our neighborhood, as I shop, when I play with the kiddies.....

...... I..... Have...... More...... Energy!

I FEEL better.

Plus I think I'm beginning to LOOK better too.

Yes, it's MUCH slower than I'd like. Yes, it's a daily struggle.  (Although, admittedly the struggle is getting easier.  It's becoming second nature.  Yet it is still something I have to think about and plan.)

But...I. AM. MAKING. PROGRESS!

That's the goal.

The end isn't quite in sight from the perspective of the scales, but in reality????

.......the end isn't the actual goal.

Life long change IS my aim.

THAT'S a forever event.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Wall Entertainment Center - Part II

Best laid plans....

Never seem to come to fruition!

Well, my 'ideal master plan' of buying paint on Fri morning, starting to paint Fri afternoon, and hanging the entertainment shelves Sat morning..........

........ didn't quite happen as planned.

While shopping, I felt congested and as if my sinuses were 'filling up'.  I thought it was just the result of a 'sneezing fit' I had that morning.  As the day progressed, my head felt worse and worse.  By the time I got home with the groceries and all my painting supplies...... I.  Felt.  Horrible!  As if my head just might explode.

I even had a slight fever -- or at least felt a bit warm to the touch and felt feverish on the inside.

To bed I trundled.

Sleeping fitfully for a couple hours, I emerged a little before dinnertime.

By then I decided the painting could wait till Sat and we'd just push back hanging of the shelves for a few days.  :-(

The littles headed off to Kids' Club and Techno, Jacob, and I watched Saving Mr. Banks while we ate popcorn and chicken for dinner.  (When the main cook is under the weather, dinner options get interesting.)

Before bed, I took a dose of Nyquil.

That seemed to have done the trick.   It knocked me out AND cleared my sinuses.

After a quick snuggle round at 7am, Techno and all the girls headed into the living room for breakfast and I (in my Nyquil induced haze) rolled over and went back to sleep.  Finally emerging around 9:30 am, I had a cup of coffee, sat in my chair, and slowly began to feel human once again.

Not sure exactly what time I started, but midmorning I began removing all the electronics from the entertainment center. (Boy was that a doozy!  I'm not a fan of cords and let's just say THERE ARE A LOT OF CORDS IN OUR ENTERTAINMENT EQUIPMENT!)

As I mentioned at the start, best laid plans seem to fail miserably.  Once the entertainment center was cleared and dusted, the plan was to roll it back to the girls' room to await it's 'transformation'.  Apparently our hallway had a different idea.

It. Didn't. FIT!!!  So..... it's currently on it's side, resting in our kitchen.  LOL!

The initial step accomplished, I set up the boards for the 'new' entertainment system on saw horses and put on the first coat of 'bone white' paint.

While those dried, I began 'cutting in' around the edges of the wall with the lovely dried sage.  I chose NOT to tape off the ceiling and baseboards simply b/c I'm a bit lazy and I didn't want to be up on the tall ladder any longer than I needed.  ;-)

Since I only did 1 full wall and a 1/4 of another, it didn't take too long to accomplish.

Then.... the first coat.  Again, pretty quick - relatively speaking.

By the time I finished all that, it was time for a second coat on the boards.  Easy peasy.

Unsure of what I wanted to do with the trim, I decided to 'just try' the bone white around the trim of the entryway into the kitchen.  It looked 'quite white' as I painted and I wasn't sure I loved it.  But... I kept going.

Once I finished the first coat of that, I decided it was a go. I  did the floorboards along the painted walls as well.  (Have to admit, now that I've done them in the bone white, I do---- in fact ---- "LOVE IT"!)

The wall still needed to dry a bit so it was a good time to take a break.

Anyone who's ever painted, knows you should never sit down.  Once you do....... you. just. don't. want. to. get. back. up.

Since I already broke that rule, I decided to take a little break and eat a snack.

After that, the walls and boards were dry.

Flipping the boards, I painted the first coat on the second side of all three.

Next up...... cutting in for the second coat. Ah, the lovely tall ladder.  My favorite!

After that was accomplished, getting the second coat on the walls was fairly simple.

Ah, the lovely trim -- again.  Did I yet mention how much I dislike painting trim?  I'm not a neat painter and I absolutely despise taping off, so..... I get paint everywhere.  Yeah, I know, not the sharpest tack in the box.

That completed, the final coat on the boards was next.

Phew!  All the painting was done!!  (Well, on the first wall and a fourth.)

Now, waiting for Doug to have time to hang the shelves.

Waiting is not a strength I possess.  I'm rather impatient. But.... tonight, after work, we'll get started.

Can't wait to share the 'reveal' when it's all said and done.

Then, I may have to take wagers on how long it'll take me to finish painting the rest of the walls.  LOL!!!