Thursday, June 23, 2016

How to Encourage a Mom


See that dolly?  Does she remind you of anyone?  My friend, Jeanette, thought so and for no reason other than love delivered her, along with a lovely handwritten note, to our doorstep last week.  That same friend shares a birthday with Conleigh and always sends a card, ones that almost always features a sweet brown girl.  Her love and concern for Conleigh always warms my soul.

Sometimes we make encouraging moms a hard thing.  My friend, Jeanette, has got it right.  You just do.  You make support and encouragement a verb and just do the things you think you ought to do. 

 I've been so blessed in my mom days from older ladies who just do that.  From a brown mom, which is a rarity around here, who sent me a note in the mail, after seeing me at Walmart, a note full of encouragement about doing a good job.  Maybe she didn't mean to specifically encourage me as the mom of brown kids but she did.  To another friend whose hair is not streaked by grey but is pretty darn white, who braves the world of Facebook and almost always comments on my posts, cheering from the sidelines, despite 35 plus years of difference in our ages.  

Every mom needs people in her corner, telling her she's doing well, noticing the small things about her and her family.  When that comes from women outside of your peer group, I think there is something double rich about the words, something special and sweet about their act of doing. 

 And there is the secret to how to encourage a mom.  You do encouragement. You just do it.  

Monday, May 30, 2016

This Weekend's Funnies

My grandma came for a visit with my mom this weekend.  She brought gifts for all, including Minion shower gel for the boys.  It smells like bananas which should be no surprise if you know the Minion movies.  However, Kenson's first response was a very serious, "This doesn't smell like Minion."

Speaking of smells, Conleigh was playing super hero/kung fu fighter/ninja in the sprinkler on Monday.  She asked me if I knew what her super power was and I replied that I didn't.  I should have left that alone but I didn't.  Because her super power was turning dirt into poop.  Because poop smells bad.  I have no idea...

And since my kids perhaps pay a bit more attention to such things than others might, I asked Zeke to take out the trash even though it wasn't his chore for the day.  (It was Kenson's job.)  He agreed to the task and I told him he was a peach.  To which he replied, "I don't want to be peach."  Apparently, he thought I was making him take out the trash because he was peach.  Reverse discrimination at its finest.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

As My Mom Retires

One of the sacred parts of growing up and living in relationship with your parents as an adult is gaining the ability to have a little bit of perspective into their lives as they were parenting you.  It's all too easy as teen or even a twenty-something to not give much thought to the way our parents navigated life, other than perhaps a flippant "I will never do that!" or the casual "I'm glad they did that right."  Maybe sacred seems like to large a word, too dramatic for the purpose but I do think there is something sacred about realizing that our parents are people too who have real personalities that hurt and grieve and yearn and hope.  It's pretty easy to hold our parents' emotions at arm's length, to reduce them to more simplistic terms like happiness or anger.

Until we become adults who are faced with the same challenges as our parents.

Then suddenly things present themselves in full color, where we are now capable of catching all the nuances of a situation, where we are much more able to grasp the gravity of the situations that our parents faced.  For a moment, time is suspended and starts going backwards.  Our feet somehow find themselves nestled into the footsteps of our parents.  In some other-worldly way, the skies part, the sun shines more brilliantly than ever, and the birds seem to be singing because we've just had an epiphany.

I've certainly had my fair share of those moments connected to an assortment of topics.  This latest moment was no different, and like the best of those moments, it came as a bit of a shock to me.  It's no secret that while I chose to stay home with my kids, that I always describe myself as a stay-at-home mom by default.  I'd love to work a consistent part time job that lines up with my talents and my passions,specifically teaching or working with families and children.   However, part-time gigs like that are hard to find.  There have been a few opportunities here and there.  Some I've applied for, some I have not.  Some were just not the right situation; in a different time or different place, I might have said yes but at the time, the situation was just not what I was looking for.  Some were things that would have stretched me out of my comfort zone but I was willing to throw my hat into the ring and see what came of those things. In all things I have tried to center myself with the belief that God will put me back into the workforce in His timing, in a job that will bless me and others.

Within the last few weeks, I've applied for, interviewed for, and not been hired for a position I would really have liked to have had.  Financially, it really would have helped our family.  In terms of qualifications, I felt like I was highly qualified for the position.  In terms of time management, the proposed schedule seemed to be one that would have given me time at home as well as time at work.

It was of course disappointing to not be hired but I was thankful that God had seemed to be preparing me for handling a disappointment like that through the last few devotions I had done.  As I studied through some Psalms, He seemed to be whispering a bit about how much He values me, about how nothing in my life goes unnoticed, and about how He created me and that my value stems from being His creation.  Job hunting always seems to have this element of personal rejection to it, even though sometimes, it's not about being rejected but more about someone else just being a better fit.  Hearing from Him helped to soften the blow.

But what surprised me most about the situation was how much I found myself thinking about my mom as I applied for and then waited the outcome.  My mom is also a teacher and also chose to stay home with my brother and I.  She's never really said much about her feelings in regards to that.  Financially, it probably would have been much better for our family had she chosen to go back to work when we were little but she didn't because she, like I, thinks that these years home with our kids are a gift that we will do our best to preserve.  Instead, she waited until we were in high school and then chose to go back to school and earn an extra certification, one that would expand her ability to find a teaching job when she was ready to start teaching again.

As I started the process of applying for this job, I was faced with the reality of not having applied for a job in approximately 15 years.  Oh goodness!  I can't believe that's true but it is.  I know it sounds silly but there is something overwhelming and a bit intimidating by that.  While I've tried to keep myself invested in teaching by substitute teaching and while I occasionally peruse educational research to try to keep on on what is going on in the teaching world, it is not the same as being in the classroom.  I couldn't help but find myself feeling too old, not something I thought I would ever feel.  I also couldn't help but think of my mom, because she did much the same thing, sitting on the sidelines and then jumping back in, trying to figure out how to fit back into the education world after years away.  I am sure she felt some of that trepidation in filling out an application and interviewing and then waiting the outcome, for many of the same reasons as myself.   I can't help but wonder what encouraging words my dad said to her because he was often good at grounding people.  And I can't help but wonder if God provided encouragement for her about who she was in Him and how He had a plan in all of it, just like the way He showed His presence to me.

 As a kiddo who hadn't even turned twenty yet, I was completely oblivious to how it probably felt for her to start the job hunting process.  Not so today.  So for my mom, this is one of those sacred moments where your heart has become so much more real to me.  I'm proud of you.  I am thankful you were brave enough to start again, to keep learning and to put  yourself out there, even though it was hard and scary and exposing yourself to failure.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Peacock


Who knew our local zoo's peacock would be the source of entertainment today?  We squeezed in a trip to the zoo today, in between the last day of school and the first day of swim team practice.  Zeke was quick to tell me before we left that he was going to collect things while we were at the zoo, things like rocks but not peacock poop.  

And since boys love poop, Kai followed suit with his conversation at the zoo.  Considering a peacock's close ties to bathroom words, I probably should not have been surprised to hear him call it a 'poopcock.'  Honest mistake... 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Egg Drop


One of the units for third grade in our school is an embrology unit.
Each class incubates and hatches chicken eggs.
It also makes for a fun end of school year project, the egg drop.
Each kid gets to design some type of container to house a raw egg.
The container is then dropped from a bucket truck onto the school playground.
There are about a hundred kids in the entire third grade so there were plenty of ideas.
Balloons, a bouncy ball, and lots of really unique packaging...
always interesting to hear which ones land with a thud...

Kenson wanted to use a stuffed animal and a parachute.
He found a monkey in the garage sale pile at Grandma's.
Once we got it home, we found that it's head was already coming off.
Obviously it was meant to be.
So bubble wrapped egg inserted into stuffed monkey plus a parachute.

Conleigh originally wanted a Ziplock bag and cotton balls.
She ended up with a bubble wrapped egg, wrapped and stuffed with poly fill, in a show box, with a parachute.

Checking out the results
It survived!

Conleigh's survived as well.
She looks quite contemplative, don't you think?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Baseball's in full swing now, with Kenson having his first game on Thursday.  While I'm not a baseball fan, I'm certainly a fan of the atmosphere of little kid baseball.  There's just something about lazily watching a game, while chatting with a friend as the sun goes down.

There's also something about little boys all dressed up in clean white pants, faces smudged with a little bit of eye black.

And I loved hearing Kenson's comment post game, when I asked him about the hit that he got.  "I just closed my eyes because I didn't know if I was going to hit it or not."  I'm guessing his coach would love to know that.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Girls on the Run

Conleigh's been training for a 5K race the last 6 weeks or so.  She's been doing that through an after school program called Girls on the Run that works to get girls thinking about exercise, supporting other girls, and believing in yourself.  She was super excited about the program when she started, then at about week 4  was a bit tired of running at practice but in the end, I think she decided it was fun.

She needed a running buddy and D had district soccer schedule for that day
so our friend, Jessie, obliged. 

Jessie also took Conleigh out for a post run Blizzard and provided matching headbands,
all of which made Conleigh feel special and loved.
Thankful for friends who bless us by blessing our kids.