Moving forward


For Linda, who requested I write on this subject –

When I was in jr. high and high school I looked forward to practices for every sport every day.  I was slightly lost without them.  I didn’t know what people did with all their free time.

I wasn’t a stereo-typical teen in the sense that I had no desire to sit in my room and brood about the fact that the world wasn’t fair, boys didn’t like me, or that I didn’t have the latest fashion.  I spent every single day talking to my parents and siblings.  I adored school and I adored sports practices.  The day of my last senior year volleyball game I remember sinking to the floor and sobbing.  The season was over and everything was going to change.  This is the first time I remember noticing the seasons of life.

Then, I became an adult.  I got a job.  My time available to play sports shrunk significantly.  Then, I got married.  My time shrunk again.  And, then I had kids.  I stopped playing all together.  I missed it, but seldom had time to think about it.  I had health issues that helped me gain a significant amount of weight and made losing it extremely difficult.  But, all along I LOVED sports.  I never stopped loving them just because I wasn’t able to play.

When the twins were born I heard about a volleyball league I could play in.  I decided I’d go try it out.  I was nervous.  I was 10 years older, overweight, and hadn’t played.  But, it was sorta like riding a bike.  When I got there it just came back.  I didn’t move as fast.  My minimal vertical had basically disappeared. But, I had the basics.  The fundamentals that I used to be annoyed my coaches were harping on – those were still there.  And, I’ve been playing volleyball ever since.  I found it difficult to play in the league with the people who were beginners.  They didn’t even know the rules and were laughing like the sport was just for fun!  And, the upper division were all young and fit.  The guys were giants and spiking it so hard that if it hit me in the face there was a good chance I’d be knocked out.  But, I’ve managed to play in both levels and figure out a balance.  I’m not the best.  But, I’m having fun and being active.

This year life has gotten in the way of our league.  But, I intend to change that.  I want to be able to play and enjoy my time.  I refuse to stop being active.  The good news is that I haven’t stopped completely.  I’ve been coaching.  When I leave practices I’m sweaty and disgusting.  The girls probably think I’m old and crazy, but I don’t care.  I love playing and I love being there teaching these girls to love it.  The important thing I keep reminding myself about is that I don’t have to be the best.  I don’t have to play at the level I did when I was 17 and 18.  I just have to keep going.  I have to keep myself moving.  Sometimes that means I take baby steps and do the easy stuff.  Sometimes that means I swallow my pride and do the hard stuff even though I’m positive everyone else around me thinks I’m ridiculous.  It’s not about what they think.  It’s about me doing something I love and trying my best to keep myself healthy despite health issues that make weight loss annoying, despite time crunches, despite french fries.  I’m still going and I’m going to keep going.

If you feel like you are too old, too fat, too slow, too whatever – stop labeling yourself with things that do not help you.  Start labeling yourself as things like tenacious, persistent, and hard working.  Don’t waste your life hiding until you’re perfect for what you want to do.  Do what you want until you’re the best you can be at it.

 

Tis the Season


It’s football and volleyball season.  That means volleyball practices at 6am and football practices until 6pm.  That means rushing to and from work to fit in games and practices.  It means trying to enjoy all the accomplishments my children make while trying to encourage them to improve and grow.  It means dinner is cooked between 7 and 8 at night.

This year I’m coaching my daughter’s volleyball team.  It’s been so fun.  The girls are excited to be there and most are beginners so they haven’t created bad habits yet! The team is made up of 6th and 7th grade girls.  As my husband says – the best part of our game so far is our cheering and our warm up.  But, these girls are coming along and will all make excellent volleyball players very soon.

team

(Yeah, that’s me on the right – shorter than half the players.  I’ve had a few people ask me if it bothers me that I’m shorter than these girls.  Um, NO!  I honestly don’t think about it much and didn’t even notice until I saw this picture.)

Here is my favorite picture so far this season – the formation gets me every time.  (Yes, I’m special).

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I’m more calm this year with the football thing.  Well, I volunteer to run the spirit wear table so I miss 1/2 the game. And, I try not to look when my son is getting hit or hitting people…but I am more calm. HAHA  He still is loving it and it’s been a true joy to watch him improve over the past couple years.  My favorite part is the comradery that is built in to football.  The boys love and protect each other.  There is no instance where that doesn’t happen on the team.  It’s pretty amazing to watch these boys come together like that.  All but six are new – it speaks volumes about their coaches that they enforce that.

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(My boy is #30)

So, with coaching and watching and selling spirit wear the subject of how much time it takes to be a parent for an athlete (or a child in drama or band or whatever) has come up.  It IS time consuming.  It takes hours and hours and hours of our lives to be there to drive, pick up, coach, practice at home, cheer, and just BE there at games.  But, you know what?  How much time is “too much” to invest in our children?  The time they are with us is short.  A mere 18 years before they move on to things that will take them away from us.  My oldest is a junior.  In a year and a half he will be off to college.  How could I ever choose to miss these few passing moments?  I couldn’t.  I can’t imagine not being there for him or experiencing his joys, his letdowns and just his life with him.  The same is true for the twins.  I want to see them growing and learning.  I want to cheer for them when they do well.  I want to cheer for them when they need some encouragement!

 

These are the blessings the Lord has entrusted us with.  All too soon they will be grown.  Enjoy these fleeting moments.  Cheer as loud as you can.  Lose your voice by the end of each game.  Try to attend every performance, every game – we all know none of us will make every single thing – but do your best!  Your kids see you trying and they love you for your efforts.

Motherhood, my friends – embrace it!

 

It’s time to forgive


Our lives are filled with many people happy to tell us how we’re doing things wrong.  Lord knows, I’m really great at getting things wrong.  But, today – I want to tell you IT’S OKAY!!  That’s right.  I am sharing with you the joy of knowing that even if you’ve messed some things up – you are gonna be fine.  I’ve noticed that we women are great at giving advice.  And, we’re even better at pointing out how people could have done things better.  But, do you know what I’ve found to be true?  Jesus loves me.  He loves me even if I didn’t do things just exactly how my friends all thought I should.  And, he forgives me for my mistakes.  It’s about time we forgive ourselves, don’t you think?

How is it possible we live in a society that is so judgmental about things that really have nothing to do with anyone else?  When I got married I was young.  So many people told me not to get married because I was ruining my life and I wouldn’t be able to have any fun at all if I wasted my time getting married instead of doing ‘college things’.  The truth is I couldn’t imagine anything I wanted to do without my husband.  I couldn’t think of anywhere I’d want to go without him.  We’ve been married 18 years and I still can’t think of anything I’d want to do without him or anywhere I’d want to go without him.  I really hope people have forgiven me for not making the choice they wanted.  On the flip side my friends and family who got married later heard lots of advice and reasons why they should have married sooner.  They should date more (or less).  They should try to look nicer or maybe try different hang out spots.  Really?  I’m pretty sure most people who are waiting for the right someone are not just sitting there being hideous trolls and slumming it on creepy places.   They are living their lives and trying to do their very best.  How is that not good enough for everyone around us?  You know what?  Forgive yourself for not finding a mate sooner.  You’re on God’s time.  He has a plan and will bring you the person in His time.

When I had my first son everyone had advice on how I should teach him to sleep, eat, and really how do everything.  My mom’s way was different than my mother in law’s way. But, amazingly between the two of them they raised several healthy (mostly) normal adults.  But, even before we got to that I was told how I should birth him.  My natural loving friends told me I should never have my children in a hospital because that’s where sick people go and he’d catch something and die (this literally happened and I was so shocked I didn’t even respond).  My modern marvel medical people thought any home birth was a one way ticket to damaging my baby and more than likely a complication would happen that would kill him.  I seriously considered both options.  But, you know what?  Here’s to the moms who had a birth plan and followed it to the T.  Whether that birth plan was to have them with a midwife, in a bathtub, or with pain pills in a hospital bed.  And, here’s to those moms who really wanted to follow their birth plan but had complications and they had to give up something that really wasn’t that big a deal and just be happy their babies were born healthy.  That’s right.  The goal is always a healthy baby.  We all have our ideas on which way that should happen, but I can tell you nothing is more hurtful or annoying that those who hear what you’ve chosen and decided to inform you that you’re a terrible parent before you’ve even given birth.  Feel free to forgive yourself for not following all the advice of everyone in your life on the birth of your child.  It’s okay.  You want the best for your kids and really that is more about prayer than it is about birthing choice.

To all the moms who struggled over whether they should work or not.  Or, those who couldn’t even struggle over it because it really was the only option to support their family.  I know you drove away from daycare the first day with tears running down your face.  I know your heart felt like it was breaking when you put your sweet baby into someone else’s hands and went to your job.  Forgive yourself for doing the best you can to support your family.  That’s okay.  To all the moms who chose to stay home and lost their place in the rat race – forgive yourself for sacrificing your dreams for your children’s well being.  It’s great that you’re in a place to even have that decision.

To all the moms of toddlers – it’s okay that you cannot even consider reading Goodnight Moon one.more.time.  It’s okay that you let everyone eat Goldfish crackers for lunch today.  Forgive yourself for  doing what you need to do to hold it together.  Forgive yourself for pretending to be deaf in the car when your toddler is asking “why” for about the 456,928,345 time on the 5 minute ride somewhere.  You know what else?  Forgive yourself for that early bedtime and the delicious pre-made margarita you enjoyed while sitting alone on the couch for the first time all day.

To the mom of elementary students – realize it’s okay that you laughed directly at your child when they told you “Today we had a hardcore game of 4-square at school”.  I’m positive they will forget that damaging moment in a mess of other moments of their childhood.  And, it’s okay that when your child says “I’m the only kid in 5th grade without an iPhone”  you do not immediately go buy them one.  When your child says they are the only one who has to help with chores or pay for their own toys or whatever else, feel free to forgive yourself.  You’re trying to instill real life experiences in them and that’s a good thing.

Moms of middle school students – when you can’t hear one more word from the conversation about ‘cute’ boys (or girls) in your child’s class and you tell them phone time is up, you know that’s okay.  When you read every.single. text message just so your kids know when they get to high school that should be considered the norm and your kids are frustrated with you – it’s okay.  You’re being the best mom you can be and that’s the job God gave you (not being the best friend your child can have).

When your high school student feels like the curfew you set is just not gonna work for them and you have to ground them from something they really want to do so they tell you they can’t wait to move out far away – forgive yourself for being so hard.  When they tell their friends you’re mean and strict – forgive yourself.  It’s okay to be known as the parent who sets boundaries.  Seriously, Moms – let’s be MOMS.

You know those days when you set the entire schedule for the week, including doctors appointments, sport practices and games, family time, hangout time for kids, and everything else and then your husband says to your kids ‘No, we’re not doing that.  I’ve planned something different”.  Forgive yourself for the glare you give him.  Or, even more – forgive yourself for saying “Oh, are you taking over the schedule now?  Here’s the list of what needs to happen this week.”  You are human.  You are doing your best.  And, above all – your heavenly Father forgives all these little moments.

It’s time we moms band together.  No one, NO ONE is going to do it like we think they should.  There isn’t a single person on earth who agrees with 100% of what we think.  But. we do have forgiveness in Jesus.  We have someone who loves despite our petty moments and sins.  How awesome is that?  Now, to work on letting go of our guilt and shame for doing our best.  right

 

 

Logical Conversations


When I was in about 4th grade at a small town public school a girl showed up and she was very ‘cool’.  She had cool clothes.  She was mouthy & disrespectful.  And, when I hung out with her on the playground she told me that she was allowed to cuss and swear at home.  Being raised in a Christian home the idea was shocking.  All of my friends had Christian parents.  But, it was also tantalizing.  She was from a different world.  I had to learn more. So, I hung out with her for about a week.  She shared her favorite curse words.  I said “Yes, I use those too.”  She said “I cussed my sister out.”  I said “Oh, I do that.”  She looked at me with a raised eyebrow and said “Really?  Tell me what you said.” I thought quickly.  There were only a few cuss words I even knew existed.  Finally, I settled on just repeating the few I knew.  I finished my made up tirade and looked at her.  She was smirking. She was not convinced and I was embarrassed.  I did not hang out with her again.  The whole experience was short lived, but I still remember it to this day.  As the years went by I realized the importance of friend choices.  I’ve always had amazing friends. *blessed*

Probably in the 5th grade the word ‘weird’ caught on.  Everyone was saying it.  I decided I’d say it too.  A girl has to constantly work on keeping her coolness up.  I started using it at home the first day I decided to introduce it into my vocabulary.  My father said, ‘What does weird mean? What is the definition?’  My sisters and I looked at each other.  Um.  “It means strange”.  My dad said ‘Go get the dictionary and look it up.  You shouldn’t say words you don’t know the definition of.’.  I still remember looking it up and reading the short definition. ‘Weird – magical or unearthly.’ I have even told my kids that definition without looking it up.  Funny how that stuff just sticks with me even years later.

Not long after that, maybe a year or so, I decided that ‘sucks’ was a word I should include in my vocabulary.  Other kids at school were saying it.  And, I heard it often enough that I could make it sound normal in conversation.  I started small.  I used it in group settings of friends.  No one batted an eye.  Excellent. I’d pulled it off!  My ascension to coolness was on its way!  I continued to use it out of my parents earshot.  It became engrained in my speech.  One day my sister and my friends were at my house.  I was probably in 6th grade by then.  My sister said something and I replied loudly “That sucks!”.  My dad looked at me.  I instantly got red.  I was in for it.  I knew it.  My dad sat down and said “Do you know what sucks means?”  We said “yes, it means like awful, or stupid or something.”  He said, “no.  It comes from a sexual reference” and he went on to explain.  My sister, my friends, and I just stared at him. What was he even talking about?  It may have that meaning to some people, but it certainly didn’t to us.  In fact, why was he trying to be so logical about the whole thing?  We were simply being cool and using the common lingo.  I remember staring at him and thinking ‘this conversation is really bizarre.  I am never going to remember this and it’s not a big deal if my friends & I are saying cool things. I can’t wait to be a parent so I can just let my kids do whatever and never correct them about stupid stuff.’

Now, I’m a mother.  I have three amazing children.  And, every once in awhile they say something or do something that brings out the logical conversation moment.  Just the other day they all three downloaded a fun new app all their friends are playing.  It’s called “Make it rain”.  They asked me.  I looked at it.  It seemed harmless enough.  It’s actually pretty lame.  They constantly have to ‘fling’ money on their screen.  Each of them was trying to outdo the others and their friends. Whatever. No biggie.  It’s not like they are sending inappropriate photos or anything.  My husband was in the kitchen while they were talking about it and he said ‘wait, it’s called what?’  My oldest said (slowly for his poor OLD dad to hear and understand) ‘Make it rain’.  My husband said ‘Do you know the what the phrase make it rain means?’ and he began to explain that gang bangers use that term in how they spread money to strippers.

And, immediately I left the room to go in my own room and have a chuckle at this full circle my life has had.  From the pre-teen to teen who was positive logical conversations would have no bearing on my life (and yet I remember them decades later) to the parent who explains things logically in hopes that it will make a difference somewhere in the kids’ brains.  Sometimes yelling is the go-to, but sometimes I try to sit down and be calm and logical so the kids might listen.  We will see.  They just might…

My (Our) Car


My oldest son is now 16.  He has been licensed by the state of California to drive.  However, he has not purchased a vehicle for himself.  After a few discussions on what car we intended to purchase him (which usually ended in me pointing and laughing at him – maybe mostly in my own head, but a little bit for real too) he managed to grasp the concept that we would SHARE my car.  And, if ever I purchase myself a new(er) car I will probably allow him to continue to drive my car.

I drive an old car.  My husband drives an old car.  Our insurance is low (well, as low as it can be with a 16 year old boy on our policy).  And, because I have no intention of purchasing a car for my son to drive I am happy to share as long as he continues to abide by the following conditions:

  • Driving safely!  This includes general maintenance that I hate like checking the oil to be sure the engine doesn’t blow up,  making sure the water level is fine, filling it with fuel so we doesn’t get stranded, no texting while driving…ever.  These basic parent “rule-things” that I think all kids have to agree to when driving.
  • He must text me when he arrives somewhere or leaves somewhere.  I want to know where to look for his body if something awful happens.  I don’t want to be the mom who has to tell the police “well, he left at 6:30am and said something about friends, but I haven’t seen or heard from him in nearly 24 hours”.  It doesn’t have to be elaborate.  Just a simple ‘here’ or ‘leaving’.
  • Drive siblings to school and bringing them home.  Carting siblings is a must because if I don’t have a car someone has to cart them.
  • Running random (and probably mostly boring) errands as needed for me.  The fact that he’d probably rather sit on the couch and text his girlfriend or spend awhile playing X-box means nothing to me.  Me providing fuel, vehicle, and insurance = him running my errands cheerfully (or at least cheerfully when I see him.  He can grumble in the car if I’m not there to hear it).

Apparently, the one thing I didn’t cover is the meaning of sharing.  I thought this was covered in Kindergarten.  But, I learned yesterday that he needed refresher course.

On days when I have no need of my car I allow him to take the car (filled with the twins) to school. I get to work 2 hours before our office opens for business.  Sometimes I have actual work I can start on.  Sometimes I don’t.   Then, after he’s done with school and any after school activities he is supposed to come pick me up.  Yesterday was one such day.  He dropped me off at 6:30am and headed off to his 7:00am class.  He texted me when he arrived (yes, all I got was ‘here’, but it was enough).  Then, I worked all day.  He did his thing.  I assumed he would be at my office about 5:30.  But, he didn’t arrive.  About 6:00pm I decided to text him.  My goal was to not sound paranoid so I did not text “WHERE ARE YOU!?!”  I sent a simple “hey, what time do you think you’ll be here?”  He texted back, “I’m at home.  I just made food.  I will pick you up on my way to basketball practice.”  (note: Basketball practice was still another hour and a half away)  I looked at my phone for a second and then sent another text, “Is that a joke?”  He texted, “no”.  And, so I picked up the phone and called him.  We had a short but clear discussion on SHARING.  You know, the fact that we are sharing MY car, MY fuel, etc.  That little tidbit.  He hung up and came to pick me up.  When I got in the car I said “I’m sorry, but what were you thinking?  Your objective when you have my car is as soon as you leave school to COME GET ME because I am STRANDED at the office.”  He said “well, I thought about it, but that just seemed like a lot of running around.”  My mind was reeling.  Oh.no.you.did.not.  Really?

It should be known (and recognized – I expect some sort of gold star on my chart somewhere where records of such things are kept!) that I did not abuse him.  I didn’t even yell.  I just agreed. Yes.  It is a lot of running around to get everyone where they need to go, picked up when they are finished, and still do the things we want to do.

I’m not sure I can make it through another two teens.  Pray for me, friends!

 

Parenting 101


My mom passed away this morning. We spent lots of time looking through old albums & boxes so we could prepare for her service. In the mists of the digging we came across a baby album she made just for ME! I didn’t know it existed. Something people don’t often think about is that kids adopted after a certain age don’t have baby photos. It’s always bothered me that I didn’t have those things so finding a whole book dedicated to me with pictures, cards, and notes was such a treasure.

In the midst of all the notes and pictures I found a great letter from my dad written to all 7 of us. I was 4 when it was written. It makes me laugh so hard. It is so official and so business like. And, it’s so him. We photo copied it & shared with all my siblings.

To ALL MY Children:

I will not tolerate the slovenly mess you left for your Mom tonight. I have seldom witnessed such total disorder.

It became apparent to me as I worked at making the kitchen livable for the morning that I had somehow totally neglected to observe the mess before you all retired. Then, I decided to see how deep the nature of the problem was. I did! Your mom has maintained a good sense of order which was evidenced by the materials stored away in the cabinets.

The disarray was due to you children’s lack of discipline stowing away items you have used. I observed the upstairs where your Mom had cleaned 1 week ago. It looked like a small tornado had struck (plus a few straggling decoys). CLEAN IT UP!

The kitchen was a disaster area where someone I love dearly had created something beautiful. The trouble was the residue was left to envelope the kitchen.

See you all Wednesday evening.
Love, Dad

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