Monday, March 23, 2015

Stuck.

I found this in my computer files today— forgotten and never posted.  It’s 6 months old and still on the front row of my heart- one of the things anyway…Some things are already different and I’ll do a “P.S.” at the end.

9/2014
I walked through Julia’s room the other day looking for something and I stepped over this.



I then turned around and stared, imagining the scenario as it took place.  These beloved American Girl dolls which filled her Christmas lists for several years running— the clothes, the accessories, the books {I bet she read them all a dozen times}— these 18” dolls, make rare appearances these days.  And I can’t help but wonder what’s going on in her maturing mind and heart when they do.  And then there’s “Miss Hepburn” who she has consistently identified since she was two.  I would have had nothing to do with that.  {“Mr. Grant” nor “Mr. Stewart” were as impressionable.}  She evidently tucked her doll in and decided to get a bit of fashion inspiration.  “Stuck” was all that would come to mind.  She’s stuck in between.  In between elementary and high school.  In between little girl and teenager.  In between not having a phone and having a phone.  In between flats and heels.  In between no make-up and the whole shebang.  In between family devotions and her own personal one.

In between American Girl dolls and Audrey Hepburn.

Stuck.  What a tricky place to be.  I remember it well with hardly a fond memory.  Maybe my best moments were the day I got my braces on— and the day I got them off.

I’ve noticed as our kids grow older, some lines grow fuzzier.  Parenting do’s and don’ts aren’t  as hard and fast as they were when they were 5.  Some boundaries seem much more subjective now.  Things are happening, privileges are given at very different ages in her peer groups— and even in this, she is stuck in between her friends.  Just yesterday, she asked her daddy for an iPhone and went on to strengthen her case by enumerating all the kids in her class who had one.  This morning I asked her if all those kids’ parents made them go to bed at 6 and wake up at 4 to do chores, would she want us to make that decision?  And if they had NO screens whatsoever in their homes, would she want us to do that too?  I asked her why did she think that what other parents were allowing their kids to do- or not do- would influence Jeff and me? Oh, of course it does, but I wanted her to think about that.  I do feel this is the age where new freedoms are given and some things long considered “grown-up” to her are being talked through by her daddy and me as to WHEN she can enjoy things like make-up, heels, phones— those being the relatively easy things.  Those are certainly not deal-breakers.   And some of you think I am crazy— that she’s twelve and these are privileges still being withheld.   But I’m okay with that- with your thinking I’m crazy.  Just don't tell me.

So right now she is in a holding pattern— of Burt’s Bees lip balm, the “heels” on her cowboy boots and a hardly working iPhone 3 with no service.   She’s “holding” patiently, I think.  I am proud of her because I remember how hard it is.

 And that’s what I want her to know.  



3/2015
Post Script:  So time flies, right?  It’s why I write things down.  I remember this day— this struggle of “Am I being too hard?”  “Am I really the ONLY parent who doesn’t allow _________________?”   “Will she ever understand why?”  Just a few months after I wrote this, she turned 13.  We purchased mascara and a darker shade of Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer.  She also was given an Instagram account on our “family iPhone”.  She was not, however, given heels that day.  I knew it wasn’t a hill on which I was going to die but I just didn’t want to go looking with her fearing the conflict that might jump out of nowhere and stink up whatever store we were in.  {Also, I am not a heel person so I haven’t been able to relate to her passionate desire for them!} But just last week, I saw a pair of wedges at TJ Maxx— snapped a photo and sent it to her, on the "family iPhone"— and to a trusty friend.  Thumbs up from both parties— with the great advice from that friend, “Now, Krista,  if you buy them, you’ve got to let her wear them when she wants to.”  You know, when I got home with them and she tried them on, it looked right.  She’s old enough for 2 + inch wedges.  She didn’t look like she was playing dress up.  It looked like a natural part of her outfit.

All that to say, timing is an important thing.  Different kids are ready for things at different times.  And the waiting isn’t going to kill them.  {Or me.}  If anything, it could make them appreciate the privilege more.  So now, I still feel like she is in a holding pattern, stuck, I guess— just looks a little different today—between independence and dependence, wondering how much autonomy is good and how much is unhealthy, what sort of help she needs from us and what things she needs to figure out on her own.  I also see this 21 months between my two favorite kids can feel like 5 years— her feeling MUCH older and him sensing it-- loud and clear— when it’s really just 21 months.  Stuck— in adolescence, between a kid and a young adult, between fighting with your sibling and being the fiercest friends, between thinking parents are too hard and thinking they are too wonderful for words....

Ha.  Is that a little over the top?  Maybe.  Just a little.  

Rockport Reprise {Spring Break 2015}

Heading south on 35 is a fun drive.  We’ve not stopped at or detoured to all of the fun things down that way, but I like the drive.  Our friends let us use their cute cottage in Rockport-- same as last year but we can get comfortable like that.  


First stop-- Health Camp in Waco.  The kids hadn’t heard of it so it was fun giving them healthy menu options on the way down and then getting there and being SO EXCITED they weren’t having a beet shake for lunch.



Any girls who love “home” must stop here.


Absolutely NO point to this picture-- but their expressions are great for a pointless picture.  Waiting on Dad in the shoe shop.


 A little view of the cute cottage



When you have several days in a cold and rainy beach/bay town, you visit things like this.



Our first theme night was Zorro Night-- beginning the Zorro movies.  Our get ups were primitive.  We learned to tango via You Tube.  Capes and the tango are not a good combination for beginners.


Our second theme night was Sports Night-- a reprise from last year.  McFarland coming out made that an easy choice.  We LOVED this movie.


Mad Galaga skills, I tell you




B was in charge of games.




We played Pictionary, Apples to Apples, and Taboo.  Jeff had the great idea of playing for prizes and the competition heated up.  Amazon cards were the hottest commodity.



Pirates of the Caribbean night-- introducing the kids to Captain Jack Sparrow for the first time


The sun REALLY wanted to come out!!


We must have chosen the most difficult puzzle of all time-- for beginners anyway {the tango and the puzzle}.  Jeff gets FULL credit for pushing through and completing this one.  I tried to help.  I really did.





We rode the ferry over to Port Aransas {"Port A” as Texans call it-- or shave in their chest hair, RC!} This picture embodies the essence of every small beach town.






This Live Oak tree near Fulton boasts to be nearly 1500 years old.  Now, this is a detour.


Combining all of my favorite things-- my family, a fire and the beach



Old car museum on the drive home--- we took this one for Doodle.

These memories-- as simple as they may be- are the most special.  The four of us.  The family God put together with a creativity only He possesses and unusual routes.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Today, I'm the Mom........

Today, I’m the mom who didn’t take her child’s forgotten lunch back to the school so he would have something to eat for lunch.  I’m banking on the fact that maybe, just maybe, it will keep him from flunking out of college because if you don’t remember to take your stuff to class, you can’t squeeze by, can you?

Today, I’m the mom who stayed at school and prayed with a friend— and I didn’t want to at all.  I wanted to come home to my quiet house, fix a cup of coffee and sit.  By myself.  But I was blessed beyond measure by my friend’s faithfulness to pray for me, for my children and for our school.

Today, I’m the mom who didn’t take her child’s - also forgotten- piano books to school so he’d have them at his lesson that he is taken to right after school.  I am telling myself that one day it will save this child’s hiney from getting fired from the job.  I mean, you can’t keep a job if you can’t remember to take whatever it is you take to a job nowadays— or in a few years, can you?



Today, I’m the mom who is very concerned about what the sitter will think of her when the forgetful child asks her if she will drive him all the way home to pick up his piano books while his sister has her lesson— and I am right here perfectly capable of bringing them to him.   And if she doesn’t agree to this, I am concerned what the piano teacher will think of me when she finds out that he forgot his books…. again…. and that I didn’t bring them to him.

Today, I’m the mom who ate date night leftovers for lunch while taking over 700 pictures off her phone wondering if she will ever get them deleted, grouped, edited and titled.  All I need is about 24 uninterrupted hours in my office.  Piece of cake.  Cake would be really good right now.

Today, I’m the mom who is struggling to figure out if I am at all doing this parenting thing right.  And if having him go without lunch or showing up again to piano with no books is really going to make a difference in the long run.  How many times does it take?  How much stomach growling has to occur?  How many disappointed looks/talks from Dr. Fritz does it take to remember his piano books?  Do I take his 11 year old hand and walk him over to the “Sunday Night List” and make him stand in front of it and read it aloud to me? Sometimes parenting feels like a guessing game- or a game of concentration and all of the cards are different.


Today, I’m the mom who is in the 4th week of Lent and only on the 2nd week of devotionals.  I’m not focused nor anticipating, well, the most significant event in all of history.  That makes me sad, but now is a new moment.  And I can't believe He did what He did for me.

Today, I’m the mom whose stomach is already churning thinking about teaching Bible study at church Wednesday and Thursday and wonders why she ever agrees to doing it.  And then I think how much His Word has meant to me all these years and how it’s been a lifeline in Lonely and Hard to Understand times and then I think, ‘Oh yeah, I remember.  I want them to know that.’ And I think how much richer my thoughts are from being in His Word a few extra hours preparing.  The stomach whirling is worth it.  Most definitely.

Today, I’m the mom who has to figure out dinner soon, who loved going to see Cinderella over the weekend, who has laundry behind her to fold, a 3rd cup of coffee beside her- not finished, mind you, a mattress full of Golden Retriever hair on her floors {at least a very large pillow}, thank you notes to write, a lovely 13 year old to take to ballet, a fun-loving 11 year old boy to kill some time with, a forgotten check to put in the mail to a dear friend {I’m SO sorry!!}, kids’ consignment clothes to sort, summer camps to register for and a stack full of books she wants to read— yesterday.

Today, I'm the mom who felt something crawling on her arm inside her jacket and screamed like a crazy person as she jumped out of the car to get IT OUT of her jacket.  It was the ugliest, nastiest monstrosity of a flying bug I've ever seen in Texas.  I jumped and danced and flicked my coat until there is NO bug or dust or dog hair on it whatsoever.  The piano teacher's neighbors got a good freak show.

Today, I am the mom with a God who is constant and good and mighty and loving.  I have a  marked up Bible with crinkled pages, two kids who are morphing into little adults as I watch them tell me about their day, who keep me in that marked up Bible and a husband I really love who takes great care of me and the kids.

Today, I am the mom who is thankful.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dream a Little Dream: A Timeline for Middle Schoolers

Well, we had our snow.  And ice.  For Texans- or transplanted Georgians, it’s the perfect amount of time.  Just a few days of inconvenience, a white knuckle grip drive home, kids home on strange days, kayaks, laundry baskets and trash lids are repurposed {for those of us who never got that sled ordered}, a major dent in the firewood pile, free flowing hot cocoa and coffee, messy boots and winter accessories piled by the door.....  But today, life is back to normal.  Streets are wet and there are patches of snow around, but lunches were made, backpacks were loaded and kids were dropped off at school— and today is picture day.

Taking pictures while driving-- precisely why Southerners should not get snow and ice
Brighton didn’t know it until he hopped out of the car at school.  Julia did.  Of course.  Since uniforms are required— I know, boring, but I get it— she chose the largest earrings she owns.  And I wasn’t sure what to do.  So like any good mother, I said this, “Those are the earrings you want to wear in your picture?”  I know. SO original.  So well thought out.  {No wonder teenagers think we are stupid.} I didn’t stop there.  I went on to say, “I think when you see your picture, all you will see is your earrings.”  After about 10 minutes when my words hadn’t fazed her, I couldn’t stop myself.  “Hey, why don’t you stick another pair of earrings in your backpack just in case you change your mind.”  Brilliant, I know.  My mouth kept moving and I couldn’t stop it.  Her earrings weren’t changed and a last-minute-change-of-heart pair weren’t packed either.  My mothering this morning was very effective. {I promise we are getting to the timeline....}

So you might be thinking, if I didn’t like the earrings, WHY does she have them?  Why did I let her buy them?  Well, I didn’t.  They were a gift to her from someone else.  From someone who doesn’t make an issue over the size of earrings a 13 year old can wear.  And that’s okay because I needed to let that go anyway.  So thanks to whatever mom paid for the earrings the size of tea cup saucers for my brand spanking new teenager.  I needed your little push.  Shove, actually.  All of this is happening so fast.  And I’ve got to have my game on and keep the deal breakers and deal breakers.  Today, the size of her earrings had nothing to do with the condition of her heart.

I have a new friend, Becky, that I have already gained so much encouragement from in this parenting process.  She shared something with me a few weeks ago that I latched onto with much enthusiasm and planned to do it with Julia as soon as I had the chance.  She got the idea from Mary Flo Ridley who is known for her instruction to parents on how to make “the talk” a normal part of the parenting journey— starting young and building on information conversation after conversation and not just dumping it all on them at age 11 or something.  Here— this is better:

“Mary Flo can help you approach the difficult topics of birth, conception, and reproduction with your young children in a way that develops a healthy sexual attitude later in life. Her approach sets you, the parent, up as the loving, knowledgeable authority in your child’s life by giving you the tools to talk to your children about sex medically and relationally.”  {from her webpage}

So the idea Becky shared with me.  A timeline.  If any of you have middle schoolers, you’ll know that thinking ahead is not their strong suit.  Naturally, they don’t think, “If I study each subject for a short time every day, I won’t have to cram the night before a test.”  nor, “I should not eat that big bowl of cereal right now {5:30} because then I won’t be hungry for dinner.”  {For those of you who DO have these children, I don’t want to know who you are.}  Life gets way more complicated than tests and appetite and that’s where we need to assist them in this thinking ahead— ahead to life choices and goals and what it takes to get there.  A simple timeline can do the trick- numbered/notched by 5’s or 10’s from 1 to 90 or whatever you choose. First, you plot some significant firsts they have experienced thus far— maybe when they first walked, first bike, baby dedication or baptism, first day of school etc.  Julia’s first response after we marked down a few things was perfect— “Mom!  My life has been really short when I look at it like this.”  This is exactly what you want them to see.  Then you ask them to think about the future— what they hope for, what they are expecting- basic things like driver’s license, graduating high school, college degree, travel, marriage, children etc.  Then invite them to dream a little bit.  Depending on if this is your child’s bent or not, you may have to help them out here.  I’m so ridiculously practical, I didn’t dream much as a kid.  So be ready to help them think of possibilities that COULD be.  Ask them how long they think it would take them to accomplish these goals.  Have them pencil in the when and the what for which they are hoping.  We also made a short list on the corner of her timeline of other dreams that she wasn’t sure about the timing- like overseas missions or other ministry/discipleship opportunities.



It’s important to point out how their teenage years only take up a tiny span of life on their timeline.  That was surprising to Julia too.  Nothing like a picture.  Emphasize here that so many decisions made in this tiny span can affect the rest of their lives.  As parents, we know there are many things that could get in the way of these aspirations our kids have and now is the time to have them think through what could keep them from realizing their dreams.  I called them “dream killers”.   Julia’s first response was “choices I make” and I had to prompt her a few times to get specific, more specific and more specific.  And we listed them on the paper.  Mary Flo’s top four were alcohol, drugs, premarital sex and pornography.  {We actually didn’t cover pornography this time but I will another year and focus on emotional pornography women find in novels or relationships.}  To the dream killer list, Julia added “people I choose to hang out with” and “not working hard”.  It should be interesting to you to hear what your teenager comes up with— what she sees as being obstacles to her goals.

I will keep this timeline someplace safe and I plan to bring it out each year.  I am making notes now on what I want to cover next year— if I don’t see the need before then.  I think it will be effective to revisit it and have her see where she is and remind her of how she dreamed.

Do you see the value in this?!  They NEED to see the brevity of these years.  They NEED to think through "what I do now affects maybe all of the dreams I have for my life".  As I have written before, it must be about their hearts.  It’s not rule keeping and if I can just stay away from these destructive behaviors, I will experience the “abundant life” God has for me.  Becky has a great handle on communicating that it’s all about the spirit of the law and not the letter of it.  It must come from a place of submission to God’s authority in our lives and learning to REST in that security He provides.  Following Christ is not about rule keeping.  Steering clear of these behaviors is not to spoil our “fun” but to save us from a boatload of heartache and pain.  It’s about our kids learning to run in the path of His commands because He has set their hearts free. {Psalm 119:32 “old” NIV}   Free to experience the joy of walking in relationship with Him.  Free to experience what it’s like to be loved, fully and unconditionally.  Free to experience all He has dreamed up for them.

Snow 2015



Two cold waves blew through last week-- Monday and then again on Friday.  Friday’s appearance was much prettier--once everyone was home to enjoy it.  It came faster and was more dangerous to drive on that was anticipated so what seemed like a normal Friday morning turned into “get home as soon as you can”!







Clean snow for snow cream



This was a different day it came through and didn’t stick--as badly as they wanted it to.


Fun times with Emily and Uno


Friday!!  It came fast and furious and it stuck!!!






 Missed the kiss

Got the kiss. ; )


Getting a little cabin fever energy out


Our Wisconsin cheese head LOVES the snow.




This was taken at 10:30 Saturday night with no flash.  I call it “snow glow”.  The whole neighborhood was lit up like this.  It was beautiful.