Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Collapse of Parenting-Some of My Highlights


I loved the book The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-Ups by Leonard Sax.  I found it so interesting and I have so many pages turned down and ideas and thoughts that I wanted to remember.

Here are some of them (quickly and REALLY REALLY random as I am fitting this in inbetween about 100 other things I need to be doing.)  This book is chock full of gems and to pull what I did out of it doesn't do it justice.

This is his diagnosis for the rise in childhood issues he has seen from 25 years ago (obesity, childhood psychiatric diagnosis, disrespect for parents and teachers, lack of motivation, etc.):
"Over the past three decades there has been a massive transfer of authority from parents to kids. Along with that transfer of authority has come a change in the valuations of kids' opinions and preferences.  In many families, what kids think and what kids like and what kids want now matters as much or more, than what their parents think and like and want. "Let the kids decide" has become the mantra of good parenting."

On the rise of childhood obesity and the transfer of authority:

"When parents are unequivocally in charge, then  the parents decide what is for supper, and their either eat what is offered or go hungry.  That was the norm in American families as recently as the 1970's, but today is the exception.  In the 1970's, it was common for parents to say, "No dessert until you eat your broccoli," and "No snacking between meals."  Some parents still insist on such rules, but they are now the minority.  Per capita consumption of soda nearly tripled for teenage boys in the US between 1978 and 1994. Between 977 and 1995, the percentage of meals which American sate at fast-food restaurants increased by 200 percent."

He goes on to talk about snacking.  (I had to laugh a little at this because one of my pet peeves is the snacks that are offered after games.  That would have never happened in my day-if we ran around for an hour we waited in line for the drinking fountain with someone rushing us behind, not a Gatorade and a cupcake (or granola bar, or bag of cookies, etc.)

He goes on to say:
"When did a few minutes of hunger become unacceptable? When kids have the final say, then parents must make every effort to ensure that kids are not uncomfortable. Not even for 5 minutes.  Hunger-even just on a the car ride home from school-is now intolerable. "

When parents cede control to their kids:
"No dessert until you eat your broccoli morphs into How about if you eat three bites of broccoli and then you can have dessert?"

On why there are so many kids on medication:

This chapter was so sad to me, I really can't grasp the logic of putting children on medication at young ages when their brains are developing-but I think he hit on the nail on the head, and he is a child psychiatrist who has practiced for many years.  He really has wide knowledge of the problem and points out how much more often American children are medicated vs. any other country and it is scary.

Lack of sleep (and how this has much to do with tech and TV access without parental boundaries), lack of consistent discipline, lack of parent being "in charge", the "medicalization of misbehavior" is what he calls it.  He also touches on how teachers used to say to parents- "Your child is being disruptive and has bad behavior in the classroom" and then the teacher and the parent come insist on that child showing and developing better self-control.  This is now not acceptable for teachers to say to parents as it used to be, and usually the parents are referred to a physician which starts the cycle of medication.

In the end he offers two great recommendations for developing good behavior in children:
"#1 Command. Don't ask. Don't negotiate. Modern American parents are forever rationalizing their decisions to their children. The mere fact that the parent feels compelled to negotiate already undermines the authority of the parent.  When you lay down a rule and, and your children ask why, answer, "Because Mommy or Daddy says so, that's why."

Children need deeply to have parents be IN CHARGE. The world is too big for them without this guidance.

"#2 Eat dinner with your kids."  He lists some amazing studies about just having family meals and this is one of my favorite subjects he writes on. The more meals eaten at home around the dinner table the better-significantly behaved and mentally healthy children are.

Peer-to-peer over the primacy of parent-child relationships-
He quotes from the book "Hold Onto Your Children:Why Parents Need To Matter More Than Peers"-another really powerful book.

"In all your arrangements for your children, try to make connecting with adults a higher priority than connecting with your children's safe-age peers or academics or after-school activities.  Priorities your extended family and your close adult friends in the life of your child. If you have the opportunity to move close to your children's aunts, uncles and grandparents,do it. When you are planning a vacation, look for opportunities for your children to connect with her aunts,uncles and grandparents, You want to give your child a different perspective.  You want to connect her to your cultures. This task is arguably more difficult today than at any other time in American history. Today, the default for most American kids is a primary attachment to safe- age peers."

One of the main reasons why this is more difficult than ever is the constant contact kids have with their peers to day via technology.  Part of our job as parents he argues is to "educate desire"-the desire to do other things besides "whatever floats your boat: if it feels good, do it".  To choose healthier things-"to enjoy and to want to enjoy, pleasures higher and deeper than what video games and social media can provide."

"Fight for time with your child.  Cancel or forgo after school activities, if need be, to have more evening meals together. Your kids can't attach to you if they hardly ever see you.  And turn the devices off."

On changing parenting roles as our children develop:
"When your child is an infant or toddler, you play the role of cheerleader. But as your child gets older, your role must shift. You have to correct.  To redirect. To point out shortcomings. If your teenage son can't think of anything to do for himself other than playing video games, then you need to turn off the devices and get him into the real world.  You need to educate his desire. Your have to teacher you child your values rather than allowing him or her to adopt by default the values promoted by contemporary American culture."


 The second part of the book is titled Solutions and he opens with a chapter of What Matters.


Self-control, measure at age 11, is the best predictor of happiness and overall life satisfaction roughly 20 years later-more than:
IQ
Grade point average
Openness to new ideas
Friendliness

He goes on to explain the five dimensions of personality and how conscientiousness (self-control, honesty, perseverance) predicts happiness and wealthy and life satisfaction more than the other four.

"Individuals who are more Conscientious earn and save more money, even after esearches adjust for intelligence, race, ethnicity and educations. Individuals who are more conscientious are also significantly happier than individuals who are less conscientious and they are substantially more satisfied with their lives."  They are healthier, live longer and are less likely to be obese.

He talks about how many parents think grades and test scores are the key to success, but the fact is if you want your child to be healthy, wealthy, happy and wise than be more concerned about teaching them the measures of Conscientious such as honesty, integrity and self-control.

And then he talks about HOW to develop self-control in our children-it is something that IS not something determined at birth, but it something us parents can influence and change by parenting...teaching empathy, the importance of hard work, and how we won't get back up from our "Just Do It" and "Go For It" and "Live For Now" culture today.  He also talks about teaching by example-"To become a better parent, you must become a better person."

"You don't teach virtue by preaching virtue. You teach virtue by requiring virtuous behavior, so that virtuous behavior become a habit."  (He tells a great story of a young athlete who achieved celebrity status at his school but was required by his father to work all summer on a fishing boat cleaning fish guts.)

He talks about the Proverbs verse, "Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old enough he will not depart from it."-if you compel a child to act virtuously, then when he is adult he will continue to act virtuous.  He mentions this is very optimistic and should be rephrased: "Train up children in the way they should go and when they grow up and move away from you, you will have improved the odds."

He talks about misconceptions we've been taught to believe as parents that are not true.
-Just Right (vs. too soft, and too hard) parents are strict, within reasonable bounds, and also loving. But what parents today think it Just Right is too permissive anymore.

I thought one of the most interesting misconceptions he points is the "rebound" theory of all hell breaking lose when the child reaches middle school, high school or beyond if parents are "too" strict, and how that theory is usually a way of rationalizing away having to be strict and set boundaries.  He points out how research provides no support for this "theory" but actually contradicts it. Virtue begets virtue and vice begets vice and we must demand virtue.

I loved what he says about video games and how they change brains, and the importance of turning off the devices.

"The solution is mindfully to crest an alternative culture. To build a subversive household is which the dinner table conversation is actually conversation, with the screens witched off. To value family time together above time that kids pend with same-age peers. TO create a space for silence, for meditation, for reflection, so that your child can discover a true inner self that is more than the mere gratification of impulse."



THREE THINGS:
1. Teach humility.
Humility has become the most un-American of virtues.  Since I've read this chapter I've become SO aware of the examples set for our children.  From politicians to sports "heroes", ugh.  Really, UGH. After the Cavs won, I had a few glimpses (because as much as I avoid media it's impossible to totally avoid) I had some major eye-rolling to do.  One is not a "hero" for winning a game, for getting paid millions upon millions to put a ball in a basket.  This is new, it really is.  This used to be called bragging and I was taught that bragging was wrong in the ancient times when I was raised. :)  What ever happened to being humble???   And recognizing true heroes (who are the ones who would never draw attention to themselves in the first place, go figure.)


"Humility means to being as interested in other people as you are in yourself.  I means that when you meet new people, you try to learn something about them before going off on a spiel about incredible your current project is.  Humility means listening when someone else is talking, instead of just preparing your own speechlet in your head before you've really heard what the other person is saying. Humility means making sustained effort to get other people to share their views before trying to inundate them with yours."

"The opposite of humility is inflated self-esteem."

And we are up against a culture who teaches us to constantly praise our children, where they see these images and see adults spouting their "heroism", when social media is chock full of the "look at me", "here I am".

Gratitude goes hand in hand with humility and the prioritization of family time and family work teaches appreciation, and gratitude for the things we have.

2. Enjoy.
Time-prioritizing time with your children-family life needs to mean more than a career and extra-curricular activities. We can't enjoy our kids if we are not with them, and we are sending them a terrible message-what you DO is more important than who you ARE.

It's about time.  Time=love.

3. The Meaning of Love

"The middle class script:
1. Work hard in school so you can get into get into a good college.
2. Get into a good college so you can get a good job.
3. Get a good job and you will make a good living and have a good life."
"There are several problems with this script. The first problem is that every line in it is false."
-The race to nowhere.-

"Your job as parent is not to reinforce the middle-class script but to undermine it."

He talks about preparing our children for disappointment, for failure, for struggle and to take risks and be resilient enough to pick themselves up and start again.

We as parents must offer a bigger picture when asked by our children, "What's this all for?"

What's the purpose of life?
"1. Meaningful work.
2. A person to love.
3. A cause to embrace."

"What work might your child find most meaningful?  How can you prepare your child to give and receive love in a lasting relationship?  how can you help your kids find a cause, something larger than themselves, that they can champion with enthusiasm?"

We must be able to provide a bigger picture for our children, they will NOT and ARE NOT getting it from peers.  Children can not raise children.

"Without strong guidance from parents, children and teeangers turn to the marketplace for guidance about what counts.  And today the American marketplace-the maintstream culture in which most American children and teenagers take part-is focused narrowly and relentlessly on fame and wealth. In the culture of Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga and Kim Kardishian, fame and money and looking cool matter most.  But the pursuit of fame and wealth and good looks for their own sake impoverishes the soul.

The conscientious child or teen is more likely to develop into a conscientious adult: a woman or man mature enough to set meaningful goals and work toward them with integrity.  To serve others.  And to love, honestly and faithfully."

We parents have to:

Paraphrasing:
Create an alternative culture in our home.
Assert ourselves without apology as the prime influence (not peers.)
Teach that family comes first and must be respected.
Teach that every choice our child makes has immediate, far-reaching, and unforeseen consequences.
We must help our children find the meaning in life that is NOT about their latest accomplishment, how they look, how many friends they have.
We must judge our success as parents not by how many friends they have, or their GPA, or acceptance letter from a famous college, but whether they are on the road to fulfillment and capable of governing their needs.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Sacrifice of Time

(Does anyone else feel like they get the breath knocked out of them a little when they look at baby pictures of their children?  This baby is going to be FOUR in one month!!!)


A reader sent me this beautiful Sally Clarkson article and I thought I would share it.

Here's a little excerpt from her article titled "Serving Without Resentment":

"Until I submitted my life and my heart to the demands of my little ones, I was never at ease or released to be at peace to enjoy my role as a mom, to live with grace through my years in my role as a mother.
I had years of time as a single woman when I was ruler over most of my minutes. I decided when I would eat, sleep, vacation, work, or meet someone for lunch. I decided these issues according to my needs and desires.
But once I had children, as any mother will understand, my time was never my own again! Children simply don’t fit into neat little time packages to be parceled out in advance! Even now, the demands of my adult children take my time. But I am thankful they come to me for counsel, for love, for friendship. Now, it is one of my best gifts to have them as a best friend. But relationship is built on a foundation of love given, time invested without resentment."

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Another Good Book


A kind reader sent me this book recommendation (thank you Angela!) and I quickly ordered it after reading the reviews and received it yesterday in the mail and stayed up till 3:30 a.m. last night, which is not a good idea as it can me a bit snappy, go figure, the next day, but I couldn't help myself.  

I know I have written of my love of immigrant stories and this is one of the best ones I've read.  It is a story written by the daughter of an Italian immigrant who came over with nothing, by himself as a child (12 I believe) to make a better life for himself.  He worked himself to the bone to provide for his family over his lifetime and had just as strong of a value system as he did a work ethic.  I am grateful his daughter possesses the talent and took the time to write about his incredible life.  I am reminded once again of how lucky I am, and how I must zip it with any piddly complaints I have about little ridiculous things.  We live in laps of luxury. all of us. The loss this man experienced, the hardship, the poverty, the work he and his family put in every day is amazing and inspirational.  This book also speaks to the strength and love of family and how important those relationships are. 

I loved it.
Tonight I might need to go to bed a bit earlier than usual but it was worth it. :)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Summer Reading

I have read only a few books since Janey stopped taking naps awhile ago, and enjoyed these immensely and wanted to share them.  They are all quick, easy reads, and have received great reviews.

So much to think about in this one-I think it would be an excellent book club choice.  How a marriage can go wrong or right, how attitude/personality effects those around us and how important finding joy in life is-it is not particularly deep, but it really made me think about tolerance, forgiveness, perception, relationship, etc. in the scope of family life. 

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
WINNER OF THE 2014 EDGAR AWARD FOR BEST NOVEL
WINNER OF THE 2014 DILYS AWARD
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF 2013
This is not my usual pick of books-I just chose this randomly at the library.  It's a little mystery (that's the part that's not usually my type of book) but the story telling is amazing, and the characters are also-I love the setting, mid-West small town in the 60's. I found myself tearing up quite a few times during this book.  It's very heart-wrenching (so if you want a light summer romantic book this is not the one).  I am trying to get my high schooler to read this-it's told from a teenage boy's perspective.



I owe Stephanie for recommending this book on her blog first of all, and my sentiments on this book mirror hers-if you read any book this is the one.  If you want to know what the difference maker is in parenting, this book tells you.  And that means it is not specific which is the awesome part of it-because there is a wide range of good parenting-but it does break down some myths about what being an authority figure means and what children need to grow to be happy, successful (and what happy and successful really should mean) adults.  His writing reminds me somewhat of Malcolm Gladwell-he really gets a reader thinking.

I have read Dr. Sax's other two books-I own them-Girls on the Edge and Boys Adrift but this one is so much better than both-maybe because those books seemed filled with drastic examples of serious issues that teens are facing today, and seemed almost hopeless in solutions.

This one is different in that he really hits the nail on the head in terms of parenting/discipline/what kids crave vs. what they are getting today not just from parents, but from schools and physicians.  It is eye-opening and yes, made me sad that what he writes about is true-I've seen it with my own eyes (and have made mistakes myself), but overall it's SO encouraging to me.  He really knows the challenges parents face today.  To stay on task, to say no, to set limits, to teach self-control, to be IN CHARGE, most especially when it seems like we are sometimes the only ones doing those things.   He talks of how our culture has changed drastically and how our parenting has changed and how those two things have created some big issues we have seen with children today.  I love the last chapters.  I bought a copy after I read my library copy and have turned down just about every page with a quote or thought I've loved.  I re-read it twice, I'm "making" Jeff read it ;), and I have told so many friends about it.  I really wanted to write an entire post about it with all those quotes and thoughts but summer is not the time.
I can't recommend it enough as you can tell.

Happy Reading!
I am now going to catch up on laundry and meal planning and swing pushing and bike rides and sleep. 
The price I pay to sit down and read a book or two. :)

Monday, June 27, 2016

June

Apparently blogging in the summer works best just once a month. I can't seem to find the time to sit down, plug in my phone, load my pictures, etc.  

It's been a gorgeous summer, just a couple perfect thunderstorms, but mostly sunny not too hot. Today we have our air on because it's muggy but it's the second time we've had it on, only for a day.

I'm in a "good" schedule of chores, duties, etc.  The younger kids have the same chores every day and why did it take me so long to figure out the perfection of this plan.  I know who did or didn't do what then, I can remind them easily, they can remember easily. Cut and dry, I love it. 

It's always a transition for college kids coming home and having everyone here all at once and then managing different work schedules.  I always think of them adjusting, but it's really me that needs to adjust-what to come down on,what to let go, how to help coordinate days so it all flows.  Leaving things everywhere/not cleaning up messes: I decided I'm not going to tolerate this so much, but say "you need to clean this up, put this away" etc.  It just has to happen with a big family or things get crazy messy and disorganized fast.  Maybe some would call this nagging but I call it sanity/follow through/cultivating good habits.  I am backtracking on this because I should have done it a long time ago. 

It is of course more "work" having everyone home but once I adjust I feel like I hit my stride I enjoy it more.  When everyone goes back to school it's too quiet and I have to think of things to do.  (I am doing that already-filling up a little notebook for fall/winter projects mostly house things that are falling apart and need refreshing.)

I figured out the other day that I have:
A child out of college.
A child in college.
A child in high school.
A child in junior high.
A child in elementary school.
A child in preschool.

I texted this to Grammy and she said, "You are parenting just about every major stage of development."

And I said, "Is this why I am a little tired?"

The truth is it is easier than ever compared to the last few years.  Janey is so so much easier than she was as a baby.  I look back and realize how my brain was just fried with tiredness and I had become so used to that feeling I didn't even realize it.  Toddlers and babies do that to you!  That doesn't mean I wouldn't take either in a heartbeat, I would.  Janey and I find babies everywhere and oooh and ahhh over all of them. But it's hard work, I do know that.  I see the moms at the pool with babies and my heart hurts, but then I remember nursing in a bathing suit under a towel, sweating, and trying to watch a toddler, or trying to co-ordinate naps with entertaining older kids and reality hits. 

I had a great discussion with a grandmother of close friends.  Everyone who knows her raves about her-she has raised eight wonderful children.  I was dying to "interview" her but we just had a quick discussion in the kitchen while dinner was being prepared.  She laughed when I said, "I heard you always had patience and never raised your voice."  She said, "Well that's not true", but by all accounts I've heard it was.  She said she adopted the method of saying, "I feel really angry right now and I just need you to give me some space."  She seemed to strike this awesome balance of strictness, confidence in her rules, friendliness, fairness, and just some good ideas of establishing discipline/self-control.  She said when she was little she would visit a friend's house who had 12 siblings-and her friend's mom would always take the time to say, "Let's go talk in the other room, I want to know how you are and what you are up to."  She said when she was young she had decided she wanted to make an effort to do that for her own children and nieces and nephews who all lived on the same property. Even among the long never ending list of things to do with a big family she took the time to do that as much as possible.  She talked about how she heard many times, "But everyone else gets to or has..." and how that didn't bother her.  

And then she said, "Your generation has it much more difficult. I couldn't even imagine having my kids exposed to what kids are on TV and tech today."  We talked of the struggle of that, and teaching kids to navigate that world.  But also "this is the way we do this"--they never had video games and had very limited TV viewing allowed.  

Anyways-it was a great discussion that I was lucky to have.  There is nothing like wise words from a seasoned mother who has probably seen it all.

This photo is from Isaac's graduation-Abbey said the height difference is no fair and I agree but what can a mother do?  It's not my fault I say, you get what you get and you like it!

This came home in Patrick's portfolio-he told me the whole illustrated story and it couldn't be cuter.

Andrew, Jeff, me and Isaac-we all ran a Memorial Day 5K.  Andrew left right after this picture and didn't collect his award (which was an engraved glass beer mug!), Isaac received one also. I thought he hated to run, and he said, "I do" but apparently he is good at it.  I was so worried of "crashing" halfway through so I ran slow-like 10 minute miles instead of my usual 9 1/2 minute mile. :) I hate races, I really do. They make me nervous. 

Janey got her hair cut!  She hates having her hair done and it was getting stringy and unmanageable-it is a cute little bob right now and will be till she's old enough to care.

And she still has some curl left!

Out at Grandma and Grandpa's-it's bittersweet that our kids are now playing with the dads.  

Again, at Jeff's parents.

Jeff went out of town and Janey is "catching up" with him.  She kept saying, 'What is taking Dad so long to get home from work!"

Cousins, can you tell?

Banana bread.

Kiawah Island!  It was beautiful!  I took this the first day when I woke up early to run on the beach and said I was going to do it every day and then never did the rest of the vacation.  I fell off the "clean eating" big time, but felt so awful afterwards I "righted" myself (mostly, not hard core) when I got back. 





I don't have a pic of Andrew and Patrick's fishing derby-that's on Jeff's phone-but they did so well and Andrew won most and biggest fish for his age group-this is after having to cut his line in the very beginning when he had it caught on something.  He had little hope but pulled through.  He received two t-shirts for his prizes and was thrilled with them. Patrick was in heaven as fishing is his love, and I took a pic of him in front of what he wants to own one day.

Abbey and shells we found.  

Dolphins strand feeding-really neat to see.

Bike rides on the beach-we stopped at the Kiawah River-that's where the dolphins were showing off.

Abbey and I took a morning visit to Charleston-definitely not enough time for us, I want to go back when it's cooler and I can spend maybe two days.  This is the little apartment my cousin lived in and it looked like a dream-a beautiful courtyard, right downtown.  So many beautiful old nooks and crannies everywhere.  And then I bought some pralines and tried them for the first time and ate them all and maybe I should never go back because I could never control myself around those things.


We drove back far into the island and ended up seeing some gorgeous humongous homes.  Not the beach rental type of humongous but just because humongous.  But they seemed all empty and lonely so I didn't get it.  I would feel wracked with guilt for "wasting" the house when I wasn't there, and if I was I'd have to have it filled up with kids/grandkids almost all the time, or I'd be bouncing off the walls all lonely feeling, thinking of days past (and feeling wasteful again).  I don't think the mansion/vacation home thing if for me, darn it all, unless I could have a guarantee of children visiting (almost) all the time. :)  I just saved myself 10 million dollars.

These two and their frogs.  They are masters at catching them, and could do it all day long, and I'm being serious saying that.  Give them a bag of food (lots of food), a gallon of water, a bucket and fishing poles, and pick them up 12 hours later and they'd be in heaven.
Mushy, juicy frogs-yuck!  They seriously gross me out! (By the way the grandma I was talking about used to have boys bring her the frogs to "kiss" to see if they would turn into a prince! What a hoot!)

Janey finally has a bed!  I have been looking for one on Craig's list here and there for a year, and this one came up just a few minutes away. Solid wood, antique, gorgeous-they don't make anything like this anymore.  Don't know if I will paint it or not-the wood finish is really perfection but white would look beautiful also. $75!  Next up curtains-you can see I've gotten as far as black-out pieces of fabric, not very pretty.

Strawberries-our second "batch".  I love the farm, the drive, the country, and of course the actual berries.  I think I ate half of these in one day.


Isaac and friend, the morning they left for Europe.  We've heard a couple words every day so far so we know they are alive.  I emailed him once about something I needed to return of his and asked how he was doing and how he liked it and he wrote back, "Great!"  That's it.  Nothing more. That's a guy for you.

He packed the night before.  I zip it now.  Procrastination is my number one pet peeve but I will not enable procrastination so I just zip it.  Actually I don't think he (or maybe any one in this age group or college aged) would even call that procrastination but heck it makes me nervous.  

Hence the back pack. That is one of the little kid's school back packs.  I just have to laugh!  He said, "It will work, I don't want to buy one, if I need one bad enough I will find one over there."

I have heard from so many who have done this European tour/hostel thing after college and they all seem to have the greatest stories-and it isn't about  seeing this and that always, it's about learning to be completely on your own, getting out of jams, navigating, solutions to problems, flexibility, budgeting, etc.  I love it.  My neighbor said he had $2 to spend in food one day, he's a big guy, so he bought what he could-a huge loaf of bread, and like eight bananas and that held him up all day.  So many laughs about it all now.  This is how Uncle Andy met Aunt Rosemarie-traveling after college.  How cool is that.

Swim team!

Those swim caps kill me.  They really work hard at this all summer and I'm proud of them because sometimes you know-you just don't feel like going to swim practice but you have to. (Most of the time there are no complaints.)

 My mom gave me a stack of photos and old school things from a clean out she did, and this picture just made me laugh so much.  My poor Grandma went to Florida with us one year. She probably wanted to walk home.  Look how naughty my sister is to make that face and the boys are losing it.

The neighbor kids and mine started a big summer project of building Sammy the dog a dog house. They did it all themselves except for a couple cuts I did with the saw. I am amazed by what they did with what they had, and how they all worked together without one issue. It was the cutest thing ever. Sammy is one lucky dog.

Andrew insisted on being the one to go up and tie the ropes for the new swing we bought. He's brave.

Cousins at a grad party for one of them! I love them all. One more off to college, how did they ever get this big. (Food, water, sleep, love, not in any particular order.)

Janey getting a preschool check up.

Right before catching up on the shots. It went much better than anticipated.

Took these guys to a matinee to see "Finding Dory".  I fought sleep the whole time and missed the actually finding of the parents part because a certain someone had to use the bathroom for the second time.  It was cute though, just a little long-winded.

Can't believe it's July 1 on Friday!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Summer Thoughts

Some summer thoughts one hour before school gets out (I've had the three older ones get out of school over the last month, these are the grade schoolers out in an hour and then everyone will be home!)

First:
One down, five to go:
Isaac graduated and it was a long ceremony but a wonderfully beautiful day and he was so happy but it all went too quickly for him I think-he was thinking of all the people he never got to say goodbye to.  I love that he knew so many (most?) of the students in his graduating class. He moved out and came home the next day with just a small car load of belongings which I love.  He told me he must have inherited my throw-it-out gene because he only wants to keep the bare minimum.


ON SUMMER:

It is always been an adjustment for me to do "summer".  Usually I end up lamenting to my mom on the phone about it all and begging for advice about my feelings of being overwhelmed.  I think it's just that hard and fast change, and then we eventually get into the flow. 

The last two summers have been so hard-the stress of managing the irresponsible and extremely late running contractors who had promised to be finished by May but were here till September two summers ago left me exhausted and then Jeff had major work stress last summer and they were both a blur and by the end of last summer I never felt so exhausted in my life, I felt like I was hanging on by a thin thread and that is NO fun most especially in the summer, my favorite time of the year.

This summer will be different-stressors all gone, good plans ahead.  Some years are just like that I guess-those are the hills and valleys of life, those hills sure make you appreciate the valleys.

I have two grade school kids who want to work and earn money and I have a weekly consistent straight-forward job list for them to complete each week with the promise of $10  (I usually don't pay for chores and don't do allowance but I'm trying this for this summer).  I also have a list of extra paying jobs to sign up for-window washing (mine are filthy!), garage clean-out, attic clean-out, etc. -things I haven't been able to get to since Janey has been born.  Some weekly jobs are: beds made, clothes picked up, rooms cleaned, house vacuumed, dog taken care, garage straightened, pots and garden watered-the things I can't keep up with by myself which sometimes make me overwhelmed and therefore crabby or a tad resentful I've handed off.  I'm giving 3 responsibilities to each, all summer long, to make it simple and easy.

They both have asked to do some short fun local camps with friends and I think it will work well this summer-they are excited about that.  Some years were "no way" to any outside commitments, and other years it just works so well to break up the summer with some socializing and planned activities. 

Two oldest traveling/working (Isaac will be in Europe backpacking most of summer and Abbey in August in Ireland) and Matt is working also.

Computer bare minimum if at all, Ipads all gone, TV is off all summer.  It just works so much better around here this way. Something about just shutting down that possibility and clearing out brains.

I am working out at 6:30 a.m. and getting my head/house in order then.

I have a few good books to read thanks to a friend whose mother gives her all her book club books, and they are always exactly my cup of tea.  We'll see if I even get to one, but I want to. 

I promised Andrew a mom trip (he's been waiting for this for years and years) to Chicago for an overnight. We can't wait!


I want to take each kid to breakfast or lunch this summer for one-on-one time.

I want to go to the darn farmer's market a few blocks away that I only hit once or twice in the last couple years!

I want to go "home" for a day and go shopping by myself at the outlets and see my parents and eat with my best friend at Guido's-the best pizza on the planet that I absolutely must have at least once a year (thank God I don't live closer, I'd eat it every night.)

I want to eat lunch with Jeff once every couple weeks by myself. (I am lucky to have an older sibling as a babysitter.)

I am prioritizing cooking  and meal planning all summer, simple and easy but want to try some new things. Since I want to use the computer only when totally necessary I am going to be using my good old-fashioned cookbooks and maybe a few more of those "magaziney-type" seasonal cookbooks to help me along and keep things fun-with the hope of compiling another of our favorites together in a Part Two.

I'm so over Whole30 by the way. I have slowly added things back in but am trying to be very cautious about how much I eat and snacking etc.  I don't want to gain the weight back (it was so good for that, and for "resetting" my system), but I want to eat "easier", if that makes sense.  Like a whole vat of fresh strawberries-a few weeks away from that!


And photos!  I am keeping my camera on the counter and I promised myself I would be better, it only takes a second.

WELCOME, SUMMER!