It takes less time to do thing right than it does to explain why you did it wrong.

Farewell Facebook

It's not you, it's me. Well, it's also you...

Dear Facebook,

We’ve been together now for a little more than two years, and in many ways it has been wonderful. You’ve given me a forum to reconnect with some people I truly missed, to connect with some people I like and respect.

I enjoy seeing pictures of my friends’ families sometimes, and I enjoy knowing where people’s lives have taken them (and where they’ve taken themselves).

But seriously, I need some time. And no, not just some time where I don’t check you or post very often, I mean time where we don’t see each other at all.

Yes, that’s right. Deactivation time.

…I hate to kick you while I’m in the middle of dumping you, but really, I don’t trust you, you’re a major time drain, and also, you get on my nerves.

I can’t trust you, first of all, because someone keeps trying to hack my account. Kudos to you for letting me know, but still, the second time it happened in a month made me a little uneasy.

You caught those breaches of security (thank you!) but what about these pages I supposedly ‘like’ that I never actually ‘liked’ and don’t, in fact, like, AT ALL…what’s up with those? They show up in my activity log and everything. Are you trying to make me feel like I’m going crazy? That’s not nice, or healthy. We really need to go our separate ways!

As for getting on my nerves, it’s come to my attention (again and again) that you are not a forum supportive of civil political debate, even though I really wanted you to be. People have their opinions and preach to their selected choirs, myself included. Sometimes this comes off as balanced, but often a little sanctimonious, sometimes even vitriolic. Sometimes it’s about Obama. Sometimes it’s about water fluoridation. Sometimes it’s about guns.

 

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A Post Where I Brag About How Boring and Well-Rested I am (Kidding! Kind-of.)

While the kiddos were away I was able to appreciate some their artwork. This might be my favorite picture of me ever.

Just sent the kiddos off to school for the first time in 2014…

This break was a little different for all of us in that my girls spent pretty much the whole time visiting their dad in another state, and I, for the first time ever, had an extended period of time to myself. It may have been my first chance to regroup in 10 years.

I missed my girls, of course, and their welfare is paramount in my mind whether they’re with me physically or not (ah, the eternal tether of motherhood…), but with some exciting changes coming up this month I appreciated the opportunity to get my house in order without it constantly being sent into the beautiful, creative disarray that is life with my daughters.

I purposely left the two week span they were gone open. I had originally planned on attending a 10 day intensive mediation retreat during this time, until I realized cleaning out my closets, both literally and figuratively, was probably the best meditation for me at this point.

Here’s what I did with my “time off”:

Slept. A lot. 10 hours a night. It was AMAZING.

Drank good Pinot Noir (in moderation), almost every evening. This felt very grown up, quite civilized. I know what you’re thinking. No, I didn’t drink so much Pinot Noir that it caused me to sleep 10 hours a night. A general exhaustion that’s been brewing for a few years (at least) caused that…

 

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Getting Enough Sleep?

Good morning, Sunshine!

Do you get enough sleep?

Because I’m not sure I do. Generally speaking, I get about 6 to 7 hours a night during the week and make up for that on the weekends. But I’ve been noticing (and noticing) that this system isn’t working so well in my late thirties. I daresay this system never worked, and maybe this phase of life is just the beginning of me being more motivated to give my body what it needs. Because let’s face it, when you don’t take care of yourself at this stage, the consequences make themselves known in a more immediate way (dark circles, grouchy attitude, inability to concentrate or operate heavy machinery to name but a few…).

My kids’ bedtime is between 8:30pm and 9. Generally they start getting ready for bed about 8pm and at some point we read up until I turn their lights out. I’m not lenient about letting them talk after lights out on weeknights (at all). They’ve been sharing a room for a long time, and though I appreciate the idea of sisters chatting at the end of a busy day, they better do it before the lights go out because this is one area where I’m fairly strict.

This began in part because I’ve been raising these two primarily by myself since they were 4 and 2 years old. At the end of the day I just couldn’t deal with having to go back and forth with them until 11pm. On the nights this has happened (because of course there have been some) I would love to tell you I was extremely patient and wonderful with my restless children. But I can’t, because I wasn’t, and I’m still not. Barring nightmares or the stomach flu (or something similar), if my kids want sweet and gentle momma, they better fill that need before 9pm or after 6:30am (8am on weekends).

 

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Legacy of Long Marriages

Nana and Papa - still talking after all these years.

Nana and Papa – still talking after all these years.

My grandparents have been married for 66 years. Nana and Papa’s marriage embodies all I want mine to be after that long.  They hold hands while walking together, they are each other’s best friend, and they still look at each other in a way that lets any outward observer know they are in love.

But, you know, being married is not always easy.

They got married when my grandmother was only 15 and had to travel to a different state to make it legal -even with her mom’s permission.  My grandfather, a WWII veteran, offered the stability that Nana lacked in her own family. They worked hard to build a home together and to provide for the children they eventually had.  Over the years, they were challenged significantly, losing two of their six children to separate tragic deaths. Yet they endured those hardships as well as illnesses and personal and professional challenges but never allowed those circumstances to drive them apart.

Their steadfast commitment is their legacy.

Somewhere along the line, I think we’ve gotten the mistaken idea that a perfect marriage never faces tough times; that if the road is rocky, maybe you weren’t meant to be together in the first place; and that the romance should always be there.

Part of the problem may be with our definition of romance.  Media sells us romance in shades of grey with vampires and werewolves or with flowers and chocolates and intimate dinners for two.

 

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Airline Travel With Kids

320px-Denver_International_Airport_security

In a few hours, we will be boarding a plane – off to spend the week of Thanksgiving with family.  Plane travel is commonplace for my family.  My husband works for an airline and our close family all lives in other states.  Consequently, the girls have been on planes multiple times per year since they were infants.  I can’t even come up with reasonable guess about the number of flights they’ve logged.

I must admit that I’m thankful for how much easier it is to travel with them now, at ages 9 and 11, than it was in the days of strollers and car seats.  They can be responsible for their own luggage and I worry less about losing them in the airport or about them bothering the other passengers. Nevertheless, those early days of travel are still fresh in my mind. And, since I realize that many of you might be boarding planes with your little ones for the first time this week, I thought I’d share some things that I’ve learned about airline travel over the years.

 

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On Letting Go

Strawberry from our garden

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about letting go.

There are things that I want to let go of.

Today I took my last final of the semester. I am, more or less, two-thirds an attorney. I am happy to be letting go of the stress of finals, and eager to grab on to my next adventures. As with the completion of any long-term project, I already have a long list of things I would like to (or, less exciting but more realistically need to) accomplish in the next few months. I will let go of my textbooks and instead gather gardening, backyard fires, and delicious and time-consuming recipes to my chest. I will spend hours watching my baby doing not much of anything. I will not feel bad about choosing to do so. That is the letting go I am most looking forward to today and for the rest of the summer: letting go of feeling like I should be doing something other than whatever I am actually doing.

 

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Guest Post: Marriage, in sickness and in health (Part 1)

Young love, Amy and Aaron

HC – My friend Amy shares weekly for ‘Transparency Tuesday’ about her chronic illness and how it affects her. Recently, I was completely inspired by her thoughts on marriage and I think you will be also. So here, in her own words, is Amy:

I was asked by several of friends to share, “How has your marriage survived the suffering of your illness and disability?”

Here is the first part of my answer. Next week I will share with you the second half.

First of all, I think one of the most crucial parts of our success is that Aaron and I have always had a fiercely strong commitment to each other.

Our promise to each other started with a discussion in the summer of 1993. Aaron and I had started “going out” (that’s what you call it when you’re 14) in the fall of the previous year. So, we had known each other for about 8 months. One beautiful summer afternoon, when I was 15 and he was 16, he proposed.

There was no ring and we told no one. You see, we had grown close over those 8 months. And yes, we were in crazy, teenage, romantic love. But there was so much more to it than that. We had talked about our life dreams and goals, our commitment to Christ and His church, our desire to work together to bless other people in some kind of dedicated ministry or service. That afternoon Aaron called me and asked me to take one of our lovely downtown walks. Along the way we stopped and sat on a little bench in Riverside Plaza. He explained that he had something he wanted to ask me that was important – “It’s big,” he said. I was just a little afraid that he was about to dump me.

Instead, he went on to say that he had a proposition regarding our relationship. I’ll summarize what he said, “I am convinced that our relationship is from God. I feel like we have the opportunity to commit to each other, right now, for life. Fully. Forever trusting that God has something planned for us. I don’t want to do this halfway. I want to give you my heart trusting that what God has shown us: that we are meant to be together in a relationship that reflects His love with others.” He went on to say, “Amy, I’ve been completely sure of only one other thing in my life – that I love Jesus Christ and I want to serve Him in the ministry that He chooses for my life. I think that he has brought us together to do that ministry together. And I love you.”

 

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Guest Post: Marriage, in sickness and in health (Part 2)

Photo Credit: © Finding My Aloha Photography

HC – My friend Amy shares weekly for ‘Transparency Tuesday’ about her chronic illness and how it affects her life. Recently I was completely inspired by her thoughts on marriage and I think you will be also. So here, in her own words, is Amy:

If you missed Part 1 – it is here.

After hearing from several of you, I’ve discovered that not many of you know what my illness actually is. I’m sorry to have been cryptic. That was not my intent. My physicians (plural – goodness there are many) are still trying to nail down exactly what it is that is going on in my body. For some people illness and the diagnosis of that illness is straightforward. Not for me.

For now, they are calling it Connective Tissue Disease. Most likely either Lupus or Dermatomyositis. Or both. I also have been diagnosed with things like: inflammatory arthritis, Fibromyalgia, a bleeding disorder of the kidney called Loin Pain Hematuria, Celiac disease, anemia, and have had acute bouts of everything from Pancreatitis to Bronchitis.

My kidney is fussy and my lungs are weak because my brain does not tell my body to take deep breaths. My joints hurt and swell and my muscles are weak. I have medically-induced compromised immunity. I take all kinds of pills that include chemotherapy medications, immune suppressants, and sometimes steroids. I have a hard time swallowing and sometimes I have severe abdominal pain. I am so very, very, very tired. And, for some silly reason, I can’t be in the sun. Sometimes, if I spend just 5 minutes too long out in that beautiful world, my eyes swell completely shut and blisters erupt on my face.

 

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Guest Post: A Book Review of “Wonder” by RJ Palacio

Wonder by RJ Palacio

(I asked my friend Erin Dinsmore to write this book review for Wonder. I really loved it and could have just written something myself, but Erin lives this book every day of her life. Her 5 year-old son has a craniofacial condition similar to the main character in “Wonder.” So when Erin gives this read her approval, you know it is authentic. Please read it. And please read it with your children when they are the right age. – HC)

“Wonder” by RJ Palacio

How do you write a book review for a book that changes lives? As a stay-at-home mom to a 10-year-old son and five-year-old twins, I just don’t read a lot anymore. But this book was a necessary read. I didn’t realize what time it was when I finished the book… in one night. It is perfection.

In Wonder, by RJ Palacio, Auggie Pullman has decided to go to public school after being home-schooled the first 10 years of his life. For most kids, that would be unnerving enough, showing up at a new school as a fifth grader. But Auggie has the added stress of looking “different,” due to a congenital craniofacial disorder. This novel, which is recommended for fifth grade and above, takes us through the thoughts and feelings of Auggie, as he starts this new adventure, his parents’ fears, his sister’s feelings, even the thoughts and emotions of new friends at school.

Palacio unfolds a beautiful story of bravery and strength by using incredible character development and emotional depth. Auggie’s voice rings true. He’s bright and has an astonishing sense of humor. At times heartbreaking in the characters’ honesty, the message is one of hope, led by the indelible spirit of a 10-year-old boy who is on an inadvertent mission to change hearts… and minds.

How do I know about Auggie’s mission? I have my very own “Auggie” who will be starting Pre-K in the fall. My Eli has a similar craniofacial condition which makes him appear “different” than others. He gets lots of stares out in public. Some are even bold enough to comment. But, even though he is only five years old, I’ve watched my son touch so many hearts. It’s a true testament to “It’s what’s on the inside that counts”. My son has already taught so many to “Choose Kind.”

My nerves are already shot worrying about him going to school “full time.” Children, in general, are kind. But I know his heart will be broken over and over and I don’t get to protect him from that forever. My only hope is that we can educate those around him to Choose Kind and he can continue to be the wonderfully funny, entertaining, loving little boy he already is. And people will “see” that.

Do I recommend Wonder? No. That’s not enough. I beg you to read Wonder. I beg you to share it with your friends, your family, your children, and your book club. The more people this novel reaches, the more hearts it can touch. And so many more can Choose Kind.

Have you read Wonder yet and what did you think? Thank you from one mother to another. -Erin Dinsmore

The First Day of Forever

Schoolboy by photostock

Last week my son started Kindergarten.

It was really hard for me. I didn’t think it would be; I thought I’d be excited to have more time without him running around. Turns out I have lots of insecurities about in public school:

Dad Q? Does he need a brand new lunch box? Do you think anyone will make fun of him?!”

I’m sure it’ll be fine.

What about a backpack? Does he need a new one?

No….”

And what if he wears his cowboy boots to school every day and they make fun of him?!”

Um, I think you’re projecting.

He’s right. After one week of school, Boy Q says it’s ‘awesome.’ He already has a friend, three rows of monkey stickers, and not a worry in the world.

I’m the one who’s worrying: “What if his snack isn’t healthy enough?” “What if his teacher doesn’t actually like me?” “Can we walk up to pick him up or do we always have to stay in the carpool lane?!” 

In many ways, I feel like I’m not ready for him to start school. I cried when we informally met the teacher. I cried in the parking lot after our first official “drop-off”. I’m trying to be brave, I am, but I’m not ready. Kindergarten is the first in several years of school and then, suddenly, he’ll be graduating, leaving, growing up…

I think about how brave he is every time we drop him off. He likes to head into things with confidence, even if he’s not feeling very confident. He squares his shoulders, steps into the waiting throng of students and staff, and dives in without looking back. All I can do is try to be brave too. Also posted at Boy Q and Girl Q.

Dear Principal – a Letter From Your Wife

Stephen

Dear Stephen,

Here we are at the beginning of another school year, the time of year we’ve become so familiar with for the last 8 ½ years.

This year is your second year as principal and I would like to think we are a little bit wiser and a bit more prepared for all that comes with such a title.

When you took on this important role, I was ready to stand beside you with my full support while you learned your way through this new endeavor. Little did I know that I would also be gaining 1400 new family members in the form of your students and staff members – each requiring your time, energy, and most of all, guidance.

Through many athletic events, concerts, dances, and activities, I observed the trust you consistently earn from your Frontier family. No matter the time of day, you were there for each and every one of them, which is the way it should be.

Ella and I will gladly share our guy so you can continue to build the strong relationships with your students and staff who so hold a special place in your heart.

I know this new school year will be no different from the last and I am happy to welcome the new students and staff members as an extended part of our family.

I will gladly stand by to support you as you support them.

They are your – no, our – family.

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Pursue some path, however narrow and crooked, in which you can walk with love and reverence.”

I believe you have found that path, dear husband. You were born to be a leader to share your wisdom, creativity, and quest for eternal knowledge with many. Education is your passion and your love, and it is clear you have the utmost respect for your students, staff, and your school.

I want you to know that I am so very proud of all of your accomplishments and I am inspired, daily, by the work you do and the lives you change, whether it be those of students, parents, or colleagues.

I believe you are a true example of the saying, “finding a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”

May your second year as principal give you opportunities for growth, many days of learning something new, and countless moments of success.

I love you,

Jenn

This letter originally

Learning As We Go (Road Trip Knowledge Gained the Hard Way)

IMG_0570

Yesterday afternoon my girls and I got back into town after almost a week away visiting relatives for Thanksgiving. It was a nice trip, we drove a lot, we laughed a lot, we ate a lot and, for the most part, I really enjoyed getting some road trip time with my kiddos.

It’s always interesting to see how your kids behave in different situations and this week my girls were good travelers and generally agreeable companions. We’ve made versions of this trip many times over the past few years and it’s remarkable to me how much easier it gets as they get older and more independent.

My kids are 10 (10!) and 8, and it’s hard to believe I made these kinds of trips with them as the lone adult when they were 4 and 2. Hard to believe because they were so little, and because I was so clueless.

One year my youngest daughter developed a mystery rash right as we began ascending a mountain pass where it’s impossible to stop and where the nearest civilization is more than an hour away. She wailed “Hot! Itchy! Back! HOT! ITCHY! My BAAAAACCCCCKKKK!” uninterupted for what seemed like forever (probably about 45 minutes), until we were able to stop at the first town and locate some cortizone and some candy.

(Ha, see now, it doesn’t really sound all that bad when I write about it 6 years later…but it was bad. Bad. Hours later we arrived at a relative’s house where my cousin’s wife took over, tenderly plopping my hot, still-itchy mess of a child into a bath of colloidal oatmeal while I wept quietly, trying to regain my sanity. I was newly single, new to the world of traveling with the kids alone. (Let’s face it, I was still kind-of new to motherhood!)

 

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My Two Year Old in Public…Sometimes Scary

Eydan and his bag o' loot

It’s that time of year again…the Colorado Farm Show is in town! I know some people might not get as excited as I do (like my husband) about this, but it makes me a little reminiscent of when I was a little girl.  The farm show was SUCH a big deal, that my brothers and I used to get taken out of school early to go walk around.  We would get our bags of popcorn, key chains, pens, pencils, erasers (oh, my!), and our yard stick. Every year….a yard stick.  We had so many yard sticks around the house we could probably measure a football field and never have to reuse one! Not to mention, they made great walking sticks, pretend cow herder thingies, and batons.  And yes, every year it’s pretty much the same thing, but I  still love it.  It’s a farm kids best day of the year.

Anyway, while my older two were in school yesterday I decided to take Eydan.  No, this wasn’t his first time going, but it was his first time not being confined to a stroller the entire time.  Oh boy…half way through I was (secretly) wishing that he was in a stroller.

Let me give you a little picture if you’ve never been there.  I believe there are 3 large buildings that are filled wall to wall with vendors who are promoting their business and farm equipment.   On their tables they typically have brochures, candy, give-aways and some might have decorations.  It’s kind of like trick-or-treating for kids….and moreover, the adults.

It took Eydan a while to get used to walking up to a table and being able to just stick his hand in the candy jar or grab the free flashlight and put it in his bag.  Yeah, this is NOTHING like the grocery store when I’m constantly saying, “Eydan, no.  Put that back.  DON’T TOUCH!”  I had to help him out at the first few tables…assuring him that it was ok to grab the candy.  After that, he became a pro. Wearing his free re-usable bag around his neck for easy accessibility.

 

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The obligatory tired face photo

its so hot!

My sister and I spent the Summer of 1997 in Beijing, China. On August 27, in the middle of a place my seventh-grade-self identified as “The Giant Bell Temple,” we decided we had finally had enough. And so, the “tired face photo” was born.

The back of this photo actually says “it’s so hot!!!!!” which is, I’m sure, what we were saying. But forever after my sister and I have referred to this moment, and this photo, as “tired face.” I’m sure you can guess the moments in which this photo is appropriate: long days, warm temperatures, exasperating situations, hours of walking.

 

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Dispatch from Camp MommyCon

Remy liked the Siliskin Sippy Cup the best

Last weekend Remy and I met my mom in Winter Park for Camp MommyCon. First, I want to say how much a weekend away made me appreciate my amazing husband. We are an awesome team, and I really missed having his half. My mom did a great job, but it helps to have someone around who can read my mind.

That being said, I want to put out some some information that I wish I had access to before I bought my ticket. Tickets for the Denver Mommy Con were $40 and I was a bit on the fence about whether it would be worth the money for the ticket, plus the expense of getting to and staying in Winter Park. So, if you are thinking about going to one of the MommyCon events this year in Memphis, Philly, Boston, or Newport Beach, (or other events next year) this post is for you.

1. Bottom Line: Would I go again? Yes, I would go again. I met a lot of amazing guys and gals and did learn quite a bit. It was definitely worth the $40, even if you just consider this the cost of your raffle ticket into the Giveaway Extravaganza (see below). However, adding in lodging and gas the weekend was almost $300 for me and my mom. I’m not sure I would pay that much again, even though it was great to spend time with my mom and Remy in the mountains. If MommyCon returns to the Denver area, I would hope to see them in Denver proper, where lodging is a bit more reasonable and it would be feasible to drive in for the day and then come home. Also, like I said, this was Remy and my first time away from Tom, so you might want to consider brining your partner with you if you have to travel and you are still new to this parenting thing.

2. What did I get in the gift bag? I got a lot of loot. Like, a LOT. Many of the venders were also giving out things, so this list includes things that started in the bag and things that I collected. Here we go: G Diaper, disposable inserts, and gentle wipes, Siliskin Glass with Sippy Top, Babyganics spf 50 baby sunscreen (full retail size), Molly’s Suds Cloth Diaper Poweder and Laundry Powder, Moby Wrap cloth bag – blue and yellow with birds, Motherlove samples of green salve (for bug bites), thrush and diaper rash cream, and nipple cream, #lovemyclothdaipers baby tee, weleda nursing tea, birds & bees teas, sage spoonfulls babyhood container, blossom organics lubricant, zen rocks silicone teething necklace, MAM anti colic bottle, MAM newborn pacifier, Bamboobies washable nursing pads, resistance band, coupons and information.

 

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