Tag Archives: Motherhood

Teacher Appreciation – and so much more

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week and today, in particular, my eyes have been opened to the severe inadequacy of the title of this week.

Let’s start with the fact that I volunteered for lunch duty today so the Teachers at our school could grab a few extra quiet moments in honor of this special week.  For two-and-a-half hours I watched (and HEARD) 500+ students shuffle in and out of the cafeteria.  I opened approximately 20 juice boxes, 17 tubes of yogurt, and 6 cups of fruit – 4 of which squirted juice in my face.  I answered 6,483 questions – the majority of which were pretty random, reminded 172 to use their “walking feet,” and gave permission I-don’t-even-know-how-many-times for someone to use the bathroom.  I came home EXHAUSTED.

The kids at our school are GREAT kids… They listen really well and are quite polite – even the scary fifth graders who look like they could be in college! But as I watched them all come through that cafeteria, I realized how many different personalities and needs our teachers deal with on a DAILY basis. There are kids that need extra attention and kids that want to be left alone; kids that are funny and kids that are shy; kids you can be silly with and kids that need straight answers; kids that need a hug or a high-five or the “I mean business” stare… and our Teachers are able to dish those out… on demand… to the exact kid that needs that exact interaction.  “Teacher” ?!?!  I think not. Let’s go with “Mind-reading Personality-deciphering Super-human”. It’s a little wordy, but much more accurate.

Teacher Appreciation 1

Back to my cafeteria experience: let me point out my responsibilities included keeping the children from injuring themselves or others and trying to keep the noise level at a minimum.  My co-Lunch Duty volunteer and I decided to just focus on the first responsibility and let the noise level go a little bit.  I mean, priorities.

Our Teachers have responsibilities that BLOW MY MIND! They teach those kids to read and write and add and multiply and how to find the area/volume/circumference (which I may or may not have forgotten). They teach history and science and art and music and P.E. They teach how to stand in line and keep your hands to yourself. They teach how to cope when someone says or does something unkind. They teach that life isn’t always fair. They teach cooperation, patience, perseverance, self-control, integrity, kindness, selflessness, determination, dedication, generosity, friendship, love.  How do they prioritize those?! “Teacher” is an understatement. “Developer of Brain, Body, and Spirit” is more like it.Teacher Appreciation 3

 

Let’s also not forget that these Teachers have lives outside the school halls and classrooms.  They are spouses, parents, pet-owners, mortgage-payers, schedule-jugglers, budget-balancers, hobby-havers, and so much more. I know a good number of our Teachers are blazing through real-life challenges and curve-balls right now, but they continue to show-up for our kids. “Teacher”…. Pffft.  “Tough-as-Nails Focused Fighter”… that barely covers it, but it’s the best I could do in a pinch.

Teacher Appreciation 2

Teacher Appreciation Week, eh? Appreciation?! You know what I appreciate? When someone holds the door for me or let’s me scoot in front of them in traffic. For the Teachers… I am indebted to them, astounded by them, in awe of them, and yes, thankful for them.  For a week?! No way!  FOR. EVER. AND. EVER.

 

One afternoon of Lunch Duty has led me to announcing:

Teacher Appreciation 5

(AKA… Happy Teacher Appreciation Week, but I really really really mean it.)

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A Shout-out to All the Bus Stop Parents

It’s the first day of school here. On this big important day of the year, it’s important to take a moment to acknowledge the people who work tirelessly through the morning hours to get our mini-people ready and on their way to educational progress…. Otherwise known as… The Bus Stop Parents.

The Bus Stop Parents come in all shapes and sizes. These are just some of my favorites:

THE “WE SERIOUSLY JUST WOKE UP TEN MINUTES AGO” PARENT
This one of my very favorites because the wardrobe of choice – who am I kidding, it wasn’t a “choice” at all… it was whatever happened to be within arms reach – is always spectacular and usually needs an explanation. “Yes, it’s August and yes I’m wearing my winter coat. You should thank me.” “Can you believe I can walk in my husband’s rain boots without falling over?! They’re actually comfortable.” “Who knew my third-grader’s flip flops fit me?!” “Yes, I am actually wearing a bed sheet.” And all these comments are said with a profound sense of victory because… hey! Your kid got on the bus and that’s a victory!Bus Stop 3

THE “GOING TO THE GYM RIGHT AFTER THE BUS COMES” PARENT

I’ve been this one many times. There’s always a far off stare happening. It’s the running dialogue if The Gym is actually going to be the destination of choice…. Maybe a trip to Target instead? Or perhaps a quick breakfast with a few other Bus Stop Parents? Or maybe just back to the couch to catch up on some shows? Sometimes it really is the gym and sometimes it’s not. Either way, your kid got on the bus and that’s a victory!Bus Stop 7

THE “OVER-THINKING” PARENT

Whether your kid is in Kindergarten or third grade…. There are a lot of things to keep track of! The little ones can’t keep track of it all because, well, they are little, and the older ones can’t keep track of it all because, well, because that’s just how it works. So you have to keep track of it all. All of it. Heaven help you if you have more than one kid! Every now and again, it’s possible to over-think and second-guess yourself. Try not to do that too often because in the end, your kid got on the bus and that’s a victory!Bus Stop

THE “MORNING BREATH” PARENT

It happens to all of us. When you are busy keeping track of all that stuff (aforementioned parent)… you may just happen to forget to brush your teeth. The “hide behind the coffee mug” technique seems to be quite effective. You could also just stand on the outside of the group of parents or at least down-wind. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone loves the smell of a fresh brewed coffee, so think of that mug in front of your face as a gift to everyone else. Plus, your kid got on the bus and that’s a victory!Bus Stop 2

THE “DAD” PARENT

We mostly had moms at our bus stop; it’s probably fairly common, especially in military communities. However, we were often joined by dads that didn’t need to go into work super early. Most of the time, the dads congregated close to each other. The moms could talk non-stop the entire time we waited for the bus and then for approximately 40 minutes after the kids drove off. The dads are always friendly and social of course, but just not quite as much as the ladies. And for some reason the kids always like to dump their backpacks by the dads’ feet. Talkative or not, it doesn’t really matter because those dads got their kid on the bus (occasionally without a backpack) and that’s a victory!Bus Stop 1

THE “WORKING/DOING SOMETHING OUTSIDE OF THE HOME” PARENT

Pretty much every day that our working moms or the ones who actually got dressed in “for public viewing” clothes, the rest of the parents would “oooh” and “aaah” over them. Almost like it was a fashion show… the dress pants! The buttoned shirt! The ballet flats! The make-up! You would think we had never seen each other before in anything other than near-pajamas. It’s very good for one’s soul to step out in skinny jeans, boots, and a sweater and be welcomed as if you are on the red carpet. Plus, you got your kid on the bus and that’s a victory!Bus Stop 5THE “CROSSFITTING PRIOR TO SUNRISE” PARENT

Some of us just rolled out of bed. Some of us have already run 8,000 meters, completed 3,789 burpees, 15,000 box jumps, and 694 pull-ups. It’s cool. To each their own. Even if those parents aren’t sporting their Crossfit t-shirts and chalk on their hands, you can probably still pick them out among the bunch; they are all gitty with post-work-out pheromones! You worked out already and got your kid on the bus, that’s a victory for sure!Bus Stop 4

I’m sure there are so many more ways to categorize the different kinds of Bus Stop Parents out there, but those are just some of the ones I relate to the most. I’m thankful for all my friends who have waited with me on steamy-humid days, through blizzards, and in downpours. The camaraderie of the bus stop certainly sends our favorite little people out into the world with a sense of security and welcomes them home with the knowledge that no matter what, today was a victory!Bus Stop 6


Military: 7 Signs You PCS’d This Summer

One month ago today we moved into our home. I’m sure there are many military families out there experiencing some of these moments right along with me….

  1. You can still spy one or two (or fifteen thousand, if you are like me) of those pesky moving stickers that never seem to EVER go away completely!
    PCS Summer 1
  2. While checking out at Bed, Bath, & Beyond (because you need stuff for your new bed, bath, and… beyond) you pause for a good ten seconds when asked what your zip code is. Zip code… right. WHERE exactly am I again?!
    PCS Summer 2
  3. The idea of going school supply shopping is entirely daunting because, didn’t we just get here?! Now I need to be organizing myself and family for a new school year?!
    PCS Summer 3
  4. Your bucket list for the summer is ten miles long. You MUST see all the new sites RIGHT NOW! Because you know, before you blink you will be looking at a new set of orders and your bucket list will still be about nine miles long.
    PCS Summer 4
  5. You assume all your neighbors have lived in the neighborhood for ages, until you remember it’s a military community and it’s summer and almost everyone is new too!
    PCS Summer 5
  6. Signing your kids up for summer camps and after-school activities feels like the ultimate test of your Mom-hood. This dance studio or that one? We missed soccer try-outs but will they still allow my child to play? Where, exactly, does that swim team compete? Wait, what time does school get out anyway?!PCS Summer 6
  7. There is a sense of immense possibility with each new person you meet and each new road you travel.PCS Summer 7

To all my fellow military spouses out there who are settling in and exploring new hometowns… may this new adventure be your best! And in the words of Matsuo Basho, remember:
“Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”


Schooled in Parenting (By My 8-Year-Old Daughter)

classroomThis morning while I was getting ready for the day, my kids rolled into a very intense, very passionate argument. The likes of which I’m sure haven’t been seen (or heard!) since the days of old. Or maybe last week.  Of course, this argument was about, none other than, Minecraft.  From what I can gather from my unavoidable over-hearing, my 4-year old was continually pushing random buttons on his Xbox controller while my 7 and 8-year olds were trying to build something (apparently it was a very important “something” that could not be delayed by random button pushing). I will set the scene for you: To find out what I learned, click here


The Risk of Raising Independent Children

We recently moved to a very family-friendly neighborhood, which also happens to be a military housing neighborhood. This move has given us the opportunity to live in an ideal setting to take the risk of raising independent children. My kids are ages 8, 6 ¾ (it’s important to him to remember the ¾), and 4, which to me are ideal ages to risk the lessons of becoming an independent child.

My kids are learning the importance of being accountable for themselves. No one else can answer for the choices they make. This accountability is teaching them to think through their choices first, act second. They are testing their nerve and finding out how far they are willing to push themselves, whether it’s the speed they ride their bikes or how high they climb a tree. With that test of nerve I believe they will gain self-confidence as they realize they can do new things because they pushed themselves, not because Mom or Dad told them to try it. They are building a frame of reference on rights and wrongs. They are getting better acquainted with their morals and listening to their own conscience instead of Mom and Dad’s voice. Continue reading about the challenges of raising independent kiddos…


Minecraft: smelting by day, crafting by night

minecraft

Earlier this summer, while we were still living on the West Coast, a friend convinced me to download Minecraft for my kids. Since then, we’ve had an obsession in our house. If I had a nickel for every time I heard, “Can I play Minecraft?” I would be… many nickels richer. I could probably buy my very own crafting table, in real life! My son admitted the other day that sometimes when he looks outside everything looks like squares to him. On occasion I hear “Stampy’s” voice in my head when the kids aren’t even watching him. Friends don’t let friends download Minecraft.

That’s probably a little harsh. In fact, Minecraft afforded my husband and I sanity during our cross-country drive from California to Rhode Island. We were, in fact, that family. The two bigger kids each had a new Kindle Fire, and the littlest had our old iPad (decorated with dinosaur stickers to make it seem fancy and cool even though it wasn’t new). Our Odyssey was decked out with an extension cord, a multi-media plug-in thing that has a WHOLE BUNCH of outlets…. And…. the piece de resistance… a Hot Spot. Boom. The kids were set. More Minecraft goodness here…


7 Reasons Why Crossfit is Great for New Moms*

This was taken the day our box held "Barbells for Boobs" - a fundraising event for breast cancer research.  I was nervous about participating but it was AWESOME.

This was taken the day our box held “Barbells for Boobs” – a fundraising event for breast cancer research. I was nervous about participating but it was AWESOME.

1. If you find Crossfit intimidating, now’s the time to try it: Many people find Crossfit intimidating. That’s normal. The best time to face that intimidation is when you are somewhat starting from scratch. You’ve got nothing to lose! You’re starting out as a new mom… it’s a great time to become a new Crossfit athlete too. Remember, you can always (and you should in the beginning) modify the WOD and skills. There are always ways to make adjustments to meet your needs and your current skill/strength level. If the heavy bar is too heavy, try the lighter one… if that’s too heavy, you can literally use a PVC pipe! Starting light is the best way to establish good form and good muscle memory. Also, remember…. No matter how advanced anyone else is… it’s a difficult workout for them too. We’re all just doing the best we can.

2. You have all the motivation you need: Your new little bundle of joy can be just the motivation you need to get through your WOD. For example:

  • “This deadlift is soooo heavy…. But… if my little baby were stuck under this bar, could I lift it?!” Oh yes you could.
  • “I don’t want to row another 30 calories! But…. if I were in a row boat with my baby and a crocodile were chasing us, I could totally row her to safety – even if it was more than 30 calories!” Go.
  • “Pull-ups? You gotta be kidding me… my chin can’t get above that bar! But…. if baby’s most favorite lovey which ensures a good night’s sleep were up above that bar and it was almost nighttime… you bet your bottom dollar I would be able to pull myself up there!” Heave-Ho!
  • “This is not running… this isn’t even jogging… this is… slowly trudging… but… if my husband came home and said, ‘why don’t you go run out and have a pedicure while I watch the baby?!’ I would sooooo be running a lot faster than this. Baby’s gonna need to eat in three hours!”
  • More of My List of Reasons…


Writing 101: Lost and Found (Part One)

Daily prompt: Write about something/someone that was part of your life and isn’t any more.

Twist: Make today’s post the first in a three-part series.

Continue to my story…


Motherhood: Happy Mother’s Day to the many different mothers out there

Infant Grasping Mother's FingerHappy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there! Happy Mother’s Day to all the soon-to-be Mommies and waiting-to-be Mommies and new Mommies and veteran Mommies. Today is a day of flowers and breakfasts in bed and long, uninterrupted showers. Today is also a day of tears and heartache and arms that long to hold another. On a day with such a variety of emotions, here are my wishes for each of you…

For the mothers-waiting-to-be, I wish you a day filled with hope and faith. May today’s celebration not be a constant reminder for the family you are hoping and waiting to build. I hope you will see the impact you have had on so many others in your life – a niece or nephew, a neighborhood child, a friend – where you have filled the role of mother… comforter, caretaker, encourager, rock. I will not pretend that today is an easy day for you as you wait and wonder what the future holds for you. But I do hope you are able to see all the ways you have already begun your motherhood journey and have made a difference in the lives around you. May your next Mother’s Day see your arms filled with your very own Little One… and if that is not the case, I pray your heart will be filled with love, faith, and hope beyond your wildest dreams.

For the soon-to-be mothers, I wish you a day of long naps and a chance to put your swollen feet up.  You are undoubtedly filled with excitement and anxiety for all that is to come in the next few months.  I hope today you will be filled with confidence in your abilities to be Mom.  I wish you calm and peace and joy about the life that is growing inside you.  I wish you calm and peace and joy about the many different kinds of bottles, pacifiers, baby swings, blankets, diapers, formula, etc. May you realize that the only thing you really need is a heart full of love for your baby and your best intentions… and a carseat, so you can bring Baby home.  I wish you find a few moments today to realize what a gift and privilege it is to have a chance to sculpt and nurture a brand new human being.  More Mother’s Day wishes…


Lessons for My Military Children

ImageApril is the Month of the Military Child. In honor of military children around the world, especially the three special ones in my house, I am going to focus my writing this month on them.

As any parent would, I have several lessons I would like to bestow upon my children. As we begin to prepare for another possible move, I find myself thinking about the lessons I would like my three kiddos to learn, specifically from the life as a military family. 

Our Country & Our World

  1. Many people ask us why we do what we do (choosing to be a military family). I bet one day, you too will wonder why our family does what it does. Serving our country is important to your Dad and me. It’s not always easy, but it’s important to be a part of something that is bigger and serves more than just your self.
  2. While at your young age, our country and world seems totally huge and gigantic… it’s really not. We have one little planet and one human race to take care of; it is our responsibility to do our best. Being a military family is one of the ways our family contributes to the greater good.
  3. Our country and world are made up of a variety of cultures, incredible scenery, and amazing people… being a military family affords us the opportunity to experience so many unique parts of our world. Open your heart and mind to these cultures, environments, and people… you will be a better person for it!
  4. We may or may not always agree with the choices our government makes. We may or may not have voted for our leaders. But we are part of a democratic system… it is our responsibility to vote and our responsibility to accept that sometimes our choices might not win out. However, we should always be respectful. Always stand-up and be quiet during the playing of our National Anthem… and if your friends are being loud and disrespectful, nudge them with your elbow and show them what to do.

Moving

  1. Sometimes, moving is the pits: Saying “good-bye/see ya later” to dear friends is hard and it hurts your heart. It’s okay to feel sad when we leave good people and good places… it’s proof that we have lived life to the fullest. Cherish those friendships and memories. They are worth emails, phone calls and texts (when you are old enough to have a phone), FaceTime calls, and plane tickets!
  2. For anywhere between two weeks and a month (or more?!) all of our household goods are packed up into boxes and put on a truck. We won’t see them, or use them, or need them. This is kind of great. We have each other, we have food, we have enough clothes to get us through. The most important “things” in our life are not our things at all… the movers only have our stuff… we – our family- are our treasures.
  3. While moving is hard and sad, it is also an awesome adventure that gives us the opportunity to see new places and meet new people. You may have no idea what is waiting for you at our next home, but I guarantee that you have many good things ahead of you. Trust in the future and be bold!
  4. Not all families get to try on new houses, new neighborhoods, and new cities every three years or so. We get to try new paint colors, new curtains, and new bedroom layouts. We get to make new friends, plant new gardens, and enjoy new seasons. We get to explore new museums, eat at new restaurants, and be a part of a new community. Make the most of where our Navy path takes us; let’s leave a little bit of our family’s love in each new city and take a little bit of that city with us when we leave. Memories will last forever.

Separation

  1. Being a military child, means you have had to spend pretty big chunks of time away from your Dad. This is the hardest part of being a military family, and we (your Mom and Dad) know it’s hard for you too. We are proud of how well you handle this challenge and are impressed by your strong hearts.
  2. When you struggle with the challenge of Daddy being away and act out at school or home, we understand. While “being frustrated because I miss Dad” is not an excuse for poor behavior choices, we understand you are coping the best you can. Sometimes Mom and Dad are super frustrated and want to have a melt-down too…. Sometimes we actually do!
  3. When Dad is gone, you are stuck with just me… your mom. I know I don’t have all the answers to your many science-y, engineering-y questions. I know my wrestling, swing-pushing, and daredevil-allowing skills do not reach the supreme level of your Father’s. I know that sometimes it’s probably pretty boring and monotonous to wake-up and see only me all day long, every single day. I know all that, and I’m okay that I don’t measure up to being both Mom and Dad. I give you my very best Mom skills and Mom love, and I fill in as much as I can in the Dad skills and love too… but there is no replacing your Dad, and that’s okay. He’s pretty awesome.
  4. No matter how far away the Navy sends your Dad, he’s really not all that far away. There is a little bit of him in each one of you and as your Mom, it is a treat for me to see him shine through you! The Navy can’t really separate us from your Dad, because he is always in our hearts and on our minds… and your smiles, and the funny way you sniff your nose, and your laugh, and your dance moves…

Family & Friends

  1. The military life gives us the opportunity to have friends throughout the Unites States and the world. Not every civilian kid can say they have friends on the East Coast, Midwest, West Coast, Hawaii, Japan, and Germany…. But you can! That’s pretty neat. Enjoy having friends all over the world… keep in touch with them, learn from them, and visit them as much as you can!
  2. While the Navy has moved us many times, they have yet to move us close to our family. So while our blood-relatives are far away, we lean on and share our daily lives with our military family. These are the people who just so happen to be stationed with us, but who held you when you were first born, cheered for you when you learned how to ride a two-wheel bike, celebrated birthdays with you, listened to you talk about your latest Lego creation, picked you up from school, went to your dance recitals, shared meals with you, shared stories with you, shared memories with you… and so much more. Our family tree is more like a family vine… we have become so entangled with other branches that we can no longer tell where our family ends and theirs begins. We are so very blessed to be part of such an amazing military family.
  3. We always wish we could see our extended family more. The lucky part of living far away from our family, is that when we do get to see them, we get to have them stay with us! If we lived closer to them we might visit them during the day and then go home to our own homes. But when we are so far apart, they get to come visit with us and tuck you in bed and sing you goodnight lullabies. You get to wake up with them and eat breakfast with them. You get to share your entire every day with them. Visits from your grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and other family may not fully make up for all the time we don’t get to see them, but those visits are so very special and need to be appreciated.
  4. When it comes down to it, through the moves, the separations, the friends that come and go, OUR military family… the three of you… are the most important thing to your Dad and me. Although we may not be able to “put down roots” I pray that you will always know, without a doubt, that you are rooted in our hearts. No matter where the Navy sends us, you will always have a place to call home because you will always have your Dad and me.

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